Historical Context

11 Sep

As I gather knowledge about the Battle of Kadesh during the life of a 19th Dynasty Pharaoh a picture is painted that reveals that truth about story telling:  Sometimes it’s not the whole story.  Each side of the battle line has a different story.  1400 years later, Trajan’s Column tells a one sided story of a Dacian war.  And again, another 1,000 years later the Bayeux Tapestry provides a narrative of the Norman conquest of England.  Throughout history we have historic events that were recorded in art.  Many that we see today only survive with the winning conquerors because the losers don’t get much say.  I began to wonder if I could identify contemporary art giving a one-sided account of history.

The 19th Century gives me a good example with TV and Movies telling accounts of cowboys and Indians in the old American west.  The storyline is set in favor of the frontier families that brought the Industrial Revolution behind the US Cavalry; a storyline characterized by stagecoaches transporting success over the landscape that was once inhabited by the Indians that jeopardize European success.  Eventually, the Spaghetti Westerns put their own artistic flare on the stories of the Wild West.

What about Cartoons?  Albeit, a political cartoon is often read with a conscious acknowledgement that the cartoon will likely be weighted for politics, but a Disney movie on the other hand can indoctrinate a generation to believe erroneous facts about a well-documented history.  It does not appear that fact and history are destines to be in sync through time even when history is well documented.



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