Every now and then Spartan Holiday likes to gaze back through time and space and report what it (Spartan Holiday) has seen. If you think that’s easy, you should know that some physicists say (and they are soooo right) that time and space is squeezed out by God and/or God particles and/or by chance, in layers that fold in on themselves like ribbon candy. So to look through it, you have to acrobatically bend your vision around a bunch of curves that are always doubling back on themselves.
Can we all just stop for a moment and agree that this would be difficult, and that ribbon candy is a really inferior sort of candy, and that no one will criticize Spartan Holiday for minor inaccuracies or unpopular observations presented in the course of this blog out of respect for the daunting feat which I have accomplished?
Okay great. Thanks, Contemporary Reader. Anyway, I did it all for you, so the wildly popular Random Crap Across the Eons could be serialized.
There isn’t much I wouldn’t do for you. Except maybe some things that compromise my core values and beliefs. I wouldn’t sacrifice my Spirit to you, or embrace formal logic, or stop talking about Victorians just because you asked me to. But I would look back and forth, zig-zag, through time and space for you. So this is what I saw and what I noted in my journal. Some”times” in real (outside-of-time) “time” and some”times” in past tense recorded from the present. Starting with:
Fugo Attack, World War II, 1945!
I see Japanese schoolgirls patching together mulberry paper sheets and gluing them with potato starch. What are they making? I squint and see that they are making hydrogen balloons! That these hydrogen balloons will be loaded with bombs and whisked via the jet stream over the Pacific Ocean all the way to America. Why? Because they are loaded with bombs!
The Japanese girls paste their paper until lunch break. At lunch break they pinch at little pieces of fish and rice from their bento boxes, and giggle, and then go right back to making bombs! I’m not kidding. That’s what they did.
Peeping further into the future and into Japanese military files, I see that the work of these industrious little school girls comprises just a fraction of the 9,000 fugo balloon bomb tally crafted in Japan from 1944-1945. Out of those 9,000 launched, only 900 will reach American shores! One will drift all the way to Michigan! Out of those 900, only one will explode near people, and only because they were snooping around a mysterious object tangled in the grass, instead of minding their own business, bringing the official death toll of Operation Fugo to exactly 6 people!
Despite the complete inefficacy of the balloon bombs, the United States government will forbid any mention of them in the press so as not to send the American populace into a sky-watching panic and so as not to make the Japanese think they had accomplished anything, when they, indeed, had not!
In the end, I think it all worked out for the best. Japanese school girls could feel productive and unified in their common purpose, and nobody in America was even frightened until the future (2015) when NPR starts whipping people into a frenzy re: the unaccounted for undetonated bombs littering the American countryside. Incidentally, you can learn all this and more at the Albuquerque Balloon Museum. But I did not. I looked through time and space and it sucked.
Odd Sleeping Patterns (Pre-1800’s)
Another thing I discover with my backwards-looking vision was people having strange sleeping patterns.
I know. I had to watch hundreds of people sleep which was not easy because it was dark (electricity not in full effect till the 1930’s) and I grow easily bored when things aren’t exploding, statues aren’t toppling, or monkeys aren’t being launched into outer space. But look what I found out! People in nightcaps and gowns and stockings did not sleep the way we sleep–full steam ahead, never looking back, in one long eight-hour balls-to-the-wall chunk. Instead, because of the relatively dark conditions of a world without electricity, people would actually sleep in two distinct stints over a 12 hour period. It was like: “It’s 7:00 in the eventide. I am bored. It is dark. I can’t see anything save for when I wave a candle in front of it. Holding a candle is tedious. And exceedingly boring. I am also very tired from manual labour. For there is no steam-driven machineries. Sleeping is the most enjoyable pursuit of which I can presently conceive. I am going to bed.” So they did!
But here’s the thing: They would sleep for 3-4 hours, then wake up and fritter about in the dark or candlelight for 2-3 hours (snacking, being haunted by ghosts, combing their hair, doing pranks, reading books, or making sweet love). Then they went back to sleep. This was called second sleep and it lasted till morning.
Why am I telling you this? Well, because sometimes we forget how different things were before electricity. And that’s bad. Because if we do not learn from history we are doomed to repeat it. Said some guy. So someday, after the collapse of the electrical grid, we may go back to double-deluxe-sized nights and not even realize that we ALREADY DID THAT and it was not that great.
Border of Tajik SSR and Afghanistan 1979
December 1979, the Afghan hillsides. I see a goat licking some rocks and I think, “Those rocks must taste pretty good.” But when I go to lick them, I realize they only taste good to goats. Lesson learned.
A light snow begins to fall, powdery and flaky, glazing the tree branches and stones. Some guy is out gathering sticks for his fire. And suddenly some other guys are there with boots and cigarettes and they appear to be Russian. What are Russians doing here in Afghanistan?
Turns out they were invading it.
That’s pretty much all I saw. I know that last one isn’t very interesting on its own, but for me, as someone who was there, I’ll never forget the ominous, futile feeling of it all. How the goat bleated once and then fell silent. How the dry leaves scratched the rocks. “Goodbye Afghanistan as you once were,” the snow seemed to whisper. (But it was actually me whispering in a bad impersonation of snow).
Then I was jolted back to the present tense. And here I am! Writing it all in my blog!
No more random crap across the eons. Not for a good long while. It’s exhausting.
“What’s past is prologue” said someone once. And whatever he meant, he was totally right.