“The other one, the one called Borges, is the one things happen to.”
Throughout history, people have recorded what happened during the course of their lives in various ways. Yet, have you ever found yourself skeptical about a written record of things past? Have you wondered where that information originated from?
There are as many sources of information about the past as there are interpretations of them. As modern observers, we need to be certain that the sources of the information we have available and take as factual are trustworthy.
One significant source of historical information comes from those who observe and record events at the time. This kind of information is referred to as a primary source and it can include autobiographies, diaries, drawings, journals, letters, maps, newspapers, paintings, and photographs.
But sometimes these valuable primary sources only reflect a person’s impressions or opinions. Thus, this information source is not always accurate. At times, people who are themselves involved in the events they record are not aware of everything that is happening around them – not to mention that there are influences on their perception from the others around them as well. “I do not know which of us has written this page.”
Primary sources could be interesting to read, nonetheless, as they could add a personal sentiment to the existing historical record that we normally read. Not only can primary sources illustrate hidden truths about people and events but they also express the contemporary society’s feelings at the time.
Yet, as students of history, it is our duty – as part of history ourselves – to compare all accessible primary sources and see – through them. This difficult task is absolutely a necessity in the attempt to separate factual history from opinion.
“Then I reflect that all things happen, happen to one, precisely now.
Century follows century, and things happen only in the present.
There are countless men in the air, on land and at sea,
and all that really happens, happens to me.”
- Quotes by Jorge Luis Borges. Labyrinths: Selected Stories and Other Writings.
- Collages by Heterology.