Sunday, September 03, 2006

Local incoherence

I've been thinking about something since I finished reading Eye Contact. In a previous post, I wrote about the concept of "local coherence" as described by Kamran Nazeer in Send in the Idiots. Nazeer talks about local coherence as the propensity to focus on a small, manageable thing when faced with a large, overwhelming situation.

As I've already mentioned, Eye Contact was large and overwhelming for me. It was also gripping, and kept me reading furiously. However, as I sped through the climactic denouement of the story, I crashed headlong into something that completely stopped my momentum.

It was a typo.

Right there in the final, big moment, a main character is supposed to shout, "DON'T BE SCARED!"

Instead, in the poorly-edited edition I'm reading, the character shouts "DON'T BE SACRED!"

I stopped reading instantly. Sacred? Did this character really say "Don't be sacred?" Why sacred? It can't be sacred. It has to be scared. Who edited this book? This particular scene - this particular sentence - is critical to the plot. How could they have missed this?

I've been interested in my own reaction. Did I stop reading and focus entirely on the typo to regain my own local coherence? The plot was certainly overwhelming, and I knew that it was about to head into some action that would be hard to read. Did "sacred" provide the escape that I needed?

Or was it even more than that? Did this typo - this critical typo in the middle of this critical scene - allow me to give less credence to the book itself, and therefore to the warnings I inferred from its subtext?

Eye don't no, but it gives me paws.


Daisy said...

Wow. Eye dont no ether, but its some think to thing about.

Kristina Chew said...

Or maybe there was another R missing......... "don't be scarRed!"

bethduckie said...

Hm. Typos really bother me too- and colour my entire perception of an article or book (in a negative way)

I never considered I might be escaping from ideas I dont want to look at.