Vol. 1 No. 1 (2012)
Academic/Scholarly Articles

The Book as Computer: A Numerical and Topological Analysis of Only Revolutions

Manuel Portela
University of Coimbra
Openings: Studies in Book Art

Published 2012-12-13


  • Experimental Novel,
  • Typographical Poem,
  • Bibliographic Codes


The novel Only Revolutions: The Democracy of Two Set Out & Chronologically Arranged (2006), by Mark Z. Danielewski, establishes a relationship between its bibliographic coding (i.e., its graphical and material form as a book made of letters, pages and openings with a specific typographic design), its linguistic coding (i.e., its phonetic, syntactic, semantic, and pragmatic form), and its narrative coding (i.e., its form as story). Only Revolutions uses the Möbius strip and the circle, in their multiple material and symbolic manifestations – including letter and number shapes – as the organizing principle of this triple universe of signs. Circularity and mirror symmetry function simultaneously as the structure of the book, the structure of language, and the structure of narrative. This article describes the book’s numerical and topological form as a mechanism for creating feedback loops between those structures.