FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Rewriting History

by BEN TRIPP

There is nothing inherently wrong with rewriting history. All of history is the story of who lost, rewritten by who won. The whole thing is arranged to suit the guy at the top with the fancy hat and the massed armies at his beck and holler. Well and good. That’s just how it goes. The problem with rewriting history occurs when the apex canine decides to rewrite history as it is occurring, rather than waiting decorously for the mass peristalsis of current events to cease. Stalin was big on rewriting things as they happened, and this habit led to the collapse of the Soviet reality. Another party that favors this approach to history is the man they call president, George W. Bush.

Some things are better rewritten. According to Melville’s notes, Moby Dick was originally going to be a novel about the pursuit of a white walrus. Had he not switched the titular beast for a parmacetti whale, the novel might languish in obscurity today, forgotten by all but a few ardent devotees of Odobenus rosmarus. Had not Bill Withers, the troubadour of Slab Fork, West Virginia, decided at the last minute to replace the term ‘shit smell’ with ‘sunshine’, his hit song ‘Ain’t No Sunshine’ might never have reached the charts. These are examples of rewriting things before they go public, which is just as effective as rewriting them after things have settled down. The one approach that doesn’t work is trying to rewrite events as they are happening, because when you do that, you have no ability to respond to a thing some folks call ‘reality’.

Reality is like death: it’s an irresistible condition that can only be denied, not avoided. In both cases you are ultimately going to get with the program. So when the folks that took over the American government while the Democrats were enjoying a well-deserved siesta decided they were going to rewrite history as it happened, reality was defenestrated with a great quickness. But it’s one thing to announce you have rejected the theory of reality (an unnamed White House staffer, speaking to Ron Suskind, the journalist and xylophone virtuoso, is quoted as saying (ellipses mine), “You, Suskind, you’re in what we call the ‘reality-based community’ You all believe that the answers, the solutions will emerge from your judicious study of discernable reality Well, let me tell you how we really see it. You see, we’re an empire now. And when we act, we kind of create a reality. Events flow from our actions.”

First of all, this person probably still has his or her job. That notion is marrow-curdling. But second of all, which is really the first thing, except for the order in which I presented them — that is to say, in terms of ordinance or priority of relevance to this screed — the second but primary thing is that this staffer, reflecting the views of the Neocons running the show in Washington, is expressing the idea (or hallucination) that reality is something other than what it is, simply because they say so. Reality is only a word, so an expeditious chap could announce that he’s going to do something contrary to the dictates of reality, such as invade a country created by a since-departed colonial power to encompass several hostile peoples now held in uneasy alignment by a brutal but extraterritorially powerless dictator. This chap could indeed make such an announcement, and say reality has no sway over him. It’s just a word. But the minute he went and actually invaded this hypothetical country, reality, the fact, not the word, would rise right up and nip off his nuts in the form of a civil war. Because reality is what is. Just because you claim your head is made of marzipan doesn’t mean it will be any easier to hammer chisels into your hard palate.

So rewriting history is a noble tradition, and in fact ‘rewritten’ is the only kind of history there is. But you have to time it right. Before or after the fact, yes. During, no. Iraq is not going well. New Orleans got fucked. Our schools are decaying. Our healthcare system is failing. Our economy is doomed. You can’t get Dairy Queen where I live. Saying everything is going according to plan will not change reality; changing the plan is the only reality-based approach. Or at least have a plan to begin with. Unless Americans start catching on to this revisionary approach to the present, it won’t matter whether history gets rewritten fifty years from now. What will matter is it’s being written in the dirt with a stick.

BEN TRIPP is an independent filmmaker and all-around swine. His book, Square In The Nuts, may be purchased here, with other outlets to follow: http://www.lulu.com/Squareinthenuts. Swag is available as always from http://www.cafeshops/tarantulabros. And Mr. Tripp may be reached at credel@earthlink.net.

 

 

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

February 21, 2017
Sharmini Peries - Michael Hudson
Finance as Warfare: the IMF Lent to Greece Knowing It Could Never Pay Back Debt
CJ Hopkins
Goose-stepping Our Way Toward Pink Revolution
John Wight
Firestarter: the Unwelcome Return of Tony Blair
Roger Harris
Lenin Wins: Pink Tide Surges in Ecuador…For Now
Shepherd Bliss
Japanese American Internment Remembered, as Trump Rounds Up Immigrants
Boris Kagarlitsky
Trump and the Contradictions of Capitalism
Robert Fisk
The Perils of Trump Addiction
Deepak Tripathi
Theresa May: Walking the Kingdom Down a Dark Alley
Sarah Anderson
To Save Main Street, Tax Wall Street
Howard Lisnoff
Those Who Plan and Enjoy Murder
Franklin Lamb
The Life and Death Struggle of the Children of Syria
Binoy Kampmark
A Tale of Two Realities: Trump and Israel
Kim C. Domenico
Body and Soul: Becoming Men & Women in a Post-Gender Age
Mel Gurtov
Trump, Europe, and Chaos
Stephen Cooper
Steinbeck’s Road Map For Resisting Donald Trump
February 20, 2017
Bruce E. Levine
Humiliation Porn: Trump’s Gift to His Faithful…and Now the Blowback
Melvin Goodman
“Wag the Dog,” Revisited
Robert Hunziker
Fukushima: a Lurking Global Catastrophe?
David Smith-Ferri
Resistance and Resolve in Russia: Memorial HRC
Kenneth Surin
Global India?
Norman Pollack
Fascistization Crashing Down: Driving the Cleaver into Social Welfare
Patrick Cockburn
Trump v. the Media: a Fight to the Death
Susan Babbitt
Shooting Arrows at Heaven: Why is There Debate About Battle Imagery in Health?
Matt Peppe
New York Times Openly Promotes Formal Apartheid Regime By Israel
David Swanson
Understanding Robert E. Lee Supporters
Michael Brenner
The Narcissism of Donald Trump
Martin Billheimer
Capital of Pain
Thomas Knapp
Florida’s Shenanigans Make a Great Case for (Re-)Separation of Ballot and State
Jordan Flaherty
Best Films of 2016: Black Excellence Versus White Mediocrity
Weekend Edition
February 17, 2017
Friday - Sunday
David Price
Rogue Elephant Rising: The CIA as Kingslayer
Matthew Stevenson
Is Trump the Worst President Ever?
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Flynn?
John Wight
Brexit and Trump: Why Right is Not the New Left
Diana Johnstone
France: Another Ghastly Presidential Election Campaign; the Deep State Rises to the Surface
Neve Gordon
Trump’s One-State Option
Roger Harris
Emperor Trump Has No Clothes: Time to Organize!
Joan Roelofs
What Else is Wrong with Globalization
Andrew Levine
Why Trump’s Muslim Travel Ban?
Mike Whitney
Blood in the Water: the Trump Revolution Ends in a Whimper
Vijay Prashad
Trump, Turmoil and Resistance
Ron Jacobs
U.S. Imperial War Personified
David Swanson
Can the Climate Survive Adherence to War and Partisanship?
Andre Vltchek
Governor of Jakarta: Get Re-elected or Die!
Patrick Cockburn
The Coming Destruction of Mosul
Norman Pollack
Self-Devouring Reaction: Governmental Impasse
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail