Transcription is the seemingly simple conversion of handwriting into print, a presumably mechanical matter. But the manuscript text before mee soon became an object that defied perception. Such a vexatious ‘not-me’ challenges our self-satisfied assurances that text-objects are definable, much less interpretable. […] In deciphering this and other scribbles, one has no recourse but to speculate upon intended meanings, to take leaps. Not only did I find that I had to take leaps to identify words, I also found myself hypothesizing about hidden words suggested by ‘false starts’ or partially executed words on the manuscript page, and partially or totally obscured words lurking beneath cancellation lines. And with a myriad of cancellations and insertions on each manuscript page, aI also confronted the issue of revision and the sequence of Melville’s revisions. The difficulty of ‘mere’ transcription gave me new insight into the problematic physicality of words.