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Monthly Archives: September 2013

American Literature Paper

Intimacy and Intimidation

            The colonization of the “New World” formed a unique opportunity for two completely different cultures to come together. The potential for forging alliances, spreading knowledge and inspiring wisdom seemed lost amid the mad dash for resources and validation of claim. There can be no doubt, even from the earliest writings, that the natives were considered expendable. However, a few settlers let themselves try to understand the people who had survived in this land for so many years. This created an interesting contrast of those native people and their landscape based solely on perspective of the witness.

“With royal standard unfurled” (25), Christopher Columbus landed and gave us our first glimpses of this new and exciting land which he considered to be “a marvel.” (26) Columbus bragged that the land was “very fertile to a limitless degree” (25) and possessed “many rivers, good and large” (25). Cabeza De Vaca also commented on the “beautiful rivers and brimming springs” (35). Both men write of fruit bearing trees, and of land that could yield crops. Columbus ensures that “in the interior are mines of metals” (26) and De Vaca does not fail to mention that “there are gold- and silver bearing ores” (35). Christopher Columbus and Cabeza De Vace both understand the value of the land to which they have travelled.

There is a difference; however, in the way the two men view the people who inhabit the new world. One man stormed the beaches, ran off the natives, and claimed the land. The other man walked among the indigenous people as a prisoner. Columbus believed it was his duty and right to own and lord over all of the wonders that his eyes fell upon; however, De Vaca scrounged to keep from yielding to starvation. The differing perspectives are clearly defined.

By the time Christopher Columbus gets into the second sentence in his letter to Luis de Santangel, he is already making it very clear how he plans to handle the native people of this new land. “I found very many islands filled with people innumerable and of them all I have taken possession.” (25) The native people had no concept of land ownership. They believed in a certain unity with the land, and could not even fathom that the land could belong to one person and not another. Therefore, the conquering Columbus faced absolutely no resistance in his endeavor. He writes, “they all fled immediately,” (25) “and no opposition was offered to me.” (25).

Even if the natives would have somehow found the drive to fight these invaders from their shores, they still lacked the weaponry. “Their only weapons are bows and arrows, which they use with great dexterity.” (30) No matter how great the dexterity of the native bowman, they stood no chance against the metal armor and weapons of the Europeans. This type of violence did not seem to be much of an issue in these first encounters. Certainly, the foreign nature of the large ships and strange attire took the natives by surprise. Columbus seemed to take advantage of the lack of conflict, and once again began to take the new world. “I understood sufficiently from other Indians, whom I had already taken”. (25) Not only does Columbus physically take the Indians, but he also takes their knowledge and understanding of the new landscape which was foreign to him.

This should not come as a surprise as we read further into Columbus’ letter. It is clear that the conqueror believes the indigenous people to be little more than just another resource for him to exploit. He sends scouts out to find the great cities or some semblance of a king, but they did not find that which they sought. Columbus once again reminds us of the value he places on the people of this new world. He writes that his men, “found an infinity of small hamlets and people without number, but nothing of importance”. (25) Columbus quickly realizes, or seems to finally be ready to admit the true value he places on the native americans. As he is listing the bountiful resources this new world has to offer, he is sure to mention once again that “the population is without number”. (26)

Cabeza De Vaca, on the other hand, “came naked and barefoot” (35) into the hands of the natives as opposed to those who appeared “clothed, horsed, and lanced”. (35) He spent two years as a prisoner to the Han and Capoque clans. Over time, De Vaca worked his way into a merchant role within the tribe and became known as a healer. However, the beautiful land did not easily give its spoils and he spent the majority of his time gathering food and other materials needed for survival. In this crucible of self-preservation, Cabeza De Vaca found himself viewing the natives from a very different perspective.

Where Columbus viewed the natives as a resource, De Vaca started to take a more anthropological approach. He was treated as one of the tribe. “We lived as free agents, dug our own food, and lugged our loads of wood and water.” (32) De Vaca did not seem to believe himself to be any greater than the men that surrounded him. “We always went naked like them and covered ourselves at night with deerskins.” (32) Living like one of the tribesmen meant that he suffered from hunger in the same way as the others of the tribe. Throughout his writings, De Vaca mentions the scarcity of food and the rigorous manner in which it was accumulated. Yet he survived.

Unlike the conquering Europeans, who seemed set on taking as much as possible, the native people had a far better system which promoted community. “The people are generous to each other with what little they have. There is no chief.” (31) De Vaca tells us that in times of death, which seemed more often during these times, that food would be given to the family of the deceased during their time of mourning. All of these ideas and customs showed that these people were not uncaring savages, but a prideful people who cared for one another deeply and understood the value of customs. They did not need some great conqueror to let them know how to live a good life.

Cabeza De Vaca studied many of the habits of the tribes he had taken in with. He even attributes them as capable of love. “These people love their offspring more than any in the world.” (30)  He comments that they will even carry a brother or a son on their back if that person falls behind and is in danger of being left for dead. Once again, the differing perspectives become clear. These people, who loved greatly and took care of their own, were nothing of importance to Columbus unless perhaps as a numerous resource to be used at his leisure. As Cabeza De Vaca leaves these people that have become, in some ways, a part of him, “the Christians were but poising to pounce.” (39)

As we shift between the perspectives of Christopher Columbus and Cabeza De Vaca, it is clear that one man understood the true value of human life. Columbus died never fully gaining the type of riches and fame he sought. Yet, I can’t help but believe that an exiled De Vaca truly found and understood that the new world’s greatest resource was, indeed, its people.

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Posted by on September 29, 2013 in From the Desk of the Author

 

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Show Me Your Badge (reblog from earlier)

PineAle Pub

The house was packed at The PineAle Pub, the tavern located in the northeast corner of Pinevale. The waitresses were busy hauling trays full of armadillo stew and scones. The barkeep was running just to keep everyone’s tankards full. One patron in particular kept pounding them back, Montgomery. All through the night the man demanded more and more ale. As the night wore on, The PineAle Pub thinned out; leaving only loyal customers and those who were too sloppy to get themselves out.

“Time to pay up, boy?” the barkeep nudged Montgomery, and the man raised his head from the bar. His forehead had a nice red circle, which looked ridiculous with his bald head. Several of the locals shared a laugh as Montgomery wiped the slobber from his chin.

“Pay what?” the drunken man asked with one eye half closed.

“Pay for all the drinks, ya lousy prick,” the barkeep was tired and ready to go home to his wife. “Ya drank almost a whole cask yerself. I want my money.” Montgomery slid off the bar stool, and had to take several steps to catch his balance. “Don’t even think of trying to run, boy.” The barkeep made a motion to a couple of very large men seated by the door.

Montgomery just stood in the middle of the tavern. He ripped his shirt off, threw it on the floor, then proclaimed, “I ain’t runnin’ and I ain’t payin’!”

The barkeep shook his head. “Yeah I kinda figured.” He instructed the men to escort the man from the pub. “Make him hurt a bit too, boys.”

The two men approached the half-naked drunk; each one grabbing an arm. Montgomery let them lead him out of PineAle Pub. The whole time he just kept looking from one man to the other and repeating, “Show me your badge.” When they had dragged him out, one of the bouncers shoved him.

“We don’t have badges.”

“Yeah, we ain’t law men.”

“We just get to beat on scum like you.”

A smile spread across Montgomery’s face. “I am a pillar of society, you dumb fuck.” He rolled his shoulders a few times, waiting for the punch he knew was coming. Sure enough, one of the men struck. Montgomery rolled with the hit, eliminating any damage. He kept his body loose as he staggered between the two men. Another punch came, which was taken with the same skill. Both men had taken their shots; now it was Montgomery’s turn.

He took two huge steps, almost as if he were falling to the side; then quickly stepped three times and kicked one of the men in the side of his knee. The force of the kick drove the man’s knee to the ground, dislocating his leg. The bouncer howled in pain and fell on his back in the dirt road. The second man was being extremely cautious against the drunk now. Montgomery shrugged his shoulders and delivered a kick to the head of the man on the ground. The man went silent.

After seeing his friend get knocked out, the other bouncer charged Montgomery. The drunken fool did not even try to avoid the hit. The two men went down into the road; rocks slicing into Montgomery’s shirtless back. It hardly mattered; he couldn’t feel it anyway. The alcohol was coursing through his veins, giving him exactly what he needed to win any fight; toughness. Montgomery easily rolled the man over and began to beating him unconscious. Blood poured out of his back and from his knuckles as he shakily stood to his feet.

He stuck his head back into the PineAle Pub and shouted to the barkeep, “Those guys said they would take care of my tab.” Then he gave a salute and walked away. He took about ten steps, violently puked, and then continued on his way.

 
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Posted by on September 18, 2013 in Penn's Diary

 

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Escaped Prisoner (reblog from earlier)

Amy

A man leaned against a tall pine; sweat ran down his face and dripped on the ground ferns. He gasped, trying to fill his lungs. The man even spared a few seconds to pull at the ropes that were knotted around his wrists. His reprieve was short-lived. The men chasing him were closing in once again. They would catch him, he was certain of that fact. He had been living on prison food for the past few weeks, and simply did not have the strength to run much longer. However, he was determined not to make it easy on his pursuers.

He headed deeper into the forest. The prisoner’s heart dropped as he heard the howl of an abyss hound. The giant dogs were bred as pets by the orcs of Locwood. He knew that he had been travelling in that general direction; had he already gone that far? The hound had found his scent. There was no longer any sense in running, so the man sat down and put his hands on his head.

The abyss hound stormed through the small green foliage and started barking at the prisoner. It circled the man until a group of three orcs appeared. They wore studded leather armor with the goat insignia of Locwood clearly showing on their arms. Each orc was armed with a shortbow. They also had shortswords strapped to their hips and shields upon their backs.

“Wat we got here?” asked the orc, who was obviously the leader of this tiny band. The abyss hound gave another howl. One of the orcs leashed the giant dog, and the beast calmed. The prisoner did not say a word. He was paralyzed with fear.

Just then a group of four humans burst into view. Three wore chain armor, while one wore plate with a plumed helmet. They all carried longswords and shields that were emblazoned with the pine tree symbol. “That man is our prisoner,” called the plate armored human.

“No,” stated Grug, the orc leader. “My prisoner!” He grabbed the man by the hair and yanked him up. The prisoner winced, but kept still and quiet. The other two orcs laughed. However, they readied their swords and shields.

The human leader took off her helmet and spread her arms; showing no aggression. Her name was Amy, and she knew that this situation could be very dangerous. “This man escaped from our prison yesterday. If you look on his left wrist, you will see the “V” branded there.” The other three humans kept their swords drawn.

Grug harshly grabbed the man’s right arm and turned his hand over. “I ain’t see nuthin.”

“Try the other arm,” Amy tried not to demean the orc.

“Still nuthin,” Grug stated without even looking again. The three humans took a few steps toward the orcs, but Amy held up her hand to stop them.

“This prisoner is to be brought back to Pinevale for trial. He is a criminal, and we ask that you allow us to return him so the he may receive what he deserves.” Amy was being very careful; a wrong move could send Locwood and Pinevale back to war.

Grug, like Amy, did not want to be responsible for starting a war. However, he could not allow the human female to dictate his actions. He would not allow himself to appear weak. “He ‘deserves’ his freedom. He escaped your jail.” The orcs could sense a fight coming, and the hound sensed the rising tempers as well.

“Are you not going to give us the prisoner?” Amy asked. She was willing to give the man over to the orcs if it would save a fight.

“Split him with ya?” Grug suggested, as he pulled a large knife from his belt. The prisoner went limp in the orc’s strong arms.

“No!” Amy shouted, which sent the abyss hound into a fit of barking. The orc was having a hard time holding the dog back. “No,” she said more calmly. “Keep him. He is your responsibility now.” She nodded to Grug in concession.

The orc leader was glad that the female had backed down first. He returned her nod, slightly.

Amy had to listen to the grumblings of her fellow guards all the way back to Pinevale. She knew that she had made the right choice; perhaps not for that day, but for the days which would have followed. Amy would be able to sleep soundly that night.

The orcs laughed at the retreating humans. They called the female weak, but Grug knew better. Sometimes walking away from a fight took more strength than drawing your sword. No, Amy was not weak; not at all. Grug understood, even if the others could not.

“Thank you,” the prisoner stated as he grabbed Grug by the leg. “Thank you, so much for saving me.”

“Oh, you.” the orc leader mumbled. His mind hardly registered the movement as he drove his knife into the prisoner’s skull. Too many other thoughts had erupted in Grug’s head to even care about the man. It ended up being a long walk back to Locwood.

 
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Posted by on September 15, 2013 in Penn's Diary

 

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Strong Black Vine

This song makes me think of Tiranis, the violet dragon featured in my story Ties That Bind.

 

Tiranis

 

 

 
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Posted by on September 12, 2013 in From the Desk of the Author

 

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Image

Washed Clean

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Posted by on September 11, 2013 in From the Desk of the Author

 

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Realizations

 
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Posted by on September 10, 2013 in Penn's Diary

 

Pana the Elder

Pana the Elder

Sayings of Pana the Elder

Many have fallen with the bottle in their hand.

Even a small mouse has anger.

He who would do great things should not attempt them all alone.

Beware of the man who does not talk, and the dog that does not bark.

You already possess everything necessary to become great.

It is better to have less thunder in the mouth and more lightning in the hand.

Day and night cannot dwell together.

If a man is to do something more than human, he must have more than human powers.

Listen, or your tongue will make you deaf.

Each bird loves to hear himself sing.

 
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Posted by on September 10, 2013 in Penn's Diary

 

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