". . . 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

Sunday, April 15, 2012

*Conan The Barbarian* 2011 Movie

 I saw this the other day.

It is probably 98% action; what dialog there is, that isn't howls and grunts and snarls, is bombast. (So many villains in movies seem modeled after Jackson’s orcs in appearance, behavior and communication, whether they are supposedly human or not – it’s true in this film as well, with the Big Bad’s henchman who chases Conan and the Virgin, whom after many hours, Conan finally destroys by using him as a message / messenger, catapaulting the ugly hench-bad from the cliffs above to crash into the Big Bad’s bedroom.)
All very well done for what it is, and quite faithful to Howard. But that's why the movie was dull. By the time I found Howard's novels I'd already outgrown flat characters, non-dimensional story, implausible world building and those preposterous monsters, still so beloved by boys of any age who adore that sort of thing.

What I didn't realize until watching this movie version of Howard's Great Hero, is that Hybornia or whatever this S&S world is called, it's still a western. Taciturn protagonist who rides off alone at the end of saving the girl and the 
ranch world from the the banker the EviLe Sorceror-Sorceress. Which makes sense in the context of Howard's Texanhood. It makes even more sense if you've read Larry McMurtry's Walter Benjamin at the Dairy Queen, his collection of essays on what it means to be born into Texas ranching in the era of Howard, which McMurtry was, and grew up with a love of books, learning and writing, whch they both did, I think.

McMurtry was a happier fellow though, from boyhood, than Howard was. If I have this right, Howard was gay, while McMurtry isn't, so that's a big reason right there why McMurtry would have been a happier person in that time of the world, in Texas.

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