不宜於大多數閱讀情境，《PLETHORA MAGAZINE》的開本達70×50公分，打開來可以佔滿一整張咖啡桌，翻頁時更要雙手並用，份量感十足。而撇開存心要刁難讀者的潛在理由（我不排除這理由），其煞有介事的大開本，理應是對數位時代閱讀文化的抗逆；並懷著使紙本閱讀一事，重又獲得隆重其事的良好願望。不過，《PLETHORA MAGAZINE》的抗逆又豈止反映在書幀設計上？
以創刊號的題旨「Flatlands」為例，其命名大抵來自於英國小說作家Edwin Abbott Abbott的作品《Flatland》。小說中，Edwin Abbott Abbott虛構出一個平面國，國民都是二維空間的生物，只有線條構成的身體輪廓。在情節推移下，某天一位平面國的國民，遇到分別來自零維度國和三維度國的國民，期間發現大家理解世界的方式截然不同，彼此之間難以溝通，根本是「不同次元」的人。
《PLETHORA MAGAZINE》現正於香港書店Book B公開展覽中，展期從現在到10月10日為止。為迎合雜誌的氛圍調性，書店特意把二樓的展演空間刷成黑色，並備好了六期雜誌、兩張桌椅，讓客人能在舒適環境下閱讀本書。誠然在黑漆漆的空間內，配合小功率的探照燈，會令人有一種欲罷不能的暢讀感；而就著專題彌漫的怪異氣息，甚至會生起翻閱邪典禁書時的亢奮，是一本非常適合在微光下閱讀的刊物。
common room & co.
The door to knowledge is never unbiasedly open to everyone, it has always been determined by one’s descent, social class, gender, and occupation. The contrast was particularly apparent during the era before printing became widespread. Back in the days when lore was only communicated orally, physical distance could be an unconquerable hurdle for people to learn about how other tribes interpret the world. Therefore, it is perhaps not exaggerating to suggest people in the old times, when separated by oceans or mountains, comprehended the world so differently as if existing in a universe of a different dimension.
PLETHORA MAGAZINE is a biannual publication founded in Copenhagen. With themes that revolve around tribal traditions, ancient science, mythology and alternative cultures, every issue of PLETHORA MAGAZINE brings to its reader a set of diverse and unconventional content. In fact, it is fair to say the awe-inspiring size of the publication is as impressive as its content.
The magazine measures 70×50 cm when flipped open, in another word, it can easily cover up the entire surface of a coffee table. Before starting to read, it is necessary to first settle at somewhere comfortable and spacious as the magazine is not only big but also heavy. The editorial team’s intention here is too obvious to omit — by reviving the almost-ritual-like experience of sitting properly to read a printed material, it is a bold notion to challenge the current digital age where reading materials have become too easily accessible. But its ambition goes further than this.
Apart from the book design, PLETHORA MAGAZINE also posted another challenge to its reader — its content. “Flatlands”, title of the magazine’s inaugural issue was very likely named after the novella Flatland written by the British author Edwin Abbott Abbott. The novella is set in a two-dimensional world where the people are figures of simple line-segments and polygons. As the story progresses, one of the characters gets acquainted with people from zero-dimensional and three-dimensional worlds. He fails to conceive anything from these people as dwellers in worlds of different dimension have dissimilar mentality.
Flatland is a metaphor to comment on the rigidity of the hierarchy of Victorian culture and to elicit an epistemological discussion about how possession of knowledge can shape different worldviews. The editors of PLETHORA MAGAZINE try to apply this argument to our actual world, including all the civilized, ancient, scientific or pagan tribes that ever existed or exist in the human history. The ideology began with the magazine’s first issue, and continued to guide the publication in exploring the numerous “flatlands” in history and their closed or feeble systems of knowledge circulation.
The topics discussed in PLETHORA MAGAZINE may appear random and peculiar at first glance — for instance, the European pagans’ ritual of wearing bizarre costumes to reach higher spirituality, the illustrations of some imaginary plants in some classic encyclopedia of plants, the development of diving technology, the design sketch of “Cenotaph to Newton”, or Zambia’s forgotten space programme — but they are all significant chapters in human history that should not to be neglected. The articles in the magazine are separated by a couple of illustrations or photos that require a careful look to apprehend them as the editors’ subtle and non-verbal response to the topics discussed. Printed media is the only platform that allows one to express creativity and poetic imagination through typesetting.
Through taking the most humble approach to examine the queer imagination of various tribes, PLETHORA MAGAZINE shares with its readers a sincere praise to mankind.
From now until 10 October, the Hong Kong bookstore, Book B, is hosting an exhibition of PLETHORA MAGAZINE. The bookstore has painted the wall of its exhibition room on the second floor in black to adapt to the magazine’s style. Visitors can sit on one of the two chairs in the room to leisurely read the six magazines in display. The minimal yet optimum lighting in the room in fact prompts visitors to crave for reading more; the dimness of light surely gives one a sense of guilty pleasure of sneaking into a room full of occult knowledge.
common room & co.
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