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Baker's Dozen

The Count Of 13: Ramsey Campbell's Weird Selection
Sean Kitching , May 6th, 2020 09:26

In a Baker's Dozen diversion, writer Ramsey Campbell guides Sean Kitching through 13 favourite pieces of weird culture, from film to opera and literature, via David Lynch, Arthur Machen and more


Luigi Serafini - Codex Seraphinianus
It was the artist JK Potter, who has illustrated a bunch of books of mine, who suggested this to me. It’s a splendidly strange book in all manner of ways, but one of the stranger things is that it keeps slipping in and out of print. Every so often it reappears, and those who’ve heard of it will swarm and grab copies while they can because it does go back out of print again and then become legendary for another few years, then up it will rise from its grave again to be fallen upon by the latest bunch of devotees. So once JK had recommended it, I kept an eye out for it. I think the copy I got cost me £100 for one of the Italian editions but I’m more than happy to pay that. As an encyclopedia of an unknown world, it is very Borges I would say. Luigi Serafini, who created it, says that writing in this unknown language was like automatic writing. He certainly claims that he doesn’t have any idea what it means, or even of the structure of it. Whether we can entirely credit that, I don’t know. Who knows. Perhaps like the Necronomicon, it’s been inspired somewhere else by some alien consciousness. It’s also like that famed codex that nobody can decipher - The Voynich Manuscript. Codex Seraphinianus is almost like a benign Necronomicon. It sort of invokes the alien, although as far we can see there are no invocations in it. Maybe they are there and we wouldn’t know. Maybe by the very act of reading, we’re performing the rite.