Today is

   "A word to the wise ain't necessary --  
          it's the stupid ones that need the advice."
					-Bill Cosby

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

"The past isn't dead. It isn't even past."

Read Jeff Sypeck today on Kosovo, medievalism, and history:

Today, we prefer our medievalism sweet: Renaissance festivals, fantasy novels, CGI movies, and Playmobil toys. But the Kosovo conflict is medievalism, too, the sort we would often prefer to forget. In the Balkans, where the scholarly study of Bosnian guslars later shed new light on Beowulf, medievalism also kindled World War I. During the 19th century, as medievalism adapted to the vagaries of national character, the English gave us Tennyson and the Gothic revival; the Scots had their Ivanhoe and the Eglinton Tournament; the Finns found themselves in the charming Kalevala; the Germans gave the world Wagner (not only his music but also, alas, the man) as well as the Monumenta Germaniae Historica; and the French, bless their hearts, gave us Migne. The Balkans bequeathed us their own Middle Ages. The world they created, though grim it may be, springs right from the same source as Tolkien.

Sometimes, medievalism should give us pause, especially us Americans, for whom the phrase “that’s history” is more likely to be dismissive rather than admonitory. The battle of Kosovo resonates still; its legends and lore have profound implications. Playmobil knows this; just look at their toys. They sell Norsemen and Romans and wee Gaulish leaders, but no Lazarus or Sultan Murad. The thought is unnerving, outlandish, and weird. Let’s hope that their story is someday resolved.


Blogger stewdog said...

This makes me want to re-read the great book Balkan Ghosts by Robert Kaplan.

February 19, 2008 11:13 AM  
Blogger Kate Marie said...

Hey, Stewdog, thanks for the book recommedation. I hadn't heard of it. It looks good.

February 19, 2008 11:30 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home