These days I am concentrating on a work in progress—an experimental novel called Five Strange Languages. It’s long and complex: it has photographs, footnotes, multiple columns, graphs, charts, equations, and sheet music. 

I have been working on it more or less every day since 2008. It’s divided into five volumes. Book 3, Weak in Comparison to Dreams, is published by Unnamed Press. Order from Amazon here. It’s a freestanding novel, so there is no need to know anything about the other four books. 

(If you came to this site looking for art history, theory, and criticism: there is no visual art in these five books, sorry. I’ve written a pamphlet on why someone in the humanities might want to try writing “creatively” or experimentally, outside their discipline. It’s free on Academia. There are also two websites with lots of material — about a book’s worth in each — on these subjects: “What is Interesting Writing in Art History?” and “Writing with Images.“)

If you have any comments or questions about what’s in the novel or what’s on this page, please feel free to write.  

Here are some pages that may help as study guides for Five Strange Languages. These are all documents I’m using to write. They are live: Google updates them every five minutes. A couple are hard to read on this page. You can see them in full here (note tabs at the bottom) and here.

First, here is a timeline of the characters in all five books. This is a large spreadsheet, which prints out at about two by three feet. (Scroll up/down and right/left.)

A chart showing which parts of the book represent forms of sanity, and which show forms of irrationality or insanity.

A table showing the symbols I used to help organize the leading concepts. This is a “mathesis” or “pasigraphy”; Joyce, for example, did something like this in Finnegans Wake. It helps to manage unwieldy ideas.

This is a long document with full description of the themes in each of the five books. It includes maps, photos of the places in the novel, and photos of the books that went into the novel. The document is easier to read here.

A chart of the relation between the story and the way it’s told (narration versus fabula).

A spreadsheet with an overview of the project.

A more detailed spreadsheet of the contents of the five books. I use this to keep track of references to characters, composers, places, and events.

A set of tables I made to estimate how many hours, days, and years I’ve worked, and how many hours I’ve spent, on average, on each page. These tables also have current word counts for all five novels.

Selections from these documents will be published as Notes and Materials, possibly in 2025-26. As always, comments and questions on any of this are welcome.