Friday, September 16, 2005

What's your favorite empire?

The Persian Empire, what did I know about that before last night?

1. Alexander the Great crushed it
2. It was in Persia*

Yes, that was about it. But the Vol-in-Law was keen to see a new special exibit called Forgotten Empire the World of Ancient Persia at the British Museum. So we went to see it last night (late openings on Thursdays) On our way in, he was all excited and informed me that the Persian Empire was his favorite empire. We've been married a long time, but it just goes to show that there are still some topics of conversation that we hadn't yet explored, I'm thinking in particular the 'favorite empire' discussion.

Me: Really, your favorite empire? what about the British Empire? Don't you like that one?
ViL: No, I mean my favorite empire that nobody remembers, excluding the British and the Roman. Everyone knows about those.
Me: Well, I guess my favorite empire is the American Empire
Vil: That's not an empire
Me: Really?
ViL: Oh, yeah. You're right.

And then he remembered this quote from Ron Suskind's piece on George W. Bush for the Sunday NYT (though he didn't remember it all verbatim like that**)

The aide said that guys like me were ''in what we call the reality-based
community,'' which he defined as people who ''believe that solutions emerge from
your judicious study of discernible reality.'' I nodded and murmured something
about enlightenment principles and empiricism. He cut me off. ''That's not the
way the world really works anymore,'' he continued. ''We're an empire
now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're
studying that reality -- judiciously, as you will -- we'll act again, creating
other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort
out. We're history's actors . . . and you, all of you, will be left to just
study what we do.''

Anyway, the ViL seemed to enjoy the exhibit and we discussed it a bit more over our lovely dinner in the Great Court of the British Museum (that's got to be a must see for any London visitor, what a fantastic space, will post pictures later)

I was a little disappointed that the British Museum had seemed to exhibit only the Iranian stuff and didn't pad it out with some of the permanent collection. The ViL said he thought it was a pretty smart move by the Iranians.

Me: Oh you mean so all their nice stuff isn't destroyed when we invade.
ViL: No, there won't be an invasion 'til Spring, and this stuff goes back in January. No, I meant it's a good PR move, to show the British public that they're really quite civilized, and shouldn't be invaded.

And that reminded me an anecdote about how I got a free ride from Saddam Hussein which will be recorded in the next post.

*it wasn't all in Persia, it covered Egypt, Turkey, great bits of Greece and stretched all the way to Afghanistan. That's why Alexander the Great went that way, he was just following through on his great victory at Gaugamela.
** according to the ViL - though I don't remember it this way, he said "Oh yeah, like that Suskind quote 'We're an Empire now, we create our own realities', which means if they want the Katrina casualties to be under a 1000, they'll be under a 1,000."

PS - apologies for the incomplete post, technical difficulty.

No comments: