briefly noted

I’ve officially joined HNN’s Cliopatria, whose introduction to me includes a hitherto unknown fact (yes, even to me!) that I am, so to speak, the baby of the group: Cliopatria’s youngest member. As I intimated to Ralph Luker, I am suddenly fraught with a certain sense of dread that whatever grotesque naiveties I post on HNN are going to haunt me for the rest of my academic life …

relatedly, some nascent musings: what is the relationship of the historian to his or her own history? Jorge Luis Borges frequently edited his own writing later on in his life — this acknowledges (perhaps bestows) a certain amorphous nature to fiction & literature which history, according to its own epistemological standards, should not have. Disclaiming views or writings is perhaps more acceptable than rewriting oneself (Borges, with a kind of studied abandon, did both). But to sever links in such way with one’s own past is akin to rewriting it — it is saying: I was never there, that never happened in order that I should reach this present point. And once one places his or herself in a position to say “that never happened” with respect to his or herself, a small historical demon has been unleashed.

so I am posting unanonymously at Cliopatria — grotesque naiveties and all — and fortune willing, will have the grace & candour to, you know, laugh at myself one day. and if I ever become a neo-con Holocaust denier, you’ll all be able to point out precisely where I went wrong.


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