What follows this post is a very long and (somewhat uncharacteristic for me) political bit of writing. If this sounds like a drag, by all means skip it. For reasons I will try to explain, I dislike writing about politics, in part because it always feels like a coercive gesture, as if I’m trying to extort moral agreement from the good-hearted crew that comes here in search of hipster historiography, piano freakery, and light-hearted musicological japery. I don’t expect anyone to agree with me, or to give a damn about what some Canadian musicologist thinks about American politics. But I can’t get to where I want to go (historiography) without spending some time first on current scene, and I find it impossible to write about the current scene without characterizing it, stating opinions on it. And my opinion of it is low.
Because blog posts become uncomfortable to read past a certain length, and because what I’m writing is turning out to be rather long-winded (though perhaps necessarily so), I’m going to try something new: serializing. What follows will be the first of two, or maybe three posts. I haven’t written it all out yet so I don’t quite know what this project will look like. But the overall point of this series is this: to think about how the present age might be rendered in some future historiography. Or (more modestly, without crystal-ball pretenses) to think about the problem of historical representation, and of representing our own experience of living in history, by analogy with how scholars have written about the cold war. More to the point, I want to think about dissonances between the writing of history and the lived experience of history — both as they pertain to a time I was not around to see (the early, coldest phase of the cold war), and one I am still in the middle of. Maybe this sounds like a very odd or fruitless endeavor, but it’s something I’ve been thinking about, without writing about, for a while. Bear with me. Or not. It this sounds boring, go see some cats that look like Hitler.