Re: The Edison Seminar (fwd)

Nichael Cramer (
Thu, 23 May 1996 14:24:03 -0400 (EDT)

> DATE: April 23, 3096


A number of question come up which you might forward to your friends from
the future:

> 2. Edison obviously didn't have hundreds of inventions and patents. He
> probably had one or two good inventions, and it then became a literary
> tradition to ascribe good inventions to him. Edison's followers obviously
> encouraged this, because it increased their power base.

Q1] Can your friends supply any documentation for this "literary" practice
of "ascribing inventions" to a common "Master inventor" during our time?

I suspect they will have trouble coming up with any (as opposed to, say,
contemporary scholars who, for example, have significant, detailed
documentation in support of the ancient practice of ascribing writings to
major figures or heads of "schools" --c.f. Aesop).

> 3. Edison was not "hard of hearing" or "deaf." This is a melo-dramatic
> touch added by a later redactor or editor of the Edison story. The irony
> is too great, that a deaf man invented the modern phonograph record. This
> is clearly a literary touch added at a later date to increase the
> dramatic effect of Edison's inventiveness.
> 4. Having established that Edison was not deaf, it is clear that the
> story about how he lost his hearing (being thrown from a moving train) is
> also a pure fiction. This must have been added at a very late date by the
> last generation of redactors/editors.

Q2] Can your friends supply external documentation either supporting or
disproving this legend? Such evidence should be easy to come by.

However in the absense of external evidence, their point is certainly well
taken that the adding such "melodramatic touches" to the stories of great
figures is a practice of long standing. If your friends seek
documentation that such practice were common in out time you might point
out the various legends about George Washingon (be sure mention the cherry
tree), the boyhood antics of Abraham Lincoln, the legend of "Tailgunner
Joe" or the purely fanciful tales that are dispersed under the cover
"cinematic biographies" or "made-for-TV" movies. The practice was (is)
all the more common when a specific result was desired.

Q3] You might ask for friend for a piece of practical information:

What advice do they have --given that they have had 2000 years more
practice at this than we-- for dealing with for folks who insist on
setting up silly strawmen or meaningless caricatures that have little, if
anything, to do with actual scholarly practices and then proceed to crow
about about the vacuousness of those results of those practices? ;-)

Q4] What the heck does any of this have to do with Biblical *GREEK*, any

Nichael Cramer