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Thursday, November 18, 2010

Centrism and archipielago

To start with some facts about our past:

was it as we assume.... pure common sense.

The Gothic style has got a glamourous etymology! As good as glamour itself.

We are the centre, as much as China was the Middle Kingdom, and Madrid press calls us Periphery!
But  the plain truth is that we live in an archipielago (defined as "a set of islands unitied by which keeps them apart".
archipelago  /ɑrkɪˈpɛləɡ/  is derived from the Greek ἄρχι- - arkhi- ("chief") and πέλαγος - pelagos("sea").    Arcipelago, in Italian, was the proper name for the Aegean Sea. 

Gore Vidal evokes a theme which Robert Graves had previously explored, a skepticism of the reported facts and interpretations of our understanding of History as reported by the winners of its battles. The story features a rather amusingly sarcastic treatment of the pretensions of the glory of Classical Golden Age of Athens. In the parts of the book that comment on history, Vidal makes obvious use of the Histories ofHerodotus.
As noted in Vidal's own introduction, it can be considered a "crash course" in comparative religion, as during the story, the hero sits down with each of the religious/philosophical figures (apart from Socrates) and discusses their views.

2 books about us

A Vanished World: Muslims, Christians, and Jews in Medieval Spain (4.5 stars)

Written in a vigorous prose punctuated with warm humor and keen religious sensitivity, and informed by considerable research, A Vanished World illustrates for the modern reader a means by which we might consider a route toward cultural and interfaith understanding. Mr. Lowney capably compares the attitude of "El Cid," in which nobility and goodness is as likely to be shared by Moors as well as by Christians, with the dour certainty of "The Song of Roland," in which "the pagans are wrong and the Christians are right." The former reflects its composition in a polyglot Spain, where simple exposure to multiple faiths resulted in a tolerance by necessity that "Roland," composed in a far-off Christian country with little concern for the reality on the ground, could arrogantly ignore. The lesson for our own struggle to understand the faith-fueled crises of the present day is plainly made and gracefully argued. Mr. Lowney rewards the reader with entertaining and incisive portraits of the great figures who rose from each of the faith traditions (a reviewer in amazon)

God's Crucible: Islam and the Making of Europe, 570-1215  (2.5 stars)

While the major focus of the book is on al-Andalus and its counterpart(s) on the other side of the Pyrenees, Lewis begins GOD'S CRUCIBLE in the Middle East with the clash between the empires of the East (Sassanians from Persia) and West (Graeco-Romans) and the birth of Islam in contingent circumstances that allowed its early Arab adherents to expand into a void left by the exhausted and fractured empires of East and West. Lewis then tracks the lightning spread of Islam across northern Africa and the Maghreb, across the Strait of Gibraltar, and across Hispania. Another of his major points is that the Arab advance from al-Andalus beyond the Pyrenees petered out, not, as in the lore and history of the West, because of Christian military success (or God's favor), but rather because of turmoil within the world of Islam.  (a reviewer in amazon)

my sympathy for the dear Persians,

Not so far-fetched as the Da vinci code... but what is behind ht epast? interpretation!

Has history been tampered with? We shall never know just how many historical documents are in fact counterfeit. History in general goes hand in hand with the history of forgeries; countless chronicles as well as works of art and literature have been considered authentic for centuries before becoming denounced as counterfeit....

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