[Ads-l] retcon

dave@wilton.net dave at WILTON.NET
Fri May 14 15:59:33 EDT 2021


Since history is a narrative that interprets past events, that means it emphasizes some facts and de-emphasizes or omits others. The discontinuity that is introduced is not in the events themselves, but in the narrative that has, to that date, interpreted them. A narrative is a narrative; for this particular purpose it doesn't matter if it's fiction or non-fiction.
 
For example, Lee Atwater's near-death-bed confession about his use of racist tactics to get GHW Bush elected in 1988 introduced a discontinuity in the predominant, media narrative of that election. It's not that the facts Atwater admitted to weren't available, many had cited them, but they were not part of the predominant narrative at the time. Atwater's confession forced a "retconning" of the narrative to incorporate those facts.
 
I was once accused of "revisionist" history for trying to explain that one of the original justifications for the second amendment was to guarantee slave states the ability to deploy militias to supress slave revolts. That's in the historical record if you look for it, but it's not part of the predominant narrative about the second amendment. It's a discontinuity in the narrative, but not in the actual events.
 
 
-----Original Message-----
From: "Dan Goncharoff" <thegonch at GMAIL.COM>
Sent: Friday, May 14, 2021 10:28am
To: ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU
Subject: Re: [ADS-L] retcon



I still don't understand the meaning of "retcon" when talking about real
events (unlike fiction, where discontinuity is always possible).

On Fri, May 14, 2021, 9:08 AM dave at wilton.net <dave at wilton.net> wrote:

>
> I said "revisionist" carried a negative connotation. But I have seen
> people address the product of mainstream, professional historiarns as
> "revisionist." (The first time I encountered the term "revisionist" was in
> a critique of Charles Beard's work.)
>
> Whether or not something is "revisionist" (or "retconned") is in the mind
> of the speaker, not something inherent in the worth of the history itself.
>
>
> -----Original Message-----
> From: "Jonathan Lighter" <wuxxmupp2000 at GMAIL.COM>
> Sent: Thursday, May 13, 2021 4:41pm
> To: ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU
> Subject: Re: [ADS-L] retcon
>
>
>
> Serious historiography is constantly revising and discovering, but it isn't
> "retconning" or practicing "revisionist history."
>
> These terms don't just have negative connotations. They denote tendentious,
> and even outright mendacious treatment of established facts.
>
> Holocaust denial is "revisionist history." Major Robert S. Burrell's
> professional conclusion that the Battle of Iwo Jima was unnecessary, is
> controversial and may even be wrong, but it isn't "revisionist" or
> "retconning."
>
> JL
>
>
>
>
> On Thu, May 13, 2021 at 3:55 PM David Daniel <dad at coarsecourses.com>
> wrote:
>
> > Ah, well then, not so odd indeed.
> > DAD
> >
> > Poster: Ben Zimmer <bgzimmer at GMAIL.COM>
> > Subject: Re: retcon
> >
> >
> ----------------------------------------------------------------------------
> > ---
> >
> > Not so odd: This is part of M-W's "Words We're Watching" series,
> > specifically for words not (yet) entered in their dictionaries.
> >
> > On Thu, May 13, 2021 at 2:42 PM David Daniel <dad at coarsecourses.com>
> > wrote:
> >
> > > Merriam-Webster online has a whole article about retcon, though, oddly
> > > enough given the article, the word is not in their dictionary.
> > > https://www.merriam-webster.com/words-at-play/retcon-history-and-meani
> > > ng
> > > DAD
> > >
> > > Poster: Ben Zimmer <bgzimmer at GMAIL.COM>
> > > Subject: Re: retcon
> > >
> > > ----------------------------------------------------------------------
> > > ------
> > > ---
> > >
> > > The problem is that rec.arts.comics, like many other newsgroups, is
> > > not comprehensively covered by the Google Groups archive before 1990.
> > > That spottiness is borne out by the fact that the earliest cite for
> > > "retcon" in OED3/HDSF (Aug. 15, 1989) is from rec.arts.sf-lovers and
> > > not rec.arts.comics, where everyone says it originated. If we were
> > > able to access another archive of rec.arts.comics posts from the late
> > > '80s, I'm betting that Cugley's claim would be confirmed.
> > >
> > > More from Cugley here: https://alleged.org.uk/pdc/2012/12/03.html
> > > He writes: "I would like to cite my original USENET postings, but
> > > alas! I have not been able to roll back Google=E2=80=99s USENET
> > > archives (now part = of Google groups) further back than 1990."
> > >
> > > While I'm griping about Google Groups... I can't even find that
> > > 8/15/89 rec.arts.sf-lovers post in the current archive. Can anyone else
> > get to it?
> > >
> > > 1989 Re: New Star Wars Film? in rec.arts.sf-lovers (Usenet newsgroup)
> > 15
> > > Aug. Lucas retconned the opening credits after the release of TESB,
> > once
> > > it was clear that the films were doing well enough that the first set
> > > would be completed.
> > >
> > > --bgz
> > >
> > > On Thu, May 13, 2021 at 9:21 AM Jesse Sheidlower <jester at panix.com>
> > wrote:
> > >
> > > > Cugley's 1988 use is a claim, not a citation; as Wikipedia points
> > > > out, there's no solid evidence for it. In a (real) 1990 Usenet post
> > > > Cugley claimed to be the originator. If anyone has the 1988 cite I'd
> > > > love to see it!
> > > >
> > > > Jesse Sheidlower
> > > >
> > > > On Thu, May 13, 2021 at 05:09:02AM -0700, Nancy Friedman wrote:
> > > > > I wrote about an earlier citation (1988) in a 2013 blog post:
> > > > >
> > > > https://nancyfriedman.typepad.com/away_with_words/2013/12/word-of-th
> > > > e-
> > > > wee=
> > > k-retcon.html
> > > > >
> > > > > On Thu, May 13, 2021, 3:46 AM Jonathan Lighter
> > > > > <wuxxmupp2000 at gmail.com>
> > > > > wrote:
> > > > >
> > > > > > Charlie Sykes, MSNBC:
> > > > > >
> > > > > > "They're trying to find a way to rationalize [Jan. 6]: 'Well, it
> > > > wasn't so
> > > > > > bad.' This is called 'retconning' - you simply rewrite the
> > > > > > history. Y=
> > > ou
> > > > > > pretend that what happened didn't happen, and you put your own
> > > > > > spin o=
> > > n
> > > > it."
> > > > > >
> > > > > > OED: (1989):
> > > > > >
> > > > > > "To revise retrospectively (an aspect of a fictional work or
> > > > > > series), typically by means of a revelation which imposes a
> > > > > > different
> > > > interpretation
> > > > > > on previously described events."
> > > > > >
> > > > > > It ain't just for fiction any more. And you don't need a
> > > > > > "revelation.=
> > > "
> > > > > >
> > > > > > Just lie.
> > > > > >
> > >
> >
> > ------------------------------------------------------------
> > The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org
> >
> > ------------------------------------------------------------
> > The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org
> >
>
>
> --
> "If the truth is half as bad as I think it is, you can't handle the truth."
>
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org
>
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org
>

------------------------------------------------------------
The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

------------------------------------------------------------
The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org


More information about the Ads-l mailing list