Thursday, June 08, 2006

Go jump in the lake.

I am sure that you had all been going crazy, wondering how the textual editing was going, sad not to be receiving daily updates. I know that this is the blog that people come to for the cutting edge of emendation methods, for breaking news about the use of copytexts.

Well good news!

I can tell you that one of the real pleasures of textual editing is trying to make the text itself (apart from any annotations or apparatus) as perfect as possible (or "apap" as we in the business might say). Making a text apap is an endurance event. It requires proofreading, re-proofreading, getting your friends to proofread, paying your students to proofread, and then—everyone’s favorite—pair-proofing. That is when one poor soul looks at the text you have prepared while another soul (really and truly, on the precipice of purgatory) reads aloud from the copytext, being sure to note capitalization, formatting, page breaks, etc.

That task, my friends, is DONE, but it did take about 100 hours. (I am not making that up.)

But NOW, I am in the enviable position of regularizing terminology. You see, the text in question is a wacky one, having been produced by a poet known for his poor habits of spelling and punctuation, and then published by a small house which seems not to have sprung for a proofreader. Or a copyeditor.

So the question facing me was, how many of the erratic capitalizations should I emend? How many leave, in order to allow for expression? How many variations in whether a particular term—especially a term used in a specific, technical way—is capitalized, abbreviated, or italicized can I allow?

The answer (and I am sure you are dying to know) is that this specialized vocabulary is being regularized, but all the other craziness will stand!

So now I am doing search + replace + emend (in my fancy dancy table) on all those terms. And this process, friends, is why I get paid the big bucks. It is dizzyingly boring work, and yet I must use my ultra-super powers to keep focused and not let a single instance of uncapitalized or unitalicized Daimon get past me.

It makes me think of the difference between swimming in a pool with lanes and swimming in a lake. In the pool, especially when you are swimming for a coach, and especially if you are doing a set of technique drills, everything has to be apap. Like today: we were doing a truly sadistic drill for freestyle, where you recover underwater (kind of like doggy paddle) but also where you keep your hands in fists, so that you practice the difference between having and lacking a feel for the water. (Guess which one it is when you are swimming with fists.) This drill is TIRING, and it also requires tremendous focus because you are not supposed to allow your elbows to drop.

Compare this with swimming in your average lake, where you don’t have a lane line, and no one can really see what your hands are doing, and you really cannot be certain how far you have swum. The sky is blue with little fluffy clouds and there are birds flying around. You are inside some boat-excluding buoys, so you don’t need to worry about being run over. The water temperature is perfect, and the fish are not biting.

How I long for a good lake swim! Yesterday I swam masters in the morning (3700 yards) and then swam in the lake. The person who organized the swim speculated that the distance was about 800 yards. At each buoy we waited for everyone to catch up, and enjoyed just being in the lake.

Luckily, if I can get this search + replace + emend task done by noon tomorrow, I get to swim in the lake.

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