THE INTELLIGENT SINGAPOREAN

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Archive for June 22nd, 2007

When History just isn’t your History – The “Rosetta” Project.

Posted by intellisg on June 22, 2007

rosetta.jpgHAVE you ever wondered: why politicians, corporate and even religious leaders rewrite history? Tell me now. Did the Singapore government ever pursue a eugenics program? Was the Shin Corp fiasco entirely the fault of the irrational Thai junta? Were the Jews responsible for the death of Jesus?

See what I mean: the path that leads down to history invariably ends up in a hall of mirrors. Do we really value the truth enough to ensure history remains accurate and a reflection of what really happened? After all the Christians like to say, only “the truth has the power to set you free!” Really? Well on first impressions anyone might be forgiven for assuming that we don’t really care much about the truth and bother even less for those who may choose to regularly gut out reality and substitute it for their own version of the truth. I am serious!

Just look at literature, if you don’t believe me. Did you know, Moby Dick was originally a novel about the serial killing walrus with had a penchant for human meat. Had Melville not switched the titular beast for an albino whale, the yarn might have languished in obscurity today, forgotten by all but a few ardent environmental fundamentalist. Yes re-writing history does serve a purpose: it offers a convenient way of rehashing and re-packaging reality to remain relevant with prevailing times. That’s to say, it’s often re-constituted like potato crisp to make it more palatable for mass consumption. After all didn’t you know the truth kills? What if politicians and corporate honcho’s bare their souls and tell us they have just as much control over the economy as a butterfly flapping its wings in Tokyo? Where would we be? How would this revelation sit alongside our notions of power and politics? Truth remains, if we really care to take a long look around these days, everyone is into the business of rehashing history – novelist are the worst, often passing off the old as new. Musicians are just contrite, continually lending their own swagger to old scripts and historians are shambolic. Since they keep telling us, “actually this wasn’t what really happened!” while furiously cutting and pasting huge chunks of events which they regularly pass off as humanity’s on going disquisitions Though these erudite lot continue to insist they are merely – “rediscovering” instead of “rewriting history.” How justifiable is this form of tweaking? Does it really add any value to our understanding of the truth? Or is it just plain self-serving white washing? Read the rest of this entry »

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