Lazarus: Come Out.

December 31, 2010

1 Corinthians 15:55

White Clay Creek Preserve DE-PA Line 12-28-10, PLR

We poets like to think of winter as Death:
     the long, dark, frozen wasteland.
But if you hold her cold and dry breast in close,
     you can feel the Mother breath.
Like a great grizzly bear in hibernation,
     the earth breaths Life in and out.

Death is merely a fugitive on the run…

Peter L Richardson
12/11/2010

White Clay Creek Bridge 12-28-10, PLR

What happens after Man takes the rule over Middle Earth…

(Note: This is a project I had to do for a linguistics class years ago. I’ve been too busy to write any new work, so I’ve been digging into past works. This is just for fun!)

It is twenty years later. The kingdom of Mordor has fallen and peace has settled upon the dwellers of Middle Earth. The Elves have moved on and man has become the protectors and peacekeepers for all who make their home in Middle Earth. The Hobbits live their simple lives in the Shire and the Dwarves continue to mine the earth for gems of all kinds. There is a freedom for persons of every kind  to move about Middle Earth without prejudice or conflict. Each year delegates from every major dwelling of every kind travel to Gondor and make council with Lord Aragon. On this twentieth anniversary of the crowning of the king, the Fellowship of the Ring have returned to Gondor for a reunion. They are meeting at an establishment that Aragon feels will revolutionize the lives of all the inhabitants of Middle Earth. Frodo and his companions are the first to arrive…

     “Welcome to McDoundles of Gondor, can I tayk yah ohder?”
     “We do not wish to order anyone around, we have come for some food. My companions and I have traveled a great distance and we are famished. Lord Aragon sent word that we would find nourishment here.”
     “That’s the ideya. Whadiyawon?”
     “I’m not sure…it’s been a long time since I’ve eaten man’s bread. This food looks strange to me. Sam, what do you suggest?”
     “I dunno, Mr. Frodo, it all looks good t’me!”
     “Than we shall have it all. We shall order you to give us each one of your…what do you call them?”
     “Valya Meals?”
     “Yes. We shall try each one. We are famished, we were unable to eat second breakfast.”
     “Whateva. I need a couple of evry valya meal here, please.”
     “No! No! Smeagle no wants mansbread! Smeagle wants ‘is precious, Smeagle wants it raw Master!”
     “Oh my Gawd! Ya caynt bring ya pet in heah! Youse gotta leave it outsiyd!”
     “I am bound to this creature and he to me! Without Smeagle’s help you would be taking orders from the Lord Sarun, and they wouldn’t involve food!”
     “Now, now, Mr. Frodo. There’s no need to be causin’ a ruckus! Perhaps we should do what she wants-”
     “No Sam. I owe Smeagle my life, the least I could do is to make sure he is fed.” Frodo suddenly drawing his sword on the counterperson exclaims, “Do you know who this is? This is Sting and I will cut your throat if you do not obey-”
     “Mr. Frodo! No!”
     “I don’t think that will be necessary, Frodo Baggins.”
     “Gandalf! You’re here!”
     “Yes. I am here. Just at the right time it seems. I see that you Hobbits still cannot leave the Shire without being the cause of some kind of trouble.”
     “Its not that, Gandalf, it’s the Ring, ever since our journey, I’ve been restless and irritable.”
     “I can vouch for that Mr. Gandalf!”
     “I’m sure you can Samwise. Frodo, the ring is now destroyed, you must work to put yourself to rest, you of all creatures know its power, but you are now free from its grasp, now is a time for celebration-”
     “And so we shall celebrate, in all the splendor of Gondor!”
     “Aragon!”
     “How are you, my friends? It is an honor to dine with those who brought peace to Middle Earth once again. I am sorry I am late, there were some diplomatic matters to attend to. I trust you have been well received?”
     “As a matter of fact, no. This young lady here-”
     “Man, whoya callin’ young, punk? I’m almost sixteen, Ile be drivin’ soon!”
     “Sister of Gondor, do you know who I am?”
     “I done care if youse da King! I ain’t servin’ no rawl meat ta no dawg.”
     “My lady, you are now speaking with Aragon; Lord of Gondor, protector of Middle Earth and founder of this establishment.”
     “Uh-oh.”
     “Yes, I think it shall be necessary for you to call upon your manager.”
     “Yessir.”
     “Founder?” Gandalf remarks in wonder, “Aragon, are you sure of the wisdom of this endeavor?”
     “Of course, Gandalf, I have helped to establish these food stops in honor of our fellowship. Last year a man had come to my council, very strangely dressed, he was dressed in yellow and red and wore his face white as the moon with very large red lips, as red as his hair. He presented this idea of ‘fast food‘ and it seemed right to me so I have a great plan to establish many more across all of Middle Earth.”
     “Aragon, I would expect you should be more wary than this. Just because the Ring is destroyed does not mean that there are no forces left in Middle Earth, who would rather see your kingdom destroyed.”
     “Such is the point, Gandalf, I have often traveled many suns and moons tracking Orc with no time allowed for nourishment, with these fast food stops, creatures of all kinds will have quick and easy access to nourishment with very little cost to them. And there is the food of every kind of group we have in Middle Earth; hobbit, dwarf, elvish and man-”
     “McElfbread? The picture has a likeness, but if that is elvish food, I am no elf.”
     “Legolis and Gimli, my friends! You are late.”
     “Hurgh! Late? Then what we all doin’ standin’ around yappin’ for? I did not travel half way ackrost Middle Earth only to talk! Master Elf, could you do me the pleasure of repeatin’ the menu fer me? I couldn’t care if it were Orc meat right now, it’s time for us to eat!”
     “Mr. Frodo?”
     “(sigh) Yes, Sam.”
     “I don’t know why they be callin’ this food fast, we been nearly twenty minutes here and ain’t had a bite yet. Mr. Frodo, when it comes to savin’ the world and all that, I think that men and wizards and elves may know better, but when it comes to eatin’ I’d say we hobbits are the bestest.”
     “Oh Sam, I agree. Do you think Mary and Pippin are coming?”
     “I dunno, Mr. Frodo, I dunno.”
     “Master! We’s hungry! Smeagle donts needs ‘is precious! Smeagle jus wonts ‘is dinner!” 

HOW I MADE THIS UP:

I confess, I tried to follow the natural speech patterns from the characters in the movie that I heard in my head and adjusted the dialogue from there. I wanted to include as many characters as possible and I wanted this to be something outside of the book. I couldn’t think of anything interesting to have them say so I decided to go with the comedic aspect using the McDonalds reference. I changed the spelling because I noticed that Tolkien had taken many things from our world and included them in Middle Earth by simply changing the spelling a bit. I also tried to show word pronunciation by changing the spelling, so if you sound out the misspelled words, you should be able to know what they are saying and the type of person who is saying them.

I tried to mark these characters as different “races” by using different dialects among them. I’m not sure if I succeeded so well on this, but you should be able to see the difference between Gimli and Sam’s dialects. I tried to give them both a “backwoods” sounding speech, but Gimli’s is more American, while Sam’s is more English (at least in my head). I used the idea of registers to identify who is speaking and where they come from. The “McDoundles” worker is supposed to be a lower class female from New York. I just dropped a lot of [r] sounds, for the most part. The idea was to identify Gondor with New York City to make it seem to have become more commercialized since mankind has been peacefully in charge of Middle Earth. I tried to show Sam’s background as laborer/gardener with his speech and I tried to make Frodo sound like he was an educated middle class hobbit. He spoke nearly as well as Gandalf and Aragon, but I used sentence structure and more unusual or sophisticated word choice for a wizard and a king. Among those two I tried to use words that I associate with wisdom for Gandalf and words that I associate with diplomacy for Aragon. I am most ashamed of who I turned Aragon into for this little project, he is a very awesome character in Tolkien’s books. I gave Legolis one well spoken line, since elves are supposed to be the on the high end of social class in Middle Earth, and Gimli was supposed to sound as like a mountain man, since the dwarves dwell in the mountains. Smeagle, or Gollum, I thought sounded like someone who was mentally challenged or as a very young child, so I tried to convey this in his speech. I know he died in the book, but I decided to bring him into this for fun and to present him with a lighter side. 

This was a fun and challenging project for me; someday I hope to write fiction of my own. This class and this project has given me some techniques to consider that will help me distinguish my characters and make them more real. I hope I have achieved that with this dialogue, but I’m sure there is much room for improvement.

Peter L Richardson
12/15/2003

The Scramble for Africa

“And this [London] also,” said Marlow suddenly, “has been one of the dark places of the earth.” –Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness

In the late eighteenth century a drastic change took place in the continent of Africa, the results of which are still affecting the fate of African nations today. This change is known as the Scramble for Africa. Around 1880, Portugal, France and the British Empire all had a few colonies they possessed on “the Dark Continent,” but as new unified states began to rise up in Europe, there were more powers who became interested in taking a slice of the cake. With these new powers desiring to play a part in the game of empire, and the older powers feeling threatened, there was a mad scramble for countries to gather in as much land as possible and as quickly as possible. Within twenty years, nearly the entire African continent was possessed by European powers. As they stole, killed and destroyed to get a hold of more than their neighbors back home, these powers gave little thought and consideration to the varieties of peoples who already inhabited the land. It was truly a mad grab for more and more land. Among the powers grabbing for land, the British came out on top possessing most of the South, East and significant areas in the North, but there was an unusual player in this Imperial game who managed to receive nearly the whole center of Africa. King Leopold II of Belgium took control of the Congo and began a reign of terror that lasted at least forty years. The issue of Empire, focusing on the British, is taken on by Niall Ferguson in his book simply entitled Empire. Adam Hochschild quite literally and literarily takes on the abuses in the Congo in his book King Leopold’s Ghost. Both authors have a purpose in mind for their work and both are passionate about getting their point across, but they each come to very different conclusions about Empire.

Just the title of Hochschild’s book lets us know his thoughts that the colonization of Africa had devastating effects on the continent. Ferguson, however, is a little harder to get. It is clear that Ferguson thinks that empire is ultimately a good thing; well, at least the British Empire was a good thing. He spends a lot of time pointing out the economic and technological advances that are spurned on by imperialism; however, he isn’t shy about talking of the negative results of empire either, though he certainly downplays England‘s atrocities. To Ferguson, the atrocities of imperialism seem to be unfortunate side-effects of a generally good thing. His purpose is not to condemn imperialism, but to help us see what went wrong in the past so it can be done better in the future. Hochschild, rather, takes a purely humanitarian perspective; when an empire displaces and abuses millions of people, when it wipes out entire cultures, it doesn’t matter what the profits are; it is wrong. While King Leopold is considered an extremist in his abuses of African peoples, Hochschild consistently pauses in his story to point out that most of the other Europeans nations were not much better.

As Europeans began to take over more and more land, it became fashionable to justify themselves with the ideas that they were bringing enlightenment to races who have been behind in the development of society. They felt it was their duty to bring Christianity and Capitalism to these uncivilized nations. The only way to do it would be to take over their land, secure the profits and when these nations were able to fully embrace God and fully embrace “free trade,” the imperialists would pull out and have a gratefully indebted ally. According Hochschild these motives are hypocritical at best. He states, “Underlying much of Europe’s excitement was the hope that Africa would be a source of raw materials to feed the Industrial Revolution…Expeditions quickened dramatically after prospectors discovered diamonds…and gold…in South Africa…But Europeans liked to think of themselves as having higher motives” (27). He leaves no one innocent, later he states that “Around the time the Germans were slaughtering Hereros, the world also was largely ignoring…[that] U.S. troops tortured prisoners, burned villages, killed 20,000 rebels, and saw 200,000 more Filipinos die of  war related hunger and disease. Britain came in for no international criticism for its killings of aborigines in Australia” (282). Hochschild reminds us that we all have skeletons in the closet. Ferguson does admit to, and does not at all support, the negative aspects of the empires in the Scramble for Africa. He is unusually critical of the actions of some of his ancestors. During his chapter on the Scramble, he says that  “even the most gilt-edged generals and proconsuls exhibited symptoms of what is best described as decadence” (222), yet he still holds that the Empire was a benefit to the peoples who it dominated. Speaking of the decline of the Empire, he later states “the Empire was dismantled not because it had oppressed subject peoples for centuries, but because it took up arms for just a few years against far more oppressive empires. It did the right thing, regardless of the cost. And that was why the…heir of Britain’s global power was not one of the evil empires…” (296).

Hochschild’s devil is clearly King Leopold II; he is portrayed as a swindling liar and a cunning thief. Unable to gain a colony through conquest or purchase, he works the national leaders of his day and more or less tricks them into handing him over a large chunk of land in the interest of humanitarianism and free trade. But rather than elevating the “noble savages” up to European standards he almost utterly destroyed them. Rather than abolishing the slave trade that still existed in the interior of Africa, he reduced entire tribes to slaves. The extent of abuses of the Europeans on the Africans in this book is equaled only by Hitler’s pursuit of the Jews. But at least Hitler was upfront about his intentions. Leopold is a man obsessed with dominion and riches. All the profit of the Congo went into his pocket, so that he could continue to seem “non-profit.” Though Leopold’s web of deceit and horror is intricate and complicated, Hochschild makes sure we know who his enemies and heroes are by the end of his book. Ferguson however, continues to remain ambiguous. Leopold’s British counterpart was definitely Cecil Rhodes. Rhodes also possessed an obsession for imperial dominance over the natives in South Africa and his first and main goal, though at least he was outspoken about it, was more land for more money. Ferguson is open about Rhodes’ greed, but he doesn’t seem to want to get involved in the gritty details that Hochschild devotes much of his book to. In fact, when Ferguson first introduces us to Rhodes it is hard not to notice a bit of admiration for him in his description; “He was at once business genius and imperial visionary; a robber baron, but also a mystic…He aspired to be more than a money maker. He dreamt of becoming an empire builder” (224). Though Rhodes destroyed entire people groups as he was “bestriding Africa” (224), he also brought civilization and capitalism. At least that was supposed to be the case.

Hochschild makes it clear through his book that Africans would have had no problem governing their land. He reminds us of their greater civilizations of old, and he spends a great deal of time on Roger Casement who declares that “Self government is our right, a thing born in us at birth; a thing no more to be doled out to us or withheld from by another people than the right to life itself” (286). Ferguson does recognize the existence of African nations and the wrong done to them by the European powers, while commenting on the Berlin Conference in which European leaders met to decide the boundaries of their African colonies he states “the ‘existing rights’ of native rulers and their peoples were patently not what the [European leaders] had in mind” (237). But he was just stating the obvious. As stated before, Ferguson clearly is in favor of the Empire.

Colonial Africa 1914

Europeans justified their conquests over Africa with a long-term goal of creating free states governed with the principles of liberty that they used on their own native soils. The idea was to introduce Africans to a better way of life and lift them up. But what was the result? Hochschild tells us the somber history of Zaire, what used to be the Congo. After gaining political independence from Belgium, eventually an oppressive leader Joseph Mobutu rises to power and has proven to be almost as bad as Leopold himself. And what of Southern Africa? Still bearing the name of its colonial conqueror till as late as 1979, Rhodesia, now Zimbabwe is bearing the fruit of colonization. The natives have decided they want their land back. Without going into the complicated web of detail that always exists with African issues, the white minority which owns the majority of land, are being driven out. The result is political and economic upheaval. An African man who has taken advantage of the free land says, “We are reclaiming our land. The British pushed us out, and we’re taking it back. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t regret the British coming…we would have still been in the Stone Age” (Godwin 105). So we have a “native” expressing gratefulness for technical advancement, but clearly expressing his rights to the land. This suggests there could have been a better way. Of the militant actions of President Mugabe another African, the Nobel laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu remarks that he is “almost a caricature of all the things people think black African leaders do. He seems to be wanting to make a cartoon of himself” (Godwin 113). Maybe the legacy European Imperialism left to Africa was not liberty and justice, maybe Africans, rather in reaction to submitting to abuse for centuries have learned to become the abuser. Is it possible that the fruit of the Empire has been what empire seems to be about? Land grabbing, political dominance and wealth seeking; never mind the cost.

Peter L Richardson
February 3, 2004

Ferguson, Niall. Empire, The Rise and Demise of the British World Order and Lessons for Global Power.London: Penguin Books Ltd., 2002.

Godwin, Peter. “A Land Possessed” National Geographic Magazine. August 2003.

Hochschild, Adam. King Leopold’s Ghost, A Story of Greed, Terror, and Heroism in Colonial Africa. New York: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1998.

*If you would like to help Africa click on this link: http://www.one.org/us/about/