". . . 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

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

*1493* -- Because Yesterday Was Columbus Day in the USA

I have both audio and print versions of this follow-up to Charles Mann's 1491.
First I read, then I listen to the same text soon after.

Among the many excitements of this book is how much I am bringing to the work from my own / our research work within the Atlantic framework of knitting together all the continents of the world that were populated -- the Columbia Exchange -- except, until much later, Australia. Much of what he talks of we already had dealt with extensively from Cuba and Its Music, because it is Spain-Portugal and Africa, the Caribbean and Latin America -- and these last years, North America too. Thus there is no problem over here sailing right along with Mann and his run-down that the voyages of Columbus initiates the greatest change that has ever happened so far in the history of the word and its biology: the Homogenocene, which is why we now speak constantly of globalization in everything from economics to pathogens.

So far, among what I did / do not know until dealing with this work, the most unexpected bit of information hitherto entirely unknown to me is that this hemisphere did not have earthworms.* They came, of course, almost immediately, in the ballast of rocks (which play a role in The American Slave Coast) and the earth balls around European plants and trees. They helped destroy the North American Atlantic forests as they used to be. I'd not a clue about that.

Go thou now and read thineselves, and if you're contemplating writing fiction of any kind that involves first contacts with a pristine, hitherto isolated from the rest of the world, this work is fundamental as is Braudel, in another way. This collision of two heretofore excluded continents with the flora and fauna of all the other inhabited continents was the authentic global singularity event of the homo saps.

* If I'd spent a second thinking about it, which until now I had not, there are scientific periodicals dedicated entirely to earthworm studies and research.

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