I’m sending a photograph of me. It was taken by my friend John on his birthday which happens to be three days before Christmas. My dear friend Paulina and I drove to Magog to celebrate. We brought cake, wine and other goodies. But John insisted on cooking the meal, including his version of a French Canadian tourtière.
John has white hair, but mine is grey. We are ageing. Paulina’s is black.
As for my long absence from my blog, it was caused by a password catastrophe. My memory is not as good as it was, so passwords have become a major nuisance. I live alone, and no one else uses my computer. Would that I didn’t have to remember passwords!
I have been working on the Canadian Confederation, English-speaking and French-speaking Canadians are compatible cultures. Moreover, as immigrants arrived, members of the Orange Order were no longer be a majority. I believe, however, that a discussion of this matter belongs elsewhere. John’s birthday dinner was celebrated by three Canadians of different origins. These friendships are happy friendships, strong friendships.
Borodin is exceptional. He was a doctor and scientist. Music was not his profession, but who could tell? His lyricism is a major characteristic of Borodin’s compositions and these are numerous. In the Steppes of Central Asia has an exotic flavour. It is a tone poem, one continuous and rather short piece of music.
The piece I selected does not feature bells. It therefore differs from Modest Mussorgsky‘s Night on Bald Mountain, Une nuit sur le mont chauve, 🎶which is the very first piece of music I was introduced to. Among my early memories of the red brick house are my father’s late night gatherings with music lovers. Chauve means bald. We could see chauves-souris (bats) flying about.
Finnish folklorist Antti Aarne (5 December 1867 Pori – 2 February 1925 Helsinki) was the first scholar to classify folktales. In the 19th century, an interest in folklore had developed. The search for folktales was in fact initiated by the Brothers Grimm who travelled throughout German-language states and collected its folklore. Germany had yet to be unified and folktales were seen as an expression of nationality and an element that could lead to nationhood. Nationalism is an ideology that dominated 19th-century Europe and it is associated with the development of folkloristics.
Prussian leader Otto von Bismarck “engineered a series of wars that unified the German states,” but he excluded Austria (see Otto von Bismarck, Wikipedia). In the early years of the 19th century, Madame de Staël had written De l’Allemagne, in which she described the people of German-language states. Germaine de Staël’s effort and enthusiasm were considerable encouragement to the Brothers Grimm.
Persuading Ysengrimus, the wolf, to fish with his tale hanging down a hole in the ice is one of Reinardus’ worse tricks. The ice hardens and Ysengrimus’ tale is caught. He loses it when he must escape the villains and dogs who are approaching. In the Ysengrimus, the wolf fishes with his tail, down a hole in the ice. Eventually, his tail gets caught in the ice and he loses it trying to escape from villains and dogs.
When Ysengrin is away being turned into a monk, Renart rapes Hersent, the wolf Isengrin’s wife, when she is caught in a hole or aperture. Noble, the king, sends ambassadors to Maupertuis, Renart’s domain, but the fox plays tricks. For instance, Renart asks Brun / Bruin the bear to put his nose in a slit in a log claiming that Brun will find honey inside. Renart then removes the wedges holding the slit open. Villagers are converging so, in order to escape, Bruin loses the skin off his nose, which he would rather do than lose his life. He returns to court. Wedges can be called coins. When one is stuck, one is coincé. The English idiom “it’s no skin off my nose,” might find its source in this episode.
Reynard the Fox played a role in the development of European jurisprudence. Reynard the Fox is also associated with Machiavelli‘s Prince. If the end, which may be survival, justifies the means, one lies, rapes and murders. Renart feigns devotion. He is an ancestor to Molière’s Tartuffe, the ultimate casuiste, and has also been identified with Molière’s Dom Juan. The manner in which he talks himself out of a death sentence is pure hypocrisy, but it is also the plea of a brilliant lawyer. Before, he is hanged, the fox must atone. He resembles the fox in the Sick Lion tale who has also been on a pilgrimage, which explains his tardy arrival at the Lion’s court, Noble’s court.
This post is the second of two posts on Reynard the Fox. Given its subject matter, motifs, it can be published independently of the first post. Should you need further information, please use Joan Acocella’s article on Reynard the Fox. One cannot do better. The link to her article is immediately above this note.
Arshile Gorky and his Mother by Arshile Gorki (Whitney Museum of American Art, NY)
Armenian-American Arshile Gorky’s mother died of starvation. He committed suicide at the age of 44.
Anatolia and Pan-Islamism
Pan-Islamism: Muslims only
the millet system: tolerance
(I removed the video showing Armenian women crucified or impaled by a sword. This video is on YouTube under Armenian Genocide.)
Armenians lived in Anatolia (most of today’s Turkey), in the Ottoman Empire, of which there remains modern Turkey with Ankara as its capital. Constantinople was renamed Istanbul in 1928, after the Turkish War of Independence (1917-1923). The Turks had become Muslims in the years and centuries that followed the fall of Constantinople or defeat of the Byzantine Empire, in 1453. So the Armenians, Orthodox Christians, fell to an ideology which, in their case, is called Pan-Islamism: Muslims only. Such an ideology stems from the concept of nationalism, but it is nationalism carried to an extreme. Genocides occur for other reasons, but the aim in the genocide of Armenians was to eliminate Christian Orthodoxy in Anatolia or Turkey.
After Sultan Mehmed II defeated the Byzantine Empire, in 1453, he continued conquering Christian lands. However, the millet system protected the Eastern Orthodox Church and the Jews. Mehmed II the Conqueror advocated tolerance, which was no longer possible at the end of the 19th century, when nationalism flourished. Christian Armenians and other Christians were annihilated, almost.
Mehmed II, the Conqueror by Gentile Bellini (National Gallery, UK)
Sultan Mehmed II and the Patriarch Gennadios II. Mehmed II allowed the Ecumenical Patriarchate to remain active after the fall of Constantinople in 1453. (Caption and photo credit: Wikipedia)
The Allied Powers and the Central Powers (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Nationalism and Nativism
Nationalism is normal. One is proud when a fellow citizen wins an Olympic medal, or is awarded a Nobel Prize. During the 19th century, Italian city-states unified. One of the founders of a unified Italy and the leading figure in Italian unification, the Risorgimento, is Giuseppe Garibaldi (4 July 1807 in Nice – 2 June 1882 on Caprera). Garibaldi was a giant. The many German states were also unified in the 19th century under the leadership of Otto von Bismarck (1 April 1815 – 30 July 1898), a Prussian.
But nationalism ceases to be acceptable when it advocates nativism or Muslims only, Jews only, Christians only, thereby fostering rampant racism or dictating ethnic cleansing, the very worst. The Armenian Genocide was ethnic cleansing. (See List of ethnic cleansings, Wikipedia.) A purer Islam could not share its territory with Christian Armenians. In fact, Armenia had been the first Christian Nation, in 301 CE, a date that precedes the First Council of Nicaea, held in 325 CE, when Roman EmperorConstantine I founded the Christian Church as an institution. Byzantium was renamed Constantinople.
However, although the Ottoman Empire perished, Turkey survived and, by extension, so did the Ottomans, but not as an empire. The Ottoman Empire had been defeated at the conclusion of World War I, but the Turkish War of Independence (19 May 1919 – 24 July 1923) followed World War I and the Turks were victorious. The Turks were Muslims. Consequently, despite the fall of the Ottoman Empire, there is a sense in which the Ottoman Empire did not die altogether. However, other countries, Arab and/or Muslim countries, were partitioned by the signatories of the Sykes-Picot Agreement of 1916, or Triple Entente. We know about the French and British protectorates, such as mandatory Palestine.
The Hamidian Massacres
the Balfour Declaration of 1917
Nazism and the Holocaust
the Creation of Israel and the exodus of Palestinians
The persecution of Armenians began before the Genocide which took place between 1915 and the end of the Turkish War of Independence. Pan-Islamism could have led to the persecution of another ethnic or religious group, such as the Jews, but Christians were targeted.
The massacre of Armenians was not Mr Herzl’s real intention. Zionists wanted to create a Jewish state, Jews only. “Herzl acknowledged that the arrangement with the Abdul Hamid was temporary and his services were in exchange for bringing about a more favorable Ottoman attitude toward Zionism. ‘Under no circumstances,’ he wrote, ‘are the Armenians to learn that we want to use them in order to erect a Jewish state.’” (See Hamidian Massacres, Wikipedia.)
Later, the idea of a purer nation, Aryans only, inspired Adolf Hitler and his Nazis. The result was the Holocaust, the death, in gas chambers especially, of 6 million Jews, perhaps the worst genocide ever after the genocide of Amerindians and Africans. The Armenian Genocide followed other massacres and foreshadowed the Holocaust.
As we have seen, under the Balfour Declaration (1917), the British favoured a national homeland for the Jewish population and that national homeland would be inPalestine. Such was not the view of Zionists. They also wanted a purer Jewish homeland, a homeland inhabited by Jews only. The creation of Israel (14 May 1948) led to a war and to the exodus of Palestinians. It has yet to end. (See 1948 Palestinian Exodus, Wikipedia.)
Palestinian Woman, Jug and Child (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
As countries conquered by the Ottomans, Greece (Greek War of Independence), Bulgaria, etc. fought for their independence, there were other massacres. These were merciless. One of the worst massacres was the Batak Massacre of Bulgarians which took place in 1876 at the beginning of the April Uprising. I have mentioned the Batak Massacre in an earlier post. Bulgarians were the victims of Bashi-Basouk, irregulars or mercenaries in the Ottoman Army. The image below, by Russian artist Konstantin Makovsky (20 June 1839 —17 September 1915), shows Bashi-Basouk enjoying the spoils of war.
The Bulgarian Martyresses by Konstantin Makovsky (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Armenia: once a kingdom
A Kingdom of Armenia (antiquity) had existed between 321 BCE and 428 CE. At its apex, under king Tigranes the Great, its territory consisted of Turkey, Iran, Syria and Lebanon. It fell under Rome’s sphere of influence at the Battle of Tigranocerta, in 66 BCE. As of 66 BCE, the story of Armenians is intertwined with that of the Roman Empire and the Byzantine Empire. It came under Ottoman rule in 1453, when Mehmed II defeated the Byzantine Empire. Greek scholars fled to Italy, inaugurating the Renaissance, but other Orthodox Christians were less fortunate.
In short, the Armenians fell to a faith and state ideology, which is the ideology underlying ISIL’s enslavement, rape, underage marriages, forced pregnancies, torture, and the worst of deaths. Syrians and Iraqis try to find safe towns in the Middle and Near East. Many have fled to Turkey, but they’ve nowhere to go. Faith and state is also the ideology of Saudi Arabia.
As for Israel, Netanyahu is building walls to protect Israel from Palestinians and is encouraging all Jews to settle in their “promised land,” Israel: faith and state.