Allegiance, King of the Hill, and the Telephone Game

Autobiography within the frameworks of Berlant’s intimate publics becomes a telephone game.  “Normative” expectations become warped as informational integrity becomes attenuated.  One person says something, then another person has to say something “more real” (i.e. more extreme) as a way to maintain authority within a shifting political framework. This doesn’t always happen.  People like Ghandi,…

Personal Narratives and Self-Help

Perhaps one of the most important genre conventions of self help books is the personal narrative. In some cases, the personal narrative is used to describe the authors past life, past mistakes, and past successes – this personal narrative is meant as a kind of resume to support the author’s position as an authority figure.…

Self-Help Books Use Personal Narratives from Therapeutic Settings

I have trouble “trusting” books by Susan Forward and some others because the examples seem rather inflammatory, possibly even exaggerated.  But the experiences described are very, very relatable – clearly effective rhetorically due to that sense of interpersonal resonance, but does this also indicate epistemic validity?  Is the ethos “real” as in authentic?  Or manufactured…

Montaigne’s “good witness”

Michel de Montaigne indicates a distrust of witnesses who are sophisticated enough to bend and manipulate a story to fit a preconceived point of view, individuals who “cannot help changing their story a little in order to make their views triumph and be more persuasive” (6): That man of mine was a simple, rough fellow…

Schwartzkopf – It Doesn’t Take a Hero

General Schwarzkopf’s autobiography opens with the mention that he was shaped by emotion – by Vietnam and his mother’s alcoholism as much as by his father being a general (x).  And I wonder now if it it was his experience in Vietnam that led to what I would consider a “conservative” approach to Desert Shield…

Life Writing Authorizes Trauma

Maurice Stevens points out how trauma has long fallen on gendered and racial lines.  The litigious nature of traumatic experience constrains the resulting “in group.”  In the past, railroad companies would employ lawyers in the effort to avoid blame by reducing the number of individuals who could be considered injured (CITATION Stevens) – likewise, Euro-Americans have…