Une histoire sur l’Oulipo /
True, pious hero illusion
Catalogue for an experimental literature festival.
Une histoire sur l’Oulipo / True, pious hero illusion (French and English titles; they form an anagram) is a fictional catalogue of an experimental literature festival. It gathers together what would be the contents of the event (manifesto, interviews, workshops, lectures…) using the Oulipo—Ouvroir de Littérature Potentielle, a literary movement founded in France during the early 60s by Raymond Queneau and François Le Lionnais—as the common thread. The special feature of this literary group is the use they did of the mathematical constraint (the “contraintes”) as an element of play by means to produce unconventional prose and poetry. The anagram, the lipogram (a text where a letter is systematically omitted), the palindrome and even what was called S+7 (replacing all nouns in the text with the ones seven entries after it in a dictionary) were widely used as oulipian constraints.
This book was designed following a very specific guideline; since it had to include French and English texts, I proposed an editorial palindrome according to which a language would end where the other one started and vice versa. This system offered interesting possibilities due to the fact that the different chapters and their specific layouts wouldn’t match—wherever the English introduction started the French conclusion would end—.
The first and last chapters are illustrated with optical illusions, that have been widely associated with the oulipian literature. Just as the texts do, the can be looked at both from top to bottom and from bottom to top.
The text width varies according to the chapter it belongs to. The Introduction/Conclusion chapter has two texts of the same width, while the Participants/Interview chapter has two different sizes because of the needs of the content.
In the middle of the book there’s a small booklet that intends to show visual interpretations of the oulipian methods. These include op-art work, images of the Dröste effect (where an image contains itself over and over), ambigrammes (images that can be looked at from different points of view)…
Just as the texts do, the page numbers appear twice in each page. The anagrammatic layout gives the page the ability to be the 20th one and the 283rd one at the same time.