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2013-02-12 22:15:39.001359+00 by Dan Lyke 5 comments

Ghost in the Machine: Fact checking Lincoln.

The Wall Street Journal: Tony Kushner Fires Back at Congressman’s ‘Lincoln’ Criticism

Kushner argues that that facts were changed to serve the larger story: “These alterations were made to clarify to the audience the historical reality that the Thirteenth Amendment passed by a very narrow margin that wasn’t determined until the end of the vote.


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comments in descending chronological order (reverse):

#Comment Re: made: 2013-02-17 18:40:51.161539+00 by: Larry Burton

Aside from a few technical manuals all literature is fiction. Any biography, even and especially an autobiography, is going to retell the past through a stigmatic lens, making assumptions on facts unknown or forgotten with motivations remembered with 20/20 hindsight.

#Comment Re: made: 2013-02-17 17:23:46.699783+00 by: Dan Lyke

Many years ago, a friend suggested that she only read non-fiction books, and I think I had a smarmy comeback about how the novel as a general form contained more truth than most alleged "non-fiction".

I guess my point is that in a deliberate piece of fiction there's no pretense about "the worst thing Kushner did", I'm getting the author's view of personal relationships, unadorned, but in a work like Lincoln (or JFK, or any of a number of other works) I'm suddenly left on my own to sort through which is factual and which is fanciful, and if the author isn't going to stick strictly to the documented facts then the only reason to wrap the fiction in alleged history is to give it weight and standing that it wouldn't have on its own.

So it exposes the entire work as supported largely by a cheap crutch.

#Comment Re: made: 2013-02-16 19:56:50.372162+00 by: petronius

If the Connecticut vote was the worst thing Kushner did, then your time was not ill spent, it was just cheap and negligent on his part. My complaint about him is that he tends to the cheap and negligent, like elevating Ethel Rosenberg to sainthood in Angels in America, while never even mentioning the fact that Julius was a spy, and we can prove it.

Now, compare these issues to Oliver Stone's JFK, where the bold-faced lies and utter misrepresentations are numbered in the hundreds. Kushner doesn't seem so bad.

#Comment Re: made: 2013-02-13 23:44:15.204397+00 by: Dan Lyke

One of the things I've become conscious of is how we interpret the world within our personal myths, and how those are shaped and informed by the cultural myths that get repeated.

Stripping away those myths to be able to build personal models that see and react to reality is a challenge, and an ideal that isn't achievable, but that I think is a worthy path. It's far too easy to re-form memories in ways that reinforce prejudices than to find ways to refine our mental models to incorporate new information.

What Kushner is saying here is that the myth is more important to him than building a better model of what actually happened based on the facts. When the myth becomes more important than reality, we're actively working against better tools to help us improve our lot. Which makes those two and a half hours I spent with Kushner's work time that was actively subverting what I'm trying to do with my life.

And for that, I resent him.

#Comment Re: made: 2013-02-13 22:09:32.986095+00 by: petronius

Well, it is interesting. As somebody in the comments at WSJ said, Spielberg went to the trouble of recording the tick of Lincoln's own watch in the interests of historical truth, but didn't mind painting the citizens of Connecticut as vicious racists. Surely Kushner's researchers could have found somebody from Tennesee who actually did vote against the Amendment.

Meanwhile, I can only imagine Rep. Thaddeus Steven' reply to Kushner's mealy-mouthed response: " Ah, thank you Mr. Kushner, for verifying to us that you are in fact a lying dog!"