Event, Experience, and Myth? (AKA, More Cohen)

This post may be more brief than my previous post differentiating two earlier components of Event and Experience (though I do not recall stating them both directly by name).

Cohen introduces a third way to interpret the Boxers, and it is a way in which I think is the most interesting, and closer to what historians try to dissect in regards to a book review: History as Myth. What this series brings to the table in particular is the idea that there is some history (eg. the Mythologized History), that seeks to answer a question with an answer that the writer themselves have projected. How this is different from regular history is that not only is this idea more based around ones personal feelings and circumstances of the time of writing, but (going to drag this word out here) regular history is often delivered by asking a question, researching that question, and then delivering the outcome that you find with complete acceptance that the history is what it is.

I find this interesting, because if there is one thing that I have always been taught, it’s that there is always more than one side of a story. In regards to history, there is never a definitive reason as to why something happened. Yes, history often generalizes a country or society so they can explain a conflict or event in a way that makes sense, but we as people are something of an enigma. I’ll stray from history for a brief moment and bring in some psychology for the sake of an argument. It’s truly difficult to explain why people do the things they do; often only they know why they do it, and sometimes even they don’t know why they are doing it. What does that have to do with history? Essentially, History will compile the most significant and important actions that embody an event or circumstance, and minor details will be thrown to the wayside. Details will be left out of history if historians believe that those details can be left out without damaging the overall event or causing a grand-scale outcry of “What happened to so-and-so event?”

That to me begs the question “What is more important: Reaching a logical conclusion? Or telling the entire truth?”

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