Wednesday, September 28, 2011

' ... Faces as Unfinished as Their Minds'

     "What monstrosities would walk the streets were some people's faces as unfinished as their minds."
~ Eric Hofer, "Reflections on the Human Condition," 1973

     I first read that quote not in Mr. Hofer's  book but in an essay by Harlan Ellison. I don't recall in what context Mr. Ellison used the quote, but I've been thinking about it a lot lately as I hear our political leaders and aspirants speak,  and as I read the letters to the editor, blog posts, emails and Soundoff calls. The sad truth seems to be that we don't think before we speak or write, nor do we edit before we post or send. 
     Even books ~ which one would hope are read and re-read multiple times by many people from the time they leave the author's hands to  their final printing ~ often have significant errors, from misspelled or omitted words to entire missing paragraphs. Sometimes these errors aren't even corrected by the time they are reprinted in paperback. 
     Not to pick on any one book, but I recently finished reading The Oriental Casebook of Sherlock Holmes by Ted Riccardi (Pegasus, 2011). This was the paperback edition, which came out eight years after the original hardcover edition, but I still found spelling errors and textual mistakes. They weren't on every page, and they didn't affect how well I liked the book ~ I'll probably review it soon ~ but I found it disturbing and disappointing that in eight years no one had noted the errors and/or bothered to correct them for the reprint.
     With eBooks now being posted directly by the author to Amazon and other sites, such errors are likely to keep occurring and probably increase. But I think later corrections may also be easier and quicker. If I notice errors on this blog, I can go back and correct them.  That's a little scary in that we may all be able to function like Winston Smith in 1984, retroactively changing our history. I could change my opinion about a book, or delete a politically incorrect statement as well as fixing a spelling error.
     I'm sure readers of The Macomb Daily find errors there occasionally, but I think such errors are more understandable in a daily publication of timely information than in a bound edition intended for a long life.
     I and the the other copy editors at The Macomb Daily do our best, and I promise to try harder in my professional and personal editing. 
     The next time you write a text, email or blog post, read it through before hitting "send" or "publish." There are enough monstrosities out here already.


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