America is Revolting! Here, we refer only to the events of the later half of the 18th century, Six years after Bach died, Mozart launched the whole baby genius thing. and 16 years after that Beethoven was born. But other things were happening as well. Kant, Hegel and Fichte were all born around this time, too, although only Kant was doing much damage before the 19th century. The finding of the longitude got productized, making sea travel and trade much safer, more predictable and profitable.
The Enlightenment was grinding toward its ultimate expression, the Reign or Terror. Enlightened despots – roll that around in your brain for a bit – all over Europe were trying out all these cool ‘scientific’ ideas, using their own people as lab rats, something their poor unenlightened predecessors never dreamed of. This project of enlightened, powerful people experimenting on us chickens (to maximize egg and meat production) goes on to this day, cheer-lead by the bastard spawn of the unholy union of Darwin and Hegel. The ideas of the Age of Reason succeeded, finally, in killing rationality entirely.
Somehow, representative democracy arose out of all this. Like the 1960s, only way more and way more truly, one can say: well, at least the music was good. How something as good and sublime as the American Constitution could arise from these roots is still a mystery to me. This is one point where history seemed truly balanced on a knife edge – it clearly could have turned out much differently – and much worse.
So, here’s the problem: in my original outline for a 10-week course of once a week one hour seminars on American History for teenagers, Week 4 was to be devoted to the Revolution up to the Constitution. For the first 3 weeks, my handouts were about 15 pages, mostly maps and timelines, just to give the kids a feel what was happening when and where.
Week 4? I’m up to 32 pages, and that ain’t close to done. I’m guessing 40 – 50 pages of materials, which are just a high-level overview. For comparison, last week’s class ran 10 minutes long, and the handouts were 14 pages.
The problem is I’m leaving work early to do this, which is why I settled on once a week for 10 weeks – that will fly under radar. If it gets any more frequent or longer, I fear it won’t. So, what to tell and what to cut? Painful, and it’s not going to get any better going forward.