21 Aug 2012

Recommended Reading: "Living Outside History" by Noel Polk (The American Scholar)

This long essay from 2010 by preeminant William Faulkner Noel Polk reflecting on the past, his relationship with his home state of Mississippi and his father is stellar.

My war, finally, then, certainly: it of course always had been, it and all its afterglow, and I never feel that it is mine more bitterly, and bemusedly too, than when I travel and meet people who type me because I am a Mississippian. I’m bemused because I know better; bitter because I know our accusers have so often had ample reason to think of all Mississippians that way, given how often we shoot ourselves in our social and cultural and political feet; and over the years when candidates for jobs came to my campus for interviews and were still surprised that we had sidewalks and McDonald’s and Porsches and BMWs, and reported, with some shock, how many of their friends and family had questioned their intelligence, not to say sanity, by presuming to seek employment in savage, redneck, racist Mississippi. It was my war, my history, most galling of all in my recognition that I was going to be tarred with it no matter what I said or did or was or tried to be: I was redneck, racist, ignoramus.