". . . 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

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Book Party

If you're in the general vicinity, you are very welcome to drop by!


Renegade Eye said...

Sounds great.

Foxessa said...

I hope so.

Reviews continue to be written about the book. I just have not been posting them. All good reviews, though some feel there is too much about the complex and complicated and involuted Haitian Revolution. Well, if you are interested, it's not. If you aren't, then it is too much.

But in the DR, the Haitians there (over a million live in the DR, and not all of them are slave on the sugar latifundias), as well as everyone else, were fascinated by that material in the presentation. So few people really know what an explosion the Haitian Revolution was in terms of the development of popular music throughout the hemispheres of this part of the globe.

Love, C.

K. said...

My impression after reading the book was that it's nearly impossible to understand New Orleans with a grasp of the Haitian Revolution. To me, the book's strong suit is the way it marshals the historical and geopolitcal forces that gave form to New Orleans.

Foxessa said...

Well, K, you know I agree with you on that.

When an influx of people from ONE PLACE doubles the population of a small city nearly overnight, that's an enormous influence right there.

And why did they come, and where did they come from?

They didn't come directly from Haiti, which anyone would think who didn't know.

They came FROM CUBA, where they'd gone first from Haiti -- and then had to leave there in a very short time unless they chose to swear allegience to the Spanish king, which these French colony planters did not want to do.

There's a lot of political implication right there, about who those planters were. They come to the colony of another country and don't want to swear allegience to it.

Kinda just like the Cubans who went to Miami and had and have no intention in swearing allegience to the U.S., or abiding by what (then) were still our official values observed more in action than now.

Love, C.

K. said...

The kind of criticisms you talk about make me wonder if the reviewers simply don't know how to read history. It's not like reading a DIY manual -- historical forces are complex, detailed, and dynamic. I found it fascinating to read about all of things that had to happen for those early slaves to be able to gather in Congo Square and cross-pollinate their musical cultures. This was one of the most eventful occurrences in American cultural history; it both merits and demands thorough treatment.

Foxessa said...

These criticisms come out of several different perspectives, I am guessing. A lot of people think Vaquero is "MUSIC" only, and that's what they want to see only. A local music writer of NO, who wrote a very long and marvelous article about the book in the local paper told us many weeks before that he was having a much harder time reading TWTMNO than CuMu -- because there was so much history that wasn't specifically music history. So you're right in that sense. Tom is not used to reading 'history'. But he persevered and was astonished and very pleased. He, like so many people in NO stated he learned so much about the place he was born in that he'd never known or even thought about before.

Then there is another perspective which is people THINK they KNOW NO, because they've been there for JazzFest, Mardi Gras, etc., and yet they've never moved out of the visitors' zone, so to speak. So they've formed all sorts of ideas and concepts about NO, w/o research or reading, unconsciously, or from talking with people who also haven't researched, read history and so on. They also tend to be strongly invested in the view of NO as a Good Time as opposed to a respository of some of the most evil and wicked history ever. There's a prized myth that Jim Crow didn't really apply to NO, for instance, and that is simply fantasy -- as the story about the segregated Christmas party for blind people should prove, if nothing else does. Marti Gras and the Krewes are first second & third ABOUT annual re-affirmation of the place of ruling class and race in the city and the region. People don't want to believe that either. These people also manage to not really talk with black residents of New Orleans.

I had never lived in such a segregated world as I have there. Austin is pretty segregated too, but New Orleans's history is so much deeper into all the twists and perverted kink of slavery and race.

Love, C.