". . . But the past does not exist independently from the present. Indeed, the past is only past because there is a present, just as I can point to something over there only because I am here. But nothing is inherently over there or here. In that sense, the past has no content. The past -- or more accurately, pastness -- is a position. Thus, in no way can we identify the past as past." p. 15

". . . But we may want to keep in mind that deeds and words are not as distinguishable as often we presume. History does not belong only to its narrators, professional or amateur. While some of us debate what history is or was, others take it into their own hands." p. 153

Silencing the Past: Power and the Production of History (1995) by Michel-Rolph Trouillot

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

The Atlantic Monthly's Civil War

I have just now returned from a expedition in the rain with the Special Commemorative Civil War Issue of The Atlantic Monthly. They'd just been racked at the local corner newstand store, and were at the very top. I had to ask one of the proprietors to get a copy down for me. When they realized what this is, they re-racked them at eye height. First generation immigrants from Uttar Predesh, asked me about "What is this Civil War?" They are all too familiar with civil wars, of course. But they don't know this one. A fairly long history lesson ensued, since at this hour the store was still empty, as the Lotto buying customers were still some minutes from getting off work and stopping by hoping for a little luck.

This is the first magazine I've bought in years.  It's not only, or solely because because our President has an article in this Civil War Commemorative Issue, though I'm very curious to see what he has written about the ACW.  He may be the first U.S. President to write of this event in -- how long? -- certainly as a sitting POTUS. But there's also a story by Louisia May Alcott included, set in one of the D.C. military hospitals. The offerings out the magazine's archives are priceless.

I've spent a fair amount of time in the Harper's Weekly archives, which during these years published the same bold face names as we see taken out of the Atlantic's archives, but I've not dug much into the Atlantic's.
I'll be sharing this issue with several people. I hope they all return it, so it can be borrowed again.

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