mercoledì, ottobre 01, 2008

My name is Mistress La Spliffe, freak of freaks: Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!

Oh my god, I'm so sick and revolting. I bet my recovery time is going to be pretty fast though, because my fantastic corpus has already kicked into the goopy lymph phase of auto-immune protection. The human body is endlessly fascinating and its disorders even more so. Speaking of which, check this out. I love the way one of the researchers says it's more a matter of historical interest than anything else - not a matter of historical blame, of course - never mind that there are billions of people around who can still remember damaging overt, political, imperial European colonial machinations in Africa from the 1960's, and no matter that such machinations continue, both overtly and not, and no matter that AIDS, you know, continues to be a bit of a problem.

Jared Diamond wrote about the human damage of constructing European cities in Africa in Guns, Germs, and Steel, I recall. I believe his line of thought was that when the mountainous bushy region that's the Congos etc. now was a functioning African empire/state/however it worked, people lived in smaller groups at higher, dryer altitudes, and then Europeans constructed cities in Africa in the lowlands, close to navigable waterways for trade, and forced large groups of Africans down for labour, and everybody caught malaria. Brilliant. But malaria couldn't spread internationally, and HIV could, and now Europeans can't fuck without condoms. Hah! I'd say there was some sort of poetic justice in that, but considering eye-for-an-eye type justice in the case would be the ruination, decimation and enslavement of the European population by a kleptocratic African ruling class, I won't.

It's like a replay of syphilis spreading east from all the South and Central American populations the Spanish and such treated worse than animals, back when being Spanish still meant something besides having the most annoying voices in Europe. Syphilis is a really interesting disease. There's still some debate about whether it did spread out to Europe via Central American yaws, but I'm really convinced by the timing - first outbreak 1494? Come on, what's that two years after? - and by its virulence and the complete lack of resistance to it in the European population, but not the native American population, especially considering the native American population got fucking clobbered by basically every other filthy contagion Europeans carried.

Anyways, I get to stay at home today while my immune system goops everything up, and I can ponder the origins of my favourite venereal diseases to my heart's content, but probably what I'll actually do is read the rest of the lovely Seymour Hersh's Chain of Command and ponder the nature of investigative journalism. It's an awfully good book. Not really bringing any revelations home to me but it's making me think of what investigative journalism is - what being a muckraker is - and it's journalism as a primary source, journalism responsible and direct enough to be something that future academics will be able to look at with the same seriousness as a government memorandum or a law - a forum for a primary truth that would probably not have any other public forum, and risks being lost to history forever.

Someday, not too far into the future, Chain of Command and those Bob Woodward books and things like that will probably be required reading for people studying the 2001-2009 period of American history - and you can bet your asses the asses will be studied off of this period, since it marks the end of an empire and of a certain philosophy of power. There's something in my academic's brain that that really appeals to, and something that explains to me why I'm so drawn to investigative journalism over the academic world that beckoned vigorously to me all through my undergrad and my masters via all those parental profs and incredibly good marks . . . I'm simply too conceited, too full of myself, and too concerned with my place in history to study primary sources when I have the possibility to write them myself.

On that level, the narrow, industry-specific investigative work I'm doing now is more satisfactory to me than the funnest, most interesting papers I wrote about poetry or drug politics in university, because it makes me feel like a participant in rather than an observer of history. And as of yesterday I have a byline. So somewhere, some obscure toiling academic may know Mistress La Spliffe existed, even years and years after her phenomenal (if presently mucus-y) body has crumpled, aged, died and dried to dust. And if I achieve my ambitions, not only will I be providing a valuable public service to my compatriots, but maybe someday long after I've left this mortal plane someone will love me like I love Herodotus.

Fuck, that's weird. The only thing more interesting than the human body is the human brain.

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