Variables and Thresholds: A Consideration of The Way through Doors by Jesse Ball

March 6, 2009 | 1 book mentioned 2 min read

Lauren Karwoski-Magee teaches architecture at Drexel University, runs her own architecture and design firm The Drafted Line, and reads a lot.

cover1. Cover art and a book’s spine are important. The spine of this book does something that I refer to in class as “drawing the viewer in,” making a person look closer and become more intimate with a work. The intriguing spine coupled with a cover that is a series of thin thresholds draws me in immediately.

2. Thin thresholds: a threshold, according to, is “any new place or point of entering or beginning.” Often thresholds are spoken of as zones or spaces, rather than simply a line or a point, beyond which starts a different condition. This suggests that the slightest of variables could evince the beginning of something new and doesn’t always require a threshold as dramatic as a door or a wood saddle.

2a. If a variable can be minuscule, must we recognize the variable or only the outcome to realize we’ve reached a turning point?

2b. New: what is new, really? Is life a succession of interconnected elements, one feeding into the next, however abruptly?

2c. Dramatic doors and saddles made of wood…

3. I happen to enjoy thinking about the interconnectedness of things. In fact, I sometimes sit and daydream about it. It’s like the Kevin Bacon game for inanimate objects and life events (with a dash of whimsy) to help see things in new ways, paired unexpectedly, like multi-dimensional puzzles.

4. Puzzles can become unexpectedly intricate, especially when new variables (even if minuscule) are involved. Variables keep life interesting, making us think about what it is that we really believe (remember, want) to be true.

5. Memory and truth. The storytelling in The Way Through Doors relies on train of thought in which the characters may have multiple identities and versions of experiences with the end result of helping to restore memory. The narrative takes a path wherein the pieces of story overlap but don’t necessarily grow as more information becomes known. It progresses linearly as if you were to take a spring, stretch it out a bit, and then flatten it.

teaches architecture at Drexel University, runs her own architecture and design firm The Drafted Line, and reads a lot.

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