A Community Devoted to the Preservation and Practice of Celestial Navigation and Other Methods of Traditional Wayfinding
From: David Pike
Date: 2020 Mar 24, 14:16 -0700
Where should one start? There’s scope for a PhD here from a good historical scholar, but not from me who was best remembered at his alma mater as the boy who got 0/50 in the spelling test. That’s an attempt at satire by the way, a bit I suspect like your “and his ridiculous lunars”.
What brings a story into prominence and a magnet for successive generations of authors? It crops up all the time: Elizabeth and Mary Queen of Scots, Hooke and Newton, Bligh and Christian, Darwin and Fitzroy, Scott and Amundsen, and many more I’m sure. Sometimes the pair barely knew each other or were the best of pals. There must be many reasons why the story kicks off or one personality gains temporary ascendency over the other: a self-excusing or promoting report by a survivor, a reply by the family of the other; the story picked up by a close relation of a collateral victim, and then latched onto by journalists; shyness or poor self-presentation by the one compared to ambition and verve of the other. The fact is the reading public loves a bit of controversy, even if the truth is sometimes bent to produce a better story.
They also like an engaging and entertaining personality. An attendant biographer e.g. Boswell on Johnson helps here.
Occasionally, the country needs heroes to turn the populations thoughts from a questionable military outcome into a victory of courage over adversity, e.g. the Charge of the Light Brigade, or the oft parodied “The boy stood on the burning deck”, and the story continues into history. Who first chooses the hero? Can it oft be random? Invariably the act of bravery must be seen and reported by someone. If the report is successful, a medal or award is given, frequently posthumously, memorials and funds might be set up, streets named, and latterly schools named after the hero, but what about the countless number of equally courageous engagements which aren’t seen or reported or are reported unsuccessfully? Who can remember those?
The story continues. In another 50-100 years it’ll be interesting for those still around to observe what ‘woke’ has done to history. In the end, there’s only one answer; it’s because life’s like that. DaveP