It’s been coming to my attention lately from numerous sources that a whole lot of people do not care one bit about history. I love history – not all history, but most history – so it matters not that no one else does. It just didn’t occur to me that they didn’t care at all. Ha.
History has surprised me over and over with the tugs and pulls of voices that, individually, have been forgotten but, together …? A modern moment – that seems at a glance to be disconnected – isn’t. Words and phrases have the faintest echoes of the words and phrases before and they all become part of the slow flow of ideas. Yes, yes, we all know that the glittering lines of Shakespeare have survived, but the ideas of so many others … they’ve survived, too.
I don’t prefer the past, but I value it for revealing so much, for its deep reserves of inspiration, for the secrets it exhales.
When I write or paint, I don’t think of history as a thing to be applied -but it’s there, in the way I see the world and hear the world and think of the world. I’m loaded with the long story of life unfurled.
Sometimes, it shows itself in the most simple way: I tell my mother about an old classic film I just watched and I assume, based on her age and the fame of the film, that she knows it well.
She’s never seen it. She grew up in a tiny town in a farming state that was still recovering from the Depression. Simple and this tiny bit of personal history makes me very aware of how cultural sign posts only mean something when you’re willing to understand what they mean.
I don’t expect anyone to read my love of history in what I write (quite separate and apart from blogging), but it’s there.
I don’t expect anyone to see it in my paintings, either.
But it’s there.