Thursday, 11 October 2012

In Defense of History.

A month into University living... note to self 1)Invest in more pads of paper, 2) Never turn down a free pen (or free drink), 3)Addiction to BBC IPlayer is fatal and 4) Coffee loyalty cards are a mini-miracle and not to be sniffed at.

Having trudging my sorry butt through the rain to Uni campus and camping in the Library, only made bearable by the constant influx of friendly (and also slightly harassed)  faces and the promise of a self-indulgent Library Cafe lunch (it is self-indulgent when you have to pay for it despite having perfectly adequate sandwich making facilities and Tupperware at home), I can safely say I now know more than I ever needed (or wanted) to know about medieval agricultural development and thirteenth century consumerism in London. Despite the primary response to this being 'Why is this important again?', the secondary response came as more of a surprise  The reason I decided to read History was due to a love of the subject that I had never been able to attribute to anything in particular other than it interested me and apparently from the time of childhood I was constantly asking, my no doubt highly offended Grandparents, about what happened in the 'olden days' picturing them in poverty ridden Victorian England or war ravaged trenches.

Recently two events occurred in my life which led to an epiphany (or at least an ideological stand point which sounds far to try-hard to be deemed intelligent and incredibly pretentious.)
Firstly, a weekend trip down to Leeds reminded me that life is amazing and it can be enjoyed to its up-most if you have good friends and a little money left in your budget. A posh meal at Browns (with skinny Margaritas),

 a very long night at the pub (made by provision of cheap wine, pool and a really cheesy DJ) and  a Vintage fair accompanied by a (majorly) hungover lunch with a friend I met in Paris (ooo get me), meant I basically passed out on the recently purchased reversible camel and sheepskin vintage trench coat as soon as I sat down on the train; prompting an entertaining response from two older ladies mumbling something about 'bluddy students.' There is a reason for my showing off, this trip coincided with some rather disturbing news which I could both identify with and reminded me of how much this 'idealized' life can sometimes be too much and lust for stability can lead to the irrational.
The Second occurrence was a very kind treat of a trip to the Ballet (Madame Butterfly). From the age of 4 till I was 15 I was a little ballerina and ever since watching Black Swan I have regretted letting it escape my life. The music and flow of movements just seems to whisk you off into a safe world where you are completely engrossed in what is unfolding in front of you. For a moment you are in a bubble of calm that's only popped when the lights come up and mini pots of overpriced ice cream are shoved in your face.
Right now you are probably thinking that i've completely lost the plot and the point of this post has been lost. I will now attempt to gather up the loose threads into a classic thought provoking conclusion....

The post began with a want to try and explain why History is the degree I chose to spend 3 years of my life enslaved too and why I spend my precious time learning about seemingly irrelevant topics. The reason I came to was this...
 In life you will always be faced with the unfamiliar and a succession of seemingly unconnected events (good and bad) which keeps you on your toes and is summarized by the Ronan Keating classic 'Life is a Roller-costar' (just gotta ride it.. all night long!). This ever expanding web of complexity can seem overwhelming and a want for rationality becomes unbearable. Just like a composer makes order out of various notes to create a melody and a choreographer orders steps to convey emotion without the need for words, so do we crave to impose some sort of order and make sense out of the chaos. The reason I love History is that it is a way of making sense of the past; of discovering trends, reducing seemingly unconnected events to a melody,  the flow of time. By engaging with the past it makes you realize that we are living through periods which ultimately all accumulate and add to the grand scheme of things. Large events seem smaller, tragedies seem almost trivial and its sometimes comforting to know that however much you think things wont change, they always will and usually for the better (if the Whiggish perspective is to be taken- sorry Historiography nerd!). Ultimately we cant live in our own little bubble because eventually it will pop (unfortunately not always with the promise ice cream). So we just have to go with the flow and look back on our lives with the knowledge that without our past our present wouldn't be the same and, after watching 'The Butterfly Effect' last night, it dawned on me that messing with ones past could lead to it being a hell of alot worse.

Peace and Love x

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