11.03.2008

Opening the Door, not Staring at the Paint

History books are amazing. Open one up, and you'll discover why the world has become what it is. Peek inside, and you'll find stories of the glorious kings and queens of old. You can see the past, how it's influenced the present, and how it will change the future.

However, there are some problems with history books. For example, I'm studying England's break from the Church: how King Henry VIII divorced Catherine of Aragon to marry the infamous Anne Boleyn. While doing so, I've met King Henry VIII, but only by what he's done - not by who he was. I've seen Catherine, but I can't know her favorite game, or hear her whispered secrets. I'll read history, but Henry is a king far away, and Anne Boleyn is just a woman who bewitched him - they're nothing more than characters in a mixed up fairy tale.

And maybe that's what makes us important - what we do. Because in the end, what we do, shows who we are - even if there's so much more. If we're in history books someday, maybe we'll just be remembered as someone who has to be studied to pass a test. Or maybe we'll be remembered because the artist is famous, not because it is us in the picture. Maybe that's it.

But then, dig deeper. Because maybe we'll see King Henry instead as a man who became enraptured with a woman he could not have, and Catherine of Aragon as a woman who gave away her heart to man, to have it shamelessly broken. We'll see Anne Boleyn as someone who wanted to be queen, not a mistress, because she saw how her sister was used.

History books will tell you Henry VIII wanted to divorce Catherine because she couldn't bear a male heir. Other books will state that Henry VIII believed that he was not rightfully married to Catherine, and that he believed his marriage invalid. But I know he wanted a divorce because of Anne.

And how do I know? Because Henry kept looking for approval of divorce, no matter how many people gave it? Or maybe I know because Henry could have gotten another woman who didn't demand as much as Anne? Maybe so. But mainly I know because, when I try hard enough, I can see that Henry VIII was a human, and not just a character from far away.

And when we see that all these people of facts are just people, then history becomes a storybook which we're trapped inside. And that's what happens when you see history for what it is, and people for who they are. Because time - it doesn't always change things as much as we might think.

17 comments:

Okie said...

Great point about history books. They are definitely just snippets showing isolated actions without truly providing enough background to ascertain the motivational behind the behavior. I'm also reminded of the comment (I forget where I first heard it) that history books are written "by the victors". The comment was made with regards to history book representation of wars such as Vietnam or Korea. It can easily be stretched to include history about people or more isolated events...history is written by the winning "class"...those with a voice at the time.

Your comment about Henry and the historical claim that he wanted a divorce because he needed a male heir. That account is a strong claim from those looking at Henry through a political eye, which is natural since he was king. However, I think it's very valuable to do exactly what you have done and to explore Henry (and other historical figures) from the standpoint of them as humans first and historical figureheads second. Because Henry was the king, it is treason to speak ill of him. Those writing the history books saved their own necks by either reiterating his grounds for divorce or by imposing a wholly political view, something much more acceptable than saying he was a lusty old man under the influence of a seductress.

History is intriguing. There are many things we may never know. And even those things we know may simply be falsehoods wearing a guise of truth. There comes a point where the only truth may be perception.

Romans 12:2 said...

What does that title mean? - Bob

mariposa said...

Hey! It just means that we should go inside to search what we're looking for (open the door), instead of inspecting the outside (or the paint on the door) for the answer. I made it up, actually. Hope that helps :)

--Emilyyy-- said...

Love the title and the whole post. I love how you take an everyday thing and dissect it. Great post as usual. And as for the enter key, I got really pissed at my computer and as it is a laptop I might have thrown it. I still havn't found it...

Glass Mannequin said...

I think that history leaves too many stories untold in different ways than the one you commented on.

History is not about who is right. It's about who is left.

I love your posts. Keep on blogging.

OH! Check out my mom's blog.

http://vixlove.blogspot.com/

Glass

♡!!Su-sU the 0re0 ßαߥ!!♡ said...

History books make me sleep sometimes but sometimes they can be proved wrong by a living person that got the story told and told from his parents and the paretns got it from theirs and so on. Some people that work for the text books tell the story wrong sometimes. But I have to learn of Texas History which includes of lots of Spanish people, Mexicans, Texans, empresarios, French Rebellion, and Indians. That's what the converse lover is learning so far in the 7th grade. Oh yea. Seventh!

twistingby said...

great thoughts.
im not big on studying history...my worst subject.... but the only way i can remember anything about anyone is if i look at them as more than just a random man who did something amazing.... i need learn about their lives, imagine what type of people they could be, how they felt, because your right, they were humans like the rest of us and are so much more than a character of a badly written book

twistingby said...

have to keep in mind too that the winners write the history books, the 'loser' story is hardly told and the 'winners' have hundreds of blank pages to fill however they like... so i like how you inspected this further and came up with your own judgment on Henry's situation, because thought something is written, anything is possible

Beaut!fully Br()ken said...

Heya!
O My God ! I'm asleep while studying history in class at times...but other times i really enjoy it. i like to know about the past..and like you said, how it affects the present and the future ! I love this post of yours. You have a great creative and imaginative mind....Tc...Keep posting !! :)

jEeRo said...

hIstory books dun tell it the way it really was or why it happened..many important details/people are left behind..its more like a summary to what actually happened?..thats what i thought..well i have netural feeling on history..am more interested in poems.the unknown.the dark side(if theres 1 =P..)
thkx for your lovely comment =)..yup i know u like masks..hmm do u collect them?..u know if u look at the full-moon long enough..it sorta draws u into it..oh ya hows your Halloween?..

R.E.II said...

I guess your thinking goes beyond history books and applies to all books. It would take a genuine love of reading. Henry VIII was a revolutionary.

R.E.II said...

and may I add that, I think he may have been proven right

RollingStone007 said...

You told me i should read...
...and i'm glad i did:D
Lots of Love,
RollingStone007

cabinetdecuriosites said...

speaking of history: it has been made tonight. obama!

C.L. Dawn Yang said...

You are so right "dig deeper," All man are valued, If we learn how to read them...we all connected, every great work of art or history books has two faces, one toward its own time and one toward the future or even maybe toward eternity. (Thanks Glass he is the first people opening the door for me to meet you all wonderful friend, God bless!)

milai said...

Hi Mariposa. Sorry it took a long time before I came back to your page as I just got back from a trip to Singapore and the past days were a blur of activities, trying to catch up on my office "to-do's".

I love these lines:

"And maybe that's what makes us important - what we do. Because in the end, what we do, shows who we are - even if there's so much more."

Am thinking...

Sometimes, history is overrated. It has a way of twisting facts, depending on who is writing what, on whose side it is that is being sold to readers.

I guess in the end, what matters is not what history painted us as but the legacy we left our loved ones with. Only these people's memory of us matters for they have known us, faults and all, but loved us just the same.

Jaerixon said...

Many people believe try to ignore the truth that our actions reflect who we are. Our actions reflect our choices, which reflect our thoughts. Our make us individuals and it is our thoughts which are remembered.

By the way do you have AIM or any type of instant messenger?