24x7 Editing

Integrating narrative and theory

Category : Online Editor
Date : October 31, 2013

I send Wade each of the five parts as it’s completed to give him an opportunity to review the integration of narrative material with scholarly theory. For instance, I feel we should introduce Loukas’s concept of the electrical soul in the first chapter, since Loukas’s diary portrays his childhood as the point at which he first felt the mystical infilling that would inspire his work. But Wade argues that Loukas was mythologizing his past with the benefit of hindsight and that mysticism was an unlikely element if early childhood in the rough, feud-torn mountains of Zagoria. We agree to foreshow the mysticism in the first chapter but to defer a detailed discussion of the concept to a later chapter in which a mature Loukas fully explicates his theory of the marriage of spirit and body via electricity.

We also spar a bit about the length of conceptual passages. Wade feels that the reader will be better served if complex topics are discussed in self-contained mini-discourses. Thus, in the chapter entitled “The Soul of Hair,” Loukas the barber’s assistant, having recently devoured Benjamin Franklin’s famous treatise on electricity, takes up the broom to sweep his brothers’ fallen locks of hair and decides that their lifelike movements, caused by static electricity, must be evidence of the physical nature of the soul residing in all animate things. At this pivotal moment, Wade wishes to insert five pages describing the career of Luigi Galvani, disvanism. I’m afraid keeping this lengthy “aside” intact will make the reader impatient to resume Loukas’s story. We agree to allow three main theoretical detours, and to situate them all in chapters that focus on the theme of science.

Aside from these crucial mini-treatises, Wade and I agree to dissolve all blocks of conceptual discourse thoroughly into the narrative. In a few places, Loukas breaks into long interior monologues as though he was an Umberto Eco character, but this is the best we can do: editing, like so many other joint human endeavors, is the art of compromises.

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