Thursday, September 21, 2006

An Electronic Mail on Unreliable Narration

Today I received an Electronic Mail from someone claiming to be a regular reader of this diary. Here is the message:

hey horton my old jim dandy if I can call u that lol...

Wots happend wth teh blog? dont beleive u r telling the truth here bout wot happend in teh past. How the heck cd u remember exactly wot Patrick bossert said right down2the last word & his exact rymes? No1 cd remeber all that!! Esp whn u wr fearing 4 ur life!! :grin: u must hava really good memory!! .......Doubtful! roflmao lol

See ya!, Dev

I think it must be from some poor soul with English as a second language, though what their first language could be it is beyond my ability to conjecture. I am no linguist, but I would guess it is Yiddish or Rastafarian. I gather the writer is doubtful of my ability to accurately recall every word spoken by Bossert and others when I am relating my tale to you. A reasonable point, and I must admit that my reams of quoted text stretch credibility somewhat, but the writer has couched his case in such a moronic manner that I do not feel I should be obliged to engage with it to any extent beyond sneeringly dismissing it.

However, I will admit to my more literate readers that, of course, I cannot recall exactly what was said word-for-word, and thus the quotations and rhymes cannot be regarded as verbatim. Where there are natural holes in my memory, I have had to plug the gaps, so to speak, by recourse to a certain amount of creative Polyfilla. Such tactics are permitted by today's historians, as long as you are not using it for propaganda purposes, so it is no great crime. It happens all the time: take today, for example - I received an Electronic Mail from a reader who complained that I would never be able to remember all of Bossert's rhymes, so I was too unreliable a narrator. I accidentally deleted that Electronic Mail, but I wanted to tell you about it so I have done my best to recreate it as I remember it. There is surely no harm in this. [Edited to add: see footnote *]

I have quite exhausted myself today and shall wait until tomorrow before continuing my tale of peril.

[* Edited to add: Readers, I have just checked my Electronic Mailbox and discovered the original Electronic Mail is not irretrievably lost and actually remains safe in the Deleted Mails section. I got a few minor points wrong when I attempted to write it from memory above. In fact, the relevant Electronic Mail was not really complaining about my unreliable narration as such, but was more concerned with selling me a product to rectify my comparatively substandard girth.]

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