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Tuesday, January 17, 2012

And To Think That it Happened On Liddell Lane.

...And it happened so innocently, too.

I was emailing a customer, and in my winsome 'Varky way, I wished to include lines from "The Walrus and the Carpenter:

"The time has come," the Walrus said, 
"To talk of many things:

Of shoes--and ships--and sealing-wax--

Of cabbages--and kings--

And why the sea is boiling hot--

And whether pigs have wings."
Being unhappy with keyboarding more than I must, I went online and found the poem, ctrl C'd the passage, then ctrl V'd the thing in place. Hey, presto! I are literate! 
What began in innocency moved into dreadfulness, for I Followed a Link. Then another, and another, from one fan site, to a scholarly site, to another until: the man who has entertained generations of children (and adults) with his tales of Alice, either down a rabbit hole, or through a  looking-glass, this Victorian author, poet and mathematician, this paragon of the fantastic, this acme of excellence, this man of his age became besmeared with accusations vile. His life and career, through the alchemy of Presentist thought, were brought to nought with the smarmy scholarship of modern biographers who knew neither the man nor his times. Pedophilia, not merely whispered, but shouted, and writ large.
You know, I never considered such a thing, even reading about Lewis Carroll (Charles Lutwidge Dodgson), and his friendship with the Liddell family and children when I grew up. I don't think that way (unless forced).  I grew up with adult friends and kin, none  of whom showed any inclination to fiddle about, fiddle about. 

I am angry, angry because apparently the current high-water mark of biographical scholarship requires one to suppose, to extrapolate, perhaps even to project. (This has been my suspicion of Freud, that he attempted to exonerate his own loathsomeness by painting everyone else with it, but hey, that's my Inner Biographer talking.)

So now, one cannot study the man without facing the bootless accusation as well. I rage, I blog! 
What horror might we learn about Dr. Seuss today?

Oh. This.



Michael W said...

It does seem that no contemporary "historian" can lay claim to the title unless he takes a revered figure from the ages and somehow dumps dirt on him.

Or her.

Yeah, I'm pretty much aware that JFK was a womanizer. One of my favorite horror writers, H.P. Lovecraft, was a racist piece of shit. Another favorite author, Hunter S. Thompson, was someone I wouldn't want to have lived next door to. Und so weiter . . .

And when the lockpicks of history find some reason to pry open my life, I imagine there'll be some fallen faces as well.

"When the legend becomes fact, print the legend." ---The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance---

Going back to Lewis Carroll, I'm reminded of a story (appropriately enough). Queen Victoria had heard of "Alice's Adventures In Wonderland" and asked Carroll to kindly supply her with a copy of "his little book". Dodgson, tickled pink, sent her a copy of "A Syllabus of Plane Algebraic Geometry".

(I wonder how far Her Majesty got into the book before she commented that the plot was a little thin?)

The Aardvark said...

"And when the lockpicks of history find some reason to pry open my life, I imagine there'll be some fallen faces as well."

Strike Witches? (I keed, I KEED!)
I have wanted to see it, as I am a sucker for alternate WW2 stories.
Yeah...THAT'S the ticket!

Ever read Katherine Kurtz's "Lammas Night"?

Michael W said...

Haven't read "Lammas Night" yet but ought to (Denise has been the big Kurtz fan in the house so far, having read the Deryni series up one end and down the other). There's also a slew of alternate WWII history that Harry Turtledove has written that I need to get into.

I am a pushover for a rollicking good alternate history.

The Aardvark said...

Alternate history:

A Transatlantic Tunnel, Hurrah!
by Harry Harrison.

Huh? HUH?!

Doom said...

Academia is a circus of the absurd these days. If it was ever different, actually. Their whole job, the theoretical parts of it, are to prove the fantastic, if untrue, unprovable. As soon as they "banned" God from the conversation, all that was left was half-truths. And they do stretch "half-truth".

I think of the modern campus as an adult day care center for the criminally stupid. With so much government largess going in to support it and zero quality checks, you get what you get. End government funding of schools and loan programs and let the chips fall where they may. Even end R&D funding. Let their worth be based on economic reasoning, again, or... more.

Michael W said...

I read Harrison's "A Transatlantic Tunnel Hurrah" when it was first serialized in Analog (all those years back when I was a regular reader). Nice bit of proto steampunk there.

Have you read any of the "Ring Of Fire" material created and moderated by Eric Flint? Absolutely brilliant (and it's taught me more about 17th Century Europe than I ever knew before).