Saturday, August 11, 2012

Lewis On Not Rewriting

In his introduction to The Weight of Glory, Lewis reports why he declined to edit the essays for this edition, even though some of the ideas he had later improved and expanded on as he pondered them further.  He felt they belonged to an era, two decades earlier, and needed to be understood in that context.  He changed a word here or there for clarity's sake, but otherwise left the text as originally written.  He did not think he disagreed with anything he had said then, but would put it differently now.  He saw a faint deceit in doing that - he was a different age, and lived in a different culture.  The essays seemed to be by another person.

That rang true for me.  I have extended series and repeated themes from the earlier years of this blog which I have thought worth a little something.  I have sought ways to go back and collect them, repackage them, or revisit them.  I now think the distance is too great, even after only few years.  A year ago I would have thought that one did not really understand what is going on here without that background.  I no longer agree with that.  Blogging is more like old newspaper columns (or Letters To The Editor) than like collections of essays.  Only a few columnists get their Best Of's arranged between covers, and even then, all the other columns just slip away. Ephemeral does not mean "unimportant or worthless," though it has taken on that secondary understanding.  It means "for the day only."  Facebook and Twitter are even more ephemeral, of course, but that is their nature, and things should be what they are.

I might look things over and see if my understandings have changed in any way, and write up the changes if they seem important.  But they are what they are.


james said...

It took me a long time to overcome a reluctance to edit something printed. Handwritten, no problem; but once it was printed it took on a certain permanence.
I've linked to older posts from time to time, but what I had remembered and wanted to take away wasn't always the main thrust--I'd have had to rewrite the old to make it cleanly integrate with the current issue. I've been reluctant to do that.
Because you're right; the post served--if not the will of God at least my will--in its generation, and now sleeps with its fathers.
There are a few old things I can reuse, but I should probably "make all things new".

Sam L. said...

The world changes. We change. What is written does not, and should be taken for what it is when the world was different.

Take Huckleberry Finn, for instance. Should the language be changed?

Old movies: Should cigarette smoking be cut out?

We need these to remind us Things Were Different Then.