Thursday, June 9, 2016

Fame Is War

I once flipped through a book in the library called "The Top 1000" or some such. Its premise was a new algorithm using internet searches etc to determine the thousand biggest names in history.  Jesus was number one as he always is for such things. I'd hate to be one to carry on about 'Eurocentrism Man" but second place went to Napoleon and he strikes me as a bottom half of the top ten guy maybe. Mohammad came in eighth as I recall and I don't see how he's anything less than a dead lock for second unless you place Abraham first, which one could make a good case for. And as for Glover Cleveland being in the top hundred at all (98th) get the fuck out with that shit.

I wholeheartedly agree with the left-wing consensus that reverence for the "founding fathers" is mainly bad. Yet when I read sociopolitical works from the mid twentieth century it becomes strikingly clear that Washingtonismo is a fraction of what it was when my parents were in school. This tells me among other things that we need not despair over the civil/rights identity movements of the sixties & seventies having plowed the sea, having accomplished nothing but inspire a brutal political thermidor against them. The risings have had real and lasting effect on general American thought patterns. We are less hierarchical now.  There's a monarchical/great man impulse hungover from feudal Europe that's been permanently weakened. The Cult of The Founders, rebels against Britain, is a thing that has been intentionally cultivated by those who wished to permanently cement US culture as not just fundamentally white but specifically British for all eternity. (There are still living people, if not for much longer, who remember the DAR being a force) This effort has in the main been abandoned for the futility it has always been. Though I have recently glossed through a right-wing column which said that we once revered the founders and were now more inclined to dismiss them as slavers. That for reasons not quite spelled out this was not only bad but apocalyptically bad. Precisely how society benefits from revering Great Men is never spelled out. Some people would simply instill a general habit of submission for the sake of having it.  Some well-to-do white men would have such a habit be the norm so that they themselves are submitted to,  or at least by their own families withing there own homes.

We are an Anglophone nation who are markedly less English than Canada or Australia.  I am glad for this though I have no contempt for either them or England. It gives me hope to see us perpetually evolve into a new thing, in vivacious defiance of those who demand One True Eternal Culture and system of values. It is largely our non-European marginalized who make us particular in spite of all and I am thankful.  I love particularity and being particular above most all else.  I hope not to come across as condescending with praise but teenage Jagger and Lennon thought America was cool mainly because they thought African-Americans were cool.  That's just historic record.

I am of the post-imperial European diaspora and I am not whatever the fuck a Westerner is supposed to be. I am American and I am Nebraskan.  My compatriots are the Natives African Americans and Latinos among me. It is no longer hidden from me that this is who we are among and are of.  London Prague and Tehran for their part are all the same single degree of foreign who I strive to view with all due benevolence.

There are still those who bemoan "The Downfall of Western Civilization." (tm) Who claim either obliquely or directly that the light skinned can only either feel superior or suicidally self-loathing. Who damn the political correctness that has led to the decline of western civ courses at universities. Shakespeare Goethe and Plato are not actually being taught any less than ever but binding them together into a bullshit Westerness is apparently all-important. The mourners may speak as if they have common sense and ancient truth on their side but really it's all about wanting to believe that a generically similar appearance to Shakespeare or Goethe magically makes their accomplishments one's own now isn't it? ("How many slaves do you think I owned Mr. Hates America?"  Well; how many airplanes did you invent motherfucker?)  Let me shun political correctness myself and speak straightforwardly in pure simple truths. I agree with those who insist that Western Civilization is not inherently evil; because a thing has to exist before it can be evil. The Dead Meat Boys of the Western Front were able to see each other as intrinsically alien well enough now weren't they?

Rutherford Hayes came to the White House in a very shady manner; and in order to stave off violent challenges to this he ended Reconstuction in the South among other things.  This made way for a savage regression to white dominance there and helped influence what would become a near genocidal mania against black people nationwide by the 1920's. The story of how Hayes came to power is important to our greater national story, yet for what he actually did with this power well; this was a time when presidents just didn't matter as much as we're accustomed to. Three got shot in thirty five years before anyone thought they should have a permanent bodyguard.  Hayes signed tariffs and he had a beard like Grant and Garfield and Arthur did.

Rutherford Hayes is no one's Great Man, no one's top one thousand. Still his presidency happened to coincide with white settlement of the High Plains so there are things named for him out there.  The last sizable town in westward Kansas until all the way to Denver itself.  A county in southwest Nebraska, its borders absurdly drawn by Great Lakes standards of ideal size, as is so with many western counties.  It is settled to the degree of not quite a person in a half per square mile for a total population of not quite a thousand.  One more nonsense county removed from McCook, the nearest town conceivably big enough to ever seat an impartial jury. One who has seen the Plains from valleyed interstates may be shocked by Hayes Counties' ruggedness, its rocks, dunes, pine trees and stone age "roads" occasionally vertical as canyons demand and on which high school kids casually make their thirty mile commute to school at 70 mph, dreaming of being ranch lords themselves one day or maybe the swinger's life in Denver if they've been turned on to Kanye Sublime or whatever time-defying mismash of non-country music.

As you may guess Hayes County has had almost nothing in the way of true sociohistoric happening in its time. The one exception to this being the Great Buffalo Hunt of 1872.  A junior Russian prince was touring the US at the time.  He had already done New York Washington Chicago etc and then headed out west to kill a bison; because if one was visiting the US at this time they simply had to.  It was like a hitchhiking foreign exchange student eating a cheeseburger and putting it on Instagram today.  It simply wasn't not done.

So Prince Little Alex Son of Alex rode a train to North Platte where he was met by Buffalo Bill, (Who lived there at the time.  You've no idea how weird it is to recall that most people aren't from NP and need to be told this) General Phil Sheridan (Grant's old Hard Man) General Custer (Yes that one) and Spotted Tale of the Lakota now reserved at Rosebud.  One may add a priest a rabbi Wyclef Jesus Christ and Haile Salassie if this were a joke and it is but it really did happen too. They rode south out of the Platte Valley and into the hills, eventually finding a herd that had taken apocalyptic refuge as far from people as it could in not-yet Hayes County. There the men camped drank and killed.  Custer and Cody trying to outfab each other to a nuclear-obnoxious degree I'm sure.

I look back on this with a vague sense of anger. Or rather a conceited sense that I should be angry at this God-Damned European crowned head who had his way with already badly-stressed American wildlife.  Becky once told me of an African she met in France who went on a prolonged rant against safaris (Yeah they're still a thing) "Do you think that's normal!?" he said, "go ten thousand miles and spend a hundred grand just to blow away an elephant?"  I feel this man's sense of insult in my own way. My own home turf has been Safarized, which is to say treated as if it were not quite real, as if it could not truly be a matter-of fact home of birth sex lunch and death for anyone, was rather a toy to be used by the actual real world. Though some of this to be fair might be benign; the tourist's natural rush of joy at experiencing a new world.  Andof course I am not a colonized person myself, I no nothing of what it's like to be an indigenous African or American and being asked what it's like to be so damned exotic. I am not cut by the rub directly as others are but I do perceive it.

I think "Buffalo Commons" is a bridge too far but I do believe that the Prairie needs its own Yellowstone A fifty mile square of the Nebraska Sandhills would be ideal for this. Private enterprise can survive that one bit of ranch land reverting to federal commons.  And so long as you leave out the tree-pissing conquest angle of hunting I'd be happy to see visitors get their fucking LARP on with white pioneer stereotypes. Bonnets, straw hats, beards, denim suspenders, hoop skirts, Jebidiahs, playing dead form cholera. It'd be beautiful. I shall never have the option of identity without baggage.  There are worse things.  From Iowa to Piedmont my land shines from indulgent rains.

No comments:

Post a Comment