To define what a palimpsest is has become very lately a matter of humanistic concern. I can only suggest that Blackie's Etymological dictionary should be examined, as well as all the OEDs for the historical uses of that word. I cannot satisfy that requisite for myself, but hope to amend this satisfactorily in the near future.
I say this is a humanistic concern, because I conjecture that monks in monasteries still create palimpsests today, which are probably as significant, if not more so, than the recent discovery concerning Archimedes.
To the world that palimpsests reveal to us, I suppose, in our interpretation we are human, and humanist, and humanistic, but I am concerned that too democratic an interpretation is given to our discovery of texts which we conclude were formerly lost.
It has been documented, in many results on the web by a boolean search of prognosis and palimpsest, and again, with "twain" liberal and palimpsest mixed, that much hopeful discussion is occurring, at least privately, by experts in fields employed, and formerly not sought out, for their own opinions, in virtue of their job description, that perhaps they shall press to advance.
***addendum*** I use quotations of the word, "twain" for I found it in the results of a boolean search on google of palimpsest and one of either liberal or prognosis. The author of the result had uploaded a manuscript on the web, which I didn't have a chance to attempt to read, but I was struck by her striking use of the word "twain". I hope I will have a chance to come across this result again, and I didn'tmean to imply she was liberal.
I suppose in order to convince modern practitioners of ancient medicine that there is any more to read to aid treatment, a quick reference of dia/pro could be to one who shall ever ask for the name of the ever nameless disease, that in the romantic age was, the plea of the patient - to be diagnosed with at least something Medical Doctor's had ready to cure - and now is the plea of certain MD's for some cause, thereof.
If, nevertheless, we isolate dia/pro, I wonder if gnostics know palimpsest. I acknowledge gnostics know and the rest is up to gnostics, I know.
***addendum*** The above two paragraphs were written in response to a result I found through a google search on the web, that I recall may have been entitled "Ugly Palimpsest", I was struck by the author's humor and great learning she reveals, and her career path in which she suggests she is underappreciated.
I offered the prefixes dia/pro with respect to her research in ancient medicine. I am no expert in her field, but I feel that with respect to modern medicine both diagnosis and prognosis in modern medicine bear the need for an ethical scrutiny, that perhaps could be informed from an ancient prospective.
It is lately in the news of the day that Ontario, Canada has noted that children who take MRI tests need to lie till for one hour, and now they are attempting to design a video game that could be played by the child while the test is being conducted, to help a child remain motionless.
I am cynical sometimes, and can't help recalling that Ontario has stressed the need to have access to more places where MRIs can be conducted. I wonder why the healthiest portion of the population, namely children, would often require MRIs in the first place, and suggest in reference to diagnosis/prognosis, doctors of medicine take too invasive an approach in acquiring much data in the name of the progress of science. I fear that there will come a time when practitioner's could even make MRI's routine for even healthy patients, even children, simply in order to rule out potential future concerns that may not be presented or apparently indicative of any malady or concern at the time the MRI is conducted. I wonder if I had a child who seemed healthy, if I would trust our family doctor or a specialist with such a detailed portrait of his or her brain, especially because any child's brain as the child grows up is always developing.
I have not been able to find this author's website again, but hope to come across it again, in order to attempt to read her writing.
Nevertheless, one modification of a palimpsest that has garnered some outburst, is the dubious result of 'textual palimpsest', and I might have an opinion, as this experts, who, with regards to beauty and ugliness in palimpsests, might see the sublimity of the ruins recalled in Radcliffe's novel, A Sicilian Romance "twained" with the supra-natural process of prognostication that B. A. Ramsey's undertakes in uncovering his first chapter of A Sicilian Armour of the 'motion' of the word sublime from ugliness, in a reaction to terror, to beauty, in the freest awe.
It is false to say as far as we know we have read the underwriting of a palimpsest that was text formerly lost, because at least:
1. A Palimpsest is an effaced and overwritten text
2. Appointed to be effaced and overwritten by permissive authority,
3. While respecting its binding appointment to preserve prohibitive authority.
Here is how Merriam Webster's Online Dictionary defines the word, Palimpsest:
: a very old document on which the original writing has been erased and replaced with new writing
: something that has changed over time and shows evidence of that change
Definition of Palimpsest
Bibliography: Merriam-webster.com,. 'Definition Of Palimpsest'. N.p., 2015. Web. 17 Feb. 2015.
This is how Wikipedia introduces a palimpsest to the reader,
A palimpsest (/ˈpælɪmpsɛst/) is a manuscript page, either from a scroll or a book, from which the text has been either scraped or washed off so that the page can be reused, for another document.
Bibliography: Wikipedia,. 'Palimpsest'. N.p., 2015. Web. 17 Feb. 2015.
Wikipedia currently remarks in this entry that other citations are needed for verification.
According to "Oxford Dictionaries" the etymology of the word, Palimpsest is,
mid 17th century: via Latin from Greek palimpsēstos, from palin 'again' + psēstos 'rubbed smooth'.
An Etymology of the word palimpsest is advanced in this result:
palimpsest - definition of palimpsest in English from the Oxford dictionary
Bibliography: Oxforddictionaries.com,. 'Palimpsest - Definition Of Palimpsest In English From The Oxford Dictionary'. N.p., 2015. Web. 17 Feb. 2015.Rubbings, to 17thC English people were not uncommon, well into our own time.
Rubbings were not uncommon in England in the 17th Century and persist into present day. I once had a figure, as a toy, that I used as I was instructed, by placing a piece of paper over it and with anything used for drawing, could take a rubbing, which revealed the figure underneath. I could take as many rubbings as I pleased, so if there is something in common with a 'rubbing'
and a palimpsest, I would suggest some master copy that has always kept intact anything we care to erase for a new document, may exist.
The following are definitions of three types of Palimpsests:
(i) Prognosticative Palimpsests: '
(ii) Liberal palimpsests: 'A Liberal Palimpsest' is one which attempts to fully erases a tradition in regards to the old document, in order to promote new opinions and behaviour. Respecting this type of Palimpsest, there is a definite willingness to part with the past or tradition, despite the fact that traces remain of the old document.
(iii) Textual Palimpsests: This type of Palimpsest writes over a document by effacing and replacing text observing recognizable methods of criticism in a given field of expertise, thus uncovering a new document, bears traces of the old document in its text. With regards to this type of palimpsest the source document is unaltered and remains extant.
This reference is relevant also:
Cambridge Scholars Publishing. Rewriting Wrongs
Rewriting Wrongs: French Crime Fiction and the Palimpsest furthers scholarly research into French crime fiction and, within that broad context, examines the nature, functions and specificity of the palimpsest. Originally a palaeographic phenomenon, the palimpsest has evolved into a figurative notion used to define any cultural artefact which has been reused but still bears traces of its earlier form. In her 2007 study The Palimpsest, Sarah Dillon refers to “the persistent fascination with palimpsests in the popular imagination, embodying as they do the mystery of the secret, the miracle of resurrection and the thrill of detective discovery”. In the context of crime fiction, the palimpsest is a particularly fertile metaphor. Because the practice of rewriting is so central to popular fiction as a whole, crime fiction is replete with hypertextual transformations. The palimpsest also has tremendous extra-diegetic resonance, in that crime fiction frequently involves the rewriting of criminal or historical events and scandals. This collection of essays therefore exemplifies and interrogates the various manifestations and implications of the palimpsest in French crime fiction.
Bibliography: Cambridgescholars.com,. 'Cambridge Scholars Publishing. Rewriting Wrongs'. N.p., 2015. Web. 18 Feb. 2015
*Palimpsests were originally a paleographraphic phenomenon, while historically have come to refer to any cultural artefact which has been reused, but still bears traces of its original form. By the mid seventeenth century the word had entered the English vernacular, and was etymologically defined from the Latin word derived through Greek, palinpsestos; that is, palin - again + psestos - rubbed smooth. While it can only be a conjecture with regards to prehistorical palimpsests, historical palimpsests in the literal sense are cultural artefacts which have certainly been 'rubbed smooth'. The manner in which the artefact is rubbed smooth is both permissive and prohibitive. It is permissive in a very liberal sense that values the new behaviour and opinions of the present day in place of those of the past or in tradition. In this way, what is material to the original artefact is rubbed smooth, bearing no markings, and in effect, erased. However, no artefact is rubbed smooth in an entirely permissive way. We know this because we have come to realize that while palimpsests are artefacts in which material has been erased and replaced with new material, we also have come to realize that traces remain of what was there before. No matter how permissive the manner in which an effacement of an artefact occurs, it it is the matter of an effacement which is also prohibitive. Indeed, it is the prohibitive manner in which the artefact is rubbed smooth that ensures that while an effacement of the artefact has occurred, that which has been erased has nevertheless not been defaced. In other words, that which has been erased, has never been a defacement of that which is no longer visible. A palimpsest is rubbed smooth, however it is not rubbed away. There remains beneath the surface of the new material an semblance of the previous material that has never been marred or disfigured.
A palimpsest, therefore, is an artefact which is rubbed smooth both permissively and prohibitively; and it is rubbed smooth, 'psestos', but also 'palin',or again, implying that it is rubbed smooth twice. In the former instance that the artefact is rubbed smooth, there occurs an effacement of former material; in the latter instance that the artefact is rubbed smooth, there occurs a replacement of latter material; and, it is in the case that the artefact is newly rubbed smooth that it is effected also in both a permissive and prohibitive manner.
We have seen that the old material of the artefact is rubbed smooth in a liberal way that values new behaviour and opinions in place of the past or in tradition, and this is no less true of the new material that is also rubbed smooth; for, this material necessarily values new behaviour and opinions in place of the past or in tradition. Furthermore, even if one holds it to be true that the effect of the artefact which is rubbed smooth has nothing to do with the replacement of new material, but rather the effacement of old material, it remains the case that both the old and the new material of the artefact are nevertheless rubbed smooth not only in a permissive way, but prohibitively as well. However permissive of new behaviour and opinion the recent material resorts, it remains prohibitive; for, despite the fact that the former material of the artefact has been erased, and the recent material written over it, there continue to be remains of visible traces of writing uncovering the artefact; and, the material of the artefact that endures is moreover never a defacement, neither is it marred or disfigured. It is rubbed down and polished, because regardless of how liberal or unaccountable to the past or tradition the material of the artefact is, it remains in a state previous or former in place or position under a kind of proscription, an imposition or enforcement of a particular rule that is here termed the 'motion' of the palimpsest, next of which shall be defined.
*Among the cultivated crops of our domicile's literature are fastened two sheaves of wheat in binding; namely, poetry and prose. The green cultivated cereal crop of poetics, is our study of linguistic techniques, and one single fruit or one single seed of the green grass' grain is our prosody, our study of versification, and the systematic study of metrical structure. Literary prose is a crop of our language that is never ordinary, even without metrical structure. It has a sound of irregular and varied rhythm that corresponds closely to everyday speech.
In the fertile land of our commonwealth, respecting the abundance of literary works, there is a time of plenty and a time when we have little; and in the years that pass by us, while the land is ours and always remains, there are times that we must lay fallow our field. We have had our last harvest. We have beat all the stems and husks of our plants with our flail, in order to separate the good grain and the seed. Yet, there are few seeds, and the grain begins to look like straw. So we must lay fallow our land; and, we must bury our grain; and, store our seeds; and, depart. We only have straw, and to bury the grain of our literary canon that entitles our tradition to our best poetry and prose is hardship. We plow and harrow. With our plow, we turn over the soil and cut furrows. With our flail, we break up the clods of the field; we remove the weeds; and we bury, level, and smooth out the field.
Yes, fallow we must. We must part with our best poetry and prose, and leave the field unsewn. For, it is only by so doing, that we can restore our fertile canon, that it may once again be cultivated in our era. While we continue to write our own poetry and prose in these times, we soon shall have forgotten that field.
A great work of poetry or prose is covered in times of duress and erased, or consists of few traces that remain visible through the earth of the field. If we could only return to the field we lay fallow. Yet in some of that earth there must yet be some seeds, and the wheat that we beat with our flail; all our hard work that went below; replacing a first impression of a book of poetry or a book of prose, that we have all but forsaken, shall nevertheless one day return by our revisions, that we may form subsequent impressions of that palimpsest in poetics, prosody, and prose. Let that writing be covered over, indeed! For all writers want to cover their words. In the remaining traces of the first impression that was lost, we return to that first impression through revisions of poetical, prosodical, and prosaic words; and, they have survived epochs and eras, our revisions of poetry and prose, in every field of interest, covering and recovering each harvest of new wheat. Presently, as we beat the wheat to separate the grain, and we throw back the seed. this new poetry and prose that is a staple for our past, and in our tradition; this lively press; and, this storehouse that brings books inside, to be sold on the market; for all of our sheaves fastened in our best binding, shall render a new first impression in our best words.
Indeed, both a poetic and prosodic, as well as a prosaic palimpsest, is covered when under duress, by an author who effaces, both poetically and prosodically, as well as prosaically, a first impression; and then, replaces that impression with subsequent impressions, that through his revisions that are governed by the rules of poetry and prose, render a new first impression that is binding, not only for the author's best words, but for those who came before us, also.