prelude to some History notes
Sometimes, you know, I like to chat history.
I place such a huge importance on having an appreciation for the historical events that have shaped the world in which we live. I think that without context, all that we’re really living is just multiple 365-day calendar years in succession. In particular, I think that everyone should have some form of an appreciation for the history of human civilization, starting right between the Tigris and Euphrates, circa 7000 BC.
Obviously, however, I am not a historian. And as a result of my totally non-traditional approach to the study of history I feel it important to first look at the context through which I view the discipline. We can pretty much distill this down to a single five-word statement, inspired by an absolutely kick-ass high-school history teacher.
That’s five words to an ideology that has come to shape how I view the world. These five words?
Imagine modernity as a movie.
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Imagine modernity – the events, atmosphere and society that underlie life in the contemporary era – as a movie.
Imagine your world leaders, favourite television celebrities, personal peers and family alike as characters in a ridiculously high-budget epic film that takes place over the course of the 70, 80 years that you have been gifted on this planet. Imagine the experiences you feel over the course of your life as scenes in this movie - imagine your favourite songs as the soundtrack. Extending this further, imagine ongoing world events as the underlying events that set the context for your movie. Imagine modernity as a movie - imagine yourself as the main character.
Should you follow this thought-train, perhaps it seems logical to begin your movie at the moment you were born. I mean, that’s the intuitive way to think about it. Let me pose a counterpoint, though. Should you imagine your life as a movie, then the history of the world becomes the history of your world. Not knowing, or at least not having an appreciation for the historical events that shape the world which you were born into then becomes the equivalent of a childhood lost.
That is, if you choose to imagine modernity as a movie.
And following, should we imagine modernity as a movie then we must imagine all of history as a series of epic films, each arising at different times in different places all over the planet and each continuing to this day.
This is the context that I'd like to set as a prelude to some thoughts on history.