When Power of Story Is Stolen or Cooked Up . . .

4 03 2008

what happens to its meaning? Is the power sapped, the broth spoiled, fruit from the poisonous tree? Or does it just morph into a different story, real with different truths?

Sarah McGrath, the editor at Riverhead who worked with Ms. Seltzer for three years on the book, said she was stunned to discover that the author had lied.

“It’s very upsetting . . . we completely bought into that and thought we were doing something good by bringing her story to light,” Ms. McGrath said. “There’s a huge personal betrayal here as well as a professional one” . . .

Back when James Frey’s story was abuse-of-belief that fooled even Oprah, I saw its power this way.

Had I known his not-real story had the makings of real social contagion, storytellers one upon another selling whatever people seem to be buying, with whatever false advertising will do the trick, I might have seen it differently? Hmmm, time to think about these new tellings of this same old sad story. And how should we now see the end of the real story, and the believability of their scripted contrition? Doesn’t abuse of story boil down to abuse of our belief in what’s real and what’s not?

Tabloid journalism — see Dana trying to keep it real about World Net Daily’s religious homeschool persecution news this week — does it quite boldly, never mind the faux contrition like book cheats trot out when nailed. Let’s see, who else is abusing our belief and spoiling our real stories for sneaky, selfish advantage, as a matter of course? (Lawyers, politicians and creation museum “curators” come immediately to mind.)

Ask the founder of the weather channel, or Glenn Beck, about Al Gore and global warming — maybe they’re ALL abusing your belief one way or another!
Has it become not just contagious in our society, but epidemic?

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5 responses

4 03 2008
Dana

Why on earth would you link to me as being World Net Daily? I think you completely misunderstood my comment. I have no idea where you got the idea that I in any way support that particular source.

“World Net Daily is not a reliable source, and its reporting in this case of religious persecution right up there with the Nazis was not right.”

Um, I could have written that myself. You misunderstood what I was trying to say. Most people have read about this via WND. I did not. I don’t read WND…in fact, if you look through my archives most if not all of my entries which references them is pointing out something they got wrong. Or wishing they’d tone down the constant Nazi stuff.

What I was attempting to point out was that in the discussions I have had, most people have read it via WND. Another side discredits WND and therefore thinks the story is patently false. I think there are concerns with this case which has nothing to do with WND, a story I didn’t even read until it was passed around enough that I figured I’d better see what on earth everyone else was reading.

4 03 2008
JJ

Sorry, Dana! I was linking the comments where we had just discussed it. I did misunderstand you — thank goodness! — because I just had to bow out of a serious legislative list I’ve enjoyed and contributed to for years, when this WND hysteria became the latest in a long line of hyped WND tabloid nonsense (mostly about Germany and Nazis) brought there to be presented as factual, news to get experienced homeschool watchdogs all upset over.
Also my local eclectic list recently had a big blow-up over all the WND stories being gullibly posted, and when I finally challenged that source, I was scolded by the moderator for not being pleasant and polite. So I have recently declared my intention not to let irrationality dress up and parade around as critical thinking, in any homeschool venue where I find myself, without either commenting and trying to help, or leaving.

From the Culture Kitchen essay, re World Net Daily’s “news”:


Catholic leaders claim The Da Vinci Code is
manipulation of belief
, fraud for profit, harmful lies we must warn the world to reject.
Now comes the titillating and, one supposes, quite predictable reverse play, the crowning glory of the news and belief cycle (whoops, not to be redundant!) — historical Christianity itself challenged as fraud, with the courts as the objective Standard of Truth.

It’s being called “abuse of popular belief” by the plaintiff.

Can we even call these stories about the stories actual news — or is it closer to sensationalized fiction in service of larger redemptive “truth?” Words
seldom fail me, let’s see, where’s the connected Power of Story in all
this . . . yeah, “ abuse of popular belief” is a keeper.

I think it’s time we add it to our mandatory graduation standards — if we can find anyone qualified to teach the course.

4 03 2008
Dana

hehe. Normally I wouldn’t get ruffled. But imagine this. WND is considered reliable in many of my lists and I am the odd one out with the continual challenges. They have linked to me before which is when I learned about their formula for writing. The first paragraph is something sensational, then if it involves homeschooling they connect it to Nazis. And I get another wave of traffic to a post I did based on information from homeschoolers in Germany. Funny thing is that while I stand by the validity of the document I translated, they never asked me for it.

4 03 2008
JJ

I just edited clarifying words into the link, to say what I (really!) did mean in the first place. Hope it helps, and thanks again for speaking up so we could clear it up. I have come to respect and appreciate the way you address these things, for a homeschool audience that would never listen to me saying the same thing!
🙂

27 02 2009
Making Another Book Meme My Own « Cocking A Snook!

[…] thing, before I tracked it back to the original BBC list voted on by British readers, and found the thing’s been tinkered with, like a game of Gossip. (On the Intertubes, imagine […]

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