Friday, October 31, 2008

King Arthur and the Mutability of the Past -- Crushed by Ingsoc


The past is a funny kingdom. People look at history as if it's an exact science. Of course, it isn't.
The past really is mutable, or has been up till now. Archaeology blends into history which blends into historical myth.

Even in the twentieth century, historical myths have been peddled. History has often been used to justify political concepts, indeed it is STILL used to justify political concepts. And it's not just in the case of Israel, which I think we've covered to death here, but even in concepts such as Welsh Nationalism. Political movements often use history to justify claims which are, in fact, fallacious.

A classic twentieth century case of historical myth concerns the ruined city of Great Zimbabwe in the country that now carries it's name. Under white rule, it was seriously maintained that the city actually was the Ophir of the bible, the legendary mines of King Solomon. It was taken as read that native Africans just couldn't have built it. And the white settlers used this concept to justify their claims that Rhodesia had belonged to a 'superior' people before the 'savages' had come in.

Historical myth as a political tool is as old as history itself. After all, the history of Herodotus starts with an allusion to the Trojan war as the first battle between Greece and Asia. We call Herodotus the father of History, but in truth, much of what he writes of events much over a century before his time, is wildly inaccurate, a mish mash of oral legends. His account of the Kings of Egypt, for example, has no real historical value whatsoever.

Continued here at Crushed by Ingsoc.

2 comments:

Tor Hershman said...

Real hisTORy is almost always awful, myths are almost always sweeeeeeeet.

Here's some hisTORy and it ain't sweet BUT amusing, at the outro.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z7iQRFP_e90

Stay on groovin' safari,
Tor Hershman

mutleythedog said...

Have you been watching Merlin on the Beeb. Very mutable myths...