Wednesday, July 22, 2015

To Read or to E-Read a Book Question

I've a memoir of traveling across the USSR in Writing the Rails.


I love books. I love owning and holding books. I trill my fingers along their spines in bookstores. I have so many books, I no longer buy them. I pornographically stroke them, but I don't look under their hoods, or rather, I don't read them. Well. My eyes no longer work well. That's the real problem. Since my eyes refuse to cooperate with normal-size text, let alone, small text, even with glasses, I like having e-readers about. I can backlight and enlarge the text size, and escape into pure fiction. When I can't find a digital version of a book, then I resort to my hard-copy books. But I can't read them, especially those pesky 10-point footnotes, so I use my eye-Pad camera to enlarge the text and say, "Take that, you four-eyed suckers." Truth be known, even 12-point type, the industry standard, eludes my eyes. So I'm an e-reading anachronism with my iPad at the ready to enlarge the printed page.

Friday, July 17, 2015

A Retro Rant on Reaganomics



A self-appointed Facebook troll began posting multiple FOX News style comments under my old photo a friend had reposted. He managed to construe an entire political right-wing agenda from a photo comment.
Who remembers when Sir Francis Drake High School took away our school buses so we had no way to get to school? Most people in The Valley didn't have cars, and it was one of the most economically disadvantaged regions of Marin. We found that it was a long walk to Drake. Then home again. How I learned to hitchhike. Ca 1969.
(In February I posted a blog: Shank's Mare and Reaganomics if you want to read more about it).

My high school friend Zana, who said she was proud of what I had done, commented on my photo: "Ah, the early Reagan as Governor years. School funding cutbacks. Read Maureen Hurley's Facebook comment. All the others as well for that matter." 

And it was off to the races for Mr. M. Round one!
"You do know that even today districts do not have to provide bussing to their students... right? If you do it just has be done consistently. AND the great state of CA still doesn't provide all the money that it cost to operate those buses. So it's not just Reagan and buses, its Democrat Jerry Brown and buses.... need to know your facts...you really don't want to play this game with me."
I said to Mr. M: Take your axe elsewhere. Dull blades are not of much use. Did he really say that? And on my page too? Game on.

Zana responded:
"Reagan's disciple has cut funding so much that it is passed locally. Yes, STATE property taxes are down but local, municiple and local school taxes are way up. Poorer rural areas are getting the shaft. More and more of what the state does have for schools goes to private and religious schools through the voucher system. Wealthy kids who never have been to schools receive money for their private education drawing money from public schools."
I was glad that Zana took Mr. M on, replete with facts. People like Mr. M make me angry, I can't talk to them because they're so hostile. Don't get mad, get even seems to be the best approach! I told Zana to keep on posting rebuttals to Mr. M's myopia. He's a revisionist, and his ill-construed rant is unfortunately sitting dead square on my Facebook page.... It's like having my own personal FOX News spewing cherry-picked "facts." 

Mr. M, who admires, nay claims he LOVES Wisconsin Republican governor (and presidential candidate), Scott Walker about as much as Walker has professed to love Ronald Reagan, is sadly misinformed. Mr. M posted:  "When we had republican govs we were the envy of every state."  (stet.)

Um, Mr. M, that was under Democrat leadership when higher education was free. Reagan destroyed that. (See my rant below). And that other bad Republican actor, the Governator was named one of 11 "worst governors" in the United States over ethics issues; he left office with a record low 23% rating.

Does anyone see the irony in Mr. M's statement: "People literally use to move to California just to enroll their kids in our schools." use to??? Really? Clearly the school system didn't work for Mr. M. Score one for the Grammar Police. There are more points to be had. Easy pickings. But I'm being catty.

And Mr. M continued to rant ad nauseum in several more comment boxes: 

 "Scott Walker has freed your schools from the insurance stranglehold that unions had on your schools. He's freed your universities from tenure rules that kept incompetent professors."   
And "I would party for a week if just one of those happened in CA. Freed your schools and broke the unions straggling of public tax money.... you guys need to stop worshipping at the feet of the socialist unions."
I wrote: "Wow, Mr. M, most highly qualified professors I know are already living at poverty level, because they can't get full time work, and have no benefits. And it's not because a tenured professor is hogging the slot. (Universities and businesses can get away with part-time hiring because the unions went bust.) And those in the front lines of education, public school teachers are grossly underpaid. You should target middle management, Mr. M. Principals and superintendents and school board members. Cut the fat." 

Apparently Mr. M's a rather smug California school board member. He yowped:
"No accountability!!!! B.S. Public schools and unions are the most unaccountability syayems anywhere. With a private school the customer picks and chooses... in public school there is no market... you're just screwed. Liberals don't like vouchers because poor kids would get a great education and become capitalists....if I could move my business to Texas I'd save $136,000 just on Workman's Compensation Insurance a year."



Well, first, Dear Reader, I must mention a caveat. I woke at 3 AM, on the wrong side of a one-sided bed, and after reading Mr. M's diatribes, I was irate as a rhinoceros. Cranky as a bear. I broke my vow of silence. Don't feed the troll. Or if you do, hose 'em with facts. So my comment to Mr. M morphed into an itchy trigger-fingered rant on Reaganomics.

I don't like politics, I dislike writing about politics even more. There are far more interesting things to write about. But as I researched Mr. M's claims, I realized that I did need to address them, as it was part of a much larger picture of an era that I had witnessed, and its consequences had shaped my life. Talk about a stroll down memory lane.

Open Letter to Mr. M:

Ronald Reagan began his political career as a Democrat, until he decided they were commie sympathizers and socialists. He was hired by General Electric, and influenced by an anti-union conservative GE CEO, he switched teams and the Gipper became a Republican. A switch hitter who played for the other team.

Reagan was the 33rd Governor of California from 1967 to1975. When Medicare legislation was introduced in 1961, Reagan made an ad for the American Medical Association warning that the legislation would mean the end of freedom in America. "We will awake to find that we have socialism." In 1965, he said that Medicaid recipients were "...a faceless mass, waiting for handouts."

Reagan's controversial Barry Goldwater speech led him to seek the CA governorship. The Great Communicator's scorched-earth campaign ticket was "to send the welfare bums back to work,” thus targeting single mothers, and children. As governor, he closed the doors to the state mental institutions, and single-handedly created a massive homeless population. Said he, they were "homeless by choice." My mother was one of them. And some of our classmates. And not by choice.

Reagan implemented major cuts in Medicaid, food stamps, aid to families with dependent children, and to school lunch programs. Under both his state and national watch, the number of families living below the poverty line increased by a third. This is the same president who also cut survivor benefits for families of the disabled.

Before Reagan took office, California had the nation's finest public college system. Reagan launched his political career by slashing state funding for higher education. He led an assault on UC Berkeley. And his voting ticket was "to clean up the mess at Berkeley" in order to suppress the free speech movement—by any means possible.

Reagan cut the UC budget, and proposed that UC should charge tuition, saying that dissenting students "don't deserve the education they are getting. They don't have a right to take advantage of our system of education." Make them pay for it, he said. Before Reagan took office, higher education was free. He suggested that Berkeley should sell off its collections of rare books in the Bancroft Library to make up for the budgetary shortfall.

Reagan was responsible for the People's Park riots, and the "Bloody Thursday" peremptory strike brought in 2000 National Guard troops to violently occupy the city of Berkeley, thus inflaming the situation. With that, he turned California into a police state. Someone noted that behind every university fee hike, there's a new line of riot cops. Reagan's draconian policies shepherded in a death knell for public higher education in the United States.

As the 40th President of the United States (1981- 1989), Reagan vigorously campaigned to restore prayer to the schools, thus mixing church and state, he also awarded vouchers to segregated schools. He fired 11,345 air traffic controllers, and brought the military in, thus busting government unions. The labor movement never recovered. He slashed federal grants for poor students.The schools are still praying for recovery.

During Reagan's tenure, we saw a 40% increase in defense spending. The Teflon President raised taxes ELEVEN times during his presidency. The Tax Equity and Fiscal Responsibility Act of 1982 (TEFRA), was the "largest peacetime tax increase in American history." Reaganomics ushered in massive tax cuts for big business, and lowered the taxes of the wealthy.

His "trickle-down economics" theory—the belief that tax policies that benefited the wealthy would create a "trickle-down" effect to the poor, didn't exactly work. They kept it all for themselves. It was pissy logic, at best. A major tax cut was followed by a long recession and unemployment hit ten percent. "Unemployment insurance is a pre-paid vacation for freeloaders,” said Reagan in 1966.

Reagan also froze the minimum wage at $3.35 an hour. He eliminated the antipoverty Community Development Block Grant program, slashed the budgets for Medicaid, food stamps, federal education programs and the EPA. He purged people with disabilities from the Social Security disability rosters. We see them living on the streets today.

Then there's the the greatest financial scandal in American history: the savings and loan crisis, largely responsible for the stock market crash of '87. Under Reagan's lax watch, the S&L industry gambled, invested money recklessly; the cleanup cost the public over $150 billion. Under Reagan's watch, deregulated lending became a wildcat enterprise. Fannie Mae did right well indeed. The Reagan administration was one of the most corrupt in American history. Some 31 of his cabinet members were indited for criminal activity for the Iran-Contra, and the Department of Housing & Urban Development scandals.

Meanwhile the national debt soared from $997 billion to $2.85 trillion. TRILLION. How many zeroes is that? His tax cuts reduced revenue and his unbalanced redline budgets created a perfect storm. He managed to triple the federal debt in less than eight years, Reagan's policies pretty much ushered in today's fiscal hot mess when he undermined Franklin D. Roosevelt's 1930s regulatory programs aimed to promote transparency and fairness in economic competition—bank insurance and the FDIC. Said Reagan, "Fascism was really the basis for the New Deal." The New Deal gave us Social Security too.

Reagan also ended price controls on domestic oil. Big Oil's been laughing its way all the way to the bank ever since.

The Reagan administration was responsible for the massacres in El Salvador and the war and embargo against Nicaragua. US government officials planned for a possible military/civilian coup. His uninformed political decisions sent 241 Marines to their death in Beirut, Lebanon, and his absurd invasion of Grenada, oh my. Noriega much? Then there's Lybia. He thought the Contras and the Taliban were "... the moral equal of our Founding Fathers." Reagan wasn't a president, he was only an acting president. Take the Star Wars FEMA plan. "Facts are stupid things," said Reagan, who authorized $640 Pentagon toilet seats—no shit!

As president, about the only thing Reagan ever did right was to end the Cold War, and the claim that he won the Cold War is outright propaganda. This was the man who said trees cause pollution. Yeah, the CIA lied.

And I haven't even gotten to the part where Reagan destroyed and gutted public schools in California... there was so much else to choose from. When Reagan was governor, he actually raised taxes. Proposition 13, the antitax measure, destroyed Califronia's public infrastructure, including school funding. I won't mention how he tried to cut school lunch milk rations and declared ketchup "a vegetable" in order to save some money on mandatory hot lunches for low income students. Wow.
Reaganomics: "Throughout his tenure as governor Mr. Reagan consistently and effectively opposed additional funding for basic education. This led to painful increases in local taxes and the deterioration of California's public schools. Los Angeles voters got so fed up picking up the slack that on five separate occasions they refused to support any further increases in local school taxes. The consequent under-funding resulted in overcrowded classrooms, ancient worn-out textbooks, crumbling buildings and badly demoralized teachers. Ultimately half of the Los Angeles Unified School District's teachers walked off the job to protest conditions in their schools.[5] Mr. Reagan was unmoved.
Ronald Reagan left California public education worse than he found it. A system that had been the envy of the nation when he was elected was in decline when he left. Nevertheless, Mr. Reagan's actions had political appeal, particularly to his core conservative constituency, many of whom had no time for public education. In campaigning for the Presidency, Mr. Reagan called for the total elimination the US Department of Education, severe curtailment of bilingual education, and massive cutbacks in the Federal role in education. Upon his election he tried to do that and more. Significantly, President Reagan also took steps to increase state power over education at the expense of local school districts. Federal funds that had flowed directly to local districts were redirected to state government. Moreover, federal monies were provided to beef up education staffing at the state level. The result was to seriously erode the power of local school districts.[6] As in California, Mr. Reagan also made drastic cuts in the federal education budget. Over his eight years in office he diminished it by half. When he was elected the federal share of total education spending was 12%. When he left office it stood at just 6%." —The Educational Legacy of Ronald Reagan 

Good old Reaganomics. Back in high school, we were the first to feel the ramifications of it, as few families had cars, the San Geronimo Valley was poor. Yeah, I walked to school, 8 miles each way. No car, no transport. No transport also meant that there were also no extra curricular activities after school because the hitch-hiking ride pool to West Marin dried up after dark. Too hard to get home via shank's mare. Terrifying after dark. And that newly imposed tuition meant that I couldn't afford to go to the university. Reagan's skewed political shenanigans were a lasting gift that kept on hurting the economically disadvantaged  to this day. Win one for the Gipper. Yeah.

Maybe you should move to Texas, Mr. M. We'll even start up a collection.






This post was restructured from a Facebook thread. Yep.



Thursday, July 16, 2015

Updating Old Poems

I thought I had lost my big black 3-inch manuscript clip binder with all my poems, notes, publications, awards, from last century, etc., in it. It was my master copy, my hard file, so to speak. The other day, while I was sorting papers, I found it in a crate in the back of the closet.

Last summer, I decided to put all my poems up online via my blog, not because I think they're particularly wonderful or have literary merit, but because all my old electronic files are slowly going senile. Some are disappearing as well. It's not like there's a reader stampede to my blog either, some of those poems have been posted for ages and they've not been read once.

I have had a very hard time accessing the files from the 1980s, SimpleText, AppleWorks (the original version), and MicrosoftWorks, are no longer supported on any platform. OS X can't access most of those files.

Some electronic files were lost forever. Some turned into grey Unix bricks. Most, I could force open with TextEdit, but they were an ASCII clean-up nightmare, with all kinds of artifacts embedded in the dense prose block that looks like it's simultaneously swearing and sneezing while constipated and groaning.

Then there were the files that were only half there. I kid you not. Some had chunks missing in the middle, most had the lower end lopped off. And then I didn't have valid creation dates. Not to mention what poem was published where, or won awards...So I was pretty jazzed to find that binder.

I spent the day going through each hard copy of poem, and adding creation dates, publications dates, and other versions. Seventeen (17) hours later, I'm still at it, I'm up to W in my MS book. Nearly there. My eyes no longer work after that many hours of proofreading, so I used my iPad to magnify my faded pencil notes. Fancy magnifying glass. Brilliant! But I'm flagging. So, i can report most of my typed poems are up in the cloud, well on Blogger.

Blogger, yeah. I'd like to shoot it. What a buggy program. even with faster internet, it constantly hangs, and tells me in red banners that an error has occurred while trying to save  or publish my post.  Please try again. Ad infinitem. Try & get out of that loophole and not lose all your work. Yeah. Like this post, right now. I can't update it.

Notable disaster areas were poems from the 1980s, especially 1989. I had hard copy of several poems and no electronic file. None. POOF! Where did it go? Not good at all. Also, the early 1980s poems are also MIA. I think I have hard copies somewhere—hand calligraphed, as I didn't have a typewriter in those days.

As to the 1989 MIA poems files, in desperation, I began taking photos of my fileless hard copy poems and posting the jpg up as a placeholder, poems to be transcribed and typed up at a later date. I wish I had OCR software, but it usually is more trouble than it's worth by the time you've corrected the typo. Almost as bad as the ASCII bricks.

Still to do: prose. But tomorrow is already here, so I needs must sleep. But, oh, the memories unleashed by a poetry retrospective timeline. There'll be wicked dreams tonight, I'm sure.




Sunday, July 12, 2015

MacCamelot: Stealing King Arthur, or Musing on Pseudo Histories


Oops! I made a grave mistake of responding to a link posted on someone's Facebook page. It was a poorly written pseudo-history article on King Arthur. I noted that it was an argument full of holes, and posted a comment (below), expecting a lively exchange. Instead I was unfriended for my candor. So very sad for the loss of friendship, I clearly misjudged her. I'm also flummoxed. Was I barking up the wrong tree? Perhaps I should have checked my allegory at the door.

Maybe it's because I've read so much pre-medieval and medieval scholarship, that I can't engage in reading pop-culture articles without a response. I thought the article was very poorly thought out, and said so. But it got me interested in researching the so-called "Scottish connection posed by Edinburgh author Adam Ardrey, (apparently he has an axe to grind with the English and Christianity). I was also curious to see if there were any interesting rebuttals posted on the internet.

I couldn't access the original link to the article in question as my friend had unfriended me. Then I remembered my browser's History menu. Yes! So here it is:

Was King Arthur actually Scottish? New research assesses the evidence

(More to come once I process it... or you can take a gander over to the Celebrate Scotland site. What follows below are roughshod notes—as I try and sort out my thoughts on the page. Or try and write my way out of a paper bag. So consider this a draft in progress.)



What I wrote on my former friend's Facebook page: 
"Augh, these dim-witted articles drive me crazy. Wasn't a myth of English-speaking people, as no one was really speaking much by way of English yet. Briton, maybe, Cumbric. Welsh was still differentiating itself from Cumbric at the time.
Nennius was a bit of a fabulator. Geoffrey of Monmouth was much worse. If so, Arthur would have to be king of the Dalriadic Scotti, not the modern Scots. And it would be spelled Artio(s) or Artiaus (the bear). The entire west of Britain was Cumbric-speaking after the 5th c., with pockets of Erse speakers, significantly in Eboricum, along the Clyde, the Hebrides, and to north.
The place-names mentioned in the article are, in essence, Welsh words. it's really hard to get Avalon/ Welsh Afallon; Breton Avallenn from Hinba, or Iona.
Then there's the problem that both the Bretons and the Irish also have Arthurian tale, not to mention that the oldest Arthurian tale, Culhwch and Olwen is in Welsh.
Must be some sort of sugar rush from swilling too much Irn Bru affecting their brains."
So, was that above post harsh enough to merit my banishment from the kingdom of Facebook Friendships?



OK, so what little we do know is that King Arthur of myth and legend, was busy fighting against the Anglo-Saxon foe, so he couldn't be English as the Angles become Anglish. The Kingdom of Scotland wasn't founded until ca. 839, or 850 AD, so Arthur also couldn't be Scottish, as there was no such thing as Scotland yet. Caledonia was populated with Pictish natives and Irish settlers.

The Irish Scotti of Ulster migrated en masse to the edge of the Pictish lands (in what is now western Scotland), and founded the Kingdom of Dalriada (Dál Riata) in Caledonia at the end of the 5th c., so, if King Arthur was Scottish, as the article claimed, by this same insane reasoning, wouldn't that make Arthur Irish, and not Scottish?? LOL.

Pictland eventually fell to the Irish Scotti in 839 AD., Certainly Arthur was a Celtic, maybe Cumbrian, or proto-Welsh, or Cornish, or possibly a Romano-British, war leader, but Scottish? But not Anglish. What would Bede say?




This article, from the Scotsman, offers a more balanced rendition (if only they didn't use the word "Scottish"; my goat dander is all up in a fluff:

Author Adam Ardrey claims that Arthur was actually Arthur Mac Aedan, the sixth-century son of an ancient King of Scotland. Ardrey claims that instead of the romantic English king of legend who lived at Camelot – which is often said to be Tintagel in Cornwall or in Wales – Arthur was actually Arthur Mac Aedan, the sixth-century son of an ancient King of Scotland, whose Camelot was a marsh in Argyll. Ardrey, an amateur historian who works as an advocate in Edinburgh and previously wrote a book claiming Merlin the wizard was actually a politician from Glasgow, spent years investigating his theories and says that they can be proved “beyond reasonable doubt”. The assertions in his book Finding Arthur: The True Origins Of The Once And Future King are strengthened by the discovery in 2011—what some experts believe is King Arthur’s round table at Stirling Castle. Read more here: The Scotsman


Arthur was an English king? Where did that memo come from? In the 6th c, there was no Scotland. Certainly not a Scottish king. Pictish, maybe. And Merlin was a Weegie politician? 'Splains a lot. Must've been a Tory. Ardrey's theories can be proved “beyond reasonable doubt”? Amateur historian, indeed.


SOME NOTES:

DUMBARTON ROCK
The only other logical option for this out of Scotland theory, as it were, is to link Arthur to Dumbarton Castle (Dùn Breatainn), an Iron Age British stronghold atop Dumbatron Rock, a massive volcanic basalt plug on the banks of the River Clyde.

Dumbarton may have been Nennius's Cair Brithon ("Fort of the Britons"). Dumbarton was later referred to as Alt Clut (Alt Chluaidh,) or Rock of the Clyde. "The king of Dumbarton ca. AD 570 was [a Briton] Riderch Hael, who features in Welsh and Latin works."  Dumbarton was part of the independent Cumbric Kingdom of Strathclyde (Ystrad Clud or Alclud) in the Brittonic-speaking Hen Ogledd region of southern Scotland and northern England. Pitched battles were waged over possession of the strategically placed rock by the Picts, and Scotti.

As I troll sites, I find no mention of Arthur. That fact that Dumbarton was a British stronghold also doesn't make Arthur Scottish or English.... As there wasn't yet a Scotland or England. If anything, it would make Arthur even more British. But there were probably other Arthurs to boot. Will the real mythical Arthur please stand up? 

However, Celtic scholar Dara Hellmann assures me that there are virtually no other Arthurs waiting in the wings to claim the crown of the once and future king. But the Dumbarton connection is not unlikely... OK, then. Back to the drawing board.

I've circled the base of Dumbarton Rock, but have never hiked to the top of the rock as it was closed.                      —Wiki



PLACENAMES

Some background on placenames (because the term, England (the land of the Angles, first used in 897 AD) is a radically different historical concept than, say, using the word Albion, or Britain). The term Britain (or Prettanikēwas coined by Pytheas of Massalia, 4th c. BC); it would've also been referred to as Albion (a Graeco-Roman name). 


The Roman province of Britannia, (43 AD to ca. 410 AD), a Romano-Greek moniker, extended to Hadrian's Wall (Vallum Aelium). The land to the north of Hadrian's Wall was called Pictavia, or Caledonia (a Latin name), not Scotland, which is a fairly modern political construct, like Wales, and Britain. So Adam Ardrey's reference to Arthur as English, is an anachronism.

BTW, Scotia was the Roman name for Ireland, not Scotland.
 Isidore of Seville in 58O AD recorded that "Scotia and Hibernia are the same country."  Scotland is derived from the Latin Scoti, a 4th c. term applied to the Irish, and later to all the Gaels. No Gaelic groups that we know if, ever called themselves Scoti or Scotii. It's an exonym, a moniker derived from outside the culture.

During the late Middle Ages (ca. 11th c.)., there were so many Scotti in Britain and in Caledonia, not to mention, Ireland, that a distinction needed to be made. Ireland was dubbed Scotia Maior (Major), and nascent Scotland was called Scotia Minor  "The use of the words Scots and Scotland to encompass all of what is now Scotland became common in the Late Middle Ages." —Wiki Long after Arthur's event horizon had risen and fallen, Ireland was still called Scotia Major, the Land of the Scots.

KING ARTHUR, HIMSELF

King Arthur is a mythical, and/or legendary British leader who reigned during the late 5th and early 6th cs. AD. He led the defence of Britain against invading Saxon foe. What little we know of Arthur is gleaned from medieval romances, comprised of "folklore and literary invention, and Arthur's historical existence is debated and disputed by modern historians." —King Arthur




MAIN SOURCES OF KING ARTHUR MYTHS:

Arthur isn't mentioned at all in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle or named in any manuscript written between 400 and 820. He is also not mentioned in Bede's early-8th-century Ecclesiastical History of the English People. For someone who fought off the Anglo-Saxon foe, this is a very curious omission.


The earliest literary references to Arthur come from Welsh and Breton sources. One source are the heroic death-songs, or elegies in the Middle Welsh  Y Gododdin, composed ca. 7th to 11th cs., with the majority of it composed, or redacted in the 10th c.


Ninth c. Welsh monk, Nennius's Historia Brittonum, (c.830 AD) is a major contributor to the Arthurian legend. Some scholars think that his Historia Brittonum may have been based on GildasDe Excidio et Conquestu Britanniae (scribed during the 6th c., in living memory of when King Arthur was supposed to have lived). NOTE: The idea of historical accuracy is a modern construct. I won't mention the victor thing. Note the date: Arthur wasn't around during the 8th c.

The Annales Cambriae (Welsh Annals), record Arthur as a historical Romano-British leader who fought against the invading Anglo-Saxons ca. late 5th to early 6th century. The Annales Cambriae may have been based on a late 8th c. Welsh chronicle. But some scholars think the Arthurian material was added later, during the 10th century. (That's four centuries later, folks.)

Then there are Arthurian references in the Welsh tale, Culwhuch and Olwen, that survive in two manuscripts: a fragment in the White Book of Rhydderch, ca. 1325, and in the Red Book of Hergest, ca. 1400. The tale includes an embedded list of King Arthur's retainers recited by Culwhych, similar to the rhetorical ship and king lists in the Iliad and the Táin Bó Cúailnge. Lady Charlotte Guest included the older tale, Culwhuch and Olwen in her version of the MabinogionCulwhuch and Olwen: 
Certain linguistic evidence indicates it took its present form by the 11th century, making it the earliest Arthurian tale. —Wiki
Geoffrey of Monmouth's bread-and-butter stories in Historia Regum Britanniae (1136 AD), supported the ascendancy of the ruling Norman elite. He was a one-horse Norman town. His Historia is not without bias. Note the date. Arthur may be mentioned, but he sure wasn't around, no matter how once and future a king he might have been.


So where does this idea that Arthur was Scottish come from? According to Nennius's Historia Brittonum the site of the seventh battle of Arthur was in a forest, Coit Celidon (a Welsh name) in what is now Scotland. It "explains" the name of the volcanic massif, Arthur's Seat, outside Edinburgh.Some speculate it's a reference from the Medieval Welsh collection of elegies ascribed to Aneirin, in Y Gododdin. (See Dumbarton reference above.)

But others speculate that Arthur's Seat is a corruption of Àrd-na-Said, the "Height of Arrows." There are not enough Arthurian battles to go around for all the peaks named after Arthur in Cumbria and Scotland, including Ben Arthur/The Cobbler.




Google, my BFF, offered up several silly website reprints, the usual suspects that I tend to avoid, but then I found this blog and link. Finally a fresh breath of reason.



Where medieval history and radical politics bumble into each other and have an existential crisis.
Monday, 18 November 2013

For your Amusement (Twisting tails! - and Twisting Tales...) "Check out this blog for top-quality pseudo-historical Arthurian craziness, and a bit of an obsession with Worlds of Arthur, the point of which the blogger, a Mr Adam Ardrey, seems to miss entirely (as he similarly fails to understand any of the basic rules of how to construct a historical argument)."

Ardrey's fondness for the word "Truth" behind the legend, in his titles, should tip your hand. Also is Ardrey his real name? I cannot find a bio on him. Ard + rey, or rí. could be transcribed as high king, surely delusions of grandeur might ensue.




JAMES MACPHERSON AND NATIONALISM

OK, I get the concept of nationalism, and all that. To offer you a parallel, I am reminded of the story of James Macpherson. Scotland has repeatedly claimed mythical tales, and heroes as being Scottish, not Irish, or in this case, Welsh. 



During the rise of Scottish Nationalism, Inverness poet Jaimie Macpherson (1736-96) did some serious literary damage claiming the folktales he had collected in the Scottish Highlands, were solely Scottish prima materia. He supposedly "translated" collected lore from the Gaelic, claiming that the Ossian cycle, was, therefore, purely Scottish. He published the Fragments of Ancient Poetry collected in the Highlands of Scotland, to favorable attention, in 1760. So...

In 1761 he announced the discovery of an epic on the subject of Fingal (related to the Irish mythologicalcharacter Fionn mac Cumhaill/Finn McCool) written by Ossian (based on Fionn's son Oisín)...He published Fingal, an Ancient Epic Poem in Six Books, together with Several Other Poems composed by Ossian, the Son of Fingal, translated from the Gaelic Language..., and a collected edition, The Works of Ossian, in 1765. —Wiki

The Oisin stories, originally from Ireland, was part of a shared Irish cultural heritage in the Scottish Highlands, not Made in Scotland. But Jamie "backdated" the poems, claiming they were written during the 3rd century. (Written, mind you!)

Dr. Samuel Johnson was onto Jamie, the literary outlaw. In A Journey to the Western Islands of Scotland, 1775, Johnson wrote that Macpherson had collected fragments of poems and stories, and wove them into a romance of his own composition. (Which was pretty good stuff, if only Jamie had 'fessed up to it. It was a weird twist of reverse literary plagiarism.)

After Macpherson's death, Malcolm Laing, in an appendix to his History of Scotland (1800), concluded that the so-called Ossianic poems were altogether modern in origin, and that Macpherson's authorities were non-existent. —Wiki

But unfortunately, this literary cannibalism trend continues to this very day. And the latest literary thief is Adam Ardrey absconding with the likes of King Arthur, making him Scottish, for all the wrong reasons.

Certainly King Arthur was a Celtic, or a Romano-British, war leader. Most likely he was Cumbric, but Scottish? Like Macphearson, Ardrey cannot provide any original sources, not prove evidence, nor does he offer solid argument for any of his conclusions. Curious in that he is an advocate, presenting cases before the Scottish court. He is clearly an author with an agenda: call it Scottish Nationalism.









Some reader comments from The Scotsman article:



FlintJohnson -Questions for Mr. Ardrey:
-If Arthur was Scottish, then why are ALL the individuals associated with him British or English?
-Why are the Arthurian tales nowhere located in Scottish histories or legends?
-As Professor Jackson (possibly the greatest Celtic linguist ever) long ago concluded, the twelve battles of Arthur are nothing more than a random collection the author managed to get his hands on, many of them cannot be located in Scotland. How does that effect the Scottish theory? 




DR JAMES WILKIE Geoffrey of Monmouth's "Historia" was a very successful historical novel (a best-seller in modern terms) that was probably based on orally-transmitted folk memories containing more than a grain of truth. There is, however, nothing fanciful about the effect it had on the English historical consciousness and imperialist policies for centuries afterwards, right into modern times.
It not only put the stories of Arthur, Merlin, King Lear and all the rest into print for the first time, but also traced the descent of the "British" rulers from Brutus, descendant of the Trojan hero Aeneas (Brutus = British). As late as 1542 the English King Henry VIII issued a Declaration that rolled out the entire "genealogy" of the Trojan-English rulers to demonstrate "...the trew & right title that the kinges most royall majesty hath to the soverayntie of Scotland." 
The same had been done by almost every English ruler from Edward I onwards, and traces of the legend can be detected to this day. The corresponding defensive Scottish legend declared that the Scots were descended from Gathelus, a Greek prince (the Greeks had wiped the floor with the Trojans) and princess Scota, who had emigrated to Scotland through the Pillars of Hercules and via Ireland. 
One must understand that the expressions "Britain" and British (at that time referring to the south of modern England and Wales), have changed their meanings several times over the years. The entire island was known in ancient times as Albion (as in "Albion perfide"). The Roman province of Britannia extended only to Hadrian's Wall, north of which was Caledonia. The attempt to extend the name Britain, and in the late 1540s Great Britain, to the entire island, was politically motivated by Henry VIII's expansionist policy.
It is all wonderful skullduggery, but somehow or other it is something to which the Scots 




John Kenyon"Amateur historian" just about says it all. And the spin placed on it tells you a great deal about why amateur historians are so rarely taken seriously by professional scholars: they come to it with poor knowledge and little expertise but extreme commitment and enthusiasm, invariably for a particular viewpoint or interpretation, and, unsurprisingly, manage to end up claiming vindication for their pre-conceived opinions.
As it happens the fact that the legend of Arthur may have distant and hazy origins in Dark Age northern Britain has been much discussed in the academic literature. But of one thing we can be sure: he was not "Scottish", since in this period there was no such entity as Scotland and the population of northern Britain comprised Brythonic-speaking communities, ranging from the Picts to the people of Cumbria, who were definitely not "Scots". The current British population most closely related to those peoples are, of course, the Welsh, and it's therefore no accident that Arthur crops up in early mediaeval Welsh literature much more than in the literature of what is now Scotland.
As for Avalon, Excalibur and the rest, these are much later inventions for which there are no early sources at all and which only appeared in Arthurian tales as necessary additions to the legend many centuries later in the age of chivalry. That Mr Ardrey takes them as accurate historical descriptions requiring archaeological investigation renders his work 
utterly absurd.



Note bene: I think this last comment is from THE John R. Kenyon, Head Librarian of Amgueddfa Cymru, the National Museum of Wales; considered to be one of the UK's leading authorities on castles, and has edited and authored (Arthured?) numerous books and academic papers.


SOME Wiki-wiki links.


And some not so Wiki-wiki, but equally fantabulous Google links:



Finding Merlin - The Truth Behind The Legend (2008)
Goodreads  FWIW, I noticed in several of the reviews, that because Ardrey is an advocate, people erroneously assume that he is a lawyer, and then they check their suspension of disbelief at the door. An advocate is not a lawyer or an attorney who offers legal advice. An advocate, or proctor, is like a glorified para-legal, sometimes referred to as a solicitor or barrister; he presents cases to the court, but cannot give legal advice. It just means he can offer a compelling argument. 

Gaelic Kingdoms: Kingdoms of Caledonia (great timeline to keep it all in place)