I cannot let this one go.
I awaken to my NYT last Saturday nite and come upon my entertainment for the week.
That is my entertainment in my men’s room.
And I come upon a critique of a book on (of all people) Vasco da Gama.
I mean, if Word (or a rip off of Word) cannot properly spell Vasco da Gama, who cares?
It took me back to the tenth grade when I had this voice and this voice exclaimed:
WHO IN THE HELL GIVES ONE GODDAMN ABOUT VASCO DA GAMA?
But when nature calls, I am forced to ponder whatever fricking book is lying on the outhouse floor.
Well, it turns out that this critique was probably the most illuminating piece of paper that I had the opportunity to ponder all week.
Vasco it seems had some headstrong antithesis against the theories and the persona of one Christopher Columbus.
Vasco thought, fuck this western approach to India; I am proceeding South….for a ways anyway.
So Vasco takes his team around the Cape of Good Hope and proceeds north to find India.
Now unlike Chris who had no idea what he was doing, no idea where he was really heading and no idea of where he found himself; Vasco found what both these great navigators were looking for.
Da Gama found India.
So what is so fascinating about reading an article on the Crapper that discusses European mercantilism foreshadowing the conquering of India by the barbarian Angles (ultimately even though de Gama was Portuguese)?
Well Vasco had done his homework.
He certainly knew that half of the known world were those goddamnable Muslims.
That was an easy thing for him to know since:
- Half of the Mediterranean was made up of Muslims in the 15th century.
- Da Gama was Portuguese and half of Spain had been Muslim as of the 12th.
- Vasco had access to thousands of books written by the Inquisition that wished to abolish the Muslims as devils.
So Vasco took a quick left at the Cape of Good Hope of Africa and then a another quick left and months later ended up in Calicut, India.
He lands with his crew and discovers there are no Mosques.
What a frickin relief.
¶ The ambition was not entirely fanciful; there were Christian communities in India, founded according to legend by St. Thomas the Apostle. Da Gama couldn’t tell an Indian Christian from a cassowary, but on this occasion, ignorance was truly bliss. When his ships finally moored at Calicut, near the southern tip of the subcontinent, he and his crew rejoiced to learn that there were indeed many Christians long settled there. As Cliff recounts, the “landing party had assumed that Hindu temples were Christian churches, they had misconstrued the Brahmins’ invocation of a local deity as veneration of the Virgin Mary and they had decided the Hindu figures on the temple walls were outlandish Christian saints.” True, “the temples were also crammed with animal gods and sacred phalluses,” but these surely reflected exotic local Christian practices. What mattered to the Portuguese was that these long-lost Indian Christians permitted images in their “churches.” Thus, whatever their idiosyncrasies, they could not be Muslims. The Portuguese joined in the chants and invocations with gusto. When the Hindu priests chanted “Krishna,” the Portuguese heard it as “Christ.”
I can understand how someone in the 15th century could mistake a Phallus for a Cross. I mean who wouldn’t?
But I could not stop laughing while I sat working out my inner confusions.
This was the funniest thing I have read in months!
And I never gave one goddamn about Da Gama before! Ha!