Thursday, July 30, 2009

'History is more or less bunk.'

I have always had a fascination with history, particularly military history. From the Battle of Thermopylae to the Tet Offensive, human conflict has repeatedly marked turning points in civilization. I absolutely abhor violence of any kind and yet war has a habit of not only showing the 'darker angels of our nature' but also a great distillation of the best of our humanity.

'When you're a Jet, you're a Jet all the way....'

Each period of history has it's own particular fascinating story for me. As an artist I am astonished by the incredible array of imaginative paraphernalia that accompanies the military historical time line. When I heard that the local historical societies got together once a year for an all-out history-a-thon, I couldn't resist taking my eldest lad and his mate along to soak up the atmosphere.

This guy had to ask the wife..."Darling you know that recent
windfall we had, could I use it to buy an armoured car?'

Luckily, the young boys really were fascinated by everything they saw and I was impressed by how the people in the armor etc. were only too eager to educate inquisitive young minds.
Imagine, two young boys being taught by a French grenadier to say 'Vive l'Empereur Napoleon!' while he cooks his Sunday roast over an open fire.

Man...this is how history should be taught!

Today the part of Napoleon will be played by Josephine

I remember back to my childhood when I almost had my love for ancient history expunged from my brain by the repeated dry dronings of pathologically disinterested teachers.
I desperately wanted to put flesh and blood to the names of the people that filled my historical texts. Television shows like the BBC's adaption of Robert Graves' splendid 'I Claudius' helped propel my fertile imagination past the grey landscape of high school history classes.

My boy now can tell you that during the American Civil war many of the Southern soldiers went into battle without shoes. He has felt the weight of chain mail, seen a viking encampment and understands that Redcoats were red because the dyes were inexpensive.

He also knows that those words in the textbooks were once of flesh and blood.

Only in the 21st century....


Wow Gold said...

Nice blog. I liked it.

Joel Bryan said...

That's pretty cool. History may be bunk, but I love it too!