New Criticals

Beyond the satisfying irony of seeing an authoritarian grammar regime falter, it seems like there is some deeper meaning hidden within The New Yorker’s “POSTCRIPT” error. Missing its “S,” we are left with POST-CRIPT; the leap to “CRYPT” is short, considering the context. “CRYPT” connotes not only death, not only the tomb, but also secrecy and hiddenness, as in "encryption" and "cryptic." In Derrida’s gloss, “No crypt presents itself. The grounds [lieux] are so disposed as to disguise and to hide...But also to disguise the act of hiding and to hide the disguise: the crypt hides as it holds.”

Here the word "crypt" – secrecy itself – is hidden, encrypted, inside of The New Yorker’s error. The error is the secret, and the secret is the error – the revolutionary power of the mistake, of that which escapes determination. This was also Professor Boym’s secret: “The margin of error,” she writes, “is the margin of freedom.” The error is the territory that is left to be mapped, the still-dark site of art and revolution – the “space of humanity itself.”

I hope that The New Yorker lets the error stand. Though we have lost, far too soon, the preeminent archeologist of the error, I believe she would see the “CRIPT” as an entrance into her thought, as a digital monument to our “margin of freedom.” I hope she would be pleased.