When Worlds Collide
October 10, 2010 4:35 PM   Subscribe

IMAGINE THAT THIS MINUTE, ON THIS STATION, YOU RECEIVED WORD THAT WE HAD MADE CONTACT WITH A CIVILIZATION ON ANOTHER PLANET. THE CLOSEST THING IN HUMAN HISTORY TO SUCH AN EVENT TOOK PLACE IN 1493 WHEN NEWS REACHED EUROPE THAT COLUMBUS HAD ENCOUNTERED A NEW WORLD.
posted by Brent Parker (74 comments total) 14 users marked this as a favorite

 
INTERNATIONAL CAPSLOCK DAY IS NOT UNTIL THE 22ND DUDE.

I can't make the video work. :/
posted by elizardbits at 4:38 PM on October 10, 2010 [5 favorites]


Quit shouting. A smallpox upon thee.
posted by codswallop at 4:42 PM on October 10, 2010 [9 favorites]


Beware extraterrestrials bearing gifts of blankets and shiny beads.
posted by loquacious at 4:46 PM on October 10, 2010 [3 favorites]


I thought columbus just thought he'd hit India.
posted by delmoi at 4:49 PM on October 10, 2010


TEH NEW WORLD IS A LIE! THEY FAKED THE AMERICA LANDING!!
posted by fuq at 4:51 PM on October 10, 2010 [23 favorites]


For the record Leif Erikson discovered America.
posted by humanfont at 4:56 PM on October 10, 2010 [5 favorites]


Gah. Even on the website, they're asking me to pledge! Never will I be able to enjoy my public programming guilt-free!
posted by Michael Pemulis at 4:56 PM on October 10, 2010


Is that how you heard that? I listened and it sounded more like

iMaGInE thAT THis MinUTe, On ThiS sTATion, you ReCeiVEd WoRD thAt We hAD mADe COntAct With A ciViliZation On AnotHer PLaNEt. ThE CloSEst THiNG in HUmaN HiSTory To Such An EvENT TOok PlaCe in 1493 WhEN NEws REacheD eRuoPE that ColumBuS had ENcOuntEReD a NeW woRLd.

(I did that by hand, damn you)

Yay extermination in the name of conquest and greed!
posted by cavalier at 4:56 PM on October 10, 2010 [3 favorites]


YAY! ANNIVERSARY OF A GENOCIDE! PARTY ON!

Seriously, this holiday is an abomination. The dude didn't "discover" anything. There were people already living in the "new world," some of whom had been in continuous occupation of their lands longer than any European society. They had laws, philosophy, moral codes, art, religion, and civilization.

They're still here. Celebrating Columbus Day is as barbaric as celebrating the Confederacy.
posted by fourcheesemac at 4:57 PM on October 10, 2010 [60 favorites]


that time of the year again? must be time to shop for a car then
posted by Postroad at 5:07 PM on October 10, 2010


As good a time as any to include Christopher Columbus' writing of his voyage and extracts in English.

This makes me smile: Following his first voyage across the Atlantic, Columbus wrote a brief report on the "Islands of India beyond the Ganges."

This document is the from the journal of Columbus in his voyage of 1492. The meaning of this voyage is highly contested. On the one hand, it is witness to the tremendous vitality and verve of late medieval and early modern Europe - which was on the verge of acquiring a world hegemony. On the other hand, the direct result of this and later voyages was the virtual extermination, by ill-treatment and disease, of the vast majority of the Native inhabitants, and the enormous growth of the transatlantic slave trade. It might not be fair to lay the blame at Columbus' feet, but since all sides treat him as a symbol, such questions cannot be avoided.
posted by nickyskye at 5:10 PM on October 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


> "YAY! ANNIVERSARY OF A GENOCIDE! PARTY ON!

Seriously, this holiday is an abomination. The dude didn't "discover" anything. There were people already living in the "new world," some of whom had been in continuous occupation of their lands longer than any European society. They had laws, philosophy, moral codes, art, religion, and civilization.

They're still here. Celebrating Columbus Day is as barbaric as celebrating the Confederacy."


While I agree with this, it just isn't what the post (or, it appears, the video) is about. The video and the post are both titled 'When Worlds Collide,' which is more than a hint that PBS and the poster are familiar with the existence of civilization in the Americas before Columbus. So why do this here, when one could make comments that are relevant to something someone's actually saying?
posted by roast beef at 5:11 PM on October 10, 2010 [13 favorites]


america: worth the effort? you decide
posted by nervousfritz at 5:12 PM on October 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


I started calling it 'Conqueror's Day' this year.
posted by carsonb at 5:15 PM on October 10, 2010 [4 favorites]


They had laws, philosophy, moral codes, art, religion, and civilization.

No gunpowder, though, which was a bummer.
posted by felix betachat at 5:23 PM on October 10, 2010 [8 favorites]


And I would add that it's a real stretch to say that that Columbus "didn't discover anything." Would you call finding another planet with intelligent life a discovery? It was a discovery of one part of the world by another part of the world, and it was inarguably one of great historical importance. That doesn't make it laudable; discoveries can cause harm.
posted by roast beef at 5:25 PM on October 10, 2010 [10 favorites]


They're still here. Celebrating Columbus Day is as barbaric as celebrating the Confederacy.

Very true. As a resident of the fabulous Columbus, Ohio, I wish they had kept its original name: Franklinton. Benjamin Franklin is infinitely cooler than Christopher Columbus.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 5:26 PM on October 10, 2010 [4 favorites]


The dude didn't "discover" anything.

First off, the FPP didn't say he discovered anything, it said "he encountered a new world", which is pretty much true. More exactly, he was the first one from his society to encounter a new continent and its people. He did this by overcoming (for the time) a pretty hard technical challenge.
As to comparing his barbaricy to the confederacy, probably not too far from the mark. But really, it's pretty much of a toss up as too your chances as a prisoner of Columbus, the Confederacy or many of the Central American natives.
posted by 445supermag at 5:31 PM on October 10, 2010 [3 favorites]


Personally, I'm calling it "Ice Bridge Crossing Day," in memory of the people who were really first in the Americas, though the name should be extended to include the possibility that southern populations came via watercraft. Tentative name variation: "Ice Bridge, or Maybe Watercraft, Possibly Both, Day." Alternative name #2: "Columbus Was Wrong Day."
posted by filthy light thief at 5:38 PM on October 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


Felix: Gunpowder help. But, what helped more was the Afro-Eurasian tradition of animal husbandry and domestication, largely lacking in the New World (the Llama not withstanding, I suppose). Most pathogens that end up killing humans come to us from animals. A few tens of thousands of years of "lying with dogs" - and the subsequent waves of plague that hit every few centuries - meant that every Eurasian and African explorer was a one man biological warfare factory, as the Native Americans and First Peoples had no similar cultural tradition and thus no immunity. From the moment Columbus encountered the first Arawak, before the first beads were exchanged, the extermination had begun. In many cases, upwards of 90% fatality. Not 90% infection - 9 out of 10 DEAD.

And, its not like these people were just sitting on their asses singing songs and smoking peace pipes. The various tribes maintained extensive, if relatively slow moving, trade networks, which spread diseases faster even than the Europeans could explore. By the time the Pilgrims hit Plymouth in the 1630s, plagues had literally killed so many American Indians that unburied bodies littered the forests - diseases spread from Columbus through Roanoke and beyond had destroyed native populations beyond any point of real chance of resistance before the first thanksgiving.

Even if Columbus' intentions had been perfectly benign, which they no doubt were not, the Columbian Exchange could not help but have caused virtual genocide.
posted by absalom at 5:39 PM on October 10, 2010 [15 favorites]


We live here now
posted by Brocktoon at 5:39 PM on October 10, 2010 [6 favorites]


...now imagine that on this channel, you received word that a civilisation from another planet had made contact with us - and intended to take over our planet and kill most of us.
posted by pompomtom at 5:44 PM on October 10, 2010


I liek Colombos he smallpox the blankets and he doesn't afraid of anything.
posted by Senor Cardgage at 6:09 PM on October 10, 2010 [4 favorites]


I started calling it 'Conqueror's Day' this year.

Of course, just before the video crapped out on me (about 40m in) he started getting around to the whole 'They weren't really conquered, silly! Look at how the cultures adapted and merged!' bit and I sort of feel like an ass now. Those little armadillo guitars are awesome, and I really want to read that Inca/Mestizo history.
posted by carsonb at 6:13 PM on October 10, 2010


Sure, we celebrate Europeans discovering a new continent, but what of the scientists who discovered Pangaea? They discovered an Ur-Continent, which is bigger and cooler than your typical overgrown island, and we don't even get a BBQ in honor of them.
posted by mccarty.tim at 6:14 PM on October 10, 2010 [2 favorites]


"For the record Leif Erikson discovered America."

And the Leif Garrett conquered it.
posted by mr_crash_davis mark II: Jazz Odyssey at 6:15 PM on October 10, 2010 [2 favorites]


Why did they keep calling them "Indians' after they realized they weren't in the Indies? Why!!!!?

Also........ Fuck Columbus.
posted by Liquidwolf at 6:16 PM on October 10, 2010


I hate to miss any chance to link to my favorite Burning Spear song:
Christopher Columbus Is a Damn Blasted Liar!
posted by Devils Rancher at 6:18 PM on October 10, 2010 [2 favorites]


This is a fascinating, informative and beautifully photographed documentary. Although I like an edgy one-liner comment in a Mefi thread as much as anyone else, I'd just like to say that those of you who've popped into the thread to drop a witticism or two, or a righteously indignant rant, but who haven't watched the linked video, should do so at your earliest convenience. It's really very good, and I'm learning a lot from it.

Thanks for the post, Brent Parker.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 6:27 PM on October 10, 2010 [4 favorites]


Gah. Even on the website, they're asking me to pledge! Never will I be able to enjoy my public programming guilt-free!

A $20 check relieves you of all guilt.
posted by cjorgensen at 6:30 PM on October 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


Seriously, this holiday is an abomination.

Oh please, it's not even a real holiday (unless you're a government employee). Columbus Day ranks right up there with Flag Day and Arbor Day.
posted by MikeMc at 6:31 PM on October 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


...should do so at your earliest convenience.

Yeah, doing that now. Beautifully filmed, for sure.
posted by Devils Rancher at 6:37 PM on October 10, 2010


I'm just glad he didn't direct any more of the Harry Potter flicks.
Talk about a superficial understanding of the source material.
posted by Senor Cardgage at 6:47 PM on October 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


A $20 check relieves you of all guilt.

I pledged to the white man in the bow tie $20 in exchange for no guilt. He broke the pledge. First he sent the papers that travel by the snail. Then he sent the signals that travel by the wire. First there were only a few. Then more. Now he forgets the pledge, and talks again of our need to support him.

We do not inherit the tote bag from our ancestors. We borrow it from our children.
posted by condour75 at 6:47 PM on October 10, 2010 [20 favorites]


I've watched the whole thing and found it to be quite good. It's virtually entirely free of the annoying euro-centric assumptions and arguments still so prevalent, and is clearly built on some of the best of contemporary research. Just about all of the major highlights are hit (De las Casas, Potosí, Bishop Landa, etc.), and it's good to have something like this narrated by someone who knows how to pronounce everything.

If I taught a high school world history class, I wouldn't hesitate to use it. I don't like the false dichotomy of "god or gold" (it's almost always "god and gold") and I would have liked a little bit more about the overall effects of the conquest and colonization on Europe as a whole - but those are quibbles.
posted by williampratt at 6:56 PM on October 10, 2010


Don't forget - the Canadians call this day 'thanksgiving day'.

IMAGINE THAT THIS MINUTE, ON THIS STATION, YOU RECEIVED WORD THAT WE HAD MADE CONTACT WITH A CIVILIZATION ON ANOTHER PLANET.

Imagine no more, for on this Blue station the word(s) of another civilization from off the planet exist!

A newly-published book by a retired NORAD officer predicts October 13, 2010 as the tentative date for a fleet of extraterrestrial vehicles to hover for hours over the earth's principal cities. Author says the event to be the first in a series intended to avert a planetary catastrophe resulting from increasing levels of carbon-dioxide in the earth's atmosphere dangerously approaching a "critical mass."

(PR Web - your source for valid *snicker* info.)

he smallpox the blankets

I believe that was a Brittish thing. And such a tradition continues - 1940's and the STDs in South America as an example. Upcomming - charges of breeding plant pathogens which end up causing starvation.

"For the record Leif Erikson discovered America."


Errr, Amerigo Vespucci is the one who named it America - ergo he's the one who discovered "America" Before that, is was 'India' or 'new world' or some other label.

Others who 'discovered' the land mass:
If the 'out of Africa' theories are correct - the people living there in 1492 were descendants of those discoverers.

Welsh Prince Madog http://www.maddoxgenealogy.com/famous/wls_dynasties_gwynedd_c13.htm


How about Egyptians?
According to the story related to the Gazette by Mr. Kinkaid, the archaelogists of the Smithsonian Institute, which is financing the expeditions, have made discoveries which
almost conclusively prove that the race which inhabited this mysterious cavern, hewn in
solid rock by human hands, was of oriental origin, possibly from Egypt, tracing back to
Ramses.

The Knights Templar Found America in 1362

Or in the book 1491 - has claims of west coast visitations by the Chinese fleet.
posted by rough ashlar at 6:56 PM on October 10, 2010


Oh, one other quibble - I'm really tired of the idea of history as a collection of "different narratives," all of which need to be combined to get at "reality."
posted by williampratt at 6:59 PM on October 10, 2010


Why did they keep calling them "Indians' after they realized they weren't in the Indies? Why!!!!?

Because it reminds my Indian(native American) friends how stupid white people are.
posted by humanfont at 7:01 PM on October 10, 2010


Or in the book 1491 - has claims of west coast visitations by the Chinese fleet.

Actually, 1421. The book makes a good case for the size and significance of China's fleet at the time, but there are so many unfounded speculations and assumptions presented as fact that I end up being really unconvinced by much of of what the author says - like, say, that the mysterious "road" in Bimini is actually a Chinese drydock.
posted by williampratt at 7:06 PM on October 10, 2010


humanfont: "For the record Leif Erikson discovered America"

Nope, it was Bugs Bunny.
posted by bwg at 7:19 PM on October 10, 2010


The dude didn't "discover" anything. There were people already living in the "new world," some of whom had been in continuous occupation of their lands longer than any European society. They had laws, philosophy, moral codes, art, religion, and civilization.

But they didn't develop navigation so they could atlantic ocean. They didn't invent the wheel. They didn't have writing. They didn't have steel. They didn't have gunpowder.

Seriously, I'd have conquered those n00bs by 1066 and not have felt a bit guilty about it.

I might be playing too much Civ V.
posted by empath at 7:29 PM on October 10, 2010 [6 favorites]


(i missed a verb somewhere in the first sentence)
posted by empath at 7:30 PM on October 10, 2010


Wait, so we're all angry about the discovery of America by the Europeans? I can understand being upset about some of the stuff that happened well after that, but just the discovery itself was a moral wrong? Also, most of us here on this continent today descend from those evil invaders, so if we're against Columbus Day, shouldn't we be against all holidays related to the nations and cultures we built after that as well? I mean I know that's a no, but why not?

I'm really tired of the idea of history as a collection of "different narratives," all of which need to be combined to get at "reality."

Say what? What's your idea then? Because when I read history, I certainly do see different narratives being told, and I certainly do see that different ones have errors in different areas.
posted by Xezlec at 7:34 PM on October 10, 2010


I loved 1491 and look forward to seeing the doc. But I wonder, to those questioning whether this should be a holiday at all, can't it be a commemoration, and not a celebration? After all, regardless of who "discovered" America, the Columbian exchange is undoubtedly one of the most important events in human history. Hell, it's probably up there in the history of the Holocene, given the number of species exchanges that occurred. I don't think it's too much to ask that we take a long weekend to reflect on it with documentaries like this, and it doesn't have to be a hagiography of the man, who seems correctly regarded as one of history's great self promotional douchebags. (among other things, he asked to be officially called "admiral of the seas"-- I think today he'd be involved in seo or marketing)

I guess my point is, if you're the sort to show up at a school board meeting, don't push for deemphasis of the event, just try to get something more challenging than learning the three ships' names.
posted by condour75 at 7:45 PM on October 10, 2010


The storytelling aspects of this remind me a bit of James Burke's Connections, which is a great formula for this sort of thing. It also explores some history that Burke didn't dig into himself (out of scope stuff). It's really too bad there aren't more of this, digging into the great mergers of mythology and music, art and science, food and life.
posted by wobh at 7:59 PM on October 10, 2010


Once they had breathed our air, germs, which no longer affect us, began to kill them. The end came swiftly. All over the Americas their civilizations began to stop and fall. After all that the conquistadors pretended to do, the Native Americas were destroyed and Europe conquered by the littlest things....
posted by humanfont at 8:01 PM on October 10, 2010


YAY! ANNIVERSARY OF A GENOCIDE! PARTY ON!

Did you actually watch the film? It has nothing to do with a celebration of Columbus, nor does it say that the conquest was a wonderful thing. In fact, two of the central figures of the narrative are Bartolomé de las Casas and Garcilaso de la Vega (but since you seem more intent on providing one-liners than discussing the history, how about I give you a link or two). But please, enlighten us more, because everyone on mefi and over at PBS is just completely deluded about what happened when Spain conquered the Americas.
posted by outlandishmarxist at 8:20 PM on October 10, 2010


thanks for link, i'm watching Inspector Lewis, one i had missed so
i thank you.

tear-down of '1421'

(oh, that de al vega was a BAD-BAD man)
posted by clavdivs at 8:23 PM on October 10, 2010


For so it had come about, as indeed I and many men might have foreseen had not terror and disaster blinded our minds. These germs of disease have taken toll of humanity since the beginning of things--taken toll of our prehuman ancestors since life began here. But by virtue of this natural selection of our kind we have developed resisting power; to no germs do we succumb without a struggle, and to many--those that cause putrefaction in dead matter, for instance--our living frames are altogether immune. But there are no bacteria in Mars, and directly these invaders arrived, directly they drank and fed, our microscopic allies began to work their overthrow. Already when I watched them they were irrevocably doomed, dying and rotting even as they went to and fro. It was inevitable. By the toll of a billion deaths man has bought his birthright of the earth, and it is his against all comers; it would still be his were the Martians ten times as mighty as they are. For neither do men live nor die in vain.

Here and there they were scattered, nearly fifty altogether, in that great gulf they had made, overtaken by a death that must have seemed to them as incomprehensible as any death could be. To me also at that time this death was incomprehensible. All I knew was that these things that had been alive and so terrible to men were dead. For a moment I believed that the destruction of Sennacherib had been repeated, that God had repented, that the Angel of Death had slain them in the night.
posted by John Kenneth Fisher at 8:25 PM on October 10, 2010


except, you know, in reverse.
posted by John Kenneth Fisher at 8:25 PM on October 10, 2010


Wasn't there a blue cat people movie with exactly this premise? Or did I dream that?
posted by mccarty.tim at 8:50 PM on October 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


1519-When Quetzalcoatl brought plate and powder creating needless dismay.

1517 the real halloween.

1517 bonus gem-which i think is relevant to the discussion at hand.
posted by clavdivs at 10:04 PM on October 10, 2010


I've got a quarter of the way through the video. Going to watch the rest of this later. So far, most of the stuff at the beginning I was made aware of by 1491. A good book. As a US of American man with half Mexican heritage, I feel a sort of ache in my belly when I read or watch about the collapse of pre-Columbian civilizations because of disease or conquest. I can't help what sort of philosophies, what sort of poetry and science would've come if the indigenous people of the Americas had immunity to Old World disease.

Can you imagine?

But what happened happened. I can't speak for Native Americans, or Central and South American indigenous people. Hell, I can't even speak for all Latinos... but as a man with the blood of the conquered and conquerers I think it's a good thing that this collision of worlds is being more closely inspected and old thinking about pre-Columbian civilizations are being reconsidered. Better than the all BUFFALOS BUFFALOS BUFFALOS of (Texan) elementary school. Though the obvious signs of pre-Columbian civilization have become decaying ruins, the corn lives on. Squash, and beans, and potatos. Tomatos and chiles. Mmmm....

Where was I going with this? Not sure, but go out and learn about some Indians, Native Americans, Aztecs, Mayans, Inkans, Olmecs, the Guaraní... as many as you can. They're cool civilizations!
posted by Mister Cheese at 10:11 PM on October 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


The term for contact like this is Outside Context Problem. In the words of Iain M. Banks, the originator of the term it's "the sort of thing most civilisations encountered just once, and which they tended to encounter rather in the same way a sentence encountered a full stop." The idea being that you are in a situation that is so far outside of the context of your civilization that you just have no idea how to deal with it.

As much as Columbus got here because he miscalculated the circumference of the earth and got lucky and never realized he had encountered a continent that was not known among his people (even if others of the same phenotype as him had gotten there earlier), I still like the image of Columbia for the United States. Something about having a woman as the symbol of our country made me see the US as less bullying and more caring. Whether or not this was successful propaganda that I'm affected by because she's no longer the symbol for the US, I leave as an exercise for the reader.
posted by Hactar at 10:22 PM on October 10, 2010 [2 favorites]


Celebrating Columbus Day is as barbaric as celebrating the Confederacy.

Does anyone actually celebrate it with any positive remembrance of Columbus, though? When I was in school a couple of decades - plus ago it was already "500 years of genocide!!!11!" and the time around Columbus Day was all learning about native cultures, as was all the time around Thanksgiving. And the "Columbus did not discover anything, he was such a loser" stuff had started back in grade school, pretty much it was the first history lesson.

I think at this point it's pretty firmly established as Hating Columbus Day, when we all glare sternly and shake our collective finger at any dead white males we come across.
posted by XMLicious at 11:24 PM on October 10, 2010


(I did that by hand, damn you)

Get tHee an EmAcs.

M-x studlify-buffer, for those playing along at home.
posted by Dr Dracator at 12:43 AM on October 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


Hell, I can't even speak for all Latinos... but as a man with the blood of the conquered and conquerers I think it's a good thing that this collision of worlds is being more closely inspected and old thinking about pre-Columbian civilizations are being reconsidered.

Mister Cheese, if you have't read it yet, you might really enjoy John Philip Santos' exploration of his triple-heritage, Places Left Unfinished at the Time of Creation.
posted by Devils Rancher at 12:49 AM on October 11, 2010


1421 is an interesting idea but unfortunately it is based on shoddy history and is not taken seriously by professional historians. I say that as someone who teaches Zheng He and Ming China to college students every year. But to claim that Zheng He visited the Americas is preposterous. The dude who wrote that book doesn't know Chinese but the PRC loves him for political reasons that are fascinating in their own right.
posted by vincele at 3:58 AM on October 11, 2010


As a US of American man with half Mexican heritage, I feel a sort of ache in my belly when I read or watch about the collapse of pre-Columbian civilizations because of disease or conquest.

You do understand that your Mexican heritage may be more Spanish/Mexican than anything else? After apocolypco - there was an upswing on discussion about the Spanish DNA in South America, but alas the below was the best I could spot with the mighty search engines. If your sorrow is BECAUSE of your DNA...your DNA may not be what you thought it was ... and if your DNA turns out to be different - will that change your outlook?


The New Mexico DNA Project results show that 90 percent of the male line samples are identical to the Spanish DNA study, the other 10 percent being Native American.

Also, the New Mexico DNA Projects results show that 80 percent of the female line samples are Native American; the other 20 percent are the same Old World as the Spanish project. The conclusion that can be drawn from these results is that the Spanish brought very few women with them and that they took mostly Native American wives.
posted by rough ashlar at 4:05 AM on October 11, 2010


Argh! My eyes! Need. Sentence. Case.
posted by londonmark at 4:32 AM on October 11, 2010


Oh please, it's not even a real holiday

In southern New England, Columbus Day is kind of an Italian-American St. Patrick's Day, although lower profile, so when people criticize it, the whole thing gets caught up in "disrespecting Italians," rather than "was Columbus such a great idea."

Honestly, I would prefer the Italian-American community to embrace St. Joseph's Day (yeah, yeah Catholic saint's day, whatever), which would give us a much-needed holiday in the Spring, plus it has more zeppole and less genocide attached to it. That is the kind of win-win that made America great!
posted by GenjiandProust at 4:49 AM on October 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


Honestly, I would prefer the Italian-American community to embrace St. Joseph's Day

Move to Southeast Texas-- that's the way we do it. (Yes there are Italian Americans outside of NE!)
posted by vincele at 5:09 AM on October 11, 2010


"Ah—what did you say this gentleman's name was?"

"Christopher Colombo!—ze great Christopher Colombo!"

"Christopher Colombo—the great Christopher Colombo. Well, what did he do?"

"Discover America!—discover America, Oh, ze devil!"

"Discover America. No—that statement will hardly wash. We are just from America ourselves. We heard nothing about it. Christopher Colombo—pleasant name—is—is he dead?"

Mark Twain, The Innocents Abroad (1869)
posted by steef at 5:43 AM on October 11, 2010


"Ack! Ack ack ack!"

"He says, 'We come in peace.'"
posted by Kirth Gerson at 5:45 AM on October 11, 2010


Say what? What's your idea then? Because when I read history, I certainly do see different narratives being told, and I certainly do see that different ones have errors in different areas.

Because it just begs the question of what criteria are being used to decide which parts of which narratives are going to be used to construct history. Putting together a bunch of narratives is something quite different than making use of all available evidence along with consistent methodologies & principles to make your way through that evidence.
posted by williampratt at 6:04 AM on October 11, 2010


NO IT WASN'T; PEOPLE ALREADY HAD A PRETTY GOOD IDEA THAT THERE WERE PLENTY OF HEATHENS OUT THERE TO CONQUER. THEY JUST WEREN'T SURE OF WHAT KIND OF HEATHENS.
posted by clvrmnky at 6:59 AM on October 11, 2010


Brent Parker: "IMAGINE THAT THIS MINUTE, ON THIS STATION, YOU RECEIVED WORD THAT WE HAD MADE CONTACT WITH A CIVILIZATION ON ANOTHER PLANET. THE CLOSEST THING IN HUMAN HISTORY TO SUCH AN EVENT TOOK PLACE IN 1493 WHEN NEWS REACHED EUROPE THAT COLUMBUS HAD ENCOUNTERED A NEW WORLD."

I imagined this being spoken in a Dalek voice.

cavalier: "Is that how you heard that? I listened and it sounded more like

iMaGInE thAT THis MinUTe, On ThiS sTATion, you ReCeiVEd WoRD thAt We hAD mADe COntAct With A ciViliZation On AnotHer PLaNEt. ThE CloSEst THiNG in HUmaN HiSTory To Such An EvENT TOok PlaCe in 1493 WhEN NEws REacheD eRuoPE that ColumBuS had ENcOuntEReD a NeW woRLd.
"

I imagined this being spoken like Gamzee from Homestuck.
posted by ShawnStruck at 7:21 AM on October 11, 2010


Move to Southeast Texas

But... but... then I would have to live in Texas again. I can get zeppole in RI, so I think that is an unnecessary move. On the other hand, "chipotle zeppole" is an idea whose time, perhaps, has come.
posted by GenjiandProust at 8:08 AM on October 11, 2010


We discover you on beach here. Is all how you look at it.
posted by cereselle at 9:08 AM on October 11, 2010


IMAGINE THERE'S NO COUNTRIES IT ISN'T HARD TO DO NOTHING TO KILL OR DIE FOR AND NO RELIGION TOO IMAGINE ALL THE PEOPLE LIVING LIFE IN PEACE
posted by davejay at 10:48 AM on October 11, 2010


which narratives are going to be used to construct history

correct. perhaps the term 'narrative' is the issue
posted by clavdivs at 12:32 PM on October 11, 2010


Columbus Day? True Legacy: Cruelty and Slavery
posted by agregoli at 2:22 PM on October 11, 2010


In southern New England, Columbus Day is kind of an Italian-American St. Patrick's Day, although lower profile, so when people criticize it, the whole thing gets caught up in "disrespecting Italians," rather than "was Columbus such a great idea."

Not just New England. This was a storyline in an episode or two of The Sopranos, too.
posted by inigo2 at 3:06 PM on October 12, 2010


Just read about the Trespassers' Society in Unseen Academicals today. What a lovely alternative to the term "explorer".

Also, apparently the damn Basques were in Canada a good century or so before Columbus got his wanderlust, or so I read in Cod.
posted by Deathalicious at 11:55 PM on October 12, 2010


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