". . . 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 27, 2010

Kalmar Nyckel, The Tall Ship of Colonial Delaware

Ha! the Kalmar Nyckel was back in harbor last night. Both cats are aboard, though the younger, grey one, is the active, friendly feline, prancing about the piers and berths. I went down the pier for a closer look (the north star and the Dipper netted in her rigging). Ran into a volunteer who had just returned from a party close to the campus to relieve the watchman, so that one could have his party turn. 1625 -- that's still the Renaissance, so my guess was right as to her period. She does have cannon, and she was setting them off this AM. What fun! This too was one of my happiest days.

The geese are furious at this intruder, and are complaining loudly. They don't know what's coming! But the staff do at the Fish Whistle, the marina's restaurant-bar on the river front, and are not looking forward to it at all.

We went to the Superfresh Supermarket yesterday AM, just by ourselves, V driving us in our own wheels, for the first time. We're such simple people -- this is the sort of thing that makes us happy. In any case, we felt it wise to stock up on whatever since visitors are already arriving for Downrigging Weekend, and we are not giving up our residential parking spot to out-of-towners. Parking becomes impossible by Thursday. Lucky us though, we live right here by the water front, so we can walk. The reception and dinner after the sail are at the Customs House, ditto. Monday morning we ran into a fellow walking his dog up the middle of High Street, just dancing away -- "Downrigging Weekend is almost here!" he sang. It seems Downrigging Weekend is C'Town's Mardi Gras. Everyone's excited about being able to drink beer in the streets.

This AM he's driving to the Baltimore airport to fly to Cleveland for the R 'n R Hall of Fame gig. We have a rather nasty little storm going on this AM around here -- rain, fog, 45 mph wind gusts -- though it's supposed to be lovely in Cleveland post the midwest's really big ugly damaging storm yesterday.I'll make some breakfast for el V, and then it's back to William Fitzhugh's letters. It's gotten almost comical by now, the blahblahblah that is Virginia's early colonial history. It's always exactly the same -- wonderful, adventuous, powerful, courageous Queen Elizabeth, wonderful, adventurous, powerful, courageous first Virginians of that great race of Saxons mixed with Celtic blood blahblahblah, owning it all, blahblahblah, thinking it all up blahblahblah, not responsible for slavery which like little slave girl, Topsy, in Harriet Beecher Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin, somehow "jist grew,"* blahblahblah. We get it all in this in the editor's Introduction to his 1963 edition of Fitzhugh's letters and papers -- just as we still get it in the new 4th grade Virginia History textbook now in 2010.

* As I've learned, though I came to this HBStowe Topsy analogy independently, I am far from the first or only to have employed it. No wonder the slaveholders' 'philosophers' so loathed that little lady born and bred in 'black laws' Ohio -- she could take their own language and o so cleverly, so subtly, show how ridiculous it was, making us all laugh even now. When, that is, we aren't crying and / or so outraged we need to DO SOMETHING ABOUT THESE CONDITIONS.

O yes, among the books in the House's collections, are many that have to do with the south's colonial and antebellum philosophy, intellectual movements, etc. These include every form of publication from gazettes and newsapapers to pamphlets, letters, business papers, as well as books, with bibliographies. Digging so rapidly and so deeply into 3 centuries of all this simultaneously is eye-opening. Even when you already knew so much, it always seems as if you've merely scratched the surface.

Addendum: I love that I am able to generally recognize at least the general era of these vessels even though -- particularly -- because my o so small knowledge of ships is entirely from historical novels** and movies, and it's so gratifying to know tht the good ones do Do It Right.

** Keith Richards loves the Patrick O'Brian novels, and often characterizes the Rolling Stones touring enterprise as a pirate ship.

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