Visual Lit Crit

October 9, 2007 | 2 books mentioned 2

I’ve got an affinity for diagrams. I find the books of Edward Tufte fascinating, and my interest in such things extends even to the “infographics” contained in most newspapers. I like the idea of distilling something complex down to a visual representation.

And what is more complex than Finnegans Wake, which was the subject of a dense and mysterious-looking diagram from the book Vision in Motion by Laszlo Moholy-Nagy. Richard Kostelanetz highlights the diagram in an essay about Moholy-Nagy, about whom he writes “Need it be said that no other modern artist wrote as well about literature?”

Kostelanetz goes on to write “What Moholy established in Vision in Motion was a model of writing about all the arts as a single entity, to be called art, whose branches (literature, painting, etc.) were merely false conveniences conducive to specialization and isolation.” (via)

This multi-discipline approach would seem to be of particular use in our multimedia world. It’s brings to mind another creative attempt to parse a complex work of literature via non-traditional means: the Pynchon wiki.

created The Millions and is its publisher. He and his family live in New Jersey.


  1. It's a bit annoying to see a generally literate site misspelling the name of James Joyce's last book.

  2. Pesky apostrophe. This has been corrected. Thanks for the note and apologies for any annoyance caused.

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