Introducing many places, many tales
I started this blog as a vehicle of spreading my personal views of the world. My favorite part of the day is looking at the sunset and its dying light in the distant horizon. In some sense my main theme will be about gazing into the distance, both across other countries and other times. The Million will collect tales from many civilizations. I hope we will see things with two eyes open, one on history and its events, but with a second eye on the enchantment and the tragedy people felt.
The title The Million is obviously a personal tribute to Marco Polo. My first encounter with Polo’s travel book some twenty years ago fascinated me exactly because it was highly detailed on the places it dwells and the lives of its inhabitants, but at the same time it showed a taste for marvel, even in desolate lands. Where many would only write about powerful men, Polo would also register the daily routines and strange beliefs of the common people. It was mostly an eye-witness account, but also a collection of tales heard from locals and other travelers. There was no attempt to fit his accounts into a grand history scheme or a dry scientific analysis.
In the same way I hope this Blog will fascinate you with several stories and my personal interpretation of the events. Many tales will focus on challenges lived by important men such as kings and generals. However, I definitely do not subscribe to a “great men” view of history. Unfortunately, historical records left us with little evidence about ordinary people. Literacy was only available to the upper classes and it was mostly employed to eulogize powerful men. Only in recent centuries can we find evidence about how oppressed people live. The Diary of Anne Frank is marvelous in the sense that the Nazis managed to take her life away, and yet failed to erase her personality, her memory! Today no one remembers the big soldiers who oppressed Anne and yet we all feel touched by her loving memoirs. I would love to write about the many Annies who suffered at the hands of Julius Caesar and his soldiers, but such sources are lost to us.
I do not have any degree in History, therefore it is possible that my accounts will not be exact for two reasons. First, ancient sources are biased, present contradictions and omit evidence on key parts. Historians wrote excellent things of their patrons and bad-mouthed their predecessors. Second, even after many studies and debates, it is fair to say that many questions remain unsolved and it is a matter for intelligent readers to find their own reasoning.