1859 As A Philosophical Abstraction, Or Maybe Not.

A Tale of Two Cities (1859) is a novel by Charles Dickens.


“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to heaven, we were all going direct the other way – in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.”

The man wrote in an era when much of what God had beseeched was still in a “to be determined” process. His A Tale Of Two Cities was to be ultimately dubbed a masterpiece — in my humble opinion, not the least bit an overstatement. The two cities were London and Paris. They were, at the time, a mixture of the extreme haves and have-nots: Those who never worked because of their life’s station, and those who didn’t work because work wasn’t available. They were the rich and the poor with inactivity as their sole mate.

Was it the past of which Charles Dickens scribed what he saw, or was he gazing into our future, here in 2011?

The words of the past, mainly those expressed in a form of complaint, seem to always resemble today’s most common disorders. There were those who dwelled high up on a hill, while the rest hunted for a place to sleep, and a crumb or two in order to keep their inner fires burning. Nothing has changed regarding our subsistence needs. Lets face it. It’s what all human beings have in common: We need to eat.
Grilled Cheese

Around 4,000 years ago, people started to breed animals and process their milk. That’s when cheese was born. It was most likely a strong reason for the first politicians to get elected.

Villager #1: “Elect me as your mayor and each of you will have a goat to milk.”
Villager #2: “Elect me as your mayor, and I’ll send a serf to milk your goat for you.”
Villager #3: “Elect me as your mayor and I will deliver a jar of milk to your abode each and every day of the year, free.”

Well, if you’re interested in the outcome of that very early mayoral race, I’ve taken it upon myself to do a little research. Villager #3 was a big time winner. In those days, the counting up of votes didn’t take very long because most of the villagers were functional illiterates. They voted by physical acclamation. The three candidates would stand in front of the gathered villagers in the town circle. At the precise signal (I was unable to determine what signal was used), the villagers moved directly behind the candidate of their choice. It wasn’t really a difficult process because at the time of this election, less than one hundred people inhabited the village. All worked out well until directly following the mayoral inauguration. In short order, the people began to complain about not receiving delivery of their free milk. Some unforeseen problems which were not allowed for began to pop up directly following the election campaign promises.

Word of mouth had spread the news from township to township. Come and get the free milk, even if you’re not a citizen of our village. Bring you’re family and friends. The only good thing to come from all of this was it didn’t affect their village school system. They had no schools. The mayor made many speeches telling the villagers how things were improving. But more and more of them were unable to earn any money to give the mayor in order for him to supply enough free milk to make the cheese. Most of the villagers found it far too expensive to buy their own goat. Soon the people began to leave what had become a large community in favor of finding a different village to live and work in. The mayor served one term, and is now a very successful goat handler.

Way back when, not that very long ago, in these United States of America, the most famous sandwich of all time would have to be the grilled cheese, or up until that point in time, depending on who was the reporter writing the food column, and what were his or her leanings, politically. Some would ask, “What sort of abstract baloney are you spewing now? What could cheese have to do with anything politically?” To them I would answer, “Just everything, you dolt.”

(If you consider the foregoing as being in the abstract, then it would never be my wish to visit an art gallery as your companion.)

The facts have been with us for centuries. If you make it, bake it, milk it, grow it, farm it, raise it, sell it, or live in the vicinity where any of the former transpire, it will be now, or ultimately a short time in the future, a political boondoggle (a scheme, which wastes time and money).

But for a short moment, long before governments knew anything about taking large quantities of oil from the ground, the healthy business of extracting oil from the fat of whales thrived, that is, thrived for those countries which could boast a strong maritime fleet. Many of you won’t recognize the name “kerosene.” It was the main product for lighting one’s home – lamp oil – that and, of course, the development of natural gas.

Ancient societies were known to be using the oil, which managed to seep up from the ground in many parts of the world, since prehistoric times.

Petroleum became a major industry following the oil discovery at Oil Creek Pennsylvania in 1859.

Please take note: A Tale of Two Cities (1859) is a novel by Charles Dickens.

Do you think I’m being a little too abstract? Not for me, I’m very happy with it, and myself. You see, I take the greatness of this country of ours very personally. Think about it for a minute. Oil has been around since prehistoric times. In 1859, the United States of America was an infant state. We were just then beginning to bind the wounds suffered by every American during the Civil War.

Charles Dickens might have named his book “A Tale Of All Countries.” It may have begun in 1859, but by the late eighteen hundreds, the United States was producing more oil than any other country in the world – 83% of which took care of our own needs. Our capitalistic society was almost in full bloom. What followed were all the necessary ingredients for brewing the greatest success story in the history of the world. At the time we had a total of 31,(443,321 M) – thirty one million, four hundred forty three thousand, three hundred and twenty one of us Americans preparing to serve grilled cheese sandwiches to the rest of the world.

320,000,000 later

I hated grilled cheese sandwiches when I was a kid. They lacked gusto. I remember some kids bringing American cheese sandwiches to school for lunch. I never traded with them. I was so pleased to find out later in life, the infamous American cheese was processed, and those in the know were quick to point out the drawback of eating processed food. Those infidels were not only eating processed cheese, but were in the process of shortening their lives by doing so. Yet, to my deep chagrin, just yesterday I was made aware of the fact, processed cheese in some countries was considered a deterrent to contraction of scurvy while sailing around the world. I’m going to hold off believing the credibility of this report, as it was filed by an Afghanistan wire service. My operatives were unable to check out their reliability do to a shortage of electric power service in their area of the fifth world. It does however sound suspicious, since Afghanistan keeps no admiralty records. The United States continues to fund the Afghani Navy in expectation of them one day having one. Credit must be given to our general accounting bureau as they have formally discontinued any shipments of grilled cheese sandwiches earmarked for shipment to Afghanistan.

And speaking of Afghanistan; where were they back when Dickens so vigorously went to the quill? If you said: “They were being occupied by a foreign country,” your answer would be correct. Dependant on what one reads, it appears since 500 BC, all kinds of folks have been trying to take hold of them. My point is, we aren’t the first to enter with thoughts of calming the searing heat, freezer chest winters, and mountainous terrain of this cruel societal location; land locked, desperate, and without structure.

And just maybe an American pioneer was heard to say:
Begin now!
Start the rest of your life
With this first day,
And each day they’re after
Serving as the canvas for your own
Personal masterpiece.
Each day is your audition for the next!

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