Saturday, May 29, 2021

A Technological And Also Political Appendix to Postblogging Technology, February 1951


"Sabre Dance" is a movement of the final act of Khachaturian's Gayane (1942), crossing over to mainstream popularity in 1948, and a perennial favourite of figure skaters and, more recently, "sexy violinists" ever since. I'm not 100% sold on "sexy violinist" Youtube videos, but it's pretty hard to make money in classical music these days, so whatever. Subsequently, "Sabre Dance" was a bit of low-hanging fruit when the various aeronautical eccentricities of the North American F-86 Sabre became apparent at the height of its technological, pop-cultural, and, yes, political fame over MIG Alley three years later. It's not quite in the moment. These things often aren't. I've also referenced Chuck Berry's Run, Rudolph, Run in connection with the F-86, and it came out in 1958. It's hard to keep things historically grounded. The things you might imagine, happened together, are actually off a few, critical years. 

On the other hand, politics makes and unmakes connections as it will:

Saturday, May 22, 2021

Postblogging Technology, February 1951, II: Flying Saucers and Monstrous Regiments

R_. C_.,
Vancouver, Canada.

Dear Father:

I have yours of last week and am puzzling through it. So far I am struggling to make sense of our place in things. There is solid demand for gold in Hong Kong, but I am not sure enough to support a fullscale branch of the family operation, especially when we have enemies on the docks there who are going to be alert to any bullion movements. 

On the other hand, have you considered the potential for gold mining stocks? I know they do quite well on the Vancouver Stock Exchange, and there is some connection between the VSE and the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, isn't there? I almost think that you might look to Hong Kong for financial support for underwriting issues rather than for customers for the stocks themselves. Because, not to be more callous than I need, gold mining is full of swindlers, and business partnerships are built on being partners to the swindle, not being the swindled!

Your Loving Daughter,

Saturday, May 15, 2021

Postblogging Technology, February, 1950, I: The Armageddon Rag

R_. C__.,
Santa Clara, California

Dear Father:

Thank you very much for your kindness during my too-soon-done trip to San Francisco. Dr. Rivers had the kindness to do up a full report that followed me back across the Pacific so quickly that I have it before me, which ought to be a lesson to some subscription services. It says, at more length and with some X-ray negatives, that everything is proceeding quite satisfactorily and that he sees no problems if I choose to give birth in Formosa, although as a practical matter I will be "couched," to be archaic and dramatic, in Macao and attended by some of your great-grandfather's intimate aides. 

You can see perhaps some anxiety leaking through in my comments about air safety below. Reggie said, anyway. I prefer to think that instead of succumbing to the anxieties of the  young mother-to-be, the scales are falling off my eyes due to the latest Air France and Northwestern fiascos. But maybe when I am delivered I will look back on these as just silly vapours! 

Your Loving Daughter,

The first few minutes are awful, but Grable's athleticism is amazing. 

Friday, May 7, 2021

Gathering the Bones, XXIII: Wyandotte Days

So. Precolumbian deforestation. Or the reverse! 

My interest in Fenimore Cooper's 1843 Wyandotte: Or, the Hutted Knoll, is currently confined to the introduction, which describes the creation of the eponymous patent in the western(!) New York wilderness somewhere between the headwaters of the Delaware and the Susquehanna. In it, Cooper describes how the patent, once located and cleared of Indian title, is created, by breaking a giant beaver dam and draining a vast low saucer of land, at once creating a large and fertile farmscape, devoid of tree trunks. Various adventures set in the American Revolution, follow which I may follow up on at some point, at the end of which all that is left are the ruins of the mansion and fort built on the rocky hill, or "hutted knoll" at the centre of the pond. 

The image of a hill, surmounted by a chieftain's hut, in the middle of a flood seems to be referring to the spring renewal/creation myth and to the obligatory hutted mound/pyramid which has been the ritual centre of city settlements in indigenous North American civilisations  since Olmec times, and extending up until at least Cahokia. Turning the flood into the breaking of a beaver pond seems to add another layer of allegory referring to the fur trade, and to its later end, when the beaver was driven out of the Eastern Seaboard to make way for farmland. At least as a hypothesis, it makes sense that the beginning of the fur trade would have seen a change in attitude towards the beaver, one that might well have had a significant effect on the landscape. Cooper talks a great deal about the cycle of civilisations, and while I am dependent on a Cliff's Note summary in talking about the "ancient ruins" of Wyandotte, as they appeared to the returning heir to the patent in 1795, in Wept of Wish-ton-Wish, Cooper quite explicitly refers to the fort at the centre of the little settlement of Wish-ton-Wish as having been built on an ancient ruin. 

Does the planting of Wyandotte restore the pre-fur trading status quo of the "hutted knoll?" Probably not. Probably I'm reading too much into it; but we do have some interesting evidence for shifting populations and ecological change in the right time frame. While it continues to be analyzed in terms of a disease-driven demographic collapse, in this post I want to explore the possibility that the evidence we have is explicable in terms of human agency. God knows there's not a lot of effort made to think outside of the box in  terms of American antiquity, Mormons apart (Bless their souls.)  The frontier and the west confuses us.