Monday, November 15, 2010

Philosphy kindergarten

I have often wondered why I like the old English authors and philosophers. It finally came to me that it was because they project the wisdom of the past in a language that I can understand. (Understand, with a little struggling.)

When reading things written in Old English, I like to take one line at a time and try to completely understand it, then I read the whole paragraph in place, then I read the whole story in context. That is the only way that I can understand Old English. If I don’t read it that way, I will often scan through it, think of it as gibberish, and move on, often missing valuable understanding.

In the post about “Indigenousity” I referred to the passing of the baton from one group of people to the next. I made reference to how I know that many people have been replaced by a new group. I mentioned the different languages, and where they came from as proof. I also mentioned different artifacts from Clovis being the same as found in a cave in France, more proof that people moved around and supplanted groups of people with their own people.

I gave anecdotal evidence that there were various races of people in America before the Indian people. I don’t see that as good or bad, simply that the indigenous people were replaced untold many times. There is much evidence that this is correct.

As a 5th generation resident of the South Fork of the Eel River, I know the pain of being replaced and supplanted by newcomers. I also know that it is the way of things. One generation of people replace the previous. Or, one kind of people replace the last kind. The last takeover was the Back-To-The-Landers that moved here and displaced, or at least took the place of the logger and rancher. I know that it is the natural way of human nature to do so. I’m not sure that an apology is even necessary, or in order… By either side. Such is life. We move past the things that we can’t change.

Now, what brings me to this philosophy, is that, as often happens when I’m writing, I get the feeling that this has all happened before. Not really a Déjà vu feeling, but more of a “knowing”.

John Doane (1572-1624) was on his death bed and contemplating the order of things. As he pondered his passing, in his need to understand, he came up with the following thoughts. In his writing he said; “any mans death diminishes me”. At my age, I know the truth in that. I have had so many people, that knew so much history, die, and leave me knowing that much of my source of history and knowledge died with that person. The dying takes away knowledge, and diminishes us all.

I have often said “I’m not a historian, but I know where the bodies are buried”. That is my reflection of the history that we have lost in the passing of the good-and-the-bad, the people and the stories. Plus, it has the obvious double-entendre of murder most foul to cover the truth, and hide the evidence. A deliciously deceptive phrase, much in the nature of the Eel River Valley. But “any mans death diminishes me”, as it diminishes us all.

“All mankind is of one author, and is one volume; when one man dies, one chapter is not torn out of the book, but translated into a better language; and every chapter must be so translated…”

Meaning that as painful as one mans passing may be, it is the nature of things to move on, and the old is replaced with the new. The “new” writes it’s own story, and somehow seems to reject the old, much to the agony of the old. However, we accept it, much as our children reject our standards and they form their own, somehow not worse than ours, but different. We turn the page, move forward, and leave the past in history.

“As therefore the bell that rings to a sermon, calls not upon the preacher only, but upon the congregation to come: so this bell calls us all”

The “Bell” calls not ONLY the preacher, but ALL of us... If there is anything that I ever meant this blog to be, is that it is for EVERYONE. I enjoy each and every comment made on this blog, because it adds to our collective consciousness. I don’t delete comments that should be deleted, because I think that It helps people see the world around them, and who lives in it. The thing that I have noticed, is that most everyone seems to “get it” when there is unfairness afoot.

The “Bell” that this blog rings is for everyone! I know myself, and many others, have gained an interest in history, and learned about history far beyond what a group of “non-historians” could have ever gained without it. Sadly, there are people out there with great history stories that don’t comment because they are too embarrassed to comment, or they are afraid that somebody will say they are wrong. That saddens me, because I never allow criticism on language, spelling, or concept on this blog. I will delete criticism of colloquial language instantly. I have seen too many good stories blown away by somebody correcting another’s language. Let me be an inspiration to you! As bad as I am, I still tell stories, and I am often wrong, but I tell the story the way I know it. I think that I’m even getting better because of it. (Not!) You could even start your story with “Here’s a new lie for you to pass on”.

We all gain from this blog, and to paraphrase a friend of mine. “You get out of this blog as much as you put into it. Participate”.

Now read the following Quote from John Doane, and see if it also reminds you of why we need each other:

This is a quotation from John Donne (1572-1631). It appears in Devotions upon emergent occasions and seuerall steps in my sicknes - Meditation XVII, 1624:

"All mankind is of one author, and is one volume; when one man dies, one chapter is not torn out of the book, but translated into a better language; and every chapter must be so translated...As therefore the bell that rings to a sermon, calls not upon the preacher only, but upon the congregation to come: so this bell calls us all: but how much more me, who am brought so near the door by this sickness....No man is an island, entire of itself...any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind; and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee."


PatsyC said...

Nicely written. I also appreciate that you realize that we who have moved to Humboldt in our lifetimes, did so for many reasons. The beauty of the area foremost. Also, ironically, to get away from all those Californians who were 'invading' and changing my home state.
But the real reason, perhaps the best:
Because in these United States you can do that. If you dont like where you are, you can go elsewhere. That is awesome. The old timers here amaze me sometimes, because I want to say "Do you think we did not have newcomers' where I came from?"
Where I was was also full of natural beauty, but soon became overrun with humanity. I did not fault them for it. Most came from SoCal, and I would never want to live there either!

olmanriver said...

Beautiful, Ernie.

Anonymous said...

"I know the pain of being replaced and supplanted by newcomers."

You just transcend everything. What an oracle of wisdom you are!

Ernie Branscomb said...

I looked up "oracle", it comes just before 'orse pitooty.

Methinks one of us might be filled with it...

Anonymous said...

My experience is that, at least on the internet, very very few people are capable of serious critical thinking. When somebody suggest what they might be thinking, they have a hard time taking the critic out of the thinking. I think the internet is advertised all wrong. We're told to take it seriously.

Chris Crawford said...

Well stated, Ernie. As Humboldt County contains such a healthy mix of newcomers and multi-generational residents, this reminds me of an admonition I heard countless times from Jack McKellar ... paraphrased, he said that we welcome those of you who move here, but advise you to spend some time getting to know the rich history of this place before you criticize.

Without that context, critical suggestions for improvement only serve to polarize and create old vs new camps. With that context, it changes into "here's how WE can make this place even better," without displacing the many positive things about Humboldt County that drew us here to begin with.

Robin Shelley said...

Can I tell a funny story on myself?
I was listening to the news tonight when the anchor said, "Coming up next, a story about a Humboldt hero..." I wondered what a Humboldt hero was doing in Oregon so I made a point of being in front of the TV when the news came back on. Turns out, the story was about a man who saved a woman from choking to death in a Medford cafe... & he wasn't from Humboldt at all. He was a humble hero!

Dave Kirby said...

I grew up in L.A.County. In 1923 oil wells in L.A. produced a quarter of the worlds petroleum. Down there there weren't many sawmills but there were a lot of packing houses. Citrus ruled. Folks caught Steelhead in the San Gabriel River. Then a couple of things happened WWII and the Tournament of Roses Parade. The rest is history.

Ross Sherburn said...

Robin, it drives me nuts sometimes how these newscasters don't pronounce words correctly!!!!

I hate it when they say Co-vell-o

Ernie Branscomb said...

The newcomers say that we have been pronouncing it wrong all this time, and it is time we learned the correct way to pronounce it.

Right after I read your note I was watching the news. Jami Colby pronounced Moab (Moe-abb)Utah as "Mobe". I had to laugh.

She does blond extremely well though.

olmanriver said...

Visiting San Francisco for the first time, a blind and partly deaf 5th generational native of the northcoast was directed to an all female bar by some mischevious locals.
Feeling his way to the bar counter, he ordered a drink and loudly hollered out "Anyone want to hear a blonde joke?". A complete silence came over the bar.
From his right side the oldtimer hears a husky voice say "Oldtimer, there are about five things you might want to think about before you tell that joke here.
1) First, I am a 6'2", 180 lb blonde.
2) on the other side of you is my blonde girlfriend and she is the state kickboxing champion.
3) in the corner is a black belt karate instructor and she is a blonde.
4) the entire Bay Area Blonde Bombers roller derby team is partying here tonight, and
5) standing right in front of you is the bartendress, who is a blonde and she has a baseball bat in her hand.
Do you still want to tell that joke?"

The Humboldt oldtimer thinks about it for a few seconds and declares
"Hell no, not if I have to explain it five times".

olmanriver said...


Ross Sherburn said...

I"ve heard the joke before,But with a little different"twist" on it!!!
But yours brought a smile to my face also!!!

Ernie Branscomb said...

You worry too much. Everybody liked your joke but maybe a few blonds. They can get even by telling geriatric jokes on the folks over 50. I know that you are not a mean person.

I didn't have time to reply, I have been busy. As maybe you can tell by the time post on this comment. I've been helping on the Rotary casino night in Redway.

olmanriver said...

Thanks Ross and Ernie... I was worried that my good blog reputation, always a bit tatterdemalion, had undergone further recrudescence.

Anonymous said...

Ernie really likes jokes related to skin, hair, and eye pigmentation. Just imagine the jokes and minority groups Ernie picks on in a more private setting.

But no, Ernie's no racist... no, no way...

Robin Shelley said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Robin Shelley said...

You're back, 11:12! You don't seem to like it here yet you keep coming back & making such vile & venomous statements. Are you blond? You seem so sensitive to the joking that I just had to ask. I can't figure you out. How can we help you, honey?

spyrock said...

i agree with anonypuss that ernie isn't a racist. glad he finely set things straight about that. but i didn't know that blondes were a minority group. i used to be blond before my hair started falling out and turning grey. do i still qualify for all the benefits that minority groups are afforded these days like free housing, free food, free education, free money and free healthcare? where do i sign up for the retroactive benefits? in any case, in san francisco its not a given that they really were blondes or really were women even if the 5g had 20 20 vision.

spyrock said...

oops, my bad
excuse the spelling
it should be anonymouse