Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Redactional Fatigue

Lest you think that the "author" is really "dead," here's a term I stumbled across recently that you might find interesting: redactional fatigue. Our friends at Wikipedia define it thus:

When making changes to a large text, a redactor may occasionally overlook a piece of text that conflicts with the redactional goals. Since many important ancient texts are likely to have been redacted at least once, such snippets open a window into an earlier form of the text. The nature of the conflict between the bulk of a redacted text and the contradictory windows can suggest what the goals of the redactor might have been.

If you've taken a glance at any of the variously-redacted (not-so-ancient) texts known as the "torture memos," you may have wondered to yourself about the "redactional goals" of their editors. Exposing as many "contradictory windows" as possible seems of the utmost importance with regard to these texts. Not only are such exposures an excellent practice in deconstruction, but they may actually bring us closer to understanding something about what the various memo-authors (Bybee, Bradbury, Yoo) were really intending to justify and allow.

Again, if you haven't signed Senator Leahy's petition to create a truth commission to investigate these sorts of activities, you can do so here.

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