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Home :: Archive :: 2004 :: June ::
Shifting of Cultural Tectonic Plates
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 15.1236  Thursday, 10 June 2004

[1]     From:   Bob Grumman <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 9 Jun 2004 12:15:50 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 15.1225 Shifting of Cultural Tectonic Plates

[2]     From:   Sean Lawrence <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 9 Jun 2004 09:35:19 -0700
        Subj:   RE: SHK 15.1225 Shifting of Cultural Tectonic Plates

[3]     From:   Peter Bridgman <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 9 Jun 2004 19:57:26 +0100
        Subj:   Re: SHK 15.1225 Shifting of Cultural Tectonic Plates

[4]     From:   Larry Weiss <
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        Date:   Thursday, 10 Jun 2004 00:54:33 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 15.1225 Shifting of Cultural Tectonic Plates


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Bob Grumman <
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Date:           Wednesday, 9 Jun 2004 12:15:50 -0400
Subject: 15.1225 Shifting of Cultural Tectonic Plates
Comment:        Re: SHK 15.1225 Shifting of Cultural Tectonic Plates

 >Perhaps I am missing something (as usual), but what could history
 >possibly be but the history of the present? The history of the future is
 >so abstruse an idea as to make me smile, or even snicker. The history of
 >the past strikes me as tautological.
 >
 >Is there anything out there except the present for there to be a history
 >of?
 >
 >Cheers,
 >don

I am surely missing a lot because I haven't been following this thread
except for a few quick dips into it once or twice.  I have a question:
if history is the study of the present, is it possible for there to be a
study of the present that is not history?

--Bob G.

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Sean Lawrence <
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Date:           Wednesday, 9 Jun 2004 09:35:19 -0700
Subject: 15.1225 Shifting of Cultural Tectonic Plates
Comment:        RE: SHK 15.1225 Shifting of Cultural Tectonic Plates

I appreciate Evelyn Gajowski's thoughtful summary of presentism.  The
premises she describes, however, hardly seem new or to constitute much
more, in fact, than what good historians have always been aware of.

Moreover, presentist ideas seem to be put forward (on this forum, at
least) almost always as an attack.  Terence's recent remark on Lucas
Erne's research manages completely avoids engaging with its claims, only
pointing out that they're a product of their (and our) time.  Whether or
how an idea or a reading is the product of a particular time isn't,
however, usually what we want to know about it.  We might want to know
whether it's useful or ethical or interesting or liberating or a lie.
Readers of Nietzsche, for instance, don't just point out how he's a
product of Schopenhauer and Wagner or how their readings are products of
their own times; instead, they actually struggle with his ideas and feel
free to still think them or apply them to their own lives.  On the other
hand, Hayden White's reading of Burckhardt as Schopenhauerian is widely
seen as a dismissal.  Contextualization (including contextualizing
ourselves) is worthwhile and has been seen as worthwhile for at least a
hundred years, but the reduction of a work to its context often implies
avoiding engagement with its ideas.

Speaking of context, I'm grateful that you pointed out that Croce was
the originator of the phrase we've been bandying around out of context.
  Do you know, by any chance, whether the original Italian preposition
translated as "of" in "All history is the history of the present" could
also be translated as "from"?  This would change a great deal, since it
would locate our own critical standpoint in the present --- something
worth remembering, if hardly shocking --- instead of declaring the
present to be our only subject matter --- which provides the phrase with
a certain frisson, but means that historiography collapses into solipsism.

Yours,
SKL.

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Peter Bridgman <
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Date:           Wednesday, 9 Jun 2004 19:57:26 +0100
Subject: 15.1225 Shifting of Cultural Tectonic Plates
Comment:        Re: SHK 15.1225 Shifting of Cultural Tectonic Plates

Don Bloom writes...

 >The history of the future is so abstruse an idea as to make me smile, or
 >even snicker.

Perhaps it means a history of ideas of the future.  As a child in the
60s I thought by the 21st century I'd be wearing silver-foil suits,
eating protein pills for lunch and going to work with a hover-jet
strapped to my back.  And here I am wearing cotton, wool and suede,
eating fish and chips for lunch, and going to work on a bicycle.  I
think the future might well have passed me by.

Peter Bridgman

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Larry Weiss <
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Date:           Thursday, 10 Jun 2004 00:54:33 -0400
Subject: 15.1225 Shifting of Cultural Tectonic Plates
Comment:        Re: SHK 15.1225 Shifting of Cultural Tectonic Plates

So that I may place this discussion in context, would someone kindly
enlighten me as to when the present began and when it will end.

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