« Gilman's Wallpaper: A lesson in Poor Interior Design | Main | Hirsch: If the Rubik's Cube were a written work, this would be it. »

February 8, 2007

Keesey: The Man, The Myth, The Legend - Ch. 1 Intro

"On the one side, we have the plausible assumption that authors will be affected by the intellectual currents and social conditions that surround them." - p. 13

I'm really starting to like this Keesey fellow. He tends to get a little trapezoidal in his descriptions and explanations, but two or three readings will clear them up.

I enjoy this quote because of the use "assumption." In his explaining of the genetic method, he doesn't limit things to this concrete and finite notion that an author will be gridlocked by the intellectual movements and social changes. It is logical to assume as much, but is not a central key that must, at all times, be considered.

This is the sentiment was shared by comedian Robert Whul, when he taught a course at a university in Boston (I forget which), which was filmed and broadcast as a program called "Assume the Position." For anyone who had seen this, feel free to ignore the rest of the post.

Whul addressed what he called "The Liberty Valence Effect." There was a film, made in 1962, which starred John Wayne and Jimmy Stewart called "The Man Who Shot Liberty Valence," in which a senator returns to his home town as a hero for killing the legendary outlaw Liberty Valence. The truth is that the senator never actually killed the outlaw. The man who had been commissioned to write the senator's biography, after learning that he hadn't been the man who killed Liberty Valence, tore up all the notes and refused to write the story, explaining that "when the legend becomes fact, print the legend."

The same thing can be said, or so I feel, for criticizing written works by studying the author and everything surrounding them. As Whul also explains, history is pop culture. In essence, we like hero stories and tend to glorify things, more than they should be. He also addresses the notion that Queen's "We Will Rock You" became a national battle cry, almost as much as "Yankee Doodle," both of which are either by or about homosexuals.

This isn't to say that historical criticism isn't warranted, but sometimes a little overboard. History, usually, will bear someone out as a bigger hero (or totally inhumane) than they were. As such, "when the legend becomes fact, print the legend."

Posted by KevinMcGinnis at February 8, 2007 2:56 PM


Post a comment

Remember Me?

(you may use HTML tags for style)