Great column by Frank Rich in Sunday's New York Times about the truth these days. We live in the decade of Truthiness; credibility, at this moment in American culture, is based upon the ring of truth or "Truthiness," rather than actuality:
"IF James Frey hadn't made up his own life, Tom Wolfe would have had to invent it for him. The fraudulent memoirist is to the early 21st century what Mr. Wolfe's radical-chic revelers were to the late 1960's and his Wall Street "masters of the universe" were to the go-go 1980's: a perfect embodiment of the most fashionable American excess of an era.
As Oprah Winfrey, the ultimate arbiter of our culture, has made clear, no one except pesky nitpickers much cares whether Mr. Frey's autobiography is true or not, or whether it sits on a fiction or nonfiction shelf at Barnes & Noble. Such distinctions have long since washed away in much of our public life. What matters most now is whether a story can be sold as truth, preferably on television. The mock Comedy Central pundit Stephen Colbert's slinging of the word "truthiness" caught on instantaneously last year precisely because we live in the age of truthiness.
At its silliest level, this is manifest in show-biz phenomena like Jessica Simpson and Nick Lachey, juvenile pop stars who merchandised the joy of their new marriage as a lucrative MTV reality series before heading to divorce court to divvy up the booty. But if suckers want to buy fictional nonfiction like "Newlyweds" or "A Million Little Pieces" as if they were real, that's just harmless diversion.
It's when truthiness moves beyond the realm of entertainment that it's a potential peril."...
Now that Truthiness (and Bullshit, as described by Harry Frankfurt in his scholarly little tome, On Bullshit) has been pointed out to me, I'm starting to see it everywhere. Latest example: I just looked up Larry the Cable Guy (the drawling "Git 'er done" redneck comedian) on Wikipedia after hearing a reference to him on TV, and found out that he's not a real southerner, but a guy that grew up in Nebraska going to a private school! Still, I bet he's the straight up real deal to his audience... his act is down-home truthy! Just for kicks, keep your eyes peeled for Truthiness over the next few days. Make up your own truthy stories! Join the suspension-of-disbelief fun!
January 24, 2006 | Permalink
January 18, 2006 | Permalink
I'm hereby making a resolution to spend more time talking about words. I think I've been avoiding the subject in this forum because I don't want to use my blog to shill product (even though I think Magnetic Poetry products are great), and talking about words tends to lead my thinking to... Magnetic Poetry products.
Here's a recommendation for all those word-loving folks out there who have caught, or are thinking of swinging their net to catch the podcasting bug: The Word Nerds are Dave and Howard Shepherd, high school English teaching brothers from North Carolina who, with a slight Appalacian drawl usually associated with folk who ain't got much book larnin', examine various language issues, trends, phenomena and quirks, things you've probably wondered about in passing but never fully explored. Lots of "Aha" moments here. Included in the half hour show are a couple of songs by artists you've almost certainly never heard before, a "Rude Word of the Day" (including etymology, usage and historical and cultural context), and occasional visits by another (Latin) teacher, Howard Chang.
I hope you check these guys out; they are funny, charming, erudite and good-hearted fellows who are doing this out of pure love of the subject... not to shill product.
January 13, 2006 | Permalink
Anybody out there been to a girls' high school hockey game lately? Holy cow, has the sport come a long way in the last ten years! Let's hear it for Title 9! These chicks were flying on their skates and blasting slapshots from the point that would make you think you were watching boys, if you didn't see all the well-brushed ponytails hanging out of helmets. Pictured is our cleaning lady's daughter, Amanda Trunzo, playing for Benilde (red) facing off against a Wayzata opponent. Amanda is amazing; watch for her in some future winter Olympics, or pay your four bucks and see her at some Twin Cities arena near you!
January 10, 2006 | Permalink
For years I've been trying to find a favorite book from my childhood, my description of which seemed to ring a bell with no one. "Don't you remember," I asked my sister, "there were two kids, a twin boy and girl, and they got flying suits for their birthday, which they put on and flew to their Grandmother's house and over their town and stuff, and then it all turned out to be a dream?" "No," she (and every other family member and used bookstore owner) said, adding "...are you sure it wasn't something YOU dreamt?"
Well, the internet has done its magic once again, and yielded a website called LoganberryBooks.com, which has a section called Stump the Bookseller, which, I am happy to report, I was not able to do. I found my (very real) book, called Skyjets for Fliers of Tomorrow, bought it online, recieved it a couple of days ago, and have been gazing longingly at the pictures ever since, just like when I was six years old.
And then yesterday the Gods really tried to freak me out by sending this bit of graffiti rolling past on a freight train as I parked behind the office. Yowza!
January 06, 2006 | Permalink