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Friday, November 12, 2010

November 12

Hello Friends, seriously considering whether to continue History in the News. I've had 56 readers from Texas, presumably looking at the killings etc. involving the chronology, history,atrocities of the Mexican drug lords, but visitors remaining on the site for about one second each, which is puzzling when you really think about it, not even enough time to get bored. I've tried to make the damn thing pay for the last three years, but it hasn't paid a cent for all the work I've put into it. I've tried to make it a labour of love but that's hard when your main love is elsewhere-fiction etc..

And also, and this is what is fascinating, in its own way, the older chronology of any country or phenomenon is far more interesting that the recent stuff, the last week or year.The current stuff is hard to do for a coouple of reasons, firstly, not having receded suffficiently into the past, it has no context, and secondly these times, folks, and I'm sorry to say this, will go down down like the 7th century in Europe- one reason why even western historians always give us the rise of Islam for the seventh century and nothing else. There is absolutely nothing going on in Europe during the seventh century except Clovis, the exciting invasions of the Lombards..,the turgid, fratricidal machinery of Byzantium etc. I am sure many out there will be outraged to hear me say we live in dull times, but seriously, it's all constant and dreary disappointment and certainly an absence of hope since the last bit seems to have trickled away with Obama, thought it has to be said he was dealt a bum hand.

And there are some really big  big soporiphics out there- for example the European Union, how do you  make the EU palatable? Maybe "The European Union- the Muisical!!" How about Trade imbalance? The Mexican drug wars are a pefect example of killing becoming so widespread that it no longer has nay dramatic or even any moral structure- or meaning, except that  they feed American drug habits. And then the Islamist offensives in Afghanistam Paskistan, and elsewhere, really, even the Islamists are a disappointment for those who want drama, significance, meaning: they are utterly incapable of doing anything except acting as an irritant, a nauseating slow, sad pain to the west, and to each other it appears. They have no hope of a Caliphate. They are a disgrace, indeed a libel on Al Rashid, Akbar, Ali, Hussein, the Umayyads, the Fatamids, all of them, they shame their ancestors. Their killing is sordid and cruel but in the perspective of history it is penny-ante, the cut-rate cunning of the rural and the semi-literate, with the occasional decapitation being done by some one wirh a degree from Oxford. Look at the Salafis!! Salafism refers "the way of the ancestors" and look at them- blowing thsmelves up in crowds of school children- "I'm doing this because I admire my ancestors."

On a lighter note, I've become interested in Ecclesaistes and the Book of Job- two books of the bible that ask the questions no one has the guts to ask these days- Is life good? Is it worth living? Why live? If you decide to live, how do you bear it? Both books lay down the courageous, fundament premise that life is essenrially a bad deal and have the admirable gall to work that idea out under the gaze of God. The puny, noisy arguments about the existence of god, the value of religion etc. that fill the media and book readings and singings really are a bored, ennervated argument on a long car trip compared to Ecclesiastes and Job. What's more there is poetry in the biblical works. Poetry in our times is restricted to the quaterlies and gastly poetry evenings in pubs anaesthetized by beer. Good poetry is carefully kept away from the public by pratcial education in the sciences, computer arts etc. And then of course poetry prize winners and laureates are announced on the news.

No, there is no greatness in these bleak days and I get this queasy feeling that this vast banality of the quick, the gllib, the sensble and the practical is an unintended side efffect of democracy- and I don;t mean democracy in politics, but in in nearly everything else.Even location news reporters are dull. CBC played back its Wolrd War Two reportage on Remembrance Day and the man spoke with a cadence, was in awe of what he saw and felt, was astonished, had strong feelings, there was terror and grandeur. Now we have the romance of the matter of fact, the conversational, the intimate. I have asked people what they think about the decline or art, feeling, poetry individuality in media, in daily life- they seem to agree but because they feel they ought to- otherwise they have no real feeling about it. The news people and other utilitarians are preaching to the converted.
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