". . . 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 10, 2015

We Keep Talking About How Cold It Is And What We're Doing + White Collar

For example, today, in Another Place, a small gathering of disparate friends learned we all had made a fine dinner last night that featured beef.  None of us eat much beef as a matter of course.  We exchanged how we'd fixed it: two of us with a London Broil, done differently, and another with standing pot roast, and so on.

This particular group has been exchanging how we cope with weather in general, our meals and so on for years by now. But when winter comes it's more so than usual, and when the winter's exhibiting itself extremely even more so. We talk about what we wear as much as what we eat, as much as we talk about the snow, ice and getting rid of them.

I don't know, of course, but the last couple of days I've begun wondering why we exchange how we cope, handle and even, in some ways enjoy or appreciate such cold spells pretty consistently, and probably with other friends in other contexts.

First, having grown up in a community where such weather is why we have summer -- to get ready for it -- it seems that people have always done this.  At least the people who are fortunate enough to be able to prepare and take steps to stay adequately warm, clothed, fed and sheltered in such weather.

Is this a form of expressing recognition of our good fortune, to express our gratitude to wherever we feel gratitude is due, that we have all this?

Because, the longer the extreme cold lasts, the more aware we are of how many don't have the wherewithal to be adequately warm, clothed, fed and sheltered against it, much less have intervals of enjoyment too.

As the week of extreme cold here has rolled along, this weekend I started seeing people on the street who don't have any of these -- not even the companionship we all have too. I am guessing that these people have turned up on the street cold and desperate again these last two days, is that they've been evicted from whatever shelter they'd found while it was snowing and sleeting as well as cold.  Today is very cold, but bright blue and sunny . . . .

Any of us could so easily join their ranks, if one or two things only go wrong. . . .  The other day I was trying to figure out what I could do about this, for the people who aren't as lucky as I am.  I have a very hard time coming up with anything.  What I came up with, I dunno.  But today I got $50 changed into $5 bills.  The first ten people I saw who were in the street circumstance of desperation I gave $5.  $5 because you can't get a GDDmned cup of coffee any more for less than that hardly anywhere.  You can hardly get a beer.  And if, as Some will chide me for, the people to whom I gave that $5 put it toward liquor or whatever, what the hell.  Why are people who are poor not allowed to have their escape chemicals like the rest of us?  Sheesh, they need them even more than we more fortunate do. I think this approach comes from the influence of Louisa May Alcott's March family, with whom I've lived all my life.

It's not a joke, how cold it is. I came in about 1:30 PM from a run for supplies. I had another run to do. I hadn't realized how reluctant I was to go out there again, despite having been comfortable enough, in appropriate gear, and because I was moving so briskly for an extended period. But once I got back inside -- well, I had to kick my backside to go out again. It took me two hours to do that.

In that two hours, the temps had started dropping again, from the day's high which was when I first went out.

And then, I had the privilege, in my Irish merinos and my shelter, while making a very nice dinner, to drink red wine and go slack, watching season 5 of White Collar, which is entertainment, front and back.

How more privileged than this can one be?

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