The Bad Idea

If our books contain the occasional bad idea, our notebooks are full of them. But most are edited out before they ever see the light of day, either by ourselves, our editors, or our software. Is there a value to the bad idea, to the outside of the book’s doxa? How might students and developing writers benefit from seeing the numerous dead-ends that an author encounters on the way towards completing a scholarly project? In the increasingly ecumenical critical environment that we inhabit today, observing the process of selection can be of great value. It can show us, in a way that the final printed book cannot, the experimental nature of scholarly books in the humanities, the way they depend on a testing of ideas and not just the slow accumulation of pre-established facts.