Saturday, May 18, 2013

Historicity



I stroke the walls softly, feeling the rough texture contrasted with my less-rough skin. The fingertips trace the outlines, the patterns engraved telling a story, each indent an indication of the story of the years gone by.

History.

The very etymological root of the term certain hints at the progression of mankind as a whole, as to what these progressions, conditions and extrapolations of what we consider as the truth…

…I lost my train of thought there. There’s not much point in me considering that now.

The heart certainly rules the minds in such matters, the mind a slave, logic bent to ensure that we feel is right, correct, and true.

I am a secret fan of history. Sounds weird? Maybe. It’s definitely not untrue, for on one level I have always been attracted to the stories that we are told and tell. That is the very method through which identities are formed.

Here’s another thing, though, and another part of the reason why I used the term ‘secret’ the way I did in the above. I look at history in a fairly skeptical manner. People say that we can learn from histories, from the lessons of the past that could serve as a guide to the future. That makes sense, but here’s a thought: did that make sense because it is what it is, or because I have been conditioned to think as such?

Minds, logic, forms of such expressions can be trained and formed as a result of the environment we grow up in. That’s not difficult to ascertain.

What about feeling history, though?

That’s the part I am most interested in. Visiting museums and such, reading about it through historical documents and academic papers, considering and reconsidering the journeys through which we have all come to be, can be interesting, but few excites me as much as being at the place itself, being immersed in the imagination of the happenings that took place decades, centuries, thousands of years ago, right where you are standing.

Spaces are formed largely in a fairly artificial manner. We construct buildings and such locations as a means of maintaining control and power, but even then, even such artificiality has a historical value inherrent in the experiencing of it.

I like being in old castles, imagining what it must have been like years ago, when such places were formed. Not too long ago, I was given the chance to experience the wonders of the old Hindu temples of Jogjakarta, which leads us right back to the very start of this post.

I continue to walk slowly, looking around, examining every little nook and cranie. My wife, way ahead of my by now, turn back and considers me in a slightly different light. This was a part of me that perhaps was not illuminated prior to our marriage. The joking side of me considers her having second thoughts, but I know that in all seriousness, she finds this somewhat amusing.

In truth, so did I, because it is a side that rarely came out. Hence the word ‘secret’, for it was hidden, even from myself. Was I conditioned to think, perhaps even to feel as such?

I don’t know. What I do know is that the more I walk along these beautifully crafted stones that serve as the foundation of these temples, I find myself being more and more amazed at the feats of our forefathers. These stones are not easily moved, and yet there they are.

The temples were constructed within a compound, not cemented together in a very concrete way. An earthquake some years ago had knocked down some of the smaller ones; at another site, the erupting volcano nearby had covered the area entirely in dust, causing the whole place to be shut down for months for it to be cleaned.

They have several temples dedicated to various deities. I find it interesting that the biggest is dedicated to the god Shiva, commonly regarded as the Destroyer, amongst many others.

I look up, and see my wife waiting for me. She’s fanning herself. It’s getting hot. I should make a move now.

Time waits for no man, after all. Or so the saying goes.

History.

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