The introduction establishes the category of the speech-gesture complex by showing how gesture, in Kafka and Benjamin, undermines and resists textual autonomy. The double aspect of the visible and written is an aspect of the open potential and alternative social possibilities in Brecht; but the introduction also extends the speech-gesture complex to writing and performance not exclusively in the modernist tradition, thereby undermining the conventionally opposed categories of naturalism and modernism. The idea of film as a universal language, prevalent in the silent era, parallels a contemporary interest in the origins of language in gesture in linguistics and theatre. But what held the critical imagination of modernist writers, I argue, is not the straightforward claims made for cinema, theatre and gesture as a hieroglyphic language, but rather the contradictions and ambiguities in those claims.
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