Saturday, August 20, 2011

A Note About These Essays and the Looking at America blog

Readers have commented that it's sometimes difficult to know what in these essays is based in fact and what is imaginative. The interpenetration of these two is a central theme of my life's work, apparent in Atomic Spaces and moreso in the forthcoming study of American culture from the end of World War II to the Virtual Age, Outside the Gates. In the case of these essays, though, the apparently factual assertions are drawn from verifiable sources-- for example, the case of the strip miner who was thrown through the windshield after the dumper on the gigantic supertruck he was operating failed because the interlocks had been removed: that's drawn from a pending legal case. The preceding description of methane in the tunnels of the deep mines is drawn from the 2011 disaster.

More broadly, the essays are drawn from four different wellsprings: historical research of the sort I've been trained in by great mentors over forty years; personal observation, the result of my research travels in the spirit of J.B. Jackson and the anthropologist Clifford Geertz; personal memory, which is necessarily as flawed and unreliable as is all of ours, with the exception that my visual and spatial memory has always been preternaturally acute (and that is part of the reason I was drawn to this field, decades ago); and imaginative reconstruction, often based upon the combination of other sources and the combing of reminiscences, interviews, letters, and other forms of documentation available to me.

Two other requests: I receive a number of emailed and facebook message responses, but there seems to be some reticence to write comments on this site. Please do! Part of the goal of this site is to provide a space for discussion among the many different types of readers and writers who share an interest in the subject of the ordinary but significant American landscape.

No comments:

Post a Comment