Sign after the × _____ is an artist book that weaves togeth­er form and con­tent, image and text, into an alle­go­ry. On the one hand, an inves­ti­ga­tion into the let­ter and sym­bol “×” reveals how the devel­op­ment of the sym­bol­ic realm (lan­guage, and oth­er visu­al forms of rep­re­sen­ta­tion) con­tributes to how the uncon­scious is struc­tured with­in any giv­en indi­vid­ual, cul­ture or civ­i­liza­tion. The way the let­ter or sym­bol “×” has been used can hence be under­stood as an index or symp­tom for repressed desires and oppres­sive pow­er struc­tures.

On the oth­er hand, the book for­mal­ly struc­tures these x‑related ideas around the very struc­ture of the book” itself as cul­tur­al arti­fact. The book is made up of all the pre­lim­i­nary and end mat­ter that tends to struc­ture the con­ven­tion­al aca­d­e­m­ic book, but it does this to the point of exhaus­tion. A book made up almost entire­ly of an exhaus­tive list of pre­lim­i­nary and end mat­ter impress­es the idea of the impos­si­bil­i­ty of attain­ing a defin­i­tive ori­gin or phan­ta­sized end. West­ern civilization’s obses­sion with the begin­nings of life, for instance of deter­min­ing the miss­ing link between humans and their pri­mate ances­tors, illus­trates a con­stant quest for an anthro­pocen­tric notion of truth,” not to men­tion a desire to har­ness all life in the name of human-cen­tric needs and desires. Jacques Derrida’s writ­ings shed light on the con­stant defer­ral any ulti­mate truth or ori­gin. The same goes with the West’s obses­sions with the end, as in the apoc­a­lypse, and the idea of the end of his­to­ry. This obses­sion seems to point to the inabil­i­ty of human­i­ty to repress an innate impulse toward vio­lence, and/or the abil­i­ty to har­ness the forces of the death dri­ve lurk­ing with­in the uncon­scious, pro­pelling human­i­ty toward the brink of extinc­tion.

These two ele­ments of the book’of “×” as a salient sym­bol for the ide­o­log­i­cal uncon­scious at the turn of the 21st cen­tu­ry, and of the parts of the book as a metaphor for our obses­sions about the unknown (origins/ends) as well as point­ing to the end” of the book in our dig­i­tal age, and the begin­ning of a new way of play­ing with and orga­niz­ing lan­guage and ideas’intersect alle­gor­i­cal­ly to form a kind of lit­er­ary pic­ture puz­zle, or rebus.