Popcorn Medievalist

. . . for i had perceived that reality is a frightening place, and i did not wish to live there . . .

Location: Canada

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Blogging in the Clouds

So here I am in Nepal. What can I say? It's been quite an adventure so far---climbing mountains, crossing glaciers, getting in trouble with yaks, chatting it up with the Sherpas. And lots of clean air and beautiful scenery. It's a great place to think about important things like life-vision and destiny. I thought about a lot of important things. And also about important new theories, like my theory that I like to call "The Mountain Model." It proposes that altitude is the first determining cause in human history.

Alright, you're thinking, Dave haven't you already killed off any chance of your blog ever being taken seriously? Why do you continue in this madness, driving still more nails into the coffin of your poor, once-promising scholarly blog? And why is it that you need to dribble kerosine all over the coffin and light it with flint instruments? And why do you then have to gather the ashes in a small cast-iron kettle and mix them with ammonia and pour them down a latrine? Why must you repeatedly belittle your intelligence with this cheap, second-rate farce? You're self-destructing! You're losing it!

So if that's what you're thinking then all I can say is, "Well now, aren't you just so clever?" Now according to the Mountain Model, there are two classes of people throughout the world, highlanders and lowlanders. This is the basis of all conflict in history. The highlanders live up the mountain and the lowlanders live in the valley. The highlanders are forever doomed to lower status in this societal order. This is because of soil erosion. The soil from the top of the mountain is forever carried downward by the small streams that run down the mountainsides.

The soil erosion benefits the people in the valley, enriching their land at the expense of the highlanders. The lowlanders accept this accumulation of soil from the lands of the mountain class as the natural ordering of things; they prosper and thrive, their crops yield well in the rich valley soil, protected from the strong winds that blow across the unprotected mountainsides. Their animals feed well on the healthy grass which grows thick and lush, well nourished and well-watered. The valley people monopolize trade and education; their work is made easier still by the latest in modern farm machinery. Their children enjoy every privilege and are taught to sneer at the mountain folk who come down occasionally to trade for the few items that they can afford.

The highlanders find their land forever being depleted; their crops do poorly, their animals are thin and cold and search the bare, rough slopes for a little scraggly grass to sooth their hunger. These poor folk labour slavishly all day to scratch together enough food to fill their stomachs. From a young age their children must work too. Some highlanders work as servants for valley people who treat them like dogs and pay them a pittance. The highlanders are forever struggling on the edge of survival. They hate the lowlanders with their fancy imported hats and their expensive wines, with their exorbitant price controls on the foreign goods that they sell to the highlanders, with their arrogance and their sneering looks.

Now, the story finally climaxes when the highlanders become so enraged by the lavishness and the oppression and the arrogance of the lowlanders that they gather their men together and they come down the mountain. They easily overpower the softened valley people. They massacre all of the valley class, and then they dig up the soil from the valley and carry it up the mountain in tin buckets along the goat trails until the mountain slopes are as richly soiled as the valley. It's a lot of earth to move, but eventually all the soil is evenly distributed. The result of all this is a stateless, classless utopian society in which everyone lives happily ever after.

I love happy stories like this one, where people learn to share and in the end everyone is friends. Where you don't have to concern yourself with the contributions of individuals to society because what really matters is how the corporate spirit of the oppressed class triumphs over injustice. And it's about mountains. Mountains are nice, I think that's really why it's such a good story.