By Guy Somerset
Approximately one month out from perhaps the most fraudulent funeral in modern times it remains astounding how so many otherwise sensible people could lie so unabashedly about an individual so evil.
For make no mistake, George Herbert Walker Bush was one of the more despicable entities of the Twentieth Century. From the early days of his involvement with the CIA and its entanglement in the assassination of John Kennedy (Director Hoover was absolutely convinced Bush played a major role)
...to the "coincidence" Bush's brother Neil was to have a festive dinner with would-be Reagan assassin John Hinckley's very own brother Scott the night after the act (true story - look it up)
...to the false promises toward Russia post-Cold War which saw NATO encroach the nation at the same time American neo-corporatist policies starved many Slavic citizens
...to the dropping of Depleted Uranium bombs on Iraq in order to punish its great-grandchildren with genetic defects in a war Bush's Ambassador in Iraq tacitly greenlit when then-ally Saddam Hussein asked whether he had permission to invade Kuwait
...to the abomination of NAFTA which bankrupted untold blue-collar Americans and their children in addition to its concurrent "de-policing" of the border with Mexico and "benign neglect" of tens of millions of Illegal Invaders who went on the rape, rob and murder countless United States citizens
...to whatever other as-yet undiscovered Crimes Against Humanity that Bush doubtless committed
...make no mistake, the man laid in state at the nation's Capital was most decidedly a monster.
All of which made it at first amusing and then baffling and finally overwhelmingly sad to watch the way good-hearted but hopelessly naïve Americans were deceived into thinking they had lost a genuine hero.
So many lies were told in the National Cathedral last month the only surprising thing was a bolt of lightning was not sent down to incinerate all involved.
Of course, the truth of the matter is all professional eulogies are little more than Public Relations for the legacy of the deceased. It is the last opportunity to try and rewrite the history books in a more favorable light for those whose characters are most desperately in need of disinfecting.
Even so, it did cause more contemplative persons to reflect on all the pretentious mourning and what it meant in the scheme of men of actual significance.
Indeed, as is apparent from even a cursory review, the longest lasting echoes throughout humanity are most often born of silent footfalls...
Nikola Tesla came into the world he would totally reshape as a Serb in 1856. Among his inventions and discoveries were: the Tesla Coil, three phase electric power transmission, modern radio (near universally misattributed to Guglielmo Marconi), and the rotating magnetic field which was basis of the Alternating Current form of electricity still in use today. Importantly, this list is far from exhaustive...Tesla had approximately 300 different patents during his life.
Yet the most telling anecdote about the man occurred after coming to America and signing on with Westinghouse to develop and install AC. In his contract Tesla was to receive $2.50 royalty for every horsepower generated.
Unfortunately, during Tesla's years of employment there was a hotly contested battle in electrification methods between Thomas Edison and his inferior Direct Current with that of Alternating Current. When faced with imminent bankruptcy Westinghouse implored Tesla to suspend or lower royalty payments which by then had generated millions in the dollars of today. Tesla thereupon tore up the agreement and stated words to the effect, "It is more important that my inventions live than that I be wealthy."
His words were prophetic as the inventor eventually died penniless. Of course, to one as Nikola Tesla this was unimportant. He even accepted defeat when enemies sabotaged his project at Wardenclyffe which many believe would have provided wireless electricity. (When Westinghouse saw the prototype and inquired where he could attach the meters to get paid, Tesla told him there would be no meters.)
Though in his time considered to be one of the most eligible bachelors in New York City (even catching the interest of actress Sarah Bernhardt), Tesla eventually died unaccompanied in the small room of a lonely hotel.
Ignaz Semmelweis was born in 1818 Hungary of a family which had been Roman Catholic for hundreds of years (though is often falsely claimed to have been Jewish). While employed as an assistant of obstetrics at Allgemeine Krankenhaus teaching hospital in Vienna the physician noted a significantly increased rate of post-childbirth mortality among deliveries made by other doctors or students as opposed to those carried out by midwives or their trainees. Through diligent observation Semmelweis determined the cause to be the germs carried within the hospital from the teaching labs and cadavers.
His solution to the problem was to institute mandatory handwashing regimes within the facilities. During controlled trials his restrictions proved remarkably effective and when medical instruments themselves were also required to be washed the death rate fell further. Overall, a stunning success.
Except, several contemporaries of Semmelweis took offense at the notion they had somehow caused harm to their patients. Even in spite of undeniable proof of the efficacy of his methods, numerous "men of science" rejected the findings. While a multitude of unnecessary deaths occurred from the refusal to accept results had been correct, these tormentors denied renewal of his assistant professorship.
When faced with obdurate ignorance the brilliant doctor became even more dedicated to furthering the research, often in counterproductive ways. Eventually his friends and family began to drift away from the man now known as "the savior of mothers."
In time, Semmelweis was committed to a sanitarium both for his efforts at combating disease and his revulsion to the pedantic stupidity which surrounded him. Yet even in such an abysmal place his plagues were only ended when his "caretakers" locked him in a cage and subsequently beat him to death.
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was born January 27, 1756, in Austria and began composing by the age of six. Throughout his life the musician worked in various locales of Central Europe for both palaces as well as in private practice. Eventually Mozart found his greatest fame in Vienna where he was attached to the court of Joseph II, then Holy Roman Emperor.
While today regarded as perhaps the greatest of all composers, in his time Mozart was considered rambunctious and also temperamental though of obvious talent. Some of his most popular works are the Overture for The Marriage of Figaro, his Requiemas well as The Magic Flute.
Mozart met eternity on the morning of December 5, 1791, just before his thirty-sixth birthday.
Despite having been a court composer, debts incurred by the musician left his wife Constanze without means for a private funeral. Mozart was buried in the general location of St. Marx Cemetery of Vienna in a Third Class mass grave whose precise locationremains unknown to this day.
Vincent Van Gogh was born in 1853 and painted prolifically during the succeeding thirty years, though without much material gain. In spite of this fact probably half the college dormitories across the world have posters hanging of his masterpiece Starry Night.
Details of his death are few and contradictory. Though for many years it was believed Vincent was the victim of suicide recent investigations have posited a plausible theory (with contemporary circumstantial evidence) that he died of a gunshot accident involving local youths.
Either way, the fact remains the artist sold but a single painting during his entire life. His reputation as it exists today was then confined to the scant appreciation of fellow practitioners and assorted dealers.
The funeral of Van Gogh was attended by few mourners, mostly notably his beloved brother Theo who himself passed away but six months later.
Cleisthenes is not a household name outside of Greece these days though his invention is either enjoyed or envied by nearly every race on earth. Born approximately 570 BC into an aristocratic family the Athenian statesmen had a prosperous life throughout the next fifty years as a high administrative official.
Due to a change in the ruling elite during his time, the Alcmaeonid clan of which Cleisthenes was a part went into exile. When he returned in around 508 BC a fierce rivalry commenced for power. When appearing near the point of defeat Cleisthenes advanced a radical reorganization of society. Henceforth, its organization would no longer be along the four traditional tribal lines but along regions. The citizen body (demos) would belong to over one hundred local units (demes). Any man who registered with his deme automatically became a citizen. He then could participate in the council, or boule, where every member had an equal right to speak.
It was the first time ordinary citizens could access state institutions. While his predecessor Solon had made all men equal before the law, Cleisthenes had invented democracy.
There is nothing to indicate what eventually happened to the statesman. Following his great gift for Athenian society, the man whose creation is most associated with its remembrance vanishes from time.
All that is known about his passing is his inheritance to posterity is the form of government many consider to be the most just and certainly longest lasting.
Akhenaton was born around 1380 BC and ruled for seventeen years during the 18th Dynasty of Egypt.
His wife may have been his half-sister Nefertiti whose bust resides in the Berlin Museum, and among whose children was the famous Tutankhamun. Akhenaton himself may have been shunned by his family in youth as researchers find no evidence of him in family portraits or record of him at public events.
Yet despite such early rejections Akhenaton is by far the most significant Egyptian and among the most important of all figures in history. For it was he who in all of humanity was the first to proclaim a singular deity. According to the Pharaoh, "There is only one god, my father. I can approach him by day, by night."
Heretofore had been a panoply of gods not only in Egypt but throughout the world. For the first time in the annals of experience a man originated the notion that god was a singular concept. It was as revolutionary as anything ever before envisioned.
According to his conception Aten was represented as a sun disc. At the order of the Pharaoh all other icons were then removed from daily life and the court itself was moved from Thebes to Amarna.
Unfortunately, during this juncture Egypt met a steep decline. Military defenses were reduced and foreign campaigns abandoned. As a result, some territories were taken from the nation by force. Likely as a consequence of the relocation of the royal family to a distant new city they were largely unaware of the popular discontent the new religion and these reforms caused.
Furthermore, the new faith was difficult for subjects to comprehend. The hundreds of former gods were tangible while Aten was mere light or a ray of light. An additional concern for citizens was neglect of the numerous rites which the old gods demanded that were not being performed. An unintended economic crisis concerned the subjects whose livelihoods depended on creating or maintaining the prior icons.
Akhenaton passed in approximately 1336 BC and while his tomb has been located his body has never been discovered.
The death of Akhenaton is similar to Cleisthenes in that there are no definitive records extant. Neither the year nor the manner are found in history. Current orthodoxy suspects the Pharaoh was murdered, given the rapidity with which the religion of his own one god was replaced with quick reversion to the panoply of Egyptian deities. Likewise, a young son ascended the throne then followed by Tutankhamen at only eight years old with a rapid return of the former priests and a move of the court to Memphis. The name Akhenaton was erased, his temples were dismantled and his city left in ruins.
As compared to the makers of magnificent inventions, glorious artworks and the foundations of modern society - who all passed either alone, neglected or derided - there is the spectacle of George Herbert Walker Bush, a vile and odious man who has finally slinked off toward his loathsome dominion. That he was allowed to flourish and thrive and have a circus maximus of mourning says more of us than it does of him.
At any rate, the mendacities and fabrications concerning Bush are but fleeting things. No one of substance mourns. No person of consequence will long remember. No more breath need be spent on him.
For truly great men are in need of no fine words to praise them. Their eulogy is your love of their works and their legacy is the way in which you live your lives.
Guy Somerset writes from somewhere in America.