Download e-book for iPad: Bibliography and the Sociology of Texts by D. F. McKenzie

By D. F. McKenzie

ISBN-10: 0521642582

ISBN-13: 9780521642583

D.F. McKenzie indicates how the fabric type of texts crucially ascertain their meanings. He demonstrates that as works are reproduced and reread, they tackle varied kinds and meanings. this is often real of all varieties of recorded info, McKenzie claims, together with sound, photographs, movies, panorama and new digital media. The bibliographical talents first constructed for manuscripts and books can, he exhibits, be utilized to a variety of cultural records. This e-book deals a unifying inspiration of texts that seeks to recognize their sort and the complexity in their relationships.

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In a mutable world, absolutes, by definition, are rare birds. We know them only by report, and all reported information must suffer what the telecommunications engineers call ‘transmission-loss’. Plato himself made this point most delightfully in The Symposium. Socrates there remarks that ‘it would be very nice, Agathon, if wisdom were like water, and flowed by contact out of a person who had more into one who had less’. But such, of course, is not the way of things. The event Plato records as a symposium is filtered down to us ten years later through Apollodorus, who was not even there.

The sense of its being a small glass bottle, containing an essence, seems to have developed in the seventeenth century. I have not pursued the inquiry further but I imagine that this meaning relates to the use of glass tubes and phials in scientific experiments. Their transparency would have been important for allowing one to read the level of a liquid, as we do in a thermometer or mercury-glass, or to see chemical reactions involving, for example, changes of colour. In this rather new sense, then, as used by Milton and later by Robert Boyle, it heightens the idea of enclosure, of the text as contained, determined, stable, of the author within, both clearly visible and enduringly present.

Should we not at least be asking questions about the bibliographical control of weather maps, which shift their forms ceaselessly on the living-room screens of 98% of the population, or at which point one stops a kinetic image to keep a record for posterity? But these problems are common to all forms of text, certainly of all performative ones, and it is at that level of abstraction, I believe, that we should collectively be thinking how to deal with them. Future historians of cartography, concerned to produce for climatologists a record of the transitions from one state of the climate to another, may find it deficient, their stemmatics frustrated, by our failure to devise an adequate bibliographical principle to deal with them.

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Bibliography and the Sociology of Texts by D. F. McKenzie

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