Tag Archives: history

Sliver: Intro (History as a parasite)

Intro

NGC 5907 galaxy
NGC 5907 galaxy

2120 – Somewhere in the Pacific Northwest region of what was once the United States of America.

Only shards of history survived the cullings.

And by shards, I’m being generous.

We passed history down from one person to the next in small groups around burning wood with the flames casting shadows on our surroundings for ten thousand years.

We marked the rocks with the images in our mind drawn by flames. And pounded reeds flat and bleached them in the sun and made up words to describe the images and the actions around them in complex relationships that became written language.

And then we maximized efficiency and built printing presses to make short work of storing our history in volumes in libraries.

But war, as it does, burns away the words with fire and rhetoric.

We digitized history and made the whole thing accessible to every human being in small, hand-held computers. And we shrank it, until millions of volumes could fit onto the tip of a needle.

History compounded is a radioactive element biding its time until transmutation releases energy and blows itself into shards and larger chunks.

And so we’re left to tell our story one generation to the next, to pass along the DNA of our existence, sometimes in rich detail and sometimes in shards too small to understand why we keep repeating our mistakes.

I pieced this all together from the slivers of information I have gathered over my lifetime, which evenly spans the turn of the 22nd Century.

I inherited some of it and found most of it, extracting it willingly or unwillingly from its hosts. Oh, yes, history is a parasite. Or didn’t you know that?

History periodically blows itself up, so we must pick it up in shards or larger chunks and piece it together and determine that we will never kill each other in large numbers again for resources. But we can’t fight history’s innate need to repeat itself, and so we become willing hosts, corrupted and finally destroyed as the shards and larger chunks to be pieced together by a future generation.

In this way we have eked out our existence on this rock for this brief moment in time.

 

Sliver by Timothy Alex Akimoff copyright 2016

The Tin Man seeks a heart

Tin Man
Tin Man

I read a story this week about a woman who moved to Portland, Oregon from New York city and found herself incredibly lonely. Like dangerously lonely.

The better part of my life has been spent pursuing the opposite of loneliness. One of the reasons I moved to Chicago was because I believed that a city with eight million people would be the antidote to loneliness.

At first it is.

You’re surrounded by the cacophony of this human hive. It fairly roars with the constant sound of movement. You can’t look around and not see humans walking somewhere quickly. Nobody meanders in Chicago.

Continue reading The Tin Man seeks a heart

Old Long Since: New Years Superstitions

Screen Shot 2013-12-31 at 3.55.11 PM

Ever wonder why we kiss our loved ones on the stroke of midnight on New Years?

Did you learn this from watching your parents?

Why do we sing songs and make noise to ring in the new year?

It’s because our old humanity, locked deep in the recesses of our minds, is holding onto something that we lost so very long ago.

Scratch a holiday deep enough, and you’ll reveal a lot of superstition. Dig a little, and you’ll find the husks that carried the old stories that were once born upon a kernel of truth.

Continue reading Old Long Since: New Years Superstitions

The Amazons and the Cossacks: Myth, Empire Building and Femanism

If I write nothing else my entire life, I want to write a series of stories, one for each of my children. They may take me the rest of my life or the next 10 years, but I have been meticulously researching settings for each of them. 

Several months ago I was stumbling through some Tumblr posts and came upon a vase depicting the Amazon queen Penthesilea riding into battle to face Achilles. 

Perhaps I missed that day in history class, but I always thought the Amazons were a race of warrior women living along the banks of the South American River to which Francisco de Orellana to gave their name.

Turns out they are as mysterious and widespread as mythology knows, residing along the Black Sea, the Baltic Sea and in jungles across the oceans.

Delving into their mythstery, as I like to call research into vague and ephemeral pieces of our past, I found that though the Amazons are well documented across history, they are kept in the distance, beyond reality in a world that could very much have been, but which has almost no physical or even historical evidence.

The Greeks even idealized the Amazon culture as the dividing line between myth and reality.

Legendary warriors every bit the equal of the greatest mythological male heroes, Amazons are not merely the birthplace of feminism, they are the embodiment of it as a secondary and vital fight extending so far back into history that their exploits can not be separated regardless of their designation as myth.

Just a few weeks ago, our government changed the rules and will allow women into combat.

History, as we know, often repeats itself for lack of trying to avoid it by knowing it, and because mankind is inclined to wipe clean his collective memory from time to time in increasingly violent and apocalyptic ways.

 I think I have found in the ideology of the Amazons, a setting for my story for my daughter Gabrielle. 

For many months I struggled with the idea of placing their stories in violent settings, even though violent struggle is what most shapes mankind.

I wondered if I could find or create settings that would transcend violence and warfare. But even looking back across our own history, I see its telltale mark everywhere.

My grandfather fought his way across the Russian steppe, at times conscripted to fight for Turkic armies and at other times for the Chinese.

My father’s best friend was killed in Vietnam, and even Gabrielle has attended school with children whose fathers have died in Afghanistan and Iraq.

War touches us even in the most peaceful of times. It shapes us. It has shaped us.

And so I see the Amazon culture as a setting for my daughter, a place to give context to her beginnings. She is 1/4th Ukrainian, which is the cradle of the Amazon culture.

She is strong and fearless, and though she is young, those attributes have been long in her blood. And they came from somewhere back in time, perhaps far enough back to have crossed that line between myth and reality.

And is it too much to speculate that one of the male children born to the Amazons might have been left in the wilderness to die only to sharpen his wits against adversity and hopelessness only to give birth to the great Cossack culture 2,300 years later? Another race of warriors born more out of necessity than myth and for a particular time, the Cossacks were nation and empire builders.

A land may be invaded a million times, as Ukraine has been, and though they destroy the buildings, the art, the wheat, the very foundations of civilization, they cannot destroy the spirit of the place, which is why another generation always rises in place of the invaders.

In their blood is the blood of the Amazons, the Goths, the Tatars and the Cossacks, the mortar between the bricks of the breadbasket of the world.

In looking for settings for these stories that will explain and help solidify the vast influences of the rivers of our past, I have found the big picture of our past.

Now I have to find the characters in those settings.

The work of a writer is much like the iceberg. Most of it is under the surface.

Tim