Friday, December 4, 2009

Two Takes on History

For those who share my interest in the deeper past—and attempts at grasping its enormous complexity and maddening structure—I recommend two fascinating and original essays by Paul Rodriguez on The Ruricolist, titled Xerxes and Civilizations.

James Joyce, writing in Ulysses, wrote the sentence, “History, Stephen said, is a nightmare from which I am trying to awake.” The words are usually attributed to Joyce directly with the “Stephen said” omitted—yet one more indication how rapidly context is usually lost even in our own time. Joyce died in 1941 when I was not yet five. The quote stayed with me because history has fascinated me throughout my life; Paul’s second essay sums up some of the imponderables that any attempt at making sense of the big picture, so called, bedevils the would-be sage.

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