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Themes that jump out in Chapter 9…

Negative Space

  1. S. presses his hand against the window, and his body heat authors a handprint of negative space – “an island of transparency in a sea of frost.” (p375)
  2. S. himself seems to be a human of negative space amidst a crowd of others in the same situation in the Winter City. “No one there was part of anyone else’s world.” (p376)
  3. S. spends his time writing in the negative space of newspapers, “writing in the thin white spaces between the lines of type…” (p379)
  4. S. dreams of a bird of negative space, “a white, raven-shaped husk in a cold expanse of black.” (p382)
  5. S.‘s footprints that lead up to the portico in the building where Arquimedes de Sobreiro died are negative space. (p387)
  6. S. meets Sola on the ninth floor of a building in a room that is completely empty except for Sola. She alone occupies the empty space, until he S. arrives. Then they both do. (p389)
  7. In the marginalia on p382, Eric and Jen discuss the fact that Summersby, in a letter to Ekstrom, said “you all have our best wishes.” Much is made of you all. I am from Texas (where Doug Dorst resides), and the first thing to come to mind is how I would never say you all. I would say, y’all. The “empty space” of the apostrophe in y’all takes the place of OU. ʻŌʻū happens to be a bird, native to Hawaii, that is feared extinct (negative space)?


  1. The snow covering the ground and its objects form a palimpsest: “Every shape on the ground has been made vague, rounded into a white approximation of itself.” (p375)
  2. The people in the Winter City “all occupy the same space the same space but did not occupy it together.” Each is compared to a drawing on a different piece of tracing paper, the papers all stacked on top of each other. (p376)
  3. S. writes not only in the negative space of the newspapers, but “superimposing his words over the printed ones when he runs out of margin. Palimpsests atop palimpsests.” (p379)
  4. There is a stack of newspapers (that S. has used already) in the corner, rising to the ceiling. (p379)
  5. The plaque on the sidewalk that commemorates Arquimedes de Sobreiro is buried beneath ice. S. must kick away the ice in order to read what is underneath. (p386-387)
  6. The only footnote in the entire chapter describes Straka’s palimpsests atop palimpsests as he struggles to decide whether a male or female should say certain words. Filomela describes her struggle to determine the original words as archaeological. (p388)
  7. The audio palimpsest of the words S. hears outside the room…

    Você não está seguro,
    a male voice says.
    Ninguém é, a female voice says. (p380)and the words he and Sola say inside the room…

    I think we’re safe,” S. says.
    “No,” she says. “No one is. (p390)


  8. It appears that S. is a palimpsest atop Arquimedes de Sobreiro…”So I am connected to Sobreiro. But how?”
    “Different stories,” she says. “Same tradition.”

The Number 9

  1. This is the 9th chapter of Ship of Theseus.
  2. S. is summoned to meet Sola on the ninth floor of a building, which he does (p385-386).
  3. The plaque explains that Sobreiro died on January 9, 1625. (p387)
  4. Sola reveals that S. can confront Vevoda nine months from now in land-time. (p391)

More later. That’s what jumps out now. What jumps out at you?