“To understand the world, you must first understand a place like Mississippi”
When I need words to explain something “Mississippi”, I reach for the last work of the late (and great) Willie Morris, “My Mississippi” – and what words I find! Some, such as those of Faulkner, come as quotes from other Mississippi writers. The most telling, however, are those words that show the depth of this understanding of this place he called “home”:
“It has been remarked that Mississippi has produced so many fine writers because the state is such a complicated place that much interpretation is required.”
Victoria Pynchon’s recent piece on Mississippi earwigging and Zach Scruggs was the impetus for my calling on Willie. SLABBED considers Pynchon a friend. In fact, we hold her in such regard that the link to her “Settle it Now” Negotion Blog has been a constant on our blogroll and will remain so despite the “h” she inserted in “earwigging” or her need for “interpretation” of the practice in this “complicated place”.
Here in this “complicated place”, perhaps because so many once lacked the skills to read and write, “earwigging” is not a reflection of a “whiggocracie” but is, instead, an art — a form of the storytelling that, like the run-on sentences often found in “our literature…and music” that boggies all night long — that doesn’t know when to stop. Yet, it too, was grown “directly out of land and the sense of place - the mark of the land… the love of narrative:
One sees this at some times directly and at other times through a vivid concreteness and emphasis on detail, as in the stories we love to tell…We are talkers. We talk about ourselves, each other, our ancestors, events, the funny and quirky and bizarre things people do — true stories, more or less, and the richer and more plentiful the detail, the better…Like storytelling, art of whatever form plays a communal role: it draws people together, helps them understand themselves and their common humanity…”
Pynchon’s article focuses on Zach Scruggs’ Motion to Vacate his conviction for Misprision of a Felony, his failure to report the earwigging of Judge Lackey in the case of Jones v Scruggs. However, in a March 2008 post, Earwigging — A Mississippi Tradition, Steve Eugster wrote of the earwigging by the Plaintiff’s attorney [Grady Tollison] in the Jones case: Continue reading