Myths About Literature

images.jpgI recently read a piece in the New York Times Book Section  that had me shaking my head. The subject of Bookends was “Is the Writer’s Only Responsibility to His Art?” The direction of this inquiry seemed obviously focused on the artist’s approach to his or her art (in this case literature) but the responses to the question clearly  misinterpreted it to refer to the other responsibilities the artist might have, to his kids or to some moral code imposed by society or religion.

The quotation is from that drunken rascal William Faulkner (watch the film Barton Fink for a fun fictional representation of a Faulkner close).

Perhaps here is an opportunity to recall Parker’s Myths of Literature:

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When books are not well behaved

Reading Subway In a recent post I speculated that people who declare that they love to read and devour any source from cereal boxes to soup cans might be expressing a need for the physical act of reading, almost like autism. That conjecture is probably a bit over the edge but recently I have been exposed to a few readers who have problems with reading unless the text is physically familiar and easy to read like they were taught in the second grade. To me, and coming from the other direction, this also suggests that the physical process of reading must be familiar and must avoid complexity or controversy lest the reader get a little out of sorts and consider banging their head against the wall.

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The Myth of Wyatt Earp

Wyatt EarpWyatt Earp is one of America’s most famous vigilantes who delivered justice the American way—except it’s all a lie. Biographer Andrew Isenberg on how Earp built this myth and its dangerous echoes through American history. — The Daily Beast

Eighty-five years ago in Los Angeles, the western lawman Wyatt Earp, who participated in an infamous gunfight in Tombstone, Arizona, in 1881, met with an aspiring screenwriter, Stuart Lake, and began to dictate his memoirs.  Four years later, Lake sold the screen rights to Earp’s story to Fox, and the first of what would be dozens of Earp films went into production. …

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Some call them lies, others call them myths

When you take an objective view, they are all worthy of a used-car salesman and not a presidential candidate. Igor Volsky wrote in Think Progress:

At Last Night’s Debate: Romney Told 27 Myths In 38 Minutes

Pundits from both sides of the aisle have lauded Mitt Romney’s strong debate performance, praising his preparedness and ability to challenge President Obama’s policies and accomplishments. But Romney only accomplished this goal by repeatedly misleading viewers. He spoke for 38 minutes of the 90 minute debate and told at least 27 myths:

Go to Think Progress to read the article. My only problem was that I was getting used to the press and politicians calling a lie a lie and not being politic by referencing things like myths. But I suppose that when the GOP tells the same lies over and over again they do begin to reach mythological status.