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The tragic loss of context

innomen
Posts: 10,052
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6/5/2013 6:04:05 AM
Posted: 3 years ago
All too often I read something here on DDO that cites something from history that removes or changes all historic context. This is done sometimes deliberately by revisionists, or by a normal change of times and a loss of flavor of what once was. A blatant example of this is done with the Americas, where the fact that the US was once British soil, and the inhabitants were British subjects. Something like the Salem witch trials were done by British to British, not Americans, but British. Slavery was a British institution (or more precisely a European institution exported to the new world) that allowed quick free labor in colonies that needed to export profit back to the mother country.

Furthermore I will read someone taking an inconsistency within a person's lifetime, some statement that they made, or some document that they authored that was inconsistent to the bulk of their life's works, and that some how can nullify everything, which is just stupid. Human beings are constantly put in positions where they will react differently at different times in their lives and under different circumstances. So if a person writes a letter where they question God, or the church or some such, it cannot take greater value than the overall bulk of a person's thinking on the matter. People live in a fluid and dynamic existence, where occasions of inconsistency is normal. However, a revisionist of history can take the minor inconsistencies to discount the individual as a whole, which is really character assassination from the point of view of history.
YYW
Posts: 36,311
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6/5/2013 6:17:42 AM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 6/5/2013 6:04:05 AM, innomen wrote:
All too often I read something here on DDO that cites something from history that removes or changes all historic context. This is done sometimes deliberately by revisionists, or by a normal change of times and a loss of flavor of what once was. A blatant example of this is done with the Americas, where the fact that the US was once British soil, and the inhabitants were British subjects. Something like the Salem witch trials were done by British to British, not Americans, but British. Slavery was a British institution (or more precisely a European institution exported to the new world) that allowed quick free labor in colonies that needed to export profit back to the mother country.

Actually, the first slaves in America came from Barbados. Before slavery, English prisoners who sold themselves into indentured servitude plowed Virginia's tobacco fields.

Furthermore I will read someone taking an inconsistency within a person's lifetime, some statement that they made, or some document that they authored that was inconsistent to the bulk of their life's works, and that some how can nullify everything, which is just stupid.

I couldn't agree more.

Human beings are constantly put in positions where they will react differently at different times in their lives and under different circumstances. So if a person writes a letter where they question God, or the church or some such, it cannot take greater value than the overall bulk of a person's thinking on the matter. People live in a fluid and dynamic existence, where occasions of inconsistency is normal. However, a revisionist of history can take the minor inconsistencies to discount the individual as a whole, which is really character assassination from the point of view of history.

I think the problem is the idea that history needs to be told as a linear narrative, as textbooks do it. People are complicated, and complication, nuance and detail are often lost when historians try to tie everything up into a nice, neat textbook -even worse are when textbooks try to portray figures as something they're not. That's the trend with Pearson Publishing (who I hate) now.... what a shame.

The history textbook I used in high school was the American Pageant 12th edition. I still have my copy (we had to buy them, lol) and I'll keep it forever. If I ever have kids, I'll have them read from it. It's a treasure... and even though it's a textbook, it's one of the very few good ones.
Tsar of DDO
innomen
Posts: 10,052
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6/5/2013 6:34:05 AM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 6/5/2013 6:17:42 AM, YYW wrote:
At 6/5/2013 6:04:05 AM, innomen wrote:
All too often I read something here on DDO that cites something from history that removes or changes all historic context. This is done sometimes deliberately by revisionists, or by a normal change of times and a loss of flavor of what once was. A blatant example of this is done with the Americas, where the fact that the US was once British soil, and the inhabitants were British subjects. Something like the Salem witch trials were done by British to British, not Americans, but British. Slavery was a British institution (or more precisely a European institution exported to the new world) that allowed quick free labor in colonies that needed to export profit back to the mother country.

Actually, the first slaves in America came from Barbados. Before slavery, English prisoners who sold themselves into indentured servitude plowed Virginia's tobacco fields.

Furthermore I will read someone taking an inconsistency within a person's lifetime, some statement that they made, or some document that they authored that was inconsistent to the bulk of their life's works, and that some how can nullify everything, which is just stupid.

I couldn't agree more.

Human beings are constantly put in positions where they will react differently at different times in their lives and under different circumstances. So if a person writes a letter where they question God, or the church or some such, it cannot take greater value than the overall bulk of a person's thinking on the matter. People live in a fluid and dynamic existence, where occasions of inconsistency is normal. However, a revisionist of history can take the minor inconsistencies to discount the individual as a whole, which is really character assassination from the point of view of history.

I think the problem is the idea that history needs to be told as a linear narrative, as textbooks do it. People are complicated, and complication, nuance and detail are often lost when historians try to tie everything up into a nice, neat textbook -even worse are when textbooks try to portray figures as something they're not. That's the trend with Pearson Publishing (who I hate) now.... what a shame.

The history textbook I used in high school was the American Pageant 12th edition. I still have my copy (we had to buy them, lol) and I'll keep it forever. If I ever have kids, I'll have them read from it. It's a treasure... and even though it's a textbook, it's one of the very few good ones.

Yes, that's why good biographies are so important, and autobiographies also. In college I read a lot of texts on the USSR, but on my own I read the autobiography of Khrushchev and found the content within incredibly insightful. Learning things piecemeal without the appropriate context is not history at all.