Thursday, April 02, 2015

other random stuff

* I hadn't been bothering to put on jewelry in the mornings (that's one of the things that kind of gets forgotten when I'm busy). But today, I decided to wear SOMETHING seeing as my outfit is plain green skirt, plain white longsleeved blouse. (I may regret that last choice; it's supposed to hit 84 here today).

So I dug out what I call my not-quite-lucky-sixpence pendant to wear it. Magical thinking.

(Not-quite-lucky because it's not a SILVER sixpence - supposedly those are the "lucky" ones, and brides wore them in their shoes and such - but it's still a sixpence)

Yeah, I have a few articles of clothing or jewelry that I believe wearing will maybe make the day go better. (Well, until a day doesn't, and then they're "broken" - they don't have that power any more)

I also have a few items I associate with bad things. I have one t-shirt I rarely wear because it was the one I was wearing on Sept. 11, 2001. (Yes, I keep clothes for a LONG time). It was a conference t-shirt so I can't quite bring myself to turn it into a rag but I don't wear it often. (I last wore it for fieldwork)

* I'm reading a book right now that concerns the French Revolution ("The Black Count," and thanks to Brett for writing about it). It's ACTUALLY about Alexandre Dumas (the FATHER of "Dumas pere"), who was a half-black, half-French man born in what is now Haiti. He was the son of a French count (though like many of the aristocracy, the count spent the fortunes of the family and left his son mostly with debt). He was apparently physically imposing (taller than most men of his era, handsome, and carried himself well) and he had remarkable strength and skill in horsemanship and things like swordfighting. He was a very honorable man, concerned about humanity, and was well-liked by the soldiers he led. (Even though he did things like mete out serious punishment for anyone who mistreated a civilian). It's interesting to read about his honor and humanity against the backdrop of the aftermath of the French Revolution, and it's also interesting how in a lot of the World History I got in school, the Terror was not that much touched on, nor were the excesses of the Napoleonic era discussed as much as they perhaps should have been.

The thing that makes me sad - though it really should not surprise me - is that this is an instance of people not being in power who get some power, and who, instead of deciding to be better than those who came before, turned out to be just as awful. ("Meet the new boss, as bad as the old boss.") Power does corrupt. Napoleon essentially became a sort of king figure, even as he claimed to be merely one general among generals. And the Terror - good heavens. People denouncing each other right and left. People suspected of having links to the aristocracy or even being in favor of them were slaughtered. The clergy was slaughtered. It was a case of "A few are guilty of wrong, so all who fit the category in which the guilty fall will pay" but of course it also conveniently freed up the wealth that the aristocracy and clergy had accumulated for those who were now in power to take and use.

It's both greed and revenge, two of the ugliest parts of human nature: "Oh boy, I can get my hands on some good stuff" and "That guy hurt me. I now have power over him. So instead of letting him pay a simple consequence and then forgiving him, I'm gonna make him suffer."

Napoleon was a jerk. I mean, I kind of knew that, but this book really brings it home.

I'm also struck again at how unusual the American Revolution was - instead of resulting in tyranny, as did many other world revolutions (not just the French one), it resulted in a whole new country and a new way of government. I think in large part we have to credit Washington and Jefferson and Franklin and all of them for that - Washington could have essentially done what Napoleon did but instead he served as president for a while (2 terms), until things stabilized, and then stepped aside for the next man in line.

* At least my bursitis is better. I think aggressively using moist heat on it (a buckwheat bag) was the best thing to get rid of it - I spent several hours one evening doing "heat on for 20 minutes, heat off for 20 minutes" and I would also heat the large buckwheat bag I have and put it next to my hip when I went to bed. It's not 100% better just yet but I don't hobble any more and I can go up and down stairs, and I can sit without discomfort.

(But now my hives are bad again. I can't tell if that's because it's been rainy - more molds - or if it's that I've had to take a lot of ibuprofen for the bursitis; some sources I've read say it can contribute to hives but if I'm faced with constant bursitis pain or a little flaring-up of hives, I'll take the hives.)

1 comment:

Nicole said...

Just now catching up. Sorry things are not so good right now. Hopes that they improve soon.

I am reading a similar kind of thing - Guns of August. I don't know much about WWI and this has been a very eye opening book. So many lives lost over pride and stubbornness. I guess that isn't really anything new though. I don't know much about Napoleon either. Might have to give your book a try when I'm finished with this one.