". . . 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, October 3, 2012

Time and the River, Time and the Builder

When I originally wrote this, it was 8:46 PM NYC time:

It's going on for 2 AM in London.  We'd been awake since 8 AM London time.  We were in the air for over 7 hours.  Then forever to get off the plane, another forever to get baggage, more forever to get a taxi and then the other forever of getting back to home.

Then unpacking like mad people. El V's made pasta, but I'm not eating any.  I can't face the idea of eating.  I got cleared to start putting life back together today, and getting ready for New Orleans. After that particular NO visit, el V will be going back-and-forth between Haiti and New Orleans for a bit.

It's hard to comprehend that at this time last night (well, sort of, as time is different there -- see, time = cat) we were getting on the train to leave Liverpool. Where I saw a guy about 25 years old take out from its packaging his souvenir Beatles tea towel and ... kiss it.  Like a priest would kiss his surplice before mass.  I am not making this up.  Ourselves, we had gone to Liverpool to visit the Museum of the International Slave Trade – the African slave trade, from which an enormous amount of Liverpool’s wealth was built – which I could even rattle off in my sleep then helped down the line to create the Beatles.

Now it is 8:46 AM NYC time, and I blither responded to an Egyptologist friend's question about the condition of the sphinxes along the Thames:

I saw some of the Thames sphinxes, N.  The ones I saw, fairly close to Trafalgar Bridge, appeared smooth and sleek. London's public spaces and what is in them. received some serious spiffing in preparation for the Jubilee and the Olympics.

So your eyes are just wandering about, darting about -- and there are -- sphinxes!

Perhaps that is what provides London its underlying charm: it's a whimsical city?  Even some of the contemporary architecture makes you smile. There's a brand new Hilton, designed to provoke thoughts of Tudor era country manors -- you know, with all that criss-crossing pattern timber pattern and gables piled on?  Except, it's a skyscraper made from those currently so popular reflecting materials. However, there are 'gables,' higgly piggly, and you smile with surprised delight -- at least both el V and I did, and think. "Howl's Moving Castle," from the animated film.

There's so much, from so many eras, whether so intentioned back in the day, that provides a sense of lightness and fun to the contemporary viewer.

In bleak contrast, there are those gapes, from the Blitz bombing, filled with impoverished post-war practical, dark, clunky square ugliness. Which allows even those whose grandparents weren't born then, to remember and grieve  England's terrible losses and terrible prices paid. Yes, not everywhere is all history the past and done with*.

This is particularily so of places that have BBC, some might say ....  All week, I think it was on BBC 2, ran an endless documentary - recreation series -- British agriculture during the War.


* These are the places, the cities, that I fall in love with -- or like New Orleans, in love and hate with.

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