The JRW initial cube

In the early 1980s, Godel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid by Douglas Hofstadter was a best-seller. The cover stated that it was "A metaphorical fugue on minds and machines in the spirit of Lewis Carroll." The cubes shown to the left were pictured on the cover of the book. Hofstadter constructed them himself and called them trip-lets - a block of wood shaped in such a way that its shadows in three different orthogonal directions cast shadows of three different letters. The trip-let idea came to Hofstadter in a flash as he was trying to think how best to symbolize the unity of Godel, Escher, and Bach by somehow fusing their names in a striking design. Hmm, I wondered if I could put my three initials, JRW, into such a cube format and make it work. I sketched the three faces and cut a block of wood with a jig saw. It worked.

Perspective view

Shadows casting each initial

Mechanical drawings


Designed and model built: early 1980s