“Time Passes By”

For various reasons, Kathy Mattea’s song “Time Passes By” has been popping up on my mental playlist recently. That one, and “Record Time (33,45,78)” seem to sum up my experiences at various times, although “Record Time” is probably the more accurate of the two when it comes to describing my world. Anyway. “Time Passes By” is about loving and living while we can, but the point is that things change, no matter what we might want.

A new generation, so to speak, now runs the large museum where I have done a lot of work and research. It has been a few years since I was last digging around in their archives, and the new folks don’t know me on sight the way the older staff did. They have changed some policies, which led to a bit of confusion until credentials were confirmed. Academics and museum research is a small world, but not that small, so I shouldn’t have been surprised by the mild confusion and hesitation. All is well, connections are restored, and tentative plans made for future in-depth research and study.

Time passed by. As I said, I’m no longer known on sight, and it’s been a while since I’ve done a presentation at any local museum. My every-day work made it challenging, and the last two years have been heck for trying to do research on pretty much anything. I mean, even field geology and biology were fraught in 2020 in NM, because the governor banned out-of-state residents from having access to state or national parks! It’s hard to study the geology of, say, Frijoles Canyon or the Valle Grande caldera complex when the state police won’t let you get close to the gate. I suspect academic credentials, connections, and a few other things eased into the right in-boxes might have opened access, but I didn’t bother trying to go to the state archives, for example. Everyone I worked with at the state archive in Santa Fe has retired, or moved up to bigger things, archivally speaking. Time passed.

The new generation is different. Museum science and archival practices have changed a lot over the past 30, or even 15 years. Emphasis has shifted in terms of what the goal of a museum or archive is. Now, state government archives will always be about state documents and government stuff. That’s baked in. But the focus of collections, how collections and exhibitions are managed, what is important in the collection and what can be set aside, or not brought into the collection, those have all changed. What stories are the most important to tell? How should those stories be told? Is there a grand narrative of history or should it be more of a jigsaw puzzle or patchwork within a chronology? All of those questions shape museums and history departments. What role to expert amateurs play in museology and curation, or should they? The older generation encouraged the expert amateur, at least in some fields. Today . . . I’m not so sure.

We might be seeing a swing from “museum management and curation as an art” toward “curation as a science.” With “science” comes international standards, and journals, and consensus in the field about philosophy and ideology, and statements of ethics and so on. This is not bad, in and of itself. Some aspects of curation have always been a science. How do you preserve textiles and things made of wood, leather, clay? Art conservation is chemistry as well as learning styles of art and studying framing. Will this kind of light fade or damage the items, and if so, what kind of illumination should be used? How can we make 1000+ year old documents available to researchers without accidentally destroying the documents? All these are questions that materials science and long experience can answer, and should. It’s when the social “sciences” get involved that things seem to become a bit odd, or at least odd compared to what I grew up with.

History museums, especially those that are not very, very narrowly focused, walk a bit of a tightrope. The public wants them to tell a story, and tell it in an engaging and neat way. Academics want to tell different stories, with a different emphasis on presentation. Activists look for certain things, donors look for other things—sometimes—and the curator and exhibit designers have to sort through all of these ideas and stories. I incline toward “tell it straight, as best we can, given what we know now, and update things as we know more.” That’s not always popular. I bristled a little at a new section of an older display, but . . . it covers something very timely and that is part of the current story, even if I disagree with it. I’m a grown-up, so I read the section and went back to the fun-for-me-stuff. I’m not going to throw a fit because I would have used that space for something else, or would have presented the material in a different way.

I liked the older generation’s way of doing things. It was comfortable to me, I fit in, and they did very good work. The new generation is skilled, they are doing good work, and eventually I’ll get back to my research and reclaim my little niche, or find a new niche. Time passes by.

Romantics, Romances, and romances: Pop-Cultural Confusion

“It can’t be romantic! It’s too dark and scary!” Ah, the travails of art-history students* railing against the influence of popular culture. Or against the confusion of Romantic and romantic, at least.

The root of the word “romance” is Roman, just like the Romance Languages are all descended from Latin (Spanish, Italian, French, Romanch, Romanian, Portuguese). It then wandered into Old French and took on the sense of both the vernacular language, and of a work of literature in verse form, or a tale in verse form. From then it jumped to English as something written in French (the adventures of French knights and kings), and thus to a tale in verse form recounting the deeds of heroes and the like. When printing came along, fiction readers spread a wider net. By the late 1600s, “romance” as a type of work included adventure stories with love and kissing. By the early 1800s we get “romance novel” as a distinct type of novel centered on love and kissing.

Since the Romantic [cultural] Movement was all about emotion and passion and being true to one’s heart, you can see how it would borrow (or others would borrow) “romance” as a specific thing that once again included adventures dark and grim as well as warm and fuzzy.

I grew up with both meanings. I read the Romances of Charlemagne and His Paladins, and sampled a few romance novels. And studied a Romance language. I seem to write romances in the older sense, except that they are not in verse. Chesterton might be the last romance-in-verse writer in English, if you take The Ballad of the White Horse as a romance in the medieval sense.

Ah, English, once more muddling the heads of another generation of native speakers with your bad habit of mugging other languages for vocabulary and grammar!

*That was nothing compared to the, ah, vehement denials from some English students a few years back. “No way! ‘The Masque of the Red Death’ is no way a Romantic short story. Eeeeewwwww.” Sister Grammatica and I smiled beatifically at each other in passing and pretended to be deaf.

A Small Thing, A Large Effect

“Because it was normal.”

I was talking with someone about a local institution that has weathered the past two years unusually well for institutions of that sort. Apparently, the fact that one small but visible part of that organization functioned as close to normally as was possible had a huge effect. Other people saw that little part doing its thing, and felt better. And supported the organization, and stuck with it through some disruptions. The organization is hanging on with fingernails, as so many are right now, but it is hanging on while many others have not reopened their doors.

What is it that keeps people going? What is that little thing—or big thing—that makes the difference? The answers are as varied as people, but that something looked and acted “normal” helped form a stable core that people could hold on to. Is it that one person who’s always at the front desk, greeting customers, answering questions, and generally upbeat (or grumpy but with a sense of humor under the growls) who sticks with her job? Is it the grocery sacker who always has a kind word and who works in good and bad weather? Is it the small group of folks who quietly take care of little problems so everyone else can get their job done, even though fixing the problem isn’t in the official job description?

I suspect, if we look through history, it is that small, unofficial core of people, or the steady individual, who have done more to keep the world running than 99% of princes, potentates, and prophets.

Memento Mori

I was sorting through pictures and found several from 2015, when I saw three different Totentanz scenes, one in a museum and two in situ, still in the churches or charnal houses where they had first been painted. They are one of many forms of memento mori, reminders of death, created to encourage viewers to remember that they, too, are mortal and will pass from this life. What waits beyond? Well . . . That’s why one is to meditate and consider one’s deeds and thoughts.

Some saints are depicted with memento mori. St. Jerome is often shown with either a lion, or a skull, or both.

Remember, that Thou Art Man . . . Used under Creative Commons Fair Use. original source at: http://www.albrechtdurerblog.com/melencolia-st-jerome/

Many years ago, I read a humorous comparison of the US and Great Britain. The author argued that one large difference was that Americans assumed that death was optional, and if you keel over, you did something wrong. You should have eaten more bran, or jogged, or taken more multi-vitamins, or something. Ever since reading that, I have moments where I wonder if the author was a bit closer to the truth than I gave him or her credit for. Certainly, when I listen to popular medical news, or read articles about this or that nostrum, or how “a cure for cancer” is just around yet another corner, a slightly tired smile appears on my face. Or when I hear solemn intonations of Covid numbers, almost like monks chanting vesper psalms, I wonder, “Don’t you remember that death is not optional?”

At the moment, life has a 100% mortality rate. There might be four? exceptions to that, depending on one’s belief system, but otherwise, everyone who has lived on this sublunary sphere has died of something or other. Awkward that. At least, awkward for those who insist that age and mortality can be postponed indefiniately. (A friend of the family has spent considerable worry and funds trying not to age, seeking medical solutions for what comes from the passing of time. I sometimes want to tell this person, “Look, you’re just getting older! Accept it and go on with life.” But I won’t.)

“Pssst. More carrot juice won’t cure this.” Memento Mori. Fair Use: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/104497653841375931/
“As we are, so shall you be!” Fair Use: http://kantorei-eschwege.de/event/todentanz-op-12-nr-2-hugo-distler-mit-jungem-theater-eschwege/historisches_museum_basel_totentanz_25102013_e

Many of the Totentanzen include the Holy Roman Emperor, a pope, cardinals, kings, queens, and everyone down to beggars and servants. No one is safe from death. The pattern of the people dancing with the dead comes from the Black Death, at least as best as art historians can tell. The command to remember the coming of the afterlife has been part of several religions before that, but the artistic design first appears in the late 1300s, and bloomed in the 1400s-1500s. It fades away for a while, but returned to popular art in the Twentieth Century with the world wars and aftermath. There is no confidence or joy in a Totentanz, unless it is the grinning skulls of the half-decayed dancers, laughing at the follies of the living.

“As we are, so shall you be.” All of us die. Most of us don’t spend too much time thinking about it, most days. Some subcultures are more interested in death than others, sometimes to an unhealthy degree. The Goth subculture has been blamed for suicides, and looking funereal is part of the culture, at least for some. The Victorians romanticized death, not so much dying, and sometimes seem to have wallowed in grieving and funerals and the trappings the living sported around the dead. Women, at least those who could afford it, had mourning dresses, and social convention commanded certain periods of strict mourning, half-mourning, then returning to mourning on anniversaries of people’s death. When you see how much a good black dress cost, yipes. The poor and working folk didn’t have the luxury of wearing black all the time, like Queen Victoria and the heroines of Gothic novels. And black shows fuzz, fur, dust, and a lot of other things. Not coal soot, no, but black also fades.

There are times when I look at parts of current society and wonder if I’m seeing a Totentanz of sorts, but reversed. People with no faith in an afterlife, often with no children or no hope for grandchildren, claw and fight to protect “my legacy,” “my creation.” They cannot or will not accept that life always ends in death, and that immortality doesn’t come from a piece of legislation, or a work of digital art, or a social cause. A frenetic, wild dance of proclamations and “you dare not touch my creation, my legacy!” fills the air. They stare at the dancing skeletons around them and refuse to accept the natural course of things. One more medical procedure, one special cosmetic pomade, and youth will return or at the very least death will retreat.

I do not seek out death. I don’t long for it, or at least have not since the last time I was really, really “Oh G-d take me home please because everything hurts even things that can’t hurt and I’m sick as a dog” sick with influenza. A little Edgar Allen Poe goes a long way. But I’m not terrified of it, either. I’ve nodded to the Grim Reaper in passing, but he’s kept going, thus far.

Memento mori. You don’t have to keep a skull on your desk (although there are moments when I’ve considered it, either natural or artificial. I have a raven instead.) We’re not all St. Jerome, for which I give thanks. He didn’t sound like a fun guy to hang out with – a bit too intense for my tastes. But a little less society-wide panic about, well, whatever everyone is supposed to panic about this week might be good. Would be good.

(If you have seen Bergman’s The Seventh Seal, you saw a Totentanz acted out.)

Assorted Musings . . .

What exactly is a “slim-fit parka, perfect for layering?” Does one wear it over a birthday suit, or put other garments over said parka? Why would you want a “slim fit” heavy-weather outer garment, anyway?

What was the designer smoking or drinking to make a down vest or coat “with slimming patterns?” Fluffy insulation is supposed to fluff, and looking slim and trim comes second to being warm. Or did I miss yet another memo?

Please explain the reasoning behind long-johns that are to keep you cool in winter, no matter your activity level.* What happened to layering, and taking off a layer as you start to get warm (snowshoeing, cutting wood or ice, shoveling wet snow . . .)?

Who counts all the bacteria in the probiotic capsules that claim to have “X million bacteria” in them? Do I want to know?

What motivated the cow to jump over the moon in the first place?

And perhaps most important, does your chewing gum lose its flavor on the bedpost overnight?

*These are not the wicking-type long-johns, but supposed to have special cooling minerals in them [jade?] that kept you from overheating. I don’t recall jade suits working all that well in ancient China, but technology may have improved over time.

What Exactly Do You Mean?

The church I attended during Christmas is very active in working in the surrounding community. They have health programs, scholarships, music outreach, a food pantry, and a clothes closet, and other things. Individual members volunteer with a number of local and regional charities and mentorship programs. So I wasn’t surprised when the invocations and prayers asked for “justice to be done” and “for help doing justice” and “help others achieve justice.”

What did the minister mean by “justice?” Who defines justice, or mercy, or goodness, or charity? That’s what always pokes me when I hear someone asking that justice be done, unless the meaning is absolutely clear already. I have a suspicion that a lot of “justice” is a bit different from what the speaker thinks it might be.

Justice is one of those words that get tossed around so often that they turn into the main ingredient in word salad. “It means I get mine.” “It means that the letter of the law is followed in all cases.” “It means that what I want to happen . . . happens.” These tend to be mutually exclusive assumptions. Sort of like the people who demand redress for ancestral wrongs, and then flee when I start asking how many generations back the redress should go. Who was the first to displace whom? Anglos moved this tribal people out, but this tribal people had already driven out that tribal people, who seem to have massacred this other group, who may have beaten up members of an unnamed cultural complex, who moved in after . . . Eastern Europe is pretty clear, when you trace Germanic speakers, Slavic speakers, the Romano-Celts, the pre-Celtic people, then the Indo-Europeans, but once you get to the pre-Proto-Indo-Europeans, things get muddy. And that’s just language, not genetics or “culture doesn’t mean ethnic conquest.” Got a headache yet? What is justice in this case, and for whom?

There’s a really good reason that several religions incline toward praying for individual mercy from the Most High far more often than praying for individual justice. We know what we’ve done, or not done. Depending on your starting theology, mercy might be the only thing saving any man, woman, or child from pure deserved divine wrath. Who wants justice in that case? Not me!

“Justice.” “Equality.” “Fairness.” “Freedom.” What do they mean? There’s always the Oxford English Dictionary (print edition, please) to settle the meaning, yes? No? Who does the defining? It all reminds me of Karl Lueger, the famously anti-Semitic mayor of Vienna, Austria in the early 1900s. When someone pointed out that he had a Jewish individual working for the city, Lueger said, “I define who is a Jew.” Lueger was a politician, so I doubt many people would be surprised by that response, although at the time it was a bit of a shock to some. “A word means what I say it means,” according to Humpty Dumpty in Through the Looking Glass. So too with “justice.” How the minister defined justice I do not know, but it sounded nice. However, I’m wary of praying for justice until I know what is meant. Mercy I will always ask for.

Women’s Work

“We wanted to share the farm with more people, besides just selling flowers/produce/eggs, and I’ve always liked cooking, so we opened a tea-shop/banquet and party venue/farm-stay/sell jellies and jams/run spinning and knitting clinics . . .” It’s a common theme in a lot of what I’ve been reading this past year. He manages the heavy end of the farm – equipment, removing trees, working the land, dealing with larger livestock, and she runs the gardens, cooks, provides hospitality, sells at local shops and farmers’ markets. Just like many men and women did until about 90 years or so ago in the US. Oh, and she probably teaches the kids at home, or supplements their schooling at home.

I was reading about how Community Supported Agriculture and other farm-to-table or farm-to-local market ventures encourage women and minorities, both as producers and as consumers. In addition, almost every issue of Victoria or American Essence magazines have articles about women and their families who farm, raise flowers for the cut-flower market, sell farm-related products and/or art, and other things. This is lauded as beneficial for womanhood [womankind?] in general, and the individuals in particular. Locally grown food and flowers are seen in popular thinking as better than “imported,” more flavorful, healthier with more nutrients, better for the local and regional economy, and morally good. I agree on the flavorful part, especially with certain kinds of seasonal produce. Y’all know my thoughts on strawberries in January (over priced and under-flavored).

Turn the clock back a century or so, and you will find women working in farms and gardens, tending small livestock, making “value-added products” for sale at the local market, or sale to local distributors (butter and eggs especially), and teaching the younger children. As well as doing anything else needed to keep things running and the family fed, clothed, and housed. You know, like the women described as “ag-entrepreneurs” in the magazines and news stories. Everything old is new again, just with a different gloss on what is proper women’s work. The once traditional has become radical, or traditional. It just depends on who you ask.

I’m amused, because of all the emphasis on “You can be anything you want to be as long as it is engineer, computer scientist, or corporate CEO. Or farmer, that’s OK too, but not as OK as being white collar unless you are minority member.” Teaching, making jams and jellies, baking . . . all those are passe until it is part of a back-to-the-land, locavore, farm-education program that also offers overnight stays. Then it’s radical and empowering. But my sense of humor is warped that way.

Women are on average not as physically strong as men. We’re not, on average, as three-D minded as men, we tend to be better at dealing with people and doing language-based things as compared to many men. So why not divide tasks in a way to utilize the skills and talents of everyone involved, to make things more efficient? Lo and behold, we have the wife of the family overseeing food and fiber and flowers, and the gent dealing with heritage-breed cattle and pigs, and running the tractors and other heavy machinery. Not always, and I’m one of the Odds who likes working on some kinds of machines*, but more often than not.

I’m always glad to see a family able to make a go of things like farm-stays, and selling to the local market. A lot of what I’ve been reading is about adapting to current conditions and trends, finding ways to work around limitations and economic glitches, and helping the family hang in there and grow stronger. It’s never easy, and I admire the men and women who can do it, be they grain farmers or running a produce and pasture-to-butcher-to-table operation with local beef, chicken, and pork. Farms need teams, just as they always have. Women have always worked outside the home to an extent, be they taking things to the market town, or working as ale-wives, or selling butter and eggs to wholesalers. Everything old is new again.

*I will happily do engines, sheet-metal, some composites, and chase hydraulic leaks. Please don’t ask me to deal with electrical problems. My brain doesn’t work like that.

Happy New Year

So, is it 2022, or 2020 Two: The Return of the Sequel?

I have no idea, and I’m not placing any bets. I do know that people will grouse about bills, taxes, and “kids these days.” Someone will be wrong on the internet. People will fall in love, fall out of love, and grumble about politics, or the weather, or crops, or coworkers.

Otherwise I don’t dare make a prediction.

I know what I will try to do: lose weight, improve my shoulder press, write and publish, get things graded on time, grumble less (especially toward the end of the semester when everyone else is grumbling), and have a better attitude about things. These are all activities and attitudes that I have at least a minimal amount of control over. I will try to continue stocking up on certain things. I will try to read more.

These are not resolutions, however. Life happens, fairly frequently. History and current events have provided more than enough examples of that, thank you.

The Importance of Ritual

Apropos of the mild kerfluffel over advertising the availability of a more traditional Latin mass or not advertising (Roman Catholic – Latin or vernacular), I got to thinking about ritual, and how important it is, even for non-religious people. Many cultures have certain patterns and behaviors that must be observed, even if they are informal. They serve as markers, as ways to glue society together, to provide a bit of stability in a chaotic world.

Latin mass and ritual in worship, political rituals, “propriety must be observed” and so on. Animals too. Day job – felt odd when something got moved, so daily invocation is back “where it should be.” Lunch is always at X time. Administrative notices are posted at Y locations around the building, this teacher always parks in that slot (even though we do not have assigned slots). Athena cat sleeps in the front chair in spring and summer, and the library chair in fall and winter. Unless it is after a certain hour, in which case she moves to the sunny patch in my bedroom, migrating with the sun across the floor. She gets fed at certain times, and woe betide anyone who is late. The larger US society has rituals, although they vary across region and culture. The opening days of dove and deer season. Christmas. July 4 however commemorated, the opening day of baseball (college or professional) or basketball or football season. Some businesses have rituals, and people have rituals in commerce. You go to the same coffee shop, at about the same time of day, or visit a tea emporium and get eight ounces of your favorites, then see what else might be available. You get dressed in a certain order, make the bed in a set way . . .

We all have our daily rituals, good-luck acts, however we consider them. Society too has had rituals going back as far as anthropologists and archaeologists can determine. We don’t always know exactly what was done, by whom, but we know that all over the world, people have performed certain actions as groups at certain times of the year. Evidence for the ending of long-practiced rituals suggests major social changed, or problems, or both. The end of ritual and pattern often signals the end of social order, of a new governing group, or the coming of a new ideology. We humans are creatures of habit, and prefer that those habits not change. A few years ago, when I was on one of my forays to Central Europe, I had a giggle fit at the news that an openly Communist French trade union was protesting the suggestion that the Corpus Christi holiday be eliminated. Communists fussing about losing a very Roman Catholic feast! Now, granted, it was because of the day off of work more than any religious sense, but still. “We don’t believe in that god, but we want to keep all the holidays associated with that opiate of the masses!”

I’ve been watching people dig in recently. “This we might tolerate changing a little, but not that. No, you may not claim this for something it has never been. No, we are going to keep the religious aspects of that. Thanksgiving is not about what you claim, but what it has always been.” When you try to change a harvest festival into a day of penance, um, well, you deserve to be smote with a still-frozen bit of poultry or a casserole dish, in my opinion. I do agree about the wreched excesses of “Christmas shopping starts in August!”, however.

Being Needed

Maybe it’s just my off-kilter wiring [waits for chorus of “Yes, it probably is” to fade away], but I get a little bump of happiness when someone says, “We’re probably going to need you on {date}. Can you be here by {time}?” It means I can put my skills to use, for a good cause. It’s not a big deal, it just happens that I have some training and abilities that can help fill a gap or two on short notice. Sort of like being able to move snow for a neighbor, or filling a maintenance need at Day Job when someone was sick and we had a big shindig looming.

I’ve never quite understood characters—real or imagined—who depend on everyone else all the time. Not people with physical or mental disabilities, no, those folks often do as much for themselves as they can, and sometimes try to help others as well. I’m thinking of the Blanche DuBois attitude of “I’ve always depended on the kindness of strangers.” Sometimes it is emotional manipulation, in which case you can get some seriously pathological relationships. Other people seem to believe that being helpless is a good thing, a positive virtue. It’s not as obvious today as it used to be, and the weak, fainting, delicate female character of faux-Victorian stereotype seems to have fallen out of favor in the fiction I read. But the idea that you need to sit where you are, hands folded, and wait for an Authority to come and do . . . something . . . has never quite gelled in my brain.

Having pride in a skill means being able to use that skill. It may be construction, or operating a piece of equipment, or knowing where to find information, or how to navigate an environment in less than ideal conditions, or how to fill in for someone in a pinch so that a problem doesn’t become a minor crisis (or a major one) . . . Sometimes just being calm, steady, and knowing what and who should go where is the single most important thing at the moment. Skill at matching need to service or material is vastly underrated, until you need someone who knows where the ‘dozers are wanted, and who has the size eight months diapers. Or which routes are open to what kind of vehicle, or . . .

Some days, I think a lot of our current culture’s problems are off-shoots of “don’t do anything until an Authority arrives/makes a decision/gives instructions.” We’re getting conditioned to sit and wait for . . . something or other, be it rescue, or advice, or the rent check, or whatever. Yes, there are times when “don’t just do something, stand there!” really is important, but when standing there means you die of exposure, well, better to follow someone with a clue, a plan, and some local knowledge.

Alas, there are people who love helping others, and insist on “helping the poor victim” for their own egoboo. That’s not what I’m talking about. I tend to grit my teeth when I hear peans to the “caring professions” meaning social workers, welfare workers, FEMA-type administrators, professional charity administrators (United Way, national Red Cross, national animal shelter groups . . .) Some – not all – of the people in those categories who I have met remind me of some .gov employees who spend their careers looking for ways to do nothing but get more people hired so their own GS* level rises. “I brought in twelve more clients!” should not be a bragging point if your job is to find people ways to get off of government assistance, in my opinion. (That the system for getting even short-term, emergency help is so convoluted** as to require people who do nothing but help others navigate the system is a rant for another time. Any system that complex is . . . not great.)

Stripping people of pride in a skill leads to backlash. That might be a dearth of people with the needed skill. It might be drug addiction, suicide, depression, retreat into fantasies of some kind or another. It might also be a shift in attitude so that when the Authorities decide that they are needed, they arrive and find that the problem is 90% solved and that no one one the ground will work with them unless forced.

There’s something in people that needs to be needed. Even an introvert like yours truly, who spends a lot of time in her own head, likes to get a call to service. I may grumble a little, and that’s a part of my personality that I am slowly trying to jettison, but there are skills I like to use. There are also skills I hope I never, ever have to use, plans I never want to put into place. But I have those, too.

Here’s a toast to the ones who see a need and fill it, who bring personal ‘dozers, or a spare bag of diapers, or who know how to find flashlights and organize people to keep calm in that part of the building when the power goes out.

*GS levels are civil service “ranks” in the US government. They are based on a lot of things, including education, time working for the government, type of work done, number of people working in the individual’s department or office . . . .In general, the higher the GS level, the more benefits and higher wage a person gets.

**I’d say Byzantine, but the Byzantine government and social systems had an internal logic and actually did what they were supposed to do, even if people found them frustrating as all get out.