[Humanist] 26.422 out into the world to try their fortune

Humanist Discussion Group willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk
Fri Oct 26 07:44:31 CEST 2012

                 Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 26, No. 422.
            Department of Digital Humanities, King's College London
                Submit to: humanist at lists.digitalhumanities.org

        Date: Thu, 25 Oct 2012 10:54:52 +0100
        From: Willard McCarty <willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk>
        Subject: a different way of thinking

Thomas Fuller, M.D., begins his preface "To the Reader", in Gnomologia: 
Adagies and Proverbs; Wise Sentences, and Witty Sayings, Ancient and 
Modern, Foreign and British (1732), by imagining, as a parent would of a 
child, the future of his work:

> All of us forget more than we remember, and therefore it hath been my
> constant Custom to note down and record whatever I thought of my
> self, or receiv'd from Men, or Books worth preserving.... And having
> at length collected more than ever any Englishman has before me, I
> have ventur'd to send them forth, to try their Fortune among the
> People....
> All that I take upon me here to do, is only to throw together a vast
> confus'd heap of unsorted Things, old and new, which you may pick
> over and make use of, according to your Judgment and Pleasure....
> I use the alphabetical Order of the initial Words, not as any help to
> the Reader, but to my self, that I might the better avoid
> Repetitions, which otherwise would be extreamly difficult to do, in
> the writing out of so many thousand Sentences, at different times.

The following strikes me:

1. that the folkloric sending out to try its fortune among the people 
who may chance to read it expresses a far more reasonable act, much more 
likely to fit what happens, than our seeking after accursed Impact;

2. that the unsorted mass in preference to any sorting he might have 
done differs interestingly though by not all that much from what we do 
(I use an OCR'd pdf, but digitizing this we might attempt to fit 
multiple classifications, perhaps expressing scholarly "added value");

3. that the loss of enforced serendipity is not an inconsiderable loss.

Comments? If you're charmed by Fuller's Gnomologia, it may be found in 
the Internet Archive, with a pdf from Google Books.

Willard McCarty, FRAI / Professor of Humanities Computing & Director of
the Doctoral Programme, Department of Digital Humanities, King's College
London; Professor, School of Computing, Engineering and Mathematics,
University of Western Sydney; Editor, Interdisciplinary Science Reviews
(www.isr-journal.org); Editor, Humanist
(www.digitalhumanities.org/humanist/); www.mccarty.org.uk/

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