Wikipedia:Reference desk/Archives/Humanities/2011 September 4

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September 4[edit]

Deliberately leaving the editorial blank?[edit]

What is it called when a periodical leaves the space normally reserved for the editorial blank as a form of protest? thanks F (talk) 05:22, 4 September 2011 (UTC)

This BBC article calls it "appear[ing] with a blank space instead of an editorial". Gabbe (talk) 06:38, 4 September 2011 (UTC)
Sometimes newspapers leave blank spaces where censored news stories would have run, to protest censorship... AnonMoos (talk) 12:35, 4 September 2011 (UTC)
In one paper they left censored items blank. When the oppressive gov passed a law saying they couldn't do that, they made it black. When that was outlawed, they put a repeated character in that place. When the law was changed to say it must contain actual content in all places, they put in random poems in the part of the article which was censored: "Many people gathered in the town square today in order to Mary had a little lamb, ...". StuRat (talk) 16:51, 5 September 2011 (UTC)


Why and how is Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) and National Stock Exchange (NSE)dependent on the NYSE? — Preceding unsigned comment added by Kangku (talkcontribs) 07:00, 4 September 2011 (UTC)

Fungible commodities, including money (e.g., credit) effect the underlying values of all corporate stocks, bonds, options, and futures to the extent that the corresponding securities depend on them. Since many fungible commodities are produced in many different countries, all countries' stock prices are dependent on other countries. Also demand for many non-commodity goods and some services are also fungible globally. (talk) 09:40, 4 September 2011 (UTC)
What does this title have to do with the topic? I leapt here thinking it was about philandering older folks. HiLo48 (talk) 08:23, 5 September 2011 (UTC)

Kickstarter vs.[edit]

Kickstarter boasts a 44% success rate on an 8-10% surcharge overhead, but it takes a week or more to vet and announce projects. Upstart competitor seems to have less procedural overhead, taking only about an hour to get projects ready to fund, but I'm not sure what its surcharge rate is or what its success rate has been. Which is better for trying to fund an open source educational software project? Which would be best for trying to fund an event? How about for a political campaign? (talk) 07:48, 4 September 2011 (UTC)

Rabuve (talk) 16:11, 4 September 2011 (UTC)

How money enters circulation[edit]

Say the government wants to create 1 billion extra dollars, either by printing it as bills or adjusting some number in a computer. How does that money usually get into the economy? -- (talk) 08:13, 4 September 2011 (UTC)

The government can use the money to pay for specific public projects or private investments, hire teachers, subsidize energy, health care, food (i.e. food stamps) etc., take actions which cause banks to lend more money, and/or toss it out of a helicopter. (The helicopter never happens in practice, but there are some economists who say that under certain conditions it would be the best way.) They can also use it to reduce payroll taxes or create some other tax credit. (talk) 09:50, 4 September 2011 (UTC)
Is there a word for "tossing free money out of an aircraft"? Anonymous.translator (talk) 17:21, 4 September 2011 (UTC)
Quantitative breezing FreeMorpheme (talk) 11:53, 9 September 2011 (UTC)

There are two other ways. The central bank could lower its interest rates, thus causing banks to borrow it and loan it out, or the government could buy back a certain amount of its treasury bonds. See Quantitative easing for more information on the latter method. Rabuve (talk) 16:11, 4 September 2011 (UTC)


Why does copyrights last even after author's death? (talk) 09:04, 4 September 2011 (UTC)

Producers and publishers, who often obtain copyrights from individual authors, are more likely to be corporate. Corporations may be people according to Mitt Romney, but unlike people their longevity is positively correlated to their size. (talk) 09:58, 4 September 2011 (UTC)
It would seriously discourage the buying and selling of them if you didn't know how long they would be good for. Besides, J. K. Rowling's life wouldn't be worth a plug nickel otherwise. Clarityfiend (talk) 11:10, 4 September 2011 (UTC)
Copyrights are treated legally as a form of property. The ability to will or assign copyrights has been present in US copyright law since the 1790 copyright act, and is even more explicit in the copyright act of 1831. Now in both of those acts it would not have been as much of a big deal as it is today, because the terms of copyright were very limited — the copyright wasn't going to last more than 28 years anyway. But over the years the length of copyright has been extended quite handily — in fact, decades more than life expectancy. So we are in a situation where copyrights necessarily exist after death. But this is relatively recent. --Mr.98 (talk) 14:26, 4 September 2011 (UTC)
it makes sense to me. If I publish a book today, I want some guarantee that my children will enjoy the benefit of its income, if any, even if I die tomorrow. A quite different question is if it has to last 70 years. Other forms of property rights, like patents, are much less short-lived. And others, like brands, last even longer. Quest09 (talk) 13:27, 5 September 2011 (UTC)

The nurses of the mideavel hospitals[edit]

I have the impression it was normally the nuns who managed the hospitals during the middle ages, when women attended to nursing in public. But which order of nuns? I have looked at the article of nuns here at wikipedia, but not managed to find the answer for this particular question. Most nuns it seems lived a secluded life, but not all orders, surely? Wasn't there an order with the task to manage hopsitals and such? Can anyone tell me which order of nuns this was? Thank you--Aciram (talk) 12:20, 4 September 2011 (UTC)

Knights Hospitaller, Hospitallers of the Holy Spirit, Order of Hospitaller Canons Regular of St Stephen are male. Religious Hospitallers of St. Joseph were not medieval. AnonMoos (talk) 12:43, 4 September 2011 (UTC)
Daughters of Charity of Saint Vincent de Paul, founded in 1633 (not medieval either) served in hospitals (and schools). Mikenorton (talk) 12:47, 4 September 2011 (UTC)
It was incumbent upon monks and nuns to provide hospitality to the traveller and to the community. The word "hospital" derives from this service, as does the word "hotel". So it would be both monks and nuns who provided hospitality. You may be wondering what "hospitality" has to do with healthcare at this point. The provision of a bed for the night and food and drink wasn't (and isn't) that different to the provision of medicinal herbs or care for wounds. Commonly, the bed management service in modern hospitals is known as "hotel management". So basically you're mistaken - it was every order of both monks and nuns, rather than just one. You may find this site useful. --TammyMoet (talk) 13:17, 4 September 2011 (UTC)
Perhaps I missphrased the question. I do know monks also provided this service, but my question pertained to nuns specifically. Monks were allowed more freedom of movement after all, so I assumed that when nuns did attend to social service, they must belong to a specific order which was not as secluded as order of nuns normally were. I was referring to public hospitals in cities, I should have mentioned that also. Were they always a part of a convent? Did the nuns only attend to public hospitals if they were a part of their own convent? Thank you for your answer! I will look at the link you provided, and I also hope I phrased my question a little better. --Aciram (talk) 13:39, 4 September 2011 (UTC)
Well, St Thomas's Hospital in London was "described as ancient in 1215. It was a mixed order of Augustinian monks and nuns, dedicated to Thomas Becket which provided shelter and treatment for the poor, sick, and homeless." St Bartholomew's Hospital, was founded in 1123; was also Augustinian and here too the sick were cared for by the brethren and sisters of the Priory. A lengthy decription of the medieval St Leonard's Hospital, York is here. Again, there were both brothers and sisters and also (the WP article states) they were Augustinian Friars. Many other medieval establishments described as "hospitals" were really old people's homes, like the Hospital of St Cross which is still in business in that role, or charity schools, like Christ's Hospital. Alansplodge (talk) 13:48, 4 September 2011 (UTC)

Part of the dificulty that you are having with this question regards how Nuns actually are organized. Women's orders are divided into Sisters and Nuns. Usually, the word Nun is used in everyday speech to cover both, but technically, the word Nun only refers to cloistered orders like the Carmalites who devote themselves entirely to prayer. The hospitals would have been run by Sisters, who are devoted more to activities within the world, such as serving the poor. These groups weren't as secluded from society, and there were many diferent orders.Rabuve (talk) 16:06, 4 September 2011 (UTC)

It should be noted too that medieval hospitals were not all run by religious orders although they were attached to them in some sense. Some purely secular almshouses which looked after the infirm, poor and elderly existed and most had religious dedications eg St Leonard, St Lazerus, Maison Dieu etc, and were usually funded by cathedrals and monasteries. Others were purely for the accomodation of travellers and pilgrims. --Bill Reid | (talk) 17:10, 4 September 2011 (UTC)

Another English medieval hospital was the Great Hospital in Norwich which also followed the Augustinian rule. Alansplodge (talk) 12:24, 5 September 2011 (UTC)
My understanding is that many of the lesser hospitals would not have been run by "orders" in the widely-understood sense, but would simply have been run by people (whether lay or clergy) attached to the local church or cathedral or abbey &c. Local power-politics, factions supporting abbot X against bishop Y (or the local lord) &c might have been just as important as particular religious orders. There's some interesting detail in this but I can't find my copy among the tangled bookshelves... bobrayner (talk) 16:25, 5 September 2011 (UTC)
I have the impression, that when "nurses" existed at hospitals before the reformation, they were always nuns. All women working in such as sense at hospitals during the middle ages were, is my impression, nuns. By nun, I refer to both nuns and "religious sisters". Is this correct? Were there "sisters" of a orders then? --Aciram (talk) 17:42, 6 September 2011 (UTC)
Almost all hospitals were operated by monks, friars or laymen although there were a very few nunneries which had hospitals. Again, even these may have been operated by men. There were official nurses in the 13th century but referred to wet nurses. The term derived from the French nourice - a woman who suckled children. Nursing - ie caring for the sick - is really a relatively modern concept. It took until the 16th century before the term changed to include a person, normally a woman, who looked after the sick.
Nuns were nuns. There were no separate religious sisters. the nuns were organised into similar institutions as the monks i.e Benidictine, Cistercian, Dominican and Franciscan nunneries and Augustinian canonesses (equivalent of friars). --Bill Reid | (talk) 18:52, 6 September 2011 (UTC)
Well, the reason to why I said: "By nun, I refer to both nuns and "religious sisters"" was because you in a previous reply here above said: "Women's orders are divided into Sisters and Nuns." and "The hospitals would have been run by Sisters". Where there such "sisters" of every order then? Were there such sisters working as nurses during the middle ages? In novels depicting the middle ages, it is common that nuns tend to the sick. --Aciram (talk) 22:11, 6 September 2011 (UTC)
No that wasn't me - Rabuve I believe -Bill Reid | (talk) 09:09, 7 September 2011 (UTC)
Ah yes, I see that now, sorry! In any case; it seems that nuns only acted as nurses in hospitals attatched to their own convents, is that correct?--Aciram (talk) 11:46, 7 September 2011 (UTC)
No I don't think nuns acted as nurses in external hospitals. When you see the daily routines that both monks and nuns had to carry out there just wouldn't have been time for nursing. I believe that a high ranking nun would have been installed as the person in authority of any hospital associated with it. I am aware that in a hospital attached to a cathedral that I'm familiar with, a canon of the cathedral was appointed as its master. Internally in the convents, the nuns would have an infirmary and the nun placed in charge was the infirmarian but this was for the nuns only and did not cater for the wider population.
In the 12th and 13th centuries, friars and canonesses did go out into the communities to help and treat the poor practising home remedies and such like but not in organised hospitals. -Bill Reid | (talk) 15:33, 7 September 2011 (UTC)

Derivation of Buddhism[edit]

It is often asserted in various sources that the Buddhist religion was an offshoot of Hinduism. However, I have never realy liked this idea for a number of reasons. First, A lot of the things people point to as similarities such as mantras and tantric practices are really the result of syncretism rather than derivation. Secondly, looking at ancient India, early Buddhism had much more in common with Jainism than with Hinduism (Non-theistic, non-violent, etc...) and thirdly, the form of Hinduism that was practiced in the time of the Buddha was very diferent than both Buddhism and modern Hinduism.

I have two questions:

What is the Scholarly opinion on the issue: Is Buddhism derived from Hinduism or Jainism?

What are the flaws in my above reasoning? Have I misrepresented things? Rabuve (talk) 16:31, 4 September 2011 (UTC)

It was a reaction against Hinduism which shared much cultural background and some philosophical presuppositions with Hinduism, but very little doctrines or "theology" or religious rituals... AnonMoos (talk) 17:34, 4 September 2011 (UTC)
Also [as I understand it, not being an adherent of any of these belief systems], the supposed founders of Jainism and Buddhism were traditionally held to be roughly contemporaneous - I say "supposed" because there are claims that Jainism considerably predates its formalisation by its traditional founder. There would of course have been many other contemporary schools of religion and philosophy within and around the earlier-established Hinduism, which itself had syncretized Vedic religious beliefs, presumably imported by the Indo-European or Aryan migrations from the north-west, with the pre-existing, more animistic beliefs of the Dravidian (and other?) sub-continental cultures in a broad spectrum. It's difficult to sort out any kind of "religious family tree" because most of the significant developments took place when everything was being transmitted orally, not written down, so dates are very hard to establish. {The poster formerly known as} (talk) 21:38, 4 September 2011 (UTC)
I think it would be more accurate to say that Jainism and Buddhism derived from the same ancient philosophy - that of the Shramana (a form of non-theistic casteless ascetic philosophy practiced by wandering monks). Neither is really the direct descendant of the other. When they were established, they didn't consider themselves separate religions, but merely different schools of Shramana.
Hinduism, on the other hand, developed from another ancient religion contemporaneous to the Shramana philosophy - that of the Brahmin (a form of polytheistic ritualistic nature worship presided by a caste of priests and based on the Vedas).
The Brahmin and Shramana were mutually critical of each other. So much so that the Shramana are sometimes regared as originating from a sort of revolt against the Brahmin priests. The Shramanas wasn't a structured religion after all. Note that this is a controversial view, and some scholars maintain that both developed independently but over time, syncretized, developing new arguments based on each other's beliefs. It still doesn't change the fact though, that today, both Jainism and Buddhism are still strongly critical of Hinduism, while barely acknowledging each other, and thus both are usually regarded as reactionary to (i.e. developed, at least in part, from) Hinduism. This is not helped by the fact that the Shramana were always the minority in comparison to the Vedic followers. Perhaps comparable to the way modern western Agnosticism and Atheism are regarded as having developed from Christianity despite both really being independent of each other. Because after all, they were both derived originally from criticism of the Christian religions.
Also note that Hinduism today also has many different schools, sometimes also mutually critical of each other. And they themselves were influenced heavily by the Shramanas, triggering reforms.-- Obsidin Soul 10:01, 5 September 2011 (UTC)
Never heard that perspective before, but the ancient Greeks generally distinguished between the brachmanes and the sarmanes (without very deeply understanding the beliefs of either)... AnonMoos (talk) 11:51, 5 September 2011 (UTC)

Watery novels[edit]

I am seeking the names of books - (probably fictional) stories, adult or children - with a water theme. I have already listed "We didn't mean to go to sea" and the rest of the "Swallow and Amazon" books, Hornblower (especially "A ship of the line", "Wind in the Willows" (that one is a bit more tenuous), "Sinbad the sailor", "Three men in a boat", "The water babies", "20000 league under the sea". Any other suggestions folk? -- SGBailey (talk) 18:23, 4 September 2011 (UTC)

Flood?--Jac16888 Talk 18:26, 4 September 2011 (UTC)
The Sea, Watership Down, The Sea Hawk...LANTZYTALK 18:46, 4 September 2011 (UTC)
A Wizard of Earthsea. Adam Bishop (talk) 19:19, 4 September 2011 (UTC)
Loads really. Classics: Master and Commander (and the rest of the Aubrey–Maturin series), The Sea Wolf, Moby Dick, On Stranger Tides, Treasure Island, Heart of Darkness, Run Silent, Run Deep, Mutiny on the Bounty, and The Old Man and the Sea.

Thanks all. That's plenty to keep me going. -- SGBailey (talk) 21:27, 4 September 2011 (UTC)

Children's literature: Kipling's novel Captains Courageous and his short story The White Seal in The Jungle Book (the latter I enjoyed immensely as a kid). The short story The Story of the Four Little Children Who Went Round the World by Edward Lear (another of my favorites as a kid LOL). The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Adventures of Huckleberry Finn are also both watery somewhat (as they're both set along the Mississippi).
Also see Category:Sailing books and Category:Pirate books.-- Obsidin Soul 19:47, 4 September 2011 (UTC)
SGBailey, you say you are looking for "the names of books ... with a water theme". I take it Adam Bishop has interpreted this literally in suggesting Watership Down, which, despite the title, doesn't have much water and IIRC no ship at all. As for books in which water (rivers, lakes, oceans) forms a major part, I'd suggest Minnow on the Say, Westward Ho!, and Robert Louis Stevenson's somewhat fictionalised travelogue An Inland Voyage. BrainyBabe (talk) 20:14, 4 September 2011 (UTC)
Hey, that was Lantzy :) Adam Bishop (talk) 21:23, 4 September 2011 (UTC)
Apologies. BrainyBabe (talk) 11:19, 6 September 2011 (UTC)
But in Watership Down, the bunnies do escape a sticky situation with the aid of a boat - still tenuous though. Alansplodge (talk) 00:10, 5 September 2011 (UTC)
The Voyage of the QV66. (talk) 21:20, 4 September 2011 (UTC)
No rivers? Riverworld, A River Runs Through It, etc. Search wikipedia for "river fiction" and you'll see a bunch more titles. Staecker (talk) 00:11, 5 September 2011 (UTC)
Hemingway gets no love these day :( Islands in the Stream (personal favorite) and The Old Man and the Sea were the first titles to come to my mind. Quinn RAIN 02:54, 5 September 2011 (UTC)
The Old Man and the Sea was mentioned right up top. Dismas|(talk) 08:29, 5 September 2011 (UTC)

Two Years' Vacation, A Descent into the Maelström, The Swiss Family Robinson, The Story of Doctor Dolittle, The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle and Gulliver's Travels. Oda Mari (talk) 10:27, 5 September 2011 (UTC)

The Voyage of the Dawn Treader --TammyMoet (talk) 12:26, 5 September 2011 (UTC)
Island in the Sea of Time, Against the Tide of Years and On the Oceans of Eternity by S. M. Stirling. ---— Gadget850 (Ed) talk 12:45, 5 September 2011 (UTC)
Life of Pi. Gabbe (talk) 13:27, 5 September 2011 (UTC)
The Water-Babies, A Fairy Tale for a Land Baby --Tagishsimon (talk) 13:39, 5 September 2011 (UTC)
Just remembered another one I loved as a kid. The Marsh King's Daughter by Hans Christian Andersen (I really should make an article on it).-- Obsidin Soul 14:45, 5 September 2011 (UTC)
What about The Little Mermaid? -- Jack of Oz [your turn] 04:11, 6 September 2011 (UTC)
On the Beach (novel) and The Hunt for Red October. See also Category:Submarine fiction. HMS Ulysses (novel). See also Category:Arctic in fiction. The Bolitho novels, Kydd, Peter Simple (novel) and Urashima Tarō. Oda Mari (talk) 06:31, 6 September 2011 (UTC)
If you're looking for something that's thoughtful, literate, and absorbingly strange, don't miss The Drowned World by J.G. Ballard. It's one of his earlier books but he's already developing a lot of the themes that made him famous. And it's a watery place indeed. Antandrus (talk) 01:53, 7 September 2011 (UTC)
The Perfect Storm (book). Bus stop (talk) 02:16, 7 September 2011 (UTC)

2008 editorial about Russians and western racialist expectations[edit]

In 2008, at the height of the Georgia-Russia war, when the conflict seemed uncomplicated and Ivan-baiting was coming back into style, I vaguely remember reading an excerpt of a contrarian op-ed, written in response to American/European commentators' renewed assessment of Russians as especially barbaric, authoritarian, etc. The essay suggested that western Europeans and Americans expected Russians to behave like themselves because of their racial similarities, and that the cultural gulf between Russia and the west was particularly unsettling precisely because it violated implicit racialist assumptions in the west. In other words, the essay argued, if Russians were not white, their aggressive foreign policy and repressive political culture would never have provoked the same sort of outrage. Instead, Russians were being held to a "higher standard" on account of their race. So went the polemic. Does this line of argument seem familiar to anyone? I've been searching for this editorial, in the process of assembling sources for a paper I'm writing, and I can't find any evidence of its existence. I don't think I hallucinated it. LANTZYTALK 19:19, 4 September 2011 (UTC)

Have no idea on Russia/Georgia, but it's been a long-term commonplace among some commentators on the middle-east that certain other commentators who seem to "go easy" on the Arabs (i.e. minimizing or ignoring brutalities and atrocities committed by Arabs) actually seem to have something of a subconscious semi-contemptuous attitude towards the Arabs (i.e. that little else can be expected from people at that level of development) -- even though publicly they would claim to be militantly anti-racist and applying universal humanitarian principles... AnonMoos (talk) 13:44, 5 September 2011 (UTC)

Artistic depictions of Jesus[edit]

Why is Jesus always depicted as white rather than Middle Eastern? -- (talk) 21:35, 4 September 2011 (UTC)

Not always, see Depiction_of_Jesus#Range_of_depictions. Quest09 (talk) 21:42, 4 September 2011 (UTC)

(edit conflict)See Race of Jesus. His skin color was probable somewhere between our contemporary view of middle eastern skin color and a light Greek. An "olive" complexion, due to his hard work as a carpenter before his baptism, is an inviting description. It may have also led to a rather chiseled physique. Schyler (exquirere bonum ipsum) 21:44, 4 September 2011 (UTC)
It should be noted that dipicting historical figures with historical realism is a very recent phenomenon. For most of western history, European painters depicted all historical figures as contemporary to the artists. Consider This picture of Herod the Great from the 1400s which shows him and his soldiers dressed like a King and his soldiers would have looked in the 1400s, not as they would have looked in the first century BC. The idea that a) historical figures should be depicted as they looked or b) that historical figures may have dressed or looked differently than contemporary people probably didn't occur to western artists for a long time. So, Jesus tends to look like whoever is painting him. The Greeks made him look Greek, the Russians made him look Russian, the French made him look French, etc. --Jayron32 00:14, 5 September 2011 (UTC)

Because the audience to whom the promulgators of such imagery proselytize and propagandize is European.Greg Bard (talk) 19:32, 5 September 2011 (UTC)

That's not necessarily the case, if it were, it wouldn't explain why Herod the Great is depicted dressed like a Crusader?!? (see above). --Jayron32 19:41, 5 September 2011 (UTC)
Herod and his depiction in art is completely irrelevant. There is no special selling job going on with the reputation of Herod. He is what he is and it doesn't really matter what he was wearing or what race he was. Nobody cares. However when trying to convince people to worship a person as a messiah it really helps if the "messiah" is the same race as the people you are proselytizing to. In fact since almost everyone back then was almost completely racist, it was a neccessity.Greg Bard (talk) 20:21, 5 September 2011 (UTC)
Actually, it is perfectly relevant, because if what you claim is true, it would only be happening with Jesus, and not with other art. If artists treat Jesus exactly the same as all other historical figures, then you can't claim that you have evidence that they are doing it for a different reason. If artists treat Herod exactly as they treat Jesus, what evidence is there that their reasoning for painting Jesus a certain way is different than painting Herod the same way? --Jayron32 00:57, 6 September 2011 (UTC)edit: spelling mistake fixed. Much appreciation to Gregbard. --Jayron32 19:16, 6 September 2011 (UTC)
Well even if I take a more open-minded and innocent interpretation as you have and as as Looie496 has immediately below here, I would still call it AWFULLY CONVENIENT. (BTW, I once misspelled "relevant" exactly as you have and the particular instance made it into a local newspaper --so embarrassed!) Greg Bard (talk) 19:07, 6 September 2011 (UTC)

You know, there's also the simple fact that very few painters can paint something they haven't seen. Most European painters in the Middle Ages didn't have a chance to see people, or pictures of people, who were much different from the ones they lived with. Looie496 (talk) 20:26, 5 September 2011 (UTC)

I am not sure about that - I would think that most European painters in the Middle Ages would have seen traders and merchants from foreign lands, or mercenaries, or other itinerant workers, especially in the ports and cities. --KägeTorä - (影虎) (TALK) 22:41, 7 September 2011 (UTC)

Did John Milton have a photographic memory?[edit]

In the book "Immediate Fiction", Jerry Cleaver writes, "the famous poet John Milton (Paradise Lost)... had a photographic memory. He'd so internalized the process of creating poetry that he dreamt poetry written on a page, remembered it when he woke up, and then copied it down. His subconscious was serving up completed poetry. Consciously, he was totally absent." Is there any truth to this? -- noosphere 23:45, 4 September 2011 (UTC)

I would not trust the book as a source for little known facts about people. The book is not a biography of Milton. Also, many people misuse the word photogenic memory to only mean a good memory, not an actual Eidetic memory which is probably what happened here. Having an eidetic memory means one could memorize an entire book very fast, than have the book taken away and asked how many times the word 'and' appears in the book, and get a quite accurate answer. Many people have dreams about work, and many people can remember dreams quite well. Public awareness (talk) 02:09, 5 September 2011 (UTC)
Note here that many question the mere existence of eidetic memory as such, even if we have to admit that some people have exceptional memory. Quest09 (talk) 13:19, 5 September 2011 (UTC)
Other explanations for this same method of writing include that an invisible spirit of some sort whispered lines to him as he slept, such that they settled in his memory and could be dictated to his scribes when he woke. Of course the fact that he was totally blind for much of his later life would add an interesting side to this idea of his seeing written pages in his mind. (talk) 10:42, 5 September 2011 (UTC)
A similar case was that of Samuel Taylor Coleridge's dreaming of Kubla Khan. Being interested in writing, I often read works about the writing process, and it's not that uncommon to encounter self-description of authors writing "in a trance", "as if being dictated to", or being inspired by dreams.
I myself (so far not a fiction writer) rarely remember details of dreams (interesting though they sometimes are) for more than few seconds after waking, but some years ago I woke with a very vivid memory of having experienced what I can best describe as a vision of being a protagonist in about 2 chapters-worth of a very coherent fantasy fictional novel. I was able to write a detailed description (though to this day I still remember the events very clearly) and mean some day to actually write a story incorporating it.
My point in mentioning the foregoing is to say that I suspect not a few writers experience some kind of unconscious composition process, but their subjective experiences of it and their subsequent descriptions depend on the individual. {The poster formerly known as 87.981.230.195} (talk) 11:18, 5 September 2011 (UTC)
I vaguely remember reading an anecdote (I think from a source contemporary with Milton) to the effect that the poet would regularly wake up bursting with verses that he had subconsciously composed during the night, and would require to be 'milked' by one of his daughters (ie she would write down the verses as he recited them). Maid Marion (talk) 12:12, 6 September 2011 (UTC)
Given that so-called photographic memory is most likely an unfounded myth, the answer is probably no. --Belchman (talk) 13:43, 6 September 2011 (UTC)