Saturday, October 8, 2016

Myth and Legend

Somehow, over time I have become the official editor and proofreader at Twin Rocks.  When Barry writes a Tied to the Post story, I edit; if Marc prepares a menu description for Eggs Atsidi or Fry Bread French Toast, I massage; when anybody prepares anything for publication at the trading post or cafe, I tighten it up.  The problem, as Barry and Priscilla will attest, is that I would not know a diphthong from a bikini thong, and I universally confuse adjectives and adnouns.  Additionally, when it comes to conjugating verbs and adverbs, well, as Barry will likely comment, “We just should not go there.”  Consequently, this, as they say, has created an interesting state of affairs.

Public school did not serve me well, and I did not serve it at all.  It would be generous to say I was an average high school student.  It would be more realistic to say I should have done a lot more work when I was in class.  While it might be convenient to pin my lack of scholastic performance on a heightened interest in racy girls and fast cars or fast girls and racy cars, that would be insincere.  I was both painfully shy and mechanically backward, so I also failed both females and automobiles.  Notwithstanding, I have somehow made it to adulthood without being labeled grammatically handicapped or needing mandatory remedial action.  Thank God God invented spell check.  And, if it wasn’t God, who in my opinion invented everything, then thanks to the genius who did.  The miracle of modern technology has allowed me to mask my language arts deficiencies and shortcomings.  I do not even like to consider what my world would be without it.

As Priscilla often reminds me, Barry is a complex and complicated individual.  This is never more apparent than when he is writing.  If you can convey a thought in one word, he will use two, and if it takes five to adequately describe an item or incident, he will use fifteen.  There is surely some mathematical correlation between the number of words he uses and the actual amount required, but I have never sorted it out.  Even Kira, who is competent in high level math was unable to decipher the Barry Conundrum.  I have often spoken with Barry about word economy and the effectiveness of keeping his dialogue simple and clean.  Since we grew up poor and on the wrong side of a town that only has wrong sides, he does not appreciate or agree to anything associated with budgeting and rationing.

As a result of his wordiness, Barry often uses the term, “myth and legend” when discussing Navajo art and culture.  When he writes about Monster Slayer and Born-for-Water, the Navajo Hero Twins; Johonaa’ei and Tle’xona’ai, the Sun and the Moon; or Mother Earth and Father Sky, it is always in terms of both fact and fiction. When he gives me a story to review, I frequently delete the word “myth” and leave in “legend”.  To me, as the dictionary states, a myth is something, “Without a determinable basis of fact.”  Because that same dictionary defines legends as, “A body of stories that relates to a particular people or clan”, I view them as more concrete, more real.  Whether mine is a valid assumption or not, I have never been able to conclusively calculate and definitively determine.  That may, however, not matter much, since I have a sneaking suspicion Barry resurrects and reinstalls all those mythological references I remove.

Being officially designated the Twin Rocks Editor-in-Chief has given me a sense of power and authority.  It has also led Barry and Priscilla to label me the “Editing Nazi”, a reference to the television show Seinfeld.  They argue that, like the Soup Nazi, I have an, “Excessively strict and unwarranted regimentation that I constantly demand of them.”  “Well”, I contend, “you appointed me, so it’s your own fault.”  As you might properly conclude from this argument that I did not do well in debate either.

In my ongoing search for enlightenment, I recently I began reading The Geography of Genius by Eric Weiner.  Bluff has created a number of smart kids over the past few years, so I wanted to see if we were on the map.  Despite his unfortunate name, Mr. Weiner has pulled together an interesting book.  To my surprise, the monograph addresses the legendary topic vexing Barry and me.  Mr. Weiner's take on the myth/legend issue is that, “[M]yths define us.  Myths inspire us.  Myths are good.  Without myths, we wouldn’t get out of bed in the morning, let alone create anything worthwhile.”  While I don’t agree with the not getting out of bed thing, because I will always wake up for bacon and biscuits, myth or no myth, I do think Weiner may be on to something.

When I discussed this matter with Rick Bell, who has become the latest addition to the Twin Rocks Team, he agreed with Barry.  Rick indicated that, in his opinion, myths were actually more important than legends.  One wonders how Rick, who has spent a lifetime writing and editing, can side with someone who, with his trading post pal Priscilla, regularly eats potted meat and Vienna Sausages in a Blanket.  During our subsequent discussions, Rick pointed out that poor food choices have nothing to do with good grammar and that the legend of my editing abilities is a more myth than fact.

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