Monday, June 05, 2006

"The Search for Ancient Rome" by Claude Moatti--just the title reminds me again of how wrong I am.

I think ancient Rome is real. People lived there and said things and built buildings and that was all real.

That isn't the way it is. What's real now is the bits and pieces and ruins we have left of ancient Rome, the manuscripts and inscriptions. That material is what is real now in the present.

We don't know how they lived and talked etc. way back then. People look at the remaining columns and words and make up what it was like then moment to moment. When they write down their guesses, that seems real to me, but it's not. It's made up according to current conventions of making up stuff about the past. The conventions will change; the stories will change. The rocks don't talk, and that's real. We keep searching for the past and never find it.


I woman I know told me when she does things that women have done for a long time such as wiping dishes or taking care of growing plants, sometimes there's a shift and she feel the long line of women before her. They are doing that action with her, and she is doing it with them.


When you try to communicate to others the experience of being directly connected to the past, you tend to get all gluey and stuck in your own time. Stuck in your own limitations. I really liked the book "Clan of the Cave Bear" about people way back in time in Europe. I felt like some of the words about connecting with the bear spirit might be something like what that was like.

Plus a woman made important discoveries. That was fun, and me wanting and liking that was a function of being alive when I'm alive.

Also a function of the time of writing was the way, as the series went on from "Clan of the Cave Bear" it became more and more like "Good-looking blonde people are better than everyone else." Really gave me the creeps and I stopped reading the series. I'm afraid to read the first one again, because I'll probably see the problem there too, and I want to preserve the moments in gave me of what animal-human religious connection might have been way back when.

The idea that good-looking by current standards blond people are better than everybody else and thought of everything that mattered is inaccurate. Speaking as a pale person who people sometimes ask if me or my ancestors came from Scandanavia, I'm here to say pale people are a late development in humans.

The first people and for a long time the long people were black, and they invented a lot. That's why a book like "Clan of the Cave Bear" makes a big choice when it chooses to be set in Europe.

*** It chooses to skip the first centuries, millenia of an all-black human race and rush to where it can be believably all about white people--darker white people, who are stupid, and lighter white people who are smart, charming and good-looking by the standards of 1950's USA white suburbia.

I feel like Jean Auel, in her first book at least, "Clan of the Cave Bear" was partly getting information about the different way people in the distance past lived and thought in some acros the years, mytical way. The way she packaged was partly horribly limited by the images of goodness in her youth.