Monday, October 24, 2011

A Passionate Eruption... Not Like That.


     I don’t know if you guys have noticed in these 50 POSTS I'VE WROTE, but I kinda like history. It’s one of my many passions, along with pipes, scotch, and finely-bound books. Okay, so maybe only one of those things is true (it’s history), but I’m going to tell you how I got to be so passionate (about history, which I’m going to tell you about).
     The scene is Pompeii, Italy in the first century AD. The Romans living beneath Mount Vesuvius wake up one day and start to go about their business, conquering the know world, persecuting Jews, those sort of things. But from underneath their besandaled feet comes a rumble. Well, the resortish town lives beneath a volcano, these things happen. So, they go on beating slaves and stealing culture from the Greeks, choosing to ignore it. Then BAM- Vesuvius full on erupts and covers the entire ancient city in ash, lava, and firey, firey death. No matter how fast they fled, tens of thousands of people died.
     And that’s why I love history.

     No, just kidding, there’s more to it than that. When this volcano erupted, it covered the town so fast that many people were caught doing their day-to-day lives. The best part is that the town was preserved from weathering almost completely by being covered in debris from the eruption. So, almost two thousand years later, an archeologist was digging around when he found a rooftop. “That’s odd,” he probably said, while his eyes changed to large, cartoonish dollar signs. Digging further down, this archeologist finds an entire town, preserved almost to perfection. You know, except for all those fossilized dead bodies.

"Can somebody cover that with a blanket or something?
It's starting to creep me out."
     Remember those people that died two millennia ago doing their day to day activities? Those nearest to the base of the volcano were pretty much frozen in stone doing just that. Those further away had time to die in horribly depressing ways, like holding hands in bed or fleeing in the street. But by using these fossilized dead people and their possessions, we learned an amazing amount of information about the way ancient people lived and behaved.
     But I’m not even to the best part. Pompeians and Romans at large wrote on walls as a sort of public advertising or an extremely large bathroom stall. Apartment classifieds, job opportunities, and more commercial advertisements littered random buildings.
      There was a political campaign going on in Pompeii at the time of the eruption. Just like our campaigns today, political ads littered the walls of the town. One of them read along the lines of “Vote for Tiberius, who is backed by thieves, liars, and those who are asleep.” That’s a legitimately funny mudslinging political ad! As long as two thousand years ago, Romans had perfected satire in their most serious establishments.
     Remember how I said the walls were like the world’s largest truck stop stalls? Well I hope so, it’s only a paragraph above this one. Stop smoking that refer, and get some memory back. I’m worried about you, I hardly even know you anymore. Where was I? I’m rambling so much… I need to ease off the wackee tobackee.
     Anyhoo, bathroomish things. The Pompeians wrote such things as “Maximus had sex with a girl in the butt here during the Ides of March,” cause, you know, men still existed at that time. Others talked about their poops or listed sexy contact information. I assume it included a phone number, which, if cartoons are to be believed, worked by having a pterodactyl relay information before exchanging pithy comments to the camera.
     But we’re not even to the best part. The one thing that drove me to a life of crime history. The statement that sent me down a path of which I would never look back:
         “Everyone writes on walls but me.”
     That simple, scrawled message changed my life like I’m in Inception. Somebody wrote that. A man woke up, safe and warm in his Pompeii bed, and decided to hit the town, but today was different. A smile played on his lips as he fingered the chalk in his tunic pocket. He had woken up with this idea, and he was going to finally do it. Checking both ways, he wrote out his little joke, and with a small nod of approval, moved on to live the rest of his life. Two thousand years later, a thirteen year old, living on a continent the writer never would have dreamt existed, read the joke, on a machine that would surpass the imagination of the joker, and laughed.
     The guy that wrote that existed. He had hopes and dreams. He had an asshole boss and crazy ex-girlfriends. Most likely, he sometimes had weeks where he couldn’t poop very well and got crabby because of it. He thought everyone else could grow facial hair better and got laid more often than he did. Then one day, he got up, basically tweeted onto a stone wall, and was lost to history forever after. In a totally different world, this guy lived the same life as we do today.
     People throughout recorded history complained about their crazy kids and how they didn’t respect their parents like they did when they were young. Even Vikings, who laid waste to an insane amount of Northern Europe, thought their daughters’ way of dressing was becoming too scandalous.
     The point I’m making with the Pompeii writers and the complaining is this; While others study history as a way to recognize how different the world is, I study it because it amazes me how much humans have overcome to never really change. While worlds may come and go, human nature will always be the same.
     Also, I’m egotistical enough to hope maybe something I write will make a kid laugh 2000 years after I die.

Everyone writes blogs but him,

Mick Dickinson

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