The Cage

The Cage
Martin Vaughn-James

First published in 1975, the re-release of this highly experimental “visual novel” seems more contemporary than ever. The illustrations are like film stills from some post-apocalyptic, post-human fantasy (think Tarkovsky’s Stalker), with the text providing an enigmatic voiceover. The whole thing screams out for interpretation, especially given the central image of a bed, which I take to be the dream machine that sets everything in motion, lubricated by ink, oil, and blood (perhaps). What to make of the book’s weird wedding of organic and mechanical motifs, “carnivorous” images of rise and decline, expansion and contraction, is an open challenge, but one that well repays the effort.