Tuesday, October 05, 2004

History is biography---Emerson 

I was in the other room attempting to watch the vice-presidential debate, and grew impatient and frustrated with the rhetorical spin from both sides. I went into my room to look for comfort from Emerson, and here is what he said to me:

"We are always coming up with the emphatic facts of history in our private experience and verifying them here. All history becomes subjective; in other words there is properly no history, only biography. Every mind must know the whole lesson for itself---must go over the whole ground. What it does not see, what it does not live, it will not know. What a former age has epitomized into a formula or rule for manipular convenience, it will lose all the good for verifying for itself, by means of the wall of that rule. Somewhere, sometime, it will demand compensation for that loss, by doing the work for itself. Ferguson had discovered many things in astronomy that had long been known. The better for him.

History must be this or it is nothing. Every law which the state enacts indicates a fact in human nature; that is all. We must in ourselves see the necessary reason of every fact--see how it could and must be..."

I am in the process of discovery of my own biography. I refuse to accept the explanations of our leaders for the "facts", because there are reasons for the facts as well. I will know for myself. I will learn for myself.