Saturday, October 10, 2009

History Can Be A Cruel Judge

This week has been rather low key. We continue to go into town for Duang to see the doctor every two or three days as he directs us to. She is recovering very nicely from her surgery. New skin is growing over the grafts and her hearing has already improved noticeably. The visits to the doctor are to clean the ears and for the doctor to monitor her condition. We are not charged for the visits and they are an opportunity for Duang to keep up to date with the other patients that we see at the office - time and time again. Here in Isaan gossip and small talk is a big pastime with doctor's offices and hospital especially fertile grounds.

I have completed my second book, and am editing it prior to ordering a copy to preview here in Thailand. I was able to keep it at 200 pages so am pleased that the price will be what I had targeted.

Another big activity this past week has been connecting with people that I have not communicated with in over 38 years. What was extremely difficult just 10 years ago, is fairly easy now with the capabilities of the Internet. In reestablishing contact with people from the past, I got motivated to haul out my college yearbook - University of Rhode Island 1971.

It was a very sad and embarrassing experience. It was sad in that the yearbook was such a piece of crap. In their song "Book Ends" Simon and Garfunkel sing

"Time it was and what a time it was it was,
A time of innocence a time of confidences.

Long ago it must be, I have a photograph
Preserve your memories, they're all that's left you"


Well there isn't all that much left of us in the university yearbook. The photographs are very poor and the writing was not much better. The book was not even organized very well. To find a photograph of a classmate in the yearbook you need to know their Zodiac or you have to thumb through all the photographs until you find them. To use a current popular phrase "What were you thinking ...?" After 38 years, do people care anymore than they did back then what some one's birth sign is?

Most of the photographs lack any captions so much of their significance is lost.

All in all it was embarrassing much like watching a 1968 through 1971 movie starring Elliot Gould - Embarrassing and just as painful. It is painful to see and realize that so much of our memories of our graduating year were high jacked by political click that usurped the yearbook for their personal political agenda.

Of course I am guilty like so many others of not caring about the direction of the yearbook or the politics of the day. This apathy allowed the extremists to have their way. Unfortunately most politics is the same be it radical, liberal, conservative, or whatever. It participants are basically cut out of the same mold - egocentric arrogant megalomaniacs.

I remember at the time of the late 60s and early 70s I was as much opposed to Mark Rudd, Rennie Davis, Jerry Rubin. and Abbie Hoffman as I was to Lyndon Johnson, Spiro Agnew, John Mitchell, and Richard Nixon. I saw that they were the same people only with different clothing and hairstyles. They shared the same arrogance and intolerance for dissent. They all needed the same adulation and affection. They thirsted for the same power and control.

It is ironic how politicians and leaders all end up with the same self defining look of arrogance - a smirk to dismiss all that dare to question or oppose their intentions.

Looking back at the year book, I see the same traits and ensuing results in the yearbook. It is lamentable that the staff could not anticipate the future and allow for it in their work product. They could have better served their present and definitely served their future much better.

Karl Marx wrote "History repeats itself ... the first time as tragedy and the second time as farce". From afar it seems to me that the radical and derisive politics of the 60s and 70s are unfolding a second time. The times have changed. The issues are the same. The cast of characters are the same. Only the actors have changed.

There may or may not be a Final Judgement but there is a harsh and cruel Judge for all of us to reckon with in the interim - History.

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