". . . 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, January 3, 2009

2009's Reading, Watching,Writing & Listening Is In Play

A fair continuation of 2008's. I'm looking forward to finding what sharp turn into something I've no glimmer of as yet.

This is the half century, 50 year celebration of the Cuban Revolution. I've assumed there was no need for me to remind anyone of this around here, where people are generally so very well informed.

¡Cuba Libre!

This was also an enormous change around when it happened:

Trudeau, Noah Andre. (2008) Southern Storm: Sherman's March To the Sea. HarperCollins, NY

[ P. 162: "It took until sundown for the rear of the Fourteenth Corps column to pass entirely through Shady Dale, but each segment was greeted as if it was thefirst to arrive. “Here the colored peoples give us our entertainment,” noted an Indiana boy. A new band would appear, begin to play, and in a short time it would be surrounded by a throng of black women and children “dancing and bobbing their heads in ecstasies of delight.”

When the First Division settled into camp near Shady Dale, the general commanding, William P. Carlin, was witness to a remarkable scene. One of the bands had launched into yet another performance of “John Brown’s Body” when about a dozen young African-American girls came out of nearby houses, “formed into a ring around the band at the head of the column, and with a weird, plaintive wail, danced in a circle in a most solemn, dignified, and impressive manner,” wrote Carlin years afterward. “What their meaning was I did not know then, nor do I now, but I, of course, interpreted it as an expressive of goodwill to our cause.” ]

This is the behavior rummywolfierovercheney&bushwah expected in Iraq. Funny how people can tell the difference between liberation and invasion right off.

This book is told in the words taken from letters and journals and reports of participants on both sides. So far a single rape has been mentioned. One. Rather different from the propaganda and the memories of Georgians and South Carolinians. Though Sherman's men did ransack and burn Columbia, SC to the ground, and seemed to have planned to before-hand, burning with hatred for the rebels as they were. Not pretty. On the other hand, there was no one to stop them. The Confederacy gummit, army and all the men in general had skedaddled right off, leaving behind the old men, the sick, the women, the children and the slaves. This is about what the march came up against throughout. Their strongest opponent was the weather and the terrain. Sherman forbade the firing upon of the 16-year-old and younger cadets from the Citadel, who were all the city was able to marshal for a defense.

I've just made a lovely chili chicken soup, very hot, with not only lots of chili pods, but lots of yellow bell pepper, and other things. Potatoes are roasting in the oven. Vaquero is sick, sick, sick. But we're listening to the Phil Schaap's decades' long running jazz show on the Columbia radio station, WKCR, and it's just smokin' (he should be named a National Treasure), Traditions In Swing. Shoot, I've been listening to Schaap for decades myself by now (well, maybe two). What's up right now is from the late twenties, which may be my favorite period for jazz. You can stream Traditions in Swing. So Vaquero isn't quite as miserable as he might be. And he's reading a book I got him, The Bin Ladens by Steve Coll. Do I take care of my baby or what?


K. said...

"I can make Georgia howl." Sherman must have included South Carolina in his calculations, too. Since it was the first state to secede, SC was lucky it didn't get worse... I wonder what the significance of the dance was?

Foxessa said...

O -- it was a Ring Shout -- very Congo.

Ring Shouts were considered Baptist by this time though.

However, they still functioned to express the same sensations of grief, mourning, commemoration and joy, depending on the occasion. Surely this occasion was all of these mingled.

Ring Shouts, as they got baptized here in the U.S. were direct African imports. They were performed without instruments, i.e.,drums, which slaves were so often forbidden. They were also circles of shuffle, not leaping and pirouetting so not so obviously African to the owners' eyes. When they sang hymns -- well, it was unobjectionable.

Ring shouts tended to have gotten imported to deeper Southern slave states via the interstate slave trade during the 19th century. I've read descriptions of Ring Shouts written in Virginia and the Chesapeake region back in the 17th century.

As for what SC got -- Richmond didn't burn, and more than Georgia's Savannah didn't. But that swathe and area around Columbia -- it was turned to ashland. Ay-up. Uppity SC started it and the Union army never forgot it either.

Love, c.

Phil BC said...

Any other books on your radar for this year, Foxessa? Any fiction?

Foxessa said...

Hey, Phil -- you mean for reading or for writing?

I'm continuing the systematic reading in the phases of the American president and national history. With the near impeachment of Johnson the final nail in the southern stranglehold on the presidency was finished, finally. (Even if the POTUS wasn't nominally southern -- mostly Virginian, natch -- Pierce, for instance had been a Virginian, and Buchanan, though from PA, may as well have been a South Carolinian --- all his political and personal connections and sympathies and support were there.) There wasn't another southerner as POTUS again until Wilson -- and then, with the help of Birth of a Nation we had the rebirth of the KKK.

I will be continuing my systematic research reading in the success of the Confederacy's strategy to re-write the history of the Civil War, and how Hollywood was their greatest and most successful ally in this.

I don't read that much fiction these days, having read thousands of novels already.

There will be something that shows up that I won't be expecting, surely -- a left turn to somewhere that isn't currently on my radar, because that is what always happens. But I won't know it until it happens.

Hopefully there will be a great deal of reading and writing in the area of Puerto Rico in New York -- the hispanic history of the U.S.

Love, c.

Foxessa said...

There is a historical novel I am looking forward to reading: Blindspot by two 18th century historians, Jane Kamesky and Jill Lepore, set in 1760's colonial America.

Here's the book's website.

Love, C.