". . . 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

Friday, August 22, 2014

The Wettest Place On Earth

The wettest place on earth is Meghalaya, in India, north of Bangladesh.  It is so wet that human-made bridges rot away so quickly as to be impractical.  For centuries the people of this region have been training the roots of rubber trees and bamboo shoots to grow into bridges.  The Atlantic Monthly has a splendid photo feature of the place and the bridges, here.

In a scene played out every weekday morning, students of the RCLP School in Nongsohphan Village, Meghalaya, India, cross a bridge grown from the roots of a rubber tree. In the relentless damp of Meghalaya's jungles, wooden structures rot away too quickly to be practical. For centuries the Khasi people have instead used the trainable roots of rubber trees to "grow" bridges over the region's rivers. (© Amos Chapple)

It is beyond comprehension the frequently expressed conviction that people without engineering degrees and traditional western education can't be technologically brilliant-- and, further, that biology isn't "real science."  Like any science, it can be technologically inventive, creative, and also beautiful, uniting perfectly form and function.

As well as the bridges, the jungles beneath Mawsynram hide "living ladders" curled into shape to assist villagers descending the steep flanks of the Khasi hills. (© Amos Chapple)

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