Friday, June 22, 2012

History--Good and Bad

As I have mentioned before, I love history.  I believe that those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.  And it's that love of history that has me excited about one thing going on this weekend--and not so thrilled with something else.

I can't wait to get to the Paine Arts Center and Gardens to check out the new Ansel Adams exhibition.  Adams is one of my favorite photographers--as he chose to make the grandeur of America's landscapes as his nearly-exclusive focus.  I've seen many of his pictures on-line and in books--but it will be great to see tha actual prints up close and in person.  Photography is far more appealing to me than paintings--since the camera lens provides a less-filtered view of the world than a painter's canvass.  And the use of black and white film just adds to the stark contrast between the elements in many of the pictures.

What's more, it was Adams' pictures that made Americans realize just how spectacular their country was--and how important it would be to set aside those areas for protection.  Would Yosemite be filled with Starbucks and McDonald's now if we hadn't come to that realization?  Would Old Faithful be in the atrium of a Hilton Hotel?  Would the Grand Canyon be surrounded by strip malls and amusement parks?  Maybe not--but it's nice to know that we won't have to ever worry about that.

On the other end of the historical spectrum you have the opening today of Abraham Lincoln:Vampire Hunter.  While Hollywood is certainly allowed artistic license in the way it protrays history (e.g.: none of the soldiers portrayed in Saving Private Ryan actually existed) this is just ludicrous.  To spare you the need to see it, historians "discover" a secret journal kept by President Lincoln detailing his mother's murder by vampires--and his "second life" hunting down and killing the living dead.

Yes, I understand that this is a farce--and those of us with an ounce of common sense and historic knowledge will realize that.  But you know that there will be a percentage of Americans who will actually believe this junk as some kind of fact.  I'm sure somebody is ready to pitch "Presidential Secret Lives" to the History Channel if this movie is a big hit.  They could air it between episodes of those incredibly "educational" shows Ancient Aliens and Swamp People.

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