Money, media and Emily Dickinson

You always want your own kid to be #1. Best all round.

So of course I bet on True/Slant having gotten its name, in part at least, from Emily Dickinson. True: the celebrities, literary and otherwise, who most frequently pop up on these pages are more 21st century than 19th. Can Emily hold her own amid the likes of Rima Fakih, Miley Cyrus and Lady Gaga? (These fellow femmes come from assorted recent True/Slant pages, this good site not yet having a Literature section.) Slant: I suspect she can hold her own against Elena Kagan or Sarah Palin, any day.

The good husband and I attended an interesting play over the weekend, Tell It Slant, a Southside Theater production of a play by Sharmon J. Hilfinger and composer Joan McMillen at San Francisco’s Fort Mason Center. It tells, with both truth and slant, the story of young Emily. Was she gay? Did she have a secret lover? Did sister-in-law/romantic interest Susan go running off having abortions after she married brother Austin? You’ll have to read a biography or two, and you still may only gain a slant. What IS true is that one of the extraordinary poems penned by the Amherst recluse reads as follows:

Tell all the Truth but tell it slant —

Success in Circuit lies

Too bright for our infirm Delight

The Truth’s superb surprise

As Lightening to the Children eased

With explanation kind

The Truth must dazzle gradually

Or every man be blind —

This occasion (dinner and a play) came at the instigation of our erudite physician friend Bob Liner. He says of course the subliminal reference to ‘Tell it Slant’ was intentional when T/S settled on its name. Far more cynical husband says, nahh, it’s a matter of reported news always having a slant, and T/S pursues the true one. I weigh in on the lofty hope of such a connection — this being the closest I’m ever likely to come to Emily Dickinson despite my A in poetry while  pursuing an MFA at the University of San Francisco.

Alas. Pure coincidence say the esteemed editors. But in the Sunday New York Times Magazine article in which writer Andrew Rice extensively quotes T/S founder Lewis Dvorkin I read that the name was picked “off a list of compound words that were made up by a Web developer.”

Now if I can just track down that Web developer. Surely she was a fan of Emily Dickinson.

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