Friday, November 9, 2012
Contrary to common wisdom, I've come to the conclusion that history is mostly irrelevant. Personally, I am for the most part completely disinterested in it.
Of course, this conversation is an uphill battle. Most times when I have taken the leap and engaged in a discussion on the subject, the people who take the opposing viewpoint consider themselves to have won the discussion based mostly on being on the popular side of the argument.
For me, history is like watching cooking tv. You get the general gist of how to do it, but the details you lose in watching versus doing make the watching almost entirely useless.
History's value for me has three insurmountable problems:
First is that life is lived forwards, but studied backwards. This means that the results of time invariably tarnish our investigation of history's events. This goes beyond "the victors write the history". Intention aside, objectivity is nearly impossible after the fact.
Second is that we can study what did happen, but is it possible to study what didn't happen? The variables that go into any action are so many that understanding them all; the logical ones, the illogical ones is nearly impossible as they happen. After the fact, they need to be considered irrelevant by objective standards. Would you perform life-threatening surgery based on evidence collected by the using the same standards?
Lastly is the availability of information. Do you write done everything you think? If you are under duress or stress, do you write, say or do the truth, or would you possible disguise your intent? Would someone years later be able to know the difference?
History doesn't really repeat itself. Human patterns of brokenness reoccur under different circumstances and we in retrospect recognize those patterns. We recognize them going forward, too, we just fail to fix them based on the acquisition of worldly value.
In retrospect, that gives my nod to cooking shows. The would appear to hold more social value.
Posted by Eddie Proulx