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The Problem with History Books

I am reading a historical anthology about Peru, and encountering a consistent problem that I've personally had with LAS: any comprehensive book about a L. American country, or about L. American history in general has to cover three eras: pre-Colombian, Conquest/Colonial Rule, and Post-Independence. I hate to admit it, it makes me an awful person, but I have extremely limited (read: almost no) interest in Pre-Colombian history. I mean, I do, but only in the vaguest sense...I'm interested in those things to the extent that they have an effect on modern day culture and beliefs, but the little details bore me to tears. Reading paper after paper about bloodlines of the Mayan elite and the minutiae of Andean deity systems is kind of my idea of "meh". Conquest and colonial rule is marginally more interesting, because you start to see political, cultural, and economic structures that still have direct modern-day prevalence, but at the same time, there's only so many times I can read about the conquest. So I end up getting books for which the first half or two thirds are kind of tiresome, because what really interests me, detail-wise, is the stuff about the modern era. Information about recent events also tends to be what varies most between different books, because the pool of accounts to draw from is so much vaster and less standardized (as opposed to the same archeological records/Spanish diaries that show up everywhere, etc). THe obvious solution would be to skip over the earlier parts and just get to the good part, but I feel like that's cheating. I could justify it if I already knew all the pre-Colombian and Conquest info by heart, but since I manage to forget at least some every time, it seems the least I can do to read it again. xD It just makes generalized Latin AMerican history books a little bit slow going, but alas...I seem to be inevitably drawn to them anyway. I am ALMOST to the conquest in this book here, having just gotten through the parts about the Andean spiritual gender dialectic and Incan textile production.

On a different note, I tried making ginger tea from real ginger (per the recommendation of a friend), and it keeps coming out just a bit too weak, regardless of how much ginger I seem to use. I am hoping this is because Target's ginger sucks, and that maybe if I get some at Sprouts, it'll be more potent. I also think I'm super ODing on the stuff, and maybe that's why it's not helping as much...or maybe I really am *that sick* that it actually is helping but I'm miserable anyway. GAAAA. I know I should be looking forward to the doctor appointment I have on Monday, but I'm only kind of dreading it instead. -_-;

The only point of this entry was to take a break...so I guess now it's time to go back to reading. :)


( 9 comments — Leave a comment )
Sep. 5th, 2012 09:54 pm (UTC)
Man, I should read some Andean deity structure. Mythology is the shit. :D
Sep. 6th, 2012 05:09 am (UTC)
Hahah I wish I were so interested in it! :) To be fair, the pre-Incan and Incan beliefs were pretty cool...their main gods were manifested in the sun and the earth, and secondary ones were manifested in different crops. And the earth gods were aligned with women and the sun god was aligned with men. I wish I could see the actual beliefs as interesting, instead of just what they said about society.
Sep. 6th, 2012 12:33 am (UTC)
People in academia have interests. Not only is that normal, it's necessary, since nobody can memorize everything. For me it's Greek Patristics and Post-Cartesian Philosophy that make me crazy, or bored, or both. I think that if you do understand the broad strokes of Pre-Columbian societies it's okay to move on to the part you like.
Sep. 6th, 2012 05:28 am (UTC)
This is very true. I try to pretend that my interest is Latin American history in general, but it's more along the lines of Latin American development (or lack thereof), and all the ancient society stuff just starts feeling like pointless trivia.

In general, I do often choose books that are more specific, and revolve completely around particular subjects that interest me, but every once in awhile I find a book with some great potential for having interesting stuff that happens to cover the other things too. And while the beginning isn't necessarily engrossing, it's usually not totally excruciating either. Sometimes history books flow better and carry reoccurring themes that the author is trying to emphasize, and I feel like I do get more out of it sometimes when I just read the whole thing. But sometimes not.

Idk, I guess I just have a complex. xD; I have a hard time skipping parts of books, even if it would help. I remember I begged my parents for this comprehensive world history book when I was in high school, and I never got beyond 40 pages or so because the author devoted so much time to "prehistory" and I just lost it. I have a lot of respect for prehistory, I think it's super important and should be talked about, but I guess recognizing it and feeling obligated to enjoy it are different. I guess I haven't reached my breaking point yet. Maybe when I'm older and more academically jaded from slogging through so much crap I'll eventually be able to say screw it and skip to the good part of the damn book. :P Either way, thanks for the dose of perspective. :) I miss you btw. We should chat soon.
Sep. 6th, 2012 09:32 am (UTC)
All history is the history of class struggle-Marx?
Sep. 6th, 2012 01:22 pm (UTC)
Hmmmm...I am not sure I agree with that. I feel like in order to have class struggle, you need to have two things: a) a relatively large, organized society, (big enough that not everyone knows eachother or treats eachother like kin) and b) a social system where people specialize, ie. do not do the same thing. It is only if people do different things that are valued differently that those sorts of inequalities can emerge. Which, to be fair, for much of the history that people study, these things were true, but I don't think it defines history in itself.

In modern society, the idea is more sustainable, though I personally see class as only one potential source of conflict--alongside religion, race, linguistic group, etc. It is very arguable that all of history can be described in a general sense by the conflicts between people, but I prefer to see it as a mixture of the conflict and the harmony; a totality of experience.
Sep. 6th, 2012 08:41 pm (UTC)
What outcome are you hoping to get from the ginger (I mean, physically, for yourself)?

It only took me at most 1 inch of ginger (into the thinnest slices I could manage), boiling it for 10 min, to get super strong ginger tea. If that is coming out weak, buy some fresh at the grocery store or farmer's market!

Edited at 2012-09-06 08:41 pm (UTC)
Sep. 6th, 2012 09:58 pm (UTC)
The outcome I'm hoping for (the only outcome I CAN hope for, really), is symptomatic relief for nausea. It does seem to provide that, to an extent. :)

I went to the "farmers market" grocery store and was disappointed to find that the ginger there had the same supplier as the stuff at Target, alas. But I used only a little bit more than I had and I made tea that is way too strong to even drink without watering down (lol!), so maybe just the stock that I got before was too old or something. I also could try cutting it up into smaller bits...I had chopped it up a bit, but not super super thin. My friend who has apparently been using ginger tea for nausea for years told me to bring the pot to a boil and then simmer for 30-40 minutes, presumably that would make the tea even stronger, but idk. It seems to work decently well, at least.
( 9 comments — Leave a comment )