(Philological Investigation #3)

3 Jan 1889

(Philological Investigation #7)

(Philological Investigation #12)

The projects featured here originate in my own encounters with specific literary and philosophical texts. I refer to them as ‘philological investigations’ since they are, essentially, exercises in philology—a word I understand expansively, as synonymous with textual scholarship and, even more fundamentally, with the slow and careful reading demanded by the latter. They are also an attempt (however modest and circumscribed) to explore the various forms this reading might take, as well as the different ways in which the ‘results’ of this operation (a particular reading, with the word now understood as a noun) might be communicated.

The role I assume throughout each is modeled after what the literary scholar Ernst Robert Curtius (European Literature and the Latin Middle Ages) calls ‘the impassioned philologist.’ It is with the same degree of care and attentiveness exhibited by this type—a care and an attentiveness sometimes bordering on fetishism—that I set out to clarify and to develop the meaning of the texts I engage with.

While textual scholarship serves as a model for these projects, they unfold through procedures that reflect my training as a visual artist. My tools for citation, paraphrase, and translation (the philologist’s stratagems, as it were) are to be found in photography, drawing, and sculpture. What I am interested in ‘writing’ with the aid of these tools may best be described as a conceptual variant of the literary and philosophical essay, existing somewhere between the physical space of the art installation and the mental space of the book.

Like their philological counterpart, these essays aim to deepen and to communicate my own understanding of the text I am in dialogue with and to call attention to the circumstances that have shaped my own (often idiosyncratic) interpretation. In the end, though, they also hope to disclose a dimension of philology in which scholarship, and the enterprise of hermenutics as a whole, may emerge as a form of play and an occasion for humor in their own right—and the ‘impassioned philologist’ himself, as Curtius wrote, as ‘a character in the human comedy.’

—Christopher van Ginhoven Rey


Opera Omnia

La Solitudine dei segni / The Solitude of Signs