Dzieło, którego nie ma? Praktyczne (i ontologiczne) powody niedostępności „Xięgi Bałwochwalczej”
In the age of technological reproductibility the original of The Booke of Idolatry has disappeared under more and more replicas. We have been talking and writing about reproductions which are more and more distant from the original: reflections, reflexes, copies, representations, and effigies. Until today, the whole cycle of Schulz’s cliché-verres has not been published in an adequate form – there are only more successful reproductions of particular graphics. At any rate, the identity of The Booke has always been precarious and ambiguous. It has always been a work in motion – flickering, unstable, composed in various ways since particular graphics have appeared in different authorial configurations (files) each of which lead its own, independent life. Thus The Booke of Idolatry has its multiple history and no “hard” ontology. As a whole, it is not available. Still, the trouble with it begins already at the elementary level of an individual graphic. The differences among available copies have been caused by technological conditions (different chemical processing of the positives), which bring about specific material (different pace of ageing) as well as artistic consequences (replicating his cliché-verres, Schulz would choose either a sepia or a silver-black tone). As a result, different prints of the same graphic look different, which implies contingency of seeing and, what follows, also of understanding and interpretation. We may encounter The Booke of Idolatry only in its specific historical version, by coming across its individual copy. A comparison of a dozen or so preiconographic descriptions (or perhaps testimonies of looking/seeing) of the same copy of Mademoiselle Circe and Her Troupe reveals a fundamental diversity of views. Is it possible to have a debate on meaning without a consensus as regards what we can see? Is a pact concerning a visible object of the debate made (or perhaps not made?) in passing, while we interpret it in a joint effort to find its meaning?