NLB + Blogs = History?
January 7, 2008
The Czech novelist Milan Kundera once wrote that
“the struggle of all humanity against power is the struggle of memory against forgetting”.
The powerful not only stay in power, Yes, they regulary write history – you can even say, this is the only kind of history there really is.
Whilst those who seek to preserve ‘history’ may choose to tell you otherwise – even they cannot deny, the ebb and flow of how someone who makes the news today quickly becomes yesterday’s forgotten hero, nothing more than a footnote in a history book.
By now all of you have heard that the NLB has decided to include blogs in it’s historical archives – what do I think about it?
As the adage goes, it’s hardly news, but how important really is history? Why should it even be worthy of perservation?
The short answer is it’s as important as how much of it fritters away – history doesn’t rot, as much as it gets rewritten – what’s often elided by even modern day historians is how the past is always used as a means to make sense of today - rehashing and re-packaging reality to remain relevant is really the only reason why some one goes through the whole business of perserving history. 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 is really the truth as much as it remains a version of the truth? What if politicians and corporate honcho’s bare their souls and tell us all they really have 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 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 of course, they’re always polite enough 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?
Well that’s something we are going to leave to you: despite all the panic about the truth being white washed, it’s missing a vital ingredient: a genuinely alarmed public. The vast majority of us have already taken to the idea of rewriting history like fish to water – believe it or not! – in more ways that I can possibly recount -thereby acquiescing in part to this would-be-conspiracy, real or imagined. Granted, it may all be occurring at a subconscious level, but have no doubts: It already happening in earnest even as we speak! Our history is being re-written right before us!
While I don’t doubt, from time to time the notion of some political, corporate and religious leader attempting to rewrite history does genuinely cause some of us to jump up and down no end. For example: when the Japanese historical institute keeps insisting the term, “military campaign” is synonymous with “invasion” to describe Japan’s WW II history in China.
In the vast majority of cases most Singaporeans care about history only mainly in the abstract. Sometimes and only very occasionally, a well-informed community unites to voice its concerns and displeasure on topical issues like the ministerial pay rise and the UNSW Asia debacle. But by and large, even as politicians and corporate figures continue to cover a blemish or two by re-writing history: vis-à-vis: layering the truth by glossing over the so the account, most of us remain happily bovine and indifferent.
The danger is: if we remain bovine to the corrosive effects of word and statement ‘creep.’ Eventually, our grasp of reality and meaning will simply leach away. Essentially, this is one way how history typically gets re-written most of the time.
While I remind myself, I am not yet a cynic, I really should be. Only because real dangers exist when history is continually re-written without either the possessors or those who are trying to make sense of modern sound bites today.
History is indeed fragile – what will cyber archeologist discover when they sieve through the Singapore internet in the distant future?
Will they successfully unearth the Mr Brown saga – Shin Corp and UNSW Asia fiasco -Wee Shu Min incident intact? Along with countless other miles stones that has shaped the contours of the Singapore narrative? I don’t doubt for one moment, those archeologist will do roughly the same as those before them – piecing together, forming and shaping their impression of the known truth in the early half of the 21st century. Only as they winnow through much of the electronic dust which we presently term internet chatter in virtual excavation sites like either the Intelligent Singaporean or Aaron Ng’s blog.
What will they glimpse from our long-dead civilization? What voices and libations will they discover? And what will be scooped out of the gunk Singapore internet’s enduring eloquence? Perhaps the truth or maybe only baby mutterings, either case, one thing will remain certain – there will be more than one version of history….what did you expect?….Did you really believe we would allow you to pick and choose which parts you consider deserving, while we just watch on?
You have to be joking.
[A Brief History Lesson: Two hundred years ago, during the battle of Aboukir. When Napoleon’s troops were strengthening the foundation in Fort Julian on the West Bank of the Nile, French soldiers unearth part of a large stela, incised with writing in three different scripts. The stone is a fragment of an ancient slab proclaiming the “Memphis Decree” issued by Ptolemy in 196 BC. One of the scripts was Greek, and it stated in its concluding paragraph that all three texts carried the same message. Since the other two scripts were hieroglyphic and cursive demotic respectively, it was evident that this was a discovery of great importance; a key had been found to the history of ancient Egypt, till then hieroglyphic had remain indecipherable – the Rosetta stone had been discovered!> In the year 20482 (strangelands aka brotherhood time) during the Reign of Padishah (earth time: 2003) – a series of automated capsules christened as the “Rosetta’s” – was successfully launched by the brotherhood into the infinity of cyber space. In the sealed sarcophagus, the entire repository of the brotherhood press is stored in 49 languages and formatted in 62 versions. On the aft section of each Tritium powered capsule is a replica plaque similar to the version mounted on Voyager 1 blasted into deep space by mankind on September 5, 1977. To date, 2 such repository robots or “library drones” as they are often called, have been successfully launched into cyber space – the first of the “Rosetta” modules serial no: 00001 ERT is scheduled to return home to earth and re-enter the Singaporean cyberspace in 2999 AD (earth time). It has been pre-programmed to broadcast in 59 known languages “we come in peace” followed by 30 variants of binary codex / machine language - “We shall never forget.” – The Book of Ages, The Chronicler]
“Why is history important…simple. If you do not even bother to read up on your own history. Don’t be surprise, if someone just comes along and tells you where it all begins and ends - a few things will happen. One you will end up shoving a stick of dynamite into your ass and blow yourself up in the name of Mickey Mouse. Or worse give 10% of your hard earned salary to some crooked pastor instead of giving it your moma and papa to buy economy beehon bc you were so [delete] dumber than dumb to believe Jesus actually told your pastor to impersonate Donald Trump….by buiding a shopping mall…..Understand this! History is fragile, if you do not believe me, go and type “the brotherhood press” in certain blogs and try to post it, you will NOT be able to do it! Cannot, means cannot! Don’t say I am paranoid, don’t say that I am a trouble maker, go and try this simple experiment in Mr Brown, BL or some site run by those kampong heroes and then come back here and tell me, I am wrong…. go do it!….. and I will gladly eat your shoe and mine. Now you know why we need to write our history ourselves. Now you know why we need to regularly launch those expensive sleeper ships at a cost of 130,000 Imperiums a piece…but what astounds me even more is, there are still some mother [deleted] here, who cannot even understand this basic fact! They really believe if they dont bother to write their history, some one, some where will do it for them….dream on lah….go and die lah!”
Darkness / Great Hall Debate 2007
(A longer version of this article is published in the Intelligent Singaporean / written by Scholar boy & Harphoon – Socio / Political – EP 992002- The Brotherhood Press 2007)
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