I went to an interesting lecture yesterday and one of the points that stuck with me is that history is really fiction. Well, I should have started off by saying that this was religious studies lecture and it explained that we, as humans, narrate events and that our histories are really narratives. Fiction. Right? Right. Everyone knows history is written by the victors. Those who win wars, conquer nations, have the cash flow to produce news (from handwriting scrolls and movable type to multinational news stations) have the access and means to spin the information we all get to what suits their purposes.
This lecture was particularly interesting as it dealt with humanity’s and society’s responsibility regarding the ethics of understanding. If you want to know what I’m talking about, look up Walter Benjamin and Georges Bataille as they were referenced heavily.
We’re not only at the mercy of higher powers who have a vested interest in spun truths, but also by people who believe they mean well but who really have no clue the impact of their actions. (e.g. religious censorship, etc.) This lecture pressed that humanities largest goal is to set aside judgement and expectations, that the only way we can really set aside the animosity and violence of life is to bear honest witness to events, to set aside judgement, and truly understand the suffering of others.
Anyway, back to the fiction aspect…nearly everything we encounter in our lives is made up in one form or another. Serious life lessons are masked in light make believe and fed to us as children, and that in a way sets us up to swallow these “truths” as adults. Some people escape this trap and become scholars, others never realize they’ve been hoodwinked. As writers we employ some of these methods and disguise it as entertainment, the aware among us might just slip in snippets of understanding, symbols and dialogues to engage other thinkers.
Some are even brave enough to put truths out there blatantly, willing to risk themselves by going against those who have a vested interest in keeping certain truths in their version of the right light. I saw this clip and thought it a fun example of my meaning.
It’s a funny bit of stand up by Ricky Gervais in a show he did called Animals. The rest of the show is worth watching as well…you’ll see on this youtube channel that someone has stricken the above clip…hmmm censorship anyone? The full bit is worth watching as well if you’re interested. It’s broken into
8 7 clips. See it here.
Hopefully the bit of comedy lightens you day a little. Sorry, didn’t mean to get so deep on a Friday, but it’s been one of those weeks I guess.
Until next time,