If you’re like me, then you have a mother who arrives for Sunday dinner with at least three cut out newspaper articles (neatly affixed with paperclips), free pamphlets from recent art exhibitions (in a myriad of languages in the event that you have the urge to read about the Norton Simon Museum’s latest installment in French or Greek), and 5-9 pages of typed notes on recent historical facts that she has been reading about over the course of the week. Mind you, in addition to having both a Masters in Humanities and a PhD from NYU (re. the politics of poetry in the work of Seamus Heaney), my mother is also the President of the Las Angelitas del Pueblo Organization. There’s no shortage of smarts where she’s concerned.
However, lately she’s been threatening to stop watching TV for a year; though she wonders how she’ll manage without Judge Judy and Stacy and Clinton from whom she refers to as “my friends”. My stepfather thinks it’s madness mostly because he would have to give up Judy, but he does argue – rightly so – her giving up TV would mean we would be awash in typed memos. Like the recent eight page doozy on Neolithic towns that she handed me last week.
Here’s a small snippet. I’ve included her notes verbatim in bold. My comments are in ital.
Prehistoric Jericho: 7000BC – The site of Jericho – A plateau in the Jordan River valley with an unfailing spring (a plus before modern irrigation) was occupied by small village in ninth millennium BC. By 7,500 BC town had more than two thousand people. In 7,000 BC original inhabitants abandonded the Jericho site but new settlers arrived. Several of their buildings had shrines (everyone loves a shrine. As Feurerbach said – and I’m paraphrasing – part of human nature is to create a likeness of itself and then worship it. In doing so we pay homage to ourselves but w/o the having to look like crazy narcissists ). In shrines we find statuettes of women or goddesses and animals (no dudes in flowing robes with long beards – and p.s. pre-written word female worship was the norm — for more on this check out this book and no I am not a Wickin). Also in shrines, actual human skulls whose faces have been reconstituted in plaster with seashells for eyes (clearly the work of a morbid shamaness). These ‘spirit traps’ were designed to keep the spirit in its original dwelling place. Sense of tradition of family or clan continuity. A settled community. Thus the sculptured heads (I’ve always maintained: sculptured heads=settled community). This will point forward to Mesopotamian Art – resembling Ife Heads, 12th cent. AD, Bronze (jeez, my mother is smart). Jerico had stone houses with neat plaster floors within a fortified town protected by walls. Yet, no pottery (did they drink out of wooden vessels?). Did not have the technique of baking clay in a kiln (I hate Color me Mine. Does anyone really need a two foot painted clay T-Rex?).