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Re: Changing the game

If Mickey Mantle and an umpire were on a raft and one had to die, 
I'm pretty sure 99% of baseball fans would save Mantle.  And yet 
without the umpire there's no game; sometimes you don't realize 
the value of people until they aren't there.  Editors, like 
umpires, are most unnoticed when they do their job well.  Which, 
I suppose, is why some folks have no appreciation for what good 
editing adds to scholarship.

Let me attempt a very brief explanation.  You might be the 
world's most ingenious scientist, designing incredibly 
imaginative and productive experiments.  You also might not be 
able to write your way out of a paper bag.  The two talents don't 
necessarily go hand in hand (not many editors are brilliant 
researchers either).  But if you can't communicate your ideas, 
how much impact can they have?  Think of it this way.  I can 
observe from an infant's behavior what she wants or what's wrong, 
but it's a heck of a lot easier a couple of years later when she 
can use words effectively to tell me.  And my subsequent actions 
can be a lot more precise.

It would be nice if we could not denigrate people's livelihoods 
and contributions while discussing the interesting issues on this 
listserv.  Fact is, we all need each other.

Alex Holzman
Temple University Press
Philadelphia, PA 19122
Phone: 215-204-3436
Email: aholzman@temple.edu

On Tue, Oct 20, 2009 at 10:03 PM, Jean-Claude Guedon
<jean.claude.guedon@umontreal.ca> wrote:
> I took a peek at Sandy's text, but recoiled because I have more
> urgent 16-page texts to read. Nonetheless, I will make two simple
> little remarks regarding the text. The first point will take aim
> at the exalted vision of the editor as presented by Sandy. The
> second point tries to make a small comment on a text written by a
> self-respecting (and respected) editor.
> 1. The following quotation will be enough for this point: "Just
> as editors can help shape the cultural agenda by forging links
> among people and ideas, so too can they influence the direction
> of scholarship by stimulating the production of certain kinds of
> writing." The quotation at the end of the "linker" section says
> much the same thing in even more assertive manner. Now, let us
> ask a question: imagine Einstein and an editor on a raft, and one
> has to die to let the other survive. Whom shall we choose? I
> suspect this takes care of that claim, once and for all.
> 2. The editorial point has to do with the word "meiotic". Now,
> English is not my first language, so I was cautious when I came
> across the following passage: "Editors ... play a meiotic role in
> making connections among different strands of intellectual
> development." To me, meiosis means cellular division in biology.
> So I checked a couple dictionaries I have on hand (and, echoing
> another remark made to Joe Esposito earlier, I must confess I
> have not read my dictionaries entirely, or even all that
> significantly, but they are quite handy all the same). Sure
> enough, meiosis means division, so that connecting by dividing
> became a deep mystery for me. There is however a second meaning
> to meiosis that I did not know at all: understatement, lowering
> diminishing. But I was baffled as to why an editor should want to
> act meiotically with respect to an author. It did not make sense
> to me until I realized that Sandy's entire text was indeed a
> meiotic operation on the authors to provide, by comparison, an
> elevated, even exalted, vision of the editor.
> I must confess that this discovery made me very happy indeed. My
> vocabulary has increased and I finally understood what Sandy was
> after. Thank you for being so transparent, Sandy, but, given the
> more usual sense of meiosis, beware, as a good editor, that your
> meaning might catch many by surprise. Some might even believe
> that you made an inappropriate use of the word "meiotic".
> There would be so much more to say about Sandy's little piece,
> but I will conclude by saying that my vision of editorship for
> research results aiming at feeding further research is that its
> functions are quite limited indeed.
> Now for novels, and essays, and the stuff sold in bookstores, but
> of course...
> Jean-Claude Guedon