Thursday, 18 March 2010

Re-inventing history

My good chum Moptop has been waxing lyrical on the subject of Telling Stories (or porkies as they call them where I come from), and how stories made up for her own amusement can assume a life of their own.  It got me thinking about how maleable 'truth' can be.

We've read about governments changing history retrospectively in Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four, although of course they would NEVER do that in real life (ahem).  But my mum has no such qualms.

She is the consummate re-inventor of history. The man I married who she thought was wonderful but turned out to be a bastard? 'I never liked him.'  That business with the shoes - never happened. Homes we've lived in, arguments  we've had, people we've known have been erased or altered, retro-fitted to fit her current world view.  Former friends and neighbours have been vilified or deified in the best tradition of the tabloid press.

I like to rationalise things, to look at the past as though all that happened was for the best. She  goes one step further and changes the facts to fit.

Dad tries to keep diaries, obsessively documenting dates and occurrences, but he has to be careful - mum also compulsively gets rid of anything that hasn't 'been useful' in the last 6 weeks (it's a wonder she keeps him - and God help me if I'm ever in a persistent vegetative state.)  She threw all my old school stuff out while I was travelling.  She calls it 'having a clear-out', I call it tampering with the evidence.

I've  been trying to find the name of an artist I came across once who described her performance art using a page of text and with a single photograph:
  1. B&W photo of naked woman mid-air with text describing how she trampolined naked in a darkened room for two hours, instructing a photographer to come in once and take one photograph at random
  2. B&W photo of her surrounded by inflated plastic bags with text explaining how she collected every breath in plastic bags for 12 hours
It was all very arty farty but the point of it was that none of it was  real - performance art only exists as it is documented.  It's a bit like PR, but don't start me on that.

Flimsy things truth and history.  Do you re-invent your history? do you embroider or omit parts of your past - and what, and why?  

If you like the de-motivational poster, you may like to look at my earlier post on the subject.

(More on my mum's plans for world domination HERE.)


  1. Your mum is a James Bond Villain, as we all know.

    We are both much exercised on the subject of truth. Nietzche's on MY side.

    A rash statement to make, considering the others who have claimed this ...

  2. I think Mums are leading the way when it comes to reinventing history. I can imagine a shared motto of 'It'll be for the best, you'll see' or 'I only ever had YOUR interests at heart'. Hmmm....

  3. all people involved in a joint past see things differently. My children come up with 'important', 'life-changing' episodes which I have long forgotten.
    And forget about husbands and wives! they've written songs about them, haven't they.
    Besides, history is always written by the victor, so it remains to be seen who wins, you or your mum.

  4. My mom is coming to visit me next month. Maybe we can get them together and they can take turns ruling the world. LOL.

    Love the poster!

  5. Moptop - thought I'd better explain that... see my latest blog 'My mum's a Bond villain'
    Martin - hmmm, indeed
    Friko - hello! and thanks for stopping by. Maybe history is written by the last (wo)man standing?
    Maria - well they couldn't do a worse job than the people ruling it now... and if they did then that fact would also be erased!