Plotz

stanley wells on how historians pretend not to lose the plot, but do so anyway.

History has no plot. It happens randomly, goes beyond human control. People plot, but things go amiss. The desire to capture the past is unquenchable but fruitless. A historian, whether of recent or long-past events, tries to tell it how it was, but the attempt is vain. History books have to have beginnings, middles, and ends. Whether consciously or not, their authors tell stories from particular perspectives; they choose who and what to write about; they select from the multifariousness of human experience, imposing order on randomness, seeing what they choose to see or what they subconscious minds put before them, setting their stories within a frame of their devising, revealing subjectivity even as they seek to convey an impression of objectivity.

Stanley Wells

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