Word created everything

#English #kogemuslugu

History is a constructed narrative. In the better cases, there is a core set of facts, that more or less correspond to events that have taken place. For example, it is quite likely, that sometime in autumn of 1492 three sailing ships, the Santa Maria, the Santa Clara, and another nicknamed Pinta (real name not known) reached San Salvador island in the Bahamas. But what is the meaning of this fact?

History is the story, written around the facts, interpreting the facts, giving them meaning. It is this constructed story, that then starts to control the thinking of the people who hold this history as the true history. Was Cristopher Columbus a bold discoverer, a Christ-bearer, a scientist, who discovered America for Europe? Was he a fool of a seaman, believing to his last days, that he had sailed to the Far East? Was he a brutal coloniser, responsible for the genocide of indigenous peoples? At different times, he has been all of those things. It is the constructed narrative around the facts, that gives facts their meaning. When this narrative is changed, re-written, it alters the thinking, but also political and military decisions of the people who learn and retell this version of history. Rewriting history is a known tool for winners of wars and occupiers of countries.

What if we invented a completely fictional “history”? Clearly, people would perceive that it is fiction, not an account of actual events. How about if we used accepted facts as the basis and then invented a fictional “history” around those facts? Naturally, people would still be able to tell fact and fiction apart. They would, right…?

After World War II, Soviet Union liberated Eastern European countries from nazism. After World War II, Soviet Union forcefully occupied Eastern European countries. Aristotle said, that two contradictory propositions cannot both be true in the same sense at the same time. And yet. There are a hundred million people who know, that only one of the two sentences in the beginning of this paragraph is true. Problem is, there are a hundred million people who know exactly the opposite.

Eco’s semiotic grandstanding aside, this, for me, is the core of the Pendulum. Inventing a narrative of a plan of the Knights Templar, loosely based on established facts. To be clear, the core is not the plan itself, it is the story of inventing the plan, and of the characters creating the plan. In the end, the constructed history (but isn’t all history constructed?) becomes almost a self-fulfilling prophecy, because the people who believe it to be true act it out to harrowing consequences.

On the grandstanding note, there were whole pages of this book (yes, I read it on actual physical paper) that I read diagonally simply because reference upon reference upon reference simply for the pleasure of the glass bead game of it was disappointing. Why flex it…

I think the storyline is a great illustration of why most people need to be kept on a need to know basis. Once you hear, you cannot unhear. Once people with access to publishing have published (printing press in the past, social media in the present), many people start believing in what was published. They then act upon it and by acting upon it, make it real. Even though it might originally have been a flight of fancy. After all, god created everything with nothing but words. So can man, and we should be wary.

Other books I have read this year include Hervé le Tellier’s “The Anomaly”, “The Book of Doors” by Gareth Brown, “The Sparrow” by Mary Doria Russell, Peter Watts’s “Blindsight” and Alex Gino’s “Melissa”. I’ve enjoyed them all, some were almost great, but none has been extraordinary. And neither, I’m sad to say, was the Pendulum.