Thursday, October 14, 2010

More Insomnia and Insomniac Musings

Another night with very little sleep. My asthma has really been acting up lately, especially at night. I've been spending most of my Fridays with doctors lately.

I wake up this morning with a despairing feeling that stupidity and malice will enjoy yet another overwhelming triumph over all things reasonable, just, and charitable with crowds cheering and bells ringing.

There are times when I think our future is 17th century Spain. A globally dominant power is too proud and arrogant to adapt to changing circumstances (in the 17th century, Spain was slow to adapt to changing patterns of global commerce and naval technology). Its rivals take advantage of its short-sightedness (England and the Dutch Republic quickly undid Spain's dominance of the seas). This former power becomes more and more turned inward, focusing on internal conflicts (17th century Spain saw a successful rebellion by Portugal, and an unsuccessful rebellion by Catalunya, the end of the Spanish Hapsburg Dynasty with a war for the succession). Spain began the 17th century as the dominant imperial power in Europe, and ended the century isolated, backwards, and poor, a condition that would not begin to change until toward the end of the 18th century, and would not be fully overcome until the end of the 20th century.

All empires go bankrupt. Rome went bankrupt in the 3rd century. The British Empire emerged from World War II to find itself bankrupt. Perhaps this is the moment for our empire. Decline is the price of empire, and if you don't want decline, then don't create an empire. I couldn't care less about the American Empire, but I'm worried that the American Republic might disintegrate with it. I'm worried that we are about to march cheering into a future of growing isolation, increasing division, falling wages, falling living standards, and perpetual war in unresolvable conflicts. I'm not exactly rejoicing at the prospect of China stepping into the power vacuum we leave behind as we leave the world stage.

Pardon the bad morning anguish.


Claudio Coelho, La Sagrada Forma in the Escorial, 1685 - 1690

16 comments:

Ciss B said...

Asthma can be a nasty nigh time visitor, I know. Hope you're better soon. Is it the fall (and all that goes with it.) that triggers your asthma? Hope the doctors can get to the bottom of it soon.

I'm worried about our country too. The extremists seem to be winning and that is NOT a good sign in my opinion. We seem to be back in that pre-WWII mode of isolationism with the world around us, and total non-caring (And anger!) for immigrants and poor who have lost jobs which hearkens back to the late 1800s. We haven't seemed to have grown in compassion at all only in greed...

Grandmère Mimi said...

Pardon the bad morning anguish.

Pardon extended.

I've never had a problem with asthma, nor has anyone close to me suffered from the illness, but from reports of those who have, it's a bitch, as is insomnia.

For what it's worth, and I had a pretty good night's sleep, I agree with your post. I don't wanna be an empire! We have already overreached, and we will suffer the consequences.

Counterlight said...

Thanks Ciss and Grandmere.

I'm spending just about every Friday these days with doctors, so we'll eventually get to the bottom of it.

Now, it's off to a very full schedule for the next few days.

JCF said...

{{{Doug}}}

I hope our new Chinese overlords will be benevolent. [If the choice is them or the Tea Party, at least we know they couldn't be worse!]

JCF said...

Liked the painting. Had to decide whether to dl it to my "Religious" or "Non-religious" art folders. Despite the (Real) presence of Christ there in the monstrance, I put it in non-religious!

Lapinbizarre said...

A mesmerizing painting and, wheeling angels aside - needed something to perk up all that ceiling space, I guess - a fascinating piece of realism. JCF is dead right to file it under non-religious.

Carlos II of Spain, the end product of two centuries of intense interbreeding within the Habsburg family, a process which included three instances of uncle/niece marriage (all, of course, with dispensations from the Holy See), last among them his mother and father. The spread and subsequent compression of his family tree is astonishing.

Counterlight said...

Indeed, I chose this painting precisely because it is so un-religious, but very much reflects the almost childish taste for spectacle of Spain's last Hapsburg monarch, thoroughly disease-ridden and mentally defective inbred Carlos II.
From the way things are going, I think we can expect our own American version of "Carlos the Bewitched" soon enough.

Lapinbizarre said...

Doubt, even in darkest Appalachia, that we'll find a candidate whose parents were uncle and niece and both of whose paternal grandparents were offsprings of uncle/niece matings. Fair boggles the mind.

Counterlight said...

In this day and age, and in the current political climate, nothing would surprise me.

susan s. said...

I hope your trip to the Dr. wasn't too bad, today.

Counterlight said...

Which trip to the doctor? I'm taking so many these days.

Actually, not bad. I may be getting the asthma under control.

Counterlight said...

Thanks for asking.

susan s. said...

Well, you did say you were spending almost every friday at the Dr.'s. So since it's friday, I figured you had been there!

JCF said...

And could you imagine a LESS "Spanish"-looking, um, Spaniard?

Really love the history lesson, Lapin. This of course, was the divinely-ordained lineage/monarchy, about the same time that the Pope(s) were excommunicating that sinful English one! O_o

susan s. said...

I did an independent study in the early '80s and read John Nada's "Carlos the Bewitched." Yes, his line was inbred and his "wife" was also his cousin. If they had actually managed to conceive a child, I hate to think what would have resulted.

Lapinbizarre said...

Their relationship to the English monarchy was a major contributing factor to the early English Reformation, JCF. Joanna of Castile, mother of the Emperor Charles V (top row of family tree), was sister to Catherine of Aragon. Charles held the pope captive at the time that Henry VIII wanted an annulment - therefore no annulment.

Oddly there was a return to an English connection at the bottom of the tree, perhaps in a too little too late attempt to introduce new blood. Carlos/Charles II's first wife was a granddaughter of Charles I of England and a daughter of Louis XIV's more-or-less gay brother).

Not too much new blood, come to think of it - Louis XIV's mother was Charles's aunt and, like her brother, Philip IV, the child of two uncle/niece-begotten parents.

So Louis XIV, like Cleopatra, shows that incest sometimes work?