Time and Tide

The Goliard novel I’ve begun is as fun to write as The Price wasn’t, at least so far. One of my struggles with The Price was tied to our times. The more I researched into what happened during the mid-18th century great migration to America, the more troubling it all was and the more I feared drifting into an irrelevant polemic about slanted history. 

Primary sources can be harsh, but they reveal worlds, and the commentary in our (often politicized) history books can be insipid. I’m one of the few people I know who doesn’t despise Christopher Columbus. He was a man of his time, and the times were awful. Maybe he was even better than average. I don’t know if it’s possible to write history without bias but boy, what a wonderful world it would be if that could happen.

History is messy, messier than most of us realize until we are obliged to dig into it. I think that’s how it should be. Our progenitors did not mean for us to live in their world but in our own. They consistently hoped our time would be better than theirs. Even I, looking back at the little bit of history I’ve lived through, hope many of those things don’t return. The future will have its own troubles without carrying the old ones forward with them. (Hey, coterie of anti-vaxers? I’m talking to you. Vaccinate your kids, for the love of god.)

Anyhoo, I don’t where this blog post is going, so… 


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15 thoughts on “Time and Tide

  1. It went to me and I enjoyed reading it. Some food for thought, although sometimes I still see myself as a cockney girl in East London wearing my mini skirts and stilettos and going to Leicester Square Mecca Dancing on a Saturday evening to see what I could pickup, or whether I might be picked up. They were the days. I see you are writing again. I had never heard of the Goliard group, but now I know more. Seem to be a group of hippies in the 12th and 13th centuary.

  2. You are sure right. History is messy. The first draft (journalism) is especially so. It took a long time to accept the fact that nothing I report is the whole story. There really is some fake news out there, and some slanted news, but most reporters are truly telling the story as best they can. Same way with historians and novelists. Happy writing!!

    • In reading primary sources — advertisements, news articles from the time, contemporary poetry and stories, letters, etc. — I saw so many gruesome things that have been expunged from the standard recitation of the colonizing of America. Most of these things were “all in a days work” and not considered “gruesome” at the time, but just part of life. I intentionally limited my revelation of what I’d learned in my book. I could see my modern readers focusing on those things rather than the story.

      I respect journalism very much. Without it, all we’d have is lies. There has always been fake news, and maybe all news is biased to some extent (how wouldn’t it be?) but without it? Keep up the good work. ❤

  3. It is not politically correct to judge most bistorical figures by thestandards of the time
    Today there is a tendency to either hate them because they don’t measure up to 21st century standards or to lionize them.

    Plato’,s parable of the cave has been forgotten.

  4. I’ve taught history. I’ve always tried to teach it honestly and without bias–not easy, but certainly rewarding. I don’t despise Christopher Columbus. As you say, he operated in a society far different than our own. He messed up, but he is NOT guilty for every terrible thing that has happened since he landed in the “New Word,” and we need to remember that.

    • I think of him and his cohorts as brave guys who set out to reach something they thought was a lot closer than it was, in ships I wouldn’t take on a lake, in a time before longitude. They might have been ruthless, greedy, exploitative a-holes, but the 15th century is probably not a place any of us want to land in a time machine. Besides, people like that are still all around us.

      Where I live, many of the people are descendants of those early Spanish explorers AND Native Americans. Their perspective is very different. They are small enough to fit into antique Spanish armor. They are Spanish and they speak an antiquated European dialect of Spanish mixed with Ute and Navajo. I love it. Besides believing those insane Spanish explorers were amazing, I don’t feel it’s right to denigrate the ancestry of anyone. What those guys did is, IMO, as amazing as landing on the moon.

  5. I love history, but it is very messy, contradictory, and difficult to figure out what the truth is. Somehow, I manage to make room for all of the theories, recognizing that there is truth in everything — somewhere. History isn’t a jigsaw puzzle and the pieces don’t fit cleanly together.

    • No. It’s a dynamic as complex as nature with man involved. At best I think we can discover the truth of a moment and its events — a simple “What happened?” but the “Why?” behind all that isn’t ever clear.

  6. History is bizarre, and the text books don’t delve into it truly, I agree. And now, and now, our archives is closing in my city, and will only be open way down south arrrggghh the anguish. Thanks for your story.

    • You’re welcome. A friend posted a question yesterday on Facebook about the use of the word “tribal” to designate a group of people committed to the same ideas and lifestyle, and all the propaganda of our time came raining down on her. Language is necessarily imprecise but I suppose that’s one reason history is “interpreted” differently all the time. It’s also why I like science. 🙂

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