Monday, April 11, 2005

Goin' tharn 

My very elegant manager wanted to walk me around the building to show me all of the different entrances employees could use. We almost tripped over a sobbing man, who was sitting right outside the front doors, curled up with his knees against his chest. He reminded me of one of those horrifying Peruvian mummies, the preserved remains of sacrificial victims who were OBVIOUSLY BURIED ALIVE and died in untold pain and fear. Say what you will, Zinn, about how evil the White Man is and how he should forever squirm in guilt about the crimes he perpetrated upon native peoples, there was still some hair raising stuff going on in these native civilizations that we need to remember, ritual human sacrifice being just one of them. There was also plenty of subjugation, slavery, torture and genocide of their own neighboring natives, so one should be wary of romanticizing these people, especially if you're a historian. During my first attempt at reading People’s History when Zinn wrote about the Aztecs and how horrible and treacherous Cortez and the Spaniards were against this beautiful, great civilization all I could think about was if ever there were two Peoples that deserved each other more it was the Spaniards and the Aztecs. What disgusting torture one hadn’t thought of the other one had. No one culture has a monopoly or Lion’s Share on depravity and evil, it’s all humanity that needs to be watched for because the potential for great evil and sadism resides in all of us. Some cultures, namely the Germans and Japanese, need to be watched even more closely.

Anyway, we had to practically step over the sobbing man, who then pulled his sweatshirt hood over his head, because even if he was occupying a space in a very crowded sidewalk he needed his privacy. When we turned around the corner I saw that the side street was deserted except for a deranged homeless man kicking, screaming and beating a tree. I felt that we should have turned around but the side entrance was 5 feet in front of us and my manager said, “I think it’s all right. I think we can make it.” I have a new sympathy for squirrels and other creatures routinely flattened by cars because we both stood there frozen with indecision whether to turn around and head back or go for the door. In the language of the rabbits in Watership Down it's called 'going tharn.'

Right then he spotted us and took a break from his tree battering to scream, “Do you two cunts have something to say? Well, do you? Because I'll take you up to the state hospital where they'll really do something to your forehead!!!" He then reared up like he was going to charge us. I desperately groped for my key to the side entrance and we got in to the sanctuary of the building just in time.

I have tagged you because I am interested in what you would write about...
Hey Foxy, Helen told me to read your blog and she's right, it's great. David Sedaris needs to be seriously watching his back.

Anyway, I just wanted to weigh in on behalf of the Aztecs. I am an expert on them because I read an article in National Geographic one day in the dentist's office.

I have a soft spot for the Aztecs because I learned that Aztec women who died in childbirth were given a warrior's funeral. Also, I think we should keep in mind what our ancestors were doing back home around the same time they encountered the Aztecs -- in England criminals were still publicly drawn and quartered and in Spain you had Christians doing gruesome things to Jews to appease their own bloodthirsty god. So I like to think that if the Aztecs had had another 500 years to live and learn they might have turned out something like us, or maybe better.

Keep up the good work, I bookmarked you.
That is touching about the Aztec's bestowing hero status to women who died in childbirth. This was a much more honorable and merciful belief than the Catholics, who told mother that their unbaptized babies (i.e.; stillborn) would languish in limbo for eternity. Not much solace for them.
I'm with you that there was a lot of savagery going on, especially in Europe. I'm just against romantacizing that seems to go about native peoples.
The Aztecs were a badass, fierce, cannibalistic tribe (it is believe that human flesh was the MAIN source of their culture's protein, due to frequent crop failures and the lack of domesticated animals). Their whole theology, replete with bloodthirsty gods who demanded constant human sacrifice, was structured to justify the Aztec's own cannibalism. They waged 'flower wars' (wars to raid neighboring tribes for captives) constantly to supply meat for their populace. Atkins proponents will be encouraged to know that these captives were given only corn and other carbs in the fattening cages. Like Atkins, the Aztecs knew that carbs fatten one up the fastest.
I want to clarify that I believe that the Aztecs were a remarkably advanced and sophisticated civilization with incredible achievements in the fields of medicine, astronomy and agriculture. Like the Mayans, they were obsessed with calendars and time. By the way, I read that the only cultural exchange the Mayans were interested in with the Spaniards was to compare calendars. When the Spaniards showed them their calendars the Mayans snickered and had a great time ridiculing them.

A great historical epic is Aztec by Gary Jennings.
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