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Umberto Eco: The Virtual Imagination

"But many internet programs suggest that a story is enriched by successive contributions. … This has sometimes happened in the past without disturbing authorship. With the Commedia dell'arte, every performance was different. We cannot identify a single work due to a single author. Another example is a jazz jam session. We may believe there is a privileged performance of 'Basin Street Blues' because a recording survives. But there were as many Basin Street Blues as there were performances. ... There are books that we cannot rewrite because their function is to teach us about Necessity, and only if they are respected as they are can they provide us with such wisdom. Their repressive lesson is indispensable to reach a higher state of intellectual and moral freedom."

(Umberto Eco, 7 November 2000)



2000authorial signatureauthoritative workauthorship • Basin Street Blues • biographybooks • books-to-be-read • booksellersbookstoresCinderella • closed universe • Commedia dellarte • comprehending languagecomputers • copying machine • e-bookelectronic literatureencyclopaediaend of booksend of print • enriched by successive contributions • every performance is different • evolving formfairy talefatefolioFranz Kafkafuture of the book • god passed over • grammatical rulesheroeshypertexthypertext fiction • hypertextual programme • hypertextual structures • Immanuel Kant • infinite possibilities • infinite texts • intellectual freedom • intellectual needs • jazz jam session • Les Miserables • library catalogue • linear narrative • linearityLittle Red Riding Hoodmanuscripts • moral freedom • Napoleon Bonapartenatural language • necessity • new forms of literacy • obsolete form • open work • Penguin edition • photocopierprint on demand • printed books • printed version • privileged performance • publishing houses • publishing modelreaderly textsreading • reading process • revisionscanningselectionshift to digital • single author • specificity of print • systems and text • tailored consumer experience • texts which can be interpreted in infinite ways • theories of interpretation • tragic beauty • tragic literature • Umberto Eco • unlimited texts • utilitarian value • Victor Hugo • War and Peace • Waterloo • William Shakespeare


Simon Perkins
11 AUGUST 2012

Medieval manuscript illustrations were planned not doodled

"it's the word 'doodle' that really riles my pedantic dander. ... because, as I try to make clear, the images I post ... weren't scribbled into the margins by surreptitious snarkers whilst no one was looking. They were explicitly commissioned by the manuscript's patrons as part of the project from the very beginning. For the well–heeled noble, ordering a book was not just a matter of selecting the text; deciding on size, presentation, illustration, and ratio of naked dudes to non–naked dudes in the margins was all part of the process of getting a book made.

This is not to say that medieval readers and scribes didn't ever doodle. It's just easy to tell the difference between images planned as part of the manuscript's commission and those scribbled in by a creative, bored scribe or one of the later owners of the manuscript. Just as you might imagine, a reader might decide a chunk of text was particularly important and make a note in the margin ... Or, someone might just decide a page looked too blank and thus attempt to fill up some of that space [1]... See, the thing about medieval doodles is they look just like modern doodles ...

For this page [2], somebody sat down and sketched out a rough draft, showed it to somebody else, possibly even multiple somebodies. There were meetings. Consultants were brought in. The client was consulted. And at some point somebody said, 'Yes, that's very nice, the nuns smuggling that dude into their nunnery. Very topical. But I don't like that blanket. Too drab. Can we get someone to put some flowers on it? The difference is, I hope, clear. You don't doodle in gold leaf."

(Carl Pyrdum, 13 February 2012, Got Medieval)




annotationannotationsbookclientcomment systemcommentscommission • commissioned • doodledoodlingembellishmentexpository addendum • fill the space • footnotegloss (marginal notation) • gold leaf • illuminated manuscriptillustrationsinformation in contextmanuscript • manuscript illustrations • manuscriptsmargin notes • marginal illustrations • marginal notationmarginaliamarginsmedieval • medieval doodles • medieval readers • modern doodles • nakednotationnote in the marginnotesnunpage • planned images • planned not doodled • rough draft • scholia • scribbled • scribbled into the marginsvisual depiction


Simon Perkins

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