The anachronism: childhood disease of history

"History is full of gaps, where there is no specific and clear script that projects it. Judging the events of the past with the present mentality is an evil that afflicts the historian's profession and, in general, current society."

The past 8 of March FIDE organized the sessionThe anachronism: childhood disease of history”, framed in the Space for creation and literary criticism de Fide. We count as a speaker with Manuel Lucena Giraldo, CSIC researcher, associate professor at IE University and ESCP Business School Europe and Director of the Chair of Spanish and Hispanicity at the universities of the Community of Madrid and, as moderator of the session, Fernando Rodriguez Lafuente, professor, literary and film critic and Spanish cultural manager.

At the beginning of the session, reference was made to the gaps in the story, where there is no specific and clear script that projects it. This is because the investigations are based on documents and writings that certify the facts, but also on testimonies from people who can contribute their knowledge about specific events. Next, the anachronism It was defined as the fact of judging the events of the past with the mentality of the present; It was also presented as an evil that afflicts the historian's profession and, in general, current society.

Anachronism is pointed out as one of the ills of history and of historians. Despite the serious damage it has for the academy and for society, this dysfunction is recurrent at present, derived from a process of globalization that has generated a rupture in the traditional schools of thought, in addition to an increase in the number of readers who turn to novels or essays of a historical nature. Escaping from anachronism is not possible since we move in a present confused derived from our own culture.

The past, history, escapes from our hands, but it is the historians who present themselves as witnesses of time. On the one hand, it is the historians who accredit, through documentation and writings, the events that achieve contextualize and analyze a specific moment in history. But not only that, but history is also part of the narrative that characterizes each author. That is why citizens, as such, find themselves condemned to the story of history and forced to coexist with the narrative of historical currents.

In relation to literary anachronisms, there are also problems of anachronisms in writing. We can observe them, for example, in non-fiction literature, where authors make their novels using historical facts based on anachronisms. This fact occurs due to the very nature of literary works, but also due to the social biases and cultural that an author can have. The question that arises is: Are we in an era more prone than others to anachronisms?

Another of the issues that the session dealt with has to do with the problems of historical memory. This has to do with the sources, with the moral principles of the past, but above all it has some bounds determined by the documents available to historians. In addition, the memory of the stories is subjected to the invention of these. This is so because memory is anachronistic. Memory is a source of history, but it is also misleading for the same For this reason memory must be differentiated from history because submitting one to the other can lead to error. The historical nostalgia, in the same way as anachronism, is another of the forces that causes the past to be stirred up. Myths have served modern political currents to elevate their story to a idyllic historical past. In this way, imagined nostalgia is at the service of nationalism and, contrary to what it may seem, it is ahistorical.

Summary prepared by Rubén Conde, Academic Coordination of Fide.

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