In 1789, a group of French citizens namely, all of them banded together to revolt against the oppressive French monarchy and its time-honored tradition of treating poor people badly. From a humble beginning of being poor, hungry and overlooked, the French citizens spent ten years declaring, constituting and generally killing anyone in the immediate area. In the end, the few remaining French citizens were still poor, hungry and overlooked, but they at least walked with an added somewhat-sovereign spring in their step. Now, to understand why I know anything about late-18th century France, let's spring forward 200 . . . 215 . . . 216(?) years.
In 2004, a lone struggling writer and his computer banded together (much in the same way that one twin Siamesically bands with the other) to revolt against the oppressive New York cost of living and its time-honored tradition of treating poor people badly. From a humble beginning of being poor, hungry and overlooked, the symbiotic writer / computer tandem wrote, research and generally cried to anyone in the immediate area. In the end, the scribe was still poor, hungry and overlooked (the computer fortunately avoided these afflictions), but walked with an added somewhat-successful spring in his step.
There's a reason that these two episodes seem so similar. The former description was of the French Revolution, which took place in of all places to choose France. The latter was my writing of a Sparknotes review guide about the French Revolution, which took place in Barnes and Noble, my apartment and the FHM offices (which was, it's worth noting, the equivalent of attending a Playboy Mansion date party with your grandmother in tow). Appropriately, both events would prove to be harrowing, heart-wrenching and in the eyes of many notable historians / parents ultimately fruitless. The parallels, as you'll see, are nearly limitless.
The French Revolution began following a hotly debated class dispute regarding France's dire economic situation and tax relief proposals. The French peasants and bourgeoisie decided to seize the day and a crap load of guns and, fueled with revolutionary energy, run amok through their country, attacking and assembling whenever and wherever they could. My intimate relationship with the French Revolution began when I wallowing in my own dire economic situation and yearning for relief of any variety saw an ad on a writing website an ad, as fate would have it, which had been posted by the sister of apartment-mate Carl offering $1000 for . . . something. I didn't actually notice what I was writing. I saw only "$1000," and it wasn't until later that I realized I had to write about the French Revolution. And yet, at that point, you could've told me that I had signed on to write the biography of a garden hose and my elation wouldn't have waned.
As the French Revolution progressed, the initial enthusiasm turned into disagreements and hostility. Forgetting that they were working towards the same cause, the rival Girondins and Jacobins fought over philosophical and political issues while the lower-class sans-culottes fought . . . anything. This ushered in the Reign of Terror, during which as many as 50,000 French folk were killed by the diabolical Robespierre. As my writing of the French Revolution Sparknote progressed, the initial enthusiasm turned into apathy and frustration. Forgetting that I had always abhorred all types of research and / or "serious" work during the past 16 years of academia not to mention that the topic was the FRENCH REVOLUTION the rivals "motivation" and "Xbox" fought over their differences while the lower-class "sans-sobriety" fought with the fenders of automobiles. This ushered in the Reign of Terror Redux, during which as many as 20,000 words of French history were blatantly ignored by . . . someone.
The final stage of the revolution to break a seminal, ten-year insurrection into simple three steps saw a conservative government come in and enact a number of policies that would prove to be disadvantageous to the French public. Predictably, the citizens would struggle until finally Napoleon came in, whupped some ass and ended the French Revolution. The final stage of writing the French Revolution Sparknote to break a torturous six-month process into three simple steps saw a conservative editor come in and enact a number of deadlines or rather just one deadline that slowly crept backwards that would prove to be disadvantageous to the writer. Predictably, the writer would struggle until finally his work ethic came in dramatically wayyyyyyyyyy past the last moment whupped some ass and ended the writing of the French Revolution Sparknote.
Both timelines ended in like fashion. The French Revolution left the peasants empowered and inspired, though back under the rule of a dictatorship, while the writing of the French Revolution left the writer feeling kinda proud, remotely satisfied and deeply wondering whether or not he'll get paid. It is readily apparent that these two pivotal eras in history do indeed share a common thread, right down to incidents involving words such as "fear," "terror" and "massacres" (and one with "tennis court"). Not that any of this comes as any surprise. After all, everybody knows that history always repeats itself.
In this case, hopefully, for the last damn time.