2009-09-16, , Comments

On the subject of this site, I wanted to mention the recent addition of a favicon Little chap favicon. Per pixel, it’s cost me more effort than any other feature; but then it’s accessed more than any other asset. It’s meant to be a piece from a jigsaw puzzle. I got the idea when re-reading Life A User’s Manual. I like puzzles and piecing things together.

Life A User's Manual

Perec’s great masterpiece is packed with interwoven stories and trickery, but at its heart is the epic battle between the millionaire, Bartlebooth, and the puzzle-maker Gaspard Winckler. Bartlebooth begins his campaign by learning how to paint, which takes him 10 years. For the next 20 years he travels the world, painting a water colour picture of a different port every couple of weeks. He sends the paintings back home to Paris. On receipt, Winckler glues each picture to a board which he then cuts, making a series of jigsaw puzzles for Bartlebooth to solve on his return. Once Bartlebooth completes each puzzle, an ingenious process is used to glue its pieces together and re-join the cut fibres of the paper; then the picture itself is lifted from the board, returned to the port it depicts, and washed clean in the sea; and finally the paper is returned in something close to its original state to Bartlebooth.

Thus, after 50 years of work, there will be nothing to show.

French jigsaw pieces

In the book’s preamble Perec describes familiar die-cut jigsaws, classifying the best known pieces of such puzzles as “little chaps”, “double crosses” and “crossbars”. Such diversions are eschewed by the true puzzler:

The art of jigsaw puzzling begins with wooden puzzles cut by hand, whose maker undertakes to ask himself all the questions the player will have to solve, and, instead of allowing chance to cover his tracks, aims to replace it with cunning, trickery and subterfuge. All the elements occurring in the image to be reassembled — this armchair covered in gold brocade, that three-pointed black hat with its rather ruined black plume, or that silver-braided bright yellow livery — serve by design as points of departure for trails that lead to false information.

My thanks to Tim Beard for scanning a couple of pages from his edition of La Vie, Mode d’Emploi. I wanted to know what the “little chaps” etc. were before they got translated into English. I realise my favicon Little chap favicon could be improved but I don’t know how to go about it. Anyone?

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