". . . 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, April 22, 2020

More Far Away With With Gordon Doherty, Though Not So Far As The HIttites

    . . . . Son of Ishtar was such a successful distraction from the here and now, I resolved to give one of Gordon Doherty's previous works a try. 

The Strategos TrilogyBorn in the Border Lands, Vol. 1. (2011)

Byzantine Empire Palaiologan Double Headed Eagle

This trilogy's chronological location is the 11th century A.D., opening in 1046.  A weak and corrupt Palaiologan 'empire' facing off against the energetic incursions of the Seljuk Turks to take the Emperor's throne.  I've been able to read only a few pages, but it appears Christian Apion (Greek Christian, not Roman),  born low, but also born a natural warrior, is the serial protagonist.  His is the era of Alp Arslan and the Battle of Manzikert, so there shall be battles and war, blood and cruelty, abounding, with detailed descriptions of the weaponry and strategies, the moves and counter moves, and at least, surely, from the Byzantine side, utter desperation.

It seems Doherty does repeat himself.  Many of the elements present in his latest, third trilogy of which Son of Ishtar is the first installment, appear already in the first pages of Born in the Border Lands. Among these are a mysterious female figure who appears and disappears, almost magical birds, portents and prophesies. But these are are the ages, without polling and marketing, in which the supernatural abounds.

However, over the last 3 or 4 years, maybe more? I've been attempting to fill the gap in my historical knowledge, of varieties of the Turks in the Middle East and "Turkey", the fierce people who kicked out the Arabs -- as the Mongols attempted to do with the Turks in the 13th century. As the tribe(s) who became the Ottoman empire were not the first Turkimen to invade the Middle East from the upper steppes (many under pressure of Mongolian expansion).  I don't know anywhere near as much about the Seljuks as I do about the Ottomans' origins and acension to both Empire and the (Sunni) Caliphate.

Of course, here, the Seljuks are the villains who must be defeated while Byzantium must be defended, preserved and expanded.  Good luck with that ... the 1204 Sack of Constantinople, which constituted the 4th Crusade isn't that far off from 1046, and, helped along by the Genoese, the Pisans and the Venetians, there will be an infinity of corruption, pillage, murder, poison, intrigue and failure in Byzantium in those years -- all ending up with 1453, and the Ottoman establishment thereafter of the Caliphate in Constantinople. 

Which rather causes one to wonder what was the point of it all?

a monogram of chi (Χ) and rho (Ρ) as the first two letters of Greek Khristos Christ, used as a Christian symbol by the Greek Church


    . . . . It's the middle of the week, so we put in a grocery order, which appeared very quickly, from the wonderful MW supermarket. They have just initiated their own delivery service pilot service, rather than depending on Instacart and the other ubiquitous delivery services, who charge the customer and the vendor both -- and which the reviews lean toward as being disappointing in quality of service as well.

Most of what I put on the list was available.  This means fresh! sweet Italian sausage, made on the premises, is on the menu tonight, which also happens to be faculty 6 PM Wine Wednesday.  Was also able to score a couple of roasts, more chicken, and -- ham! as well as other equally welcome supplies, before what is on hand was used up.

Plus, of course, drinking coffee and tea with milk is safe for another week.  

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