The Perception of History and Time

I watched Raiders of the Lost Ark again last night, in itself not particularly note worthy as it is one of those films I have seen countless times.

Although watching it again I was reminded of a discussion I read on the Twitter machine recently regarding our perception of history and time.

The discussion began with the mention that only 30 years separate the events described in the novel The Great Gatsby and those in the novel Dracula. This is perhaps obvious to many, however in my head the pair were separated by a far greater length of time.

Then someone made the comment that by the time Indiana Jones 5 is released, more time will have passed between Raiders of the lost Arks release and the new film, than the time between the end of the Second World War and the release of Raiders of the lost Ark.

Again this may seem like an obvious point, however as a child growing up in the 1980’s the events of WW2 seemed like a lifetime away, so distant and far removed from the modern life I was being raised in. Of course we had the daily fears of being nuked during the peak of the cold war, the idea of Axis forces marching across Europe seemed like a strange black and white fiction to me.

I am now in my early late forties and looking back at my life it seems so strange that I never appreciated how the events of Vietnam, Watergate or the Cuban missile crises to me back then, are almost the same, in terms of actual years, as me looking back at the Millennium today.

For a few years now I have read some comments that we are drifting perilously close to recreating the events that led up to the rise of Nazi Germany, I must admit I have previously dismissed them as paranoid nonsense.

However I was reading a piece in the New Yorker today https://www.newyorker.com/books/page-turner/when-its-too-late-to-stop-fascism-according-to-stefan-zweig, which refers the writings of Stefan Zweig who notes that by the time Fascism had taken hold it was already too late.

Now I find myself reflecting on events of last decade or so and depressingly, the strange black and white fiction of the past is getting a re-boot.

I find myself shuddering at my nations flag (Union Jack) and the dark nationalism which as attached itself to it, just as much of the world shudders at the actions and symbolism of the Third Reich.

In the past I suspect the sight of the Union Jack flying on a ship would send shivers down as many as that of seeing the Jolly Roger. At least when it came to pirates you knew where you stood, unlike the smiling white devils with their airs and graces.

Funny how things change.