History of Santa Rosa County, A King's County

by M. Luther King. Used with permission.

"OF WHOM WE SPEAK

TO WHOM WE SPEAK

AND HOW AND WHEN

AND - WHERE"

 

So - "all the world's a stage and all we its players" - and now that we have "set the stage" - what of the play and the players?

How are we to separate the material - the pertinent from the irrelevant - that would make up the plot of the play that has taken place on this stage? How are we to critically review this play? How are we to separate the "stars" of this production from the "extras" that so often clutter up the stage?

First of all, one who would critically review the action that is past, must himself live in the present; otherwise, the objectivity is lost. The autobiography, for instance, lacks objectivity. One tends to place one's self in too favorable a light. Likewise, the material which one accepts from others must be screened for the elimination of subjectivity.

There are many who could furnish one with needed material but which would be so slanted in the favor of personalities as to be wholly without value when viewed in an objective light. At the same time there are others who could furnish one with material so "raw" (but not rare) as to be very offensive to the critical mind. There are others who could make a real contribution but feel that their contribution would be rather trivial. Finally, and not at all uncommon, are those who feel a value for their possible contribution far out of proportion to its real value.

For an example in the first instance, there recently appeared in certain literary circles what presumed to be an historical treatment of the events connected with a certain state institution; but since a man long identified with the political administration of that institution was its author, it was considered by many critics as an attempt at political vindication "whitewash."

For an example in another instance, a certain very fine elderly lady, when questioned by one in the process of gathering material for local history, affirmed to that would-be-author that the progeny of a certain very prominent local citizen was not of pure race. It was fortunate indeed that such would-be-author knew of certain long-standing feuds between certain of the "old" families of the county and county-seat and saved himself a rather embarassing situation. Another "old" family possessed some very old and faded photographs, which they were sure had no value for publication but which were used by an author as sort of "checkpoints" to verify other materials, to the definite advantage of himself and the readers of his material. Finally there was the nice elderly lady who became rather incensed that she was not given "line credit" for some materials borrowed from her without ever taking into consideration the fact that the material submitted by her was readily available as "public records" in the offices in the county courthouse. Thus the would-be-author finds it rather difficult to perform the tightrope act of giving people what they want, and still remain objective.

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