Tuesday, September 18, 2007

49; history and bees

History has never been straightforward. In the West you start with Herodotus who liberally intermixed the fantastic with the historical account of the Persian War. Thucydides tried to rectify this by adding objectivity, but even he is suspect. Reading the speeches, including the famous funeral oration of Pericles it has to be wondered just how well he remembered those speeches and if he was, in fact, even there to hear them. And 'The History of the Peloponnesian War' is rife with speeches.

The Romans tried to get things right, Livy and Tacitus gave accounts of the founding of the city and the Julio-Claudian dynasty with acceptable accuracy. Livy, however, relied primarily on court and official records, and Tacitus was suspiciously part of the inner circle. Still, more reliable than Greek works.

Perhaps that's why the next major historical work looked at the Romans with a critical eye. (Of course in between were works by local historians like Bede, but we overlook this as silly and dark ages, validity of said argument aside.) Gibbon wrote 'The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire' and began to seriously screw with History. He looked back and rather than present what occurred he read into it a theory, and history then became the playground of theory rather than a realm of recording fact. Gibbon decided that based on the evidence the Roman Empire had fallen due to moral decline, and wrote his history with that in mind. Of course he had predecessors in this tradition, and so history's focus changed.

For anyone reading these arguments please note that they are simplified to an absurd degree. It's equivalent to presenting literature in the following matter: Homer, Virgil, Dante, Cervantes, Milton, Tolstoy. The end. History and historiography (the study of the study of history of which I am keen) is darn complicated and has roots back to the 1500s with a fellow named Giambattista Vico, whose looked back and first theorized that civilizations have a rise and fall through stages. Anyone who like Jared Diamond and/or stakes a claim in his books owes Vico. Tens and twenties will be accepted, as well as smaller denominations.

And so today, kiddies, historiography is as much an important field as history, since historians now interject theory into their writing to make it more interesting and sell-able, and other things which are Bad. And documentaries were born, and then they too were slanted. And a fellow named Foucault came along and said that people slanting things changes the thing's perspective, and everyone was in awe. And that's how we got post-modernism.

In other news: The Justice Department is urging for a two-tier Internet. Bees are be killed by an Aussie virus. Pavoratti is dead, and Bush and Roh had a weird debate about peace in Korea. Of these stories I think it's obvious which is most important in the long run: Bees! Ever since Eddie Izzard has been introduced into our vocabulary it's hard not to think of bees as amusing. From 'Circle' :

And you don’t get the normal perks of a normal job, like people who work in an office; they have other people there, you can flirt, you know? You go, “Hey! Oh, you’re new here, aren’t you? How are you getting on? Do you want a coffee? I was gonna go get a coffee- I can get you a coffee… You know, I like my coffee like I like my women- in a plastic cup!”

Beekeepers can’t do that! 2,000 bees…

“Hello, there, you in the street! You’re new, aren’t you?”


“Do you want a cup of coffee? It’s no problem! (buzzing continues) No real problem…”

“I don’t want a cup of coffee from you! You’re covered in bees!”

“I like my women like I like my coffee… covered in bees! Now back off, back off!”
So that's what I think. That's a lie. That's what Eddie Izzard thinks, and I think it as well, and now I must off to class, and bees are dying, and oh, the tragedy, and if you don't like it no one's forcing you to read it.

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