Nyad, Episode 2 — The Relinquisher

Nyad says that she “relinquished my position as screenwriter of my life story.” Of her Manhattan swim, she once said, “I hereby relinquish my title as the first woman.” But you can’t relinquish something that you don’t have.

I was so diverted by Nyad’s cinematic machinations in the last post that I missed something important. When Diana finally tells us that she’s not writing the screenplay for Nyad: The Motion Picture, she declares:

I relinquished my position as screenwriter of my life story. (Sung, “Diana Nyad…” )

When she got caught in her Manhattan lie back in 2011, she used the same verb:

I hereby relinquish my title as the first woman. (Nyad via the Wayback Machine)

I can relinquish my Lobstar (over my dead body!), but I can’t relinquish my Grammy, my Pulitzer or my Nobel, no matter how much I deserve them.

But relinquishment requires possession. You can’t relinquish something you don’t have.

Nyad knows better than anyone that she never owned the title of First Woman to Swim Around Manhattan Island, so she had nothing to relinquish.

By 2015 at the latest, Diana would have known of Robert Specland’s Nyad. If I pile up some pecans in my yard, the squirrels know about them almost instantly. Can you imagine any universe in which Nyad didn’t know that Nyad was making the rounds? That would be nuts! Diana’s screenwriting duties, if they ever existed, ended years before 2017; so, again, she had nothing to give up.

Found ’em!

Relinquishment implies not only possession; it also suggests humility and beneficence on the part of the relinquisher. Saying that you’ll let go of something that you don’t possess, however, is just shameless posturing, closer to robbery than humility.

Why does this matter? Because words matter. So when a powerful person says, for instance, “there’s an emergency at our southern border,” people might start believing that there’s an emergency at our southern border and then begin acting accordingly. When Nyad says, “I relinquished something,” people will naturally believe that she had something to relinquish and then credit her with having once possessed that thing.

Nyad has known for over forty years that Ida Elionsky was the first woman to swim around Manhattan Island. Nyad knew that Robert Specland wrote the script.

Give it up, Diana.

Sorry, but this one’s about Annette Kellerman. Everett Freeman wrote the script.



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