- To: GPG
Cc: Synoptic, WSW
On: Induced Inconcinnities
It is sometimes asked, with more or less extravagant metaphors, why would an
author go back to his previous work and add material in such a way as to
produce inconcinnities with the previous material? The answer, previously
given and I think still sufficient, is that *at that moment* the author,
though not a nut and not a nincompoop, is more concerned for the force of
his addition than for the symmetry of his previous work. It's a question of
focus, and indeed of priority.
I think that will cover it. But it is sometimes amusing to experience that
imaginary author's feeling oneself, and this I think I may have done in the
last couple hours.
I have a paper which I thought I had finished, but which further scrutiny
convinced me needed additional information. Which I put in, but then I had
to take something out to keep that page in balance. OK, so I did that. Then
in the course of scanning the revised version, I noticed a discontinuity in
the added material, so immediately on finishing the scan I fixed that spot,
printed out the paper again, and rescanned it. Then an hour later while
final editing a colleague's contribution to the same journal, I was
reminded, Well, this reinforces the previous point, but I will have to add a
note to the previous paper pointing it out. So back to the other computer,
and another printout, and another scan. So it went through the wee hours. By
4:30, or just moments ago, I found yet another statement in that same paper
that needed clarifying, and back I went through the same process. But by
this time, partly from the blur of successive changes, and partly perhaps
from simple fatigue, I no longer had a confident sense of the continuity of
the argument in that paper, and felt incapable of reading it through again
to see if it was decently consecutive.
I was just about to get on the horn and say, Al, will you please read this
through for me, because I am no longer capable of doing so myself?
When I realized, Hey, perhaps there is some accretional text moral in here
somewhere. Not that the author of Luke (shall we say) made his changes that
rapidly, but perhaps the lapse of a few months since the previous version is
just as effective as the flurry of a few minutes, in producing uncertainty
and loss of focus in an otherwise sane and rational author.
Submitted in pursuance of that possibility,
[E Bruce Brooks
Warring States Project
University of Massachusetts at Amherst]