3.1286 remembrances of things past (80)

Willard McCarty (MCCARTY@vm.epas.utoronto.ca)
Mon, 9 Apr 90 22:42:22 EDT

Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 3, No. 1286. Monday, 9 Apr 1990.

(1) Date: 06 Apr 90 22:40:14 EST (51 lines)
From: James O'Donnell <JODONNEL@PENNSAS>
Subject: Temps perdu

(2) Date: 06 Apr 90 23:50:13 EST (9 lines)
From: James O'Donnell <JODONNEL@PENNSAS>
Subject: Re: Temps perdu

(1) --------------------------------------------------------------------
Date: 06 Apr 90 22:40:14 EST
From: James O'Donnell <JODONNEL@PENNSAS>
Subject: Temps perdu

From: Jim O'Donnell (Penn, Classics)

After nine years of accumulating grime, my apartment is to be painted in a
couple of weeks. This gives rise to a housecleaning about as drastic as that
for a major move: cleaning out closets, drawers, under the sofa, etc. From an
archaeological point of view, this is not an insignificant period of coverage
(1981-90), for it represents the period when the computer revolutionized
scholarly activity, for some of us at least. I report the results not least by
way of warning to others of the things that may lie in store in *your* closets
and garages.

I make no mention of the pile of computer manuals on the floor under the card
table my printer is on; I pause only briefly to mention the pile of re-usable
distribution disks from various versions of various software packages now
obsolete (the pile has 44 disks in it at the moment: remember when that was
over $100 investment?); we begin to reach the good stuff when I get to the
pile of 7 year old printouts from a word search run for me on a European
computer -- the results took months to get, what now I get in 24 hours or less
(and better quality data besides); but what I had forgotten about were the
real relics of the past. (1) Typescripts of old articles and even books -- I
have no printout of anything done since 1983, on the other hand, because
backup copies of disks are so much more compact. (2) Miscellaneous, assorted,
and sundry boxes suitable for the preservation and arrangement of note cards
(3x5, 4x6) -- only seeing them (and wondering when I will ever get that one
important bibliography properly input) did I realize that I now use cards only
as bookmarks and for notes-to-self slightly more durable than Post-Its. One
pair of boxes is particularly poignant because it contains all the notes of an
older colleague preparatory to his Hamburg dissertation forty years ago -- a
fine little book came out of those boxes, but the only thing I can think of
now when I look at them is the amount of clerical effort that used to
accompany scholarly. (When we worry about time wasted fiddling with hardware
and software, we forget about time spent hand-writing notes, filing them, and
then looking for them later.) (3) Miscellaneous, assorted, and sundry
loose-leaf notebooks; they in turn evoke those blissful days spent *typing* in
years by-gone. I used to keep working MSS in loose-leaf, carrying them around
to revise, expand, etc., and then setting down at the right moment to begin
typing the whole thing over again.

Gross tonnage: Something like 25-50 pounds going down the chute, and that from
a mere decade of professional activity (entering grad school 1972, buying
computer 1983).

Moral: There used to be dinosaurs in these lands, and they were us.

Dedication: This by way of hail-and-farewell to the master of those that know
HUMANISTS, dinosaur-turned-cybercreature, who's probably emptying out a lot of
drawers this week too. Thanks, Willard.
(2) --------------------------------------------------------------11----
Date: 06 Apr 90 23:50:13 EST
From: James O'Donnell <JODONNEL@PENNSAS>
Subject: Re: Temps perdu

I figure you've got to go out with a mixture of
How about:

Th', Th', Th', That's All, Folks!