15.404 hard necessities & methodological purpose

From: by way of Willard McCarty (willard@lists.village.Virginia.EDU)
Date: Wed Dec 05 2001 - 01:35:10 EST

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                   Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 15, No. 404.
           Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London

             Date: Wed, 05 Dec 2001 06:23:17 +0000
             From: Willard McCarty <willard.mccarty@kcl.ac.uk>
             Subject: hard necessities & methodological purpose

    Yesterday Humanist published an announcement from the Blake Archive of its
    first mirror site, at Oxford. Having the thing thus put before me, I
    explored it once again, this time going to the section on "Editorial
    Principles". Allow me to draw your attention to this page in particular,
    <http://www.blakearchive.org.uk/public/about/principles/>, esp to a
    statement of fact which concerns us all.

    The editors note that "[t]he historical Blake, a printmaker and painter by
    training who added poetry to his list of accomplishments, has been
    converted, editorially, into a poet whose visual art is acknowledged but
    moved off to the side where it becomes largely invisible, partly because of
    what one of Blake's first critics, the poet Swinburne, called "hard
    necessity"--the technological and economic obstructions that have prevented
    the reproduction of accurate images in printed editions. On the
    art-historical flank a productive scholarly tradition of cataloguing has
    been complementary to but largely disconnected from its editorial
    counterpart on the literary flank. Consequently, many students and even
    professional scholars know either the textual or visual side of Blake's
    work but not both, despite their interconnections at the source." Then the
    key matter for us: "Methodologically, the William Blake Archive is an
    attempt to restore historical balance through the syntheses made possible
    by the electronic medium."

    It seems to me that the possibility of working toward such a synthesis
    wherever visual and verbal are significantly interrelated in an original
    manifestation is worth considerable thought. What does it mean to restore a
    lost balance by translation into a new medium?

    How easily we formerly disregarded what we could not easily have. How
    obvious the problem seems now that we can have it. Whole domains of
    knowledge open up, e.g. for medievalists, manuscript studies.

    So, what are we now easily disregarding that we still cannot easily have?


    Dr Willard McCarty / Senior Lecturer /
    Centre for Computing in the Humanities / King's College London /
    Strand / London WC2R 2LS / U.K. /
    +44 (0)20 7848-2784 / ilex.cc.kcl.ac.uk/wlm/

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