Many Brazilians wept after their 200-year-old National Museum was destroyed in a devastating fire last September. Twenty million objects, many of them irreplaceable, were thought to have been lost. But eight months later, staff have salvaged more treasures than they expected, and there are hopes that one of the great museums of the world can be brought back to life.
There’s something about the particular kind of excitement you get as an LGBT+ history lover from seeing an LGBT+ character in a period drama. I’m gay and have been studying history for so long, I’m used to seeing things like homosexuality as these tucked away bits in the books, omitted paragraphs in “censored” literature, or in contextless “friendship” photographs which so often leads to feeling like LGBT+ people barely existed at all, even when I know in fact they DID exist. But fragmentations of photographs and the sometimes vague implication of such ideas are all you have to prove it to yourself. Between the ancient Greeks and mid 20th century, the most popular parts of LGBT+ history to document, you might sometimes find yourself wondering “….Where did we go in that vast middle?”
There is something about the way I GASP when I see two men dancing in the Downton Abbey trailer, clearly surrounded by other gay men and have to go back and watch it again. When I see visual media like Maurice, Christopher and his Kind, BBC Ghosts, that WWI episode of Queers, two knights sleeping together, Victorian men kissing each other, and so forth…There is a unique type of exuberance which crosses my face. I marvel at that footage, at the characters I was told by teachers and history books never existed, and think “that’s like me.”
Even if these things aren’t actual footage from the 1910s or 1750s, they are visual acknowledgements of what little scraps of writing and photos I, as a gay person, am left with in modern day after humanity’s censorship, denial, bigotry, bias, and refusal to write down our stories. There’s just something so captivating about seeing it physically transpire which gives it the life I need in my head. That representation feels so warming, there being comfort in knowing boys so long ago felt the same way as I do now about loving another man.
These scenes are so special to me because they show that we have always been here, long before anyone else cared to notice it. And I feel that.
A collection of nicknames and nickname variations used (so far) to refer people in the collection of late-Victorian letters I’m transcribing…
William - Will, Willie, Bill, Billy, Mr. Bill, Billiam, Ick, Icky, Bob, Deacon, Deac, Deak, Wheels
John - Jack, Jacky, Jackie, Fatty, Fatty-atty, Fatty-atty-atty-atty-atty, Mr. Fatty, Fatness, Sonny
Rachel - Rae, Rat, the Rat, Sis, Sister, Daught, the Daughtling
Eleanor - En’er, Tiger, the Tiger, Tige, Tig
Lawrence - Biff, Biffie, John Brown, John
This includes only proper nouns used as a substitute for their names and not any of the plethora of insults people have been called; i.e.
“base, vile, perfidious, diabolical, unhumane wretch” (Will),
“you conglomerate mass of Adipose Tissue” (Jack), “you Fat Egg” (also Jack), etc.
i learned that in 1970, a fighter pilot was forced to eject during a training mission. His plane, however, righted itself and continued flying for miles, finally touching down gently in a farmer’s field. It earned the nickname “The Cornfield Bomber.” (x)
I probably wont be posting much on this tumblr anymore.
I’m quitting school. I dont know if its for a short while, or forever, but Academia is toxic and I want no part of it. If that means killing Vix the celebrated academic or Vix the archeologist or even Vix the hella cool high school history teacher, then so be it. May the bridges I burn light the way.
It’s my birthday today. I’m dedicating this year to cultivating happiness and basically, just doing whatever the hell I want.
I wish I could say this has been a blast, but it’s been hell. Cheers anyway.
The box jellyfish’s sting causes severe headaches, vomiting, rapid heartbeat, pulmonary edema, and severe anxiety – its apparently so bad that some victims beg doctors to kill them. It is estimated that since 1954 box jellyfish have caused more the 5,500 deaths.
In many ways, the twenty-first century is not that different from the thirteenth century. Both will be recorded in history as times of unprecedented religious clashes, cultural misunderstandings and a general sense of insecurity and fear of the Other. At times like these, the need for love is greater than ever.
While obviously the Star Trek fandom in its early days was a highly regional affair, being pre-Internet and all, in my experience it wasn’t the unbroken parade of Kirk/Spock shippers it’s often portrayed as these days.
Yes, obviously Kirk/Spock was the majority position.
But there was also a minority who wanted Bones in the mix somewhere. (”Mix” being in many cases the operative word!)
And a still smaller contingent who had something going on with Scotty, though nobody could agree precisely how.
Then waaaaay over in the corner were the utter loons who shipped, like, Sulu/Chekov or something.
Which just goes to show that things don’t really change!
About 5,000 years ago, on Denmark’s Jutland Peninsula, wild boars were enjoying an unusual diet. Isotope analyses of wild board remains revealed that they were eating fish and other marine animals. The only way they could have gotten access to such food, researchers think, is if humans were deliberately feeding the boars seafood.
Why would they do that? Perhaps they used marine resources to domesticate the boars, a useful source of meat if they can be made tamer. Note that 5,000 years ago is before the agricultural revolution reached Denmark. So the locals were attempting animal domestication before they had adopted domesticated plants.
The first modern sign language for the hearing impaired is credited to Pedro Ponce de Leon, a Spanish Benedictine monk who lived in the 1500s. Native Americans had long used hand gestures to communicate with other tribes and to facilitate trade with Europeans. Inspired, de Leon adapted the gestures used at his monastery to create a method to teach the deaf to communicate.
de Leon’s first success was with Gaspard Burgos, a deaf man who, because of his difficulty with oral communication, had been denied membership in the Benedictine order. Under de Leon’s tutelage, Burgos learned to speak so that he could make his confession. Burgos later wrote a number of books. de Leon went on to teach a number of other individuals how to speak and write, using his sign language, but his exact methods of teaching have been lost to history.
It took another Spanish cleric building on his work, one Juan Pablo Bonet, to write the first surviving work on educating individuals with hearing disabilities. Titled “Summary of the letters and the art of teaching speech to the mute” it was published in Madrid in 1620. However, both de Leon and Bonet focused on teaching the deaf to speak and write, and their sign languages were systems used to facilitate that. Their manual systems were not true “languages” with grammar and syntax.
If you don’t mind the question, what did you mean about writers not knowing their country’s history?
Well - this is actually something I’m passionate about so I’ll do my best not to write an essay here, but the main problems here are that
we mostly learn ‘simplified’ history because we learn it only when we’re very young and
we learn deliberately sanitized history because we see stuff through a Christian / current ethics&morals filter and
we learn history from the people who survived it (ie the nobility and the intellectual elites), which gives us a bizarre view of what the world was actually like and also
we know jack shit about many things because a lot was lost forever and proper modern archaeology was born, like, yesterday so even the textbooks from my own days as a student are now painfully outdated.
Aaaand add to that the fact that books also reflect who you are, your biases (conscious and subconscious) and the world you live in right now.
Aaaaaaaaand add to that the fact the books need to make sense in a narrative way, so the more you delve into your own story, the more you move away from the ‘actual’ and ‘real’ past even if you’re writing a period novel, because everything about a novel is necessarily artificial.
For instance, the other day they confirmed that this magnificent Saxon grave from the 6th century they found a few years back contains a lyre made with Sri Lankan wood, but you’ll never find a historical or fantasy novel exploring trade between England and South-East Asia in the 6th century. Or, I don’t know - I have a goddamn M.A. in archaeology and I can’t walk two feet without tripping in a Celtic artefact and yet I was last year’s years old when I found out Gaulish society was incredibly gay - and the only reason I even discovered that is because I was researching that specific stuff (marriage and interpersonal relationships in ancient Gaul) for fanfiction.
And I know I tagged that other post GoT because that’s what I’m currently annoyed about, but since I don’t know much about the Middle Ages, I don’t want to wade in that and make even more of a prat of myself - instead, just look at Antiquity. Did you know that before HBO’s Rome, which truly made an effort, the most accurate depiction of the period came from an 18+ movie? Because apparently the director was like, “I want to shoot this incredibly, ridiculously E, all warnings apply, non-con, violence, incest story BUT I want the best actors of our generation and it must be historically accurate” and seriously W.T.F.? It was the first movie to show people writing on tablets instead of paper (paper!), and also the first movie to reflect what an imperial palace actually looked like (think a Kardashian’s bathroom but worse - more gold, more velvet, more glitter, more randomly placed stuffed peacocks).
(As a warning: if you’re now tempted to watch it, please note I’m not joking - this is a dead dove do not eat kind of situation.)
So, I don’t know. Speaking as someone who’s struggled to make sense of a foreign and distant past for about twelve years, I think that when it comes to history we’ve got a perfect storm of bad and worse things.
On the one hand, history is objectively hard understand because everyone in it is - well - dead. Archaeology is slowly filling the gaps, but there’s still a lot we’ll probably never know.
On the other hand, history is also an incredibly delicate and divisive subject, both for individuals and for nations. That’s why we keep rewriting textbooks and why we pretend we were never related to someone unsavoury (like this sweet old German lady I met who managed to ‘forget’ her parents had been enthusiastic Nazis) or try to redeem them in some way (apparently what’s going on in most of the US South).
And on the other other hand, we’re all brainwashed into thinking we know stuff about history because many of us had to sit through six to ten years’ worth of lessons - but, because of the previous two points and also all that stuff in bold above, we actually don’t. What science is going through right now, with people confusing access to Google with actual knowledge, is a lot more common with history, and has been common for a long time.
So, I guess my point was - we should stop harassing writers for writing about their country’s actual, mythical or imagined past - which is normal, everybody does that - and start wondering why we keep hearing the same three stories based on 19th century stereotypes on what that past was like. I mean, it’s 2019. Why don’t we leave weird propaganda behind and teach better history, starting in primary school? And why don’t we translate more? Why did we have to wait for Netflix to have easy access to subtitled foreign stories? Why aren’t we more familiar with the history, religion and mythologies both of our own countries and of people we’ve been living in close proximity with since bloody prehistory? Why is world culture dominated by basically three countries?
Not to sound overly bitter or anything, but I’d like for people to be more curious, and I’d like to live in an economic system promoting and rewarding that curiosity, and instead we’re all stuck here.
asking in good faith (promise!): how exactly does dworkin's stance on porn differ from a lot of anti-porn feminists these days?
That’s a really interesting question, because in certain ways it has really changed v little while there are some aspects of it that seem to have been superficially subtle yet substantially profound shifts. Part of this is because many of these same ‘anti-pornography feminists’ are in fact the same exact people who were active in the 80’s (Dworkin is the exception here): Raymond moved from trans stuff to anti-sex work nonprofits, Catherine MacKinnon worked w CATW to defeat sex work decrim in SF in 08, Susan Brownmiller blamed the harassment that led to #MeToo as being pornography-fueled perverts w weird sex lives, noteworthy pro-CIA informant Gloria Steinem is speaking at Women’s Marches, Sheila Jeffreys and kinda got side tracked by trans stuff, but her theory of trans women has always rested on her anti-pornography background.
Many of the arguments coming from anti-porn feminism (and many of the critiques) have remained basically the same; in fact, I would say that there is something interesting abt how broadly identical many of the arguments are when technology has changed so much! We are still talking as tho all pornography comes from “the sex industry” when almost everyone has camera phones, have sent a nude picture for the purposes of titillation, and there are multiple mediums where people post what would be considered pornography for free (esp this site pre 2019). But generally, you see the same sort of bad-faith engagement that many feminists who disagreed w them were complaining abt in 1980.
You start to see some shifts that sort of came w the second generation of anti-porn feminists. Here I would note figures like Gail Dines, Derrick Jensen, Lierre Keith, Julie Bindel, pro-Margaret Thatcher ex punk Julie Burchill, Ariel Levy. This continues on w the more recent crop (yr Julia Longs, for example), as well as just general shifts even from some of the older activists. I think parts of these shifts are related to effects of the ongoing synergy between feminist anti-porn activism and conservative or religious anti-porn activism.
So some differences I would say w later generation anti-pornography feminism is the idea that pornography itself constitutes some sort of external threat to society, rather than simply being a external manifestation of an already existent patriarchal culture and the inequalities between men and women that it reproduces. A lot of more current day anti-porn feminism focuses upon the idea of ‘porn addiction’ which is a concept that didn’t exist at the time that the original anti-porn feminists were writing. So in this sense, pornography is acting as an outside force from men’s social existence and then affecting them. This is a more common theme w later anti-porn feminists like Dines (who claims that most child rapists weren’t even interested in children or rape before porn forced them to) and other ecofeminists.
Another aspect of treating porn as this separate agent of society, and a feature of more recent anti-porn feminism is the idea that porn is one of the main outside agents changing society for the worse, and that porn is the engine that is creating a more misogynistic, 'pornographized’ culture. Ariel Levy’s “Female Chauvinist Pigs” is an entire book based on this (as well as laying the feminist groundwork for the idea of the 'transtrender’ strangely enough), as well as a good deal of Gail Dines’ work. This can come with a focus on how pornography may have used to have been less bad (an argument that is common w later anti porn feminists but would have been v alien to Dworkin) but has in the past [whatever length of time the author wants] to have become untenably extreme (see any feminist discussion of the idea of the 'gonzo’). This works together w the idea of porn addiction to make an argument that somehow pornography has taken people’s sexuality and made them 'unnatural’. You kinda arrive at a feminist degeneracy theory here.
These are the main things that I can notice when thinking abt the theorization that I’ve seen, and I hope this helps you.