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From: "Jeremy W. Crampton" <jcrampto@gmu.edu>
Subject: (urth) What is a lie?
Date: Mon, 08 Nov 1999 13:22:24 

Jim Henley:

Jim, it seems to me we can go in one of two ways here. We can hash the ins
and outs of these examples from Chaps 1-2 (or others if people come up with
any), or we can state our position on Clute's oft-repeated claim "Sev. is a
liar". I was trying to say I agree with Clute and show what evidence could
be produced to support him. Granted, data is needed either way, but perhaps
we can offer our assumptions first and identify difficulties.

And there are yet further levels, which I was (dimly!) aware of in writing
my post. For example, if we have two contradictory statements (eg., his
knowledge of his mother) which one do we choose as true? That he remembers
breast feeding or that he never knew his parents? Was he misleading us, or
misleading himself? Is he even aware his memory is imperfect (thanks for
pointing that one out)? And how much of this is the author's (Wolfe) use of
narrative thrust, skillful foreshadowing, or the exigencies of literary

Well, presumably one answer to these questions is: the same way a scientist
weighs conflicting observations; by seeing which one fits with the most
observations already made. (This answer has its own difficulties of
course.) Another answer is to check (like a scientist might) with
prevailing opinion, and this raises the question for the community:

-->is it generally accepted that Sev. lies (and if so, how often, how
seriously, of his free will or under duress, for selfish reasons or
altruistic, why/why not, etc.)? This is a genuine question!

Furthermore, are we in agreement on the implications of the statement "Sev.
is a liar"? To me, this does not make him less inspiring or appealing.
Seems to me the error is to sanctify Sev. (and Silk?) and thus separate
them from humanity. But here I suspect one's religious affiliations creep
in, ie., the text is always interpreted in context.

Disclaimer: I personally came to my relationship with the statement "Sev.
is a liar" not just through textual evidence, but a larger set of my
personal beliefs ("people lie but that doesn't make them necessarily
bad--it depends, kinda thing"), my *aesthetic* understanding of the novels
and Sev. (what makes good art is an unreliable lying narrator not a
flawless one), Wolfe's interviews and what I think Wolfe is trying to do
(here I could be wrong, could be right!), my readings of Wolfe's source
material (esp. ancient Greece), and FINALLY I think Foucault had some jolly
good points in his article on the "death of the author"!  :P)

Jeremy W. Crampton			http://geog.gmu.edu
Geography and Earth Science [MS1E2]
George Mason University
Fairfax Va. 22030-4444
(703) 993-1210

*More Wolfe info & archive of this list at http://www.urth.net/urth/

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