". . . 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

Friday, January 1, 2010

Lord Byron on Daniel Boone

A friend provided me the Lord Byron verses concerning Daniel Boone, in response to the essay.  If reading these line about this subject by this author isn't cognitive dissonance, it's very like. From Don Juan:

Of all men, saving Sylla the man-slayer,
Who passes for in life and death most lucky,
Of the great names, which in our faces stare,
The General Boone, backwoodsman of Kentucky,
Was happiest among mortals anywhere,
For killing nothing, but a bear or buck; he
Enjoy’d the lonely, vigorous, harmless days,
Of his old age, in wilds of deepest maze.

Crime came not near him; she is not the child
Of solitude; health shrank not from him, for
Her home is in the rarely trodden wild,
Which, if men seek her not, and death be more
Their choice than life, forgive them, as beguil’d
By habit to what their own hearts abhor —
In cities cag’d. The present case in point I
Cite is, Boone liv’d hunting up to ninety:
And, what is stranger, left behind a name,
For which men vainly decimate the throng;
Not only famous, but of that good fame,
Without which glory’s but a tavern song;
Simple, serene, the antipodes of shame,
Which hate or envy e’er could tinge with wrong;
An active hermit; even in age the child

Of nature, or the Man of Ross run wild.

‘Tis true, he shrank from men even of his nation,
When they built up unto his darling trees;
He mov’d some hundred miles off, for a station,
Where there were fewer houses find more ease.
The inconvenience of civilization
Is, that you neither can be pleased, nor please.
But where he met the individual man,
He show’d himself as kind as mortal can.

He was not all alone; around him grew
A sylvan tribe of children of the chase,
Whose young, unwaken’d world was always new;
Nor sword, nor sorrow, yet had left a trace
On her unwrinkled brow; nor could you view
A frown on nature’s, or on human face.
The free-born forest found, and kept them free,
And fresh as is a torrent or a tree.

And tall and strong, and swift of foot were they,
Beyond the dwarfing city’s pale abortions;
Because their thoughts had never been the prey
Of care or gain; the green woods were their portions
No sinking spirits told them they grew gray,
No fashion made them apes of her distortions.
Simple they were; not savage; and their rifles,
Though very true, were not yet us’d for trifles.

Motion was in their days; rest in their slumbers;
And cheerfulness the handmaid of their toil;
Nor yet too many, nor too few their numbers;
Corruption could not make their hearts her soil;
The lust, which stings; the splendor which encumbers,
With the free foresters divide no spoil.
Serene, not sullen, were the solitudes
Of this unsighing people of the woods.

Happy 2010.  This time, 2000, I was in Havana.  It looks like our opportunities for returning to Cuba are regressing again, like so much has regressed since the stated objectives out of this administration a year ago.

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