". . . 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

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Medieval Cats

That cats own the internets everyone knows. We all aren't aware though that cats also owned the information delivery systems of long ago.

On the Medieval and Earlier Manuscripts Blog.

Some of the illustrations are of the type called "marginal grotesques" and are vastly imaginative.

A reply to this elsewhere, calling them medieval LOL cats, ended up provoking this stream of consciousness rant on my part:

In these later years I've become increasingly charmed by early English, which makes makes the history of our language all that much more interesting.

I keep imagining the monks in their enclaves writing these words, and often just composing, rather than only copying.

Sir Gawain and the Green Knight isn't early English of course, but the sense comes through of a congenial community, with many convivial meals, laughter and intelligent discussion going on, discussions about language, compositional techniques, forms and modes, latin vs. attempts to write vernacularly, while drinking much ale and wine. No Rule of Silence in these religious houses and the Church's rural administration grange compounds.  Surely their discussions about 'how to write' contained much comparison with and news of what others like them were doing elsewhere -- lots of exchanges of correspondence with Houses elsewhere in England and Europe, so easy when all the writers wrote in Latin.  :)

This is not the same as the thousands of blog entries posted every day by writers explaining How Writing Is Done -- and even worse, How Reading Is Done. At worst, bs, at best, twaddle dull and even displaying with pride ignorance of much they are declaring, particularly in the not always even subtextual "This is what we who consume our fave genres like potato chips think and we are RIGHT About Everything!  Anything that smacks of the privileged elitist hoity toity scholar or critic is WRONG. Our extrusions are all equal to everything , including Shakespeare. There is no bad writing -- and no such thing as historical fact and accuracy-- it's all made up."

So, medieval illustrations are not exactly LOL cats. lol.

But all of us don't consume genre like that or think like that. A lot of us, who also write, sell and buy books, which, of course, is neither acknowledged nor recognized.  And cute as lol speak was initially, to see adults persist in expressing themselves like pre-literate children as their favorite mode of discourse feels creepy. It bodes badly for our capacity to think, analyze and develop – i.e. become fully functioning, reliable, intelligent, effective adults who can take care of our planet, small animals, growing things and each other.

That's how teh YA publishing marketing demographic eated all the sf/f stuffs. The sf/f writers share the solipsist mind-set of the hypothetical, cliche of the self-centered adolescent. These writers haven't matured emotionally or critically, are determined not to. They are so proud of sharing their nurtured high school mean girl tropes they eveb demand you admire them for their displays of immaturity, in their communications online, in real life and in their books. Again A Major Publisher asked me to write up yet another YA dystopian apocalypse in which there are only two sorts of people left in all teh world blahblahblah, while One Single Young Female Figures It All Out blahblahblah Saves teh World At the Conclusion Of Projected Franchise Which Will, Please Ceiling Cat, Be Major Motion Pictures 2!  I politely declined as very real pictures of very real starving, homeless and houseless Haitian children, women and men run behind my eyelids.  While they still dance and make music and art.



* I am aware that all monasteries, houses, granges, abbeys, priories, etc. were not that well endowed with such easy and pleasant living, with a undercurrent of what later would become called 'humanism.'  A lot of them undoubtedly oppressed their surrounding livings -- and each other.  Others were oppressed and exploited by the  local lords, and even plundered to finance wars, and  pillaged and murdered in local lordly rivalries. Yet there were enclaves well-run, well-ordered and filled with the Holy Spirit as well as the spirit of inquiry and creation (which some Christians at least do believe comes from the Holy Spirit, the third part of the Trinity. Out of them came brilliance.


* In other words, what Charles Stross said:

"The evolutionary pressure selecting for general intelligence (to the extent that general intelligence exists) breaks once a species develops language."

Cats have developed language and thus are now becoming less smart, and we humans are following in their paw tracks as we hoomans have now been trained to do.

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