On Fooling and Being Fooled

I enjoyed the April Fool’s gags over the week-end. See Mark Goodacre’s post on the nature of hell, Stephen Carlson’s discoveries (in which he refers to the discovery of Q posted years ago on Xtalk), and Tyler Williams’ announcement of the King of Judah seal.

This time of year puts me in mind of Harold Love’s rather harsh view of those at the giving and receiving end of literary fakes. I read his book a few months after finishing Stephen Carlson’s Gospel Hoax. This is what Love has to say about foolers and the fooled:

“Faking is the cancer of scholarship. The apropriate punishment for fakers should be public execution, with a last-minute interruption when a reprieve is brought to the gallows, only to be disregarded when it is discovered to be a fake. Likewise there is nothing amusing in the fact that a fellow scholar may have been misled by a fake: it is a sign of incompetence and dereliction in the individual concerned.” (Attributing Authorship, pp 192-193)

For the public execution part, Love footnotes Roman Polanski’s film, The Ninth Gate, the conclusion of which apparently involves something like this (p 250). I might have to check that one out. (Polanski’s Pianist was excellent.) But Love will just have to pardon my sense of humor. Hoaxes like Secret Mark and the Ern Malley poems are a riot.

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