The book as a tunnel

The book as a tunnel
Author: Jones, Phil (2014)


Through our first repeated interaction with books, we come to recognize elements recurring in these experiences, such as: verso and recto pages, covers, spine, etc., as well as relations between these elements (front/back, part/whole, etc.). Such interaction enables us to construct abstracted mental representations of the book, which are simpler than any single physical instantiation, but indicative of many other books. This schematization provides the basis for a range of structures and pathways that can be linked, or mapped, onto text and imagery in both conventional and unconventional ways. Through metaphor and metonymy basic concepts evoked by schematic book-form can link with words and images to make new meaning. Therefore, rather than thinking of the book page as simply a substrate onto which the printed word is inscribed, it can be understood, for example, as a slice of time and/or space, and such an understanding provides opportunities for making associations with text and imagery. Consequently, the book is not a neutral carrier of meaning but can prompt the reader to think in particular ways about how information is presented. This essay will explore the book-form as a source of schematic structure that can be linked and blended with other elements to instantiate texts in diverse and creative ways. Using ideas from conceptual metaphor theory and conceptual blending theory, it will focus on one metaphorical understanding of the book: book is tunnel, to highlight possibilities for integrating book-form with book texts.

The tunnel-book is a format that has been explored by book artists in which apertures are cut into pages suggesting movement through, rather than around pages. This essay discuses a book produced as part of an ongoing PhD project that uses the same understanding of cutting through the book but instead seeks to evoke this understanding through imagery and the conventional codex rather than through piercing the book page and utilizing the tunnel-book format. An account is provided of how conceptions of moving through a tunnel are projected onto experiences of moving through a book and the ways in which these domains of experience can additionally be blended with other metaphorical journeys, in this case involving a progression through a course of postgraduate study.

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