History is like a very good poem

“When asked what my view of history is these days, I usually say that history is like a very good poem, it has an inner logic of sorts and at times rhymes, but the next line all too often eludes us, especially if we are just expecting the same words to repeat themselves. Our knowledge of the past should not overwhelm our understanding of the present. Historicism in the present, in other words, is the flip side of presentism in history; we cannot neglect it–for it is crucial to our analysis of the present–but we must always be self-conscious of it.”

—Eran Zelnik, “The Historical Present

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