Saturday, November 6, 2010

I heart history

Lately I've been listening to Hardcore History, a podcast that is not exactly hardcore in the traditional sense - or rather, any of the traditional senses of which I am aware - but is nonetheless thoroughly awesome.

I've always really enjoyed learning about and thinking about history, and Dan Carlin - the host of the 'cast - has a great, objective way of viewing things that I really enjoy. He's also got an awesome radio voice/personality; I find myself trusting him (if I was a father, I'd let Dan Carlin babysit [as long as he only taught my kids softcore history]). And he digs deep to find really interesting primary sources, which, above all, is what makes history so nuts.

At the moment I'm listening to a mini-series called "Shadows of the Ostfront," wherein Carlin shares a lot of diary entries from both Soviet and German soldiers who fought in the East during World War II. Crazier than any novel, by far. The tales of brutality and vengeance are so incredibly harsh that sometimes it's actually difficult to listen to: I'll be walking down the street or sitting in my office, my throat constricting, my eyes glistening with the thought of how much suffering was inflicted.

That's hardcore. That's history.

Anyway, learning history is important. A sound view of it helps get a sense of what's going on in the present, even if you still lack predictive power and, ultimately, everything is still different since it's, y'know, the future. But, as a writer, it's a great font of ideas, to think about how and why people do what they do - and how they might act if things were different.

-bn

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