This was a reply to someone in this big topic about the Maya collapse. Sometimes people think that horses made the Spanish some kind of organic tank impervious to Native warfare. I wanted to inform that in many cases Natives were able to adapt, change, and continue to fight the Spanish despite the advantage a horse may have given them.
Cavalry, though, that was a game-changer in the Americas.
Not always. Remember, the Spanish did not conquer Mesoamerica by themselves. They had Native allies to do most of the fighting for them. According to Hassig (1988), cavalry only gave a slight advantage. On page 237 he writes,
It is true that cannons, guns, crossbows, steel blades, horses, and war dogs were advances on the Aztecs’ weaponry. But the advantage these gave a few hundred Spanish soldiers was not overwhelming. In any case, individual Aztec warriors were shown to be the equal of any Spanish soldier, and the Aztecs in general proved remarkably adaptable. Individual warriors are reported as having grabbed the horseman’s lances and thereby neutralized them. One conquistador recorded a case in which a warrior successfully defended himself against three or four Spanish horsemen. When they could not bring him down, one of the Spaniards threw his lance at the Indian, who caught it and fought for another hour before being shot by two archers and then stabbed.
And then Hassig continues on page 238 and 241,
Another factor favoring the Spaniards was their use of cavalry and mounted lancers. Before the Conquest, as noted earlier, the Aztecs used an open formation in their battle stance, since the denser closed formation is basically a tactic used to repel massed mounted attacks and was thus unknown to them. But open formations were ineffectual against cavalry charges. Nevertheless, the Aztecs quickly adopted strategies aimed at minimizing the effectiveness of the horse, but a major shift in tactics would have required considerable time, since it would involved retraining professional warriors. Closed formations were not adopted, apparently because while they might have cured the problem of a massed cavalry attack, they would have created a better target for Spanish gunners. Consequently, organizational changes played only a minor role in the Aztecs’ adaptation to the Spanish challenge; ineffective tactics were abandoned, but new ones were not adopted. Instead, the response was largely technological. Devices and practices were adopted that aimed directly at these novel threats.
I came across this letter written by Jeff Mangum about why he stopped performing with Neutral Milk Hotel. I found it really beautiful, so I thought I would share.
“i think its time that i made a few things clear. first of all, i am not in hiding, as some have said. where i am i supposed to be hiding? behind the coach? in the cat box? under the bed?
i wake up everyday, i walk out into the world and i say hello to the people i meet. the sun shines, the birds sing, the dogs birth out of the old womans eyeball, the afterbirth overwhelms me, swimming with strange creatures, etc. living in the great mystery is enough for me right now. also it has been said that i dont like people listening to my music, that i dont like playing live, that i stopped playing because people heckled me at my shows, called me names, etc. if you really think im that pathetic, then you should burn my records, and forget about me. but its not like that. not that i thought every aspect of being in a semi popular rock band was totally healthy, but im not knocking it either. but when i hear people bitching about being famous, i always wonder why they keep doing it. if you dont like doing interviews anymore, then dont. its that easy. but anyway, im getting off track here. what happened to me comes down to two things.
1.immune system breakdown. i was getting sick every two months for a year, and finally in the spring of 99 i got hepatitis and mono at the same time, which turned me into a vomit tornado with yellow eyeballs for two months, and gave me chronic fatigue for the next two years. which led to number two. 2.spiritual breakdown. this little nervous breakdown, which lasted about two years, was one of the best things that ever happened to me. it turned out great in the end, even though it was a living hell for a long time. in our society, we are supposed to feel ashamed of ourselves when we breakdown, were supposed to go to the shrink to “fix” the “problem”, so that we can come out as smiling productive members of society. what a load of crap. we must live in the loneliest society on earth, one that has taken the spiritual aspect out of becoming a healthy person. in other cultures, spirituality, human phycology, physical health and meditation are all one thing. you cant separate them into compartments. i didnt know any of this a few years ago, and my breakdown forced me to begin to see through the horrible mental boxes that our society imposes on everyone. two years ago i was a mess, every belief i had was disintegrating, everything i had based my life on seemed shaky. i was tired, confused, and i just didnt think i could simply sing my way out of it this time. and i was right. the songs i did write were confused, very dark and not anything i thought anyone needed to hear. they were more for myself, to help me to work through my mental problems. so, doing shows seemed inappropriate, since anything i would sing would instantly end up on the net, for everyone to hear. im not knocking people sharing my music on the internet, but at that point, it didnt seem right.
so where am i at now? well, all my belongings are in storage, and i am leaving for spain in a week. dont know whats going to happen. life is better that way. my attitude has always been to remain open to all possibilities. maybe i’ll write a song, a story, a tape piece, learn meditation, capture a beautiful event on tape, make a friend, see something i’ve never seen before. and if at some point, if it all adds up to be something worth releasing to the world, i will do it gladly. i dont give a fuck if it “tops aeroplane” or not. thats just another mental prison. anyone waiting for an album to top the last one should look somewhere else, because you’ll inevitably be disappointed.
when i wrote aeroplane, i spent 90 percent of my time screaming nonsence into my little tape recorder, or chopping up sounds with my sound blender, or just making noise, and 10 percent of my time writing songs. it was very liberating, because i never thought about what i was doing, and a week before we went to record i didnt even think we had a half finished album. but i didnt care. i figured if we went the studio, and only recorded one finished song, then that would be fine. creating just one minute of something inspiring is an incredibly fun thing to do. so next time you hear that neutral milk is recording, dont get your hopes up. it may only be one minute of music. and if i ever release my korena pang peices for you to hear, you’ll soon find that its just liberated dada to free the mind. if you want more neutral milk, dont buy it. you’ll hate it. i for one love music that makes my brain freeze, like the shags, or art ensemble or maybe some chanting and banging and confusion from bolivia that makes me forget myself for awhile. major organ was just a bunch of friends putting music together for fun. it was a project that changed hands at least a dozen times, and most of the time you didnt even know who was working on it,and you never knew where it would go. released mostly to inspire other dreamers and home recorders to do the same with there friends. we weren’t trying to create a masterpiece. trying to do anything is the of death of creativity, and if we can encourage people to not try, but to just do, then we have accomplished our goal. the jittery joes show should be out in august or september. it was a show i did in 98 before going to denver to record. i think the video footage makes it worthy of release, since lance bangs did such a good job. we’re putting it out to encourage people to stop paying alot of money for second generation live shows. but again, dont get your hopes up. its really not a big deal.
so thats it. thanks to everyone for listening to my music. now i need to forget myself again, so you may not hear from me for awhile. forgetting yourself is freedom, and i need to be free. happy travels. jeff”