‘Du Bois cast scorn on this attempt to write history as “pleasant reading for Americans.” … The history that justified [the Confederate statues‘] construction banished, once and for all, the horrors of slavery, and left American identity safe and secure. Nearly a century later, we are still trying to transcend such “pleasant reading.”’

newyorker.com/books/page-turne “The History That James Baldwin Wanted America to See” is stunning.

History as “pleasant reading”. What an awful application of history.

‘history cannot be equated with comfort, nostalgia, or a fixed arc of progress. We need to get the facts right; otherwise, we are trading only in what Du Bois called “lies agreed upon.” In particular, we can’t elide the facts that complicate how we might see a historical figure or event. … yet the facts alone aren’t enough. What we do with them, the kinds of questions we ask about them, and for what ends, matter. … Our appeals to history [aim] to clarify our commitments today.’

Show thread
Follow

About ↑, about my personal relationship with history—I assume everyone who ever lived was a big bastard who could have done much better with their miserable life, just like me.

Sure you wrote an awesome song, painted an amazing ceiling, invented an amazing chemical, fought some important battle, founded a hospital, but doesn’t mean you weren’t a shitty human who deserves no pedestal.

Instead of heroes, I have paragons: people who did good in a way we know, and bad at probably everything else.

“People who imagine that history flatters them are impaled on their history like a butterfly on a pin and become incapable of seeing or changing themselves, or the world.”

Baldwin, quoted in newyorker.com/books/page-turne, wrote this in 1965—took my breath away.

Always try to crush this addiction to self-flattery.

Show thread

I’m trying to say something about this piece: “You Want a Confederate Monument? My Body Is a Confederate Monument” by Caroline Randall Williams:

nytimes.com/2020/06/26/opinion

And I just can’t.

For me it’s an incredibly powerful reminder to eliminate fairy tales from our lives.

Show thread
Sign in to participate in the conversation
Octodon

The social network of the future: No ads, no corporate surveillance, ethical design, and decentralization! Own your data with Mastodon!