Friday, September 7, 2007

Supernatural Dialogues

On his blog “Reading Archives,” in the context of a discussion about the book Remembering War (Yale, 2006) Richard Cox suggests that archival research is something like a “supernatural dialogue.”

Many of the earliest texts and textual practices known to us were meant to function in a preternaturally dialogic way: gods inspired sacred texts and humans wrote for divine readers. A few of the oldest records in the collection I curate are documents that were not intended for human eyes—they were Sumerian prayers, written on cuneiform cones, which were inserted into temple walls to be read by the gods. Only millennia later, when the walls were ruins, were they read by humans.

Image: Cuneiform Dedication Cone (circa 2050 BCE)

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