Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Time Keeps On Slipping Into the Future...Two blogs in one!

At my job, I have a lot of time to think. You see, I'm a custodian and I work after hours so it's nice and quiet, hence the opportunity for my thoughts to wander...
So, here I am, sweeping and thinking...thinking about (what else?) history. But, I don't "replay" historical events in my mind. I make up my own scenarios (which is how I came to write my time-travel story posted here, in part, a few blogs ago).
My thoughts tend to ramble..but, even though they seem to jump around, there is always a connecting thread at any given time - -

And here's my latest...

What will future generations think of this period
in which we are now living - the early 21st century? By future generations I do not mean our children or grandchildren. Nope. I mean the people who will have absolutely no contact with anyone living on this earth right, say, 150 years or more into the future, after we and our children, and probably our grandchildren have all passed away. In a future time when our biases will no longer be felt. Will we be looked upon as quaint? Violent? Smart? Archaic?

My friend photo-shopped me into a time-machine - how funny! Too bad I really didn't have one!

No, please don't try to (and I) have our own biases and we can never know what one from the year 2160 might think of us. We can't even make an educated guess because the social norms can change 180 degrees and back...and out, and over, and sideways...
I mean, what average person would have known, back in 1960 for example, that 50 years later our social mores would have taken the spin they have - religiously, sexually, morally, ethnically, politically, etc. What average person from 1980 - a scant 29 years ago - could have had even an inkling that within 30 years we would be where we are now in home technology...PC's, DVD's, CD's, plasma TV's, cell phones...which has totally changed the social structure of our society?

That all of these things - and so much more - have changed every aspect of our social lives is common knowledge. And as much as folks 150, 100, 50, or even 25 years ago failed to predict accurately the future from their perspective, our attempts to guess how we will be perceived by future generations will also be proven to be totally for naught, because the only truthful prediction that can be made would be this: whatever we think we will be thought of by some future generation, whatever we predict that the future will be, we will be wrong.


Thoughts on old photographs: we have seen plenty, the tintypes, etc., that are printed in history books. Many of us just look at how the folks back then used to look, then turn the page.
But, are they just pictures of people that died many years ago, or are they something more? I have been collecting books of old photographs, and I find myself studying them beyond their clothing styles. As a reenactor/living historian who attempts full-immersion, I find a connection to many of the people in the old photos. And, as a genealogist that has pictures of ancestors, I feel that the people in the photos of those who have long passed deserve more than just a glancing interest.
I have been studying the images of the people in these old photos and really trying to look deeper into them, realizing they were once living, breathing, active members of society. That they had hopes and fears, good times and bad times, laughter and tears.
I am sure I am not the only one who thinks like this, but I imagine I am one of only a few. I believe that there are many - too many people today that only see *old pictures.*
That's it. Nothing more, nothing less.

For me, however, something extraordinary happened a few years ago as I began to study - seriously study - social history and learn more of the people that lived in another era. I found that the more I researched their everyday living habits, these pictures, all of a sudden, came to life for me. I saw more than just an image of some man or woman or little kid who was probably old and dead now...I saw a living, breathing human, one with thoughts, hopes, dreams, and fears - not unlike my own. These pictures began to mean something to me, far more than I could have ever imagined.
And reenacting/living history has taken that whole idea even further for me.

Look at an image from the 19th century, such as the two above. Virtually everything that the subject is wearing or holding was of great importance to them, be it a ribbon for decoration around the collar or a hat cocked to one side. To have your photograph taken was a rarity in those days, unlike today where one could easily have 150 pictures taken with their digital camera at a single family gathering. So, on the rare occasion that a Victorian did have their image taken, they, many times, included something that was very special to them.
But, I also stare at the faces...wondering what were they doing earlier in the day before the photo was taken - - did they travel to town on a buggy, or did they walk? Who were they with - friends? family? And what did they do afterwards...did they maybe get out of their Sunday Best and back into their work clothes?

What will future generations think when they see *old* photographs of us - our quaint fashions of 2009; "look at the way they wore their hair!" "I wouldn't be caught dead wearing clothing like that!"

Well, anyhow, these are the kinds of thoughts your friendly Passion for the Past blogger has while working. Maybe I'm a little off-kilter, who knows? But, that's the way I think.

Well, that's my ramblings for today. I just felt the need to get my thoughts down in my blog.

1 comment:

Mrs. G said...

For me it started with the children's CdV's, it made me sad to think that somebody once loved these children, sewed for them, worried about them..... Did they grow up or was this the last image taken before they died young? And now, 150 years later, they are anonymous and their cherished pictures are up for auction to the highest bidder. How sad. They were real and living once but now relegated to a commodity.