Thursday, February 4, 2010

Musing of Conquest

For the past three days I have been glued to Michael Wood documentaries about the ancient world on Netflix. Ever since high school, stories about ancient civilizations have captivated me, so much so that when I started college I nearly chose archeology as my major.

The Michael Wood episode I found most interesting was about the Conquistadors, and how they conquered the New World in an unprecedented short amount of time. Never in history have such large and vibrant civilizations, such as the Aztec, Inca, and Mayan, been completely turned upside down and overrun in such a short amount of time, by such a small number.

I find the story of the Conquistadors, in particular the ones lead by Hernán Cortés, to be the most astonishing. These were men who volunteered to go to the New World. They were acting on their own accord, investing their own money. They weren’t bound to Spain, or Religion, they were in it for the gold, although they did use religion to their advantage.

I envy the Conquistadors for two reasons. The first reason is their guts. These were men who were able to cast all doubt aside and lend themselves to the whims of the universe. I find myself always second-guessing my decisions, and I need to trust my instincts more. The second reason I envy the Conquistadors is because they lived in a time when the world was still a mystery. Their journey to the new world was the equivalent of flying to the Moon, and then mounting a military campaign when you got there.

Today there are no longer blank spots on the map, and with the Internet, and modern conveniences people seem to be exploring more internally than externally. I suppose the only blank spot on the map now is the potential of the human mind. But that’s not good enough for me.

The Conquistadors were able to accomplish great things, great and terrible things, and they were willing to risk it all for glory. (all the while wearing funny pants and helmet)

From now on I am going to try and keep an adventurous spirit, and let my art dictate where I should go.

Now I should say I am looking at this entirely from a European standpoint, I’m sure the Aztecs saw things differently.

What a strange whirlwind of thought this turned out to be.

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