Friday, November 17, 2006

The past as now.

Yesterday I was thinking about Arthurian legends, chivalric tales and various other knightly stories. Arthur was a soldier of the dark ages, yet his later chroniclers, in Morte d'Arthur and others, and subsequently in later Romantic and modern works, have always portrayed him in armour, with a stone castle and other relics of the 15th or so century.

And why shouldn't they? In Malory's time technical (and social) change was slower, so it may have seemed reasonable to assume that the past was much the same as the present, except in regard to specific kings or the distant glory of the Roman empire.

But following the industrial revolution, knowledge of such processes has given us both science fiction for the future and a pretense of historical accuracy for the past.

Which brings me to a point. I wonder what our historical tales would be like if we had just assumed the past was much like the present. We are adept of doing this in a post modern way, or by way of recontextualisation, but I would like to see it done through pure naivety and ignorance of change. To an extent this happens in our portrayal of Cinderella, with high heels and a Prince in modern imperial garb, but I can only imagine a Raj with cars, pirates with steel hulls and the Bastille being stormed with Molotov cocktails.


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