February 1, 2019
I am still haunted by the play, "The Lifespan of A Fact," which Kathy and I saw performed in New York last month. The play challenges our perceptions about what exactly is the truth and, in the end, does it make a difference?
As someone who loves history, I have to believe it makes a difference and that it is important, but the play challenges that idea down to its very core.
Of course, I have been intrigued for some time about all of this, especially as it relates to Sharlot Hall and her seeming about face as it relates to the facts in the Olive Oatman story.
Just when Sharlot had reached her ultimate goal—finding out the truth about whether Olive had children while she was with the Mojave—she let it go. I believe she had wrestled with brutal, ugly truths and in the end she simply could not add any more pain to Olive's life—or more importantly, to her memory. This goes against everything I stand for, but in the end, perhaps the final truth is:
Truth be damned!
I feel it's safe to say there was wild sex and the usual consequences.
These were human beings after all. So, when it came time for Sharlot to tell the Olive Oatman story, she left all of that out. I used to blame Sharlot for this, but not anymore.
In fact, I finally get the lyrics to a song I have heard for over half a century and never really understood what the words meant, until now.
"Half-wracked prejudice leaped forth
Rip down all hate, I screamed
Lies that life is black and white
Spoke from my skull I dreamed
Romantic facts of musketeers
Foundationed deep, somehow
Ah, but I was so much older then
I'm younger than that now."
—Bob Dylan, My Back Pages
Not only was Hall protecting Oatman from scandal, publishers of that era would never have printed such a scandalous story which would offend readers. Furthermore, the Comstock Law could have been used to deem it offensive material, allowing censors to ban it. Times have changed.ReplyDelete