". . . 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

Thursday, May 22, 2014

The Source for Accusations of Henry Adams Anti-semitism

Lordessa, was he ever a anti-semite, which makes me feel badly, very badly.  Because he was a great historian.  There simply is nothing in the discipline of history scholarship like his volumes of the administrations of Jefferson and Madison.  There's nothing like his work about the Civil War or about the Haitian Revolution.  There can't be because no one else who has ever worked with these events was alive and / or direct descendant of, who knew these relative in his life time, as well as so many of the other primary players.  He also wrote penetratingly of other significant figures and events in American history, including John Randolph and Alfred Gallatin.

It's the Dreyfus Affair.  It went on for years (1894 - 1906). It was a mobilization of ugliness and hate -- hate of everything -- as great any as we saw in the Civil Rights ere here, though, unlike here, it doesn't appear that anyone was actually killed for believing in the innocence of Dreyfus and the culpability of the French army and government in forging evidence and wrongful conviction.

By then Henry Adams was in the depths of bitterness, anger and resentment.  It seems to have been triggered with the estrangement from his wife, Clover, her breakdown and suicide, as well as the lack of recognition by the public at large and his peers particularly of the startling achievement of his work with Jefferson and Madison.  He turned his back not only on the U.S. but on American history.  He spent most of his time in Europe, particularly in France and immersed himself in the medieval ages.  For him, considering the results of this, it meant the French middle ages.  As you see in that quite stupid book that was the result,  Mont-Saint-Michele and Chartres, he didn't understand the Middle Ages at all, and beyond that created an idealized fantasy of them, in a French version, that wouldn't be out of place in a role playing fantasy game today.

These ideas, along with his personal bitterness, anger, and sense of betrayal, he projected upon poor Dreyfus -- as did all of France project whatever they wished upon him, and by the end, so did the world.

Mr Adams, Mr Adams, oh how I wish you had been a better man.  But as well as their place in society and their brilliance, you inherited some of the bad qualities of your distinguished forebears, and it took over your life.  But they died peacefully and happy.  You died -- deeply disappointed

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