“Index”… in content map trace

It started in 2012 or 2013, and some friends and I (we were students at the time) started insisting that Dr. Jamal Shehid, critic and translator of In Search of Lost Time, translate Anti- Oedipus for Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari, some of us who are fluent in French or English, watched it and didn’t understand a thing, the case went on for years, and the response from Shaheed didn’t change, sometimes he pointed it at me, or at one of the questioners, you translated it and I checked the translation, only to smile and continue his lesson.

Later, a friend of mine and I, after being taken seriously as journalists interested in cultural affairs, tried to suggest translating the indexes of some books that had not yet been translated into Arabic, such as a kind of call that had to be heeded Of course, the “against Oedipus” option was the first, but it seems that we did not have (perhaps we never will) enough recognition to get approval such empirical suggestions, after all, who will only read the index of a book!

What is important about this story is that the book was published later in 2020 by Dar El-Gamal with the translation by Abdelaziz Al-Ayadi under the name “Oedipus – Contrasted: Capitalism and Schizophrenia 1”, and the desire to read ignited for me and my friend, who also have the same story with Shahid, but the difference between me and him is that he got the Arabic copy before me, of course at this stage I arrived to the conclusion that after looking at the French and English versions, I would definitely not be a translator and there are some who are more qualified than me, but what piqued my curiosity was the index itself, since I had not yet obtained the book, so I asked the friend to send me a copy. index of the book to look at, I must say at the outset that this article is not about translation, but rather about the index, and its ability to summarize the book and shorten the search time for paragraphs, but a book like “Anti-Oedipus” or “Anti-Adip” even its index is difficult to understand, despite the limpid work of the translator trying to arabize the terminology, as we read, for example, Reference n° 6 which begins on page 271 with the following title: “The machine of the brutal despot”, followed by the entries “The whole body of the tyrant – the new miscegenation and the direct line – the psychotic delirium – the Asian production – the wages – the frauds of the state – Slippage of totalitarian land and endless debt – The comb of flow rationing.

Why don’t some novels have an index? Does the novel need an index? To what extent does the index have creative power? Is the index part of the book? Or is it just an “above text” tag used as a content search tool?

This year, the critic and university professor Dennis Duncan published the book “The Index, a story of adventure between the books of medieval manuscripts in the digital age.” , more precisely, it is a map to the “knowledge” and a method of dividing it up so that we get what we want from the “part” without having to read the “whole”.

The book refers to the practice of reading the indexes, criticizing them as not belonging to the world of “readers”, but it is a pragmatic necessity, especially since the indexes are an aesthetic and political act in many numerous cases, revealing the structure of the book and disseminating ideas. and the concepts it contains, without accounting for exactly what it contains. Part of the many signs that tell us the “locations” of ideas and concepts in the book and their arrangement. As for formulating them, that is to say the indexes, it is not the work of the writer, but of the editor or the indexer. What we’re faced with is a human effort to reduce and summarize a sentence boundary, then organize by page or alphabetically, is a type of reading that few people are good at.

The book introduces us to the history of pagination, and the need for the index, which became popular with the advent of the printing press, since files cannot be indexed, and so indexing was sometimes accompanied by a numbering or an alphabetical order, which was considered in the Middle Ages devoid of respect for logic, but perhaps an easy way out. The index has no other value than that of a guide. This contempt for the alphabetical order brings us back to the conceptions of Jacques Derrida on the origin of language and grammatology, and the relationship between them and writing, and how writing in its structure refers to a sacred centrality which does not cannot be easily destroyed. The thought of writing is present in writing and its rules (including alphabetical order), not in spoken language, and indexing based on the arrangement of letters is an escape and a deliverance with absent authority, and a submission to the authority of writing rather than the authority of meaning.

It is striking that the birth of the index was more like a historical and cognitive need to facilitate the work of students and researchers, as Duncan points out that the index was born in the same year (around 1230) by two people different ones that don’t know each other, and we’re not talking here about codecs or alphabetical order, but rather a “table of contents.” The first father of the index was the English monk Robert Grosseteste, who made a coded concept table referencing religious concepts in the books he owned and arranged them so that they could be looked up later, and the second father was the French monk Hugues de Saint-Cher who provided an index of Bible words in alphabetical order.

The construction of the index is an attempt to fragment and fragment, and remove the adjective “everything” from the book in its physical sense, that is, a group of paper inserts arranged in succession. the title of a paragraph, the beginning of a chapter, or someone’s name, or even a word which may be conceptual or have a literal meaning, as did the editor Henry Morelli who completed for Henry Mackenzie-1771 “Man of Emotions”, a so-called “Index of Tears” It tracks all the times the word “tear” is mentioned literally, and collects them in an index with page numbers.

The book raises the questions that come to mind for anyone trying to think seriously about the index, for example, why do some novels have no index? Does the novel need an index? How did Italio Calvino rely on typists’ omissions to organize paper staples as a hypothesis for composing Even If a Walker on a Winter’s Night? Does the clue have creative energy? Is the index part of the book? Or is it just an “above text” tag used as a content search tool?

Whether the index is alphabetical (The Lexicon), conceptual (against Oedipus), according to the word (Man of emotions) or fictitious (The Lexicon of imaginary places), it always refers to what is in the book or even to a group of books, i.e. there is a physical origin somewhere The lexicon refers to it (a person, a book, an imaginary book..etc), it is a sign of what is or what was present, as in the book of Ibn al-Nadim al-Fihrist, which designates the books and their authors, and refers to what they have lost and what has not reached us, it is i.e. the maker of the index. Collecting, editing and storing, even if, in the world of the imaginary, the subject of cataloging goes as far as “the absolute impossibility of thinking like this”, as Michel Foucault points out in the introduction to “Words and things” about Borges, the Chinese encyclopedia that divides animals and their categories.

What we are trying to say is that the index sought to control, codify and reference, even Google itself, is nothing but a large index divided by words, a few clicks return us to the word and in its place, but it does not contain what is not there, what is not mentioned and what is not composed, the team of indexers and collectors has no authority to include What belongs to what has not yet happened, what has not yet been imagined or thought about, but, returning to the Borgesian library of Babylon, the index acquires a new poetics, opening the door to the possibilities that catalogers have put (or will put) for books and concepts that have not yet combined two covers of a book, so they may not know their names, but they have their places in the library, in other words, how does the person in charge of the library of Babylon index its contents when he does not know what contains the Books that haven’t been written yet?

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