Not long ago, a certain book was exhumed from the grave of a lesser known monarch of a lesser known kingdom. This book, after extensive and rigorous politic, was at last translated into a better-known language and given to a better-known academic institution to interpret and re-codify. It appeared that this book was a collection of stories, some romantic, some comic, some light hearted and some gravely serious. The scholar who was responsible for the interpretation of this book studied it day and night, and committed it entirely to his highly formalized memory. Then, seeing as how word for word he knew it, the scholar made a facsimile of the book (complete with translation and historical notes) and handed this to an old friend of his, who was a poet.
How this scholar and this poet had become friends was a mystery, even to them. Perhaps they were brothers, or childhood friends, or soldier pals from back in the day. All that was certain was that their relationship had been established for some time now. The poet accepted the facsimile with glad perfunction, and committed it to his own intuitively-oriented brain pan in no time at all.
One day, the scholar called upon the poet and sang 'My dear old friend poet, how for you goes it?'
'Oh dear, dear me, my most illustrious relation Sir Scholar such-and-such,' replied the poet in mock mockery. 'It goes most well – the admin is pleased with me, my students well stimulated, my colleagues have not once spattered mud on my name in over a fortnight, and my wife, well, as they say, at least I have my paperwork to console me…'
'Yes, yes, and all of that,' said the scholar. 'But tell me, have you looked over that transcript I sent you?'
'And have you any thoughts on the matter?'
'Let us take a walk,' the poet answered.
On their walk – which is to say, during their discussion – they were mildly surprised to find themselves accompanied by yet a third person, the giest of the book, who was quite insistent to speak for itself, though often in hushed and incoherent tones. This lack of fluency was not frustrating to the poet or the scholar in the least, as both were much accomplished in the divining and interpolation of meanings wherever ambiguity raised its bedimmed head. They were content to follow the giest through the lands and quarters of the book"s themes and plots and characters, all too happy to fill every secerned gap with verbose supposings of their own making, which they haggled over interminably.
At last they came to a great, yawning gap that was above all too wide and deep to fill with speak. The words they threw into it were swallowed whole, and the abyss gave not a single burp to indicate it had a bottom so ever. The giest itself had presently sat down at the edge of this gap, and was swaying slightly to and fro, as if in reverent prayer. The poet and the scholar stood a little ways behind the giest, half from respect and half from intimidation, which neither found the need to confess to.
'This is where the Author is,' spoke the poet, indicating the gap with the cock of a thumb.
'Rightly spoken, it is where the Authors are,' replied the scholar, absentmindedly rubbing his beard against the collar of his cardigan.
'Author, Authors, it makes little difference. However, now that the book is, to an extent, a complete entity, unto itself, I feel it best to signify the creative agent in the singular, for a whole cannot come from a many if the many are not, in turn, made whole, at least by dent of the act of making said whole.'
'Your logic,' countered the scholar, 'is typically poetic, but in wider turns does not add up to my way of viewing things, for to say Author implies a divorce between the creation of the book from the culture, time and circumstance in which its creation is inextricably imbedded, which we cannot afford to overlook, if we are ever to understand this book not as a finished product, but as a reaction amidst a myriad of influences. It is these influences of which I speak when I say Authors. In a manner of speaking, I am creating for us a convenient way of putting this book into a wider, more flexible framework through which we might dissect and –'
'Excuse me,' spoke the poet. 'I am sorry to interrupt you, but I believe the giest said something just now.'
'Yes. It seems to be repeating itself. But I can"t rightly make out its words…'
Both the scholar and the poet edged forward some, bending their hairy ears towards the giest.
'Methinks it speaks of divine inspiration…' said the poet.
'No. It speaks of etymologies. The giest must favor the philologistic approach...'
But before they could come to odds or a resolution, the giest gripped them both by the heels and lead them, howling, into the great yawning gap below.