Saturday, December 25, 2010
History, and the American sensibility. Just a few thoughts on the subject as I roam through the common era.
Recently I had the dusty honor along with a few other comrades of saving a portion of the corporate memory of the Pacifica Foundation. An organization the runs non-commercial radio stations around this swell country of ours.
Founded by Pacifists I’m always proud to say.
The event I speak of was actually a rather routine saving, and cataloging of old papers, and booklets. It was a huge disheveled pile of debris.
Progressives have this affinity for clutter. Why? Well that’s a whole other rant, but to the saving of the dusty records.
These were program guides, memos, and assorted deranged broadsides that we, before the partial demise of printed matter, used to mail to our dear listeners, and supporters. Items from the 1960’s through the 90’s.
These bits of our past were destined for one of the mafia owned land fills, or recycling mills. However being aging hippies, and so naturally sentimental we saved the lot. We cleaned it up. Put it all in fresh folders, boxed them, and properly stored them.
Why bother? All that sweaty work for just old schedules, announcements, and heated personal memos about the egomania of long departed personalities. We bothered because these fragments are about who we were, and how we became what we are.
All the above self serving blather is to say that relatively few of us, that is few Americans actively care much for history. That, and more important it’s preservation.
(Yes of course there is the gleeful sub-culture of history buffs, and assorted re-enactors, but I speak here of the mainstream.)
I had thought that as a people we have a particular contempt for history. I’ve found that it’s different. Indeed perhaps worse.
To have contempt you must have a knowledge of what you despise. We on the whole don’t. What we have is a near total oblivious disregard for history. So many of us in the American universe are free floating in an eternal now. Days, years or centuries past are at best vague notions.
This is also a universe that contemplates no future.
I’m always fascinated to speak to my fellow United Statesers. Intelligent, capable folks who have no idea how things came to be as they are, and are content to remain so.
I don’t mean to disparage my fellow citizens. ...much. I’m just interested in how they manage to live in such a totally blank reality. Live the do, and happily so in this alternate realm. I have the image of people calmly reading blank books. Page after page of pristine emptiness. Newspapers without a dot of ink upon them.
Btw they are as mystified by us. Those that bother to note the past, and wonder at the future. Again this is not, well not exactly a judgment of the choice made by so many to be uninformed. After all it ‘is’ easier. It is much easier to get by without troubling yourself with all that dead, and gone static, and foolishness. My heavens don’t people have enough on their minds, and they do.
As I say I just have a curiosity about that choice.
Of course there’s the idea that this is encouraged. An uniformed citizenry is an easily led, and managed one. However that’s a different rant for another time.