3.1310 Responses to "What Good are E-Texts?"; Joanna Russ (108)

Elaine Brennan & Allen Renear (EDITORS@BROWNVM.BITNET)
Mon, 23 Apr 90 18:20:10 EDT

Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 3, No. 1310. Monday, 23 Apr 1990.

(1) Date: Sun, 22 Apr 90 07:34:21 CDT (64 lines)
From: "Michael S. Hart" <HART@UIUCVMD>
Subject: Reply to "What good are e-texts?" [eds.]

(2) Date: Sun, 22 Apr 90 09:59 MDT (15 lines)
Subject: Response to M. Heim on value of e-texts

(3) Date: Mon, 23 Apr 90 13:55 EST (29 lines)
From: Consult the Book of Armaments! <224331772@VUVAXCOM>
Subject: Joanna Russ on Medieval Literature and Science

(1) --------------------------------------------------------------------
Date: Sun, 22 Apr 90 07:34:21 CDT
From: "Michael S. Hart" <HART@UIUCVMD>
Subject: Re: 3.1306 Replies to Queries from 3.1297 and 3.1299; CD-ROMS

re: What good are e-texts?

This discussion reminds me of discussions I have heard concerning the
advent of the preponderance of the written word over the spoken word,
and of books over scrolls. Can't you just imagine what the Greeks in
that time must have said about Homer being read (aloud or silently) a
portion at a time, instead of being heard from the lips of people who
spent a major portion of their lives memorizing epic proportions of a
series of story-poems handed down from person to person (Fahrenheit -
451). They must have thought how dry and inexpressive the text would
be, just laying there in written form, without the derivation of that
person who was telling the story, without the interactivity with that
crowd of listeners who came to hear for various celebrations, without
discussion, without feedback and amplification in portions of greater
interest or questionability in regards to the audience. This is such
an occurrence as replacing a television show or a movie with scripts,
and telling the audience to read it all for themselves.

On the more academic and intellectual planes, it must have been said,
on more than one occasion, that anyone who really was interested in a
work such as Homer's or Virgil's, or even a comparison, would have to
memorize them both, as information in print was useless, anyway, till
it was incorporated into the mind, digested there, understood, until,
THEN, AND ONLY THEN, would the person be ready for the study of Homer
and Virgil and others.

Another argument I have heard discussed is that books have placed the
material of scholarly minds into the hands of those who are less than
scholars, that with the aid of books, a person who had not studied in
a real manner could nevertheless sit down with the aid of his book to
quote, argue, discuss, and otherwise share in the academic pursuits -
all without having really studied the material.

The same could be said of persons who can find every mention of death
and marriage in Shakespeare in a few seconds, with the aid of a CDROM
or hard drive containing one of the many electronic editions of Will,
as, of course, these crude persons would affect a first name basis in
their relationship to the Bard.

On the other hand, it will now be possible for me to write that paper
on "Death and Marriage as Portrayed by Shakespeare in Macbeth-Hamlet-
Othello-Romeo and Juliet," a paper which would have been overwhelming
simply on the basis of the preliminary research, research which could
not have been feasible before e-texts, research which could now be an
easy matter of minutes rather than years.

This is somewhat similar to the fact that the average person today is
travelling farther, meeting more people, and spending more money each
year than the average one of our grandparents did in a lifetime. The
major question, in all these issues, is not only one of what we COULD
DO with all these innovations, but what we ACTUALLY WILL DO.

Thank you for your interest,

Michael S. Hart, Director, Project Gutenberg
National Clearinghouse for Machine Readable Texts

(2) --------------------------------------------------------------21----
Date: Sun, 22 Apr 90 09:59 MDT
Subject: Response to M. Heim on value of e-texts

Mike Heim says: >All texts, primary and secondary, will be in the >same
electronic element, hence eroding the line >between primary and
secondary texts.

Isn't this distinction in the (collective) mind of the beholder(s) and
so unlikely to disappear just because the ideas are presented in another
medium? After all, paper publication presents primary and secondary on
the same physical substrate (at least in the post-Gutenberg world) and
we still make the distinction, almost without thought.

Lyle Eslinger U. of Calgary
(3) --------------------------------------------------------------36----
Date: Mon, 23 Apr 90 13:55 EST
From: Consult the Book of Armaments! <224331772@VUVAXCOM>
Subject: Joanna Russ on Medieval Literature and Science

In Humanist 3.1303 "Announcements; Notes and Queries (252)", Sara L.
Higley <Slhi@Uhura.Cc.Rochester.Edu> wrote in asking about Joanna Russ's
article about science fiction and medieval literature.

While I do not know where this was published, I do have an address where
you might be able to reach her at. Sometime in the last two or so
years, she had a short story published called "Souls". When I
remembered this fact, I went to the bookstore and obtained the address
of the publisher.

Joanna Russ
Tom Doherty Assoc. Books
49 West 24 Street
New York, NY 10010

Like any other publisher, they should forward your letter to her
personally, else you might try contacting the publisher for her address -
though they are sometime reluctant to release such information.

Good luck.

Jim Wilderotter
Villanova University