THE ART OF LEARNING NOTHING

History is little other than a story of what has past. Since it is past, there is no way it can be verified in the present. Such are the restrictions of time.

To give these tales, called history, force, we must rely upon some sort of record. These records may be those of Nature, such as fossils, or those of man. In the case of man, the records remain as scribbles upon stone, parchment, or privy walls. These records may, or may not, represent the truth of the matter, for they rely upon the most fluid of all records – human memory and human interpretation of observations. The human mind is much like the RAM (random access memory) of our computers. It can be recalled, but it can also be re-written. Thus, the "truth" of the past – the "truth" of history – is built upon a bed of faith, that is, a belief that those records indeed represent fact. It could not be otherwise. However, this should in no way detract from the fact that history simply cannot be verified in the present and, for that matter, neither can the future.

Usually when we seek information concerning the past, we necessarily consult books or other people. If we are too lazy to read the relevant books, we ask someone who claims to have read these books, or claims to have observed the events in question. In all cases, what we receive is a batch of opinions and then we play cafeteria with what is presented and pick and choose that which, more than likely, complements what we already had chosen to believe. History, then, becomes a many splendored set of beliefs. If this were not so, then how else can we explain the bickering, debates, arguing and other varieties of controversy which is part and parcel of it? Very few would not hold the sum of 3 and 4 to be 7. Fewer others would argue the matter.

History is argumentative, at least to those who retain a modicum of intellectual capacity. To the vast majority, history remains what they have been taught – nothing more and nothing less. It is unenthusiastically believed and all go on their merry way. What is taught as "factual" history depends upon the propaganda line of those who hold the political power to control what is presented. This, however, never makes that version of history any more accurate. The great unwashed masses need the emotional security of believing what everyone else believes. This, in a practical sense, allows them the happy state of lesser conflict.

Historians, and of course the proper sub-set called revisionists, are in the arguing business. They eagerly seek to discover "new facts" or try fervently to "disprove" what some other historian has presented as his truth. They write books, teach courses, give lectures, and debate endlessly. They, like lawyers, contribute no real wealth to any society which is foolish enough to tolerate them beyond a minuscule bound.

There is no objection to any sort of history babble as long as it's confined to the fetid halls of academia. However, when the disagreements act as a focal point for mobs of people, who should know better, to choose sides in some sort of war, then it's time to bring out the fire hoses. Revisionism is a parlor game. It is little more than entertainment and like the World Series, it goes on and on and on, accomplishing little other than to keep a lot of people busy, angry and in a few cases, wealthy.

I remember an episode which took place in Pontillo's Pizzeria when I was a lad. Two young men, who fancied the town slut as "his woman," met near the front entrance by happenstance. A bloody confrontation ensued reminiscent of an overdue rutting season. While these two nit-wits were battling over who was to get what, Connie – the "easy make" – slipped out the back door with another penis owner, no doubt convincing him that she loved him also.

While groups of our people are battling over "gas ovens" and "racial equality" bilge, the country is slipping out the back door.

by Robert Frenz

7 October 1998