The Consul went inside, brought the balcony in, and sealed the ship just as the first heavy raindrops began to fall. He climbed the spiral staircase to his sleeping cabin at the apex of the ship. The circular room was dark except for silent explosions of lightning which outlined rivulets of rain coursing the skylight. The Consul stripped, lay back on the firm mattress, and switched on the sound system and external audio pickups. He listened as the fury of the storm blended with the violence of Wagner’s “Flight of the Vallkyries.” Hurricane winds buffeted the ship. The sound of thunderclaps filled the room as the skylight flashed white, leaving afterimages burning in the Consul’s retinas.
Wagner is good only for thunderstorms, he thought. He closed his eyes but the lightning was visible through closed eyelids. He remembered the glint of ice crystals blowing through the tumbled ruins on the low hills near the Time Tombs and the colder gleam of steel on the Shrike’s impossible tree of metal thorns. He remembered screams in the night and the hundred-facet, ruby-and-blood gaze of the Shrike itself.
“Right. So who did he find when he came here?” I asked. Usually, a few students would say, “Indians,” but I asked them to be specific: “Which nationality? What are their names?”
In more than 30 years of teaching U.S. history and guest-teaching in others’ classes, I’ve never had a single student say, “Taínos.” How do we explain that? We all know the name of the man who came here from Europe, but none of us knows the name of the people who were here first—and there were hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of them. Why haven’t you heard of them?
This ignorance is an artifact of historical silencing—rendering invisible the lives and stories of entire peoples.
[…] In an interview with Barbara Miner, included in Rethinking Columbus, Suzan Shown Harjo of the Morning Star Institute, who is Creek and Cheyenne, said: “As Native American peoples in this red quarter of Mother Earth, we have no reason to celebrate an invasion that caused the demise of so many of our people, and is still causing destruction today.” After all, Columbus did not merely “discover,” he took over. He kidnapped Taínos, enslaved them—“Let us in the name of the Holy Trinity go on sending all the slaves that can be sold,” Columbus wrote—and “punished” them by ordering that their hands be cut off or that they be chased down by vicious attack dogs, if they failed to deliver the quota of gold that Columbus demanded. One eyewitness accompanying Columbus wrote that it “did them great damage, for a dog is the equal of 10 men against the Indians.”
Corporate textbooks and children’s biographies of Columbus included none of this and were filled with misinformation and distortion. But the deeper problem was the subtext of the Columbus story: it’s OK for big nations to bully small nations, for white people to dominate people of color, to celebrate the colonialists with no attention paid to the perspectives of the colonized, to view history solely from the standpoint of the winners.
Edward Blake, The Comedian, born 1918, buried in the rain. Murdered. Is that what happens to us? No time for friends? Only our enemies leave roses. Violent lives ending violently. Blake understood. Humans are savage in nature. No matter how much you try to dress it up, to disguise it. Blake saw society’s true face. Chose to be a parody of it, a joke.
I heard a joke once. Man goes to doctor, says he’s depressed. Life seems harsh and cruel. Says he feels all alone in a threatening world. Doctor says “Treatment is simple. The great clown, Pagliacci, is in town. Go see him. That should pick you up”. Man bursts into tears. “But doctor”, he says, “I am Pagliacci.” Good joke. Everybody laughs. Roll on snare drum. Curtains.
The dwarves of yore made mighty spells, While hammers fell like ringing bells, In places deep, where dark things sleep, In hollow halls beneath the fells.
For ancient king and elvish lord There many a gleaming golden hoard They shaped and wrought, and light they caught, To hide in gems on hilt of sword.
On silver necklaces they strung The flowering stars, on crowns they hung The dragon-fire, on twisted wire They meshed the light of moon and sun.
Far over the Misty Mountains cold, To dungeons deep and caverns old, We must away, ere break of day, To claim our long-forgotten gold.
Goblets they carved there for themselves, And harps of gold, where no man delves There lay they long, and many a song Was sung unheard by men or elves.
The pines were roaring on the heights, The wind was moaning in the night, The fire was red, it flaming spread, The trees like torches blazed with light.
The bells were ringing in the dale, And men looked up with faces pale. The dragon’s ire, more fierce than fire, Laid low their towers and houses frail.
The mountain smoked beneath the moon. The dwarves, they heard the tramp of doom. They fled the hall to dying fall Beneath his feet, beneath the moon.
Far over the Misty Mountains grim, To dungeons deep and caverns dim, We must away, ere break of day, To win our harps and gold from him!
The wind was on the withered heath, But in the forest stirred no leaf: There shadows lay be night or day, And dark things silent crept beneath.
The wind came down from mountains cold, And like a tide it roared and rolled. The branches groaned, the forest moaned, And leaves were laid upon the mould.
The wind went on from West to East; All movement in the forest ceased. But shrill and harsh across the marsh, Its whistling voices were released.
The grasses hissed, their tassels bent, The reeds were rattling—on it went. O’er shaken pool under heavens cool, Where racing clouds were torn and rent.
It passed the Lonely Mountain bare, And swept above the dragon’s lair: There black and dark lay boulders stark, And flying smoke was in the air.
It left the world and took its flight Over the wide seas of the night. The moon set sale upon the gale, And stars were fanned to leaping light.
Under the Mountain dark and tall, The King has come unto his hall! His foe is dead, the Worm of Dread, And ever so his foes shall fall!
The sword is sharp, the spear is long, The arrow swift, the Gate is strong. The heart is bold that looks on gold; The dwarves no more shall suffer wrong.
The dwarves of yore made mighty spells, While hammers fell like ringing bells In places deep, where dark things sleep, In hollow halls beneath the fells.
On silver necklaces they strung The light of stars, on crowns they hung The dragon-fire, from twisted wire The melody of harps they wrung.
The mountain throne once more is freed! O! Wandering folk, the summons heed! Come haste! Come haste! Across the waste! The king of friend and kin has need.
Now call we over the mountains cold, ‘Come back unto the caverns old!’ Here at the gates the king awaits, His hands are rich with gems and gold.
The king has come unto his hall Under the Mountain dark and tall. The Worm of Dread is slain and dead, And ever so our foes shall fall!
Farewell we call to hearth and hall! Though wind may blow and rain may fall, We must away, ere break of day Far over the wood and mountain tall.
To Rivendell, where Elves yet dwell In glades beneath the misty fell. Through moor and waste we ride in haste, And whither then we cannot tell.
With foes ahead, behind us dread, Beneath the sky shall be our bed, Until at last our toil be passed, Our journey done, our errand sped.
We must away! We must away! We ride before the break of day!
"So I guess what I’m feeling is like a beautiful sadness."
"I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work."
- Thomas A. Edison
Dune - Frank Herbert
I wonder if you know, that I never understood. That although you said you’d go; until you did, I never thought you would.
Never thought the words you said were true. Never thought you said just what you meant. Never realised how much I needed you.
Never thought you’d leave, until you went.