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Jake on "Silent Editing Biographical Material"

Jul 29, 2006 05:20 PM
by danielhcaldwell


Jake,

You write:

========================================
Silent editing of biographical material,
like DC does in Occult World, may not be as
Bad as editing Blavatsky's writings, but
it is still unethical and ill-advised
for a number of reasons.
======================================

Well I guess that is somewhat of a compliment:

"...may not be as Bad....

But then you go on and say such silent
editing is "unethical".

Let's see what the dictionary says about this word:

====================================
unethical

   adjective not moral, morally correct.
=================================== 

Let's look up "morally":

==============================================
moral

   adjective 1 concerned with the principles of right and wrong 
behaviour and the goodness or badness of human character. 2 
conforming to accepted standards of behaviour. 3 psychological 
rather than physical or practical: moral support. 

   noun 1 a lesson about right or wrong that can be derived from a 
story or experience. 2 (morals) standards of behaviour, or 
principles of right and wrong. 

   DERIVATIVES morally adverb. 

   ORIGIN Latin moralis, from mos `custom'.
==============================================

Appears to me you are being a little too severe in
your assessment but I guess here we will have to agree
to disagree.

But when you write:

===================================================
In these editorial deletions, one 
is asked "to trust the editor" that nothing 
important is deleted or causing one to be 
mislead. You can't "trust the editor" on 
this type of thing.
==================================================

But Jake, I ask you:

If I put the dots (...) back in but as you say
most of the sources are not easily available then
think about it....

do the dots tell you if anything important has been deleted
or that something might have been deleted "causing one
to be mislead"?

The dots would only tell you where something has been deleted...
as far as I can see, the presence of the dots do NOT necessarily 
help you to ascertain if something important has been deleted.  

The only way you could determine if something important or crucial
has been deleted is to go to the original source and do a comparison.

So in the first edition titled THE OCCULT WORLD OF MADAME BLAVATSKY 
where all the dots are there, none of the dots really help you to 
determine if I have left something important out.

Seems to me that either with the dots or without the dots doesn't 
help you to know if something important is missing or has been 
somehow distorted.

Or am I missing something here?????

But the bottom line is that in ESOTERIC WORLD, I tell the reader 
that such silent deletion has been done.  I wasn't trying to hide 
that fact....Now if I had left that information out then I would 
consider that questionable but I didn't.


Again you write:

==================================================
Nobody, or almost nobody Even Has! 
most the source materials one can go to 
for the full quote.  What about 50 or a 
100 years from now, maybe almost none will 
be available.  Few writers would depend on 
internet sources instead of source books.  
People, can't, by an large, get the full quotes.
====================================================

Well, Jake, most readers probably have no desire to
get the full quotes.

And for the limited number of readers whose interest
is aroused to investigate further, they can for example
write to me for copies of the material.

And in fact a number of students, scholars and researchers have 
written to me for copies of some of the rarer material and I have 
sent copies to them.

And you say in 50 or 100 years, almost none will be available.

But that may apply to lots of other material too...Who knows...

I really compiled the work for the general reader who might want to 
know something about HPB.  And to also let readers sample some of 
the original and fascinating accounts.

But I would hope researchers and scholars would know that they 
should consult the original sources if they are engaged in some kind 
of research or investigation.  And that is why I have put some of 
the unedited material on the web so there would be easy access, no 
charge and I don't have to spend alot of time copying material and 
sending it to interested readers, researchers, etc.

In summary, I know my book is not perfect and has flaws.  What book 
doesn't?  But I have been happy with the response of the vast 
majority of readers.  And it was a scholar (who is apparently not a 
Theosophist [I am assuming that!) who seemed to realize all by 
himself what in part I was trying to achieve with the book.

I refer to Michael Ashcraft's review of my book where he writes:

"Despite these [that is certain] criticisms [of the book],
I nonetheless recommend this book as an extremely useful
collection of primary documents about Blavatsky."

"There is nothing else in the literature about Theosophy's
history quite like it."

"The Esoteric World of Madame Blavatsky will undoubtedly
be a standard work in Blavatskian bibliographies for many years
to come."

"Not only will it provide the sources that future reseachers
need for their own work on Blavatsky....it will give the general
reader a vivid sense of Blavatsky as others knew and experienced
her....Caldwell helps us to appreciate, then, what this first
generation of Theosophists appreciated: the radical nature of
Blavatsky's affect on those around her...."

Quoted from THEOSOPHICAL HISTORY, July 2002, p. 264

I focus your attention on:

"...it will give the general reader a vivid sense of Blavatsky as 
others knew and experienced her....Caldwell helps us to appreciate, 
then, what this first generation of Theosophists appreciated: the 
radical nature of Blavatsky's affect on those around her...."

That is what I wanted to do and I'm glad that Dr. Ashcraft saw that.

One more thought and I will close.

I guess my compilation ESOTERIC WORLD is the kind of book I wished I 
could have run across in 1968 when I first was introduced to 
Blavatsky.  Such a book would have helped me immensely..I wouldn't 
have had to flounder around ... so much.... not knowing what really 
good sources were actually out there...somewhere.  

In 1968-1969, I wanted to read the Coulomb pamphlet but it took me 
several years to track it down.  Even Hodgson report was hard to 
locate.  At the very beginning of my studies it would have been 
helpful to me to have had access to at least some of Coulomb's and 
Hodgson's material.

And I don't know if you ever realized that much of the material 
in both editions of my book was intentionally added in light of 
what Meade and Johnson in their books LEFT OUT.  In my opinion both 
of these authors downplay, for example, the extent of the voluminous 
testimony concerning the Mahatmas.  Therefore I purposely added that 
NEGLECTED material to my volume so readers would have access to it.

Anyway I see I'm really rambling now and will close this posting.

Daniel
http://hpb.cc

--- In theos-talk@yahoogroups.com, Mark Jaqua <proto37@...> wrote:
>
> Silent Editing Biographical Material
>    
>       Silent editing of biographical material, 
> like DC does in Occult World, may not be as 
> Bad as editing Blavatsky's writings, but 
> it is still unethical and ill-advised 
> for a number of reasons.
>       -  You can't quote from the book, 
> for one thing, or later writers can't, 
> because you don't know what has been deleted.
>        -  Nobody, or almost nobody Even Has! 
> most the source materials one can go to 
> for the full quote.  What about 50 or a 
> 100 years from now, maybe almost none will 
> be available.  Few writers would depend on 
> internet sources instead of source books.  
> People, can't, by an large, get the full quotes.
>         - In these editorial deletions, one 
> is asked "to trust the editor" that nothing 
> important is deleted or causing one to be 
> mislead. You can't "trust the editor" on 
> this type of thing.
>         - the ONLY reason for not including 
> a few dots (....) to indicate editing is 
> that it makes a tighter package, or a cleaner 
> copy.  If a reader can't put up with a few 
> dots here and there, he isn't worth 
> appealing to regardless.
>            - jake j.







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