I have been using an electrical continuity tester to discover what connects where inside a standard lamp that no longer lights up. And on the same day I have been transcribing a stemma page from the 12th-century illuminated Bible of San Millán de Cogolla. I found the coincidence illuminating (sorry, I could not resist that pun). The stemma, which presents a genealogy of Christ, contains a vast array of components (persona), which are "wired" together by connecting lines. Some authors have suggested that the stemma is a mnemonic device, but I have seen no evidence for that and doubt it. No one with a normal mind could remember all the connections simply by studying a graphic with several hundred nodes, any more than one could "learn" a wiring diagram for a complex electrical device. In fact, it is far easier to memorize the biblical passages on which the San Millán stemma is based and recite them than it would be to construct this stemma from memory. Both a wiring diagram and a complex stemma have a different purpose. They provide an analytical, information-storage method in which the user can mentally crawl along the lines to consider whether the electrical assembly is complete or whether the genealogical stemma offers all the necessary connections of descent or is marred by breaks. One must keep going back to the graphic to see the different local connections. Circuit diagrams are in fact a variety of process flow chart, which, as we know, have their origins in the stemma form.

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