As a historian, we learn that most, if not all, cultural artifacts from a certain historical era are reflective of the society, politics, ideologies, and general culture of those historical peoples. However (and this is a big however), when I exist in my time period, I am constantly out of sync with popular sentiment…and I can’t help but wonder who else is? So, ultimately, are cultural artifacts really a reflection of society?
My post comes as Time’s 100 Most Influential People edition comes out. Among the list are rapper Kayne West and (whatever she is) Kim Kardashian. Now, I do not think these people are influential today, save the fact that no one likes them and their backlash is mounting. So, is Time disconnected with the rest of society? If that is true, it really makes me question how accurate a historian in the future using this magazine as a reflection of the times would be. Is it possible we can never have a finger on society, especially one from a particular historical time period? Gulp, if that’s true…what am I doing?
I suppose that’s why historians should look at all artifacts. For example, researching statistics, polls, and social media to get a more complete picture of history (this is professional history’s mantra, rinse and repeat…) I guess the real revelation, however, is that no single piece of historical work can be accurate alone…and, that perhaps history IS elusive. Because no matter how much research an historian does, he or she can never truly know what is reflective of any society except their own. And, even then…it is questionable that we know even that…for ‘society’ is such a complex, fluid, and ever-changing concept that it is difficult to grasp and even harder to define. It is similar to concepts such as love, happiness, hatred, or death.
All-in-all, perhaps this is just a rant against Kim and Kayne. Ugh, I really am sick of hearing about them, and the knowledge that they will go down in history is maddening. Oh well, that is for the future to decide anyway. May the historian of the future interpret this blog post however they wish (oh, and I know they will).