Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Past, present or tense?

Recently I had a stray thought. Suddenly I remembered my old schoolbook in Latin, and one of the most peculiar things about it: its seemingly random fascination with the word "circumspecto". At the time, it was just another Latin word, but with a bit of hindsight it has taken a rather strange turn.

It was one of those nicely laid out books, which introduced one thing at a time. Which is a phenomenal way to ease people into a language, but which also portrays the poor Romans in a rather strange way.

For one thing - didn't the Romans do anything else than just look around in general?

Page after page, the only thing that happened was something like this: Roman1 entered the stage and looked around (with successively increasing degrees of grammatical complexity), and after a while started talking to Roman2 for a bit. Exit stage. (If you are thinking the words "lazy writing", you are indeed reading my mind.)

If one based one's view of the Romans on this reading alone, one would quickly conclude that the most important aspect of the roman way of life was the activity of looking around at things. The political structure was based on this activity, and the constant expansion outwards was a direct result of the desire for new things to look at. But it was a very hands off process - they just looked at the barbarians until expansion happened, and then talked about it. Which, also, is the reason they loved rhetoric so much.

I am very tempted to turn this into a game. If only to be able to use the title  MYST - ROMAN SUPERVISION.

For obvious reasons.

Now, this ex post facto reconstruction of what I read back in the days is not very original. It may be rather contrary to common sense, and there is a slight possibility that I'm the only one to ever have thought about the Romans in that way. Yet I'm still not very original in my method.

This is, after all, how it always works with our human memory processes. When things happen, they just happen as they happen, and are transformed into memories by way of magic. After a while, these memories start to morph. One thinks about them, integrates them into one's new worldviews, and massages them to fit the more present tense.

That internal monologue is quite a remixer. Especially when we tell others about what happened in the past, since we like to add a few details to our telling tale. Spice it up, make it more exciting, take the drudgery out of how it really was.

Like the Romans, out past slowly becomes supervisionary. Or, rather, revisionary.

Depending on one's point of view.

1 comment:

  1. Glad you liked my picture. If I have any you would like to use that are not CC licensed, drop me a line and we can probably work that out.

    Dave Emerson
    Indelight photography, LLC