Wednesday, April 20, 2011

"History is bunk"

As an undergraduate history major, there were times that I
heartily concurred with Henry Ford's oft quoted phrase.

Thumbing through George Seldes's very interesting compilation,
The Great Thoughts, last night, I finally got to see the quote in
context:

    "I don't know much about history, and wouldn't give a
nickel for all the history in the world.  History is more or
less bunk.  It is tradition.  We want to live in the present,
and the only history that is worth a tinker's damn is the
history we make today."

Put that way, it doesn't seem quite as harsh.  Here are two
more quotes Seldes attributed to Henry Ford:

       "Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at 20
or 80.  Anyone who keeps learning stays young.  The
greatest thing in life is to keep your mind young."

       "Capital punishment is as fundamentally wrong
as a cure for crime as charity is wrong as a cure for
poverty."

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