". . . 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, June 29, 2018

Prisoner of Zenda (1984) - The Devil Always Gets Into It

     . . . . Prisoner of Zenda BBC (1984); novel (1894). This production lacked only a decade to have made it an anniversary celebration of this classic adventure tale, that has been adapted in many forms ever since publication.  But if it had been made in 1994, the characters would likely not have been quite as noble, maybe?  It's kind of fun to speculate, even though it's fruitless as it didn't happen.

I fell love with this old BBC miniseries, oddly enough.  I didn't care for the Ruritania or George Barr McCutcheon's Graustark books much, even though I encountered them relatively early (for me), like the summer between junior and senior h.s. years.  Even then these books seemed too glib in terms of how and what happens -- and most of all, I could not believe in Ruritania or Graustark as independent monarchies existing in the late 19th C Europe after Bismark's unitary success pulling all those German principalities, dukedoms, etc. together out of the ancient jigsaw of the Holy Roman Empire. Even then I knew about the Germanies and the Holy Roman the Empire then, though what I knew as sketchy.  It was all those years of church school studies,but I did know by then the German states were no longer it was parts of the Holy Roman Empire -- or as they called it even still, then, the Empire. It was now Germany, so this little place could not have had a king.  It could have a princeps, a duke, or something else equivalent but not a king!  Even Queen Vicky's Hanover family's kingdom was annexed by Prussia in the mid-1860s.

Indeed, I laughed every time I saw the Prussian Iron Cross worn by the characters in this BBC production -- though of course made of precious metals and studded with jewels and hung on jeweled gold chains.  would have been furious to see this honor that he devised intentionally to be the equal of honor of whoever it was awarded to, however rich, whatever rank or class, no matter how poor or lowly. This is why it was made of Prussian iron. That wouldn't be possible, not in an independent kingdom by a monarch and his entourage, etc. because it was Prussian! Also the Ruritanian crown was a enclosed crown, which only emperors or pope are entitled to wear.  Mere monarch have open crowns.  Historian's nitpicks.

But watching the way this BBC production rolls and all its subtext, was so much more engrossing than the books.  It's sly and cheeky in all kinds of way that the books never were. It really plays up the Great British Empire upon which the sun never sets with Rudolph Rassendyll, a man of little money, position or accomplishment beyond his good schooling and Britishness, who shows he's better fit to be a monarch than any monarch. It shows how quickly someone who is king for a day becomes accustomed to being king forever -- yet, Rassendyll is so honorable, at least as honorable as the honorables with whom he falls in with.  Not the least honorable is Princess Flavia.

Most of all I enjoyed how efficiently this slender novel was turned into 6 episodes, each a bit less than a half hour.  Nothing was sacrificed. The pacing and rhythm were perfection.  People don't know how to write like for the screen that any more.

Rudolph Rassendyll, who has been crowned King Rudolph V, and who has successfully rescued the true Rudolph V from a dire plot to murder him and put a regent on the throne of Ruritania, departs for the train, leaving Ruritania, and the woman who he loves and who loves him, behind forever.

"God doesn't always make the best men kings," observes loyal courtier, Fritz van Tarlenheim.

Wise Colonel Sapt responds, "The devil always gets into things."

Yet it was lovely to find a respite from black evil and destruction for those bits of time watching Prisoner of Zenda, in which honor and goodness win.

Streaming from Amazon Prime, for which, as mentioned a while back, I have been gifted a membership.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

We're Glad! So Glad! Ideas Bad! Bad! So Bad!

      . . . .  Yes! We're glad, we're glad, we're so glad that we do not have to, or feel any need to, do this!   Ladies, we give you -- Glitter Bums!

These are not the most unhygienic panties ever made. These are not the most uncomfortable tights a woman has been told by fashion to wriggle into.  NO! These are designs made of sequins and crystals and glitter applied directly to the skin of the bum of somebody who is trying too, too, hard.
Also, glitter bikinis . . . .

At this point, companies that manufacture cheap knockoffs for any so-called trend are calling it Festival Art and sell this stuff as kits in the UK version of convenience stores and so on -- at least in the UK.

     . . .  Another idea that should never been had but has showed up this summer in the UK -- 
crotch pocket trousers from Uniqlo:

PLUS! privileged white girls' problems!  The curse of summer 2018 --
 ripped jean tanlines.  O NOES!

Thank you!

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Why We Travel

     . . . . From a piece in the NY Times by one writer visiting a place another writer made famous within the small circles of the sorts of people who read such books: 
... it occurs to me that what Salter is actually writing about is the way we walk through our memories like a stranger in a forgotten town. 
“The myriad past, it enters us and disappears,” he writes. “Except that within it, somewhere, like diamonds, exist the fragments that refuse to be consumed. Sifting through … one discovers the true design.”
Which design helps one makes some, if, sometimes, only little, sense of the present, as well as the past of all those long-ago other times that came before us. 

I have felt this way myriad times in the places that are old and brimming with the past. I don't know about Salter, but for me though, they have to be places about which I bring a great deal of knowledge already acquired about the place's past. But however this takes possession of the visitor, these are the memories of the place that do not fade. Personal memory overlain on historical memory. History embedded in geography. Essential for historians or anyone who assumes to write of past times, places and people.

A place where I had the experience described above, the Cisalpine (South-east French and North-west Italian coasts) Provençal  French village perché of le Bar-sur-loup, in a range of Alps above Nice.

The photos in the NY Times piece would have appeared quite different to me if I had not spent so many hours walking in le Bar-sur-loup and taking my own photos.

I've had those fizzing electric sensations in, among other places, New England, Europe, the upper and lower South, the Caribbean, England, France, and often in various sections of New York City.  This allows me the freedom to write of these places.