“The past is never dead. It’s not even past.”

I finished reading William Faulkner’s Requiem for a Nun this evening. I was reading it partly because I’m teaching it’s prequel, Sanctuary, this semester, but also because I am fond of the famous quote from it about the past not being past, and wanted to learn more about its context. I had always thought the quote was “We may be through with the past, but the past is not through with us. In fact, it is not even past.” However, the quote is actually “The past is never dead. It’s not even past.” It turns out that the version I had in my head is a misquotation of Faulkner from one of my favorite films, Magnolia. I am sad that the film’s version is incorrect because, even though both make the excellent point that the past constantly affects the present (especially in Faulkner’s work, where the Civil War always happened yesterday), the longer version depicts the past as a foreboding presence, always gaining on us as we try to escape it, which seems fitting for Faulkner’s writing.

Published by danielshankcruz

I grew up in New York City and lived in Lancaster, Pennsylvania; Goshen, Indiana; DeKalb, Illinois; and Salt Lake City, Utah before coming to Utica, New York. My mother’s family is Swiss-German Mennonite (i.e., it’s an ethnicity, not necessarily a theological persuasion) and my father’s family is Puerto Rican. I have a Ph.D. in English and currently teach at Utica College. I have also taught at Northern Illinois University and Westminster College in Salt Lake City. My teaching and scholarship are motivated by a passion for social justice, which is why my research focuses on the literature of oppressed groups, especially LGBT persons and people of color. While I primarily read and write about fiction, I am also a devoted reader of poetry because, as William Carlos Williams writes, “It is difficult / to get the news from poems / yet [people] die miserably every day / for lack / of what is found there.” Thinkers who influence me include Marina Abramovic, Kathy Acker, Di Brandt, Ana Castillo, Samuel R. Delany, Percival Everett, Essex Hemphill, Jane Jacobs, Walt Whitman, and the New York School of poets. I am also fond of queer Mennonite writers such as Stephen Beachy, Jan Guenther Braun, Lynnette Dueck/D’anna, and Casey Plett. In my free time I’m either reading, writing the occasional poem, playing board games (especially Scrabble, backgammon, and chess), watching sports (Let’s Go, Mets!), or cooking (curries, stews, roasts…).

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