Posted in Pop Culture by Peter Lawler
I don't know how politically incorrect Dylan is, but he's certainly historically incorrect when he claims that Houston "chopped off" Texas from Spain rather than Mexico. However dubious Spain's claims to Texas may have been, Mexico became independent of Spanish rule in 1821. Spain was completely uninvolved in the Texas Revolution, which did not break out until 1835.
Well, that's true. That's why it's artistic truth, which always offends the historian.
Most good artists value artist truth over political ideology.
That's why it's artistic truth, which always offends the historian.
That's a pretty narrow understanding of what an historian is.
...and a pretty broad understanding of what artistic truth is....
I still don't know what My Back Pages means, but it knocked my socks off when I first heard it, and I confess I've never recovered -- it still sends me somewhere.
How does it feel, when you're on your own, with no direction...regarding where the argument may lead. The poet HD decided to take up the Herodotean suggestion that Helen was in Egypt in spite of Homer's Iliad.
Dylan provides a history of Texas as lopped off from Spain. So it was Mexico (whatever) in its newly won independence, but Texas was not Texas until both Moses Austin (and his son Stephen) and thousands of squatters had gone to Texas (GTT). They decided to make Texas on what Mexico then called its "northern frontier." This--BTW--is contemporaneous with the Monroe Doctrine as well as Simone Bolivar's revolution.--Yes this became a war, and "spotty Lincoln" opposed it.
But in defense of Dylan, these days Texas means much more than Texas as a particular state in the union. So hurray for Sam Houston, et al! And luckily someone of the calibre of Dylan can write a song emphasizing this Texan desire not to be ruled.
Artistic truth is always more important than historical fact. We all know what "remember the Alamo" means even if we know nothing of the historical facts.
However, the impulse to not be ruled is indeed a political problem.
ken, my socks got knocked off too. but i gotta to say my privileging of artistic over historical truth began as sort of a joke. it's great to see that everyone really appreciated the inspired genius mr. dylan, in any case.
"but i gotta to say my privileging of artistic over historical truth began as sort of a joke."
That is how it often begins, but it is serious enough to seep into history as it is being made, then it becomes historical truth itself...then historical truth involves digging in the archives of the Smithsonian to figure out that John Wilkes Booth actually escaped the burning tobacco barn...some historians are convinced but it isn't the historical truth massively accepted...and then the story weaving spreads as Military command makes up a story about Jessica Lynch spreads it to the media....then again with Pat Tillman...but the Pat Tillman foundation is sick of the shit, So Barrack Obama gets elected and he will fill the courts in my guess with guys like Ian Ayres? or other new institutionalists folks who will ditch legal precedent and rebuild on more updated scientific/economic/logical positivist foundations.
Maybe Julie could comment on Changeling along these lines.
From "My Back Pages":
A self-ordained professors tongue
Too serious to fool
Spouted out that liberty
Is just equality
Equality, I spoke the word
As if a wedding vow.
Ah, but I was so much older then,
I'm younger than that now.
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