Twenty-six days, 24,483 words, 26 posts: art, music, mathematics (?!?), drama, popes, plagues, giant horse statues that don’t get built.
Looking back over the last 26 days, I see posts that I don’t even remember writing. There are at least two posts that nobody read, not because they’re bad, but sometimes these slip between the cracks. But the benefit–and curse–of the A to Z process is that you have to write every day (only four breaks) and you have to cover all the letters.
The discipline to write every day is intense. Actually, let me rephrase that to distinguish this from twitzing and ingramming and all that other stuff, which I don’t do. The discipline to write at least 500, semi-lucid words, in paragraph form with complete sentences and thoughts about a topic is intense. It requires planning and forethought, determination and a sense of urgency.
As we are well into Women’s History Month, accounts abound of wonderful women and their remarkable achievements. I’d like to go straight to the heart of the matter and point out some of the true heroines of Women’s History month: the women historians. We used to say “herstory “back in the ’70s because, often, historians claimed women didn’t do very much. Women have gotten more credit–a whole month now! So I can just use the word to refer to those who write it.
Let’s talk about history by women, who have been writing for nearly as long as the cave paintings. Which might just as likely have been done by women as men, right?
In fact, the first writer in world literature was a woman. Enheduanna was a priestess in Ur in ancient Sumeria, who composed poems and temple hymns to the goddess Inanna. Not entirely history, but poetry was the way people wrote, and even stories of gods and goddesses are a kind of history.
The first woman formally recognized as a historian was in the 12th century. (There were surely others, but this is the encyclopedia answer to the question.) Princess Anna Comnena, the daughter of Byzantine emperor Alexius I, wrote a 15-volume history about her father’s reign and the era called The Alexiad. She wrote in her spare time, because she also raised four children and administered a 10,000 bed hospital and orphanage in Constantinople. While administering medicine, she became an expert on gout, a disease which pestered her father for years. After Alexius died, Anna plotted to overthrow her newly-crowned brother in favor of herself and her husband, but she lost the fight and her court position as well. Sounds like a series for Showtime to me.
Tony Soprano, Walter White, Iago–Satan himself–and now the Roy Family. Stories about devilish characters and reprehensible behavior always seem so hard to resist. HBO’s Succession is the latest version of a cringe-worthy but binge-worthy show, full of wealthy rogues backstabbing each other as they scramble to the top of a multimedia empire. I’m embarrassed to love it. Why is such villainy fascinating?
Lifestyles of the Spoon-Fed and Conniving
Succession debuted as a drama in 2019, sliding in under the radar between the ignominious end of Game of Thrones and the rise of The Crown. It won a slew of Emmys, though I’d never heard of it when I was flipping channels at my brother’s house last month on vacation, when I had extra time on my hands. The story circles around 83-year-old Logan Roy (Brian Cox), head of the Waystar media conglomerate, who ought to be aging out of his role and passing the torch on to one of his children. But he refuses to go, even though the shareholders clamor for a succession plan and he experiences episodes of physical and mental frailty. Logan is vicious, duplicitous, domineering, and as vulgar as a recent ex-President, full of quips like: “Would you like to hear my favorite passage from Shakespeare? Take the fucking money.”
Logan’s favorite word is money, but his second favorite word is family, which is the problem. He’s one of those people who constantly espouses family values while in the next breath belittling, snarling, and smacking down–literally–his adult children. He’s raised them in his image, so none of them has the right combination of intelligence, courage, or work ethic (never mind integrity) to run an $18 billion dollar enterprise. Waystar is a unique entity: think Fox plus Disney, Republican-leaning jingoistic news combined with theme parks and cruises. Someone has even created a real twitter account for the fake theme park with bizarre but hilarious tweets: