What is History ? by EH Carr, Chapter 1: Historians & their facts
What is History? by EH Carr 1961 a compilation of the George Macaulay Trevelyan Lectures delivered at The University of Cambridge in 1961.
I’ve been sneaking up on the meat of this topic slowly but EH Carr and later Jared Diamond represent the meat, though there is much more to come. The previous What is History? articles have been 1 An Introduction, 2 Sleep Patterns 3, The Medieval Mind, 4 Love. They were part of a softening up process to indicate that history is not just about kings and famous individuals, that one can view history from different directions to those normally chosen by historians and that writing about and understanding history is not at all an obvious process and is in fact very difficult.
With Carr one examines mainstream history and historians. He shows in a brilliantly witty and erudite series of lectures that the process of studying history is not at all straight forward. However, since Carr’s 1961 lectures the study of history has come a long way and I certainly am optimistic about its future. If one had to sum up Carr in one sentence, in his words, it would be:
The belief in a hard core of historical facts existing objectively and independently of the interpretation of the historian is a preposterous fallacy, but one which it is very hard to eradicate.
This article will deal only with Carr’s first lecture.
It is 1984. I am just shy of 19, Reagan is about to be re-elected in the US, Thatcher is administering the UK, and our new prime minister, Bob Hawke, along with his treasurer, Paul Keating, is planning his own quiet revolution in Australia.
Christos Tsiolkas The Monthly December 2016 — January 2017
1984 was the beginnings of the personal computer revolution. Apple’s 1984 advertisement at the superbowl was impudent but memorable. William Gibson’s novel Neuromancer seemed to show the way the future was going, at least to SciFi buffs. And, those of us interested in technology and societal change seemed to feel that we had a sort of handle on the future, we were excited by accelerating change and the ‘so called’ transition to post-industrialism.
Trekking in the Everest Region in Spring 2013: Phortse to Lukla via Dingboche
April 16 to Macchermo to Phortse
In Everest Region Trekking 1 we finished on the way back from Gokyo at Macchermo halted by bad weather. Teresa in her Trek Report (see below) says of that night: we danced our buns off last night and went to bed at the unthinkable time of 9.30. Great to see the totally unselfconscious way our boys dance with us and with each other.
In consequence next day — a long day — became longer but it was very interesting, quite different to coming the other way and much quicker downhill. Dhole was full of yaks getting ready to move up the trail. Phortse Denga where we’d stayed before on the river was again a lovely place for a brief stop. I never find retracing one’s steps in Nepal is a bother because it is always different.
Chris Uhlmann and Steve Lewis’s novels, The Marmalade Files, The Mandarin Code and The Shadow Game (Secret City)
I have been thinking that I should write something about cybersecurity and the slow moving tragedy of what is happening to the Internet. But there is so much, the task seems daunting and I know I’ll just keep tinkering about the edges.
It’s trying to navigate between Scylla and Charbydis — superficiality versus getting bogged in detail.
I’ve at least begun in The Last Days of Osama bin Laden 2 and even with some insight in William Gibson’s The Art of Prophecy. I’ll keep on trying to sneak up on the issue. Remember, also that this enormous task is about the Internet, which to my reckoning (i.e. becoming functional and useful) is barely 21 years old.
On the way back home from Spain (three days late, another story) I purchased Luke Harding The Snowden Files 2014 in Singapore. Finishing it stirred up my need to write about cybersecurity. Whilst in Spain, I also read the Secret City Trilogy: The Marmalade Files, The Mandarin Code and The Shadow Game by Steve Lewis and Chris Uhlmann, 2012, 2014 and 2016, on Denise’s ipad.
Trekking in the Everest Region in Spring 2013: Lukla to Gokyo
Most people who go trekking above Namche Bazaar (3440 m) want to go to Everest Base Camp (5380 m). This is despite base camp not being the most welcoming or lovely spot and that strings of trekkers are behind and in front of the whole way you, day-in-day-out. Teresa decided to take us to Gokyo Lakes and Gokyo Ri or Peak (5357 m) on a left hand zig instead. Two of the fittest of the party went with three guide porters over the Cho La Pass (5420 m) from Gokyo, to base camp via Gorak Shep and also to Kala Patthar (5643 m above base camp). While the rest of us retraced our steps part way and then zigged right. We were going Dingboche (4410 m) the start of the walk to the Island Peak (6189 m) climb — the easiest small peak in Nepal. The weather was very windy and it was quite cold so a small group of us only made it to the teahouse at Bibre (close to 5000 m), which was sheltered and didn’t continue on to Chukkhung (4730 m) beyond Dingboche.
The two 500th year Bosch Exhibitions in the Netherlands and Spain
Hieronymus Bosch: Visions of Genius, Noordbrabants Museum, Den Bosch, Netherlands from 13 February to 8 May 2016. Bosch: The 5th Centenary Exhibition, Museo del Prado, Madrid from 31 May to 11 September 2016.
Introduction, controversy and a little spite
We’ve got to take the rivalry of the Dutch and the Spanish exhibitions with a grain of salt. Both were masterly. The Prado had three more important pictures loaned by other galleries, plus its two disputed attribution pictures. The Noordbrabants Museum in Den Bosch (colloquial name for ’s-Hertogenbosch) did an amazing tour de force for a small galley. As the Guardian Review says: From all accounts the The Noordbrabants Museum in Den Bosch has put on one of the most important exhibitions of our century.
Denise and I only visited the Prado and managed to do that that just two days before the exhibition closed. Both exhibitions celebrated the 500th year since Hieronymus Bosch’s death and I suspect that we’ll never see the like again for a generation and perhaps forever. You will know of my interest as an artist in Bosch from the article Hieronymus Bosch painter, 1450-1516.
Food writing 3: More Articles I liked from Choice Cuts by Mark Kurlansky
Writing about food some fine writers and articles
In Food writing 1, I analysed Mark Kurlansky’s anthology Choice Cuts: A Savory Selection of Food Writing from Around the World and Throughout History, 2002. The book contains 234 articles, which covers the range of food writing from 500 BC to roughly the last thirty years.
It is my task here to continue the descriptions and commenting articles in the book that I feel worthy of following up on.
The Continuing List
This is the continuing list of the remainder of the 32 articles I liked in Choice Cuts. They are in the order they appeared in the book.
I’ll also cover the 40 others I felt worthy of mention later.