Esse est percipi - "To be is to be perceived" . So wrote Bishop Berkeley about the nature of reality, but nowhere is it truer than in the writing of history, where the past can be reshaped, and rewritten. We know that when we read Caesar's Gallic war that it mixes propoganda and spin with fact. But the rewriting of history happens today, even as it occurs...
The Myth Makers
Taking history, and bending it just so,
Seeing how far plausibility will go,
And taking the tale of children beaten,
Devouring its substance, now all eaten,
That those who sought to look for right,
Are written out, attacked, taken from sight;
And is justice seen to be done? I think not:
But this is what we can expect, just rot,
As the heroes are torn from their stands,
And retired, watch in dismay from distant lands,
As their legacy is torn apart. Be perplexed!
For a moving finger writes, then erases text:
Lost teeth become the stuff of a fairy tale;
The voices unheard, of those who cry and wail,
Haunt an empty building, but it is now complete;
Court cases over, even if not enough, a cheat,
For justice here is timid, fearful of reputation,
And takes refuge from attempts at litigation;
When the players in this act have left the stage,
There is only impotence left, empty rage,
At all the children, growing up, with pain;
Were all their spoken words so much in vain?
The mythmakers put official story into place,
Leaving but a few reminders, a small trace,
Much as Maucaulay rewrote the ancient lays;
So that officials can return to normal days,
Eat, drink, and be merry, and move along,
Again falling deaf to that lamenting song,
Of childhood stolen, and the bitter taste:
What might have been, but was just waste.
André Maurois knew the problem - Maurois was a quotable French author of the early 20th century. One quote of his that came very much to mind on a couple of occassions last week is (in...
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