View – History – Flatten layers: part 2. Anniversaries

From the optical illusion of the Russell Square aeroplane to the temporal plywood of anniversaries.

At one level, anniversaries are meaningless folds in the map – artifacts of an arbitrary time-system force-fitted onto the relentless drift of natural history.

An ocean liner strikes an iceberg and sinks. The-square-of-the-number-of-fingers-a-human-has multiplied by the-time-it-takes-for-the-Earth-to-circumnavigate-the-Sun later, we’re watching a 3d cinematic rendering of Leonardo DiCaprio clinging to damp wood.

But the angles at which these glistening shards of the past collide with present-day events can render them impossible to ignore.

London will have a special quality this summer as it hosts the Olympics Games in the sixtieth year of unelected Elizabethan head-of-state-hood.

For 2012 seems to have a particularly fine crop of anniversaries.

I am particularly struck by the way the Luddite bicentenary can be a flashpoint for different interpretations of the past, present and future of the English North.

The way these events ripple through history reminds us that we only ever live partially in the present. There may be a randomness in the way that past events  bounce off each other and recombine, but that doesn’t make them any less real.

2 thoughts on “View – History – Flatten layers: part 2. Anniversaries

  1. Love the way the people commemorating the Luddite martyrs in the video get heckled by a historian from a rival faction.

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