from The Past Me: Signature

Yadollah Royai


Sign playing? Or past-making? The signature passes something that has gone through a thing, and it turns into the thing’s past.

The sign introduces a thing, brings news of a thing. But the signature introduces itself, brings news of itself. The sign is an agent and the signature a form; the first is expecting, the second alone with itself.

So what the signature reveals to me are signs of me that in the moment of signing spill from me, not myself but the product of my familiarity with something above. Below, it familiarizes me with something unexpected that was in me and is a sign of me. A new understanding of some thing in me, and like me entangled.


The one who whips signs the back of the one who’s whipped. What has happened? Who endorses the back of whom?

Here the signature is no longer the register of the past. Something has happened, but the whip is not the signature of the event. It’s the summoning of the past, meaning the play of the past is also here. But this signature, instead of submitting the proceedings to the past, proceeds with the past, turning the past into the present. It puts what’s before the people on their back, like putting what is due in the palm of a hand. After all, the people’s past is their due and their back isn’t different from their palm. The faqih (“judge”) has come to adjudicate these same dues. He investigates our background, loves the past, goes after the before, digs up what came before and what he finds he brings and puts on the back of the people. For him, before doesn’t mean ahead or in front of. Before means the past, before means past tense, and the signature for him means toying with the past tense. What better place to play with the past tense than on the back. In this way, all the pasts of the judge turn into the present on the back of the people. On the back of those who have been whipped. Otherwise, those who whip wouldn’t take the “before” of the whipped as what is in front of them. They see the judge as the forerunner. He is the greater forerunner the farther back he goes.


Writing on the back?
A signature on the back that carries someone for someone else.
Someone who on the back of the promissory note comes forward, a hole in
a seepage of yesterday into tomorrow.
Like a whip:
a signature on the back of the people from before.
Who has a back?
Who a fore?


The end of the text doesn’t wipe out the sign. I come down with my signature and go up with my signature. Something passes at the bottom of the page that makes the top of the page a past. The past doesn’t get its authority from the above. It gets it from what is now passing below, in my fall from the lines. Here at the end of the fall, there is ascension. I stay at the bottom of the stairs, and the memory stays above in me, entangled. I only know of what I am filled.


A countenance is a feature of a name, or a scene of a name. A scene without a frame.

The surrounding sceneries frame the natural scenes. Around the frame itself is a different surrounding that makes the frame’s surrounding the natural surrounding. Thus, in nature, the scenes never separate from their sceneries. The scenes are inseparable. They stay in their own, and with their own, countenance.

It is like a signature that is the scene for a name, which consumes the countenance and remains inseparable from the name. A scene alone without a surrounding.

translated from the Persian by Kaveh Bassiri