Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Time-travel to the past in America


Well, first there is this, a statement that has long intrigued me:

Philosopher, essayist, poet, and novelist George Santayana is known to be the originator of the quote: "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."

And then there is this:

As I pointed out in an earlier posting, I have spent a significant but not lengthy portion of my adult life reading, studying, and talking about literature, and my blogging activities over the years have been determined largely by that focus, but long ago -- once upon a time -- I never gave much thought to imaginative literature but instead planned on becoming an American history teacher. Alas, that career goal was never achieved, and my previously posted autobiographical sketch somewhat explains the reasons. Now, though, it is time for a return to the past. What do I mean? Please continue reading.

My posting this morning included my fanciful desire for time-travel. Now, friends, I recognize the folly of that fantasy, especially as it might unless amended involve even more reading and talking about literature. The prospect of another far flung, meandering adventure among fiction and poetry does not interest me except for time spent with a few exemplary writers from the past. But I have stumbled upon a different and more interesting doorway for a pleasurable itinerary, one that will help me remember the past and avoid repetitions in my own life: I will give myself over to the reading and studying American history (and a few exemplary writers from the 19th century).

Here is my first time-travel reading project:

Paul Johnson's 1100-page narrative history, portions of which I have read in the past and will read in bits and pieces again, will be among my many "time travel vehicles." Similar books will become my time-consuming transports to thousands of discoveries in the days, weeks, and months ahead; I have already accumulated 27 history and biography texts that have for too long collected dust among on my iPad.

Now, though, while I have no definite plans for the future of this blog, which might be more silent than active, I leave you with a two-part question:

What moment in American history interests you so much that you would if you could time-travel and become an on-scene witness to history in the making? Why?



8 comments:

  1. Tim,

    March 1861 to April 1865.

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    1. Fred, those were incredible years. Of course, I would not want to be a soldier then. I guess I would have tried to buy a substitute for my conscription. Grover Cleveland, for example, paid a guy $300 to go in his place. Hence, I would not want to be poor then.

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  2. It sounds as though you are embarking on a fascinating journey, Tim, and I wish you well. I'll be interested in your thoughts as you go along. As for me, now is good.

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    1. Margot, I understand. But "now" can be terrifying. Consider, for example, the Manchester UK horror.

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  3. Between the world wars would be interesting; a person living then could fix his own car(grapes of wrath), there were radios but no tv or computers( a plus imo), and there was Lots of opportunity for classical musicians...

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    1. Mudpuddle, we can live without TVs and computers now if we choose. Right? If I lived then, I hope I could have endured the 30s because, like most people, I would probably have been poor rather than rich.

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  4. If we pretend that we can have medical care and good plumbing (which is cheating) and proper diapers in babyhood, I'd like to wander around as a man in the seventeenth century and write accounts of the colonies and nature. A woman wouldn't have much chance of lasting long enough to see the world.

    Luck with your new verbal escapades!

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    1. Let's give ourselves permission to cheat! Some women, Marly, must have lasted. You would have been one of them!

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