Suddenly it’s the 4th of January and I have but one wee blog entry to offer. That poor start to the year is not for lack of effort. I have two entries slowing germinating in draft form but they are not yet ripe. One topic has consumed more time than expected and that is the subject of this little offering.
[Edited on the 16th Dec. to cull commas and sharpen the argument]
There is a rhetorical quirk that, if it were common in any other circumstances would be so irrelevant as to preclude mention, but its use in the context of violence makes it jump out and slap me in the face. I have only occasionally commented on current events, usually when it connects with my academic interest (or responsibility, depending on my mood) but I feel that vague obligation to do comment on this one detail.. There is a habit amongst commentators discussing large-scale ‘senseless’ acts of violence to add the qualification that the victims were ‘innocent.’ It’s delivered in an unconscious, almost ritual, way but it indicates an unacknowledged sub-text behind Western ideas about crime, punishment, guilt, and the legitimacy or illegitimacy of violence.
Pre-Publication Purgatory, or, what bibliographies tell you about publishing that they don’t want you to know.
There isn’t much of a mystery here—more a curious discovery of a bibliographic nature.
The Problem of the Poetic Pellas or, What’s in a (Wrong) Name?
The study of martial literature, like any other topic with few followers, is prone to errors of citation and sourcing. These errors can persist to the point that they become their own sort of source. Repeated use makes them historical. I think the genre of historical martial arts is the easy target because much of the material that enthusiasts work with is well outside the typical scholarly territories anyway and few of these students have the source fetish that academics develop. The case-study today is the “poem of the pell.”
The Case of the Cotton Collection Confusion, or, How Many Ways Can You Possibly Reference the Same Manuscript Incorrectly?
This case-study of bibliographic mystery is a companion piece to the first Adventure; it’s a variation on a citation error with the same manuscript.
Occasionally I engage on some tedious research that, I know, has little, if any, practical value. Yet I am incapable of resisting the urge to do the work. I find this occurs most often with odd citations or errors in documentation or sloppy references and I eventually spend hours tracking down a quote, primary source, obscure re-print, or an equally irrelevant detail, knowing all the while that I will never find a publishable use for such efforts.
A blog, however, is the perfect place to compile these irrelevancies. So, in what may become a recurring series here at PBS, I present the first episode in Adventures in Forensic Bibliography.
I’m not talking about trees and green spaces. This is the bibliographic process of describing a book’s collation, what P. Gaskell called a formula that shows “how the book was—or ideally should have been—constructed” using a special system of notation.1