I’ve been pondering something for the last few days: why the heck did I start a history blog in the midst of some of the most unsettled current events since the Watergate era? There are historians out there providing context, really great context, for what is going on: Douglas Brinkley, Michael Beschloss, and Heather Cox Richardson, whose essay about a “shock” event is a must-read. https://thewayofimprovement.
These folks are doing the hard historical work that every thinking person needs. But I’ve been doing something different with history, and now I’m wondering how – and if – I should even proceed.
I was all set to post a fun story about how the book I’m writing now has collided with my former life as the Levi’s Historian (involving a San Francisco doctor, a rodeo clown, and the actor Slim Pickens). But that seemed too frivolous in the midst of such a serious cultural moment.
But then I looked at this another way. Studying history brings me incredible joy; in discovery, in making connections, in finding how the past affects the present no matter how many politicians would prefer it didn’t. (You know who I’m talking about.) Am I deluded to think that others might feel the same? Is it wrong to spread a little historical fun, hoping it might light a tiny flame to ease the stress of the threats to our democracy? Or does such frivolity disrespect this moment?
I’d like to think that anything that puts joy above despair is a good thing. I’m still thinking about it, but I’m pretty sure I’ll write about that rodeo clown soon.