". . . 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, May 26, 2013

I Am Going to See Fort Sumter. I am, I AM!

I AM going to see Fort Sumter or else I shall hold my breath until I turn blue and fall over and then you'll be sorry, el Vaquero, you just see if you ain't!   No, No, NO, Fort Moultrie is NOT just as good.



Out of the Sea Islands now, which we loved. We felt at right at home, and made welcome. This is the region which has always been and still is predominately black in population.  And why yes, they know exactly why they are there.

Charleston is a different kind of place.  The historic district got renamed the French Quarter when they went for the history draw for tourist trade back in the 1970's.  Named by people who may know their own city's history very well, but don't know New Orleans history at all*.  It doesn't look in the least like NO's French Quarter because -- it's Georgian and Federal, and you won't ever have seen a sample of either form of architectural design in NO's French Quarter -- or anywhere else in NO either.

You will never see a structure like the Old Exchange /Customs House (1767) in New Orleans. Look at the facade and the pure Georgian pediment above the windows and doors, including cornice moulding and reference to columns.

What it does have in common with New Orleans and the French Quarter / historic district is that the courtyards, patios and gardens are hidden behind walls, and the gates and other ironwork are reminiscent of New Orleans's.  The vegetation is equally lush, but it's not the same vegetation.  Nor will you ever see palm trees in New Orleans other than those artificially transplanted there, and which need replacing all the time, as around the Harrah's casino.  Palm trees are here in Charleston though, all over the place.

I did learn though why it was decided by the Charleston's city council to name the historic district the French Quarter: it was because of the large number of French Huguenot immigrants at the end of the 17th and early 18th centuries (which is how el V's ancestors happened to move from France to the Americas back then, fleeing  Her Very Roman Catholic Highness, Marie d'Medici, and the purges she made of the protestants generally, and the Huguenots in particular.  They went three places in large numbers in the Americas: New York (New Rochelle is their town); Virginia (which is where el V's ancestors landed; and Charleston, which was staunchly protestant and anti-Catholic.

So Charleston doesn't remind me of New Orleans at all, lacking entirely that Mediterranean Catholic flavor.  It does remind me though of the English colonies such as Bermuda and  Barbados.  There were a large number of Barbadians who settled here, with their slaves, and in more than one wave, with the first one coming in very early.

Anyway, we did a lot today. We did good.  Tonight el V's off to a Spoleto concert, of a friend's group.  I shall stay in and download photos from my camera. In the meantime el V's napping.

* The young docents in the museums and the tour guides and the tourist literature are constantly prompting you to agree that Charleston reminds you so much of New Orleans's French Quarter ... but they haven't a clue that what is called the French Quarter isn't French in style at all, because it was built by the Spanish.  It was a shock to them to hear this, which one of them did, about the fifth time he burbled about how much this looks like New Orleans.  I flatly contradicted him.  On this trip neither of us have opened our mouths once other than to ask relevant but entirely non-controversial questions.  But this ... THIS! was too much!

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