Sunday, June 29, 2014
Saturday, June 28, 2014
Patriots in present-day Fayetteville, North Carolina, on June 20, 1775, signed a document they called "The Association." Patriots meeting near present-day Cherryville, North Carolina on August 14, 1775, signed a document they called "An Association." One thing I learned from working so long on Herman Melville is to be alert to words which meant something to people in the 19th century that they do not immediately mean to me. Association?
noun: association; plural noun: associations; noun: assn.
- 1.(often in names) a group of people organized for a joint purpose."the National Association of Broadcasters"
- Ecologya plant community defined by a characteristic group of dominant plant species.
- 2.a connection or cooperative link between people or organizations."he developed a close association with the university"
- the action or state of becoming a member of an organization with subordinate status."Slovenia signed association agreements with the European Union"
- Chemistrythe linking of molecules through hydrogen bonding or other interaction short of full bond formation.
- 3.a mental connection between ideas or things."the word bureaucracy has unpleasant associations"
- the action of making a mental connection."the association of alchemy with “hieroglyphics” and “cabala.”"
- the fact of occurring with something else; co-occurrence."cases of cancer found in association with colitis"
LUCKILY, I still have, and consult almost daily, an unabridged dictionary more than 100 years old. "Association" meant a written pledge to execute an undertaking. The men who met at Barge's Tavern in Cross Creek (as it was called then) and at Christy Mauney's log house at a crossroads in Tryon County were putting their fortunes and their lives at risque (as the Tryon document says) when they signed their names.
Friday, June 27, 2014
I have been thinking about shame a lot in this new century. In 2002 Richard H. Brodhead, Andrew Delbanco, and Elizabeth Schultz all shamelessly lied about me in print, Brodhead in the New York TIMES, saying I had merely surmised the existence of two lost books which Melville finished. One, the 1860 POEMS, had been known to everyone since 1922. They apparently felt no shame in lying about me, but I found myself shamed every time I heard a mention of the New York TIMES, especially. You internalize shame when people defame you with lies, or at least I did, until I began speaking out in 2007. Since then I have continued to think about shame and have decided that somewhere around the mid 20th century parents stopped teaching their children to be ashamed of bad behavior. Instead, parents and teachers began trying to instill self-esteem in children whatever their behavior. Shame lingered on in some areas of the country especially in some religious groups up until, oh, what—Nixon’s Southern Strategy? If I knew back entrances to a nursing home because my mother had been kept there and I showed a Tea Party photographer just how to get into the building to take pictures of a woman whose mind was gone, then I can imagine killing myself for shame, especially if I grew up in Mississippi. The defeated candidate, however, seems to be of the generation that learned well the lessons of self-esteem.