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Leonardo Reviews 319 the author presents general types of cinema textuality: “overlays” such as credit sequences or subtitles, “inserts” such intertitles with narration or dialogue, and “inclusions” of writing such as handwritten notes, posters , signs, typed pages or computer screens. But in these many examples, Chion chooses to complicate rather than simplify his system. Text within cinema space sometimes requires the invention of terms. “Athorybos,” for example, is an aspect of an image that should or might produce a sound but does not. Diegetic writing in a sound film that is not accompanied by a voice or utterance is an athorybal message, a “mute call that asks us to lend it our own voice.” Part 2, Writing, Reading, “aims to problematize cinema’s representation of these two activities.” Here Chion examines the affect and materiality of writing/reading on the screen: the sensuality of ink and paper, the mechanical clacking of a typewriter, the darkened screen space of early computers. Cinema’s ability to jump scales, from long shot to close-up, integrates the intimate spaces of reading or writing—the flatness, abstraction and linearity of a page, for example—with the multidimensionality and simultaneity of the larger world captured by the camera. The challenge of depicting text-messaging in contemporary movies is in the integration of these two visual orders. In some successful experiments, text exchanges between characters hover over the cinema space like overlays, but they are also point-of-view shots of what the characters are reading and writing, silently, as they stare at their devices and type with their thumbs. The final part, Writing in Film Space, gets to the heart of Chion’s project: How do two-dimensional text spaces integrate into threedimensional cinema spaces? Writing usually exists in a controlled environment with conventions and rules for navigation. The directionality of reading, for example, is in contrast to the multi-directionality of cinema space, where a pan in any direction can be understood. The camera may faithfully track the reader’s eyes gliding along the reading surface, but at any moment it can also break free from the restrictions of writing space and re-enter the three-dimensional flux of cinema space. Chion asks why there are so many instances of writing ’s destruction in cinema history. He uses the term “excription” for an “inscription that does not ‘hang on to’ the world, doesn’t incorporate into it.” The typed words of an author dissolve into the scene being depicted. Important messages are erased, rubbed out, deleted. Teardrops and rain dissolve ink on love notes. Letters are torn and tossed to the wind or sea. Books (and inscribed sleds) turn black in the furnace. Chion’s intuition is that cinema wants to escape the flatness of writing and yet needs writing to enact its disappearance into image, again and again. Words are erased in cinema “not to make room for more writing but for the writing that has disappeared from the screen to be inscribed, or rather excribed, in us.” Words on Screen is not about finding tidy answers but about uncovering new riddles in the relationship between text and image. Chion’s research into these questions feels new and is of immense value to scholars and artists working through the entanglements of words on screens in the post-digital age, where all surfaces have the potential of being cinematic interfaces. The Edge of Objectivity: An Essay in the History of Scientific Ideas by Charles Coulston Gillispie. Princeton University Press, Princeton, New Jersey, 2017 (1st edition 1960) 600 pp. Paper. ISBN: 978-0691172521. Reviewed by Enzo Ferrara, Istituto Nazionale di Ricerca Metrologica (INRIM) and Istituto di Ricerche Interdisciplinari sulla Sostenibilità (IRIS), Torino, Italy. Email: . doi:10. 1162/LEON_r_01625 “Non semel quaedam sacra traduntur ” [1]—Lucius Anneus Seneca wrote this quote in his Naturales Quaestiones (65 AD), one of the few works that in ancient times dealt with “scientific” matters, collecting facts of nature from contemporary sources. The Roman philosopher and politician always had an eye for possible moral advancements based on objective observations; the intent of his encyclopedia was, in fact, to discover a foundation for ethics in the knowledge of nature. A similar outlook...


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