[lit-ideas] Documentaries

  • From: Andy <mimi.erva@xxxxxxxxx>
  • To: lit-ideas <lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Sun, 8 Jan 2012 06:18:06 -0800 (PST)

Here are some BBC documentaries.  They're called Filthy Cities, and they're 
about medieval London, Paris and Industrial Revolution New York.  I haven't 
seen the Paris and NY ones yet but I saw the one on London and it's amazing. 
 Kind of fun depending on one's definition of fun.  Basically it seems that a 
city's biggest problem is how to get rid of poop, and with 100,000 people and 
as many animals roaming the streets and no sanitation, it was, well, filthy. 
 Over time they evolved into the beautiful cities they are today.  The Black 
Death played a part (which I think it was instrumental in ending the Middle 
Ages in general and ushering in the Renaissance, Barbara Tuchman, not these 
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PZgHXAek0No  (London)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qNSg1mk1pUs&feature=related  (Paris)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wy_ynQtguvY&feature=related  (New York)
Just a note on the Horrible Histories.  I meant they weren't horrible in that 
they were accurate.  They're horrible because history is horrible.  I took that 
premise as a given, and I'm sorry if anyone was blindsided.  Shakespeare 
documents some of the worst events that were simply day to day accepted 
occurrences.  A measure of how far we've come as a species is the book A 
Distant Mirror by Barbara Tuchman.  I read it a while ago about the Middle Ages 
and one can get PTSD just reading the book.  It was an amazingly violent time. 
 There's another book right now that chronicles the crusades (can't think of 
the name of the book, which I will not read), but apparently at least one 
battle was so horrific that those returning claimed that Armageddon, the end of 
the world, had happened.  They were convinced the bible prophecy had been 
fulfilled.  We say that today's wars are horrible because they're impersonal, 
well, historically wars were very
 personal and all the worse for it.  I'm also reading a book on night and what 
night meant before the invention of electric lights.  Night was a real big 
deal.  The book on night takes on new meaning after watching the Filthy Cities 
documentary above, for me anyway.  For anyone interested, the book on night is 
At Day's Close, A History of Nighttime, by A. Roger Ekirch.  I'm only on page 
98 but it promises to be good all the way through.
I carry on about parenting as learned behavior because it bothers me no end 
that there is a simple, free, utterly available solution to it all and the 
solution will never ever be implemented.  The solution is shouted down in 
fact.  Actually, that's not entirely true.  The solution is being implemented 
(such as through Dr. Spock's books), just very slowly, leaving only a select 
few to look for a better way to do things.  The overall result is that we are 
now horrified, meaning we are getting more civilized because of it, and there 
were enough humans even then who were civilized enough to abolish those 
practices. Sadly we still talk dispassionately about the value of torture, 
among other things, but the overall progress, however slow and with however 
many setbacks, is undeniable.
Hopefully now on to more fun things.  Filthy Cities is kind of fun. 
 Well, they're interesting, put it that way.  Rodney Dangerfield makes no cameo 
appearances in them, trust me on this one.

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