History – ‘Just One Damned Thing After Another’
It was apparently Henry Ford who sagely declared
That “History was just one damned thing after another”
And I don’t think there is any way we can refute that
Because we think of history as moving with time
At school we were sometimes told that Geography is about Maps
And History was about Chaps
(Ignoring the enormous contribution of the female sex)
Anyway History is generally expressed as a reflexion of peoples’ lives
Of course the timespan of human existence in terms of
The whole history of the earth is limited to perhaps
About 200,000 years, and we don’t know much
Of the story of the very earliest chaps
But nonetheless it is a long time from 200,000 years ago
To our present day – a very large historical tome
would be needed to tell that story
And perhaps a little boring – let’s try it on Facebook!
But what did Henry Ford mean by just one damned thing?
It sounds as if he had a troublesome life
Well he was a brilliant engineering innovator
And his problems were more with the unions than engines
Anyway Ford, in using the epithet about History
Seems to me to have succinctly summed up
The nature of life and living down the centuries
Never easy for the human spirit, but triumphing through it all
But I wonder if we ourselves would put such a negative judgment
on our view of history. Some might prefer to say it was the constant
march of progress* down the years from the darkness of ignorance
and superstition to the light of knowledge and rationality
But this seems to overlook an endless succession of really damnable things!
- Interestingly, I read that Marx took from Hegel the sense that
progress is inevitable, and that history has a pattern and is
not just one thing after another.