That reminds me ...

Cathy Davidson blogs at HASTAC, a MacArthur Foundation project examining digital issues in the humanities. The tagline of her blog notes that it's "on the interface of anything", a description which I can verify is perhaps surprisingly accurate. Recently Davidson wrote about the metaphorical use of the term "selection", and the sometimes troublesome consequences that can result from confusing this use with its more precise, scientific meaning. Toward the middle of this rather lengthy post she concluded a paragraph with the words "but I digress".

As I read her post, those three words jumped out at me, causing me to ask how often I use them. Two separate searches confirmed my suspicion - I've never used that phrase. This is actually quite logical, since in order for me to digress there would have to be a norm of keeping on topic, and the Boidem is perhaps best viewed as an extended digression. It would perhaps make more sense for me to occasionally write "but I'm sticking too closely to the point".

Cathy Davidson is highly eclectic. She takes pride in examining a wide assortment of topics. Knowing this, I found myself wondering whether her use of the phrase was a simple acknowledgement of her getting slightly off-topic, or whether there was perhaps a tone of self-criticism to its use, an acknowledgement that she hadn't been able to refrain from doing something somewhat distasteful. Nobody compelled her to digress. She apparently chose to do so, yet for some reason she seemed to feel that she had to apologize for her action.

Davidson has published quite a few scholarly books. She undoubtedly know how not to digress. Perhaps hers is even an example of what I understand as the correct mindset for writing a book - a concerted effort at overcoming digression, an extended "keeping to the point". I don't think I've got that sort of perseverance in me.

Go to: Why don't you write a book?