Altered Book Journal - The Art of Happiness

Written by John Cowper Powys ~ 1935
Altered by Karen Hatzigeorgiou ~ 2004 - 2008


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I found the book The Art of Happiness at a barn sale near my father's home in the summer of 2004. I think I paid $3 for it; pretty expensive by my usual standards. In my mind, I pictured a book of bright colors and themes that reflected the cheeriness of the title. I decided it would be a place for me to experiment and play with color. I had a file folder full of interesting color combinations that I had pulled out of magazines, so I decided to use a square punch and select one square of color for each page. I would build my artwork around the designs and colors from that square. That was my intention. And it still is the process I use, for the most part, although the poetry always comes first.

But this book has become more to me than just a way to break free of my own color limitations. The text of the book itself has lead me down a different path. That's why it has become more of an altered book journal.

In the two and a half years that I have been working on it, I have found that the words I choose for the found poetry and the scrap of color I select for my palette are totally intertwined with my mood and frame of mind on a particular day. In addition, Mr. Powys's own view of the world and how we achieve happiness is not a very pretty picture at all. In fact, in the first two chapters, he tends to wallow in the despair that we sometimes feel when happiness appears to be eluding us. I'm hoping that he's using contrast as a literary device and will eventually describe a way for us to lift ourselves out of discouragement when it finds us. However, I'm skeptical about his ability to do that. I would say that the way I've altered the book has actually provided a much more positive spin on the world than Mr. Powys did.

But as my Blog also shows, The Art of Happiness is sometimes a book of sadness, disillusionment, and discontent. Still, it's important to note that it is also a book with an underlying current of optimism. And in that way, it has become much more of an altered book journal than I ever intended.




2008 - 2014 ~ Karen J. Hatzigeorgiou
All rights reserved.
Contact ~ karen@karenswhimsy.com