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July 27, 2008


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Your brother-in-law story, Citizen Reader, has captured the true glory of family relationships. They are virtual treasure trails of discovery as far as "truth" is concerned. [use both hands to make "quotes" gesture.]

And by the way I don't want to give the impression that I didn't enjoy my cousin's wedding - it was actually awesome - I'm just trying to draw out how truth-telling works, or doesn't work, in a lot of situations.

I agree with your thinking that everyone's version of events holds some truth to it, the complicating question is who has ultimate authority - that's anthropology's problem. It's already been thoroughly covered in the History Department - excellent books like "Telling the Truth About History" by Appleby et al. explain that better than I ever will.

Anthro tries to solve their problem (or at least one of them) by obviating the anthropologist's voice in the story, and though it helps solve the mystery of figuring out who is representing who/m, it does make it all rather self-centered without ever moving anything forward. I guess I just want to be able to have the last word, to say, "Yes, I did this thing, and looking back I believe it was because of X, Y, and Z." Even if I was the only one who didn't realize that at the time.

I wish I could say I've had time to dig into Truth in Nonfiction (Lazar et al.) but I'm still hung up on Chelsea Lately and her memoir about her dad, "Bitch Tits."

Citizen Reader

You're so right. Doesn't it seem odd that in this age of self-disclosure and constant babble there's more outcry than ever about the "true" version of events? I don't understand it--somewhere along the way in our schools I think someone taught that the definition of "truth" is synonymous with "facts." Nothing could be further from, well, the truth, particularly where personal stories are concerned.

I would guess everyone at the wedding you attended would tell a very different story of the proceedings. Aren't they all true? Aren't they all, in their own ways and for what they leave out, false? Does that mean they should all be ignored? I'll tell you this: I helped my brother-in-law move on Saturday, and everyone there would tell a different versions of events. For example, Me: "My brother-in-law should have been packed by the time we showed up." His mother: "My lovely darling boy wasn't packed but that's okay, I'm supposed to help him clean his apartment and pack even though he's 25 years old." Sure, both those statements are true in that they are heartfelt? But which one is "right"?* Truth and people is a wild scene, man. I've enjoyed our conversation about it.

*Mine, of course.

Elizabeth Sinnreich

I recently read your post about Irène Némirovsky and wanted to let you know about an exciting new exhibition about her life, work, and legacy that will open on September 24, 2008 at the Museum of Jewish Heritage —A Living Memorial to the Holocaust in New York City. Woman of Letters: Irène Némirovsky and Suite Française, which will run through the middle of March, will include powerful rare artifacts — the actual handwritten manuscript for Suite Française, the valise in which it was found, and many personal papers and family photos. The majority of these documents and artifacts have never been outside of France. For fans of her work, this exhibition is an opportunity to really “get to know” Irene. And for those who can’t visit, there will be a special website that will live on the Museum’s site www.mjhnyc.org.
The Museum will host several public programs over the course of the exhibition’s run that will put Némirovsky’s work and life into historical and literary context. Book clubs and groups are invited to the Museum for tours and discussions in the exhibition’s adjacent Salon (by appointment). It is the Museum’s hope that the exhibit will engage visitors and promote dialogue about this extraordinary writer and the complex time in which she lived and died. To book a group tour, please contact Tracy Bradshaw at 646.437.4304 or tbradshaw@mjhnyc.org. Please visit our website at www.mjhnyc.org for up-to-date information about upcoming public programs or to join our e-bulletin list.
Thanks for sharing this info with your readers. Let me know if you need any more.
-Elizabeth Sinnreich (Executiveintern@mjhnyc.org)

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