Photo: Viktor Forgacs
Photo: Viktor Forgacs
Every time I see a blurb, in an ad, or on a book cover, that tells me THIS IS THE TRUE STORY OF…THE AMAZONS, CAVE PEOPLE, whatever, I don’t want to read it. There is no way that anyone can know the true story of what happened in the past. None. Everything is pieced together by fragments of pottery, beads, or nothing at all. We have no idea what happened in our distant history.
Even recent history, the Orange years, if we all wrote books with the title, THE NIGHTMARE YEARS/The orange one in the white house, every book would be different because no one can know what actually happened. The republicans would say one thing, the democrats another. The north and south certainly would not agree, Red and Blue states would argue about what happened and so would the peole. If those in the future wrote a book saying it was the truth, about those terrible years, they would be wrong. Same goes for any historical rendering.
We don’t actually know anything at all. We write assumptions, prejudices, our own beliefs and experiences, according to where we came from and what we have been exposed to. Would a book about the civil war be the same if it was written by a southerner or northerner? No. It wouldn’t be.
The lies we have been historically fed are coming into the light. But that’s what historical books are. Fairytales and lies. Places where minorities and women didn’t exist and where white males were the only ones alive. In fact history can’t be known or explained in any real way because a lot of the populations were kept uneducated.
We have the diaries of women, physical relics, but how people felt, what was going on, those things can’t be known. So when I see that line, THE TRUE….whatever, I just walk away.
My grandson knows more about the time I was a teenager than I do. That I actually LIVED IT doesn’t mean anything because he read about it by people who weren’t even born then and that’s his truth. It’s not true at all, but the fact that I was there, doesn’t count. That’s what history is.
If you’re interested in Jimi Hendrix you can read tons of books on him, Jim Morrison, Janis Joplin, etc., and all of them will be different because they were written by people who knew the person and only saw that side of him/her. We can never know the whole story because the stories are too big.
White people can’t write about what it’s like to be African American any more than African American’s can write about what it’s like to be white. Misconceptions abound, we don’t have a clue. I have no idea what it’s like to have a baby in a wagon crossing the open plains, while fighting the rightful owners of the country I was stealing. I could write about it but wouldn’t know what I was talking about. I can’t even imagine being without a chocolate for a day, let alone being pulled by horses to a place in the middle of wherever, while having a child. I can’t imagine the hardships people faced. No penicillin, 24 hour-care, dentists, grocery stores, cars, skyscrapers, nothing. But I could still write a history book, using diaries, fragments of this or that. Those women could probably write sci-fi about having a baby in a hospital with drugs and and care takers.
No one knows what happened in ancient Rome, or with the Amazons, or anything else.
The survivors of the death camps in Germany, are worried that when the last of them is gone, history will be REWRITTEN and the truth will be lost. Their truths and experiences will be lost, taken with them when they go.
Men don’t write female characters very well. The reverse is often true. Imagine writing about an entire civilization. I don’t think so. Well, science can do tests that show the diseases people died from, whether they were murdered or not. Carbon dating is useful, but feelings and the problems/governments/child rearing, etc., are not transferrable. We can’t dig them up.
Research isn’t alive. We are. Stories are alive while they are being lived. After that, they slowly disappear to be rewritten by others who didn’t live them.
When a person dies, stories about him/her are sometimes passed down to others but later, the stories are retold differently and the feelings attached to them cannot be given to future generations who never knew the person or heard the original tales. That’s what history is. A forgetting and a patched together remembering that’s often fictional for the most part. We need to remember that.
History is made up by people who weren’t there. And never forget the old saying: History is written by the winners. Lies and pretend. Written by slave owners, rich white guys. Where is the history of the Native Americans that’s being taught in schools? One voice. It’s always one voice. History is white, rich males. That’s all there is. The past was written by them and it’s being written by them today, so you can’t believe what you read, except in that context…one voice, one slant, one opinion, all to make themselves more powerful, in charge and right. None of that is true, it’s just all there is.
In recent years books have been written by women and African Americans, Latinos and others, but they aren’t taught in schools, at least not all of them. They are still in the shadows of a dark and bloody past.
Why aren’t there best sellers on backstreet abortions and pictures of the dead women who were literally FORCED to seek help from places and people who could kill them? Why isn’t that part of history that’s taught so everyone can see what dead teens look like, killed by their own white, male, out of touch hateful government officials who constantly attack Roe vs. Wade and make it impossible for girls to get help without parental consent. MEN WOULD RATHER HAVE THEM DEAD, THAN FREE TO OWN THEIR OWN BODIES. Health care should be a right between doctor and patient but it’s not. Not if you’re a women and now some states are passing laws that say you have to keep the fetus from rape and incest. How ugly is that? But no history books are out there in schools, showing how hated women are. How disposable they are, how violent their lives are and after the violence, they are forced to die for what others did to them. Yeah, we need history books like that so it’s in the open…the HISTORY OF WOMEN IS UGLY and kept quiet because the guys who write the books are the ugly ones.
This can be said about many groups, but dying is the price one pays for not being a landed, rich, greedy, hateful, mostly republican males. They make me sick and they kill women. Histories like that aren’t there for all to see because they aren’t pretty and no one want’s to deal with it. Dead women, scarred women. That’s just one history that’s been left out.
Lastly, why do you think it’s called HIS STORY? Because that’s exactly what it is. It’s just His Story.
I just read Blue Nights, by Joan Didion. It’s about what she went through and how she felt, as her adult daughter was dying.
You get that I said it’s about her daughter dying, right? Her husband died one year before. Joan Didion is a recognized author, among other things. Her husband was also a famous author. Because of that, some of her friends are also famous. How could they not be?
Now here’s the thing…some of the one star reviews said she was “name dropping,” and “whiny.” They said things as if she was on an “ego trip” and get this…one person said the book was “depressing.”
I’m sorry, am I missing something? Did the reader think the book was going to be a comedy?
Having gone through what she went through, in reverse order, I can understand what she was saying.
Maybe the review writers never lost a child, or a husband. Maybe they have, but simply didn’t care. Whatever the reason, Didion hasn’t been well herself, for years. I just thought she deserved a break.
A lot of people don’t know what it’s like to spend months in a hospital room, every single day, waiting for something to happen. It’s horrific, absolutely exhausting, as well as terrifying.
Blue Nights is a book about loss. Not only of a child but of one’s own youth. She wrote about what it was like to lose your abilities and confidence. To be afraid of falling, of not being able to remember things. To know that you’ll never be able to wear red 4″ heels again. Meaning that you have to acknowledge that you’ll never be able to be yourself again. Not in the way you knew, or believed yourself to be. As I said, Didion hasn’t been healthy for a very long time. Still, she persists.
Are there any novels for men, where the main character (male from a small town) weeps, is devastated by a breakup, runs away to open a bookstore that he conveniently inherits from a long lost relative, where he meets the love of his life and they live happily ever after?
Are there any novels for men that have children in them, other than the one’s they are hired to rescue, or kill?
Are there any novels for men that deal with caring for parents, or sick spouses, or kids?
Are there any novels for men where a woman is the hero?
Are there any novels for men where they are RESCUED by a woman?
Are there any novels for men where they are hunted, and kept in a basement for a year, constantly abused and tortured, then murdered, by a woman?
Are there any novels for men where they defer to women?
Are there any novels for men where men are made to look like weaklings, victims, pathetic, sad, lonely, inept, terrified human beings?
Are there any novels for men where they talk about how fat they are, talk about their thighs and body image, dieting, their nails, hair or the clothes they wear?
Are there any novels for men that are long boring sagas about family life and relationships?
Are there any books for men where the men are afraid to go out at night? Afraid to be in their house alone?
You know, I could go on and on and on and on but where would these books be shelved in a bookstore? Nowhere, that’s where, because they don’t exist.
We are constantly conditioned and brainwashed by our culture, to be something we they want us to be. Women never have a chance to find out who they are or what they can be.
I wanted to write something about bookstores but when I started looking through the photographs of BOOKSTORES I GOT SO EXCITED THAT I WANTED TO TRAVEL AROUND THE ENTIRE WORLD AND GO INTO ALL OF THEM EVEN IF THEY DON’T ALL HAVE CATS…WHICH I THINK SHOULD BE MANDATORY.
So, I got sidetracked because that’s what happens when your a book addict. Too much of a good thing and then you just kind of lose it.
Anyway, I decided to write about cats instead, because cats are clever and intelligent and can frequently be found sleeping on books. They are able to absorb the story, or knowledge, through their bodies, as they nap. Really, it’s true. That’s why cat’s know everything…they just KNOW. I mean how could they not?
Some cats move into bookstores because they get a lot of pets and greetings. Ear rubs and even kisses can often be in the mix. Yes, yes, not every cat likes that, but there are enough who do, that it makes people fall in love with them and then those people go into the shop to visit the cats and end up buying books and things, hoping one day, if they read enough, they’ll be as smart as the cats they stop in to visit.
The cats get a home and food in exchange for their work but everyone knows that the owners and staff love the cats and that’s the real reason cats like bookstores. Cats also stop mice from nesting between covers of books and using the pages for bedding, because that’s what mice do. Chewed up paper makes soft beds for pink, tiny mice babies. But if cats happen to like mice, then the cats will look the other way when the mice are in in the sale bins.
So here’s a picture of books, because I was originally going to write about bookstores but ended up writing about cats and mice too because sometimes, your brain has ideas that are quite different from the one’s you think you’re going to go with. Know what I mean?
Picture: All Bong
And here’s a picture of a mouse, in case you forgot how absolutely adorable they are. The make wonderful friends, that’s why some cats like them.
we are walking
all of our stories
in something called
cannot be borrowed
or even translated
into every language
now and then
adding or subtracting pages
that will make our stories
more to our liking
but all of our books
we take them with us
when we leave the game
that’s what our books
have in common
they all end
exactly the same way
Photo: Leroy Skalstad