Thursday, October 9, 2008

A lone king stands on his once great port and watches the harbor fill up with silt, just before they stab him in the back and call it history

Random wikiness of the day: Timarchus of Miletus
I love history on a very immediate, visceral level. Luckily, I have the worst memory ever, I’m completely unable to remember dates and names. So I get a lot of enjoyment from visiting historical sites, watching documentaries, reading books about things I’ve already read a lot about, because it’s all refresher to me. I can watch the Ken Burns Civil War over and over and over, even the Gettysburg episode. WW2 exists as a piecemeal of pictures to me, I marvel at the connection of campaigns. I’m always amazed at the Hapsburgs. History never gets old. Some might consider it a form of retardation, I look at it as a gift. A weird childlike gift. It’s not that bad really. I always did really well on history tests. I just don’t “retain”.

Timarchus of Miletus seems to be one of those D-List monarchs who somehow end up being remembered though their reign was brief, violent, and pretty inconsequential to modern man. He’s not to be confused with Timarchus of Media, another nasty fellow who had his coins inscribed with “Great King”, with a picture of Nike on the flip side (I’m still kinda sore at the whole victory/shoes connection). The ancient Iranians were not known for humility, guess. Anyway, our Timarchus is described by one word, “tyrant”. The author doesn’t tell us why he’s a tyrant, but there it is. The townspeople were so happy when he was deposed, i.e. murdered violently, they “awarded” the name GOD to the usurper. It also says he led a revolt against Ptolemy II of Egypt, but I think it was really more of an ongoing war, since Egypt was the major naval power at the time. And all this is right after years of rule by the weird Cyrus Persian guy, you know, the one in that bad cartoon movie. Miletus does not seem like it was a cool place to live at the time. Everyone was constantly trying to conquer it and tax it, and the kings, small fry as they were, were always being murdered. It was bounced around between the Egyptians and Greeks and Persians and Turks. And you know, it’s nothing special. It’s just like, a place. A place in Turkey with some ruins. People live there, well not THERE but close to there, and local would be kings still get murdered there, probably.

Most places in the world are like that. But we forget, because we’ve got such glorified terms as Paris and Rome and Medina. I think what’s missing in most people’s idea of history are the normal people, the sheer volume of normal people and normal small cities and normal villages and normal goats. Even the normal small time gangstas, like Timarchus here. The fact that we live in such luxury in the States makes us unable to relate to the idea of peasants, or mud huts, or slaves. I mean, we imagine it, sort of, like a Where’s Waldo picture. But we don’t smell it. We can’t see it. We don’t know what its like to be that dirty. We can’t even begin to relate to the mindset. Those people might as well be aliens, with empty dirty superstitious heads and sad little wives. Dirty short aliens who inhabited the Earth before us, and had no range of emotions, or care about their social state, or dignity. We’re all like, “oh, they used slaves to fight the Carpathians? Well that makes sense, they’re expendable”. History has been defined by the Master mindset. What makes us think for one moment we are Masters? Cause we know how to read?

I know that this is a problem we should correct for the sake of charity, not just to be more interested in history. But I feel like they're both screwed anyway, which is funny cause history is over and yet still screwed.

Someday someone will think of us the same exact way. And the mayor of Detroit will be a curt footnote in the super successor of Wiki, while kids in Introduction to the Western Union class watch the Cremaster Cycles and learn how to make Bubble Tea from scratch just like the pioneers did.

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