you were probably not napoleon.

You know the New Age types who think they remember their previous lives?

Why is it that almost every one of them was someone significant or romantic/heroic?  Nobody ever goes, “Yeah, I was a spear carrier in the Sultan of Akkabad’s army.  In my first battle, I tripped over my shoelaces and stabbed myself in the groin.  A week later, I died painfully from my infections,” or “I was a peasant in northern Germany during the Thirty Years’ War.  I shoveled shit for twenty years, and then a bunch of Gustavus Adolphus’ soldiers burned down my farm and killed me.”

I mean, considering the total mediocrity and unremarkability of most people’s existences in the course of human history, that kind of previous life would be statistically far more likely than having been the Fifteenth Duke of Chutney, or Michelangelo’s understudy.


16 thoughts on “you were probably not napoleon.

  1. pdb says:

    I’m similarly amused by amateur genealogists who trace their family history back until they find somebody famous. “My aunt’s brother’s cousin’s great great great grand roommate was Cornwallis’ gay lover!”

    Personally, I know my ancestors back to the folks who gathered up the gumption to escape their pathetic European dirtbag countries and came to America. The previous losers who didn’t, I don’t find interesting.

  2. David says:

    I was falsely accused of having relations with the King’s farm animals and promptly roasted in a brazen bull when I was 15.

  3. Scotaku says:

    Enough with all the “past lives” shenanigans. I want to know who I’m going to be in a future life.

  4. LittleRed1 says:

    I was probably a discontented turnip. Or, given my (known) ancestry, the slowest one in the village when the McFarlands and Armstrongs came to visit.

  5. Sarah says:

    We want to be SPESHUL and, if we can’t make that work out here and now, we’ll travel way back in time (mentally, of course, because we can’t yet do it for real) and be awesome that way.

    Then again: I don’t believe in reincarnation, so even someone telling me, “I was a rock and Napoleon took a piss on me once” would fail to impress me.

  6. PhillipC says:

    I will admit, I have known someone who believed in all that and claimed she was a servant in a public house. And that it was nasty, dirty, and she loves modern life. Not sure what that says about her, though.

  7. Glamdring says:

    What about Rimmer? From Red Dwarf & what he was before.

  8. og says:

    “Michelangelo’s understudy”

    More like the guy who cleaned the gutters in the townhouse across the street from Michelangelo’s understudy’s sister’s mom.

  9. RevolverRob says:

    We tracked our family history…One ancestor came on the Mayflower, the rest showed up after that point. At least three of my ancestors fought against the King of England and at least five fought with the King of England during the Revolution. The rest of them just farmed or were servants, none were heroes. Moving forward another 80 years, most of them fought for the South and at least two of them had their homesteads burned to the ground by Sherman. The rest were poor southern cotton farmers, scoundrels, thieves, and con men.

    On my mother’s side they were here before Colombus. Once they Spanish got here, they were just slaves and offspring of illegitimate Spanish/Native children. Nobody was royalty, nobody was a tribal chief, no one was a hero. Most were probably day laborers, slaves, housemaids, and miners.

    But then I think Sarah may have hit the nail on the head. Lots of folks are unsatisfied with their current status and content themselves by saying, “Well at least I came from a special heritage!”. I can at least look back and say, “Man, I’ve come a long way from peasant status.”


  10. MadRocketScientist says:

    My mom did the whole “past lives regression” a few times, and never was she anyone famous. The one that sticks in my mind is that of a slave working on the Pyramids of Giza.

  11. Bubblehead Les says:

    Well, Since Dad is Hungarian (got here after the October Revolution), and he married Mom, who, though born in the U.S.A., is the daughter of Hungarian Immigrants who came here at the End of the 19th. Century, I figure if I channel any past lives, it’ll probably one of my dead relatives who’ve been living in the worlds biggest box canyon since the 890’s. Boring genealogy, boring spirituality, kinda boring history. Hard to brag about a People who were overrun by Germans, Poles, Russians, Mongols, Turks, Austrians, and whoever is next.

  12. Fred2 says:

    Free farmers and Teachers on one side, oceanic fisher captains & ship owners on the the other, pretty well as far back as anyone can figure out given the crappy records. Farmers and sea folk are often both literate and numerate, but ain’t exactly loquacioous writing types who get noticed in Official History.

  13. George says:

    “’m similarly amused by amateur genealogists who trace their family history back until they find somebody famous. “My aunt’s brother’s cousin’s great great great grand roommate was Cornwallis’ gay lover!””

    I used to work at a Revolutionary War site. A hell of a lot of people said they were descended from Frances Marion. Yeah, right!

    Others would claim that their ancestor was the hero in this particular battle that saved it for the Patriots. That type gets a rather sour look on their face when you inform them that the Patriots lost that one.

    Very, very few would admit more realistic ancestors, such as common soldiers for the Patriot or Loyalist side.

  14. B5K says:

    Hah! I did the past-lives regression thing once. My big claim to fame was as a fur trader/trapper back in the early 1820’s who fell in the Rockies and froze to death. Everything else was “Yadda yadda yadda farmer…slave…stillborn”.

    I’m boring in this life as well.

  15. Daniel says:

    I once had a creepy lady tell me that in a past life she had been an Atlantian priestess. She recognized me, apparently I was one of the children which she had been unable to pull over the gunwale of the escaping boat and I had been sucked down with the city. “Oh, nice to see you too”, …back away slowly.

  16. Jeff says:

    If you go back far enough, I derive from sea raiders and pirates on one side (Phoenecians) and sea raiders and berserkers on the other side (Vikings). My wife jokes this is why I don’t get seasick and have such an interest in weapons. It might also explain certain personality traits. (When in doubt, invade and conquer.) Although it could just be that I’m easily irritated.


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