Cultural Glimpses of the English-Speaking World
The Last of the Britons
The twilight of Roman Britain and
the rise of Anglo-Saxon England
‘We used to invent words and then yield to their power. No
knowledge would be possible without words though, in the process,
words would often grow into self-mastered entities, into obstacles
that interpose between us and the ‘real world’. They would bestow
on us both proximity to, and enstrangement from, the essence of
things, whereas spiritual independence presupposes a state of
semantic vigilence, a rejection of the tyranny wrought by these
unavoidable lexical intermediaries.
‘History’ is such a misleading word ...
We should be aware of this from the very beginning, since
history as ‘science’ is in the very special position of being
homonymous with the object of its research. In other words, the
task of history is to reconstitute history. We call by the same name
two concepts that are, in fact, distinct, no matter how much we
should like to bridge them: history in its matter-of-factness and history
as representation. The imaginary always aspires to merge into reality,
which is a — not quite innocent — heresy. And the identification of
the two terms stems from our deeply rooted need to be anchored in
the past ... To us, the past means legitimacy and justification.
Without the past, we would have nothing left to rely on.
That we are facing an illusion, barely needs demonstration.
How could one possibly revive history and bring it back to the
present? It is too huge to be contained within the covers of a book;
even too huge to be housed within the walls of an entire library.
Bringing history closer to us, therefore, implies a process of
selection in the first place — an extremely drastic selection after which
the remaining part is, quantitatively speaking, infinitesimal as
compared to the real ‘charge’ of the past. Yet, one argument could
Cultural Glimpses of the eng-speaking word