Traces, threads and surfaces
DOI link for Traces, threads and surfaces
Traces, threads and surfaces book
In the last chapter I argued that a history of writing must be encompassed within a more inclusive history of notation. In thinking about the form that such a history might take, what immediately comes to mind is that any notation consists of lines. Thus a history of notation would have to be subsumed under a general history of the line. But as I delved into the history of writing in the Western world, and especially the transition from the manuscript of medieval times to the modern printed text, it became clear that what was at stake was not merely the nature of the lines themselves, and of their production. Most of the lines in question were inscribed on parchment or paper. Yet the ways in which they were understood depended critically on whether the plain surface was compared to a landscape to be travelled or a space to be colonized, or to the skin of the body or the mirror of the mind. Evidently it is not enough to regard the surface as a taken-for-granted backdrop for the lines that are inscribed upon it. For just as the history of writing belongs within the history of notation, and the history of notation within the history of the line, so there can be no history of the line that is not also about
the changing relations between lines and surfaces. This chapter is about these relations and their transformations.