Dr. Phil Jones’ professional output

The Book as a Tunnel

Section of a Book – Published 30th Jul 14

Through our first repeated interaction with books, we come to recognize recurring elements in these experiences, such as verso and recto pages, covers, spine, etc., and relationships between these elements (front/back, part/whole, etc.). Such interactions enable us to construct abstracted mental representations of the book, which are simpler than any single physical instantiation, but indicative of many other books. This schematization provides the basis for a range of structures and pathways that can be linked, or mapped, onto text and imagery in both conventional and unconventional ways. Through metaphor and metonymy, basic concepts evoked by schematic book-form can link with words and images to make new meaning. Therefore, rather than thinking of the book page as simply a substrate onto which the printed word is inscribed, it can be understood, for example, as a slice of time and/or space, and such an understanding provides opportunities for making associations with text and imagery. Consequently, the book is not necessarily a neutral carrier of meaning but can prompt the reader to think in particular ways about how information is presented. This article will explore the book-form as a source of schematic structure that can be linked and blended with other elements to instantiate texts in diverse and creative ways. Using ideas from conceptual metaphor theory and conceptual blending theory, it will focus on one metaphorical understanding of the book: book as a tunnel, to highlight possibilities for integrating the physical and visual forms of books with book texts. The tunnel book is a format that has been explored by book artists in which apertures are cut into pages, suggesting movement through, rather than around pages. This article discusses a book that utilizes the notion of cutting through a book, but instead, seeks to evoke this effect through imagery and the conventional codex rather than by piercing the book page and utilizing the tunnel book format. I provide an account of how a sense of moving through a tunnel is projected onto experiences of moving through a book. I also discuss the ways in which these two parallel experiences can be blended with other metaphorical journeys, in this case progression through a course of postgraduate study.


Publication details

Publication status Published
Refereed 1
Publication title The Open Book Project
Publishers name Eastern Michigan University Galleries
Number of pages 17
Page range 35–52
ISBN 0 912042 13 3