Friday, May 16, 2008

What is that supposed to mean? I am so sick of that. All that means is that it wasn't personal to you.

I finished reading Johnny Got His Gun last night, by Dalton Trumbo.

It was originally written in 1938 and made into a movie in 1970. It's a cautionary tale about the reality/brutality of war and it's interesting to see how it's been received by different generations and during different wars.

I found the author's comments in the introduction interesting, for they exhibit a postmodern perspective, before postmodernism was "cool."

In 1959 he wrote that he contemplated making revisions and updates to the book.
"After all, the book is twenty years younger than I, and I have changed so much, and it hasnt'. Or has it?

Is it possible for anything to resist change, even a mere commodity that can be bought, buried, banned, damned, praised, or ignored for all the wrong reasons? Probably not. Johnny held a different meaning for three different wars. Its present meaning is what each reader conceives it to be, and each reader is gloriously different from every other reader, and each is also changing.

I've let it remain as it was to see what it is."
-Dalton Trumbo, Los Angeles, March 25, 1959
(emphasis mine)

For those of you not familiar with a postmodern understanding of the text and meaning, this is a nice indicator of such a mindset.

Authorial intent is irrelevant. Each text is given meaning by the reader, each time the text is read. Meaning is created at that point.


At 16 May, 2008 13:35, Blogger the rabbi said...


I haven't read the book but watched the movie in high school. Great movie. It inspired Metallica to write a song about it {"One"}. They bought the rights to the movie and put clips in the video. Great video and song too!


At 16 May, 2008 13:58, Blogger GUNNY said...

The book is a good read and I got it from the local library.

I've not been able to track down a copy of the movie, but I found out about it from Metallica's video as well and started the trail back up the stream.

I've also read that the story was inspired by a true example of a soldier in a Canadian veterans hospital visited by the Prince of Wales.

At 16 May, 2008 17:30, Blogger Sew Anyway said...

"You've Got Mail" - Love that line!

Very interesting and meaningful post. I will put it on my summer reading list. I wonder if the library has a copy of the movie, maybe NetFlix? The church we attend has a military ministry and I went to the meeting last night. Going to pray for the soldiers and their families, writing notes of encouragement and thanks, and putting together care packages is a tangible way of sharing our faith.

The kids and I are going to welcome the soldiers coming home on leave at the airport tomorrow. I know that because they are growing up in a time of war that their understanding of it is based largely on the way they see us (adults) respond to it.

At 16 May, 2008 21:30, Blogger GUNNY said...

Those are brilliant ideas regarding support for the troops. Way to go!

It's one thing to say it, but another to teach such to your kids by modeling.

Well done.

At 17 May, 2008 12:29, Blogger Lance said...

I was in a Creative Writing class at DTS a few years ago (great course!), and I had written a piece that was purposefully (artfully) vague.

When it came time to evaluate, the other students began to guess at what I meant----none of them were correct (which probably means I was too vague, but you get the point).

No matter what they said, I knew what I meant, and I would not accept alternative conclusions as valid.

And still . . . no bicycle.


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