Serve and Return

That Men, Women and Children indistinctlie were subject to it, and Children where parents were not: some times people cam to age who had it not when young, nor could any tell by what means produced. It is a trouble to most of them subject to it, and they would be rid of it at any rate, if they could; The sight is of noe long duration, only continueing so long as they can keep their eyes steady without twinkling. The hardy therefore fix their look, that they may see the longer, But the timorous see only glances always twinkling at the first sight of the object.


A Succint Account of My Lord Talbots relationes in a letter to the Honorable Robert Boyle


Serve and return interactions shape brain architecture. When an infant or young child babbles, gestures, or cries, and an adult responds appropriately with eye contact, words, or a hug, neural connections are built and strengthened in the child’s brain that support the development of communication and social skills.


Serve and Return, Center on the Developing Child, Harvard University.


Tracing the description of someone watching the great eclipse within a matter of days and few hours of reading I find myself confronting significant cultural complextity.

With that thought I can return to the late 17th century and examine a visual example of this processes.

United States Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands

Formed by the War department in 1865 and charged with administering the relief effort and social reconstruction in the aftermath of the civil war.

The bureau was led by General Howard. It was also a significant administrative enterprise generating a massive archive.

For many Black Americans this is the historical horizon of American history. Where family members first appear in administrative records.

Without an archive we have no history. History is not simply re-written in the aftermath of the civil war, it becomes written for the first time.

It can be nothing other than altered from this point.

It allows people to have a history and the start of that history retrospectively forms its horizon.

Chasing the eclipse leads to a significant slice of American social history, its origin and foundation.


The Freedmen’s Bureau,  By A.R. Waud, Harper’s Weekly, July 1868, wiki



The Crusher

Well its going to be a treat. A trick or a treat. Or a treatment, and you know what a treatment is? Massage. I am going to massage the man with these hands. Know what these hands can do? These hands can crush coconuts! These hands can straighten out a horseshoe!

Know what this arm can do? Huh?….. Longest arm in the world and that arm is going to come out, come down on Ivan Putski’s so hard its going to pop his head like a pebble or break every bone in his body. You know what violence is? Violence is American Professional Wrestling. And I am going to introduce this man to wrestling !

I am going to introduce this man to American style wrestling. He’s from Poland right?… He doesn’t know what real violence is, he does not know what real broken bones are and pulled ligaments and ripped tendons and popped cartilages. I am going to introduce the man to violence. To pain. I am going to teach the man how to say uncle. Understand what I am talking about?……… I am going to bury my fist; do you know what a fist sandwich is? … Salt and pepper, tomatoes, lettuce, ketchup. This sandwich, I am going to bust his teeth out and bloody his nose. It’s going to be violence.

I am coming!


American Wrestler, Billy Graham describing his forthcoming fight with Ivan Putski.


Graham was an awesome showman and speaker using a language well suited to the wrestling ring. Highly controled and co-ordinated speech, he moves with words the way he moves in the ring.


Identity Politics


Ethno-nationalism – it’s losers. It’s a fringe element. I think the media plays it up too much, and we gotta help crush it, you know, uh, help crush it more………. These guys are a collection of clowns……….. The longer they talk about identity politics, I got ’em. I want them to talk about racism every day. If the left is focused on race and identity, and we go with economic nationalism, we can crush the Democrats.”

Steve Bannon

“The lady Doth protest to much methinks”


In the modern era, individuals can deny the existence of racism on nonracial grounds while still retaining their nonprejudiced self-image (Dovidio, 2001; Dovidio & Gaertner, 2000).

Contemporary, subtle racism is problematic because it defies the widely shared understanding of racism as a blatant, easily recognizable behavior (Essed, 1991). The attributionally ambiguous nature of subtle racism has made a variety of nonracial explanations for instances of subtle racism plausible (Pierce, 1974; Swim, Hyers, Cohen, Fitzgerald, & Bylsma, 2003), because almost all instances of contemporary racism fall below the thresholds of clear intentionality and victim harm typically associated with the more widely recognized forms of blatant racism (Swim, Scott, Sechrist, Campbell, & Stangor, 2003).

The default assumption for individuals higher in prejudice is that racism is an unlikely situational explanation (1). The Civil Rights Movement successfully advocated for a color-blind society where blatant racism is socially unacceptable. Nevertheless, more than 40 years later, individuals continue to demonstrate both explicit and implicit racism (Dovidio & Gaertner, 2004). Prejudiced individuals will advocate egalitarian racial attitudes to maintain a nonprejudiced self-image (Dovidio, 2001) and to avoid appearing prejudiced to others (Plant & Devine, 1998).

One of the primary components of contemporary racial prejudice is color-blindness, or the idea that race is no longer a significant determinant of personal outcomes (Bonilla-Silva, 2006). In contrast to earlier conceptualizations of prejudice that explicitly acknowledge race as an important determinant of social relations, a color-blind racial ideology asserts that because race should not affect personal outcomes, race does not affect personal outcomes. The expression of a color-blind racial ideology insulates individuals from the possibility that their own attitudes or behavior might be racially discriminatory. Consequently, racially discriminatory behavior can continue unchecked. Indeed, this view has been linked to both implicit and explicit racial prejudices (Neville, Lilly, Duran, Lee, & Browne, 2000; Richeson & Nussbaum, 2004). Recognizing the existence of racism contradicts the worldview of prejudiced individuals that racism is no longer a significant factor in social life.

Social dominance theory (Sidanius & Pratto, 1999) suggests that individuals higher in social dominance orientation (SDO) should also be motivated to deny the existence of racism. Prior research has found a strong link between high levels of SDO and racial prejudice (Pratto, Sidanius, Stallworth, & Malle, 1994). Individuals high in SDO are more likely to endorse consensually shared, socially constructed myths that legitimize the existing social order (Sidanius, Levin, & Pratto, 1996). One of the most important legitimizing myths is the idea of a meritocracy, where individual outcomes are solely the result of personal ability and effort. The existence of racism directly undermines the validity of a meritocratic worldview.


L.D. Reid & K.E. Birchard, The People Doth Protest Too Much: Explaining Away Subtle Racisim, Journal of Language and Social Psychology, August 2010


(1) The article is building on a core of empirical data and seeking to test out a wider theory,  (S.D.T) more here






I can see more clearly what attracted me to Howard’s description of the eclipse. It’s the idea of dreams and visions that seemed to be an underlying theme of the description.

I can now expand that slightly further although my knowlege here extends to a loose reading of 45 pages of text.

I don’t know what General Howard’s sources are yet, but can come to the tentative conclusion that he seems to have an understanding and a perspective that mind has a subconscious.

Late 19th century world which shares a historical relationship with a different late 17th century one I have more familiarity with.

The history of mind has altered and is being re-written to accord with late 19th century perspectives on the subject.