— Will Durant
— Will Durant
It is a mistake to think that the past is dead. Nothing that has ever happened is quite without influence at this moment. The present is merely the past rolled up and concentrated in this second of time. You, too, are your past; often your face is your autobiography; you are what you are because of what you have been; because of your heredity stretching back into forgotten generations; because of every element of environment that has affected you, every man or woman that has met you, every book that you have read, every experience that you have had; all these are accumulated in your memory, your body, your character, your soul. So with a city, a country, a race; it is its past, and cannot be understood without it. It is the present, not the past, that dies; this present moment, to which we give so much attention, is forever flitting from our eyes and fingers into that pedestal and matrix of our lives which we call the past. It is only the past that lives.
Therefore I feel that we of this generation give too much time to news about the transient present, too little to the living past. We are choked with news, and starved of history. We know a thousand items about the day or yesterday, we learn the events and troubles and heartbreaks of a hundred peoples, the policies and pretensions of a dozen capitals, the victories and defeats of causes, armies, athletic teams. But how, without history, can we understand these events, discriminate their significance, sift out the large from the small, see the basic currents underlying surface movements and changes, and foresee the result sufficiently to guard against fatal error or the souring of unreasonable hopes?”
— Bill Bonner
History Is Mostly Bunk
Yes, we’re serious. History only tells part of the story. And as Henry Ford put it, it is mostly “bunk.” A person who is ignorant of history knows nothing. But at least he is aware that his ignorance is unblemished by phony knowledge. The person who knows something, on the other hand, usually has negative knowledge. That is, he thinks he knows something, but what he knows is either untrue… or so sketchy and misleading that he really knows less than nothing.
Reaching for a broader and more controversial point, in order to “know” any history, you must not know far more of it. History pulls out a few details and focuses on them as if they were the only – or at least the most important – part of what happened. In order to “know” this history, you must ignore all the many more complexities, ironies, and contradictions that cast doubt on it.
So the more you know, the more you don’t know. And if you’re smart, you know it!
If that makes any sense…”