Friday, February 25, 2005

Old News You Can Use: the denaturing of history

The chronic complaint against history as a subject, you will hear from most Americans, is that it is “old news”. In our up-to-the-minute media saturated culture this is an undeniable fact. “That was soooo last year,” is perhaps a bit exaggerated, but hardly far from describing the willful amnesia of most young people today. More concerned with the staggering demands of the present tense, is it any wonder students find knowing that the Battle of Antietam took place on September 17, 1862 is of little or no material use in their lives? In fairness, I can think of no occasion where my knowing the date of the bloodiest day in U.S. history has put food on my table or helped to pay the electric bill. The meticulous chronology of momentous dates, more often than not, takes on the appearance of a sadistic ritual perpetrated by underpaid civil servants bent on making their charges suffer for the mistake in their career choice. While mathematics might be equally hated, it at least redeems its existence in the popular consciencousness if for no other reason than it is reckoned to be necessary for the development of new and faster video games.

Read the remainder of this article at Butterflies and Wheels


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