Monday, November 03, 2008

What is History?

According to the Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary, history is:

all the events that happened in the past

This definition is inadequate. History is:

all the recorded events that happened in the past

I am born in 1989. This is a date. This is a concrete fact that goes to history. Or does it? After a hundred year, hopefully not several decades, I will die. Under the ground, the worms will compete to eat my flesh. The vicious bacteria will decompose me. After another hundred years, I will become mud. One blazingly hot day, a construction worker will grab a handful of this mud, pour some water on it and glue the bricks. I will be part of a wall. I will be forgotten.

I cease to exist in history.

History only exists when it is recorded. It exists when we remember the past. Therefore it has no concrete existence. It is only real in our mind. Outside of our mind, it is meaningless. It has no value.

Destroying the records and/or creating new ones produce raw materials for the past. The second step is to erase the memory and refill it with the brand new records. History is then born. What is once a concrete and infallible fact is only a human invention.

As it is said in 1984 ," Who controls the present controls the past."

What a tragedy.

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