Friday, 13 January 2012

Calling All Historians

We NEED to talk.
Since my place is not big enough for all of you, those who study history, rather than write it with a pre-determined bent need not return your RSVP’s. You won’t be expected. If you show up you’ll be kicked out.

What I need is the historian with the character required to allow him to spend his valuable time proving that George Washing told lies, particularly the one about throwing a silver dollar over across the Potomac. There may have been a Potomac but there were no silver dollars when he was young and stupid enough to waste good money like that. I want those who won’t accept that Davy Crockett killed a bar when he was only three or was the last man standing at the Alamo. Drinking and driving rental cars do not go together well.

Sorry (actually I’m not sure if I am or not) ladies, this is a stag affair. I want history, not herstory here. You’d be a distraction during the conduct of serious business. Besides, I have to do something the cut the guest list down. I might as well exclude those old enough to have developed the parts of their brains that process judgment too. That, along with a ready supply of 2X4’s (two parts maple syrup four parts Crown Royal), should mean it won’t be long till we can begin our task.

The meeting is something made necessary by a line I read in a book by Dietrich Knickerbocker. Thankfully he wrote it and, even more thankfully, I read it while I could still put this confab on my bucket list.

He passed on a quotation from Pliny. After some serious google action I’m pretty sure it was Pliny the Elder, though it might have been Pliny the Younger or even Pliny the Great or Pliny the Lesser, if there were any of those. Doesn’t matter much anyway does it? I’ll quote him as he wrote even though I’m pretty sure the words have already been bent a little when Diedrich translated whatever language Pliny spoke into English. I’m not even sure he was there for the original speech.

“Of what consequence is it that individuals appear, or make their exit? The world is a theatre who’s scenes and actors are continually changing.” I think that means it doesn’t really matter if any of us ever lived. That’s probably true about most of you but misses the mark in my case. At least that’s what we are going to tell the world.

Knickerbocker goes on to supply the remedy for this misconception, in the quotation, not in anything I have written. In his words, not Pliny’s, who we can forget about from now on, “It is the historian, the biographer, and the poet who have the whole burden of grief to sustain … who inflate a nation with sighs it never heaved and deluge it with tears it never dreamt of shedding”

Poets are out of the question. I’m pretty sure the last one, along with the genre, died as Miss Margaret Ann Johnson read her offering during Clinton’s inauguration. Yep, that’s something else he killed, along with preferred definitions and respect for the office. Conspiracy aficionados have a much longer list. The last I attributed to him was possibly in its death throes anyway so that one probably shouldn’t weigh heavily against him when he applies for passage through the pearly gates. He just stomped on its head. (Did I say ‘head’?) Besides, any meeting I’d have with poets would have to be pretty short.

Biographers are about as trustworthy as lawyers. Besides, who would read a biography when there are many alternate versions of anything that might, at first sight, seem good and wholesome? Like me.

Since historians are never held accountable, or at least can’t be pinned down easily, you are my last best hope for immortality. SOMEBODY, somewhere, is willing to accept as true and accurate anything they write and classify as history. If you do a good job there might be a whole lot of somebody’s but I’ll settle for reality if forced.

Come prepared for a long meeting. It might take several days to sort out all of my greatness.


  1. I don't actually write history, but I do write lies about politicians and other public scum. Does that count?

  2. That undoubably qualifies you as long as you can ...ah ... um ... find new truths an avoid some others and still sleep at night. Come to think of it I don't really care if you can sleep at night or not as long as you produce a good product.