fact vs fiction vs fabrication

Without spoiling much of the plot, Slaughterhouse Five emphasized one particular view of history in that the past, the present and the future are all composed of beings that are living at that particular moment. Traveling through time to another point is simple in that those times live and exist in some tangible manner.

This is not how history is usually thought of.

Usually history is viewed as a linear passage where the past is set in some concrete fashion, yet gone forever, the future subject to possibilities and therefore only existent in the most theoretical way; the only thing real by this view is the present. On one hand there is some argument here: while individual facts of history can be reinterpreted or discovered, what has come before, in theory, is done and immutable, however my chosen profession would be even further out of reach if this were the case.

In other ways all of human history is nothing more than an elaborate fiction constructed to provide lessons, morals, entertainment and justification. At the heart history is no more tangible than a work of fiction and in the works of fiction there is often some inner dialogue as to motive, where the basic fact of reality is that you can never know with one hundred percent certainty what goes on in the head of another human. Combine this with the simple fact that people tend to concern themselves with that which they know personally and history and fiction are suddenly equatable.

Intellectually it is understood that history actually happened, but functionally fiction and history are much the same. Built on this is that the job of the historian is to sift through facts; lenses with the proper angle of sifting can result in bizarre products and some of the greatest propaganda in history: Hitler the family man and misunderstood artist, Roosevelt the chain-smoking, boozing liar, etc.

Once more I find myself asking the question how much of history is actual events and how much of it is really a superficial fabrication by “historians?”

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