About the Book
"Delivered Under the Similitude of a Dream" is an art project by Aaron Wilder deconstructing John Bunyan’s 1678 book “Pilgrim’s Progress.” The book is a heavily didactic tale of how to live your life as a Christian. It is used to indoctrinate children into evangelical Christianity. This project started as an installation in one of the brick vaults of the San Francisco Mint in 2017. Imagery from this installation was then used to create 75 digital mixed media collages that were then, in turn, used to create the contents of this book. The titles of each collage (outlined in the “CONTENTS” section of this book matched with the original scanned page numbers from a found copy of “Pilgrim’s Progress”) are from cards and letters sent to the artist from a religious authority figure throughout his life. Names of characters from Bunyan’s text are applied to images of the artist as a child in non-chronological order to challenge the linear focus of aging. In doing so, Aaron Wilder applies the guise of 75 characters from Bunyan’s book to himself at different points throughout childhood. This project explores the concept of layered authorship. Feelings of nostalgia for a lost childhood are uncomfortably juxtaposed to a rejection of prescribed life trajectories based on religion and morality.