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          . . . . Even on the ASOIAF forum HBO's announced next project with D&D alternate history in which the southern antebellum slaveocracy successfully seceded has set off a sh*t storm, on the order of "Bad Idea or Worst Idea?" with loads of people weighing in with all the cliched, stereotypical expected responses, which basically say --

Woo! slavery's so haut!

It's just entertainment what's your problem?

How can you condemn something that hasn't even been written yet?

The Civil War wasn't about slavery.

Antebellum slavery couldn't industrialize because it was a feudal system not a capitalist system.

The north didn't care about slavery.

There were very few abolitionists (and evidently, judging by these comments, not a single person of color -- or white woman -- was in favor of abolition or against slavery, and this was wholly a white man's war.

Why not just have let 'em have their part of the country and all would be fine.

Slavery would have just withered away.

Blahblahblahblah.

To be able to combat these idiocies coolly and effectively, one needs to be armed -- and trust me, those thoughtlessly regurgitating these cliches are not.  One must point out particularly what the slavocracy's objectives were (number 1: expansion of slavery) there are a few books one can read to make one competent. One should read them too,  because what most people think they know about antebellum slavery, "the underground railroad," abolition and the roots of the War of Southern Aggression are at best out-dated (such as slavery was a feudal system), and at worst,  just wrong (the north didn't give a damn about slavery).


For example, Eugene Genovese's thesis that slavery was feudal not capitalist, has been dismantled by vast scholarship in the last twenty - thirty years. Enormous amounts of scholarship has gone into the history of antebellum slavery in all its aspects since the Civil Rights Movement, and historians everywhere have been reaping the benefits of this in the last 2 - 3 decades.  The same is true for the war effort itself.


Here is a very short list of books than anyone who wants to speak of the system of antebellum slavery and the War of Southern Aggression should read:


Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave. Written by Himself;

Behind the Scenes: Or, Thirty Years a Slave and Four Years in the White House by Elizabeth Keckley (Keckley was the US's first African American 

couturier-- right before secession she dressed both Mary Todd Lincoln and Varina Davis. She became Mary Todd Lincoln's confidant in the White House. The book is a mixture of authentic memoir and fiction;

Crucible of Command: Ulysses S. Grant and Robert E. Lee--The War They Fought, the Peace They Forged  by William C. Davis;

General Lee's Army: From Victory to Defeat by Joseph Glatthaar;

This Vast Southern Empire: Slaveholders at the Helm of American Foreign Policy by Matt Karp;

The American Slave Coast: A History of the Slave-Breeding Industry by Ned and Constance Sublette -- which runs down in a chronological, fast-reading narrative the latest scholarship about slavery in North America from the earlier colonial era to Emancipation, including the influence and effects the system within the larger European and hemispheric historical context, but the focus is on the economics of the enslaved bodies themselves -- without which the South had no wealth;

Bound for Canaan: The Epic Story of the Underground Railroad, America's First Civil Rights Movement by Fergus M. Bordewich;

Our Man in Charleston: Britain's Secret Agent in the Civil War South by Christopher Dickey -- an interesting contrast to how the Union State Department was seeing the situation with England in particular through the experiences of the US minister's mission to Saint James;

Mary Chesnut's Civil War; the carefully edited after-the-fact diary of a the wife of the South Carolina senator James Chestnut Jr., until secession, after which he served as an aide to Jeff Davis and a brigadier general in charge of South Carolina's reserves (though not seeing action, of course, being such a slavocracy nabob);

The Free State of Jones by by Sally Jenkins and John Stauffer -- Mississippians (the state with largest number of millionaires in the country prior to Emancipation) who were neither segregationists nor secessionist, nor were they nabobs -- they suffered and they resisted and fought back.

The Education of Henry Adams by Henry Adams.  He writes of his first hand experiences at the highest levels of England's and France's government during the first years of the war, as private secretary to his father, Francis Adams, as minister to Saint James.

Two things we must never forget about antebellum slavery and the War of Southern Aggression: African Americans played an immense role in abolition and emancipation.  Escaped slaves and free people of color founded newspapers, wrote books, spoke at endless meetings, organized a relief and assistance for those who managed to escape.  They labored endlessly to keep the issues of the Fugitive Slave Act and Dred Scott in the forefront of progressive minds.  Here we see the first nexus of authentic cooperative action -- not just words! -- of black and white, male and female. Never underestimate the power of people with god-given mission for moral improvement (look at how the evangelicals etc. have managed to just about disappear not only abortion, but any woman's reproductive health care from so many places in this nation, even though it is all legal).


And we must never forget that while the north for the most part, as well as the Union, when the time came, though deeply white supremacist, was also deeply antagonistic to slave labor, for it undercut wages across the board for everyone (as keeping the wages of Haitians at a few cents an hour is the benchmark for wages throughout the hemisphere currently)-- as well as threatening having work at all.  With this half of the 19th century receiving boatloads of immigrants every day, the competition for jobs was fierce.


Having slavery forced upon free soil states was not in their interests -- just as the Fugitive Slave Act was antithetical to their interests, economically, politically, and socially.  Anyone could point to your daughter and son, declare her, him a runaway slave and there was no legal recourse -- and you were supposed to help them.


Don't forget by now there was a large percentage of legally enslaved who had white skin, blue eyes and blonde hair, thanks to generations of white men raping African American women for both fun and profit -- every slave child born provided the slave owner with at least another $50 of credit, in a culture that didn't have money per se, only credit, vastly based in the bodies of their slaves.


So skin color was not a final defense by any means -- nor was an accused runaway allowed to have or speak a defense!  People in the north did not like this.  This brought more people into the anti-slavery factions than anything else, and did it so fast the south couldn't believe it was happening.


You have to know all this and much more besides, and know it inside and out, viscerally, before you can write successfully about anything to do with the history of the war, slavery, and what happened. And the more one knows -- seeing from the benefit of hindsight-- the more one knows it couldn't have happened any other way.


What cannot be white washed away in any kind of entertainment is that slavery = rape and every kind of violence perpetrated on people who have no legal right to object or fight back. Which is why so many can't seem to let it go (see above -- slavery's haut! How dare you object to what turns us on?).  They want and revel in with all their being, the joy of feeling dominant, doing whatever they wish (or their fantasy surrogates do to women and others whatever they wish), to deliberately make people suffer both physical abuse and emotional abuse.


We see this particularly in the many stories or program that involves artificial intelligence / androids. There is no fun in hurting and degrading a sentience that doesn't feel abused and degraded, that in really has no free will or feeling. Thus all the plot lines is giving the androids a/is actual humanity or having them develop it -- so they can feel humiliated and degraded. (A rare exception to this is Ex Machina, an adroid who does feel outrage, but is also entirely sociopathic, lacking all the human feelings and values -- just like slave owner.  She gets hers, and is now unleashed upon the world of poor unsuspecting male victims. O noes!)


We say, for the sake of the story, so people can have identification with the characters we have to give them human feelings.  I.e. we need that dominance from built in abuse.  Which is why this will not help and will make things worse.  D&D have a track record, and that track record is out there for all to see and read.


Entertainments have civic, ethical, social, political and historical responsibilities too.  To say "it's only for fun," -- just think about what that fun consists of.


Then there's this, that so many of us find the entire concept sickening on so many levels, delights the ilks that are D&D -- it means they won, which is supremely depressing.

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      . . . . The same untalented, ethically, socially and historically ignorant sexist and racist team that brought you limitless gratuitous graphic scenes of female nudity, rape and torture to HBO via Got, now presume to bring the the same, now set in an 'alternate' historical time line in which slavery remains legal because the CSA successfully seceded.


 

Just for that latter, a "successful" secession has Andrew Jackson spinning in his monument.  He didn't squash Calhoun, South Carolina and Nullification in 1832 for morally bankrupt 21st century media to make it entertainment.  See the Nullification Proclamation By Andrew Jackson, President of the United States, to South Carolina, here.


NY Time pay wall so the url rather than a link is provided: 

 

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/07/19/arts/television/hbo-confederate-game-of-thrones.html 

 

     . . . . In any case, the south couldn't have successfully seceded because Lincoln and many coalitions behind  him wouldn't allow it. As Jackson knew, neither division would have stood long before England and France picked both of them off. As it was during the first three years of the War of Southern Aggression a faction in both England and France did their best to help this along.  Also because the whole point of secession was to provoke a war with the non-slavery forces so the slaveocracy could then take over the entire nation -- they didn't want to be left alone with their peculiar institution.  Their objective was to aggressively force their peculiar institution upon all by the force of arms.  There is a reason that the U.S. Civil War's official name in the government records is "The War of Southern Aggression."

 

So Grant whipped Lee's army, and the CSA melted because it was essentially nothing but the Army of Northern Virginia, never a functioning nation. If you don't believe me, read some contemporary

 

 

 

 

 

 

military histories of the Virginia campaign by military historians, such Crucible of Command, and Lee's Army. Among the reasons the CSA was never a nation is that the CSA power elites didn't believe in government in the first place, and couldn't work together any better or effectively than the people in the White House right now do. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Killing black people at whim with impunity, raping black women anywhere anytime at whim without repercussion, raping black children without even being socially ostracized, torturing and incarcerating at will, using as unpaid labor black people who are prisoners of the entire slavery system, in an what has to be (speaking from historical evidence), an all white country, since slave labor makes immigration unattractive if not downright impossible, since color-coded slave labor fills all the labor slots from housekeeping, to hair stylist to mechanic, to street cleaner, miner, etc . -- in our current climate in which lynch nooses and random, arbitrary of killing of African Americans and threats to do so happen all the time -- can anyone with any sense of artistic talent and social conscience really think this thing which didn't happen and couldn't have happened is a good thing for popular entertainment and the nation? 



This is the height of irresponsibility, as a member of our civic, economic, social and political polity. Media and entertainment does shape all these matters.  Historical accuracy, even in entertainment, is civic responsibility. Ask the  historic slaveocracy that blamed Harriet Beecher Stowe and Uncle Tom's Cabin for the Civil War.


Shame HBO and everyone involved, shame, shame, shame.

Lunch

Jul. 19th, 2017 05:58 pm
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     . . . .  Yah, it's ten to 5 PM, and I am just having it.  Maybe . . . it's really dinner

I had a smoothie for breakfast at 8 AM and that's it so far for today. 

So hot humid polluted, don't have a lot of appetite. 






But this 'lunch' appeals. An heirloom yellow tomato, homemade pesto, artichoke hearts, olive oil, vinegar and crunchy bread. 



The NYPL electronics have been down all day again, for the second day in a row, with intermittent glitches on Monday. It's the whole system: all the branches and the research libraries. One cannot even return materials, much less access the catalogs and data bases. Are the cray crays hacking libraries now? 

In the meantime the NYU library's a/c went out, within minutes of my arrival and set-up and logging into JSTOR . . . . 

IOW, in some ways, this has been somewhat of a frustrating day. Nor have I managed to unearth the North Dakota materials I was looking for, particularly the genealogy of my maternal grandmother's family. 

So -- once I eat my delicious lunch - supper, I'll crack open a chilled Czech pilsner and watch some eps of the second season the SyFy channel's The Expanse (from the Daniel Abraham -Ty Franck series).

Sample dialog:  "You can't negotiate with a girl who thinks she's a space station."  Ay-up, guys wrote this.

Dragging On

Jul. 12th, 2017 08:15 pm
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[personal profile] al_zorra
      . . . . Really sick, both of us, for days and weeks now. The coughing never stops, so we are so sleep deprived that thinking has gone out the door.  Not to mention that the weather here is deep humidity, Caribbean quality, with air filled with toxic pollution chemicals, and hot, hot, hot -- though still not has hot as on, say on Cuba.

Nevertheless the all important Memorial for Michael went off yesterday without hitch and also brilliantly.

We spent all today, preparing for el V's prospecting trip for music, accommodations and restaurants in Central Cuba for January 2018.  He leaves at 6 AM (from here) tomorrow.

We are both exhausted and unfit.  But one must continue, until no longer able.


M's Memorial

Jul. 10th, 2017 07:56 pm
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      . . . . Our dear friend, artist and houngan, M died May 5th of lung cancer.  He'd been given four months to live -- to put his affairs in order -- but didn't make it three weeks.

It's been an enormous amount to sort, from art, to lease, to money, to family, to widow and stepdaughter.  Several people have have stepped up, to contribute substantial material, financial and emotional assistance. This was all more essential as his widow is Haitian and much of how things are done here around death are so different than back home.  Also her own personal Haitian family, other than her young daughter (thirteen) are not here, so she doesn't have that traditional network to fall back on.  Among those who have been instrumental at every stage and with everything (except the loft itself -- getting the lease transferred to his widow, etc.) has been el V, of course.  But so many have been involved,  It been a true NYC art community pull-together.



Finally, the memorial could be scheduled, planned and held.
 It is tomorrow, at the Kitchen.  After that, the Vodun side of things will continue at the loft where M has lived ever since coming to Manhattan from Buffalo. The drummers and celebrants have all arrived by today, from Haiti and New Orleans.  Tomorrow is a very big day for them -- so much responsibility, to open the doors and escort M's spirit to where it should be.
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      . . . . In 18th century England and Europe, with the technological innovations in what was still the rather new-fangled printing press technology books became available commercially to anyone who could afford them. 

 

 

 




Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, self-taught scholar and poet of New Spain (Mexico).

 

No longer was reading for pleasure, inspiration or information limited to  academics and churchmen with access to archives and libraries, or exceedingly wealthy individuals who could patronize poets, scholars and historians, and buy expensive hand-written manuscripts and the finely crafted tomes.


Though the price remained out of reach for poor people, the rapidly expanding middle-class could easily afford books. Even those who served the middle-classes were able to acquire reading materials for fun and instruction.


Still, candles remained expensive, and so did fuel for fires.  Many people's vision was too poor to read for themselves in such dim light -- and it would be only at night they could find an hour for themselves.  So it was the most natural thing in the world that along with the flood of commercial reading materials came the practice of reading aloud in groups.

 

 

 

Abigail Williams has presented us with a lively account of the vastly popular activity of reading aloud in The Social Life of Books.  

Williams, who teaches at Oxford University, explains that from the vantage of our own age, saturated as it is with entertainment and information, “it is hard to imagine the excitement felt by previous readers at the possibility of gaining access to a new book.” 
.... In the pages of his magazine, the Spectator, Joseph Addison commanded that culture come “out of Closets and Libraries, Schools and Colleges, to dwell in Clubs and Assemblies, at Tea-Tables, and in Coffee-Houses,” and it did. 

Review of The Social Life of Books here

She explains how reading became something of a “spectator sport.” Of course, as with any type of performance, one had to be properly prepared, and this led to a surge of instructional manuals, further fueling what Williams designates “the great age of elocution,” in which Britons of all backgrounds were gripped with “a near obsession with learning to read out loud.” Tradesmen formed what were rather memorably known as “spouting clubs” for aspiring public speakers, relying on such handbooks as “The New Spouter’s Companion” and “The Sentimental Spouter.” Women, who very often found themselves omitted from public performances, quickly took to them in the home, entertaining friends and family with tales and poems while they knitted or otherwise busied themselves around the hearth.

 

 

One of the reasons this reader particular enjoyed Abigail Williams study of books as a popular social activity is because it brought back vividly my first ideas of reading aloud, entertainment, instruction and novels went together naturally.  It was an illustration, of a servant girl by the kitchen fire, reading aloud to the rest of the household staff, the latest installment of Samuel Richardson's Pamela: Or Virtue Rewarded.

 

 

 

In the Book of Knowledge's history of literature section, it was carefully explained to the young reader how important reading and novels were in instructing the poorer, less educated classes in morality and social behavior.  Pamela was the paragon of virtue that all young women should model themselves on.  The most important lesson of all that Pamela taught poor young girls who served in more prosperous homes that at all costs she must preserve her chastity from the household men who all would set siege to corrupt her from the paths of virtue.  But if she followed Pamela's example she would not only preserve her all important good reputation -- she may well marry the son of the house and become the lady of the house, no longer a servant.


I have looked and looked in vain for an 18th century illustration that shows a young servant girl reading aloud by kitchen fire light to her gathered sister - fellow servants, but have not. It must have been an illustration created for this section of The Book of Knowledge.

It seems that in the 18th century when servants congregated together below stairs out of the view of their employers did nothing that interested the popular press illustrator other than drinking and generally roistering.  Which reveals even more about the popularity among servants for reading aloud together 'improving' literature.

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