". . . 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

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

"Kiss You Down South" 4

El V wasn't supposed to work yesterday or today. That was PG's time. But PG wasn't ready yesterday. He did a great session today though, with some local musicians on guitar and tuba, adding their parts to stuff he laid down and recorded years ago. Not only did PG transfer his two inches to digital, he got more tracks and now thinks he knows what he's doing with these pieces.

The plan for me today was to show up at the studio at the beginning of the evening or dinner time (M made another incredible feast), so I'd be around when he began singing again. I came ready to be audience and cheer leader, so left the computer at home. Silly me, forgetting this is STUDIO time, so naturally the singing time is still far away. El V ran back to TR's and brought my computer so I can be occupied for the next few hours.  ETA: People are starting to drop by ... to hang out with while he sings the repetoire down.   Such good friends, writers and musicians. K -- I feel so guilty.  The gossip sessions regarding a lot of the local musicians etc. that you really like -- you would surely appreciate this in exactly the way it should be!
I spent the day at home feeding the cat, cleaning the cat box, taking out garbage, making a most amazing soup out of dried stuffs in the crock pot, doing laundry, working out, watering the deck-garden ferns, elephant ears and other plants (the daily rains have quit as of yesterday -- also the Gulf is remarkably quiet, so that the good side of it). So I'm ready to just sit at a screen for a while.

Mz M KK EotU was much more relaxed this morning. She knows she will eat, I guess. Also, I insisted el V. allow the bedroom door be open when we slept. She won't jump up and sleep with us. But she knows we're there, and she can come in and sit in a corner if she gets nervous. It's all worked well.

The spell of New Orleans, its sheer loveliness, remains in full effect.  Why this is so I can't possibly comment, but somehow this is the exactly right place to be reading Gore Vidal's 1990 novel of Washington D.C., Woodrow Wilson, WWI, Harding and early Hollywood, Hollywood, which, natch, I pulled off TR's shelves.  Gore Vidal knows his history, though I really object to his characterization of Grant.


K. said...

Heck, don't feel guilty! Enjoy every minute of it and let me live vicariously.

I liked Hollywood maybe the best of the American history series. Probably because I found the milieu so appealing.

Vidal wrote a good essay about Grant's Memoirs. There's a new one-volume bio of Lincoln out. I read all of the passages on Grant. We really do need more generals like him.

Foxessa said...

Oooo, I'd like to read that. Is that Grant essay in collected volume, perhaps, with a title?

I haven't yet figured out whether Vidal himself is sharing the attitudes about Grant and Johnson or is merely inhabiting the time and these characters -- we're still in the Wilsonian age of the novel. People are dropping like flies from the global influenza epidemic, the Armistice has been signed and the preliminary European conferences for dividing up all these regions among the Allies at U.S. hegemonic direction, and the floating of the League of Nations is what is going on. Vidal constantly makes certain the readers understand how much D.C. politics are dominated by Southerners, first and second generation since the Appomatox surrender by their fathers and grandfathers. Further, he makes clear how much their attitudes are mirrored by the leaning 'south' such as Ohio, and then the further west.

As I'd come to understand some years ago, Hollywood too was dominated by the same kinds of folks, though perhaps more crudely young on the national stage than the long-established D.C. political families.

You are right -- this is a terrific work of historical fiction, connecting that time's past with their present, with then, that chronological myopia that all of us share growing up in 'our' present. At least until we've lived and studied long enough to begin making the connections between the pasts of those who were generationally ahead of us, with our own current present.

That's what I am most awed by, with Hollywood, published in 1990, seeming so much like the times we've been living through for the last 4 decades.

Vidal should be presented some kind of literary special recognition for his historical work.

Love, C.

K. said...

I'll dig up the essay and give you a citation. My guess is that you're on to something when you say that Vidal may be reflecting the attitude of the times. You won't like hearing this, but I'm pretty sure that he has written that he has a higher opinion of Jefferson than one might gather from reading Burr.

Vidal, in my book, deserves consideration for a Nobel Prize. He's as good as many of the Americans who have already won it. Have you read Empire?

A fine nonfiction book about Hollywood is Neal Gabler's An Empire of Their Own: How the Jews Invented Hollywood.

Foxessa said...

From things I've heard Vidal say in interviews with Lenny Lopate his opinion of Jefferson may have become harsher in the last 20 years. But Vidal hasn't seemed really what you might characterize as passionate about the issues of slavery and the consequences. Certainly his characters aren't. One doubts he'd ever have had any interest in John Brown as a character or to write a novel about him. But he's not related to John Brown, via any branch of his hydra-headed power elite families. :)

But as far as Jefferson goes, it's that American empire business that has continually fascinated Vidal. Like so many Americans, past and present, he is of two minds about the American Empire. Empires are much more safe when they are safely fallen a millenia ago, thus Julian the Apostate, perhaps. MB here, Mr. Piety Street, loves the Vidal historicals too. Burr is his favorite.

As for the Gabler book, I may have read it, but quite a few years ago, so I don't recall anything useful.

Love, C

Foxessa said...

Have you read Edmund Wilson on Grant?

Love, C.