Thursday, November 5, 2009

Stuck in Iberia...

Photo of Monarch Butterfly from Wikipedia.

As I have often said before, I suffer just a little bit from attention deficit syndrome. I suspect that we all do to a degree, It’s just that I enjoy my distractions so much that I can’t resist them. I’m very likely to be in the middle of a conversation about brain surgery and be distracted by a beautiful butterfly flitting by. My thoughts will be immediately grabbed by the beautiful butterfly, but the person that I was talking to will be annoyed because I dropped the conversation. I will be surprised that the person that I was talking to doesn’t seem to appreciate that we can always come back to what we were talking about, but the beauty and grace of the butterfly can only be enjoyed in the moment, because it will soon be gone.

I think that the name “Attention Deficit Syndrome” should be changed to “Attention Over Abundance Syndrome”. It used to embarrass me that I am so easily distracted, but now, I just enjoy it. Life to me is like exploring a new trail every day. I’m often shocked that I will notice things going on around me that nobody else notices. I wonder how they can get through life without the peripheral vision that I seem to have. I’m always noticing things around me, while others seem, to me, to be dangerously focused on what they are doing. For crumb sakes, Godzilla could sneak up on them and eat them it one big swallow. Not me… I would notice Godzilla sneaking up on me in a heartbeat.

You probably wonder by now where this is all going. A few posts ago, I started to set the stage for explaining why the New World explorers were so heartless and brutal. Knowing very little about psychology, I get in trouble by knowing just a little about it. I know that people with brutal upbringing have a tendency to be brutal themselves. By extension, I extrapolated that would be true of any whole groups of people. So, I decided to look into the history of Christopher Columbus, and the Conquistadors. Just so all of the anal-retentive types out there know. I understand that Christopher Columbus was not the first to discover America… I know that! It’s just that he was the most important person to discover America, from the era of 1492 until the present. Sheeeeeesh.

But, I thought that I could show everybody what a brutal part of the world that the Conquistadors came from, and then you would be overcome with understanding, that the brutality that they showed in the New World was simply because, that was the way they were raised, and that is the only way of life that they understood. I wanted to talk about burning people at the stake. Pulling people apart while still alive on “Racks”. Using every means of torture that they could devise to kill off heretics, just to convert people to Christianity. I wanted to show everybody that Spain had just gotten their land back from the evil invading Moors. That they were tough fighting people that used violence to survive.

I soon learned that much of history was lost through the Christians having destroyed any record that did not agree with the teachings of the Pope and the Christian Church. So, I poked around to see what else I could learn about that part of history before Columbus came to America. That’s when a Beautiful butterfly flew past me, a butterfly by the name of “Spanish History”.

There is lots of history available from 1492 back into 711, when the Moors invaded the Iberian peninsula (Spain). I discovered that much of the reason that there was no recorded history before the Moors invaded, is because the Muslim Moors are the ones that brought the “Three R’s” to Iberia. They brought recorded history to a new world that was previously unsophisticated and uneducated. They brought light to the Iberian Peninsula. All religions and races were allowed to live together in “peace” up until the “Reconquista”, where the Christians, in the space of about 600 years, were able to eventually drive the Moors back out of Iberia. Coincidentally, that happened the year that Christopher Columbus, an Italian navigator, was given three ships by Queen Isabella and king Ferdinand the III to find a new spice route to China. The buildings, castles, and palaces were intricately and beautifully built, with elaborate fountains and gardens. Structures were built that still exist today. Buildings gardens and Architecture that would be hard to duplicate, even with today’s technology. The Spanish butterfly was beautiful beyond what I had expected.

Most of you know that we “Attention Deficit Types” can’t resist playing “What If”. When I’m not playing “What if” or “look at the beautiful Butterfly”, I’m in my imaginary world of make-believe. Anybody who has ever read “The Life and Times of Walter Mitty” will know exactly what I mean. My Imaginary world of Walter Mitty got tangled up with my What if world recently, and I imagined myself as being Christopher Columbus. First Christopher was not all that smart. (Which I can identify with) He was Italian, but the Italians didn’t want anything to do with him because he went around proclaiming that the world was round. Any fool back then knew that the world was flat. Flat! The Pope said it was flat, so it was flat. If you didn’t want to be burned at the stake you didn’t go around arguing with the Pope. The world was flat.

Chris needed to get financing to buy himself some ships to find a new route to china. Chris saw that he wasn’t getting anywhere with the Pope so he went to see Queen Isabella in Spain. Spain was just ending a “surge” to get rid of the Moors. Isabella was feeling the pinch of the very expensive war, but she finally got rid of the heretic Muslims. Now, she needed some income. She reckoned that a new and direct route to the Orient would bring her some wealth from the spice trade. Chris was too dumb to know it, but the ships that she gave him were too small to make a transatlantic crossing. They were too small and way under stocked with food and fresh water. They had to depend on catching a few fish along the way. The boats wouldn’t even qualify for the Cash For Clunkers program today. But Chris was able to make some valid points for the world being round, and Queen Isabella’s greed was boundless, so she gave him some ships, with the of chance that she might cash-in. It was what, in today’s world, would be called a long shot.
So, when I Imagined myself as Christopher Columbus, and I started to step onto the deck of my command ship. My first thought, (even as dumb as I am) would have been “How far around is this world”. If it’s a million miles in diameter, I’m not going to be able to make it to China. Hmmmm…..

Even though Chris was able to prove to Queen Isabella that the world was round, he used new math to prove it. He used a lot of talk like; “Pi times R squared equals the radius of the diameter, and that proves that China is just off of our coast to the west.” I know how that kind of talk often charms people into agreeing with me, but when I boarded my ship I’m sure I would have gone over my calculations.

If I was staking my life, and the life of my crew, on something, I’m sure that I would be dead sure that my figures were right before I lifted anchor and sailed west to China. But, not old Chris. He just said a prayer for God to guide him to China, lifted anchor and sailed away. He was just happy that the world was round. My brain would be screaming ; “HOW round??” I would have had charts and cardboard cut-outs. Stakes driven in the ground with yarn (don’t call it string!) stretched between them. I would have run sand through hour glasses, charted the movement of the sun, and come up with the real diameter of the Earth before I even thought of lifting my anchor. Believe me, when it becomes reality time, and my life is at stake, you would be surprised how smart I can become.

They say that God protects damn fools and drunks, so that’s what must have happened to Chris, because he sure the Hell didn’t know what he was doing. He could tell from the position of the Sun, Moon and stars that he had been blown way south of where he should have been. So when he found land and saw the color of the brown people, he just thought that he missed China and was blown clear down to India. Lucky for him that there was land in the West Indies where he landed. It was far less than halfway to China. If he hadn’t been dumb, stupid, idiotically and foolishly lucky, he would have simply perished in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. He didn’t have a clue that there was a New World in his way, and that he was nowhere near to China!

So, the Idiot that found and “Discovered” the New World was just lucky! But, he went down in history as being a “Great Navigator”. See, that’s where I come back out of my Walter Mitty World and back into the real world… My luck never works that well. That is MY reality!

So, with the way my research has been working, we’ll probably linger a while longer in Iberia… Hey, look... a butterfly!


spyrock said...

stuck in fado. so i'm looking at this singing butterfly called mariza and if it wasn't for the moors invading spain this music would never have happened. kicked out of spain for not being christian enough.
must have been fado.

spyrock said...

the new world is just a dream chris is having. what if he wakes up and we find ourselves back in 1492 spain.

Ernie Branscomb said...

"just a dream chris is having. what if he wakes up and we find ourselves back in 1492 spain."

Spy, now you are sounding like me in my "What If world".

Ernie Branscomb said...

Okay, just one more Portuguese lullaby for my Marisa fans.

It's times like this that I wish that I was a little more worldly, like my fellow blogger, Carson Park Ranger, who speaks several languages. He probably knows all the words in the songs, and what they mean. As for myself, all I know is that "Fado" means "Destiny" in the Portuguese language. CPR may even have some Iberian ancestry.

Ernie Branscomb said...

Here comes that Butterfly again!

From Wikipedia:
Fado (Portuguese:destiny, fate) is a music genre which can be traced from the 1820s in Portugal, but probably with much earlier origins. In popular belief, fado is a form of music characterized by mournful tunes and lyrics, often about the sea or the life of the poor. However, in reality fado is simply a form of song which can be about anything, but must follow a certain structure.

The music is usually linked to the Portuguese word saudade (that has no match in English but it could be understood as nostalgia felt while missing something or someone important), a word describing a sentiment.

Some enthusiasts claim that fado's origins are a mixture of African slave rhythms with the traditional music of Portuguese sailors and Arabic influence.

Mainstream fado performances during the 20th century included only a singer, a Portuguese guitar player and a classical guitar player but more recent settings range from singer and string quartet to full orchestra. Known as the "Rainha do Fado" ("Queen of Fado"), Amália Rodrigues was most influential in popularizing the fado worldwide. Other famous fado singers include: Carlos do Carmo, Cristina Branco and Mariza.