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BYE BYE COLUMBUS, produced on BBC for the
in 1992, shows that it's not necessary to be greedy,
inhuman, unscrupulous, alternately pushy, cringing,
bullying as the occasion warrants, but always and
everywhere a pathological self-persuaded liar to be
remembered by history as a great explorer---but it
Doesn't necessarily argue that mental glaucoma, sexual
tensions like razor wire dripping poison, and an
life as bright and elevated as the craters on the dark
of the moon are characteristic of monarchical marriage,
his Ferdinand and Isabella, like every royal coupling
his oeuvre, offers no evidence to counter this thesis,
plenty in its support. Torquemada has a brief, nasty
a bit by-the-numbers compared to the all-out force of
Inquisition sequence in THE BEWITCHED.
What most intrigued me were the revelations of
greatness dredged up out of their burial grounds in
historical footnotes, such as the seaman Martin Pinzon
whose navigator's skill made Columbus' voyage possible.
Columbus blamed Pinzon for the loss of the Santa Maria,
it was only thanks to Martin that his hopelessly inept
captain didn't wreck the Nina and Pinta too.
(Of course with a name like that he'd have to be an
heroic individual, and very likely much undervalued as
Or the fishermen who discovered America---insofar
was lost, there being human inhabitants---long before
Columbus, and never thought to exploit it as a source
slaves and gold: men who fished the grand banks of
Newfoundland for months at a time, listening to the
of dead seals barking across the waters. No glory in
certainly no special citations in the history books:
a day's work.