Thursday, 20 December 2012

Into the unknown.

History isn't about learning what happened. It doesn't tell us who we are, where we're going or the best way to get there. Studying history is about starting out with a clear idea of how the past looked, and gradually circling away from it until it becomes unrecognisable. It's about uncertainty, misconception and the unmappable vastness of the human condition. Researching history sends you so far down the rabbit hole that you're no longer sure which way is up and you start to wonder if the whole thing is the product of someone's sleep-deprived imagination. It's probably yours. History, examined properly, is never the shape you want it to be, and that's why it's so endlessly fascinating.

At some point in the future - I don't quite know when - there will be audio files on this blog. Each will consist of an interview with a PhD student or shiny new researcher, who will tell you things they don't know yet. They won't tell you a story about how the past became the present and you won't learn many answers for the history round on your pub quiz. You will, however, be led a little way into their world of tunnels and roots and buried rooms and hear their enthusiasm for the unknown. You may hopefully be inspired to do some digging yourself.

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