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Friday, January 17, 2014

Photos Of Cultural Reconaissance

Received two photos this week. Let us begin with one from the excellent riverwalk along the Chatahochee which separates Georgia from Alabama.
It is a statue of Cristóvão Colombo, who was at least Portuguese if not Spanish (in which case his name was Cristóbal Colón) but was born in Italy under the name, Peter Falk. No, he was the actor who portrayed Kojak --I shall consult my early childhood memory:

                                          Back in 1492,
                                          Columbus sailed the ocean blue.
                                          Roses are pretty and so are you.

Or maybe I'm remembering Valentine's Day, 1956. No matter, you can't expect me to recall everything because I was raised by alley cats --much as Tarzan was raised by apes. Excuse me while I scratch ear-mites with my foot. Now, upon reflection I think it legally prudent to declare this opening paragraph in abeyance.

The statue depicts Christopher Columbus in several phases of his life. I can only detect three from the photo but can tell you this: he was much hectored by big birds and seems variously depressed and frantic over it. It humanizes the legend somewhat and likewise humanizes the world he lived in. Certainly, he was an explorer who made progress --paving prairies for strip-malls is also called progress but I won't go into that-- and we owe him a debt.  He declared, "I can do it!" That is an innovator, which however couldn't exist without those millions of people who said, "Who cares?" and did not stand in his way. So the statue represents...here's the other photo:
This being winter, the bench outside the back porch has furnished only cold comfort lately and we decided it wanted insulation. I collected all the old insulators I could find in the barn and lined them up on the seat. It may or may not warm anything but it keeps us from sitting there. Although the bench is located in California, I have hopes of an eventual commemorative statue on the Chatahochee River. Innovation should rightly have no borders.
   

26 comments:

  1. It is interesting how divergent the myth of Columbus is from the reality. I guess in some ways maybe that is better. To live in myth has a certain flair and people hate the truth when all is said and done.

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    1. Interesting indeed. I recall a Mark Twain quote: "In a museum in Havana, there are two skulls of Christopher Columbus, one when he was a boy and one when he was a man." The absurdity of myth can point us toward the truth sometimes.

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  2. I read a book about Columbus in high school that really opened my eyes. Then I watched a documentary that opened my eyes even more. When I mentioned my concerns in one of my high school classes, my history teacher took great offense to me questioning who he was as a person!

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    1. Keith, I wonder, after learning the atrocities of intimidation Columbus inflicted upon American Aboriginals, if any of his modern defenders would invite him over --or even sit next to him on a bus.

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  3. History should always be viewed with a fair amount of skepticism and humor. Somewhere after that will lie the truth. Unless the Texas Curriculum Textbook gets hold of it.

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    1. The search for truth is fundamentally unsafe. When you seek it out, Texan or otherwise, you must be very certain it is what you want, because the the truth will not leave you alone, not ever.

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  4. The big birds gracing the top of the statue of Columbus are probably there to scare off the real pigeons that always like to deposit their droppings on statues.

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    1. I suspect you're right, as usual, and the birds serve the same purpose those platter-like nimbuses do over outdoor statues of saints. I doubt we could tolerate a halo over Columbus, but big bronze birds will do.

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  5. Is that statue (which is disturbing in a Hitchcock's-The-Birds-kind of way) in Columbus, Georgia? Used to live in Auburn, AL, but we hardly ever got to Columbus.

    Your insulator collection is quite attractive. Won't be long & you'll have to move it some place else, like a traveling exhibit of sorts.

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    1. Yes, you are correct! Chicago Daughter is costuming there til the weekend at their excellent opera house. The Chatahochee is where she takes her morning run. I notice the Alabama shore has preserved its natural riparian, which is also commendable. And yes, our insulator collection goes back to 1890.

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  6. There is an interesting book by Orson Scott Card, "Pastwatch: the redemption of Christopher Columbus". An alternative history sort of book, his boats are shipwrecked and or burned, stranding him with a native population.....

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    1. Thanks for reading my post! Card's revisionist historical fiction sounds interesting. I think Columbus was finally a victim of his political backers and detractors, but not quite to the same degree that the Lucayans, Ciguayos, Arawaks and Caribs in general were victims of his. I do not imagine him surviving long if he had been stranded in their company.

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  7. You should totally read Pastwatch! OSC is so good at writing alternative historical fiction, and this is the book that led me to Ender's Game. In the book, people of the future find a way to go back and change history on three fronts in the Americas during Columbus' time...stranding him here, readying the Caribs against the white man and his viruses, and uniting the South Americans tribes to be ready for when the Spanish eventually showed up. Soooo good, and not stranding Columbus here to die, but stranding him here to show him that the natives were not people to be enslaved, they were just people. He was stranded here so he could be redeemed.

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    1. Thanks Michelle, I'll definitely add Mr. Card's work to my future reading list. Perhaps it might peripherally address other areas of subjugation and marginalization as well, like current struggles of ethnic minorities, LGBT, Pacifists, Humanists etc.

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  8. "That is an innovator, which however couldn't exist without those millions of people who said, "Who cares?" and did not stand in his way."

    Very nicely put. New ideas cannot exist without the complacency of the masses.

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    1. Thanks Squid! Sociologically, I guess it's what we'd call a delicate imbalance.

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  9. I wish I was raised by ally cats! They obviously did a good job :D

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    1. Most kind, Lizzy. But it has rendered me unherdable.

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  10. Maybe those eagles picked Columbus eyes out? As Pedro de las Casas described Columbus' treatment of the natives in his History of the Indies:
    "The admiral (Columbus), it is true, was blind as those who came after him, and he was so anxious to please the King that he committed irreparable crimes against the Indians."

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    1. Good point. Unfortunately, it is true that many countries go through phases of international belligerence, my own included. The motive is always unchecked financial gain, which does induce a blindness to human suffering.

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  11. I hope to be a statue one day, and every Friday afternoon, I do a passable imitation of one whilst still at work...

    Pearl

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    1. Yes, that's when time seems to stand still.

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  12. Fascinating. I'll keep my fingers crossed for that river statue!

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    1. Thanks Helena! Columbus's statue looks pretty solid but the experiment he touched off seems rely heavily on luck.

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  13. I could care less about that bum Columbus. But damn, I must have shot up 300 of those great green-glass insulators when I was a foolish youth. What I wouldn't give to have them back for garden ornaments today. A really good argument for gun control.

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    1. Alas! I too had a BB gun! And yes, I bagged a few.

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