(Originally aired: 02-01-99)

 

  

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     Cablecast and web streaming of program in serieS

         "Conversations with Harold Hudson Channer"

                      Upcoming Cable Television/Web Show: 

               For details of airing see bottom of page

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                Guest For  MONDAY OCTOBER 12, 2009

                                    (Originally aired: 10-10-94)

                                 ROBERT VISCUSI Ph.D

            

                                      

               Professor of English  Brooklyn College

                                     President:

        Italian American Writers Association - IAWA     

                                Author of Poem:

                                 

            "An Oration upon the Most Recent Death of

                           Christopher Columbus"

                       

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  The program can be viewed in its entirety by clicking the you tube link below:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UgbtHr8vMS0 - ROBERT VISCUSI Ph.D

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More about: ROBERT  VISCUSI Ph.D

 

Robert Viscusi, the author of "The Three Rules of IAWA," has published the novel Astoria (Guernica Editions, American Book Award 1996) and the performance poem An Oration upon the Most Recent Death of Christopher Columbus (VIA Folios). He has published numerous essays in books and journals on Italian American literature and culture, among them "Breaking the Silence: Strategic Imperatives for Italian American Culture," which appeared in the first number of VIA: Voices in Italian Americana and became a manifesto for IAWA. Viscusi has been a fellow of the National Endowment for the Humanities and of the John D. Calandra Italian American Institute. He is Claire and Leonard Tow Professor of English and executive officer of the Ethyle R. Wolfe Institute for the Humanities at Brooklyn College, as well as president of the Italian American Writers Association.

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Robert Viscusi
Robert Viscusi is the author of the novel Astoria, which won an American Book Award in 1996, and of the long poem An Oration upon the Most Recent Death of Christopher Columbus, which he has performed cities across the United States and in Italy. His poems and essays have appeared in many journals, from Yale Italian Studies to Barrow Street. He is professor of English and executive officer of The Wolfe Institute for the Humanities at Brooklyn College.

 

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Synopsis

Poetry. Once again available from SPD. "will the italians go back to italy/ some have left already for other destinies/ eternal nomads who live in the wastes of australia/ or teaching chemistry in china/ many will say however/ more comfortable as indians/ than ever they were as theoretical objects..." Viscusi's Oration was written in response to protests against the 1992 celebration of Columbus Day, and eloquently takes into account many of the complexities and contradictions of the figure of Columbus. Kathlyn Nocerino says, "In Bob Viscusi's sumptuous, surreal, yet oddly persuasive design, Columbus continues to accumulate mileage after death... Indian and conqueror change places until America; s identity becomes the last and strangest of riddles." Allen Ginsberg writes, "Bob Viscusi's Columbus rhapsody is vivid vernacular voluble and full of nervous verve." Saddlestapled chapbook.

 

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Publications by Robert Vuscusi Ph.D

Max Beerbohm, or the Dandy Dante: Rereading With Mirrors
by Robert Viscusi

 
2. Astoria
by Robert Viscusi

 
3.

An Oration upon the Most Recent Death of Christopher Columbus October 13-14, 1992
by Robert Viscusi

 
4. Buried Caesars, And Other Secrets of Italian American Writing
by Robert Viscusi

 
5. Il Passato Perpetuo (Italian)
by Ernesto Bazan, Jerre Gerlando Mangione, Jerre Mangione, Robert Viscusi

 
6. A New Geography of Time
by Robert Viscusi

 
7. Buried Caesars, And Other Secrets Of Italian American Writing
by Robert Viscusi
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I include some consideration of Christopher Columbus of my own which come up in the program below:

                                   Harold Channer

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         Some  Geographical Considerations of Christopher Columbus

October 12, 2009 - 517 Years after his Monumental Voyage � H.H.C.

 

                                                  

“I should not proceed by land to the East, as is customary, but by a Westerly route, in which direction we have hitherto no certain evidence that any one has gone.”

                                                        (Christopher Columbus)

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Viking and possible Phoenician (and other suggested peoples of yore) not withstanding – the event of the night and early morning of October 11 – 12 , 1492 was perhaps the most auspicious ever in terms of uniting - in an on going pattern  - the Easternmost and Westernmost movement of Homo Sapiens from the original home of us all - Africa - some 200,000 years ago.  

Using the current Prime Meridian as a guide the intrepreate inhabitants (Lucyan / Tiano of the Bahamian Island of San Salvador) had migrated some 80% of the way around the world. Their cousins of East Brazil had come 90% ! The Westward expansion had been limited to merely 5%!

 

On the evening of 3 August 1492, Columbus departed from Palos de la Frontera with three ships; one larger carrack, Santa María, nicknamed Gallega (the Galician), and two smaller caravels, Pinta (the Painted) and Santa Clara, nicknamed Niña after her owner Juan Niño of Moguer.[17] They were property of Juan de la Cosa and the Pinzón brothers (Martín Alonso and Vicente Yáñez), but the monarchs forced the Palos inhabitants to contribute to the expedition. Columbus first sailed to the Canary Islands, which were owned by Castile, where he restocked the provisions and made repairs. On 6 September he departed San Sebastián de la Gomera for what turned out to be a five-week voyage across the ocean.

Land was sighted at 2 a.m. on 12 October 1492, by a sailor named Rodrigo de Triana (also known as Juan Rodríguez Bermejo) aboard Pinta.[18] Columbus called the island (in what is now The Bahamas) San Salvador; the natives called it Guanahani.

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That is the take away headline and much has been written about other aspects of the event.  One which seems not to have been dealt with or ever made note of was the possible implications to the modern world of the curious even mysterious circumstances by which initial “encounter” of the two Worlds apparently occurred.  I want to call that to your attention and see what you might make of it all. Please read on and thanks for doing so. H.H.C.  

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At two hours before midnight on October 11, Columbus saw a dim light "like a little wax candle, rising and falling." He mentioned this to at least two others aboard the Santa Maria, Pero Guiterrez and Rodrigo Sanchez de Segovia. Guiterrez also saw the light, but Sanchez did not. The light was seen once or twice more, but then was not seen again. According to later testimony in a lawsuit, the light was also seen aboard the Pinta at about the same time. The actual landfall island was seen four hours later (at 2 a.m. on the 12th) at a distance of 2 leagues.

In 1959, Ruth Wolper (accompanied by the Noted Columbus Scholar Paolo Emilio Taviani) organized an experiment in which she set a giant bonfire at High Cay (an islet off the coast of Watlings) and sailed east from the island until the bonfire's light was no longer visible. The last glimmer was lost at a distance of 29 nautical miles.

The 29 mile designation for the Meeting of East and West (within a somewhat mysterious context which seems befitting of such a Historic event) - has of course been disputed – along with much of the mountains of research which has been done about the monumental meeting - but seems to be well accepted by most scholars including Admiral Samuel Elliot Morrison. 

I have investigated the matter as a Geographer utilizing the incredible resources of the Map Collection of the New York Public Library and carefully measured on very large scale topographic maps what line of longitude Columbus would have been (29 miles East of San Salvador) when he "Saw the Light”.   After much carful measurement agreed to by myself and the research Map Librarian who was assisting me – it turned out to be 73 Degrees 58 Minutes and 05 Seconds of West longitude.

(See rough approximation – backed up by careful calculations with very large scale topographic maps and the Coast and Geodetic Survey below)  

San Salvador is about the same size as Manhattan Island and as we will see there are perhaps important other connections between the two.

With this in hand we then investigated where that line of Longitude goes North and South and were stunned by the coincidence that it was the exact longitude for - among other places -  the exact Coast and Geodetic Survey designation for the World Headquarters for the United Nations! There it is on the Map below – seems for go right between the Security Council and the General Assembly!

To make the point - below is a small scale map showing the relationship between the location (the best research shows) where in the World Christopher Columbus was at 10:00 PM on October 11, 1492 and the World Headquarters of the United Nations.  Of course these are rough map representation (details) but you could check it all out – as we did. 

It would all hold up.

So what! - many might say. A coincidence which has no consequence to the real world of October 2009. Maybe so and maybe not.  Unlike Latitude which makes good geophysical sense – equidistant between the two poles of an Oblate Spheroid Shaped Earth.  But Longitude is a different matter.  It could be anywhere.  Arguments are made that the Greenwich Prime Meridian is a testament to John Harrison  (who invented the chronometer as a pathway to the accurate measurement of Longitude etc.) and others of British genius. Greenwich was adopted as the World prime meridian in 1884 by The International Meridian Conference by the representatives of 21 countries many of who where artisto (craitic) holdovers from the Ancien Regime of the good ole days of the Feudal past. Also it might be noted Britain had many a Gatling Gun, cannon and mighty war ships possessed of great fire power. Three cheers for Crackpot Realpolitik.   And in terms of the present it certainly seems convenient to continue thus - reifying yet another outdated institutional arrangement along with all the others.

There are now 192 (and growing) Nation States in the World. There is serious debate about the structure of the United Nations itself and demands for the democratization of the Institution – empowering the General Assembly and reforming the Security Council with its the five member permanent representatives and their intimidating (Aristo) veto power.  The outdated political and particularly visionless economic assumptions of the past are being fundamentally challenged by a rising tide of demands for new real democratic vision of real political AND Economic Power for the vast undeserved population of the World – a new fundamental order of things. There is a dangerously growing deep felt and wide spread resentment against an international system that can be seen to serve only the interests of a relatively small upper class few and continues to ignore  the plight of the overwhelming majorly of the World’s growing poorer population.  Even the current economic system, inherited from a History of fundamental Injustice has been confronted with calamity born of it’s own unjust inherent contradictions,  seems incapable of reforming itself and it is the poorer classes who continue to suffer ever more inordinately because of lack of the “leaderships” vision.  Major change – demands for challenging the interrelated and outdated assumptions will not longer hold off the storm – is very much in the air – Revolution in the face of the Visionless present reality is in the air.   Resentment of the inadequacies of the present system is very much in place - particularly as projected into the future – and grows apace - everywhere.  Established institutions seem unable to provide anything like what the future requires – at either a theoretical or practical level of consideration for all the people and the ecology even as the defenders of the Good Ole ways and assumptions continue to seemingly hold sway from their gated communities - their Castle keeps - just as always they have – again with no apparent vision worthy of what the future requires.  Perhaps it would be appropriate that the people of the World add to the suggestions and demands for fundamental change that we change the Prime Meridian – along with all the other major changes required!?!

After all we will be establishing a “systems” change by which humanity will be orienting itself – henceforth – till the very end of time. Not a small matter and fits right into the vast array of Qualitative CHANGE the World requires if we are not only to prosper – one and all – but very likely survive in a world now possessed of Species Lethal weapons systems  which make MAJOR SYSTEMS INTERRELATED FUNDEMENTAL QUALITIVE ACROSS THE BOARDS CHANGE - IMPERATIVE - if we are to awaken from the unjust nightmare of History WHICH SEEMS – IF FUNDEMENTALLY UNCHALLENGED - DESTINED TO CONTINUE FOREVER UNTIL DEATH WE ALL DO PART.

A change in the Prime Meridian could lend support to A REFORMED AND FORWARD LOOKING UNITED NATIONS ASTRIDE IT  AS ONE OF MANY – MULTITUDES - OF MOVES IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION.  

Just a thought and wish we take the measure of things anew as we think ahead on this 517th Anniversary of the first on going connecting of all Homo Sapiens of the World – for good and ill - ushered in by Christopher Columbus.  He changed the World of his time.  We Must Change in a much more fundamental way – the Whole Wide World of our time – which is now imperative.

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                                        Monday October 12,  2009            

                                   (10:30 - 11:30 AM  / (NYC Time)

                 Channel 34 of the Time/Warner & Channel 83 of the RCN 
                       Cable Television Systems in Manhattan, New York.

The Program can now be viewed on the internet at time of cable casting at

                                              www.mnn.org

                  NOTE: You must adjust viewing to reflect NYC time

                                          & click on channel 34 at site

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                                    241 West 36th StreetNew York,N.Y. 10018 Phone: 212-695-6351 E-Mail: HHC@NYC.RR.COM

 

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