Friday, November 2, 2012

Ahnenpaβ II

"What's the point of studying history?"

Many people I went to school with had absolutely no use for it. They thought it was a boring, tedious subject that had no practical application. Even today I encounter people who find it boring and useless.

I have always found history to be fascinating; no need for a practical application. Perhaps it stemmed from when I was a child and my mother spent many hours going through family photo albums, telling me about the grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins pictured there who lived an ocean away from us. Or maybe I was just interested and entertained by the stories; stories that ignited my imagination.

When I did my apprenticeship as a piano technician, I found a book about pianos that included the history (including the technical & structural development) of the instrument. As I read the book I realized the connection between the advancements of technology and the evolution of musical forms and instruments. I discovered the complexity of history - it was far more than entertaining stories. History is the weaving together of the threads of culture, politics, power, technology, the arts, religion, social constructs and more culminating in a tapestry that continues to grow.
The description of how the story of the piano fit into the larger historical picture gave me more than the details  of "how";  it painted an illuminating picture of "why".

Working through my collection of family documents, photos, and anecdotal stories is adding a new dimension of understanding and awareness of historical events that whirled around my family and how those events shaped a lot of who I am today.

The study of history, the complex interaction of political, religious, social, technical and scientific developments has been a very interesting intellectual exercise for me. But I was personally detached from these stories.

Reading through my aunt's Ahnenpaβ has added an increased awareness, perception and understanding of how world events (from local to global) impacted on my parents and grandparents lives. Those impacts also shaped me and I imagine they have been part of the moulding of my children.

What new revelations will I find as I continue to research these stories?

The intrigue and anticipation keeps my interest from flagging but the growing body of information is making my task of writing increasingly daunting.

I have some ideas of how to manage that; I'll see how it all works out.

We have more information now than we can use, 
and less knowledge and understanding than we need. 
Indeed, we seem to collect information because we have the ability 
to do so, but we are so busy collecting it 
that we haven't devised a means of using it. 
 ~~~ Warren G. Benni)

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