". . . 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, March 31, 2012

Past & Present: Rome & Islam, Vita Sackville-West -- Dr. John & Louis Armstrong

I am reading along in an interesting UK Guardian article tagged 'history.' El V calls out, "I'm reading a Guardian article that I bet you'd like." I say, "I bet I'm reading it right now." He says, "About the end of the Roman empire an the rise of Islam?" I say, "Ay-up." By Tom Holland, others might find it of interest too, so here it is. The article focuses on several writers: Ibin Hisham, Nennius, Asimov, Herbert, J.R.R. Tolkien.

I don't know about anyone else but I "hear" these words in the voice of the fellow who narrates the BBC's A History of the World in One Hundred Objects.

Yet it is a curious feature of the transformation of the Roman world into something recognisably medieval that it bred extraordinary tales even as it impoverished the ability of contemporaries to keep a record of them. "The greatest, perhaps, and most awful scene, in the history of mankind": so Gibbon described his theme. He was hardly exaggerating: the decline and fall of the Roman empire was a convulsion so momentous that even today its influence on stories with an abiding popular purchase remains greater, perhaps, than that of any other episode in history. It can take an effort, though, to recognise this. In most of the narratives informed by the world of late antiquity, from world religions to recent science-fiction and fantasy novels, the context provided by the fall of Rome's empire has tended to be disguised or occluded.

Vita Sackville West wrote Grand Canyon, a speculative novel, during World War II. After having watched the Island at War series, reading about this novel's supposition makes me flush with trepidation. What a juxtaposition it must be to read Grand Canyon right before or right after the author's Orlando. It has been re-released as an e-book.

I was intrigued this month by a strange and striking novel from Vita Sackville-West, coming from digital imprint Bello. Grand Canyon (£7.99), first published in 1942, opens in misleadingly sedate form with an encounter between two middle-aged English guests, a woman and a man, strangers to one another, and both staying at a hotel by Arizona's Grand Canyon. But from this unremarkable beginning, the book develops not into a novel of social observation but into a startling piece of speculative fiction, in which the Germans have won the second world war in Europe and the continent is now in Nazi hands. The two middle-aged hotel guests are exiles from a country to which they can never return, while America itself is poised for attack from Nazi forces, with the Grand Canyon a nexus for the opening battle. The second half of the novel takes another major twist that pushes the story further still into the realms of the fantastical. It's a curious read, written with the urgency and pain of wartime, and it fired me with a fresh interest

New Orleans, another great city that cyclically falls and rises, always in mind, past and present, tonight. Dr. John at BAM, performing with the NOLA greats, and performing the NOLA greats -- Louis Armstrong.  It's gonna be a gathering of the tribes.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Smith, Sherwood. (April 2012) *Banner of the Damned* DAW, New York

Sherwood Smith. Banner of the Damned. DAW, April 3, 2012. 695 pages

Section 1 – Court
Section 2 – Love
Section 3 - Colend Goes to War
Section 4 – Magic
Section 5 – The Fox Banner
Section 6 - Glory

Banner of the Damned is set in the secondary fantasy world of Sartorias-deles; the events take place four centuries after the close of the previous Sartorians-deles epic series: Inda, The Fox, King’s Shield, Treason’s Shore, commonly called the Inda series. It is not necessary to have read these books before reading Banner of the Damned. All these titles are available from DAW.

I have guest blogged about Banner of the Damned here, on the online magazine, SF Signal.

Below is the opening section of the lengthy piece.

Armies vs. Melende
Sherwood Smith should rank high on any list of military writers, though her novels are not military fantasy fiction per se. Julius Caesar wouldn't have caveats about her cavalry battle scenes. Her naval campaigns and battles, and the hand-to-hand fighting scenes on board ship, are the equal of Patrick O'Brian's.

The cavalry battles, hand-to-hand, strategy sessions, the aftermaths of battles, these scenes in Banner of the Damned, roll across the page with the effortless mastery that the courtiers at the Colendi court strive to embody, what in their language they call melende. The action scenes feel so right the reader doesn’t sense the author's work to make them so. This is writing combat accoding to the melende code. Battle and grace are in conflict with each other throughout the novel, yet the contradiction between them is resolved through the power of compositional melende. Melende evolved in fact, as a way to resolve conflict without the use of physical violence.

The code of melende, the dark side and the bright, the silly and the amusing, is in play throughout Banner of the Damned: to humiliate the courting Chwahir King Jurac who doesn't know how to dance; to conceal a love affair from the court ravenous for gossip; to Princess Lasva’s making of melende a carapace impervious to her mad royal father-in-law's paranoia.

Colend’s state use of melende includes diplomacy and trade, while Marloven Hesea stands upon the warrior code absorbed at its Academy, and the Chwahir can only imagine the blunt force of conquest. The Marloven warrior code has its bright side as well as melende has – profound loyalty of the warriors to each other, their leaders and their cohort; their brilliant battle skills, their physical endurance. Like the melende code it too has a dark side, abusing those who are vulnerable. Both courts lack the best of the other. Marloven Hesea lacks art and play, while Colend's strategy sessions when threatened with invasion become comic operetta, except they know the consquence of no military and no battle experience are likely to be lethal.

The best way to describe melende may be to say it melds the mannered formality of Japan’s classical Heian court with the sprezzatura sparkle of the late Renaissance Italian courts.

English doesn’t have a word that matches what is contained by sprezzatura. So we turn to Castiglione, whose power of verbal invention created the concept and the word that contains the conception. In his The Book of the Courtier, Castiglione presents an idealized, successful courtier – the courtier who retains the support of his ruler, from whom all good things flow. The ideal courtier was skilled in weaponry, leadership, horsemanship, hunting and games, and equally skilled in music and dancing. His presence was always a grateful addition to company, never a drag on it. Further, the courtier had make his mastery of martial, hunting and artistic skills appear effortless as well as graceful. Castiglione describes it thus:

“I have found quite a universal rule which in this matter seems to me valid above all other, and in all human affairs whether in word or deed: and that is to avoid affectation in every way possible as though it were some rough and dangerous reef; and (to pronounce a new word perhaps) to practice in all thing a certain sprezzatura [nonchalance], so as to conceal all art and make whatever is done or said appear to be without effort and almost without any thought about it.”

Sprezzatura is a public performance, at the heart of which is paradox: the face assumes a mask of naturalness, naturalness as artifice, a contrived persona, fabricated to disguise the obsessive jousting for rank and status.

Melende masks the condition of total war that is Colend’s court, waged upon the battlefields of dinner parties, poetry recitations, court receptions, balls and certainly in the bedrooms. Melende’s weapons are wealth and fashion, wit and gesture, art (particularly the theater) and style, and the lethal poison of rumor and gossip. The melende code is part of the Colend state strategy that prefers the diplomacy and trade which fills the coffers and disdains the destructive expense of warriors and armies.

Another way to view the melende code that rules Colend's court is to see it as “a hieroglyphic world,” as Edith Wharton named polite society of the United States’ Gilded Age. Such a milieu demands stern control of personal verbal and physical expression, as well as exquisitely practiced skills to read the tiny clues embedded in tiny gestures, tiny color choices, tiny timbre change in laughter. This meticulous, constant cataloging of interpreted detail, the anxiety that every presentation and every reading be just right, builds the fuss and feathers atmosphere of the Colend court. There is a strong suggestion that despite the uncertainities, life away from the Colend court and its melende strictures, is a lot more interesting, and even a relief for more than one of our characters.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Frank Rich, *The Republican War on Women

In New York Magazine. It's long. There's a lot to say about this hydra-headed war the rethugs & / or tbaggers are waging on the X chromosome bearers.

From page two of the article:

Note that she [meaning Peggy Noonan] found Limbaugh “destructive” not because he was harming women but because he was harming her party. But the problem wasn’t that Limbaugh confused the issue. His real transgression was that he had given away the GOP game, crystallizing an issue that had been in full view for weeks. That’s why his behavior resonated with and angered so many Americans who otherwise might have tuned out his rant as just another sloppy helping of his aging shtick. It’s precisely because there is a Republican war on women that he hit a nerve. And surely no one knows that better than Noonan, a foot soldier in some of the war’s early battles well before Rush became a phenomenon. In her 1990 memoir about her service in the Reagan administration, What I Saw at the Revolution, she recalls likening Americans who favored legal abortions to Germans who favored killing Jews—a construct Limbaugh wouldn’t seize on and popularize (“feminazis”) until Reagan was leaving office and Anita Hill and Hillary Clinton emerged on the national stage.

Monday, March 26, 2012

David Blight Discusses Edmund Wilson's *Patriotic Gore*

This was particularly interesting for me since I recently read through Wilson's Patriotic Gore myself, this winter, for the first time since the 80's.  Like Professor Blight, I too was surprised by the volume, fascinated but shocked, shocked in a negative way.  Wilson dismisses out of hand that there was any concern about slavery outside the CSA states, and the small number of whackos who were concerned about abolition had no effect on anything.  I.e. he adhered lock stock and aim to the revisionist War of Northern Agression stance, that was still in place in 1962, when the book came out as part of the Civil War centennial.  And then there were the women Wilson paid no attention to, as writers, activists and actors in this vast event, as well as his unexamined repetition that Grant was a drunk so how did he manage to outgeneral the great gentleman Robert E. Lee, blahblahblah.

What Blight did was go into the reasons why Wilson composed and structured Patriotic Gore as he did.

Much worth reading, you can find "Patriotic Gore is Not Really Much Like Any Other Book by Anyone Else," on Slatedotcom.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Clover Adams and Kate Chopin's *The Awakening*

I’ve been reading deeply in Henry Adams’s work as part of research for The American Slave Coast, particularly his nine volume history of Jefferson and Madison’s administrations, The History of the United States of America, and all he has to bring to them around the Constitution, the Louisiana Purchase, the San Domingue Revolution and the War of 1812. An historian whose great grandfather was the second POTUS, whose grandfather was the POTUS ousted by the Jacksonians and notable among the very many Bloody Andy’s personal nemeses -- Jackson referred to John Quincy Adams as the Arch-Fiend of Hell -- whose own father was a co-founder with Charles Sumner of the abolitionist Free Soil Party, Henry Adams brings the perspective of the actors in these subjects that other historians cannot.

As well as history Adams wrote two novels, Democracy, during the happy days of living in Washington D.C. with his wife Clover, and Esther, when they both were no longer as happy -- and neither of them really knew why they were no longer as happy. Partly because of Clover's nature, and partly due to Henry's. I keep seeing them quite like Newland and Mary Archer in Wharton's The Age of Innocence.

Esther was published in 1884, modeled to a degree on Clover's frustrations with the condition of being a woman in this world that allows so little scope for independent action and agency. Clover Adams famously committed suicide in 1885 by drinking one the chemicals that she used to develop her famous photographs. Though Esther is a painter, while Clover was a photographer, there are too many similarities in their condition not to notice them. One then thinks of Kate Chopin's The Awakening in which the artist- protagonist, Edna Pontellier, commits suicide, the reason for which has remained a puzzle for many readers to this day.

There are many reasons Kate Chopin may have known about both the novel Esther and Clover Adams's suicide, if only because at some point her social circles likely included, if not personal acquaintances, someone who knew someone who knew the Adamses and their sad history.
Natalie Dykstra's Clover Adams: A Gilded and Heartbreaking Life (2012),covers the novel Esther in pp. 151 - 159.There's no mention of Kate Chopin or The Awakening's Edna in this biography of Clover Adams. Once one knows both sets of work and circumstances, it is hard not to speculate.

There are problems with this biography. As one example, Dykstra says Henry Adams practiced journalism after his post-Harvard study in Europe in 1859, but he did not. Henry says in his Education of Henry Adams that he read law in a prestigious Boston law firm from which he was rescued by his father, Charles Francis Adams. His father had been called upon by Lincoln to become minister of the U.S. Legation in London, charged with the mission to keep Britain from recognizing the Confederate States of America, and get the Liverpool shipyards to stop building ironclads for the CSA. Charles Francis Adams took Henry, his youngest son along as his private secretary, a well-established Adams’s pattern by then.
Nevertheless this work is a useful addition to the reader looking to learn more of the culture and manners of polite society in the Gilded Age.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

You Are Intelligent

I made the trek over to Chinatown particularly to stock up on tea as my supplies were dangerously low.

A friendly man was behind me at the cash register. As I was being rung up he pointed at my puchases of Oolong etc. and asked, "Do you like these?"

I responded, "Yes, I do. Very much. I like these better than ..."

He finished my sentence with, "You like tea better than coffee."

I said, "Why yes, I do. My husband loves coffee, but I drink tea."

He said, "You like this better than American tea."

I said, "Yes. These are very good, and they are also very good value."

That's when he said, "You are an intelligent woman." By then I'd paid and been packaged and it was his turn.

So then, why ain't I rich?  :)

Monday, March 19, 2012

Telling Histories: Laurent Dubois, Greg Grandin, Gary Wilder

Today's event, or at least, this early evening's event ....

[ " While Haiti’s complex and “cursed” past was often used by journalists to explain its recent and tragic upheaval, these historical retellings frequently did more to malign and undermine the promising cultural and political forces the country was founded on than to illuminate them. How might historians and other academics responsibly and effectively contribute to a global public discourse?

Join Laurent Dubois (History, Duke University), the author of Haiti: The Aftershocks of History and Greg Grandin (History, NYU), the author of, among many other prize-winning books, Empire’s Workshop: Latin America, the United States, and the Rise of the New Imperialism for a discussion with Gary Wilder(Anthropology, The Graduate Center, CUNY) about the challenges of writing critical histories of nations and empires in the current political climate.

This event is free and open to the public. The Committee on Globalization and Social Change and the Center for Humanities are co-sponsoring this event, which is connected to “Caribbean Epistemologies” and “Law, Justice and Global Political Futures.” For further information on these and other Seminars in the Humanities, see " ]

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Yay NOT!

It's worse even than usual because it's also Saturday. The out-of-towners who have beer for breakfast arrived last night already, planning to drink their way through to Sunday morning. The annual St. Patrick's nutzoid drunken, howling, spewing, peeing mob scene -- and parade, which as of 2012, STILL bars LGT from marching -- while in the state of NY gay people have all the same rights as everyone else, including marriage, and nationally gays can serve openly in the military.

We're having dinner with friends tonight and deliberately chose Chinatown because we hoped maybe the wee leprechauns will not be finding attraction for that part of the city, as well as that part of the city being 100% disinterested in leprechauns.

It's at least as bad from what I understand in Boston, Chicago and I know how terrifying this day can be in New Orleans.  My house there, so close to the 'traditional, historic Parasol's,' that at best holds may 70 - 100 people, was entirely engulfed by an almost all young white male mob of more than a thousand, drunk out of its mind.  I was terrified.  El V wasn't even there, being away at some conference gig or other.

Why does this country do holidays so very badly?

However, so this entry isn't all bitter herbs and rue, something kind of cool happened in Morton Williams while we were getting groceries. A young guy, who my brain immediately processed as Puerto Rican or Dominican, though I could be so wrong about that, noticed my duster coat. He just stops, eyes wide, "That's a cowboy coat!"

He continues with, "Man, I just love westerns. I love John Wayne." He names the titles of a lot of John Wayne films.

I say, "That's the great thing about John Wayne -- you never run out of John Wayne movies to watch."

He goes, "It's my dad, man. He loved those cowboy movies."

I say, "My dad too. He raised all his kids to be cowboys."

He goes, "O wow, that's soooooooooo cool!"

This brief encounter was gratifying to us both. :)

Friday, March 16, 2012

Trailer for *Dark Shadows*

You can see the trailer for Johnny Depp playing Jack Sparrow Barnabas Collins in Dark Shadows, opening May 11. Plus the wonderful Michelle Pfeiffer. Also, though alas, the ever more weird, and not in a good way, Helena Bonham Carter.

The re-creation of Dark Shadows as a disco era vamp flick, i.e. (the television series began in 1972), now long ago history, is quite inspired, leading as naturally as it does into spoof and satire, as an 18th century vamp meets 1972 USA. This could be fun.

Or, not ....

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Do You Even Have the Patience to Laugh at Atlas Shrugged Part I ?

It is so off-the-wall, yet so very bad. So boring, yet not even unintentionally comic. So dumb they don't even know what year they're in.

Surely, not even the most ardent Rand kool-aid drinkers can stand to watch this without falling asleep.

It streams now, on netflix.

I wanted to hang on until Armin Shimerman (Principal Snyder from Buffy) showed up, but I couldn't.

In the meantime I'll be watching the last two episodes of Boardwalk Empire's season one (2010). This one wins without challenge the award for the best television series watching in these last four weeks: Justified, Game of Thrones and Boardwalk Empire. Except for Treme, which is in a class all its own, it's also the best series I've watched in the last two or three years. Downton Abbey was ridiculous and very bad. I never could get beyond season 2 of The Vampire Diaries. Sons of Anarchy stalled out (needed to clean its carbs maybe?). Hell on Wheels, with that tired old wife and kids in the refrigerator of the Confederate Hero lone blahblahblah, black side kick -- argh. The Young Sherlock Holms -- well Jeremy Brett's The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes still has all my Holmes love. I still love The Good Wife, particularly for its timely issue court cases. I still love White Collar, for its escapist fluff, bantering, non-angsty love songs to New York City. Perhaps Good Christian Bitches, er, Belles, as it was renamed, if it calms down some, might come in for regular watching.

But Boardwalk Empire has them all down on the mat in comparison, from directing, to dialog, to acting, to mise en scene, to costumes, to stories, to history. Additionally the big boardwalk stage set is in Red Hook and I've walked it. :)

Thursday, March 8, 2012

It's International Women's Day. It's the Full Moon. It's A Massive Solar Flare

Is it the Full Moon? Is it A Massive Solar Flare? Why is this country so insane?

It's barely March and:

[ ... 430 abortion restrictions ... have been introduced into state legislatures this year, which is pretty much in the same ballpark as 2011,” says Elizabeth Nash of the Guttmacher Institute, a research and policy group that focuses on health and reproductive rights. ]

These are the latest:

[ The Texas Tribune/New York Times: Women In Texas Losing Options For Health Care In Abortion Fight

The cuts, which left many low-income women with inconvenient or costly options, grew out of the effort to eliminate state support for Planned Parenthood. Although the cuts also forced clinics that were not affiliated with the agency to close -- and none of them, even the ones run by Planned Parenthood, performed abortions -- supporters of the cutbacks said they were motivated by the fight against abortion (Belluck and Ramshaw, 3/7).

And lawmakers in New Hampshire and Georgia pass legislation that exempts religious institutions from having to provide contraception coverage in their health plans --

Reuters: New Hampshire House Passes Birth Control Exemption

New Hampshire's Republican-controlled House of Representatives voted on Wednesday to exempt religious institutions from having to include contraceptive coverage in health insurance plans. The move was the latest in a national effort by Republicans opposed to provisions of President Obama's 2010 national health care reform law that would require all insurance plans -- even those sponsored by religious institutions -- to provide coverage for birth control pills and other contraception for women (McClure, 3/8).

Many San Carlos patients struggle to reach Edinburg from their homes in

impoverished neighborhoods called colonias. Maria Romero, a housecleaner with four children, who had a lump in her breast discovered at the San Carlos clinic, has no way to get there.

Ms. Parra, 33, the mother of five, managed to borrow a car to get to Edinburg after a pap smear at the San Carlos clinic indicated she might have cervical cancer. Further tests showed she was cancer-free.

Both women worry about getting birth control pills; the clinic may now have to charge them up to $20 for a month’s supply.

“I will have to go without,” Ms. Parra said as she left an English class at a community center and was walking to pick up her two youngest children from a Head Start program. “If I get pregnant again, God forbid.” ]

This is a very bad country to live in if you're female, a child and / or poor.

Yet some faux naif will write articles wondering why women don't get really good agency roles in superhero flix.

Monday, March 5, 2012

The Deep Resentment of Having to Think About It: Rush Limbaugh and Sandra Fluke

This is the title of a well-written, carefully thought out essay on the ZunguZungo website. Here is the heart of "The Deep Resentment of Having to Think About It: Rush Limbaugh and Sandra Fluke":

[ " This is a small point, but still worth making: Rush Limbaugh didn’t attack Sandra Fluke because of her or anyone else’s sexual behavior. Given his personal history — and his more general ideological proclivities — it’s fair to say that he is vigorously protective of behaviors which are, as a function of what they are, fundamentally dependent on women who behave precisely in the manner of the straw-woman he is attacking. That’s not what this is about. Limbaugh called Sandra Fluke a “slut” because she asserted her right to speak publicly about and make publicly thinkable a set of experiences and problems that he has a very direct and personal interest in excluding from public space

The broader ideological question which Congress was ostensibly discussing — the question of whether a religious institution can object to covering forms of medical care on the basis of religious belief — is also a red herring. Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity neither know, nor care, about the intricate and unstable conjunction of government, insurance, and medicine that might make this a tricky debate if grown-ups were ever to debate it. And the fact that Limbaugh doesn’t even understand how female contraception works doesn’t diminish his rhetorical position a whit. On the contrary, he is defending precisely his right not to know how it works (or what things like Ovarian Cysts are), and the right of those for and to whom he speaks to be similarly ignorant. He is defending his right for that to be a woman’s problem, one which he (and a “we” constituted in his image, as his public) doesn’t need to be concerned. And so he needs to attack Sandra Fluke, personally, all the more because she wasn’t even going to talk about herself. By speaking on behalf of “women,” she threatened to render “women” a member of the body politic. Slut-shaming her — making it about her, personally — changes the subject from a generalizable woman’s public concern to a specific set of personal desires (which he can then moralize about, and use to silence her

Rush Limbaugh attacked Sandra Fluke, in short, because her voice threatens to reconstitute the nature of the American public: if she were heard — if the specificity of woman’s health were publicly speakable in the hallowed halls of Congress — then we could no longer pretend that this is simply an abstract and legalistic question of “religion,” “government,” and “medicine.” It would suddenly be apparent that the female public and the male public actually have different interests and concerns when it comes to issues like sex and contraception, that contraception means something different to people with different reproductive organs. The fact that (heterosexual) men’s enjoyment of consequence-free sex is dependent on the privilege of those consequences being borne by someone else might become thinkable, if those “someone else’s” had a public platform to speak about it. " ]

This post, "Won't Anyone Think of the SexBots?!" from Athena Andreadis's Astrogator's Logs, illuminates these issues even more brightly. It's a long essay too, and the discussion that follows must also be read.
Athena Andreadis, a molecular biologist, is very concerned with women as writers and protagonists and characters in Science Fiction. She points out in the response - discussion section about blaming women for the decline of science in Science Fiction, this, which is also how the southern states managed to keep the poor(er) whites aligned with the minority slaveowning wealthy power elite, despite the visible harm this economy did to the poor(er) white worker:
[ " As Francesca points out, the persistence of Michael Flynn, the transhumorists, MRAs and other suchlike on patently self-serving definitions of feminism speaks to a deep-seated and abiding fear of losing unearned perks awarded automatically and collectively to the gender based solely on visual inspection of primary genitalia. If even the worst man (by whatever definition, including resemblance to the local tribal god) is assumed to be better than even the best woman, it’s easy to see why that would be hard to give up. " ]

And then there's this, "Male Hysteria: A Comprehensive Handbook," on the I Am Aware of My Own Hypocrisy blog. The (male) author begins with this:

[ " Caveat: The following PSA can’t be considered sexist or biased against men in any way, shape of form. My male slave said it isn’t sexist*, so it can’t be. Charges and accusations thereof will be ignored or laughed at.

*Granted, I had to adjust the nipple clamps and use the whip a few more times, but he said it. I win!

Hysteria has for centuries been proclaimed a condition that affects only women, but a male version does exist and it is not only a lot more virulent and a lot more common, but also a lot more dangerous. Its correct name is testeria.

CAMaB = coercively assigned male at birth.

Testeria. n. Medical condition that affects only CAMaB, but disproportionately white CAMaB among the 12-48 age group. It involves estrogen levels dropping drastically. As a result, without nothing to stop it, cortisol levels go up. To prevent irreparable damage to the nervous system, the body creates antibodies. These antibodies are so aggressive that they eat brain cells, causing the patient to say and do things that defy common logic and, more often than not, endanger the patient and those around him.

Physical symptoms: excessive sweat, trembling hands, dialted pupils, flustered face, clenched teeth.

Psychological symptoms: persecution complexes, tendency to get defensive, diminished capacity of reasoning, verbosity, tendency to repeat oneself, persistent self-aggrandization, tendency to see the world at large in terms of black and white, solipsism. For some reason, which remains still unexplained, this condition affects disproportionately CAMaB in developed countries. " ]

Does this not describe to the nth degree figures such as Breitbart, Limbaugh, etc.? Not to mention the Apostles of Disunion ....

Sunday, March 4, 2012

"Treason (1860 - 1861)", Chapter VII of *The Education of Henry Adams*

During the last phase years of South Carolina's increasing hysterical frenzy about the North, the Republicans, Lincoln et al., Henry Adams was at Harvard. After graduation he departed to Europe via the justification of studying Civil Law in Berlin -- though he baldly declares he knew no more what Civil Law was then than he does now (the now of writing The Education), nor why Germany was a place to study it. Neither did he study it, or anything else, other than some German. As far as the growing sectional crisis back home, he says little, other than he spent time with Charles Sumner when the Senator passed through Germany at a late period of his recovery after his severe beating (1856) at the hands of Preston Brooks in the Senate.

In the last part of this European period Adams fell in love with both Italy and France, though for different reasons. When he returned home, with a heavy heart he started reading law with a prestigious firm in Boston, a city for which Adams had no more affection at this time than earlier. However, within weeks, in November, 1860, his father, Charles (one of the founders of the Free Soil party), took him off to D.C. His father's call was to lobby the Southern senators to keep Virginia in the Union through, and hopefully after, Lincoln's inauguration; Henry was his father's private secretary. Thus he spent a great deal of time in the company of such figures as Governor Seward, who, like Sumner, was an old family friend.

This is how Henry Adams describes this time:

[ " ... Adams found himself seeking education in a world that seemed to him both unwise and ignorant. The Southern secessionists were certainly unbalanced in mind -- fit for medical treatment, like other victims of hallucination, -- haunted by suspicion, by idée fixes, by violent morbid excitement, but this was not all. They were stupendously ignorant of the world. As a class, the cotton-planters were mentally one-sided, ill-balanced and provincial to a degree rarely known. They were a close society on whom the new fountains of power had poured a stream of wealth and slaves that acted like oil to flame. They showed the young student his first object-lesson of the way in which excess of power worked when held by inadequate hands.

This might be a commonplace of 1900 but in 1860 it was a paradox. The southern statesmen were regarded as standards of statesmanship, and such standards barred education. Charles Sumner's chief offense was his insistence on southern ignorance, and he stood a living proof of it ....

None learned a useful lesson from the Confederate school except to keep away from it. Thus, at one sweep, the whole field of instruction south of the Potomac was shut off; it was overshadowed by the cotton-planters, from whom one could learning nothing but bad temper, bad manners, poker and treason." ]

My goodness, doesn't this look familiar?

Soon after the war was declared, Lincoln sent Charles Adams to England as head of the mission to ensure Britain didn't recognize the CSA as a nation. Again, the young Henry went with his father as his private secretary -- a long family tradition going back to Henry's great-great-grandfather, John Adams, and John Quincy, his grandfather.

Thus Henry Adams, like Henry James, never came close to sniffing a battlefield. It's pointless, but one wonders how things might have progressed with Henry Adams if he'd been in the Union army. We do know that Henry James forever felt a certain shame and guilt, an inferiority, that he did not.

ETA: I've been reading deeply in Adams these last weeks, from his fiction, to his histories, the Mont Saint Michel and Chartres, and The Education. Though there is ample display of unconscious, aristocratic ignorance and arrogance, so far nothing that smacks of anti-semitism. Maybe these sentiments were expressed in the private circulation of the manuscripts before publication, and taken out of the published versions?

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Reading Female Fury

Women's anger is condemned, denigrated, laughed at, punished. Yet, there it is, women are angry.

My Life had stood - a Loaded Gun -

In Corners - till a Day  ...  Emily Dickinson

Reading Sylvia Townsend Warner's novel, Lolly Willowes, by Sarah Waters:

Again looking forward to Virginia Woolf, the novel asserts the absolute necessity of "a room of one's own", and Laura gains a clear-sighted understanding of the combined financial and cultural interests that serve to keep women in domestic, dependent roles: "Society, the Law, the Church, the History of Europe, the Old Testament . . . the Bank of England, Prostitution, the Architect of Apsley Terrace, and half a dozen other useful props of civilisation" have robbed her of her freedom just as effectively as have her patronising London relatives. It is this analysis that informs her conversation with Satan near the end of the novel, in which she unfolds her memorable vision of women as sticks of dynamite, "long[ing] for the concussion that may justify them". If women, Townsend Warner implies, are denied access to power through legitimate means, they will turn instead to illegitimate methods – in this case to Satan himself, who pays them the compliment of pursuing them and then, having bagged them, performs the even more valuable service of leaving them alone.

Let us now take a deep breath in honor of Jamaica Kincaid, whose ouvre is a single, multiply modulated, expression of fury. This is a woman who is a willing slayer of daffodils.

Do not be shocked and outraged what women are thinking of doing to the unspeakable manwhore abcessing, stinking, rectum of the world.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Recipients of 2012 Knight Luce Fellowship for Reporting on Global Religion

USC Annenberg Announces Recipients of 2012 Knight Luce Fellowship for Reporting on Global Religion
Released: 3/1/2012 2:00 PM EST
Source: University of Southern California

Newswise — March 1, 2012 – The USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism announced today the recipients of the 2012 Knight Luce Fellowship for Reporting on Global Religion. Seven American journalists were chosen to receive stipends from $5,000 to $20,000 to report on religion around the world.

“The number and quality of the proposals we received demonstrate the variety of important stories that can be told about global religion,” said Diane Winston, Knight Chair in Media and Religion at USC Annenberg. “We identified projects that illustrate the impact of religion worldwide, from the political to the personal, and can be posted, printed, broadcast and published across media platforms.”

Stipends will support the following projects:
• Ned Sublette will travel to Angola and Haiti to report on the traditional religions of Kongo/Ngola as reflected in music. Sublette has made over a hundred radio documentaries about African-diaspora music for PRI’s Afropop Worldwide and Afropop Worldwide Hip Deep. He is the author of three books, including The World That Made New Orleans and Cuba and Its Music, and his reporting has appeared in DownBeat, American Legacy, Bomb, The Nation, and Smithsonian

• Damaso Reyes will investigate the growth of European Pentecostalism led by immigrants from former European colonies. Reporting from Spain, England and Ukraine, Reyes will examine how Charismatic faiths are growing while traditional European Christian religious observance continues to decline. Reyes is a photographer and writer whose work has appeared in The Wall Street Journal, Der Spiegel, and The Christian Science Monitor.

• Outlawed by Mao Tse-tung during the Cultural Revolution, religious expression is now legally tolerated in China. Peter Manseau will report on the variety of spiritual traditions flourishing there, including their opportunities and challenges. A visiting fellow at Washington College's C.V. Starr Center for the Study of the American Experience and writer, Manseau’s work has appeared in The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal and on NPR’s All Things Considered.

• Hillary Brenhouse will report on the return of the Hindu Pandits to their ancestral homeland in the Kashmir Valley. Scattered to urban centers and refugee camps in the wake of a Muslim insurgency and anti-Hindu violence in 1990, many Pandits are now returning to rebuild their shrines and resurrect their faith. Brenhouse will investigate the revival’s social and political implications in India. Her work has appeared in TIME, Slate and The International Herald Tribune.

• Sarah Stillman will profile Father Alejandro Solalinde Guerra, a Catholic priest based in Ixtepec, Mexico, and the shelter he has established to safeguard Central American migrants who are routinely assaulted, kidnapped, and robbed by drug cartels while en route to the United States. Stillman’s award-winning international and domestic reporting has appeared in The New Yorker, The Washington Post and The Nation.

• Daniel Lovering will report on American missionaries who lead teams of relief workers into the war zones of Myanmar, also known as Burma, to provide medical supplies to civilians trapped by local fighting. Among the volunteers who support this new breed of missionaries are dentists, Iraq war veterans, and students from US Christian colleges. Lovering is a contributor to Reuters and The New York Times.

• Caitlan Carroll will explore Georgians’ attempts to revive sacred music that was muted during Soviet rule. Since gaining their independence, Georgian scholars, musicians, and patriotic young people have sought to revive the sacred songs of Orthodox Christianity. Carroll, along with photographer Andreas Reeg, will visit Georgia to explore the role of religious music in the area’s spiritual life. Based in Germany, Carroll’s work has been heard on American Public Media’s Marketplace, Public Radio International and Deutsche Welle.

Within the nine-month period of their fellowship this year, fellows will report and develop stories for delivery on multiple platforms. At the completion of their projects, one or two fellows will be in residence at USC to present their work, hold master classes for journalism students and give public lectures.

The Henry Luce Foundation was established in 1936 by Henry R. Luce, the co-founder and editor-in-chief of TIME Inc., to honor his parents who were missionary educators in China. The Foundation builds upon the vision and values of four generations of the Luce family: broadening knowledge and encouraging the highest standards of service and leadership. The Henry Luce Foundation seeks to bring important ideas to the center of American life, strengthen international understanding, and foster innovation and leadership in academic, policy, religious and art communities. The Luce Foundation pursues its mission today through a variety of grant-making programs; among these is the Henry R. Luce Initiative on Religion and International Affairs.

The Knight Chair in Media and Religion, established in 2002 by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, participates in a wide range of activities, including the organization of conferences for working journalists and the sponsorship of events for the local community. Dr. Winston addresses a host of issues surrounding religion and media through her writing and public speaking, as well as her development of coursework and symposiums. Through these outreach activities, USC Annenberg has begun to emerge as a hub for re-visioning how the press—and society itself—thinks about and reports on religion.
About the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism

Located in Los Angeles at the University of Southern California, the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism ( is a national leader in education and scholarship in the fields of communication, journalism, public diplomacy and public relations. With an enrollment of more than 2,200 students, USC Annenberg offers doctoral, master's and bachelor's degree programs, as well as continuing development programs for working professionals, across a broad scope of academic inquiry. The school’s comprehensive curriculum emphasizes the core skills of leadership, innovation, service and entrepreneurship and draws upon the resources of a networked university located in the media capital of the world.