Sunday, February 22, 2009
What's the "Real" Story?
Happy Birthday, George Washington! Yes, you, the guy who did not cut down a cherry tree, did not wear wooden dentures and who was a truly lousy general. Love to you, Reya
Revisionist history is one of my favorite things, maybe because all history is made up anyway. When the "official" version of history changes, what that means to me is that the foundational myths that underlie my culture have expanded to include a broader view of the past. When history is revised, we have to open our eyes to a new picture, a new way of thinking about who we are. How could that ever be a bad thing?
The book, Ghengis Khan and the Making of the Modern World by Jack Weatherford is one of my recent favorite books of revisionist history. I also really loved 1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus by Charles Mann. And 1491: The Year China Discovered America by Gavin Menzies. I will not bore you with a long list but there are lots of these books in print.
I am also fascinated by the revisionists in all the sciences. Botanists, geologists, physicists, paleontologists, astronomers, geneticists (& etc.) are all discovering that the world isn't exactly as they imagined a generation ago, or in the case of the some of the sciences, even last year. The past is not set in stone, nor is "reality" for that matter. Everything in our world can shapeshift, really, everything.
Recent contact with a few of my dear ones from way back in my lifetime has forced me to revise my personal history rather drastically. All my sad stories about being miserable 100% of the time as a child and in high school have passed their expiration date and been relegated to the shredder. In fact, though miserable at times, I actually had lots of fun as a kid, even in high school. Who knew?
That it took me this long to revise my personal history is embarrassing. I wonder if all those official revisionist historians feel a pang of chagrin when they discover new truths? Do you think?