". . . 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, November 22, 2008


It is below freezing despite being nearly the middle of the afternoon. Ice in the streets. We finally were able to re-instate the Saturday ritual of Chinatown shopping for produce, teas, spices, condiments, meat, poultry and seafood. When we got back with about 50lbs of groceries -- carried by us -- we were cold-stunned. Woo. It's a little early in the year for this degree of cold. Usually this happens after New Year's. It may be a long winter.

Then I went off to do some early Christmas shopping alone, while Vaquero was off to interview one of the co-founders of WWOZ, who I initially met on LJ.

A young, blonde Mormon missionary stopped me on the sidewalk. He asked, "Are you familiar with this book?" -- The Book of Mormon. I said, "Oh yes." He stopped looking so depressed and was ready to talk to me about the Lord and the Church. I interrupted and said, "I know all I need to to know about The Book of Mormon."

Additionally, right now, I'm working out to audio version of The 19th Wife, which includes long extracts from a book of the same title written by Ann Eliza Young, post her divorce from Brigham Young. She wrote the book to expose the horrors of polygamy, and with hopes that this exposure would help eradicate the practice, if enough of the U.S. understood what plural marriage really is about. Though Ann Eliza Young is called the nineteenth wife, in truth Brigham Young had more like a hundred wives, or likely more than that. No one now knows. He very likely didn't himself. He started to keep the marriages secret because, well, this really was excessive. But you know women and wives. They will talk ....

One of Ann Eliza Young's convictions is that women involved in a society of plural marriage are even more determined to know everybody's business than others. For one thing, they can't help it. As in Brigham' Lion House, that housed 50 some of his wives and the many, many children, everything they said or did, was done in front of everyone else.

The missionary wanted to engage me in discussion to prove that anything I might think about the LDS is wrong. I told him my life is too short and valuable to waste arguing with him about his religion. Additionally, like so many citizens of this nation, I am feeling particularly uncharitable to the Mormons right now, because of their role in rolling out No to Proposition 8 in California. Because of this, Mormons were going to looked at with even greater dislike and suspicion here in NYC, where all of us have very good friends who happen to be gay. I believe he was genuinely shocked and surprised to hear that.

Yes, yes, yes, I am aware that the contemporary LDS does not condone or practice plural marriage, yet their fundamentalists do -- though mostly it looks more like a cult-scam for a limited number of men to wallow in p*ssy and grab milliions of tax money in welfare checks for all these unmarried mothers, since by our nation's laws you can only be married to one person at a time.

Another reason I loathe fundamentalists of every kind, for it seems every kind of religious fundamentalism is determined to establish the ideal life of a significant number of men, which is to have all their lives an endless supply of fresh young p*ssy, have women do all the work, fight each other for the 'husband's' attention, while all these husbands do is fornicate, drink and drug -- and every word they utter is law, without recourse or argument. It really is turning women into things, objects, one thing only, and that's their genitals. Literally keeping them ignorant and pregnant and isolated from everything except yourself. What pathetic pos men like that are. Blech. Thank goodness not all men are like this, or we'd still be living in caves. OTOH, a lot of fundamentalists dream of us all living in caves and shooting each other for cans of food. Double blech.

These are thoughts that swam around my freeze-dried brain while in the state of shopping. When I shop it's as though I go into a trance. Or at least some other zone. On the top is the focus of what I'm looking for. Underneath all kinds of other things have my attention.


K. said...

Shortly after we moved to South Texas from Columbus OH (in 1967), I answered the doorbell to be confronted with my first Jehovah's Witness. I was 12 and attempted to be polite while at the same time clearly having no idea of what he was talking about.

I mentioned it to my mother when she came home. "Next time, just tell them that you're Catholic," she advised. And you know what? It worked! Evidently, subscribing to papistry placed me beyond all possibility of redemption in this world or any other. This is unquestionably the most practical application of Catholicism that I've ever experienced.

Foxessa said...

It was particularly odd encountering a Mormon missionary here in NYC just now, with the church's meddling with Prop 8, and me happening to be using The 19th Wife as my workout book.

Also, the religious bad guys in my Horsegirl trilogy were modeled to a degree on the old school Mormons. I read so much about that era and Joseph Smith's background and so on when writing those books.

So I couldn't help but laugh out loud when the poor deluded kid asked me if I'd ever heard of this book.

Additionally I have some writing community friends who were brought up Mormons. Both of them ended up being expelled because they were so 'bad.' One of them has written an autobiography of what it was like for him.

So, why yes, I am very familiar with this book that is utterly incoherent. Really, really, really badly written! But Joseph Smith was barely literate, so that's to be expected. The hallucinations of an ignorant, provincial man, with grandiose ideas about himself.

One of the things that is so interesting about the early Saints' church is how much and how little remains accessible in the record of how a religion begins ... which one must interpolate is how most patriarchal religions begin, though not all of them manage to move out of cult status.

Love, C.