Unflattening by Nick Sousanis
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Sousanis' syncretic work, while not as paradigm-shifting as he likely hopes it will be, is still a fantastic example of what can be done with the comic/graphic form, which is sort of the whole point of the book: to point out the potential of the comic as philosophical map. It is a meta-example of itself, and it is very, very well done.
Here, text and image flows and flows intentionally, with both words and pictures pointing the way for readers - and see-ers - through a sometimes (and again, sometimes intentionally) meandering argument for the primacy of comics over mere texts. While much of the information is, or should be, covered in a college general education curriculum, Sousanis has a gentle, yet insistent way of directing one's eyes and thoughts along his pedagogical paths. I would love to see more involved texts constructed in this way, allowing the student to absorb the entirety of ideas through pictorial forms, then "crunching" the details through text. The two can work together, even in separate volumes.
This is not the most profound philosophical treatise I've read. Not by a long shot. But the arguments presented are "good enough". What's truly eye-opening here is the use of the graphic form as a sort of thought map. I can't think of another graphic novel that has done it better than this. When I read this book, I am inspired and want to leverage this carto-graphic technique, despite my meager skills as an artist. Well, that's what collaboration is for.
Anybody want to collaborate? I've got ideas; lots and lots of ideas. And I can draw on a napkin as well as the next guy. But don't ask me to draw on anything more permanent. I'm just not up for it.
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