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The palimpsest is also often likened to the human brain and to memory. The mystic writing pad for Freud consists of a wax layer which lies beneath a sheet of wax paper, and a transparent celluloid sheet.

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When the celluloid sheet is written on, traces of the writing appear on the wax paper, but when the paper is detached from the wax layer, the traces disappear, leaving the writing pad blank. The traces of writing are nonetheless persevered in the wax layer. The writing pad therefore performs the dual function of the palimpsest; it accepts new information on one end, and it produces permanent traces of memory on the other.

Thomas de Quincey also writes about the human brain in a similar vein:. What else than a natural and mighty palimpsest is the human brain?

Palimpsest | manuscript |

Each succession has seemed to bury all that went before. And yet in reality not one has been extinguished. In comparing the palimpsest with human memory, De Quincey emphasizes its propensity to preserve over its intention to destroy. The palimpsest is therefore presents a utopian possibility of eternal preservation.

The Archimedes Palimpsest

The carnival due to its propensity to plunge certainty into ambivalence relies on the mask, which enables fluid identities. It is however important to recognize that just as the carnival must always give way for order, and all masks are eventually discarded, the palimpsest, due to its inherent unruly nature, will also make way for a structure that privileges an ordered heterogeneity. Although this new structure could be perceived of as a favourable departure from the chaos rendered by the palimpsest, it would certainly lack the charm of its predecessor, which through its fluidity, endorses the reveries of the carnival and its lack of order.

Works Cited Bailey, Geoff. Dillon, Sarah. Kristeva, Julia.

Roudiez, Leon S. New York: Columbia University Press, Landow, George P. Hypertext 3. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, Tygstrup, Frederik.

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Museum Tusculanum Press, Reynolds Roberto Kutcher W. View American English definition of palimpsest. Change your default dictionary to American English. View the pronunciation for palimpsest.


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Using the thesaurus. Close What are red words? Close Thesaurus. Close singular palimpsest plural palimpsests. Synonyms and related words. Documents and types of document: annual report , blue book , certificate

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