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Thanks! -- Arnie Perlstein, now living in "Portlandia"!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Digital Keys for Unlocking the Humanities’ Riches

The following is a link to an article that appeared on Monday in the online NY Times:

As those who follow in this blog might guess, I found that article intriguing, and have now posted two comments on same, the first responding to the article itself...

"The Internet has made it possible for me to do the literary sleuthing I have done over the past 6 years, and to make the rather large discovery that Jane Austen and Shakespeare both wrote what I call "shadow stories"."

...and then responding to another commenter, John McCumber, who wrote "This is all very nice, but it's not about the humanities; it's about tools for the humanities. Scalpels and MRI's are not medicine, and digitizers and computers are not critical reflection."

I responded to Mr. McCumber as follows:

What you say is true, but what is ALSO true is that these tools, in the hands of deeply reflective critics, can revolutionize the humanities in exactly the same way as modern tools in the hands of gifted and well trained doctors HAS revolutionized medicine!

My own longterm literary research project (see Highlighted Comment #9, above) is a perfect example. I have made a thousand significant discoveries in the writings of the greatest authors in the English language--Chaucer, Shakespeare, Austen, the Brontes, Poe, Twain, James, Joyce, etc.--which could NEVER have been made without my having at my disposal the tools of computers and the Internet, most of all word searches, as well as the modern Inter Library Loan System. I have found a thousand \"needles in a haystack\", but I did not go about this in a mindless, robotic way, I informed my use of these tools with a strong and frequent orientation toward SYNTHESIS of my discoveries and developing theories to account for what I found.

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