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The Printer's Error Analysis

Author: poem of Aaron Fogel Type: poem Views: 12

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Fellow compositors

and pressworkers!

I, Chief Printer

Frank Steinman,

having worked fifty-

seven years at my trade,

and served five years

as president

of the Holliston

Printer's Council,

being of sound mind

though near death,

leave this testimonial

concerning the nature

of printers' errors.

First: I hold that all books

and all printed

matter have

errors, obvious or no,

and that these are their

most significant moments,

not to be tampered with

by the vanity and folly

of ignorant, academic

textual editors.

Second: I hold that there are

three types of errors, in ascending

order of importance:

One: chance errors

of the printer's trembling hand

not to be corrected incautiously

by foolish professors

and other such rabble

because trembling is part

of divine creation itself.

Two: silent, cool sabotage

by the printer,

the manual laborer

whose protests

have at times taken this

historical form,

covert interferences

not to be corrected

censoriously by the hand

of the second and far

more ignorant saboteur,

the textual editor.

Three: errors

from the touch of God,

divine and often

obscure corrections

of whole books by

nearly unnoticed changes

of single letters

sometimes meaningful but

about which the less said

by preemptive commentary

the better.

Third: I hold that all three

sorts of error,

errors by chance,

errors by workers' protest,

and errors by

God's touch,

are in practice the

same and indistinguishable.

Therefore I,

Frank Steinman,


for thirty-seven years,

and cooperative Master

of the Holliston Guild

eight years,

being of sound mind and body

though near death

urge the abolition

of all editorial work


and manumission

from all textual editing

to leave what was

as it was, and

as it became,

except insofar as editing

is itself an error, and

therefore also divine.


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