Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Why no citations for Prometheus Rising?

I'm on vacation in North Carolina, and I've been spending part of my time reading PROMETHEUS RISING, a fascinating book (I'd never read it before).

In his "Preface to the Second Edition," Wilson writes that the book began as a Ph.D. dissertation for Paideia University. "I decided to rewrite the manuscript in a more commercial form," he says. "The first change consisted of removing all of the footnotes (about two of them per sentence) which gave the original a truly academic stink but would annoy the average reader."

The final version of the book, or at least my copy, lacks any sort of notes at all. Isn't that a missed opportunity? I get the point of removing the footnotes, but many of the nonfiction books I read (such as THE INHERITANCE OF ROME by Chris Wickam, one of the other books I brought along on vacation) have no footnotes, but detailed notes in the back, tied to page numbers. That way a reader has an uninterrupted text but can explore more deeply if he bothers to turn to the back of the book. An index for PROMETHEUS RISING would have been nice, too.

5 comments:

Royal Academy of Reality 1132 said...

I have also thought I would like to see the deleted footnotes to Prometheus Rising.

I remember Bob liked Nabokov's Pale Fire, famous for its footnotes. I love the use of footnotes in The Widow's Son, largely inspired by Flann O'Brien.

michael said...

For more Widow's Son footnote-fun, also see "The Horror On Howth Hill," collected in Email To The Universe.

New Falcon - the Original now, I believe - wanted all of RAW's books indexed eventually. I did one, but realized I put so much time into it that I had been paid about $2 an hour, and they were unwilling to pay more for subsequent indexes. RAW saw my index to CT3 and wrote me that it was "great."

If you really look at the New Falcon books, it's hard to believe they were edited at all, to any degree. That's one of the reasons RAW ended up there - he had had some editors that really irked him with their meddling (Playboy's editors treated his Forbidden Words book "like the Romans treated the Sabine women," if I recall RAW's quote) - but he also was ill-served, in my opinion, because even a goddamned proofreader would've fixed a lot of basic errors. For EX: RAW gets a lot of names and titles wrong, as someone pointed out here recently. He misspelled Norbert Wiener's name most of the time. There are MANY examples. Even the best writers need at least a basic level of proofreading.

Oddly, there's a sort of gonzo feel to those books: he wrote 'em, sent 'em in, the published 'em. Pretty damned impressive!

I wonder if his PhD diss with the academic stink title exists somewhere? I'd walk as far as JS Bach walked to see Buxtehude to read that diss.

Burnt Corky said...

I have indexed a few of Bob's books, and have them in a notebook somewhere. I want to digitize them, print them out, and paste the pages into the backs of the books. I think that it would be a really fun project, and if anyone would like to help, you are invited to do so!

I love the way that Falcon books look - beautifully formatted, but as unedited as Hell is! I have notebooks filled with indexes of the typos and stuff, and most of my Falcon books have little notes jotted all over, and things circled, cross-referenced, footnoted, and highlighted.

I think that would of the reasons why (other than Hyatt's being a lazy goof) most of their books are littered with typos could be because of the old Discord technique of purposefully throwing in (or accepting already-made) mistakes for the sake of self-degradation. You don't see too many mistake-littered books being burned because the books aren't usually considered to have much integrity, so they aren't really threatening

LJ said...

I'd love to read the footnotes to "Prometheus Rising"!

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