A true ghost story: The Footnotes

As promised, the footnotes for A True Ghost Story.

1Unless this statement itself is not true, in which case, how can you know what is true and what is not true? And besides, it can’t really all be true because some of it is about ghosts.

2Who wants to be alone sitting in the dark?

3I use the term “non-White” along side the terms “Black” and “White” to signal that there is complexity here. There are three sources of complexity. One is linguistic, one is ethnic, and one is historical. First, the “ethnic” or “racial” issue: to the extent that these concepts are valid at all, which is very questionable, the indigenous non-European people of South Africa can be thought of as being divided broadly into two groups: Bantu-speaking “blacks” and non-Bantu speaking “Khoisan” (or some other term may be used here) and it is supposed to be true that these people look different from each other. That is not entirely true, but it is widely believed. Linguistically, South African formerly and to some extent today use the words “Black” for those Bantu-speaking people and “Colored” for some other people who are not Bantu-speaking. Who the “Colored” (or sometimes “Cape-Colored”) people are is tricky. In my view, these people mainly descend from Khoisan (foragers and cattle keepers who were not Bantu-speaking) and who probably also intermarried with Bantu people and also Whites and other immigrants (as everyone has over the last half millennium of historical time). But in the past, since “San” (the “forager” sub-version, if you will, of “Khoisan”) were considered sub-human, “Cape Colored” people have found it convenient and even necessary to eschew that lable just to stay, in some cases, alive. The historical complexity arises from the existence and history of the Griqua (Griqua) people. The Griqua is an ethnicity that seems to have once spoken a creole language derived from Bantu and Khoisan origins, who are genetically Khoisan, Bantu and Afrikaner (European Dutch), and who formed a fairly densely populated state in the region of Kimberly (mainly to the West) at the time of the European intrusion into the area. Griqua is a full blown ‘culture’ in the usual sense but one that was constructed for economic and political reasons during the late 18th and early 19th century. Many of the people in Kimberly today may identify as Griqua, and that may have been the case during the Siege.

4“Gariep” is the new name, based on an earlier used name, of the Orange River.

5I hate this expression, not because it is not potentially a smooth, almost sardonic put-off (which is useful) but because I’ve seen it almost always in a context where the writer is excusing his or her crappy thought process or inexcusable behavior by saying that this is his or her behavior. The Hobbsian fallacy is always annoying to me. That’s how I roll.

6As you know, the names of ethnic or cultural groups can be tricky. Up in Botswana, I’m told, the word “San” when applied to the foragers of that region (some of whom may be known to you as the Ju/’hoansi) is an insult. It means “wild primitive” or “wild animal” or something like that. The Ju/’hoansi prefer the term “Bushmen.” In South Africa, the term “Bushmen” is considered pejorative, and the word “San” is preferred. There are other terms and other complexities. One might think it is silly to worry about this, but it is not. The complexity of “San/Bushman/Khoisan/Khoi/Ju/’hoansi/Etc” culture and culture history rivals that of, say, Europe. Calling the South African foraging peoples “Ju/’hoansi” would be roughly the same as calling the French “Bulgarians” …. not for any particular reason, it would simply be that wrong linguistically, geographically, and culturally. Unfortunately, this discussion is beyond the scope of this footnote.


Footnotes are here

Comments

  1. #1 Dean
    November 1, 2009

    Greg, please help remedy my inadequate philosophical education. Could you explain your allusion in footnote 5 to the “Hobbesian fallacy”? (In some quarters it’s embarrassing to confess one’s ignorance, but hey, that’s how I roll.)

  2. #2 Greg Laden
    November 2, 2009

    Well, the fallacy of Hobbs is different things to different people, I’ve found, but it relates here to the idea that what is ought to be. This worlds well in a world created by god more or less as it is. If you have slavery, then god must have made slavery, so it ought to be. “That’s how I roll” is not an explanation for why something is, other than “it is therefore it ought to be”

    Almost as annoying is the expression, which I’m afraid a lot of people I know have taken to usin these days, “It is what it is.”