My name is Gary Wallin. I am currently pursuing a Master of Arts in Religion at Yale Divinity School. My primary focus is on Second Temple Judaism, Pauline epistles, and early Christian apocalyptic literature. I also enjoy reading continental philosophy, from Hegel to Heiddegger and Neitzsche to Foucault. Though I strive for costly solidarity with any oppressed person or group (race, religion, sex, gender identity, or sexual orientation), I recognize a unique compassion in me for young women and men who, like myself, have been caught up in monolithic traditions, where humanity’s irreducible differences are denied and various sacred texts are used to humiliate, rather than edify.
The name of this site is Shakespearean in origin: “A Tale Told By An Idiot.” It comes from Macbeth’s famous soliloquy: “Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player that struts and frets his hour upon the stage and then is heard no more. It is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.” Choosing the title “A Tale Told By An Idiot” functions as a double entendre with two distinct meanings. First, to write about history, religion, or philosophy is to write about stories. Every story needs a storyteller and these dominant stories all come from a distinct source, oftentimes rich white heteronormative gender-conforming European men telling tales and casting themselves as the lead, naming their interests as all-encompassing, and identifying their idiosyncrasies as universals. They deemed themselves civilized while all other cultures were depicted as savage or inept. Like Macbeth grasping for power, they strutted and fretted for an hour on the stage. Their’s is truly a ‘tale told by an idiot.’ The second meaning of this site’s name? Because their story is also Our story. Just as they have told stories which spoke of objective truths, acting as though they ascended the pinnacle of knowledge, so We too have dabbled in the business of certainty. We have all told tales where we (and others like us) were written in as ‘the good’ or ‘the just,’ and the portraits of those unlike us were shaded with a darker shadow. In short, the name of my blog allows me to speak of myself as an idiot as well, attempting to tell tales about history, philosophy, and religion, all the while refusing to assert myself above those who have gone before me. Perhaps, by taking on this humble disposition, the future critics will have mercy on any erroneous things I utter. The tales are mine, and I too, sharing with all humanity, am also an idiot. I am the village idiot in the village of idiots. What Dostoevsky’s Idiot once muttered will be taken as the highest maxim: “that the causes of human actions are usually immeasurably more complex and varied than our subsequent explanations of them.”
I currently reside in New Haven, CT with my partner, Sam, and my two Chugs (Chihuahua/Pug mix), Cleopatra and Caesar.