Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The Significance of the Past (and the Now)

Far more important is understanding what is going on right now -- and the personalities and forces trying to influence and impose their perspective on everybody else.

I once was required to study a book written by two scholars who had used old documents (archives) to reconstruct what they thought was actually going on two hundred years ago -- as though that was the most important use of scholarship and intelligence at that time.

Even in the present moment, witnessing events as they're happening right now, it's not really clear what is actually happening, or what the observer/reporter thinks is important and significant. But then to reconstruct a culture and reality two hundred years ago, or two thousand years ago, doesn't seem to be a wise use of one's so-called intelligence because the presence always implies the past, and thus, one can learn more about the past from the present, than to imagine what it was actually like in the past.

Thus, the real work of a historian is not about explaining the past, but explaining the present -- that will come to pass. If one cannot understand the times one is living in, then obviously, they're not going to have keen insight into behavior in another time -- and so the valid history, is understanding what is going on right now, as best one can -- and writing that history as one is actually living and experiencing it, and the rest is just a fabrication.

I know the justification is that one cannot understand the present unless one first understands the past, but it is likely more true, that one cannot understand the past unless one first understands his own present because that is actual and verifiable reality -- and that present, implies not only the understanding of the past but the whole totality of reality -- including the future, as one acts with that present knowledge.

The past is always being created -- and recreated, in each present moment, and so those archives, become much less important, just as we've all gone through many personal computers now, and at first thought it was important to retain everything -- until we've evolved to realize that it's not so important what we wrote 20 or 40 years ago that is so important, as it is what we are writing right now -- which implies everything we've ever known before, and evolved us to this point.

Thus we can let go of that past because most of it is not needed, but that which is, is the DNA of the present reality -- which is not lost, but knowledge actualized in today's reality, and not just a flawed, outdated and irrelevant understanding of reality in some forgotten (contrived) past.


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