". . . 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

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Commentary, Annotation, Basil & Tomatoes

Began today with deadheading the rosebush by my south facing kitchen garden door (there's a matching garden door on the other side). Then I heartlessly snip the newly opened blossomes for the study.  They smell most agreeably.

I'd never read Woodrow Wilson's A History of the American People. What I had read, of course, was the Reconstruction Section of Volume 5.  He was an excellent writer, and a subtle one.  This is popular history -- with an agenda. The narrative is so engaging you don't even notice how quickly you turn the pages. The text is constantly broken by charming black and white vignette illustrations and glossy reproductions of portraits, signatures and other interesting images.  None of these illos and reproductions depict anything cruel, ugly or otherwise disturbing -- nor does the narrative, for that matter.

This week I've been pulling citations from various works of this nature, comparing and contrasting these triumphalist works of our national history with each other, following the revelatory strands of regional conflict among Maryland, Virginia and the Carolinas.  There are a couple of other threads I'm teasing out also, equally interesting, and more useful to the Project than the triumphalist celebration of Virginia as the heart and motivator of all that is good and wonderful about the U.S.   But it's too soon to know that.  What matters is that the Project is started, and this beginning also includes writing, right away.  If you wait to start writing until you finish researching you will never write.  So it is better to write right away.

Later this afternoon I'm going to chop up this bouquet of basil.  Most of it will go into an airtight container with olive oil.  Some will go into the tomato sauce I'll make from all these tomatoes.

One way or another this house is going to keep smelling good.

Ah. The garden-yard man is here cutting the lawn. So now there's the smell of new-cut grass too.

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