Open Thread: Marginalia

(by chris the cynic)

More than two and a half thousand years after the stuff was composed, sometimes we only know who someone was because someone decided to write a note saying, “Totes refering to person X” or sometimes we would know who they were, but not their name if not for the note saying, “By the way, her name was totally Y.”

As time went on some manuscripts had margins larger than the actual content of the work theoretically being written/printed.  New marginalia has been produced constantly, and writing it is a practice that continues to this day, as anyone who has bought textbooks used can tell you.

We call it scholia, and while it may lead us in the wrong direction if the person writing it was horrendously wrong, with the passage of time sometimes all we have is what someone scrawled in the margin.

Also, sometimes the suggestions of the scrawling scholiast’s notes make for much more interesting stories than the book itself or, indeed, the truth (see: The Philadelphia Experiment.)

[As a reminder, open thread prompts are meant to inspire conversation, not stifle it. Have no fear of going off topic for there is no off topic here.]

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3 thoughts on “Open Thread: Marginalia

  1. christhecynic December 7, 2016 at 7:12 pm

    So I’ve got this weird hang up.

    I love writing (noun) in the margins. It gives different perspectives, unless the person doing it was completely stupid and lacking in imagination it usually provides insight, it gives books a sense of history, and it means that a given book unique instead of one unremarkable member of a printing of thousands.

    I hate writing (verb) in the margins. I just . . . don’t write in books. When I get a book and it’s been marked up that’s all well and good and I often see it as added value, when I bring pen to page it feels like I’m doing something bad. Sullying a pure thing. Fucking with a book in a way one should not.

    It’s not rational, but it’s there. It’s how I am.

  2. genesistrine December 8, 2016 at 8:28 am

    I’m always embarrassed to write in books, but if it’s a factual book that needs correcting I feel obliged to….

  3. Firedrake December 9, 2016 at 6:58 am

    I don’t do it – which I guess makes me a verber in Chris’s system. I very rarely see other people’s comments now that I’m mostly reading etexts; when I was reading paper books from the library there was at least one murder mystery that was spoiled by heavy underlining of the Vital Clue.

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