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ITS INTERESTING to see how history is distorted in the act of grasping it: how it bends to fit the mind

of the person who takes it in. You can investigate a historical epoch and watch as others, arriving at disparate conclusions, paint a portrait with a selection of colors chosen to fulfill their needs. A man is bound to feel that in the careless approach of others, he himself stands accused: is he not guilty of the same crime, of distorting history to his own ends, lacking merely the person with sufficient subtlety to call him to account? Joachim Fest said that the political maturity of the German people came only after the loss of their inner, spiritually romantic interior the relic of feudalism that had not yet given way. This world of glorious Heroes and Grand Gestures which Wagner seeked to portray in music, and which Hitler forged a connection to largely through Wagners operas, apparently watching Siegfried 30 or more times. Ah, Heroic artwork. One of the main differences between the lingering feudalistic mindset of Germany and the individualist mindset which was rising in the West, was the relationship to authority. In the West, it was gradually being understood that self-interest could be reliably deferred to when dealing with ones superiors and even the concept of a superior, of someone placed above oneself in the natural order, was becoming incomprehensible. In Germany, respect for authority still had its unquestioning, deferential, semi-religious quality. Hitlers image was crafted to act as a catch-all for stray deference: an intellectual, a man of letters, a soldier, a man furiously dedicated to his country, pick which aspect of him you want to respect, but by all means pay respect. Fest concludes his Opus with the observation that the Germans finally matured politically when they lost the belief in glorious past ages and future utopias. He said: They ceased to believe in a past that did not exist. That line stuck out at me: ceased to believe in a past that did not exist. The Great Trek is a series of documentaries about the destruction of the former Prussian territories, Silesia and the Sudetenland. As I have read many books written by Prussian refugees, I am always interested to hear the tone in which they air out their sense of remiss at their hard turn of fate: most commonly I find a wistful, remembrance-filled resignation adopted in old age, which overlays and betrays the powerful resentment and grievance of their youthful years. It is like a coat of white paint on the walls of a room that was formerly orange. As an old person, I presume its easy to make peace, with the grave in front of you; for young people, its clearly very hard not to fight, when a fight presents itself. In my research into this topic I twice came across the figure of an august old Dame, describing with nostalgia the landscapes of Prussia and lamenting the loss of the beaches, fields, and the uniqueness of that place which I imagine speaks to former inhabitants in language inviolate, untranslatable to foreign ears. In these two particular cases, the women were both advocating the reacquisition of these territories and resettlement of refugees there. Although unlike Derbyshire, I would never advise these people how to feel, I do have doubts as to the final reality of their vision of Prussia Regained. What kind of future do they want to find out there?

I tend to the view that a person who does not live in memories and scrap-books is more alive than he that does, and as person who lives in the present, one often sees this adage confirmed in the contrast between memory and reality: You can never go home again. So I tend more to sympathize with the view of one Sudeten-German who was glad that his home town, Duppau, had actually been deserted: this freed him from the pain of having to see it become czech. This point of view tends to the opinion that memories are sweetest preserved in all the irreality of a remembrance: the nearer you come to them, the more you seek to find the reality behind them, the more they fall apart and become dirt. To put it another way, the past could have no sweeter distillation than the way we drape it and frame it in our own minds subtracting the ambiguity, the negative feelings, the less-than-extraordinary character which, we would be forced to admit, characterizes 90% of our time on this planet. Shakespeare made King Henry say these words: If all the year were playing holidays, To sport would be as tedious as to work; But when they seldom come, they wishd for come, And nothing pleaseth but rare accidents. ____ _____ The reality of history seems to depend on three factors: texture, emotion, and atavism. The more of these three a historical passage has for the reader, the more profound the resonance and the more significant the history is to its reader. Texture. The ancient world is less accessible for us not knowing how to visualize its objects. What did a book look like to the Greeks? A vase? A jar? Yes, you can find some images. What percentage of books looked like that, what percentage of vases, jars, urns? What did the people dress like? Insofar as the description of events is concrete and occurs in the physical world, the process of building a mental model in which first to view the actual events described in history, is extremely problematic. All of us have some vague knowledge of the scenery of ancient Greece and Rome very recent developments now allow these visions to become quite accurate. But this world never impressed itself on your senses, it never grasped you, housed you, as an environment, and neither has a similar environment done so. The powerfully visual element of human experience is utterly lacking, and we are invited to use imagination to body forth pictures of Alcibiades and Plato: well, fine, but vivifying a dead world with pictures from your own fancy doesnt square very well with the truth. People have to do this, otherwise they find it difficult to maintain interest in a mental model that they cannot see in some sense. Yet a texture spun out of your own mind cannot forever grasp your fascination as a source of knowledge: and this factor alone corrupts to some extent the study of history as periods become farther removed in time. The false texture imported from the present makes the mental models ever more implausible. Emotion. Would the two Prussian ladies want to live alone in Prussia? What made their childhoods so special

to them? Very probably it was the presence of now dead family members. Other human beings form the framework in which we experience any large emotional reality. So to imagine that a place has importance without the network of family and friends who surrounded you during your life in that place is misleading. Were it not for Mother and Father, the house would have no special memories. The presence of other people and shared experience gives the basis of emotion to a place or a historical event. The past is less interesting because the farther back one goes, the less people one knows. This is probably why nationalists usually manage to know the history of their country and not that of others: the ability to achieve an emotional importance through kinship gives this history its interest. If your dad says English history is important, and you love him, English history becomes important to you. Atavism. History provides an opportunity for analogous personalities to seek one anothers remains and works. Most especially, the rarer personalities can seek one another out: people of rare mental gifts can find solace in the writing of people with similar gifts. People with a certain propensity can find others of similar propensity. One of the strange historical links, which in its crass obviousness almost makes one embarrassed to be human, is the fact of Caesar visiting Alexanders grave and weeping, Napoleon visiting Caesars grave, and Hitler visiting Napoleons grave. A more obvious atavism could not exist, than that which is demonstrated here. Notice I did not say that these factors drive historical interest. A good deal of fantasy also motivates interest in history: the handsomeness of the Middle Ages suggest themselves to many a mind for simply aesthetic reasons. I said that these three factors make history real: whether it is the history of your immediate family or the history of your nation, or the history of some ancient dynasty: these things breathe sufficient life into what is dead, to create a mental model that in itself could be viewed as a source of unique experience. Perhaps you felt yourself to be the reincarnation of Henry V: nevertheless the texturelessness of your mental model and its failure to stir unique emotions caused by human contact, will ultimately cause it to be discarded as an insufficient source of experience. ____ _____ In what sense is history knowable? What analysis can dissect the portions of human experience transmittable in text from that part which inevitably is lost? Surely, not allinformation about our experiences is capable of being conveyed: a large part of this information is unknowable even to the doer, and has been called subconscious. What will ultimately be transmitted in text would not be a very high percentage of the theoretical whole. I see three substrata that divide history, beginning from your own lifes experience in memories and stretching back to ancient history. Personal. This is the most complete sense of an experience, and encompasses all of what a person knows

about his own experiences. We could add the excitement of anticipation and fantasy before the experience, the full experience itself, and the cold-blooded analysis that takes place after the experience: thus giving us more information than the person actually possessed at any one given time. In all likelihood an undistorted delineation of the anticipation of the experience was lost one week after the experience, and an honest sense of the experience was lost several months later: merely summarized for significance, which then becomes its defining characteristic: even though this was not the essential character of the experience as it was actually perceived. Most of the personal component is lost to history. Poetry is a chance for the personal component to live on in a very haphazardly altered state. Anyone who truly feels a poet may have breathed some of the same air as he did: at any rate, this is a poeticized and emotional connection which fails the criteria for scientific inquiry. Epochal/Factual/Memetic. This can be gained from a look at the material and spiritual facts of the era, and is one of the most productive areas of history where real knowledge can be gained. It is especially good for literary, highly abstract societies which make use of print: they inevitably betray a lot of their nature in their writings, much more than the mute testimony of rune-stones, spear-tips and Stelae. This is good for forming generalizations about life in this or that time period. Ultimately, it is unsatisfying because it lacks reality, no amount of epochal knowledge can create a compelling model in the personal dimension. This is also an important strata for atavism because one can see how different qualities of one people are brought forth more strongly in one period than another. Atavism however necessarily would require the preservation of the Personal substrata, in the simplified virtuous forms exemplified by Plutarchs Lives. Racial and Human. Not alot of Englishmen retire to the mountains to sip tea and practice calligraphy and meditation. Not alot of Chinamen turn into swashbuckling adventurers. When a Chinamen looks inside himself, he probably finds less swashbuckling and more landlubbing, tea-sipping kind of passivity. Even the filth of the English nation, i.e. Sting, has to go halfway across the world to drink magic potions in a midnight ceremony with an Incan tribe (I read his memoir, Broken Music, to foster conversation with a would-be girlfriendand I will never forgive myself! ). In this way the reality of a mental model of a historical period would have to be cross-checked against known facts: the Afrocentric historical hypothe-shizzle has a few centuries of empirical data going against the assertion that Africans once had high culture: we could say with historical evidence that high culture is against their nature. More conclusive of course are the proofs from IQ testing and statistics, which provide a higher resolution to historical sociological analysis. Likewise, any culture introduced amongst Anglo-Saxons will probably be dynamic by virtue of their dynamism. A culture introduced or developed amongst Chinese will be stable, well-maintained,

and perhaps ultimately stagnate for lack of dynamism. In this way a racial component has to be fed into the mental model of a historical epoch. Lastly, when reasoning to determine the plausibility of certain psychological situations, one can defer to the human element: as much as to say, human beings are this way. This is based on selfknowledge and a cynical, i.e. self-interested view of human nature. For example, an adulatory sonnet addressed to a woman is mating behavior: behind it stands the motivation to an sexual act. Were someone to propose that adulatory poetry addressed to not-yet-won women lacked this dimension and ultimate motivation, they would be proposing a non-cynical view of human nature. That is to say, they would be alleging that secondary drives take priority over primary ones: that the desire to honor and praise, relatively poorly developed in man, at some point came to dominate the reproductive drive, which is the equivalent of a psychological miracle. A poem of this kind stands for 50 midnight visits never consummated, and we dont know how much poetry never saw paper because the poet actually got what he wanted and was prevented from sublimely striving: how much beautiful verse ended in the graveyard of an embrace, divine numbers silenced with a moan and a sigh. Jesus Christ! Its three oclock in the morning! ___ ____ I had long wanted to post an introduction to and synopsis of Friedrich Nietzsches On The Use And Abuse of History For Everyday Life, which is my favorite work of his. In it he delineates three kinds of history: Monumental History, Antiquarian History, and Critical History. Monumental history is history fueled by a positive valuation. Critical history is history fueled by a negative valuation. Antiquarian history is objective history fueled by no evaluation, the simple act of collecting facts. Monumental history exists to give children a positive image of their ancestors and inspire men to historic action: it is demonstrable that many of histories greatest actors really were fixated on achieving a high place in history: Nelson, Hitler, Caesar. The particular psychological striving that animated these men is a result of Monumental History. I recommend that Monumental history be promulgated amongst young people to inculcate ambition, pride and self-sacrifice. Antiquarian history is good history: really, it is real history: a sober reporting of facts. Valuejudgments are abstained from as far as is possible. Critical history is negative history, which calls into question the worth attributed to any specific period. We know it primarily as the demolition of our own Monumental History through the emphasis on the fact that the benefits of our history were once not shared with foreigners: The British Empire is a Bad Thing. This is why our history is bad: because we werent working in the

interests of foreign peoples (yet). Children who grow up indoctrinated in this way are perhaps strangely poisoned: they dont believe in theworth of the community that spawned them, it seems their path out of nihilism will be a particularly difficult one. But critical history is particularly useful to those who have ingested too much Monumental History: and you can ingest too much of it! Believing too firmly in heroes and grand acts, a grand gesture as justification of ones worth, and the need to give ones all in an enormous struggle that is a way of thinking I invite everyone to try out for themselves with all the seriousness they can muster. It does not lead to stability and self-acceptance. Take it too seriously, and the pantheon of representative symbols on which it is based, and you will suffer as a result. Critical history frees one from this burden by promoting a neutral or even negative evaluation. __ ___ Half a year ago I went to a big castle built on a hill, where there is a statue of a man on a horse. The castle was actually no longer there, just some ruins. But there are three enormous men, one of them riding a horse, wearing a spiked helmet. My friend climbed up behind the horse and found a case of empty beer bottles apparently teenagers had been fun-in-nating back there. So I started a conversation with the man on the horse: PF: Please come to life. I want to see the glory of your Empire. Man: I cant. PF: Please become real, show me the glory of past ages. I have read so much about it and I want to live it now! Man: I cant. PF: Is this what history will forever be to me a symbol of life, which when I pick it up and shake it, reveals itself as just dead symbols? Will there forever be this contrast between the lifeless thing and the idea it is meant to represent? Man: Yes. PF: And whenever I imagine it, it will be fueled with childish fantasy and dreams or have no life at all? It will never spring to life, even if I reconstruct every detail, the breathe of life will still be wanting? Man: Yes. PF: Hey Horse! Can you say something more than this dumb guy riding you, he just says three words!!

Horse: Yes, PF, Ive been listening and Im afraid youre correct. History cant give the satisfaction you seem to be looking for. Im afraid Im just a piece of tin, symbol of long dead greatness. PF: Fuck you, you looked so imposing. [starts crying] Horse: Yes, but really Im just tin. PF: Thats fine can I publish what you said on my blog? Horse: Well, what kind of blog is it? PF: Its a kind of anti-immigrant, pro-horse type of blog. Horse: In that case, you may do so, and with my blessing, my son. So that ends my study of history. Im no longer interested in sorting out the past. It was very very very long in coming, but Im well certain of it. For all I know, my audience here may have consisted of three people, and even thats a generous estimation given that I counted myself twice, having once dressed up in a costume to be unrecognizable while visiting my own blog entries. Please dont understand this as a general recommendation, or as the advocacy of any idea, its just my personal resignation from being an amateur historian. I cant stand to see another pretend person vying for pretend power with another pretend person; I cant stand to see pretend people getting married, betraying each other to their enemies, signing contracts, raising livestock, practicing indoor sports: If I see one more pretend person, Im going to flip out and imagine myself doing something theoretically terrible to them. I imagine thats the beginning of the end of my contributions to this blog, since I dont know how observations outside of history can contribute to WN, and I dont want to focus on hard-scrabble politics of the Anglosphere. Ill stay around though, here and there, I may write a monthly article for MR patterned after the popular womans magazineGood Housekeeping, with ideas for recipes and arts-and-crafts projects. In the first episode, should it materialize, well find out how to bake a lovely cinnamon apple tort just in time for autumn mmm, delicious!