Foreword to We Descend, Volume Two

Every writing addresses someone; this someone is often said to be the author's Ideal Reader. But "ideal" connotes a conceptualized, even perpetrated entity that is an entirely different creature from the real person one addresses when speaking. Now it may be useful to make this distinction in order to discuss, in the abstract, the *process* of writing, but the *practice* is wholly different: in writing anything, you address a real person, and, by addressing, conjure that person into your presence — the "materiality" of this being is, well, immaterial.

When a real reader (in contrast to an ideal one) takes up an author's writing, she encounters not a voice speaking to *her*, or not to her directly: she comes in on a conversation already in progress, between the author and the person he is addressing in the writing. Given a sense of the occasion she has just joined, she will wisely keep still at first and pay attention, not just to the author's voice, but also to the silence of the other person listening to him at that moment. Thus she comes to know them both.

The Authors who speak in We Descend emerge from a span of many generations; what they have most in common is that their Writings have captured the imagination of one Curator after another, each of whom came to feel urgently that "the archives" must be preserved for, and thereby transmitted to, the generations to come. In addition, each Curator has imprinted the archives with the forethought and care he or she took in provisioning them for this further journey — hence the Apparati built into the structure of the Writings, which then become part of the story.

The present Curator feels strongly that this story is best told in hypertext form, which enables its many voices to resonate with one another in many ways. You yourself, Dear Reader, will judge the strength or fault of this approach, of course, but, throughout, it has been my earnest intention, in every contrivance, to prepare your way into this ongoing colloquy of persons, which now includes you.

As work proceeds upon the remaining fragments in the archives, the sequence, structure, and interface of their presentation are all certain to change, and even when that work is finished, it is likely that some disagreement will remain as to what belongs where or came from whom.

Be that as it may, it is hoped that this provisional offering will find favor not only with new readers, but with the patient friends and colleagues whose unfailing encouragement has been necessary as breathing to me. Thank you, my patrons.

Bill Bly

Bethlehem PA US