JF Ptak Science Books Post 2533
There is a peculiar beauty to discovering a sleeping obviousness--something that is so present and apparent and minor that it can present for a while before you suddenly recognize it, and then the obviousness is all that you can see. "Hiding in plain site" is something that it might be called, though I don't think we have a word for it in English.
Here's an example of it, found in Dante. It may seem perverse to look at beautiful images like this/these illustrating one of the greatest stories that has ever been spun, but the tiny letters signifying the actors defined in the motion take on their ow unusual lives for me. It seems very odd to identify objects that are so obvious and form the direction of the story and need no identification. (Some things need no introduction, like Dante and Beatrice, and Yogi Berra. (A friend told me a story of going to a function and being seated next to Berra for dinner, Yogi walking up to him and extending a hand saying "Hi, I'm Yogi". No kidding?)) But I guess someone thought the notation was necessary, even if it both spoils and beautifies the simplicity of the design.
The edition of Dante is by Alessandro Vellutello, (La Coemdia con la nova espostione de Alessandro Vellutello...published in Venice in 1544) who extended himself to include the (87) illustrations that I just mentioned, and included a text full of glosses. No doubt the signifiers in the illustrations are aids to the supplementary text--still, they seem to be fairly unnecessary.
- Here's an entire gallery of the Vellutello illustrations at World of Dante, http://www.worldofdante.org/gallery_vellutello.html
That said, most of the time I appreciate the annotated image (speaking here of the non-technical/scientific ones) mainly because without the help the iconography sometimes escapes me. The Vellutello illustrations are much more "modern" than previous illustrations made for Dante, and seem to bridge the centuries of differentiated understanding so far as the interpretation of the images are concerned. On the other hand I appreciate the effort made for explanation in the engraving by Cornelis Galle of the Devil as it lived and breathed in Dante, the help coming in many forms. For example, without the annotations I would probably never have noticed the "D" and "V" figures (Virgil carrying Dante) so I am thankful for the help: