Work-in-Progress Screening, Dispersed Holdings
with Nishat Hossain
Titled after the book we see dismantled in it, Rabindranath Tagore’s Fruit-Gathering (1916), this film explores reading, teaching, and the fragility of the written word. In Bangla, anthologies are referred to as shongroho or gatherings; an anthology of poems is a kobita shongroho or a "gathering of poems." In titling his anthology of poems Fruit-Gathering, Rabindranath plays on this double meaning of "gathering;" the poems are the fruits his labour, the anthology a harvest.
The fourth poem in Tagore’s gathering describes reading not as deciphering signs but as being captivated by what can not be grasped. To read is to be rapt by what a text promises, to revel in not-yet-having-understood. To read is to press weathered pages to your cheek, to finger the stray marks scattered across it, to pull at its torn edges. Or as Tagore writes, “... this unread letter has lightened my burdens and turned my thoughts into songs.”
Through reading, re-reading, marking, erasing, and even tearing, texts become gatherings of new signs, no longer books of poetry or theory, but instead a gathering of labors not very different from writing. The apparent defacing of the book is thus an act of retrieval. The student retrieves a text that has died for her—by tearing it to pieces. The professor retrieves a text his student has injured—by erasing and recording her marginalia.