The Ethics of Biography

Anyone who spends much time doing family genealogy and even talking to our elders will stumble across aspects of the Dark Side (i.e., The Shadow) sprinkled here and there. Is overlooking those aspects when recording a life lying?  (See page on The Shadow for info on this aspect),

What is a life?  Where there is naturally some of the good and the bad, is leaving out the bad not misleading the reader?  There would be (and is) the family’s wrath to deal with. Is one of the problems that the dark doings overshadow the good? Certainly this is demonstrated in the best-selling news stories.  On a personal level, do we really want our personal failings removed from the record of our life experience?  Are there not some lessons to learn and perhaps empathy to ripen from our (and others’) lives?  Where does the value of truth enter in?  How much do we value the truth versus misrepresenting a life?  Or valuing the truth versus whitewashing the real struggle of a life?

This is a question I need to resolve soon.  Some say secrets destroy a family.Image: Dreamers, 1899. John Brown.

On the same wavelength with Grumpy Gorman today:

lips loosen slowly
guilt purged so plainly
truths, too dark to hear

© Anthony Gorman 2017

About Nan Mykel

I used to think I would be a child prodigy, but then I got old. Formerly I had fantasies of rubbing elbows with cultural and academic leaders but that did not come to pass because I did not become a cultural or academic leader or any other kind of leader, for that matter. I am not even an "Alpha Dog," a term learned from a friend who had to become "Alpha Dog" in order to influence her own pet. (When gazes lock, she never looks away.) For years I expected to become a published author, but in passing I could not avoid the fact that I had little to contribute to the world's bulging dumpsters. I'm embarrassed to report that I also considered my primary process artistic productions powerful, rather than mildly neurotic. Which is not to say that I disrespect myself, only that I am beginning to doubt my potential for making a mark on the world. If I focus on strict self discipline I may be able to keep my garbage removed on a weekly basis, to keep the kitty box changed, the clothes cleaned, the dog watered, fed and walked, but that just catches me up to the starting mark again. When writing I physically grapple with words, wrestling them from their indifference into attempted chunks of awareness. I sit heavily on my chair; I breathe in artificially cooled air; my ear drums note the tap tap of the keyboard and the steady uninterrupted sound of the air conditioner, What is that sound? The roar of the ocean from 30 yards away...Inside, my thoughts are are balls in an electronic game machine, bouncing hither and yon from lever to lever. I am a little grim and intent until I recall a dream related by a black man in the prison where I once worked. He said that when he was a small boy, back home, he dreamed he was standing on his front porch pissing, and that he suddenly found himself pissing stars...
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