Notes on life, art, photography and technology, by a Danish dropout bohemian.
"... that seems like a pretty crucial conjunction." -- The Emperor's New Groove
One would think that, wouldn't we? That "pirates are the scum of the Earth". (Shouldn't that be "the scum of the Sea"???)How interesting, then, that not one hour ago, I was watching "Mutiny of the Bounty". "We shall hunt you to the last one, to the furthest place of the Earth if need be", Cpt Bligh said. Mutineers were deemed little differently than pirates.And this is by no means a digression.I warmly recomment you read Björn Larsson's biography of Long John Silver [ISBN 1-86046-538-2]It's fictional, of course! But it's also one of the most realistic fictional biographies I've ever read. Depicting with amazing truthfulness what it was like to be a sailor in a past not so long gone (especially in the Third World), and why exactly many decent people became pirates in these days.Basically, european mutineers AND pirates (again, quite often the former would become the latter for lack of a better choice) were rebels to an abominable system of inhumane authoritarianism, of the absolute and oft abused power of "official" captains at sea, and as such, they couldn't be allowed to live, even less to speak and be heard. So official imperialistic propaganda carefully made sure nobody would even believe the precious few that would manage to live long enough to speak up in "civilised countries".Sure, they were also often merciless thieves. Often. Not always. Has Edward England never left you wondering? You ever asked yourself why an educated and merciful man would become a pirate CAPTAIN? [Incidentally, his was the flag that became the "traditional" movie emblem of pirates. In reality, every pirate had his own specific flag.]How about getting abducted in a harbour tavern, waking up aboard a ship at sea, and having no other option but to stay within that near-slavery system where you got dragged? What would that be called under modern Western law?Anyway, what would you expect from uneducated men who never knew anything but tyranny, and suddenly end up in complete anarchic liberty?And yet, the "code of piracy" was far less cruel than the fine upstanding steel discipline of official navy.Warning: it's not "light reading". This novel is an epic saga with a large number of pages. It's also, IMHO, fascinating.I bet once you read it, Eolake, you'll comment about it on your blog.For one, it reveals how fine young lad Jim Hawkins invested his treasure share and got rich. Two words: nigger trade.We don't hear much more about Hawkins, the whole episode of the Treasure Island is barely talked about. (And Silver is ironic about "hawkins making a popular book about it".) But again, I *love* being given perspective about some well-established preconceptions.Investing in nigger trade companies was "ordinary entrepreneurship" in these days.Like Joe Dick aptly pointed, Gandhi the Mahatma ("great soul") defended the civic rights of hindus, but didn't mind Blacks being considerd and treated as inferiors. Makes me wonder how "honestly civilised" *I* am, being myself a product of my culture... I'm sure I still have a lot to learn.Knowledge is power.Oh, and we also find out some very historical facts, in this novel, about the fate and treatment of those Africans denied of humanity status and nicknamed "ebony wood". I tell ya, a cargo of shipped wood was treated better.Definitely not a PG-13 rosy adventure-action kiddie tale...Hey, how about that? Less than 4,096 characters, posted in one go. And yet I said all I wanted to express!Woohoo. And aarrr!
OK, didn't know all that. But I was talking more about modern pirates. One of my friends escaped China on a small refugee boat when she was six years old. Pirates attacked and took all, and when they left, just for good measure, they poured gasoline over all the food.
OK, didn't know all that myself.Real bastards, these guys.I mean, the sheer nastiness of ruining whatever you can't steal, to people who literally have nothing else? Sweet Confucius!...
like to be a sailor in a past not so long gone (especially in the Third World), and why exactly many decent people became pirates in these days. It's one thing to explain the existence of pirates, but I don't think you were saying it excuses anything. They should still be hunted down and captured or killed, and if they're captured we should be able to prosecute them.I warmly recomment you read Björn Larsson's biography of Long John Silver [ISBN 1-86046-538-2] I'll have to try that one, but right now I have a substantial pile of other stuff I'm working my way through.I would warmly recommend the Aubrey/Maturin series by Patrick O'Brian which depicts life in the Royal Navy realistically.
[Incidentally, his was the flag that became the "traditional" movie emblem of pirates. In reality, every pirate had his own specific flag.] According to that article on the Jolly Roger, most pirates used a plain black flag, but that this one was used by four pirates.Like Joe Dick aptly pointed, Gandhi the Mahatma ("great soul") defended the civic rights of hindus, but didn't mind Blacks being considerd and treated as inferiors. Makes me wonder how "honestly civilised" *I* am, being myself a product of my culture... I'm sure I still have a lot to learn.Knowledge is power. Makes you wonder how even the most broadminded, "enlightened" of today will be considered savages by future generations.
Dang it all, Pascal, that book is not available new. I don't mind buying used books, but only when I can flip through them to make sure that some douchebag hasn't written in it or underlined or highlighted. (That's less likely when it's not a textbook, but you never know.)
Post a Comment