Tuesday, 7 July 2009

As theory would have it, transliteration is essentially an exercise in cartography where one system of writing is mapped into another. Its exactitude should be the primary ambition - through meticulousness original forms can be fully recreated by an interested party. Where the source alphabet and destination alphabet do not correspond (known as non-literal transliterations) rules are created which allow a tentative mapping to take place.

So it is here, with the following presentations of these words. These are not carbon copies; they were copied by hand under the duress of time and are not without omission or error. However, they are without doubt transliterations, in spite of their incompletion, in spite of their identical languages and alphabets.

The transliteration of a text between two identical languages should be a contradiction; it is by definition not a transliteration. But what if other events, what if all that which is beyond the circle drawn by the original documents, renders the two alphabets as entirely different systems? What if, on the face of things, the alphabets appear to be the same, what if the majuscules and serifs and medians are identical, and yet beneath the typeface invisible shifts occur, like the hidden rivers beneath Krakow? Beneath these typefaces might rivers not run?

This act is therefore one of transliteration, it is a mapping of systems. It is a necessary movement I undertake, one that allows the recreation of the original form, a form that can only now exist through its copy. Here, finally, destination precedes source. Strangers slowly become known to one another.

History too, as we know it, is a mapping of systems, a movement we undertake from the present into the past to allow us to recreate original forms within our own language. The transliteration of past occupations (both in terms of concern and location) into a perspective situated within affairs current manifests itself most crudely with the naming of things. The naming of things is an atemporal act.

Denomination has forever been associated with an exercise of power. The back and forth of political, military and cultural tenure and release is invariably accompanied by appellations and reversals, within which a process of transliteration, a mapping of one system of understanding into another, can be educed. The naming of things is an act of atemporal power.

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