". . . 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

Thursday, April 30, 2020

Media vita in morte sumus

     . . . . Continuing Reading Aloud: Diaries of John Quincy Adams. 

We are in the middle of his presidency. Again, JQ's got us laughing like silly billies. It's April and he’s drawn inexorably to the Potomac, wondering if it isn’t really warm enough to doff all his clothes and jump in. He’s president so people are always coming to see him about something or other which interferes with what he considers he’s supposed to do (though not, evidently, getting entirely starkers in public to swim in that filthy Potomac), which is be alone and write, and / or, now, study Trees!

He has discovered trees and wants to know everything about them. This office, this living in the White House, is eating all his time for study, and there won't be enough time left in his life when it is finished to learn all needs to learn about Trees!

No wonder Louisa is so often alone in her room, “unwell.” But clearly he’s the sort who believes recording history takes precedence even over he himself in the process of making history.  Hilarious.

But, it can't be foreshadowing as this isn't fiction. He's writing his Diaries in real time. Additionally, for us, there is significance in his recording of the multiple stirrings by and about Andrew Jackson. Dear JQ should be paying better attention to these -- as he seems to be doing to the abomination of slavery that offends him more every day.  He seems to have no inkling that the way presidents are voted for is going to change, despite now dealing with Martin Van Buren. The worlds of politics as he's known them since at least a very young man, is changing. But, he, he's all a-twitter about his discovery of Trees.  No wonder he was gobsmacked by how the next election for POTUS turned out.

I finally concluded reading Ian Mortimer's biography of Edward III.  I'd begun this last year, always saving it, as we also do with JQA's Diaries, for times when nothing else appeals.  I was wondering what else I could slot into this space that would last so satisfactorily long as Edward III and the 14th C.  And it was here in the apartment, and gigantic, The Boundless Sea: A Human History of the Oceans, by David Abulafia.


Stimulus, and, audio royality, chex, arrived today; the first via post office, and the second via email notification of direct deposit.

Bistro’s doors are open and action taking place inside, el V reported from going out for a breath of fresh air. The so familiar from so many years Chinese cook was sitting on our doorstep, smoking his break cigarette as I've seen him doing for so many years. Everyone in the Bistro family are fine and well, including the barista and wait staff, including brother, co-owner S, who was being given chemo and getting cosmetic surgery for the cancer on his cheekbone when this blew up. Some good news for a change!

Beloved B left a new batch of cornbread at our door (he has keys to the building and our mailbox and apartment).  I’m forcing him to use our laundry card to get his clothes washed this weekend!  So, including yesterday's grocery delivery of everything on the list, we are so fooded. It was advertised as on special, a 2 lb. bag of cleaned, split, cooked and large frozen shrimp!  We each ate three of those shrimp last night with the Spanish rice; they were y high quality: firm, textured, not in the least soggy. They went so well with the chili flakes among the herbs put into the Spanish Rice. So I made a much larger batch today to divide up among B, across the hall neighbor, and H, who is elderly, diabetic, just can't understand what is going on, can't cook, like mentally ill neighbor has none of the tools for cooking, and is dying not so slowly of loneliness.


Tore the month of April page off our wall calendars today.  How many more monthly pages will I tear off of 2020 before there is life outside this apartment for us?

I do fear though, for many of us, it will never be able to happen. Like the Bubonic Plague was never over for the vulnerable for nearly 300 years. The rich now experience with how they can deal with Covid-19.  Epidemic / Pandemic, etc. – it never changes whatever time of the world. The rich and powerful get away and sequester themselves in comfort, and are serviced by the poor and vulnerable. Like all the other of us nobodies, they get sick, they die, which is inconvenient and quite inconsiderate. Or with this one, even if recovering from the so-called mild forms can suffer kidney, heart, lung and many other ailments forever. Two of el V's students have gotten sick from it.  One fairly mild and recovered, sort of. The other just this week, and she's not doing well. They are both young, fit and healthy, or were.

We know certainly NYC will be pretty much locked down through May -- at least it should be -- though They Say that upstate, slowly, around May 15 maybe? They may begin to re-open some things in 'blocks', though certainly not the schools.

Gosh. Two months we've been living like this.  It's hard to believe.

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