The Need to Reach Beyond
Far in the distance
“Try to raise up the sunken feelings
of this enormous past;
your personality will grow stronger,
your solitude will expand
and become a place
where you can live in the twilight,
where the noise of other people
far in the distance.”
Cultural history brings to life a past time. It could recall a past place. Through it one finds that - in many ways - humans have been more similar among themselves than different. Not only in regards to meeting physical needs - i.e. ailments, shelter, clothing, health, safety - but also in regards to meeting emotional ones - i.e. labor, leisure, pleasure.
Something other that brings us together
Something other that brings us together across place and time is the need to reach beyond ourselves. Throughout history humans have reached out to others by working together in groups, to the world around them by seeking to understand and explain it through, for instance, religion and science - constantly making sure to create and leave a record. “All beings so far have created something beyond themselves.”
One of the oldest ways of keeping records
One of the oldest ways of keeping records is through spoken language. Storytelling has been one way of passing information from older to younger generations. And it has been used in other media to unfold or disclose the narrative of a story. "Examining history amounts to examining the nature of power."
Can’t speak out loud about something?
Can’t speak out loud about something? Humans of all places and times have looked at the world and carved, drew, painted … what they felt, saw, thought. Thus, art has also been a medium for recording the past. “Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time.”
Another way of record keeping
Another way of record keeping takes the form of handmade objects. That is, takes the form of artifacts: anything created by humans which gives information about the culture of its creator and users. “Things have a life of their own. It’s simply a matter of waking up their souls.”
Beyond the reach of accident
And what about written records or typed transcripts? Albeit not always easy to understand and allowing for disagreements about what a certain choice of words could mean, “let us save what remains: not by vaults and locks which fence them from the public eye and use in consigning them to the waste of time, but by such a multiplication of copies, as shall place them beyond the reach of accident.”
- Rainer Maria Rilke
- Friedrich Nietzsche. Thus Spoke Zarathustra.
- Guy Debord
- Thomas Merton
- Cultural Artifact
- Gabriel Garcia Marquez. One Hundred Years of Solitude.
- Thomas Jefferson
© 2016 Aydasara Ortega