Sunday, November 19, 2006

A Good Question: What's In A Nym?

--- Ed Cray <> wrote: Sir:
As the author of a biography of Woody Guthrie (W.W. Norton, 2004), I was taken by the nom de blog you have adopted: WoodyG'sGuitar.What prompted that, if I may ask?Ed Cray


It is of course by way of a (harmless, i think) conceit, but an honest one I believe.

For a long, long time I have been a fan of Woody's music (I am 60, a former hippie-disc jockey-newspaper commentator-eventually-turned-education professor with an interest in culture and critique); I sang 'em in hootenannies, and such things aas a teen, and later in demonstrations and rallies back in the day. Woody's songs were ubiquitous.

In the course of learning more about Woody at various times, I ran across the image of his war-time guitars (one was a Martin, i'm pretty sure, the other a Gibson; both) on the top of which he had inscribed, with artful spontanaeity, the legend (as you know): This Machine Kills Fascists. In which he was correct: almost as effectively as bullets, the free, joyous expression of truthes by the people is mortal to fascists and their deadly deceits.

With my background in rebellious, if not revolutionary, politics and a lot of reading in Marxian and other critical studies, when I started commenting on Eschaton--an overtly political , openly critical site--I selected "WoodyGuthrie'sGuitar" as my nym in honor of that sentiment. I shortened it to "WoodyG'sGuitar" to accomodate "rogue scholar," an ancillary, honorary nym accorded me by a friend.

I cannot nor would not ever even aspire to having the poetic craft, or the fierce honesty and intensity of Woody Guthrie the man, the poet, the wandering minstrel of justice, his creativity, his soul. I don't want to insire comparisons between myself and him in any way.
But it seemed to me, then as now, that that spirit announced in the guitar's own text--the fierceness of it--captured a dimension of 'justice' which had gone missing in that the folk sentimentality into which Woody's memory popularly has been cast.

It's a great phrase, as it doesn't name any nationalities. The guitar doesn't kill "eye-ties," or "huns" or "japs." The guitar is death to fascists, of any and all stripes.

In my own way (with what someone on my blog recently described as "inventive invective"), I feel fiercely about and denounce those tendrils and roots of fascism which I (and I am not alone) perceive already wrapped around our feet...
And in the post-modern/post-structuralist moment, I'm not the author, but the instrument of the discourse: this 'air' guitar.

I do not think i dishonor his memory with of by my discourse.

That's the short answer, the time you get to be this age, there really aren't any short stories anymore...I hope this helps...if I may answer further, I shall endeavor to do so...thanks for your interest.

BTW: Check out my blog (another allusory appropriation):
cheers, brotha!


Anonymous said...

WGG, right. Carry on.


QL in NY said...

Play on WGG. Play on.

Eli said...

Did you just blogwhore your blog... *on* your blog?

WoodyGuthrie'sGuitar (aka Konopelli) said...

Did you just blogwhore your blog... *on* your blog?

pretty 'meta,' hunh????

charley said...

to think, i didn't even "catch" onto dylan until the late 80s.

now thoreau, that's a different matter.

you're one of a kind woody.

i'm most disappointed, as i see i did not win the whiskey. congrats to your deservedly successful blog.