Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Harper Lee and Heroes.

There's a big hubbub--at least in some non-Kardashian circles--because Harper Lee's novel "Go Set a Watchman," is about to come out. Rumor has it that Gregory Peck, I mean Atticus Finch isn't the paragon he was in the movie. Rumor has it that Atticus is human. Of an era. Flawed. And racist.

Mark Harris, the great unknown American writer of baseball tales such as "The Southpaw" and "Bang the Drum Slowly," once wrote that "the only hero is the man without heroes."

I think each of us would do well to remember that wisdom. And if you can't remember it, at least write it on a sticky note and leave it somewhere prominent. Like over a picture of Kim Kardashian's ass.

We invest too many people and places with an esteem they don't deserve. Atticus can be a great man and he can be flawed. He can be a good man, without being wholly good. He can be a positive force but still hold some of the negative thoughts of his era.

The point is one of nuance and, I think, reality. We need to moderate our absolutes and bring them more in line with human expectations.

No agency is ideal. No account. No person. No ad. No media.

We live in an imperfect world. A world infested with asinine pseudo quotations purported friends post on LinkedIn that they somehow attribute to Gandhi, or Steve Jobs, or Einstein, or some other idealized form.

In "The Captive Mind", Czeslaw Milosz's memoir/essay/study about artists and intellectuals living under Communism in the early 1950s, he attributed the epigram below to an ancient Jew from Galacia. 

"When someone is honestly 55% right, that's very good and there's no use wrangling. And if someone is 60% right, it's wonderful, it's great luck, and let him thank God. But what's to be said about 75% right? Wise people say this is suspicious. Well, and what about 100% right? Whoever says he's 100% right is a fanatic, a thug, and the worst kind of rascal."

Beware heroes. Beware rascals. 

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