Re: a note on primary texts

Eric Crump (wleric@SHOWME.MISSOURI.EDU)
Thu, 10 Oct 1996 12:34:52 -0500

On Thu, 10 Oct 1996, Beth W. Baldwin wrote:
-->You're absolutely right. And my point is that you or I or anyone else
-->would be compelled to return to the primary text to determine whether or
-->not such could be reasonably inferred.

The relativist in me wants to ask how we're going to arrive at 'reasonable
inferences' without having agreed-upon standards that are enforced by
institutional authority. I guess if we want reasonable inferences and find
them necessary, we're stuck with institutional power over our readings,

Even if we're going to stick with the notion of primary texts, I'd like to
see us consider the primary-ness of secondary texts. That is, what we
really have, if we look at literature(generic) from a broad scale, is a
vast web of interconnected texts. 'primaryness' and 'secondaryness' are
relationships that are contingent upon looking at any two related texts
from a particular perspective--as it happens, usually the perspective
authorized by disciplinary institutions.

But in any of its other possible relations (with readers, with other
texts) the same text will occupy a 'primary' position.

I guess wht I'm trying to say is that 'primaryness' is not a
characteristic of a text but is a description of its relationships.

Maybe I'm stating the painfully obvious here.

--Eric Crump