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Below is the text of the wall-writing that S scrawls into the wood of his room on the xebec – at least the text that is revealed to us in Ship of Theseus. Much more writing occurred, but we are only privy to what is show below. Remember that S began the text at the top of his cell and continued writing in a spiral around his room until it reached at least halfway down to the floor (p217) where it culminated in the question written on p329. The format of the text has been maintained (italics, ALL CAPS, strikethroughs, etc.) in case that is relevant for the possible code hidden there. Jen suggests multiple times that there must be a code.


p207
What S Thought He Wrote
I swam away from the ship. I assumed it had been destroyed. I found myself under a pier, coughing out seawater. I could hear the noise of the demonstration above.
What S Actually Wrote
I SWAM AWAY FROM THE SHIP. I HAD ASPIRED TO DESTROY IT. I FOUND MYSELF UNDER AN ARCH, CURSING AT SENATORS. COULD I HARM THE NOISY DEMONS ABOVE?
FXC’s Footnote
This may be an allusion to the anonymous 1866 novel Les Démons en Haut, a scathing rebuke of the contemporary Parisian bourgeoisie. While the book is not well-known—indeed, it was banned almost immediately—one can easily imagine that Straka felt a kinship with its author.

pp259-260

What S Thought He Wrote
I was rowed to shore,where a man in a kaftan was waiting for me. We walked from a date palm grove into a city and through a nighttime marketplace. Agents hid among us in plain sight. Caged finches fluttered their wings against their prisons. Children moaned from inside baskets when summoned by flute. The repository is no more.
What S Actually Wrote
I raged at the sun while the moon and constellations whistled for me. We walked, we damned pilgrims, to a cenotaph. The thunder had no mercy; angels bade us adieu, punished by sound. Cairns of fiction flummoxed the winds, held their positions. O, chastened men of ink, battle the sundering force! Le repos est la mort!
FXC’s Footnote
I am told that a French aficionado of Straka’s work is seeking to memorialize the writer with a cenotaph in Paris’s Père Lachaise cemetery. I lack the financial means to contribute to this effort (and the defunct Karst has nothing to give), but I would be pleased if it were successful.

p328

What S Thought He Wrote
O Sola! O for you to transcend this brightest bedlam of invention! Sing to me, Sola, of amour, and may your song pull like a current, carry me through these foaming rapids of blood and ink, for I am a man driven time and again off course.
What S Actually Wrote
O, sailor. O, for your trance to end, this mindless bedlam and deception! You’re simply a sailor, no more. Days are long and nights disturbing. You’ve married a rudely foaming madness of blood and ink, and why? Damned man. Riven time and again, you’re aught more.
FXC’s Footnote
Compare S.’s different responses to his experiences with “mediated writing.” In Chapter 7, he seems flummoxed by it, but one senses a bit of wonder in him as well. Here, though, we see S. resisting it, straining to overcome it, as if he is more certain of what he wants to say and cannot abide not being able to say it. Is it possible that Straka himself was grappling with a similar conflict—between artistic intention and execution? Between desire and the ability to express it? My correspondence with him offers no guidance on the matter, but as these seem like fairly commonplace struggles—the sort that beset many people, not just artists—I will venture to proclaim that it is more than possible; it is certain.

p329

WHO IS SIGNE RABE?


Commentary/Questions

The phrase Le repos est la mort! on p260 translates to Rest is death. This seems to be a deliberate allusion to this quote by Blaise Pascal Our nature consists in motion. Complete rest is death. Thanks @anomija for pointing this out.

 

Why are the text formats so inconsistent between each of the four different examples? Sometimes the actual text is ALL CAPS, sometimes it is italicized, and sometimes it has strikethroughs.

 

Why does the wall-writing culminate in the question about Signe Rabe?

 

FXC’s third footnote regarding the wall writing (p328) refers back to the Chapter 7 wall writing (p259-260) and mentions the word flummoxed – a word used in the wall writing itself. A clue?

 

Jen and Eric reveal that the question about Signe Rabe was not in the original manuscript – that FXC added it herself. (See marginalia p329)

 

Does the fact that the wall-writing is written in a continuous spiral around the room have any significance?
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