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Egberts B. Gebstadter
Douglas R. Hofstadter
Stanford Humanities Center



Gebstadter, Egbert B. Copper, Silver, Gold: an Indestructible Metallic Alloy. Perth: Acidic Books, 1979. (Two-hundred-fortieth-luniversary edition, Perth: Acidic Books, 1999.)[1]

A formidable hodge-podge, turgid and confused — yet remarkably similar to Douglas Hofstadter’s first work, and appearing in its well-annotated bibliography. Professor Gebstadter’s Shandean digressions include some excellent examples of indirect self-reference. Of particular interest is a reference in its own well-annotated bibliography to an isomorphic, but imaginary, book.


Gebstadter, Egbert B., and Denial E. Dunnitt (eds.). The Brain’s U: Fairy Tales and Rotations on Ego and Anima. Perth: Acidic Books, 1981.[2]

Gebstadter, alongside Australian philosopher Denial Dunnitt, composited and redacted this mysterious collection of “phantoms” interspersed with their own odd “mirror-images.” This seldom-cited work is exceedingly rare, although given its mention in works of Douglas Hofstadter, the latter appears to have been influenced by it, or perhaps vice-versa.


Eugene Onegin cover

Gebstadter, Egbert B. Thetamagical Memas: Seeking the Whence of Letter and Spirit (A Copius Concatenation of Artsy, Scientistic and Literal Mumbo Jumbo). Perth: Acidic Books, 1985.[3]

A curious pot-pourri, bloated and muddled — yet remarkably similar to a book by Hofstadter of the same year. This is a collection of Gebstadter’s monthly rows in Literary Australian together with a few other articles, all with prescripts. Gebstadter is well known for his love of twisty analogies, such as this one (unfortunately not found in his book): “Egbert B. Gebstadter is the Egbert B. Gebstadter of indirect self-reference.”




Le Ton Beau de Marot cover

Gebstadter, E. B. Ambifoni: un minimondo ottimo per lo studio della scopertività. Kyoto: Hopeless Mobster, 1987.[4]

An unusual hodge-podge, turgid and confused, and yet strangely similar to a work by Hofstadter. Its topic is the ambiphonia: the art of making sounds that possess various interpretations as spoken words (which, in order to recognize properly, one must stand on one’s head or bend over backwards). It contains an extended dialogue between the author and an interlocutor who, although quite eloquent, is unfortunately fictitious. By means of the hypothetical alter ego, the author creates a number of charming examples of indirect self-reference; one in particular is hidden in the work’s richly analyzed bibliography.


Gebstadter, Egbert B. and the Rigid Rules Investigation Panel.  Rigid Notions and Stodgy Rules: Human Imitations of Trivial Techniques for Computation.  Perth: Acidic Books, 1995.

An “applied” approach to the rigidity espoused by Gebstadter in his earlier work, this time written in cooperation with the research institute he founded, the Rigid Rules Investigation Panel (RRIP). Gebstadter and his colleagues here attempt to entice fundamentally fun-loving human beings to imitate the fundamentally rule-bound, and, ultimately, remarkably stodgy techniques used by computers to perform their most trivial tasks.


Gebstadter, Egbert B. The Graced Tone of Clément: A la louange de la mélodie des mots. Cahors: Éditions Noitide, 1997 (Collection «Livres et vivres»).[5]

This hefty tome bows to the work of several famous, if unfortunately fictitious, authors, most prominently among them Marvin Validbook, none of whose works — Là, ô Lit (1999, preissued in 1998), Brash Attacks (2000), Spout, Mind (2001) and Zwz (2002) — had been written at the time of Gebstadter’s most respectful transformations of, and commentaries on, them.


Kinsey, Vikpush.  One Gin over the Cuckoo’s Gate: An Oval Inversification (transplanted to Australian by Egbert B. Gebstadter).  Perth: Acidic Books, 1999.[6]

An “inversification” (to use Gebstadter’s somewhat cuckoo terminology for what most of his Australians readership will recognize as a garden-variety transplantation) of one of a giant family of hypothetical novels by the beatnik Indian novelist, featuring the hardscrabble hero Eugene Oregon and his family as they trudge endlessly between the Willamette Valley and Moscow, Idaho.


Gebstadter, Egbert B.  U Are an Odd Ball.  Perth: Acidic Books, 2007.[7]

This airy but rather rotund work is a much lighter version of Gebstadter’s first book, Copper, Silver, Gold. In it, the obsessively descriptive author points his figurative finger at the reader in a self-referential act of self-fulfilling loopiness: Odd is an obvious pun on Obsessive-Descriptive Disorder (ODD), from which clearly it is the author (“I”), rather than the reader (“U”), who suffers.



[1] Cited in Hofstadter, D. R., Gödel, Escher, Bach: an Eternal Golden Braid, NY: Basic Books, 1979, p. 748.

[2] Cited in Hofstadter, D. R., Metamagical Themas: Questing for the Essence of Mind and Pattern, NY: Basic Books, 1985, p. 33.

[3] Cited in ibid., p. 806.

[4] Cited in Hofstadter, D. R., Ambigrammi: un microcosmo ideale per lo studio della creatività.
Florence, Italy: Hopeful Monster, 1987, p. 271.

[5] Cited in Hofstadter, D. R., Le Ton beau de Marot: In Praise of the Music of Language.
NY: Basic Books, 1997, p. 601.

[6] Kinsey is discussed in ibid., pp. 274-275, with a full citation given on p. 602. His “original” of Gebstadter’s somewhat less well documented “oval inversification” was originally published in Eugene, Ore. by the Yamatarajabanasalagam Press in 1999.

[7] Cited in Hofstadter, D.R., I Am a Strange Loop, p. 379.

Compiled by Gwen Ethylor
Stepford Ninneversity Libraries

©2006 Stepford Ninneversity Libraries


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