The Idea of Fish

I have been standing by a stream for the last few days fishing. With an early modern fishing pole using the modern English historian David Starkey as bait.

Looking for words that relate to landscape and a measure of people and intelligence.

So far I am on really uncertain ground. I have skimmed William Stuklely’s Memories of Sir Isaac Newton at very high speed and stopped when I got a vague pattern match, suggesting that I may indeed be viewing a language that I could identify as associated with measurement concerning body and soul.

To do that I had to take it out of context although it’s a near contemporary one.

I have much the same problem with David Starkey an Elizabethan Historian, not familiar with David Starkey the historian but somewhat over- familiar with David Starkey right- wing controversialist on late night television news broadcasts.

He is being used as bait here, as when I went back to read William Stukley again (promising myself I would read it in detail), I stopped a few sentences into the introduction. Identified the use of allegory, which opens the theme to medieval comparison. I am well away from immediate context again.

Then my head was filled with the very loud and overconfident inflection of David Starkey and I wondered if he would view Stukley’s text approvingly as ‘quite.’

‘Quietness’ is a property David Starkey views as the expectational quality of being English. Its a commonly held contemporary description. Simon Schama an art historian and part of the discussion, vigorously agreed at this point.  David Starkey then went on to associate this quality of sound with reason and law. His final point emphasised that this was an expectational quality of Englishness. Scottishness by comparison was an identity based on emotion.

To reason is English to emote is Scottish.

If I want to place all these words in a wide historical context I have a lot of work to do.

The thing that interests me in this over-wordy post is, is the only new thought it contains; can I describe ‘Quitness’ as a landscape feature here? The soundscape of a tranquil garden?

I really need to invent some academic sounding term here in an effort to pretend I know what I am talking about.

I also need some justification for moving out of context. I will do that in the next post which will be confined to one topic.


I notice here my tendency to move out of context at speed and without much thought. History of Science sometimes attempts to teach me the lesson that moving out of context is not what history does and it appears tied to working definitions within the subject of what a myth is.

The Wealth of the Bewitched

A context and definition issue. I don’t think a rigid oppositional definition and identification works here, i.e.  history is a matter of specific context and myth has no context here. Its an error.

It’s like the identification as  ‘quite’ as opposed to ’emotive’ I suspect. It seeks to identify what a historian is rather than history, I think. But I have a bias to viewing any sort of binary opposition in a certain way, particularly at the early stages of thought.

A rule I of course don’t apply to my own form of taking a’quite’ mythological approach to the subject, in which I can only determine  what a historical context is by taking it out of context and identifying the features that don’t belong in it’s short- term memory (I do apply it I just have an altered sense of what myth is as a historical processes).

I could make a fine grained distinction and note that my comparative approach determines me as a comparatist rather than someone who thinks in historical terms as a historian.  I think that has the same issue as working definitions of myth in history; with these things its not when the subjects become clearly different that is the interesting part.


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