Sunday, January 09, 2005

Today's Small Thoughts

A forgotten bit of history I picked up in an article in this morning's New York Times Book Review. Not only France, but Britain, went to war against the slaves who rose up and took control of Haiti in the first years of the 19th century. Britain, which controlled the Caribbean slave trade (despite the fact that slavery had been outlawed within England itself) actually sent more soldiers to Haiti than it did to fight the American revolution, and buried 60% of those soldiers in Haiti.
Napoleon's forces fared no better.
The black army of Haiti defeated the world's two greatest empires, in the name of freedom.
Amazing and inspiring.


Fundamentalism vs. Evangelicism. An article in this morning's Times highlights the differences between the two and makes the point that it is Evangelicism, often mislabeled, that is the predominent and growing religious movement in the US and other parts of the world. Fundamentalism -- a literal reading of scripture -- often is accompanied by withdrawal from the world at large. Evangelicism -- an overwhelming rapture of the spirit -- is often accompanied by social engagement and proselytism. Worth remembering.
These distinctions of terminology are, I think, important, as was Jeane Kirkpatrick's widely ridiculed distinction between Authoritarianism and Totalitarianism in the early months of the Reagan administration.


When I was in my early 20s, I had the idea that I would become a writer of short stories. This despite the fact that I had never been, and to this day am not, much of a reader of short stories. Other than Borges, and sometimes Singer. Today I read "Runaway" the first story in Alice Munro's short story collection of the same name. A good story, but I don't know that she really inspires me.
I understand novels. I don't know that I really understand short stories.
But writing a novel seems so intimidating.
I think the essay remains my form. But I'd love to try some of the others.
Actually, I'd love to succeed without really trying. That's the honest truth.