LINES OF THE DAY

". . . But the past does not exist independently from the present. Indeed, the past is only past because there is a present, just as I can point to something over there only because I am here. But nothing is inherently over there or here. In that sense, the past has no content. The past -- or more accurately, pastness -- is a position. Thus, in no way can we identify the past as past." p. 15

". . . But we may want to keep in mind that deeds and words are not as distinguishable as often we presume. History does not belong only to its narrators, professional or amateur. While some of us debate what history is or was, others take it into their own hands." p. 153

Silencing the Past: Power and the Production of History (1995) by Michel-Rolph Trouillot

Saturday, June 17, 2017

On Not Journaling + The Young Pope

     . . . .  At the beginning of last week my second laptop arrived, one lighter and smaller than my oversize laptop. The Big Pooter is better for writing and working, but the small one is for copying text, etc. in a special collection, that then can be transferred to the larger one at home/

 With everything else going on in our lives it's taken forever to load the little one with what I want and need, and then get it set-up the way I want and need.  This has been unnecessarily complicated by Windows 10 deciding to update with a load of applications and 'creative' things that I never use and just get in the way, which its done for both my laptops now.  It takes over 2 hours to update, which made updating more than inconvenient.  Afterwards, which was much more difficult for someone as unskilled and non intuitive as myself, I had to go in and rid both of them of memory eating irrelevant stuff -- I don't play games, I don't design anything, I don't need special cursors, and so on and so forth.



By the east side door, where entry is easier, because the front entry is jammed with tourists.
However, now that I had achieved the smaller and lighter, i.e. more portable device, I have been going uptown to the Schwarzman Research Library to deal with Red River Valley newspapers and copy various information for Far From Anywhere.  I have deliberately not added my various e-mail programs and so on to the little poot so far (when traveling, I'll need them, but I don't now), to keep from being distracted while researching.  Newspapers and journals and magazines  are still a pita to research, even when they aren't on microfilm.  Though -- if they're digitized one can do searches, which helps a lot.  But however one digs through them it's hell on the eyes, and mine are so bad already.

The weather hasn't helped much, lurching as it does from damp, clammy, chilly and drear to brutally hot and polluted.  The subways are packed and suffering from so many years of deferred maintenance.  The sidewalks are jammed with tourists. When I get home, transfer the files from the afternoon to the Big Pooter, start dinner, all I can manage is to open the wine, put up my feet and stream some tv.

     . . . . The most satisfactory viewing this month has been The Young Pope. Is Lenny Belardo - Pius XIII, the  youngest pope ever, the first US Pope, a saint? Or, is he Christ returned?  Or is he the worst retrogression to the days of the excommunicating, inquisiting, intolerant Latin Church popes, or merely a self-serving, unbelieving ambitious sort of which the Church appears to be packed?  Or -- maybe, he's the devil himself?  I still have 2 1/2 episodes to go, but, the way things work in this series, maybe I'll never know.  They Say there's to be a second season, but Jude Law won't be pope.  Who knows what that means.

Jude Law is co-producer with Paolo Sorrentino, as well as Pius XIII.  Shot in Rome, or so it seems, it's sumptuous, but it's also topsy-turvy, almost surreal many times.  Many scenes are spoken in Italian, only so unless one has a feature that allows for subtitles, this adds to unexpected turns that are always happening.  Every time I think I've got this thing figured out, it reverses and goes sideways simultaneously, and sometimes even, literally, turns upside down.

 Jude Law is brilliant, though one occasionally feels Law himself has been, perhaps lamentably and unduly influence by Andrew Scott's Moriarty in the latest BBC Sherlock for some of his deliveries, in the tone of voice, shape of mouth.



More happily, one feels the producer was somewhat influenced for the opening title sequence by the lamentably never completed series, Rome’s brilliant animation of the graffiti of the end of the Republic.



In Young Pope’s case, it’s Jude Law’s Pius XIII strolling along the many great Renaissance painting of a gallery in the Vatican, each coming to life as he passes by.

This has been particularly fun to watch as this month, along with a history of the Capetians, I've been reading Absolute Monarchs: A History of the Papacy.

     . . . . Other matters going on of import to us --

M's memorial has been given a date.  The planning is finally getting to take shape.



We have learned that so far that the proclaimed changes for Cuba travel (which affect, let us not forget, only about 600,000 of the 4 million + tourists annually) won't affect Postmambo trips, as they alwaqys have been licensed group trips for the express and only purpose of culture and education, and the track record proves it.  But it means that an individual or couple or group of friends no longer can invoke people-to-people and go. But it's been nail-biting time here in the casa.  Will the you-know-whos destroy the business a second time?  But so far, so good, knock knock knock on wood.

Anyway, tonight --  the rain seems to have stopped.  Pasta and jazz first, then a friend's dance troupe performing at Roulette.


Sunday, June 4, 2017

Aperçu and Silhouette - Toshi Reagon and Mavis Staples

     . . . . For reasons unknown to me I woke up with the words aperçu and silhouette in mind, seeing them elegant and graceful in their appearance on the page or screen, and equally so in their meanings. 



If today I were presented with two young kittens I would name them Aperçu and Silhouette -- for which they surely would punish me for all their days . . . .

     . . . . Yesterday's late afternoon, evening and night were perfect June light and weather.

Toshi Reagon

Reagon's band, Big Lovely - Central Park Summer Stage June 3, 2017

We were at Central Park for the reception prior to the opening show for the annual Summer Stage program.  The sky didn't go completely dark in the west until about 9 PM. The June-leafed out trees of the park were silhouetted against the brilliant sunset colors.

Mavis Staples took us there!


The one and only Nona Hendryx! Singer, songwriter, actress, LBGT activist.


The music was provided by two kickass women and their big bands -- Toshi Reagon and Mavis Staples. Among the great performers who got up to join Mavis and Toshi in the Big Bands' grand finale, was the splendid Nona Hendryx!  We were right up there front and center for it.

The audience was New Yorkers almost all, as Summer Stage is too localized a system to attract that many tourists.  As with everything here these days there were many moments during which the audience registered its dislike for the current policies emitted in D.C. that concern the city and her residents.  Recall who these women are: Mavis as she gleefully pointed out, was with Dr. King at Selma and -- I am still here! Toshi's mother is Bernice Johnson Reagon, song leader, composer, scholar, and social activist, who was a founding member of the SNCC Freedom Singers in the Albany Movement (Albany, Georgia, desegregation 1961 - 1962).

Yah, one of those nights that again tell us are why we are all in this city and why we love it -- and why those others hate us and it.


Monday, May 29, 2017

David Blight Considers, Again, the Meaning and History of Memorial Day

     . . . . David Blight, renowned historian of the era of Reconstruction and Jim Crow, muses upon Mitch Landrieu's moving speech in New Orleans on the occasion of bring down New Orleans's white supremacist monument to the glorious lost cause of perpetuating and expanding slavery throughout the entire United States (and hemisphere, at least for the most hopeful and deluded of the secessionists), and the changing meaning for the country of Memorial Day.

It's in the Atlantic Monthly, here.





By the way, how many of us know that today's holiday is not the same as Veteran's Day, and that the first Memorial Day-- then called Decoration Day -- was instituted by African Americans in Charleston, South Carolina, on May 1, 1865?  Blight has written extensively about this process in his laudable Race and Reunion: The Civil War in American Memory



The Library of Congress preserves this photo, taken in 1865 while the African-American reconstruction of the cemetery in Charleston was in progress. The rows of markers are newly established individual Union graves.


Friday, May 26, 2017

A Day in the Life of Jack The Fox

     . . . .Darling amiga, Austin Slim sent me this.  It's so purrfect it must be further shared
"A fox looks like a dog, purrs like a cat, but in fact it is neither."
"The have the nicest nature of any animal I have ever met."

"Sometimes he may do naughty things.  But not to those who are nice to him."

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Looking For Louie Louie : lwi - Louis

     . . . . As the France's Carolingian period isn't among my historical specialties, I have put in an inordinate amount of time these last few days trying to track down why the contemporary name Louis, for one of Charlemagne's sons, shows up in his family tree lines.



Why call him Louis when the other sons don't have latinized - frankified names? Before Louis shows up, and when he shows up, and after he shows up, one sees Lothars in the tree, but no Ludovics or Ludowigs etc. These are germanic forms of Louis, They Say.

But I had learned that Louis is derived from Clovis -- and as we know, of course, it is a Clovis who was the first Merovingian king, and there were many other Clovii in Merovingian history.  But no, no, no! exclaimed another friend.  From the dox we know that Ludwig and variations are the names from which Louis derives, she informs.  That was puzzling enough to make me doubtful. If Louis comes from Ludwig, why did so many other scholars and historians state so confidently that Louis, pronounced 'lwi', derives from Clovis?

No wonder it's so difficult for English speakers to get a handle on early French history -- especially if like me, they don't know latin, German and French!  I haven't had time yet to begin my short stack of Charlemagne books, beyond finishing Towns and Trade in the Age of Charlemagne (1994) by Richard Hodges. These books might have given me the clues to follow, but, as said, I haven't had the time to immerse yet -- though, yah, without a clue I did foolishly devote hours digging in the web. But I couldn't find anything until a friend gave me a couple of links.

These links didn't provide any linguistic information of the sort I was looking for -- but from them I did learn something fundamental -- so fundamental that it is duh -- but only if I'd read these Charlemagne books which I haven't yet read would it be duh --
i) WIDEGO (-[after 22 Jun 823]). "Widegowi filii Warini comitis..." witnessed the charter dated 6 Jun 799 under which “Bernherus” donated property "in pago Rinensi in Locheim" to Lorsch[781]. "Witegowo" donated property "in pago Wormat. In Albecher marca" to Lorsch by charter dated 784[782]. "Widegowo et soror mea Reginburc" donated property "in pago Gardachgowe in villa Francunbach" to Lorsch by charter dated 806[783]. Emperor Louis I confirmed the donation of "ecclesia...in pago...Lobotengowe in villa...Siggenheim", previously acquired by "Warinus quondam comes ad partem fisci nostri" and granted to “Widegowo comes per beneficium largitioinis nostræ”, to Lorsch by charter dated 22 Jun 823 [784].
This is in the 9th century, so it is Emperor Louis the Pius, Charlemagne's son (r. 1814 - 1840). Louis the Pious (b. 778 – 20 June 840), also called the Fair, and the Debonaire, was the King of Aquitaine from 781. He was also King of the Franks and co-Emperor (as Louis I) with his father, Charlemagne, from 813.

Fibula of the Carolingian period: copper, gold, and turquoise found at Chalandry in the musée de Laon
The second link my amiga provided mentions "Louis" only twice, once in the description of his mother's family and antecedents via the biography of Louis I written by a churchman named Thegan of Trier (or Degan of Treves), and once in the footnote citation. Thegan was a Frankish Roman Catholic prelate, author of Gesta Hludowici imperatoris, a principal source for the life of the Holy Roman Emperor Louis the Pious, the son and successor of Charlemagne. Louis I's mother was thoroughly German as was all her family -- but, this was what mattered in my quest for lwi/Louis --I learned that this son of Charlemagne was born, not in the germanic regions of his empire, but on soil that would be France.

Louis the Pious


So, finally, I search Louis I. At this link, the following was at the top for Louis I:
Alternative Titles: Louis le Débonnaire, Louis le Pieux, Louis the Debonair, Louis the Pious (and in Germany) Ludwig der Fromme
The takeaway for me, in terms of Louis I being not only lwi, but the first lwi, besides actually being born in what we now call France, is this:
" . . . (born April 16, 778, Chasseneuil, near Poitiers, Aquitaine [now in France]—died June 20, 840, Petersau, an island in the Rhine River near Ingelheim [now in Germany]), Carolingian ruler of the Franks who succeeded his father, Charlemagne, as emperor in 814 and whose 26-year reign (the longest of any medieval emperor until Henry IV [1056–1106]) was a central and controversial stage in the Carolingian experiment to fashion a new European society. Commonly called Louis the Pious, he was known to his contemporaries by the Latin names Hludovicus or Chlodovicus, which echo the Latin name of Clovis (c. 466–511), the illustrious founder of the Merovingian dynasty. Louis was appointed king of Aquitaine in 781 and was already a seasoned 35-year-old politician and military commander when he became coemperor with Charlemagne in 813. He was the fourth monarch of the Carolingian dynasty, preceded by his father; his uncle, Carloman; and his grandfather, Pippin III, the Short."
Damn!  I DID NOT KNOW that Clovis, Hludovicus or Chlodovicus were latinized versions of germanic names!  I assumed they were germanic names.  How stupid is THAT? Answer: Very Stupid.

So Louis is king of Aquitaine, the least gothicized of western France. Where then, presumably, they spoke some sort of "french" that would make a lwi / Louis out of Clovis. In the end they didn't speak the same form of French as the rest of France, but the language King Richard I learned as a child, and so did his mother, Queen Eleanor. Even now, in this region:
Many residents also have some knowledge of Basque, of a variety of Occitan (Gascon, Limousin, or Languedocien), or of the Poitevin-Saintongeais dialect of French.
Louis I lived in Aquitaine from age 3. His nurse was, it appears, to have been from a regionally indigenous family -- at least indigenous since the days of the Roman conquest -- though that region was also the least latinized in the days of Roman Empire, if I recall correctly. He was thoroughly Aquitaine-ized not only in his name, persumably.

So, oddly, perhaps, did this liw-ization of Clovis started in a language that didn't become the mainstream form of French? He did bring his Aquitanians with him to Paris after Charlemagne's death, and as they were his cohort from childhood, presumably into the German regions of the empire. Presumably I will learn more when I get my Charlemagne, Capetians and middle ages stack read.

I have to find a good history of the Viking incursions into France. By the time the William invades England these Norsemen are already speaking the French of Paris -- they arrived first in the reign of Louis I's son, Charles II (the Bald -- Charlemagne is the first Charles). (The siege of Paris was 845.)

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Something else I have grasped this last week btw, which previously I did not know, for reasons I do not know, except, most likely, I wasn't paying attention: the first two European actions that later got called the Crusades, and the history of what was Outremere, were very much French affairs. That the French were the dominant European power in what they came to call Outremere must have had so much to do with the shaping of not only the literature and language of the courtly romance -- but also that of their fairy tales. This is one of the reasons the consciously composed French fairy tale is so different from those that the Grimm Brothers printed.

Yet it still took me until this week to overtly understand that the English had nothing to do with early formation of Crusade politics, manners and literature. (The Spanish didn't contribute either, as they were thoroughly occupied with the Reconquista. That, at least, I always understood.)

Not until relatively recently -- o say the last couple of decades, did I overtly recognize that England didn't go on the First and Second Crusades. The civil war between Matilda and Stephen prevented English participation in the First Crusade. Then Henry II needed to put together and hold together his own empire, so though he contributed funds to the Second Crusade, he and his men stayed in Europe.

But we've so identified King Richard the Lion Heart with the third Crusade, that we / me English speakers have the unexamined presumption that the English were present in the earlier actions. It may also be partly due to Henry II's marriage to Eleanor -- who did go on the Second Crusade with her husband King Louis VII -- and that she was Richard I's mother, who did go as far as Sicily with his wife, Berengaria of Navarre, during the Third Crusade. It's in this era of Eleanor's daughter by Louis VII, Marie of France, the Countess of Champagne, and Richard, Duke in Aquitaine, we see the outpouring of courtly romances* (in the Holy Roman Empire too, because of Conrad and Tancred who were Crusade monarchs too). These are some of the roads to the romances' treatment of the Matter of Grail -- and how it enters into England, where it gets married to Arthur and The Matter of Britain. This, even though Richard spent barely any time there, and Henry didn't either. But Henry did have a continental empire, and the movement of churchmen and his administrators between the continent and England was constant.



Some nights ago all this came to mind while I watched the French live action La belle et la bête  / Beauty and the Beast (2014 France, 2017 US).  Live action, produced in France, it is so different from the Disney versions.  It was adult in attitude, and even more so, it contained in decor and manner a through line that I swear goes back at least to the Crusading era.

So that's my next French quest.  When did that transition happen, from Frankish to French?  It wasn't in the Carolingian era, which is its own distinct period from the Merovingian or the Capetian.

* Several of the most well-known French courtly love romances include events that were inspired by events in Queen Eleanor's and Henry's lives, such as The Knight of the Cart, in which Queen Guenivere is abducted, and rescued by Lancelot. After Eleanor's grant of divorce, as she traveled back to Poitiers, two lords – Theobald V, Count of Blois, and Geoffrey, Count of Nantes (brother of Henry II, Duke of Normandy) – tried to kidnap and marry her to claim her lands.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

It's Done - He Did It

     . . . . For months he threatened he was going to make cornbread. 

Weeks ago he acquired the essential cornmeal.

Yesterday, he did it.





     . . . . At my suggestion he baked it in the miraculous Bayou cast iron deep skillet. O my, what a perfect crust all around and bottom it made. The slices came off the cast iron with barely a crumb left behind.

After the recommended baking time he did the toothpick in the middle test, and then cut out a teeny chunk. He thought it was quite done enough in the middle. I said just put the skillet back in the now shut off oven.

I thought the middle was baked sufficiently already, but he wanted more, and he was the baker.

It was perfect by his reckoning when he pulled it out again some minutes later.


Saturday, May 20, 2017

To Great Cheering, He's Down!

     . . . .VIDEO - Removal Of General Robert E. Lee Statue Monument From Lee Circle In New Orleans.

And it is accomplished to the accompaniment of the sort of celebration that can happen only in New Orleans.





What has always puzzled me about this particular New Orleans's CSA monument centers around the facts that Lee had no connection with New Orleans or Louisiana beyond sailing to San Antonio there at the outset of the invasion of Mexico in the Mexican American War. 

In the War of Southern Aggression Lee was all about, and only about. 'defending' Virginia. 
He wasn't even general of the Army of Northern Virginia when New Orleans and Louisiana were defeated and occupied by the Union forces.  He never had anything to do with Louisiana and the western states ever. This was unlike, o say, Sherman, who was superintendent of the Louisiana Military Academy when the War of Southern Aggression was declared.


A large standing bronze of Abraham Lincoln with the Emancipation Proclamation, by sculptor Leonard Wells. Is this not at least as much to historically honored as those who fought and killed for the sake of the expansion of slavery?

Contradicting those who defend these monuments, erected many years after Appomattox, as having nothing to do with slavery, but as preservation of our historical heritage, is there have been no monuments raised to Sherman or Grant in New Orleans. Nor, for that matter, have any been raised to Lincoln, though there was of Jefferson Davis (that one was been removed earlier). 

In other words, these monuments are part of the revisionist history of the United States, another white-wash of our national shame of slavery, telling a false tale of our history, and then glorifying the lies. This is why these monuments to owners of slaves need to be removed.*

------------------------

Equestrian statue honoring Andrew Jackson in Jackson Square, New Orleans.

*  I am no defender of Andrew Jackson (see the account of him in our The American Slave Coast: A History of the Slave Breeding Industry), who was a slave dealer and slave owner, an Indian killer, and hater of the English and anyone who crossed him. 

Nor am I generally a defender of that catastrophic War of 1812 (though the Brits were behaving most thuggishly).

However, the monument honoring Jackson in New Orleans memorializes his defense of the city against the British invaders, not his Indian massacres or slave dealing -- though of course that great Battle of New Orleans was fought after the treaty ending the War of 1812 had officially been signed. Yet the battle was fought, and the Americans under his leadership did soundly defeat the Brits -- helping wipe away the many shameful defeats of US forces elsewhere, including the catastrophe that was the US invasion of Canada.  So yah, I can see logic to having that kind of monument, which carries a very different meaning and significance than the ones honoring those who blatantly, publicly and loudly declared war on the United States in order to preserve and expand slavery everywhere in North America -- and even into Mexico, the Caribbean, Central America -- and even the most rabid of the secessionist fire eaters declared -- into the Pacific.