Monday, December 30, 2013

Your History Is Being Rewritten

A chaotic event or even a mundane event might be recorded, then rewritten, then disappear, be rediscovered and rewritten many times. The furious speed at which information goes through these changes is mind boggling. These days, history is not written by winners of conflicts, it is endlessly revised by whim.

Writer William Gibson spoke about this in an interview with the Paris Review:

"Of course, all fiction is speculative, and all history, too—endlessly subject to revision. Particularly given all of the emerging technology today, in a hundred years the long span of human history will look fabulously different from the version we have now. If things go on the way they’re going, and technology keeps emerging, we’ll eventually have a near-total sorting of humanity’s attic.

In my lifetime I’ve been able to watch completely different narratives of history emerge. The history now of what World War II was about and how it actually took place is radically different from the history I was taught in elementary school. If you read the Victorians writing about themselves, they’re describing something that never existed. The Victorians didn’t think of themselves as sexually repressed, and they didn’t think of themselves as racist. They didn’t think of themselves as colonialists. They thought of themselves as the crown of creation.

We’ve gotten so used to emergent technologies that we get anxious if we haven’t had one in a while."

Whether the event is the recent chaos in Benghazi or the hysteria over "Duck Dynasty", our society seeks out revision over resolution.