I vent my spleen in these books, the notebooks and journals I keep, have kept to a number of them in excess of twelve thousand pages of entries. Yes, listen my hypocrite readers, I could say, in the garden of my vanity, flowers of evil thrive . . . it’s not enough to say this, to say anything, words fail, don’t they? Yet they are all we have to say what we intend to say but do not get to say because words transform in their forming.
There has been a tradition where story is story as in fictional story and history was history as in true story, but then that was or is how all people connected to mythology in a way other than how we understand the word ‘myth” understood their story. A myth was a true story and was separate from legend or folk-tale. Genesis is the true cosmogonic story of the Hebrews. If you want to make story out of it, something we understand to be fiction, then you go right ahead. The story of the Tlingit’s Great Raven as the bearer of culture and ethnicity is cosmogonic and in keeping with myth as a true story telling of their origins . . . but what about the history historians have written? What is this writing of history?
All history would then be historiography. But we have fallen deeply in love with doubt; doubt pervades our epistemology. We do not begin with it, following Socrates maxim, I know nothing, but end with it, we do not know anything and can only know nothing. All knowledge is suspect has become our culture’s dominant dogma.
I don’t want to say only historiography as if this writing of history were less than the history, nor do I want to be so restrictive that this historiography becomes in the mind the only thing that history could be . . . it couldn’t be. The stories we tell, the stories told, how they have been told, I remember reading the Odyssey when I was boy, how old was I, I think I was in the seventh grade . . . the times I did not spend in my room reading; the times I did spend with friends doing nothing, mostly, just being as some of us said, playing, horsing around, as it was said by some who were older than us.
I was not the reader when I was young that I became later; I am not the reader I would like to be, understand to be an act that I am transformed by, no one who reads deeply and well remains the same person he was before having read . . . but the history of it, the history of me, of me as a reader, of me as a boy, of me as a boy in the Berkshires for summers in the woods, of me trying to be me, of me being me, of me being some other me, what other me, all the many me[s] there are inside me, inside the Self as I have said elsewhere and will say again as I have said before how I will say again, there is so much I say over and over snd over.
I believe in Truth, therefore, I believe in telling the Truth, the capital “T” variety of Truth makes it difficult–does Truth have variety? There is at least variegation if not true categorical variation. How can it be done, this telling the truth (miniscule, intended)? I swear to the truth and the whole truth. We do swear this in our court’s of law. This is not a naivety; it points to the subjectivity of truth, the small-case ‘truth.’ I swear to tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth, nothing but the facts as I recall them, recollect them, having seen them or heard them, let’s say the limit of the questions being asked me. Testimony is just that, the whole truth, nothing selective, nothing edited, excluded, revised from what I remember. But is that the Truth? What do you want to know? What will you testify to? Jehovah’s Witnesses testify.
Testimony in history about history–history is what gets recorded, what gets written. What are the methodologies of historians, what have they been at different times and in different places. What has history been, what have historians at different times and in different places considered the discipline of history, the proper subject of historical investigation, the appropriate style of writing . . . what is and has been historical writing. The study of historical writing is historiography; the analysis of texts, the history of historical writing which may not exactly coincide with what we could call the history of history. History is testimony of a kind. Historians are supposed to tell the truth and the whole truth, as much as they can, but then what is this can?