The Conversion of the Iroquois

Montcalm and Wolfe is filled with references to the Iroquois. What happened to them? They were a mighty player in the French/British battles, with a capital city named Onondaga. And now they’ve just disappeared?

Self is suddenly consumed with curiosity.

An energetic French missionary named Fr. Piquet was particularly successful in converting them.

  • “The nature of the spiritual instruction bestowed by Piquet and his fellow-priests may be partly inferred from the words of a proselyte warrior, who declared with enthusiasm that he had learned from the Sulpitian missionary that the King of France was the eldest son of the wife of Jesus Christ.”

Since the Iroquois seem to have vanished, self has to assume that their conversion was simply a prelude to their — er, complete loss of agency, and eventual disappearance from the historical record.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

Liu Xia: “June 2nd, 1989”

— Liu Xia dedicated “June 2nd, 1989” to her husband, Liu Xiaobo, imprisoned since 2009 on the charge of “inciting subversion of state power.” It’s in her collection Empty Chairs, translated from the Chinese by Ming Di and Jennifer Stern (Graywolf Press, 2015)

The poem begins:

This isn’t good weather
I said to myself
standing under the lush sun

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

#amreading MONTCALM AND WOLFE by Francis Parkman

This book is about The Battle of Quebec, an epic battle which ended French rule in Canada. The two commanding generals, named in the title, were killed.

Self had never heard of historian Francis Parkman until a few months ago, when an article in the New York Review of Books made passing reference to him.

On p. 54, the French governor of territory disputed by the English sends a message to Queen Alequippa of the Iroquois, who is rumored to hold British sympathies:

  • They (the British) hide from you their plans, which are to settle here and drive you away, if I let them. As a good father who tenderly loves his children, and though far away from them bears them always in his heart, I must warn you of the danger that threatens you. The English intend to rob you of their country; and that they may succeed, they begin by corrupting your minds. As they mean to seize the Ohio, which belongs to me, I send to warn them to retire.

Love the way the “belongs to me” is uttered almost casually. About territory. Which belonged first of all to the native Americans.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Sentence of the Day: from Moving to Mars, by Tom Kizzia (The New Yorker, 20 April 2015)

In the Mauna Loa dome, crew members simply roll their eyes when Binsted’s far-flung volunteer assistants do something lame, like expecting an immediate response to an e-mail sent when everyone is still asleep, because the sender forgot that eMars, like Hawaii, is not on daylight-saving time.

Stay tuned.

#amreading MONTCALM & WOLFE: The Decline and Fall of the French Empire in North America

France’s “manifold ills were summed up in the King. Since the Valois, she had had no monarch so worthless. He did not want understanding, still less the graces of person. In his youth the people called him the “Well-beloved,” but by the middle of the century they so detested him that he dared not pass through Paris, lest the mob should execrate him . . .  Louis XIII was equally unfit to govern; but he gave the reins to the Great Cardinal. Louis XV abandoned them to a frivolous mistress, content that she should rule on condition of amusing him . . . Madame de Pompadour . . .  filled the Bastille with her enemies; made and unmade ministers; appointed and removed generals. Great questions of policy were at the mercy of her caprices.

Montcalm and Wolfe, by Francis Parkman, p. 35

Dinner is Served: Spaghetti and Meatballs, AMERICAN GODS, pp. 304- 305

Shadow is invited to dinner by a woman named Marguerite Olsen and meets Marguerite’s half-sister Sam (same father, different mothers: Sam’s mom moved to Tasmania after meeting “a guy on the Internet who lived in Hobart”) Sam tells him

  • “how all the aboriginal natives of Tasmania had been wiped out by the British, and about the human chain they made across the island to catch them which trapped only an old man and a sick boy. She told him how the thylacines — the Tasmanian tigers — had been killed by farmers, scared for their sheep, how the politicians in the 1930s noticed that the thylacines should be protected only after the last of them was dead.”

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

The Story of the Twins: AMERICAN GODS

It’s a very long fable that gets dropped in on p. 252, and it is one of self’s favorite sections, so far.

The events unfold in 1778 (How does self know? Because Gaiman puts the date right before the beginning of the fable, lol). The twins are born, captured by slave traders, and separated at auction. This part is so horrific, but Gaiman’s voice is at its most mesmerizing:

Their uncle was a fat and lazy man. If he had owned more cattle, perhaps he would have given up one of his cattle instead of the children, but he did not. He sold the twins. Enough of him: he shall not enter further into this narrative. We follow the twins.

In addition, today, self watched Fences. She hasn’t seen the original play, but the first third or so of the movie is very play-iike. The action is mostly limited to the confines of a house, and there’s a whole lot of braggadocio from Denzel’s character, Troy. About a third of the way in, however, the story takes a very interesting turn, and self was never less than absorbed.

She does feel, however, that the movie should have closed with the image of Troy swinging futilely away at a baseball attached by a frayed rope to a tree branch. Troy’s face as the camera zooms in — riveting. Instead, we’re given a kind of epilogue. It’s nice to see what happens to Troy’s son, Cory, though.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

2nd Sentence of the Day: AMERICAN GODS, p. 239

San Francisco isn’t in the same country as Lakeside anymore than New Orleans is in the same country as New York or Miami is in the same country as Minneapolis.

— Wednesday, in a conversation with Shadow, p. 239 of American Gods

 

AMERICAN GODS: A Visit from a Dead Wife

p. 117:

Shadow opened his eyes.

“Where did all the blood come from?” he asked.

“Other people,” she said. “It’s not mine. I’m filled with formaldehyde, mixed with glycerin and lanolin.”


“It’s easier to kill people, when you’re dead yourself,” she told him.

“It’s still a big deal,” said Shadow.

AMERICAN GODS, p. 91

“This is the only country in the world,” said Wednesday, into the stillness, “that worries about what it is.”

“What?”

“The rest of them know what they are. No one ever needs to go searching for the heart of Norway. Or looks for the soul of Mozambique. They know what they are.”

“And . . . ?”

“Just thinking out loud.”

“So you’ve been to lots of other countries, then?”

Wednesday said nothing. Shadow glanced at him. “No,” said Wednesday, with a sigh.  “No, I never have.”

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