P086: On Modern Marginalia

If you’re still here for the 86th issue of this newsletter / blog / personal improvement project, it’s a safe bet that you are not especially averse to marginalia expressed in the form of hyperlinks scattered randomly about. As a self-described enthusiast, it’s frequently the case that I’ve gathered more information than I can cram into a single email. Sometimes funny, sometimes informative, sometimes downright sadistic, I view these links as a director’s commentary to the main narrative – a way for the interested or bored to dive deeper, should they so choose. And 9.7% of the time, a reader will make that choice, generally to the detriment of their productivity.

So it was with no small amount of anticipation that I tucked into Evan Kindley’s fantastic treatise on the overlap of literary and lyrical annotation, “Down the Rabbit Hole.” Kindley grafts a history of Martin Gardner’s The Annotated Alice onto an explainer of Genius, all the while teasing out the role that annotation plays in modern (aka geek) culture. If that sounds like a lot to keep in your head, relax – Kindley’s annotations are frequent and insightful, and they use the Genius annotation system to boot (just like the web version of this issue, hint hint). Besides, the dude writes sentences like this:

“Some might describe Humpty’s patronizing, pompous tone as mansplaining (or maybe, given the source, “eggsplaining”). But plenty of readers will understand the urge to provide definitions and interpretations as well as Alice’s desire to hear them.”

I’d say that urge is certainly alive and well, at least in this little corner of the internet.

Periodically yours,

Bob Sherron