John: “Hey there, Jeremy, what do you know about holes?”
Jeremy HIllary Boob, PhD: “There are simply no holes in my education.”
If you’ve ever watched any kind of documentary or series, there’s always some element of “we’re not entirely sure what happened at this point in time, but we can make an educated guess by looking at the following clues” or some such. The further back we go in time, the harder it is to pinpoint the date of an event; eventually the most we can say is “sometime during the [x] Era.” Those are extreme examples, though. Sometimes our view of history changes within a few decades, when we look at the events of a specific time with the eyes of a different generation, maybe even a different culture.
I started thinking about this sometime ago when I started writing the new Mendaihu Universe story. One of the subplots deals with the events that took place in the original Bridgetown Trilogy, though this new story takes place about seventy years later. Without going into too much detail, our histories of our heroes in that trilogy have become somewhat embellished, even after so short a time. Denni Johnson, the teenager who had ascended as the earthbound deity the One of All Sacred, is now viewed as a saint, complete with a marble statue that thousands flock to and pray at. Her sister Caren and Caren’s ARU partner Alec Poe, who never ascended as far as Denni did, are seen as more than human; Caren is believed to be an angelic protector, and Poe is seen as a Mighty Warrior.
And yet, all three were merely human. Gifted with psionic abilities, just like anyone else in the Mendaihu Universe who have gone through an awakening ritual, but still — they were just as human as the rest of us.
Part of the focus on this new story is how certain people and events in history get changed over the years. We may have documents, we may have databases and videos, but it still boils down to how the person or event is seen by the viewer. We put amazing people on pedestals, even if their personalities were less than stellar, because regardless of their infallibility, they changed the world in some way. The same could be said of horrible people as well; their vileness goes down in history as a grim reminder (even if, on a personal level, they weren’t one hundred percent vile). We rarely look at these things objectively; we always have some emotional attachment to them, however big or small.
The evolution of historical accuracy fluctuates a lot more than we’d like it to, quite often because of this emotional attachment. In this new story, the views of the new devout (those who follow the steps of the One of All Sacred — that is, Denni — and hope to find clarity in their lives) have become reasonably established. However, schisms have already broken out; there are those who see Denni as a savior, and others who see her as an ascended but flawed human. There are the Elders, the spiritual leaders who have been around for centuries, who are also splitting: those who have embraced the evolution of belief, and those who want to retain the status quo.
It’s a bit of a mess, but that’s the fascinating part of history as it happens. No one really knows what the hell is going to happen next until it does.
1 thought on “On Worldbuilding: Fluid History”
This is what’s fascinating about history. The past is a memory, and it’s so easy to view it differently even just a few decades later. With today’s technology recording everything, it’s hard for that to happen now, though I wouldn’t doubt people’s perceptions change over time. I’m working on my own world and have to deal with the same kind of thing. History is different depending on who you ask.