A short intuition on philology.
Our current technological moment is marked by a tremendous paradox: as fragile as electronic media are and as fleeting to the historical record as they may be, they create enormous and potentially unprecedented opportunity for scholarship.
After erasure and red-pen corrections, draft sheets, etc., the digital offers spaces of enquiry to better understand an author’s life, their writing, unpublished texts.
The digital allows producing new trails (voluntary or involuntary), in a file’s “history” feature or in the database capturing the activity of users on a given platform.
Git repositories for example, which may constitute a rich deposit for observing the evolution of a text, or at least an additional layer of text (or code) to study. Such is my intuition in studying Abrüpt in my master’s project.
Herbert1 wanted to save everything, “every single one of the myriad changes writers make while noodling around during a working session.” He thought—pace David Foster Wallace—that rejected prose should be stored, possibly for use elsewhere, and that it might also be of interest to future scholars.
In praise of drafts?
Frank Herbert was a reknown writer, author of the Dune saga. ↩︎