Tag Archives: Natchez

Robert Edward Lee’s Birthday—this Janus Faced Holiday—Why it Matters that Love Makes Memory Eternal

Brooksville, Hernando County, Florida

The Confederate Soldiers of 1861-1865

My son Charlie (Charles Edward Andrew Lincoln IV) and I used to celebrate this day every year….he’s grown up and is pursuing his own Law Degree at a distinctly proletarian law school (“Texas A & M in Fort Worth”), and I guess he feels weighed down by social pressures not to waive the same flags and carry on the same battles as his old man.  He has quite a collection of both history books and flags, I guarantee you that.  So far as I know, he’s never been to the White House in Washington, but he has been to Beauvoir, last home of President Jefferson Davis, in Biloxi, Mississippi.  The Confederate Soldier—a humble man not wearing a real army uniform carrying the rifle he used back home to hunt rabbit and deer, apparently is not a potent symbol for career development in modern America.

United Daughters of the Confederacy---50 years after the War

Love Makes Memory Eternal—

Love and Memory seem to me the key elements missing from modern lives and conventional history.  Well, truth and objectivity is pretty much missing, also….but without love and memory, who is there to enforce more than the one hateful version which supports the present Administration as a Marxist power-play to abolish private property and render us all slaves on a government plantation, once and for all? (http://townhall.com/columnists/starparker/2009/02/09/back_on_uncle_sams_plantation/page/full)(http://www.unclesamsplantation.com)
The story of the American War of 1861-1865 is very complex and very confusing.  Was it the Second American Revolution against Centralized Government and Oppression/Suppression of the Constitution, as the CSA President Jefferson Davis said in his “retirement” in Rise and Fall of the Confederate Government (1881) (http://www.amazon.com/Rise-Fall-Confederate-Government-Volume/dp/0306804182).  
Most would agree that “the War Between the American States” is best understood as the first “Modern” war in a great many ways: culturally, economically, politically, technologically, and socially.  The way the history is taught in American Schools—this war, under the false name of “The American Civil War” (if deciphered thoughtfully), is truly the story of the first of three important Marxist-inspired wars designed to cause and implement social change.  This year is the sesquicentennial of the bloody ending of that war.  There have been a lot of reenactments and books and conferences.  
I think of Isaiah 59:

Their feet run to evil, and they make haste to shed innocent blood: their thoughts are thoughts of iniquity; wasting and destruction are in their paths.

The way of peace they know not; and there is no judgment in their goings: they have made them crooked paths: whosoever goeth therein shall not know peace.

Therefore is judgment far from us, neither doth justice overtake us: we wait for light, but behold obscurity; for brightness, but we walk in darkness.

10 We grope for the wall like the blind, and we grope as if we had no eyes: we stumble at noon day as in the night; we are in desolate places as dead men.

11 We roar all like bears, and mourn sore like doves: we look for judgment, but there is none; for salvation, but it is far off from us.

Accordingly, during Most of the 20th and all of the 21st Century the war is not taught as anything but a war against Slavery.  The history of the period 1861-1865 is not remembered as the time when the U.S. Department of Agriculture was established to standardize agriculture nationwide according to the Communist Manifesto published so recently in London.  
Nor do our schools teach Cousin Abe’s War as the war during which the President illegally established the very first American Income Tax, also mandated by the Communist Manifesto of February 1848 (just 13 years and two months before the War broke out in America) or the War during which the Sixteenth President illegally re-established the National Banking System which Andrew Jackson had abolished. (Nor is it noted that Centralized, Nationalized or Internationalized Banking lies at the heart of the Communist Manifesto and Program).  Our schools likewise mostly omit mention of the First Republican President’s (1996 AEDPA, 2001 Patriot Act, and 2009 NDAA Predecessor) suspension of Habeas Corpus, the suppression of Freedom of Speech, and the accompanying the mass hangings and fixed elections which permitted Cousin Abe to win the war against his cousins, who were my direct ancestors.  It is indeed a short trip from what the First Republican President did to the Constitution during his first term, to what Newt Gingerich and his Republican Majority did to the Bill of Rights in 1996, what George W. Bush did after 9-11 in 2001, and what Obama has done to both the Constitution and the Bill of Rights in 2009-2015….it’s a straight line progression, with very few hesitations or hickups along the way….. you might even call it “the Highway to Hell.”……
United Daughters of the Confederacy

The Battle Flag and the Historical Frame

And it’s just way too confusing to have to admit that the Native American Cherokee, Choctaw, Chickasaw, Creek, and Seminole Tribes all together, but especially the Cherokee and Creek, fought on the side of the Confederacy, in part because Native Americans had traditions of slavery that pre-dated the Spanish Entrada of De Soto and the Foundation of Sir Walter Raleigh’s Colony of Virginia in the Sixteenth Century.  But in part because the Southern Tribes had survived, albeit displaced, where none of the Northern Tribes had survived at all, from Massachusetts and Maine all the way to Michigan and Minnesota….
Hernando County, Florida

Mixing Memory and Desire in the isolated backwaters of Florida, in June of 1916

Of what value are the stories of the wounded and dead on bloody battlefields if we do not make it all a part of our own blood, soul and acknowledge our kinship with the fallen heroes? 
 This Confederate Monument stands in front of the Hernando County Courthouse in Brooksville, Florida, where I attended a celebration of Robert E. Lee’s birthday last night (Saturday January 17, 2015, even though Lee’s real birthday is on the Federal Holiday Celebrated on Monday….. a true Janus-like irony, looking past and forward).
Hernando County, Florida

17 January 2015 a modern band played on the Courthouse Steps

So Charlie, Do you remember how we used to celebrate in Dallas, Lago Vista, Galveston, and New Orleans?   Do you remember Jefferson Davis’ home at Beauvoir near Biloxi?  The Confederate Memorial Hall just off Lee Circle in New Orleans?  Do you remember taking Taylor to these places before and after Audubon Zoo Camp and then to the Battlefield Monuments at Vicksburg?  The Mounds at Poverty Point or the Houses in Natchez and the Natchez Trace Parkway up to Shiloh? That was all in the summer of 1999.
What the world needs now is renewed faith and divine guidance so may God Vindicate Historical Truth—Deo Vindice!!!
We need to remember Robert Edward Lee’s sterling personal integrity—and is it rude to ask how his politics or personal integrity compares with that of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., in whose honor today is a Federal Holiday (http://www.martinlutherking.org/thebeast.html)
Even normally blindly liberal Salon.com covers these facts:
So what does January mean?  Like the Roman God from whose name this month takes its (little today considered) identity (since nobody reads Latin in School anymore), January is a time for looking backward in history and forward in time.  
Looking backwards: Robert Edward Lee represents, I suppose, “the old dead white man’s America”, the America of Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, Andrew Jackson, Jefferson Davis, Grover Cleveland, Woodrow Wilson, John Davis, Theodore Bilbo, Strom Thurmond, Sam Ervin, John Stennis, James Eastland, George Corley Wallace…..
Looking Forwards: Martin Luther King, Jr., represents “the new America, not white, not moral, basically communist”—well, that’s exactly the America Barack Hussein Obama, Jr., also wants…
Is the spirit of the humble Confederate Soldier crushed yet?  Charlie, my Whelp, what do YOU think?
Mixing Memory and Desire

Not Generals, Not Politicians, but Rural Enlisted Men who Fought and Died…for the Constitution? Freedom? Their homes?

Confessions of a Lifelong-Heroine Addict….(oh well, since I was 6 or 8 I guess, probably not so much before that…)…from Dorothy Gale to Katniss Everdeen

The California Secretary of State having quite literally locked the doors to my running for Senate this year (at least in Tulare and Fresno Counties)—and the California Courts not seeming to offer a sufficient or accessible remedy—I now have time to indulge other (if related) obsessions my life, such as my sufferings from a lifetime of heroine addiction….  

Like almost every other aspect of my life, I blame my mother Alice and grandmother Helen almost equally….

It was my mother and father who, when I was very small, used to take me down by the Thames in Westminster near the Houses of Parliament and show me the statue of Boadicea (aka “Budica”), the last independent Iceni Queen of East Anglia who rebelled and died trying to evict the Roman Conquerors, in whose memory it was said and sung that “Britons never shall be slaves.”  We also took one trip out to Norwich to visit one of the woods where the Iceni supposedly worshipped their own goddess of Victory….called “Budika” in the Ancient British language of the Druids….(my parents were both heavily into historical and comparative linguistics).  Budika/Boadicea in A.D. 60-61 apparently burned Roman Londinium to the ground along with several other cities before being defeated and poisoning herself by the long Roman Road called “Watling Street” which we also visited…. She was a heroine and supposedly a great archer….  

Of course my parents also tried, as heart as their own agitated and addled lives would permit them, to make me aware of a very different heroine, regarding whom they required me to memorize “the Magnificat” from a very early age….”My soul doth magnify the Lord….Abraham and his seed forever…” And yes, the Virgin Mary was indeed a rebellious heroine… and she has remained a heroine to hundreds of millions of people up to the present time….  Later on, I learned to sing the Magnificat and other pieces of Anglo-Catholic “Maryolatry” as a choirboy in the junior Choir at the Church of the Incarnation in Dallas, under the tutelage of the late, Great Russell J. Brydon (who died just a few months after this post was originally written, in September 2012 at the age of 88:

http://www.dallasnews.com/obituary-headlines/20120906-russell-j.-brydon-jr.-longtime-dallas-church-and-temple-organist-dies-at-88.ece

But it was my grandmother Helen who was something of a heroine in my young eyes herself, and it was Helen who introduced me to the very first literary  (as distinct from Historical or Biblical) heroines of whose stories I ever learned in detail: namely Dorothy Gale, Scarlett O’Hara, and the Roman Goddess Diana and her Sacred Temple by Lake Nemi  near Ariccia (Diana was also an archer…)

The path of fictional heroines from Dorothy Gale’s grey home in Kansas to Katniss* Everdeen’s equally grey home in District 12 of Panem took 108 years….from the first publication of the Wizard of Oz in 1900 through the appearance of archer Katniss Everdeen  Hunger Games in 2008**….is really the history of the idealistic dreams and ultimate failure of the 20th century (idealist dreams in Baum’s time giving way to a more cynical realism by 1939, passing through the somewhat confused “liberation” of the 1960s, sinking into the dark, pessimistic world of Buffy and Angel and finally coming to rest in the despair of District 12 in Panem in 2008—the year Barack Hussein Obama took over from George W. Bush…two different faces for the heartless, soulless, President Snow….)

But the difference in spirit between those two places traces indeed the tragic story of the Decline and Fall of Western Civilization (and of the American Dream) in the 20th Century. Major stopping points along the way (for me at least) include 1939 with the Dorothy Gale’s transformation in the person of Judy Garland and Scarlett O’Hara’s complete redefinition of the concept of “progress” in the late 19th century, Jane Fonda’s comic Cat Ballou and Barbarella in the 1960s, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer in movie and television from 1992-2003.  

At each of these intervals, the world is more cynical and darker, and the heroines more complex.  Many critics have observed that the “head injury/dream sequence” aspects of the 1939 Movie Wizard of Oz and the metathesis of real individuals to “dreamtime” residents of the Land of Oz (which was COMPLETELY absent from L. Frank Baum’s book) resulted directly from Freudian psychoanalysis and the early popularity of psychology.  The general effect is to radically weaken the power of Oz as metaphor or lesson—but the movie was a wonderful hit—a lightly comic Wagnerian gesammtkunstwerk of acting, visual art, and music, so nobody really cared.  

A lot of the verbal banter and humor in the movie likewise showed a certain “worldly” sophistication with which I think Frank Baum would only have been somewhat congenial. E.G. the Cowardly Lion’s song “there’s just no use denyin’, I’m just a DANDYlion…” and the Wizard’s closing comment to the Scarecrow:

Back where I come from we have universities, 
seats of great learning 
-- where men go to become great thinkers. 
And when they come out, they think deep thoughts -- 
and with no more brains than you have .... 
But! They have one thing you haven't got! 
A diploma!

As a former denizen of the great academic halls of Cambridge, Massachusetts 02138 and Chicago, Illinois 60637 (from various halls of which august institutions I did, for all the good that it’s done me or the world, get diplomas), and a regular visitor to many other such places, I can tell you that the Wizard here is absolutely right: 

And when they come out, they think deep thoughts -- 
and with no more  brains than you have.... 

But such cynicism simply was not part of the original vision of Oz, and although Baum occasionally did occasionally turn such comments to ridicule life back in North America in later books, he did not at all in his first installment in which he remade European folk mythology and archetypes and reshaped them in a very idealized panorama of a world where death was rare if non-existent and even the most evil of men and creatures did not kill for sport or pleasure.

For all of L. Frank Baum’s futuristic visions, I do not think he could have foreseen the transition from the naïve and hardworking life of Kansas to the nightmarish dreamworld of Suzanne Collins’ grim opera—neither a soap opera nor a very lyric, although even in the written version (which I finally got around to reading), music plays an immensely important part in the methathesis of metaphor and character, from Katniss’ Father to Peeta, from Prim to Rue… as between the unnatural National Anthem of the Conquering Capitol and the free world of nature and the poor of the “outlying districts.”

L. Frank Baum’s Oz books in so many was shaped and defined the culture of early-to-mid 20th Century of a predominantly White Christian America, especially after the release of Judy Garland’s movie….***  The spirit of Dorothy Gale’s Kansas was stiflingly dull and harsh—the American dream had already, at that point, apparently kind of run aground and needed new life— The spirit of Dorothy Gale’s Oz was half atavistic throwback to the Middle Ages, half filled with futuristic wonders (such as Glinda the Good’s Magic Picture, which permitted her what we would now call “live video access” to whatever was going on in Oz or elsewhere earth she was interested.

Dorothy Gale was a simple, pre-teenage girl (Judy Garland was at least ten years older than the original character was portrayed as being in the First Oz Book, but Dorothy Gale remained essentially a-sexual throughout the series, never had a boyfriend or a beau…. perhaps recapitulating some archaic notion of “the Virgin Goddess”,  e.g. Diana Nemorensis or the Virgin Mary or the “Virgin Queen”, Mary again or Queen Elizabeth I) whose strength derived from common sense, great courage, love, and determination.  Dorothy Gale was a generalist who never specialized in anything or focused on any particular trade, profession, or way of earning a living (all throughout the long series of Oz books, in fact).  She was just flexible, imaginative, and practical—kind of a “Renaissance girl” in a very low tech way.

Being a non-specialized generalist seems to be the primary role of all feminine heroes.  Of the earliest three I knew (Dorothy Gale, Scarlett O’Hara, and Diana Nemorensis), if Dorothy Gale had the purest and most asexual identity, Scarlett O’Hara surely had the most impure and sexual.  

It was perhaps for that reason that I was never really taken with her until I was a teenager, even though with my grandparents I religiously had watched Gone with the Wind at every possible opportunity and my grandmother compared the mythic South with the real South over and over again.   Scarlett O’Hara was beautiful, flirtations, and OWNED men in a way that is both fairly realistic and quite cynical.  But the book and movie Gone with the Wind were brilliantly timed between the First and Second World Wars to show that the American War Between the States of 1861-1865 was the first really and truly modern war of total destruction.  

Throughout history, up until Abraham Lincoln loosed Sherman on Georgia and Grant on Virginia, the goal of Conquest Warfare had been to preserve as much of a conquered land’s wealth as possible—so that it could be stolen and appropriated for the victors.  There might have been a lot of talk in Ancient Rome about how “Carthage must be destroyed” and about Salting the Earth once it was vanquished, but Carthage was not only not burnt to the ground and left to rot by the Roman Conquest, it became one of the Great Cities of the Roman Empire, as 20-30 years of Harvard Archaeological excavations in Tunisia have so clearly shown.  Gone with the Wind showed something else when Sherman’s “wind blew through Georgia.”  The purpose was indeed, as the opening lines of both the movie and the book suggested, to wipe out an entire civilization, a way of life—to replace what Marxists call one “mode of production” with another.   NONE of Baum’s villains in Oz were as bad as that, although the movie version of the Wicked Witch of the West was pretty murderous in her general attitude….

One major innovation of Jane Fonda’s heroines Cat Ballou and especially Barbarella in the 1960s was the advent of “free love”, which never appeared even once in any of Baum’s pre-1920 writings, which was only very obliquely alluded to in Gone with the Wind, but which by the 1960s was all anyone really cared about.  

Like Dorothy Gale and Scarlett O’Hara before her, Cat Ballou and Barbarella were unspecialized generalists who could adapt to almost any situation.  They were strong, intelligent, sexy, deadly in a good cause, and then Jane Fonda went to Hanoi….  In retrospect she may have been right to do it because the Vietnam War was totally wrong, a seriously failed experiment in 1984-type “perpetual war”….but Jane Fonda’s actions did not seem positive at the time.  

In this defiance of the outward semblance of world order sense, Jane Fonda’s characters of both Cat Ballou and Barbarella somehow came to life as defiant outlaws….crossing boundaries that no one else would cross, and doing so with both impunity and (what seemed most shocking at the time) complete immunity from real official sanction.  Like the righteous killer Catherine Ballou who avenged her father’s death in the Wild West—Jane Fonda first enacted herself as a mythic reality and then, by going to Hanoi, remade herself as a historic metaphor—walking through the image of a treacherous act, unscathed, in essence to show that Vietnam was all a staged event….. a dramatic diversion to keep the masses simultaneously afraid, amused and absorbed….  

Fast forward 24 years from Jane Fonda as Barbarella and you arrive the first incarnation of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, a completely modern LA County San Fernando Valley girl with no hints of modesty or virginity about her…. followed by the much more intriguing evolution of Buffy Summers in the TV Series from virginal high school freshman to intensely sexual college freshman, in a world which is increasingly dark and where reality is increasingly concealed….. Buffy’s Sunnydale was a mythic place, a lot like Los Angeles, while her first boyfriend and lover Angel eventually goes to the real Los Angeles and sets up shop as first as a private detective and then director of a large law firm—two professions which, in Los Angeles at least, possibly in the movies generally, have almost acquired the status of modern Jungian archetypes….  

The increasingly dark and brooding, sad and depressed Buffy Summers never lost her general adaptability—she could never specialize in any profession or line of work any more than Dorothy Gale or Scarlett O’Hara or Catherine Ballou… but the realization that the dark forces of the world were effectively unbeatable and had pre-existed anything good in the world—these were major transformations of the American Dream from the Early 20th Century.  And it was during the 7 televised seasons of Buffy that the 20th Century, which came in with a little girl magically transported by a tornado from dull grey Kansas to a bright and beautiful alternative universe which knew no death, went out during Buffy’s Freshman year at UCLA with a young adult barely out of her teens who was alone in the world, with her small circle of more specialized friends, fighting vampires and the forces of darkness.

And five years after Buffy ended, Katniss Everdeen picked up the bow from her archetypal ancestors the Goddesses Inanna and Diana and Queen Boadicea, and began to hunt for meagre food in the desperately hunger fringes of District 12 (in what was once called Appalachia in what was once called North America).  

The gruesomeness of the Hunger Games apparently shocks some people—I would have thought that Americans had long since forgotten how to be shocked about or by anything.  Children murdering children for sport isn’t the most pleasant of ideas, to be sure. But in that 17-19 year olds have gone off to fight in every war America has ever seen….along with a few 16 year olds here and there, and since the History Channel periodically shows authentic news clips of 15-16 year old resistance “werewolves” in 1945 Post-World War II Germany being shot by firing squads of American Troops, and countless tens of thousands of teenagers have been silently snuffed in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Vietnam, it is hard to believe that the idea of children fighting and dying is really such a big deal to our ever hypocritically squeamish population.

The Hunger Games resonate with so much in our history and culture—with the original Victor Hugo version of Les Miserables (hopelessly buried and lost in the Broadway Musical of the same name), and in Suzanne Collins’ own account with the myth of Theseus and the Minotaur.  

But above all the Hunger Games resonates with the year 2012 in which America has taken so many steps towards being a brutal, repressive dictatorship like Panem, already—with idiot fake and fraudulent “Conservatives” like Lindsey Graham and Newt Gingrich competing with idiot truly fraudulent “Liberals” like Carl Levin, Barbara Boxer, Dianne Feinstein, Nancy Pelosi, and Barack Obama competing with one another to see who can shred the Constitution fastest.  

Interesting to me, given that I based my own doctoral dissertation at Harvard in large part on revisiting Frazer’s the Golden Bough and with it Diana’s Temple by Lake Nemi near Ariccia, are the parallels between the Hunger Games and the myths and rituals of Divine Kingship.  There is nothing in the story of Theseus and the Minotaur, however, about games or about Tributes being well-fed and allowed every luxury leading up to their deaths.  But precisely this treatment is common in the rites of Divine Kingship, where sacrificial victims, like the individual selected for sacrifice during the rites of Toxcatl among the Aztec, are equated with the God Tezcatlipoca (“Smoking Mirror”) during the last year of their lives, given wonderful food and drink, and then sacrificed.  Similar paradigms of sacrifice are found throughout the world—

And the sacrifice of children, likewise, is extremely common: to the rain gods in Mesoamerica, relic traces of this existed even among the modern Yucatec Maya who tie small children to the legs of the altar during the cha-chaac or rain ceremony—although the children have to do nothing more that happily chirp like rainy season frogs (but woe to the boy who croaks like a dry season Toad—he will be beaten, not sacrificed, but beaten).  The Hebrew Bible itself is filled with child sacrifice (all through the Books of Kings and Chronicles, in particular, are Kings who make their children “walk through the fire”—perhaps most famously the daughter of Jeptha…), and by way of archaeological parallel—the excavations at Carthage have revealed hundreds and thousands of child sacrifices…. Among the Natchez of Mississippi, families sacrificed their children in order to rise in social status from commoners (“Stinkards”) to “Honored” Nobility according to the French records by Dupratz and recounted by John R. Swanton….

And in this sense it is perplexing: sacrifice almost always lead either to elevation in status or to outright deification: why the elite of Panem would not have recognized the risk embodied in Golden Bough-Divine Kingship type of analysis: the sacrificial victim—like the Rex Nemorensis at Ariccia who becomes King by killing the old one in combat, will always become the next king.  

At the end of the first book of Suzanne Collins’ trilogy, Katniss Everdeen is poised to become (with Peeta), Queen and King of Panem.  This was not only foreseeable, it was in comparative mythological terms inevitable—and yet Suzanne Collins’ trilogy does not allow this drama to evolve that way.  In part, this may be because technology and traditions of oppression have obliterated the natural succession of Divine Kingship….

But Sir James G. Frazer’s point in writing the Golden Bough was to show that Divine Kingship involving the deification of sacrificial victims and their elevation as Kings is a nearly world-wide phenomenon.  I sit here puzzling at the significance of all the trappings of Divine Kingship and the Golden Bough in the Hunger Games.  

Frank Baum had either borrowed or unconsciously recreated so many motifs from ancient mythology—the Four World Quarters with colors Winkie-yellow Quadlin-red Munchkin-blue and Gillikin-purple with Green for the Center of the Emerald City are like nothing so much as the mythological and symbolic organization of (1) Ancient Mesopotamia, “Land of the Four Quarters” centered on Uruk, (2) Celtic Ireland, Ulster, Munster, Connaught, Leinster, and centered on Midhe (Meath) at Tara, and (3) pre-Hispanic Yucatan which, at several Classic sites, is divided into quarters dominated (as recorded on Stelae A & H at Copan) by Tikal, Calakmul, Palenque, and Copan and which even now is divided into four quarters (Yucatán, Campeche, Quintana Roo, and Petén, with Belize claimed by Guatemala and Geographically appearing to be a southern extension of Quintana Roo).

But in Frank Baum’s Oz, kingship is never strong and is always frowned upon, as are all attempts at centralization or standardization of culture, customs, or laws among the four/five regions of Oz.  For that reason, I would assume, there are no hints or traces of divine kingship in Oz—it is a Federal egalitarian Democracy of sorts (even though no one ever votes).  

But by the time of Buffy, as the 20th century closes, the need for a leader has brought forward the Slayer—“one girl in all the world” who fights the Demons.  Now Joss Whedon optimistically ended his series with a devolution of power and prowess from Buffy through the magic of Willow to Millions of “potential” slayers—-but it didn’t quite ring true, in a Television series where even the most outrageous vampiric and magic witchcraft was somehow made to feel “emotionally authentic.”

In the Hunger Games, Dictatorship is the reality and the two victors of the Hunger Games, Katniss & Peeta, are set to become the Divine Kings and possibly the real sovereigns of their land.  Perhaps the need for leadership, the need for someone to save the population, is not yet great enough, but in terms of the political and emotional significance of our story-telling, I think that the journey from Dorothy Gale’s Grey Kansas to Katniss Everdeen’s Grey District 12 tells us the story of the loss of hope and impending doom and despair which was the 20th Century.

*  Katniss is named after a plant called Sagittaria, and my grandmother was born under the sign of Sagittarius—it could be that Katniss reminds me a great deal of my grandmother Helen—similar complexions and faces…. Actress Jennifer Lawrence certainly fits very precisely the image in Suzanne Collins’ book…. and the younger pictures I’ve seen of my grandmother with long hair as a teenager in the time before the U.S. entered WWI….growing up in a place very much like the defeated districts of Panem in the Southern USA.

** In some New Age texts, 108 years is said to be a Venus Cycle, the more ordinary astrological cycle is one of 104 years.  108 is used, but oddly enough, is four years longer than longest calendrical cycle and planetary identity of the Ancient Goddess of Love, namely Inanna/ Ishtar/Aphrodite/Venus.  The calendrical cycles of Venus and the sun are said to “bind” (i.e coincide) every 2920 days, but the ultimate binding of 5 Heliacal Cycles of Venus with 8 Calendar years …. (365 x 8 = 5 x 584 = 2920 x 13 = 37,960 = 2 x 52 years (my current age) = 104 calendar years/105 “tuns” or 360 day periods—the root of the Maya and Aztec Calendars).  Like her Roman Counterpart Diana, Aphrodite and Inanna were both archers—it seems to be the feminine weapon of choice, possibly for purely sexual Freudian reasons, possibly for some mixture of Freudian sexual and Jungian archetypal causation.

*** In the 1970s, Broadway Musical and 1978 movie “the Wiz” the just recently departed Diana Ross and the late Michael Jackson did their best to reframe and appropriate the Baum story for African-America in the aftermath of the Civil Rights movement (or Fraudulent Civil Rights Fiasco) of the 1950s-60s…. I have never been comfortable Easing on Down the Road with them in that direction…. although my grandfather was a great supporter of alternative all black productions (now almost extinct) because they upheld and even developed, really and truly, the old segregationist’s doctrine of Separate but Equal (we actually attended the Wiz at the Majestic Theater on Broadway as well as an all black revival of Guys & Dolls in my one major summer with him (ever in my life) in 1976.

January 9, 2011—Thoughts on Private Property vs. Communism/Communal Ownership as the Battle of New Orleans day marks end of Christmas and the New Year has begun in earnest

Yesterday (January 8, 2011) was the 196th Anniversary of the Battle of New Orleans, fought in 1815.  The Battle of New Orleans is extremely important in the history of the United States of America because it is the only battle of the War of 1812 which the Americans won.  It is extremely unimportant in world history except insofar as it launched the political career of Andrew Jackson and crystalized the legend of the (already nearly legendary) Pirate Captain Jean Lafitte, whose career spanned from France to Barataria Bay and Grand Isle, Louisiana, to Galveston, Texas, to Tzilam Bravo, Yucatan, Mexico, where there is a monument to him (as well as the marvelous [German Refugee owned] Bungalow Hotel Capitan Lafitte south of Cancun—one of my favorite resorts in the entire world).

But the War of 1812 was an unmitigated catastrophe for the United States, and might well have ended the country’s history all together.  Washington, D.C., was not only captured and burned but briefly occupied by the British Troops. How the Fall of the Capital City and Capitol buildings to the former rulers of the land, did not spell the end of the not even 38 year old nascent Federal republic can be answered in one word: Napoleon.

The British army and navy were so tied up during the years 1812-1814 trying to dethrone the Corsican Emperor of the French who also wanted to be Emperor of  Europe that they really just couldn’t be bothered to invest the time and energy it was going to take to discipline the rowdy colonials in America.

In any case, just before the British occupied the White House, First Lady Dolly Madison had the foresight (did she know the British were going to burn the entire city?) to cut a famous picture of George Washington out of its frame and take it off somewhere safe.  Dolly Madison might otherwise be forgotten to history, so this was her great moment, but so far as the War of 1812 goes, it was just a disaster, and didn’t reflect too well on the stability of the young nation known as the USA.

The British won all the significant conflicts “on the land and on the sea” and it was just pure preoccupation with Napoleon that led them to make peace in November of 1814—which leads us to the funniest part of the great American Victory in New Orleans—it was won two months after the war was over…. But you see, since the war had been so terrible for the Americans, they were terribly happy about Colonel Andrew Jackson’s victory over the British, led by General Edward Michael Pakenham (Brother in Law of Arthur Wellesley, the Duke of Wellington, who is most celebrated in history for a battle he won in a muddy field in Belgium, known by the appropriately grody name of “Waterloo”—which coincidentally was the end or “Waterloo” for Napoleon Bonaparte himself—so had the war of 1812 gone on any longer—America MIGHT have been lost…)

Anyhow—my Nachitoches, Louisiana-born and New Orleans educated grandmother Helen always made sure we celebrated Battle of New Orleans day—it was kind of the last day of the Christmas holidays—2 days after the Feast of the Epiphany, 5 days after her husband’s (my grandfather’s, the head of the household’s) birthday, and a week after New Year’s.

Since Elena and her mother and Charlie and I had celebrated Christmas at Tujague’s Restaurant (Founded 1856), and I did very little after December 25 to celebrate any of the twelve days of Christmas, not even 12th night or epiphany, and only went to see fireworks by the artillery in front of Jackson Square on New Year’s Eve, I decided to celebrate the Battle of New Orleans Day there, albeit sadly alone and without Elena and Charlie—and it was great again…. their spicy Briskette between dishes is one of the most distinctive things they’ve got… but everything there is wonderful. According to one of the many family legends about him, my grandmother’s father “Judge Benny” in New Orleans (once of the Louisiana Supreme Court and a mentor of a young lawyer named Huey Pierce Long, but who died the year I was born) told stories about Tujague’s at the turn of the LAST century—when they didn’t charge for food but had oysters piled up and only charged for liquor…. And so the late Autumn—Winter Solstice Holidays ended and yesterday *January 9, 2011* was indeed a dull dreary day in New Orleans—rainy and as wintery as it gets around here.  Worst of all, Charlie got on an aeroplane and flew back to drab, dreadful Baltimore, from whence he returned to dull but not quite so drab and dreadful Annapolis to begin his second term as a Freshman at St. John’s College—but he loves that little red-brick colonial college and town—and the classical education in language and philosophy he is getting there, so he’s happy.

I suppose the holidays of the end of the year really begin with Halloween, then All Saints then All Souls, then Guy Fawkes November 5 & Veterans’ Day/Remembrance Day/November 11, then Thanksgiving, then St. Andrews’ Day and Christ the King, then Advent with its Wreathes and multi-windowed, day-by-day Advent Calendars followed by December 25, St. Stephens’ Day, St. Johns’ Day, Holy Innocents, and the remainder of the Twelve Days of Christmas—-and for us as a family it all ended with this strange celebration of Battle of New Orleans Day—the battle that the Americans won that decided nothing because the war was over (*but I always used to wonder, what if the British HAD captured New Orleans? well, the food here probably wouldn’t have been nearly so good for one thing).

So anyhow, the Battle of New Orleans was a key event in U.S. history along only one axis or dimension: this was the battle that more than anything else launched Andrew Jackson of Tennessee towards the Presidency (he was the first President from “the West”, in his case Tennessee).  Jackson’s rise and the associated socio-cultural and political processes doomed (1) the Bank of the United States, whose demise was a good thing, and (2) the Five Civilized Tribes of the Cherokee, Choctaw, Chickasaw, Creek, and Seminole Indians, which was a very bad thing, but very important in the history of the U.S. and the Southern States in particular.   Because of his role in the Battle of New Orleans and as Seventh President, Andrew Jackson presides over the main square of New Orleans in front of St. Louis Cathedral, with an inscription on the pedestal “The Union must and shall be preserved” which he not only never said but never would have said (it was inscribed there by the occupying Yankee General—“Butler the Beast,” after New Orleans’ somewhat cowardly if rationally self-preservative surrender during 1862—the first full year of the War Between the States).  Jackson was a dedicated “states rights” democrat—a true Jacksonian in fact—and that is why, among other things, he dismantled the Bank of the United States in an effort to decentralize credit.

But the removal of the Southern Civilized Tribes was a different and very sad story.  Much shame and no glory to Jackson on that account.  But oddly enough it was just as symbolic and representative of the transformative economic debates and struggles of the 19th Century as the Bank itself. The truth about the Cherokee of Georgia, in particular, was that they were almost completely acculturated.  They had been agriculturalists for a thousand years before the arrival of the white man and lived in essentially stone-age/palaeo-technological urban centers like Etowah not one iota less sophisticated than most of the templed sites of Mexico—excluding only the Maya and Zapotec who exceeded the others by their public literacy, albeit elaborately naturalistic hieroglyphs which were ornate, baroque, and cumbersome, even compared to Egyptian hieroglyphs, never mind cuneiform or alphabetic writing…. But the Cherokee under Anglo-influence even developed their own alphabet in the 19th century for legal and literary purposes.

So just how acculturated were the Cherokee?  More than 60% of the lowland Cherokee population in Georgia had converted to Christianity by 1810, their chiefs lived in large neo-classical “Plantation” homes—and the Cherokee people held, per capita, as many African slaves as white people did and employed them in exactly the same way—slavery having been a long-standing tradition among all the Five Southern Civilized Tribes.  The Cherokee had instituted Anglo-style courts and jury-trials and newspapers and schools and churches. There was only one regard in which the Cherokee, Choctaw, Chickasaw, Creek, and Seminole refused to acculturate to the Anglo-American ways—and it turned out this was fatal.  Despite heavy intermarriage and adoption of Western customs of dress and commerce (in movable property and goods), the Cherokee refused to adopt private property.

This feature of North American aboriginal land tenure—primitive communism—and this feature alone of the Anglo-Cherokee lifestyle meant that the two cultures could not exist in Georgia, nor the Choctaw in Mississippi nor the Creek in Alabama.  This was a classic example of the Marxist confrontation between two dialectically opposed “modes of production”, and “primitive communism” and private property regimes simply are incompatible, apparently—they cannot peacefully coexist within the same society. In terms of cultural evolution, it may be interesting to note that the Maya, the most advanced and literate of all Native American cultures, had a strong tradition of private property—and litigated legal disputes over land that continued from pre-Hispanic times through and beyond the Spanish colonial period.

And so it was (and still is) that the private property holding and accustomed Yucatec Maya and Aztec of Mexico survived in much greater numbers than their illiterate and “communistic” North American cousins—despite so many other symbolic and structural similarities between the political, economic, and cultural manifestations between North and Middle America.

Nowhere in North America did population grow as large as in Mexico, but Alabama and Mississippi had even higher density and more elaborate and deep historical roots for the civilized tribes than Georgia—though even Hernando de Soto was overwhelmed with the riches of the Natives of Georgia when he arrived in the 1540s—but Moundville in Alabama is considered one of the most elaborate of pre-Hispanic urban centers in North America.  And the dozens of elaborate mounded Mississippian sites from Natchez and Vicksburg to Winterville and the Yazoo Basin and  Teoc in Carroll County, ancestral Plantation (and Indian mound site) home of the family of Senator John McCain, at which later place I have had the privilege of participating in Harvard-Lower Mississippi Survey archaeological research all attest to a widespread sophisticated culture which was worthy of more place in world history than Ancient Native Mississippian society has retained, in large part thanks to Andrew Jackson.

Still, as the last Christmas season vanishes and the New Year begins in earnest, and I renew my own war to preserve the private property “mode of production” from the creeping modern communism of today’s centralized banks, I look back on the history of the Battle of New Orleans and impetus it gave to the Seventh President’s career with a mixture of awe and sad wonder: the Cherokee had every right to remain in Georgia and it was a crime to deprive them of THEIR property rights.  The Choctaw homelands of Mississippi and the Creeks of Alabama the same.  Why could the white settlers NOT have worked out a compromise between private property ownership on Anglo lands and communal ownership within the Indian Nations—as they were called, and as they rightfully were?  Or would the compromise have been one of extensions of credit by which the Cherokee would have been further assimilated into Anglo society, but not removed by force, and would this credit economy, if centralized by a Bank of the United States (such as the Federal Reserve ultimately became?) not have ultimately led to a general imposition of communal land tenure such as that towards which the United States appears to be tending at the present time….communal except owned not by Indian tribes controlled by friendly chiefs, but by far off bank bureaucrats who work together with the government…..