Friday, October 29, 2004

anarchic openness of the sky

We are obsessed with building labyrinths, where before there was open plain and sky. To draw ever more complex patterns on the blank sheet. We cannot abide openness…that first unscribbled serenity…that anarchic openness of the sky."
-Thomas Pynchon, Gravity’s Rainbow

...quoted in Public Art: The New Cartographers at NY ARTS.

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

we hear many Tales of Gnomes, Elves, smaller folk

illustration byNational Geographic

Mason & Dixon, p. 740:
"Nothing to with your actual Appearance," Dixon said, "but all of thee have such a familiar look,-- up above, we hear many Tales of Gnomes, Elves, smaller folk, who live underground and possess what are, to huz, magickal Powers? Who'v min'd their way to the borders of our world, following streams, spying upon us from the Fells when the light of Day's tricky enough.... Is this where they come from, then?"

"They are we."

Once upon a time, but not so long ago, on a tropical island midway between Asia and Australia, there lived a race of little people, whose adults stood just three and a half feet high. Despite their stature, they were mighty hunters. They made stone tools with which they speared giant rats, clubbed sleeping dragons and hunted the packs of pygmy elephants that roamed their lost world.

Strangest of all, this is no fable. Skeletons of these miniature people have been excavated from a limestone cave on Flores, an island 370 miles east of Bali, by a team of Australian and Indonesian archaeologists. Reporting their find in today's issue of Nature, they assign the people to a new human species, Homo floresiensis.

....The little Floresians lived on the island until at least 13,000 years ago, and possibly to historic times. But they were not a pygmy form of modern humans. They were a downsized version of Homo erectus, the eastern cousin of the Neanderthals of Europe, who disappeared 33,000 years ago. Their discovery means that archaic humans, who left Africa 1.5 million years earlier than modern people, survived far longer into recent times than was previously supposed.

....The little Floresians not only survived long into the modern period but unlike most of the other archaic human populations managed to coexist with modern humans. They also demonstrate the adaptability of the human form and how readily humans conformed to the same pressures toward dwarfism that affected other island species.

.... Among today's Ngadha people of central Flores and the Manggarai of West Flores there are local stories of little people who lived in caves until the arrival of the Dutch traders in the 16th century.

...from New Species Revealed: Tiny Cousins of Humans by Nicholas Wade, New York Times, 28 October 2004

Monday, October 25, 2004

our limitless capacity for mass murder

From Our limitless capacity for mass murder by Jeff Kelly Lowenstein, Chicago Tribune, 25 October 2004:
Concentration camps. Pseudoscientific experiments that led to theories of racial superiority. The systematic killing of more than two-thirds of an entire population.

These images come not from the Holocaust, but from its lesser-known precedent: the 1904 genocide of the Herero people by the German army in what is now Namibia. Despite being conducted on an exponentially smaller scale than the destruction of European Jewry during World War II, the German campaign in Southern Africa provided many of the methods, racial beliefs and even personnel for the Nazi atrocities.

.... Heinrich Goering was the area's first imperial commander. The father of Adolf Hitler's eventual second in command, Hermann Goering, the senior Goering was expelled by the Hereros in 1888, returning briefly in 1890. Although Goering did not participate in the genocide, he contributed to the arming of the German settlers who later did the killing.

From Tim Ware's Web guide to Gravity's Rainbow:
74; Ex-colonials from the Südwest (South-West Africa) living in Germany; "your dark, secret children" 75; "Ndjambi Karunga" = god or fucking, 100; 153; in exile in Germany for 2 generations, 315; "Last pocket of pre-Christian oneness" 321; "the village built like a mandala" 321; Gondwanaland, 321; 1904 Herero Rebellion, 361; Ovatjimba (aardvark) people, 403; almost wiped out by Germans in 1904, 452; washing-blue "abortifacient" 519; St. Pauli (washing-blue connection), 525; "An Introduction to Modern Herero" 536; "we had been passed over by von Trotha's army so that we would find the Aggregat" 563; 657; "built in mandalic form like a Herero village" 725