“I’m so bored. I hate my life.” - Britney Spears

Das Langweilige ist interessant geworden, weil das Interessante angefangen hat langweilig zu werden. – Thomas Mann

"Never for money/always for love" - The Talking Heads

Saturday, February 21, 2009

world class felix culpa

Gabriel Foigny was an underground man of the classical age – a drunk, a lech, an ex-priest. He fled from a monastery in France, where the bonds of chastity were evidently too tight for him, to the Protestant freedom of Geneva, in the 1660s. There he found a job as a teacher – his attempt to go on preaching under the new dispensation was discouraged when he appeared in church drunk – and married a low class slut who proceeded to cheat on him. Being an educated man, he turned his hand to the market for reading matter. First, he created playing cards of a kind, on which there were prayers – or perhaps Tarot signs. Then, in 1676, he published a manuscript he had been ‘given”, La Terre Ausrale. Later on, he admitted that he wrote it himself – by this time he was on the hop again, leaving behind a pregnant maidservant and a set of angry Genevan ministers. The TA is an account of a colonial Sinbad the sailor who ends up, after various adventures in Africa and Portugal, cast up on the Australian shore. Australia, here, is not to be confused with the continent of that name – it was more like More’s Utopia than Van Dieman’s discovery. The account of the naturals of Australia is accompanied by a dialogue between the protagonist and one of their sages. Through this sage, Foigny expressed, as Geoffrey Atkinson put it, his “open and secret revolt against society and its institutions.” [39]

Such a revolt, to be radical, must go back to the very root of society. That, of course, is paradise. Society begins in the annihilation of paradise, as readers of Genesis know. Or I should say, its annihilation for humans – for it is part of the magic of the story that the Garden of Eden is not abolished by the Lord. It exists, but it exists, now, outside of human existence. It is barred. Thus, no sentence in human history has had the effect of Adam’s communication to God that he and Eve are naked. For, as God immediately replies, “who told thee that thou wast naked?” It is one of those moments for which Joyce, in Finnegan’s Wake, devised his long sentence-words, dividing one Viconian epoch from another: “The fall (bababadalgharaghtakamminarronnkonnbronntonneronntuonnthunntrovarrhounawnskawntoohoohoordenenthurnuk!) of a once wallstrait oldparr”.

But if we go around the world, as Kleist’s dramaturge suggests, perhaps we can get in the back way. Foigny’s sage-sauvage is, as Atkinson writes, ‘filled with horror at the idea of wearing clothes”. He cannot be persuaded that clothing is an aid to morality – comparing the Europeans to “little children who no longer know an object as soon as it is covered with a veil.” [63] As without, so within. The colonial process – or the civilizing process – puts into relief superstition as its privileged target, while its subjects, the subjected, gaze with disbelief at the superstitions of the civilizers. Ultimately, what was this, for the Europeans, but the rejection of that peculiar moment in Genesis, when God, for once, stops being a politician or a magician – when he makes clothing of skin for his creatures. As he once made Adam of clay, the act of a worldmaker, so he now clothes them, the act of a colonizer – but colonizer in the most intimate sense. There is no more intimate act ever attributed to Yahweh than this: ‘Unto Adam also and to his wife did the Lord God make coats of skin, and clothed them.” As though Adam’s announcement made the seals fall from God’s eyes, too. The intimacy in this act is in its superfluity: after all, having condemned humans to labor – and the sexes to division of labor – there’s no reason that Adam and Eve could not have made their own clothes. What kind of divine necessity is on display, here? What kind of cosmic discomfort? We know that the Gods, other Gods, can be moved by human nakedness – can be stirred to desire. Per Ganymede, per Leda, per Daphne, per every metamorphosis, every skin that goes on and every skin that comes off.

These things are in the background against which Lahontan’s Dialogues was read. The problem the early twentieth century readers had with Lahontan’s “noble savage” – an idea that gets its political coloring from early twentieth century conservatism - is increased by Adario’s “obscenity’, for Lahontan has his natural sage speak about the “shameful parts”. The Europeans were very interested in the covering up or not of the shameful parts – in 1509, in the description of the seven naturals that were taken to Rouen, either from Newfoundland or from a boat that was found adrift on the ocean, Eusebius, the chronicler, makes sure to record that the savages wore a belt, to which was attached a purse like vestment for covering up the shameful parts.

Yet the Iroquois and Huron boys, to the often expressed dismay of the missionaries, went about naked. The dialogue between Adario and Lahontan approaches this topic from the point of view not of the naked boys themselves, but of the effect of this nudity on the girls. Lahontan, following in the conventions of the Europeans, connects the power of Huron women to their power of choice. Adario finds the European objection at once absurd and typical – for the notion that the fathers should have power over the girls stems, ultimately, from the power of the mine and thine among the Europeans. Adario’s explanation of the rules of sexual alliance seems to be confirmed by other writers on the Hurons. Women were not forced to marry men chosen by their parents, but they were forced to obey rules against marrying relatives. And the marriage bond was not indissoluble. Adario remarks that after forty, women don’t marry again, not wanting, after that, to have children. Lahontan has two things to say about the Huron system: that the women show cruelty by aborting unwanted children, and that they must give up nudity: “For the privilege of your boys to go about nude causes a terrible rapine [ravage] in the hearts of your girls. For , not being made of bronze, they can’t help it if, at the aspect of members that I dare not name, they go into rut on certain occasions when the rascals [coquins] show that nature is neither dead nor ungrateful to them.” [93]

Rise and fall. Adario, while sympathetic to the argument against abortion [which seems to mean, as well, infanticide], is scornful of the argument against nude children. Far from being a bad thing, it helps girls decide if they want the “big thing” which he won’t name or the medium or small – and he assures Lahontan that the caprices of women are such that the big thing won’t monopolize all hearts. Some want strength, some want spirit, some want big shameful parts.

But this is his judgment of the Europeans:

‘ I agree that the peoples among whom are introduced the mine and the thine have good reason for hiding not only their virile parts, but still all the members of the body. For what would be the good of the silver and gold of the French, if they don’t employ it to adorn themselves in rich garments? Since it is only by the clothing that one makes an estate of people. Isn’t it a great advantage for a Frenchman to be able to hide some natural default under beautiful clothing? Believe me, nudity is only shocking to those people who have property in goods. An ugly man among you, a badly built one discovers the secret of being beautiful and well made with a beautiful wig, and gilded dress, under which one can’t distinguish the thighs and the artificial buttocks from the natural ones.” [92-93]

Thus, briefly, one turns the world around. But the world is moving, all the time, right face forward, with wig and artificial buttocks in tow.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

the property I have in my johnson

We have tried to show that the dismissal of Adario as a figment of Lahontan’s imagination, or as the noble savage which romantically stands in the way of the modern admiration of itself – that moment of vulgarity, of the ultimately base, the truly modern – is an intellectually shaky stance. In its movement, it does conceal a truth that it doesn’t recognize – that there is no reason to suppose that all cultures match, as it were, the cultures of Europe. Match as agreeing with, or antithetical too. The possibility that two cultures can miss each other entirely is the possibility of counter-generality, unlimited. Although we like to think that the Gods play on a game board extensive enough that every pawn can find a footing. The myth of the myth of the noble savage is based, as we have said, on the myth of the civilized European, the features of which (belief in science, for instance) took in a very, very small minority of Europeans. On the other hand, as Bruce Trigger has said, the Europeans had developed an adaptability to circumstances that ultimately made them powerful not only outside, with their guns and metallurgy, but inside, with their need to be in the subject, to have the subject believe. It is this level where the savage and the civilized take their real places, masks off. But it is a level in which, to the incredulity of the governors, the slip and slide between one role and the other becomes incredibly easy. Kurz goes native, the native goes Kurz. Nous sommes tous des sauvages.

Adario takes on the system that he knows is killing him at its most vital point: the mine and the thine. This sorting procedure stalks through the pox. It also stalks through the Europe of savages, the interior, the Leibeigne of Hesse, the church governed principalities, the urban mechanics, the accursed estates.

Adario’s attack takes an interesting tack when we come to that issue which must be dear to libertine ethnologues: nudity. If Paradise was the déjà vu of the explorers, Eden just ahead of them, at the center of Paradise was the central and first act of the opened eye: clothing oneself. God’s first animal to cover itself in shame as to what it showed. The Europeans always found the ways in which the natives covered themselves to be disquieting. In the case of the Hurons and Iroquois, what disturbed was not the allure of tits and cunt, the supplement to our voyage of Cytheria, down the trembling female body – no, it was dick. Turnabout that has been muted, even now, among those who would nose out our Orientalist ancestors, and one of the reasons that Lahontan’s biographer finds him slightly obscene. Just as Adario found the European propensity for daring décolleté slightly obscene.

About which, more in the next post.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Lahontan

“Just look at P…, he continued, when she plays Daphne, and, chased by Apollo, turns to look at him – her soul sits in the turmoil of the small of her back; she bends, as though she wanted to break, as a naiad out of the school of Bernini. Look at the young F., then, when he, as Paris, stands among the three Goddesses and hands the apple to Venus. His entire soul sits (it is a shock to see it) in his elbow.

Such mistakes, he added, disconnectedly, are unavoidable, since we ate from the Tree of Knowledge. Paradise is still locked up and the Cherub is behind us; we must make a trip around the world, and see whether perhaps it isn’t still open somewhere in the back.” – Kleist, On the Marionette Theater.

I have danced in these threads so far without, astonishingly enough, mentioning Paradise. But now is the time. Daphne crouches, Paris extends the apple. Once upon a time, when Eve was not coy, the animals could talk, and an island floated up to the people, trailing a cloud above it, on which the Gods were standing. Paradise, of course, it was always a question of Paradise in the Encounter.

… So what was he thinking, sitting there in 1707. There – in Amsterdam? In Copenhagen? As he took up the quill, was he thinking that he had never ceased traveling? That it was all as if he had never gotten out of that infinite forest, that it was still ceaselessly snowing, as he had first seen it from the deck of a boat, leaving debts he could hardly understand behind him, status, college, a dead father tracked down and staked through the heart by the immovability of a society that knew nothing of progress but everything about prestige. The ancients feuded with the moderns on the torrents of the Pau. Lom d’arc, Baron of Lahontan, his father, cleared the Adour River up to Bayonne. He’d never seen a river like the St. Lawrence. Rivers ran fatally through his life.

Did he think that the blizzard of snow and the forest were mirror images one of the other, both wildernesses through which only the most artful entity, the Manitou, could dodge?

The tricks you learn. Looking at his hand, the souvenir of the stump where his little finger used to be. Left for the filthy bottomdwellers at some Wisconsin portage…

According to his biographer and self appointed judge, Joseph-Edmund Roy, the Baron de Lahontan’s father had exhausted his own resources and a great part of his life in the work of clearing the river. In the end, he succeeded, making Bayonne a commercial port. His reward was to be sued for debt, and to fail, in turn, to collect the debts owed him.

Lahontan. Lahontan was a small village which, at one time, was comprised in the territory held by Montaigne's family. Montaigne mentions it as a funny, primitive place. Peculiarly cut off. The story is that the village kept its own customs, generation after generation, until an outsider married into the place, and introduced all the modern troubles: lawsuits, doctors, exchange.

In the shadow of the Pyrenees. He was eight years old when his father died. The son of the second wife.

17. Baron de Lahontan was seventeen when he first saw New France. Ten years later, he turned his back on it for the last time, a convoluted quarrel such as he always seemed to be getting into. Deserting his post to take sail on a ship that he bribed to drop him off on the Portugese shore. By then, he was suffering from a bit of persecution complex about returning to France. Afraid of being seized for debt, or insubordination. He’d made enemies, god knows. The Sieur de Pontchartrain paid men to silence the like of small fry nobility.

“On the 23 Jume 1699, the parliament in Paris issued an arrest – a warrant – in this affair. It is enough to say that the text of the warrant mentons more than 150 summonses, requests, replies, sustainments, contradictions, arres and sentences, without counting the production of supplementary motions. We find more than sixty parties intervening. They come from Paris, Tours, Rouen and every corner of Bearn. The procedures, which began in 1664, were continued annually up to 1699 when the warrant on the distribution of money was issued, but in 1789, the city of Bayonne was still fighting with the creditors of the Lahontan family.”

Perhaps it is a winter morning. The day is cloudy. He sets his pen to the foolscape. The expriest will visit him later in the day, and they will go over the dialogue. Ex-priest, but still a priest – not the kind of creature he likes. Something about them leaves him breathless with hostility. And the ex-priest was common, there was no denying it. Some peddler’s boy, he imagined. He remembers getting out of a tough spot in Spain, no money for the inn, using the gestures he’d observed used by the Jesuits among the Huron, and the gestures, too, that the local healer used, setting himself up as a montebank, paying the bill, getting a coach. The baron-medecin. Out of Moliere and Don Quixotte. Now, he receives, under a cover name, money from a family friend, which he invests in bills of exchange, creaming off a certain percentage for himself.

He’ll last be seen hunting. In a forest on an estate in Luxemberg. Leibniz mentions him. Leibniz the pious man, Lahontan the libertine sceptic. What is broken in the network, what we don’t see. Only blind guesses.

The snow comes down day after day. He learns an Algonquin tongue. Reads Petronious. Lascivious scenes before going to sleep. A priest, one day, comes into his room, spots the book, seizes it and tears it into shreds. He will always resent this insult.

Did he dine with Bayle? When Adorio arose before him, the Huron philosophe. Who had visions of the undoing of his people in every baptism and ever poxy corpse. Or who was the pious Indian leader who died in Montreal and was given a Christian funeral. What do you know about people?

Lahontan had once wanted to discover something. The Long River. A foolish ambition to garner the kind of prestige that LaSalle, that madman, had gained. His party sailing past a burned out post he never noticed, a post that had been set up by Lasalle in Missouri, where a trunk was emblazoned with the words that would continue eternally return to whisper in select ears in the Artificial Paradise: Nous sommes tous des sauvages.

The Black Robes, impressing the Hurons with the announcement that the world turned around the sun. Meanwhile, back in Lahontan, a man who professed to believe that the world turned around the sun, if anyone had been so foolishly inclined to contradict the evidence of his senses, would have been visited by the priests and the local authorities and would, assuredly, recant. Civilization – not a word in general use. Citizen. Not a word in general use. Subject – ah, subjects. To turn the savages into subjects of the king. That was the project. A word undergoing some strange rhetorical stress, subject.

The ex priest, they say, added details only a cleric would know. Citations from Origen – would the 30 year old Lahontan have read Origen? And of course distance buries everything, even the Huron chief who is disallowed, as time goes by, his own critique of European civilization. No, they would speak in childish metaphors. No religion, these people. Cruel torturers. Will do anything their women tell them to do.

8 Nov. 1710

I hope you will pardon the liberty I take in imposing on your goodness for a subject about which I am going to speak to you.

My friend Bierling asked me, by a letter expressly for that purpose, if the Baron de Lahontan with his voyage and his dialogues is something imaginary and invented, like this Sadeur [the fictional protagonist of Gabriel who has been among the Australian savages and who reports to us their costumes and conversations, or if this is a real man who has been in America and who has spoken to a real savage named Adario. For one judges that an entire people living tranquilly among themselves without magistrates, without trials, without quarrels, is something as incredible as those hermaphrodite Australians. The discourse of Adoria has confirmed these people in their Pyrrhonism.

You will ask me, Mademoiselle, what relevance does this have for me, and shouldn’t I address M. de Lahontan himself. I will tell you why. One wants to know if Lahontan is a real and substantial man. As he was dangerously ill this summer, he could be dead (God forbid), the gout may have risen and killed him since, or he could have been saved through the application of the horns of some dear more savage than the savage animals which are respected in America.

One may perhaps judge that I have a secret reason and that the first serves only as a pretext. But say what you will, only be content with the subject of my letter. If monsieur le Baron of Lahontan is well, as I don’t doubt, he won’t be angry to have become a problem like Homer or more like Orpheus…”

- G.W.F. Leibniz

And so he sits there – where? – scratching on foolscape, the perpetual refugee. As new as the subject, as new as the citizen. Whose home moved out from under him. An island appeared, it trailed clouds, the gods disembarked, and they distributed holy objects.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

More on the myth of the myth of the noble savage


It is hard to cut through the scrim. While the Jesuits were trying to impress the Hurons with the latest discoveries in natural philosophy, in 1677, the police in Paris were arresting Magdelaine de la Grange and charging her, at that moment, with murder and forging a marriage certificate between herself and the lawyer she was living with. This was the beginning, it turned out, of the "Affair of Poisons", in which the highly civilized nobility of Louis XIV's court were found to be frequenters of fortune tellers, back ally witches, and implorers, upon the right occasion, of the devil. The affair was investigated by men who assembled in a room in which all the walls were shrouded with black cloth, and the testimonies were elicited by torture.

It is the latter culture that historians call the civilized one, as opposed to the savages of New France. Why? Historians are like shopkeepers in a Mafia dominated section of Queens – they are overly impressed with guns. Civilization equals a lotta guns. Savages on the one side, the urban society with books and guns on the other. In this divide, it is the soft Westerner who praises the lifestyle of the savages as having any advantage over the civilized. Thus, one puts down the myth that they were ecologically aware. The myth that they were gentle. This or that myth. The iconoclasm, however, never gets out of hand – there is not putting down of the myth that the civilized were civilized. Thus, contact testimony to the stature of the Indians (a very good indicator of well being), or the non-hierarchized religious organization of certain Indian nations, or the political and personal power females in certain Indian nations enjoyed is ignored. To emphasize these things is to see the savages through a “soft” focus. It is to lose track of civilization.

Of course, historians of the Americas often are astonishingly ill informed about the history of the European societies, and view European protagonists as, of course, agents who have experienced the city, the mechanical philosophy, the horse, uh, mathematics and all the rest of it. That the Copernican system would have astonished most of the inhabitants of Paris and certainly most of the inhabitants of Lahontan – a little region near the Pyrenees – is something quite beyond the myth of the noble savage argument.

James P. Ronda, in 1977, published a charming article entitled "We Are Well As We Are": An Indian Critique of Seventeenth-Century Christian Missions”, in which he quotes testimony that was sent back in the Jesuit Relations – a sort of newsletter of the missionaries in New France. When the Jesuits came among the Huron to announce the good news and generally accelerate the civilizing process, The Hurons listened with the utmost politeness – which had something to do with the guns, and something to do with wanting allies in the raids against the Iroquois. This paragraph is so lovely it makes me melt:

“Hurons, both converts and traditionalists, found the doctrines of sin and guilt confusing. "How . .. do we sin?" asked one man. "As for me, I do not recognize any sins."'2 When the missionaries attempted to explain how one could sin even in one's thoughts, they often encountered utter disbelief. "As for me, I do not know what it is to have bad thoughts," replied one old man. "Our usual thoughts are, 'that is where I shall go,' and 'Now that we are going to trade, I sometimes think that they would do me a great favor when I go down to Kebec, by giving me a fine large kettle for a robe that I have.' "13 Even among converts the missionaries met considerable resistance to the ideas of sin and guilt. When a recently converted Huron came to confess, the missionaries rejoiced: "He was about to accuse himself," they thought, "of having violated what the Father had taught." They were soon disappointed, however, for the convert came rather to accuse another Indian of stealing his cap. He had assumed that this "confession" would win him another cap from the Jesuit.”

That one old Huron man neatly sums up a whole line of thought in Beyond Good and Evil.

“Indians tended to view the conceptions of heaven and hell with even less regard. The Huron, Montagnais, and New England native Americans all Indians tended to view the conceptions of heaven and hell with even less regard. The Huron, Montagnais, and New England native Americans all anticipated an afterlife but assumed that it would be spent in morally neutral surroundings, not in a place of heavenly reward or hellish punishment. The Hurons spoke of a "village of souls" populated by the spirits of the dead. Life in those villages was believed to resemble life on earth with its daily round of eating, hunting, farming, and war-making. Missionary efforts to impress Indians with the delights of heaven met with disbelief and derision. Because the Jesuits described heaven in European material terms, the Hurons concluded that heaven was only for the French. When one Huron was asked why she refused to accept the offer of eternal life, she characteristically replied, "I have no acquaintances there, and the French who are there would not care to give me anything to eat.""15 The father of a recently deceased convert child urged the missionaries to dress her in French garments for burial so that she would be recognized as a European and permitted entrance into heaven.'6 Most native Americans rejected the European heaven, desiring to go where their ancestors were. The mission compounded this rejection by telling potential converts that heaven contained neither grain fields nor trading places, neither tobacco nor sexual activity-surely a dreary prospect. Some Indians resented the notion that one had to die in order to enjoy the blessings of conversion, while others observed that an everlasting life without marriage or labor was a highly undesirable fate.'7 Missionaries provoked an even stronger negative response when they preached about everlasting punishment in a fiery hell. The hell the Jesuits described must have profoundly affected their Indian listeners, for the Huron and Montagnais were no strangers to the horrors it was said to contain. The torture by fire of captured warriors was a customary part of Iroquoian warfare, and Huron and Montagnais men knew that such would be their fate if they fell into enemy hands. They themselves practiced torture rituals on their own captives, applying burning brands and glowing coals to the bodies of the condemned before execution. Men and women who had participated in such events must have responded emphatically to the idea of hell. But the evidence suggests that most responded in disbelief. Though the torments of hell were all too imaginable, they were rejected because they seemed to serve no useful purpose. In fact, the most common objection to the Christian hell was that it only lessened the delights of earthly life. "If thou wishest to speak to me of Hell, go out of my Cabin at once," exclaimed one Huron. "Such thoughts disturb my rest, and cause me uneasiness amid my pleasures." Hurons resented what seemed to them a Christian obsession with death and punishment. This resentment may have sprung from Huron anxiety about death and about the uneasy relationship between the living and the spirits of the dead.'8 Whether or not disturbed by this prospect, one Huron spoke for many when he said simply, "I am content to be damned.''19

Other native Americans went beyond rejecting hell as an unpleasant place to question the basic Christian assumptions about postmortem punishment. "We have no such apprehension as you have," said a Huron, "of a good and bad Mansion after this life, provided for the good and bad Souls; for we cannot tell whether every thing that appears faulty to Men, is so in the Eyes of God."20”

Given these responses, it is peculiar that Baron Lahontan’s dialogues with Adario, in actuality a Huron named Kondiaronk, have been almost unanimously judged by historians as gross fictions, attributing words to this Huron that could never have come out of his mouth. After all, the argument runs, many of those words are sharp criticisms of religion in the vein of Bayle himself – and the Indians obviously weren’t capable of such complex concepts. Or so say those who are anxious, very anxious, to use the “myth of the noble savage” to close down the discussion of the Encounter. If you run the myth of the myth of the savage to earth, you will find that it arose in a painfully familiar context in the early twentieth century. One of its most influential designers was a historian and literary critic named Gilbert Chinard. Chinard began writing in France before World War I, and settled in the U.S. after the war. He was prolific. And, from the beginning, he was carrying a torch for an essentially reactionary political philosophy. Chinard’s thesis was that Lahontan created the noble savage myth which was appropriated by Rousseau, and used to spread a diseased notion of egalitarianism of which the dire effects were seen in the Revolution. It is interesting that a thesis which, in 1913, was so obviously attuned to a certain political current in France. Chinard was basically a reactionary modernist, with all the identifying marks: the attack on Rousseau as the precursor of a dangerous romanticism; the nostalgia for a certain image of the ancien regime; the notion of classicism as clarity; the almost hysterical language about the French Revolution. From the Action Francais to T.S. Eliot, these were themes of the radical conservative program. Translated to the U.S., these themes really became pertinent after World War II, in the Cold War reaction to the 30s leftist culture. Partly the success of the myth of the savage was due to Chinard himself, who loomed largely in the study of colonial and revolutionary Americo-Franco relations between the wars. He published both in French and English, and was a brilliant scholar of the colonial/Revolutionary period, one of the few scholars with a grasp of the full trans-Atlantic scene in which the intellectual history of the Enlightenment unfolded. In this history, certain testimonies were given weight, and certain were tossed out. Lahontan, whose works – to give Chinard his due – were edited and republished by Chinard, was dismissed without, evidently, first hand reading. For instance, this is George R. Healy in an article from 1958 entitled, The French Jesuits and the Idea of the Noble Savage, in which one is astonished to read this: “The men most influential in popularizing the notion of savagery as a condition superior to contemporary civilization – Lahontan and Rousseau, for example – were surely more given to the manufacture of titillative paradox than to research among the hard sociological facts.” As if George R. Healy had ever met a 17th century Huron or spoken his language, or drank chocolate in an eighteenth century Parisian salon. If anybody had a comparative sense of ‘civilization’ vs. ‘savagery’ in 1707, it was surely Lahontan, who spent his young adult years in French Canada, learned a Algonquin tongue, and eventually escaped from duty in French Canada by bribing a vessel to take him to Portugal, from which he made his way, avoiding France, to the Netherlands – surely not in a tenured cloud, but probably paying carriage drivers and staying in flea infested inns where every night’s sleep was among the hard sociological facts.

Mais assez! Now that we have done a little work with a battering ram, let’s get down to Lahontan’s life.