The introduction lays out the book’s argument: the signs of the Americas are incorrectly set in a preservational past tense, when in fact they continue to affect contemporary patterns of perception and imagination. The introduction begins by telling the story of poet and anthropologist Jaime de Angulo, whose works with pictography, radio, and poetry complicate how the pictographic literacy is relegated to preliterate and preliterary archives. Examining de Angulo’s work within the context of what Gerald Vizenor calls indigenous “survivance,” the introduction discusses how pictographic literacy leads to distinct aesthetic, social, and intellectual possibilities. It explains what shifts in understanding are needed to perceive the worlding of pictographs, as well as such other signs of the Americas as hieroglyphs and khipu. In developing this shift, it introduces two concepts—“temporal heterogeneity” and “the totalizable fragment”—by which the reality of these signs is seen as more than customary, encompassing instead the changing contemporary contexts in which they find themselves. In shifting the understanding of what a world is to a consideration of rhythm or temporal orientation, this chapter gives a central place to poetics in world-making practices. The introduction also offers a detailed overview of the book.
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