Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 14, No. 101.
Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London
 From: email@example.com (Francois Lachance) (85)
Subject: Raptim & Rapture
 From: "R.G. Siemens" <RaySiemens@home.com> (38)
Subject: Re: 14.0096 on commentaries
Date: Fri, 07 Jul 2000 10:16:57 +0100
From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Francois Lachance)
Subject: Raptim & Rapture
Slowly, I am saddened that a distinguished scholar of Augustine would
rehash orality/literacy dichotomies in order to argue in a
technologically deterministic fashion that certain material
practices entrench hierarchies. J. O'Donnell wrote:
"commentary" is an artifact of the written (MS or print) word, depending
on technologies of maintaining hierarchy (the authority of the text that
is object of the commentary)
Well let's be fair. The genre of "commentary" is said to _depend upon_
which is not exactly a ringing endorsement of technological determinism.
And as O'Donnell continues, we learn that hierarchies are also maintained
in an oral context. It seems if I read the message correctly that the act
of maintaining itself depends upon simultaneity. But this may be a
misreading since the "and" with which O'Donnell links maintaining
hiearchary and presenting simultaneity may be disjunctive.
In any case, if I read the presentation of the argument correctly, the
hierarchy seems to depend to some extent upon presenting (creating an
impression of [?]) simultaneity. I can not help but think how Augustine
the great philosopher of time would theorizing such a simultaneity. I do
want to point out that over the course of the short paragraph the terms
have shifted from written word in print or manuscript form presenting a
simultaneity to the oral delivery not acheiving simultaneity. In a
paranthesis, O'Donnell claims that
(the spoken word can't be looked at simultaneously, and fades).
I am perplexed. In Augustine's _Confessions_ there are narrated words
spoken and there are words read and there is commentary on this narration.
And yes like Plato's dialogues the text is transmitted partly by a
material support that conveys the graphic form and partly by a community
of readers that also speak to each other.
It is in the power of the mind of the listener or the reader to conjure up
the necessary intertextual relations. Commentary would be the exchanged
traces of the workings of such powers.
I am not arguing that the mix between oral and written modes in any given
textual community does not have an impact on the forms commentary might
take. I am arguing that the forms of life in textual communities need not
lend themselves to the mapping of hierarchical relations. An example to
try to reinsert the technological considerations in an institutional
framework without recourse to the dichotomization: Julia Kristeva gave
lectures on Proust; those lectures are recorded on audio tape; a book
appeared in print; even without audio tape -- there were note takers
present. This gets even more interesting when we consider that the content
of one of those lectures on Proust arose from a preface of Barthes to the
work of La Bruyiere and that Kristeva participated in seminars given by
Barthes. Was it what she heard or what she read that made her say and
write what she did?
And here I must confess the pleasure of reading an email message that
began "Raptim" for it lead me to a commentary placing in parallel a
passage in Augustine's cxxx epistle with one in Book V of Hooker's
Polity_. It is tempting to produce a reading which ties the sexual
politics of prayer with theories of commentary
And this is a prime example of how pointing mechanisms designed for a
bound volume do need a bit of adaptation to make the hyperlinks work. The
URL cited above lists footnotes to the eleventh volume of the second
series of the writings of the Post-Nicene church fathers. There is no link
back to the commented text. A link not easy to reconstruct for the
non-expert given the table of contents:
A bit of robot-like repetive searching (built on the assumption that
the web version encodes a printed version with cross-reference
builty on a consecutive numbering system) yields the commented source
as the second book of Cassian's Institutes of Coenobia which deals with
the canonical system of nocturanl prayers and psalms:
Sometimes awake at night, I harbour the suspicion that short prayers like
short commentaries are designed to deprive the receipient of sleep and
thus induce an altered state. There are textual communities that seek to
avoid such states and those that enhance them and there are textual nomads
that find delight in conversing cross-communally. Suffice it to state that
the rapidly jotted text when revisited slowly with a religious
regularity can lead to rapture (or is it the rapture that transforms the
experience of time?).
On textual objects, textual communities and technologies, see
Augustine The Reader: Meditation, Self-Knowledge and the Ethics of
Listening for the text: on the uses of the past
Text: the genealogy of an antidisciplinary object
-- Francois Lachance, Scholar-at-large http://www.chass.utoronto.ca/~lachance Member of the Evelyn Letters Project http://www.chass.utoronto.ca/~dchamber/evelyn/evtoc.htm
-------------------------------------------------------------------- Date: Fri, 07 Jul 2000 10:18:12 +0100 From: "R.G. Siemens" <RaySiemens@home.com> Subject: Re: 14.0096 on commentaries
Dear Willard and fellow-HUMANISTs,
For the past few days, I've followed with interest the discussion on commentaries, and I am nagged by concern related to this discussion and very associated with a current project of mine. (Apologies in advance if this is too self-indulgent.)
Though existing in relation to another text, it has been noted that many of us feel that commentary -- or, perhaps better-stated, specific historically-significant commentary -- comprises significant text in its own right.
If so, I ask, how is such commentary ideally (and yet pragamatically) represented in an electronic scholarly edition?
By way of example, I'm at work on a slow-moving project which will ultimately see the production of an electronic edition of Shakespeare's Sonnets that borrows from several available models of such editions. As with the works of many authors from traditions other and much earlier than that of vernacular English, cumulative commentary far outstrips initial text and its various states.
Wishing to preserve the tradition of commentary surrounding such a text, in a way that honours that tradition as much as it honours the text itself, more than seems to be an overwhelming task: it is, for a popular text, a near impossibility.
Is there an answer to be found, as has been suggested of several recent print editions of the work I'm considering, in abandoning all hope of treating even very significant commentary in a manner equivalent to that of its 'originating' text?
Or is there an answer to be found, as was suggested a decade ago of Shakespeare editions in general, through cooperative ventures that see, over time, the availability of commentary in the form of electronic editions in their own right (or, more likely, as part of individual editions that the commentary serves) -- such that the commentary can, at some point in an ideal future, be given an equivalent treatment?
Or are there more useful approaches?
___________ R.G. Siemens English, Malaspina University-College, Nanaimo, BC, Canada. V9R 5S5. Office: 340/131. Phone: (250) 753-3245, x2126. Fax: (250) 741-2667. RaySiemens@home.com http://purl.oclc.org/NET/R_G_Siemens.htm email@example.com
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