Errors

Many words are yet to be coined. One of them is ‘errorology’.

Errorology is the study of errors. Not any errors, but errors of transmission. I’m obviously thinking of texts. Texts are transmitted either humanly, or mechanically. Texts in manuscripts are subject to human reproduction. Printed texts are transmitted mechanically.

The errors between printed copies tend towards zero. The errors between handwritten copies tend towards one. Printing reduces difference, manuscripts multiply it.

A transcription error in a handwritten text is as significant a gain to the history of that text as is the genetic relic in an evolved species to the study of that species.

Errorologists, whose profession hasn’t seen the light of day yet (but which comes close to that of the philologists’), have an eye for difference, since errors are simply departures from a perceived canon. ‘Correct’ texts are often the result of identified and expunged errors, whose presence helps reconstruct the right text, which is most often absent.

Errorologists realise that errors are all there is, as presence leads to absence and traces, fading away as tracks in the snow, provide only a distant echo of another story.

Errors are purely human, and there is nothing diabolical about persevering in them, only the age-old scribal practice of cultures who had to find ways to move on while leaving tracks in the snow.

Culture is a flow of scribal errors in the reproduction of a text which was never finished to be reproduced.

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