Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Bias in the Academy: New Directions for Pooh Scholarship?

David Clines magisterial offering on the redactive layers of the Pooh complex is, of course, a standard reference for anyone interested in the Pooh corpus by now--as well it should be, coming, as it does, on the heels of such thorough research by such a gifted scholar.  But new times bring new modes of thinking, and James McGrath brings the tools of mimetic criticism to the Pooh traditions.

McGrath's piece is, as is clear, a masterpiece, elucidating the the material in ways hitherto unfathomed.  But I am not writing to promote what these masters did right, rather, it is to point to what they, to this author, clearly get wrong.

It is perhaps best to begin with Clines.  He touts the illustrations as evidence of a pre-verbal tradition, evidencing the expunging of Sanders.  I think it hardly need be stated now that the illustration, known as the "Sanders fraud," is an outright hoax, that certainly should not have fooled a scholar of Clines' caliber.

Note the trailing /s/ of "Sanders," the inverted /s/, while often appropriate for the leading letter of a word, never appears in extant literature when it is trailing.  Note also the forger's tremor (cf Carlson, 2005) in both the /n/ and /a/.  Compare with the lettering to the "RNIG ALSO" sign.  We can, of course, only conclude that the Sanders sign was added to an existing Pooh illustration, and was eventually mistakenly incorporated into the authentic complex.

Thus, despite Clines' suggestion, Sanders--in the very evidence he holds--is being forced into not stricken from, the Pooh record.

McGrath, thankfully, does not fall for this ploy, yet I observe something curious.

Clines suggests that Sanders is stricken because he knows too much, as evidenced by the volume Tendencies in the Synoptic Tradition.  McGrath, applying new tools, suggests that it represents the naivete of the historicist, as evidenced by Sanders' work on the historical Jesus.

Despite the fact that they are bringing different tools, different ambitions, and different approaches to the material, they have both identified Sanders as scholar E P Sanders.

If this is not clear evidence of outright bias in the academy, I don't know what is.

While there is a case to be made for the "Sanders" material to be entirely interpolated (text and images), I am reluctant to do so.  Firstly, because it appears in all of our extant manuscripts, and secondly, because I believe Sanders may provide the key to the Pooh complex.

The Sanders in question is not being expunged, and he is not an incidental jibe.  Remember that it is Pooh who lives under it.  This can hardly be coincidence, and certainly cannot be treated as anything but symbolic.

Sanders is not E P Sanders, clearly.  He hardly fits the bill for such a rich tableau.  Rather, it is Colonel Sanders.

Those under the Colonel are, as we are well aware, his hens.  His flock.  The striking imagery of Pooh alone filling the role of flock should have been evident to McGrath, and outside of seeing what he expected to see I can't imagine how he missed it.

This, I do not think I overstate, is the hermeneutical key to the entirety of the Pooh corpus.  Think of the implications, for example, of the "little black rain cloud" pericope.

It's time to recognize the Sanders Juggernaut for the purest eisegesis it is.


Peter Kirby said...

clap..... clap.... clap... clap... clapclapclapclapclap (some posts just deserve a good slow clap)

Rick Sumner said...

Thanks Peter, good to see you!

You'll be able to find more in my forthcoming monograph What's Going to Fall Out Again Eeyore? Eeyore's Tail and the Objectivity Problem.