An essay in (un)readability.

Just one novel, filmed countless times.
Just one shot, watched countless times.
They make me aware of how every act of reading is threatened by its reversal, the inability to understand and how repeating the same words only long enough renders them illegible.
The text and the shot, turned in my hands again and again, is a treasure map to where writing and paper, meaning and materiality can no longer be held apart.

for research purposes



This one shot I’m looking at from the 1950s TREASURE ISLAND always struck me as being the perfect allegory for some of the most complex theoretical discussions in literature studies. It is of course not by accident that it can be found in an adaptation of a novel that itself is highly self-reflexive and constantly concerned with questions of reading and interpretation.

The following excerpt from Stevenson’s book, found in chapter 29 „The Black Spot Again“ describes exactly this tension between unreadable trace (the ash, the scratch) and readable writing, with the incorrect word „depposed“ as an hybrid between sense and non-sense:

As Matthias Wittmann pointed out to me, Gilles Deleuze in his book on Michel Foucault discusses this very same tension in a passage that reads almost like a description of the scene from TREASURE ISLAND (and of my video essay):



[Gilles Deleuze: Foucault, transl. Seán Hand. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press 1988, p. 38-39]