Monday

Miscellaneous Rambling: On History

Ceiling. Trastevere

Day 12. The flu softens its grip on me every day, but it's not going away soon. Although I am taking walks outdoors (on top of the exercise, my lungs seem to enjoy the cold), I'm still not back to a regular exercise routine.

Ceiling. Trastevere

Theology on Tap is in two days. The topic is Jack Kerouac and the 1960s. It looks at Kerouac's Catholicism and Buddhism, and how both strains of spirituality informed the 1960s. I've put far less preparation into this lecture than I did the first three. It's a far more concise topic, and one I've studied off and on for the past 20 years, so I kinda felt like I could've just walked up there and pulled it off with virtually no prep. I do, however, have nearly ten hours into the project, though, admittedly, much of that is just casual reading.

Ceiling. Trastevere

This lecture will not be videotaped, by the way. I simply don't want to deal with it, plus I'm hoping for a more "relaxed," conversational-type setting. Attendance really dropped off in November, so I want to take a different tact.

Ceiling. Trastevere

The videotape of my first lecture, incidentally, has caught on a little bit. Over 700 views, including one commentator who calls it "simplistic hogwash." The response is obvious: We're covering 2,000 years in 30 minutes; of course it's going to be simplistic. As for "hogwash," I don't think he remotely understands what he's alleging. Everything in that lecture is a fact. Are there other facts that are omitted. Um, frick yes . . . I was covering 2,000 years in 30 minutes. Are some of those omitted facts unfavorable to the Catholic Church? Again, frick yes. Are some of those omitted facts favorable to the Catholic Church? Yes, frick yes. Did I focus on facts that a Catholic audience would find most interesting? Of course.

Ceiling. Trastevere

If you want a nifty book about the problem of telling (creating) history,

I recommend Jeff Riggenbach's Why American History Is Not What They Say: An Introduction to Revisionism. It explains the historical process well and makes clear things I basically intuited, but didn't understand clearly. (A lot of books by The von Mises Institute, incidentally, do that.) The key takeaway (as I remember it) is, every history by virtue of limited space isn't exhaustive. The author must pick certain facts and omit others. The historian's only real goal is to try to be even-handed in what he presents, but that's virtually impossible to do. Revisionist historians don't try to be even-handed but, rather, set out to present facts that get omitted from the mainstream history books. Howard Zinn's People's History is no doubt 100% factual, but it's relentlessly anti-American (read: anti-white person) in its slate of facts . . . a fact that, if I recall correctly, Zinn readily admitted, since he had set out to write a corrective, to offer a counter-weight to a historical record that he found ridiculously slanted the other way.

Ceiling. Trastevere

Hey, today's a feast day for every Otis Redding fan: John the Hut-Dweller. How many of us think, I just want to sit on the dock of the bay or live in a simple shanty someplace, like John the Hut-Dweller presumably did?

Sittin' in the mornin' sun
I'll be sittin' when the evenin' come
Watching jackals roll in
And then I watch 'em roll away again, yeah

I'm sittin' on the deck of my hut
Just praying my soul away
Ooo, I'm just sittin' on the deck of hut
Prayin' time.

John Hut's life was a bit more interesting than that, btw.

Eric Scheske

Eric Scheske