The Codex Seraphinianus is one of the weirdest 400 pages of text, extravagant illustrations and hand drawn notes anybody has ever seen. This is no large part thanks to the fact that besides the title page, which is loosely based on latin, nobody has ever been able to read a single word. Not for lack of trying, not a word has been read because the entire publication is written in an invented language and alphabet, which has never been deciphered by anybody other than the author, Italian architect and designer Luigi Serafini.
Frustratingly, Serafini (who is still very much with us) remains inflexible in his commitment to explain not a damn thing about the Codex. In doing so, since the codex’s first publication in 1981, the book has come to attract a cult following. When you see the book, it is easy to understand why.
Reeking of fungal 70’s psychedelics, the book contains hundreds of absurd diagrams including but not limited to a copulating couple who morph into crocodiles, drawings of egg-helmeted doctors rolling the flesh- from bodies and hanging them up on hooks while detached skeletons observe, little snakes that double as shoelaces, fish with brooms for tails that when half revealed above the waterline look like eyes and so on and so forth. And then the cursive and beautiful text is something else entirely…
Thought to have been inspired by the 500 year old Voynich Manuscript, my moustache and I still hold out some hope that light will be shed upon the book within the next 500 years. Although it is doubtful it will in fact be the ‘encyclopaedia of an alien race’ so often touted, it would be nice to know what Serafini was thinking before it is too late. But on the flip side, if the book is revealed to be of no significance beyond a curiosity, would that be a greater disappointment than the secret dying with the author?
- Decoding the mysteries of ‘Codex Seraphinianus,’ possibly the weirdest book in the world (boingboing.net)
- CODEX SERAPHINIANUS: Quite possibly the strangest book in the world (touringinstability.wordpress.com)
- Codex Seraphinianus – The Book that Seems to Come from Another World (factday.com)