[In which I define nor refer to neither Steampunk nor Salvagepunk, but rather only build a universe in which these things can exist, let alone have significance.]
I am not trained in philosophy. So I apologize in advance for any leaps, inconsistencies, or imprecisions which follow. On to the drivel.
The past occupies a central space in the formulation of identity. This is true of every single individual’s psyche. But let’s look at the portion of this phenomenon called “history.”
All of the mental projections which form identity require extension. That which is must have been. And that which is will “be.” Via perception of interior and exterior, we extend perception itself into sentience. Perception of the passage of time over this newly formed individual is extended into coherence. Only through their perception of time can the individual be said to exist in time.
Then given time to look around, perception of the individual’s own constituent parts, and of other figures constructed of those same parts leads to the assumption of the existence of other individuals. The assumption that our experience of individuality and the passage of time have commonality with those of the others establishes a “normal” state. And thus we identify ourselves as individuals within a collective whole.
Thus “history” is the very recent mental tool that allows us to formulate patterns from our perception of disparate events. These provide what satisfies us as coherence, providing to chronology and causality a stability of extension that allows us to contextualize ourselves – individually and collectively – within chronology.
This is all foundation to consider the formulation of a cultural identity as pertains to technology. Let me paraphrase McLuhan’s view that the entire history of human development is the shaping of tools, which then shape us. History itself is merely a “tool.” And after inventing it, we are shaped by it. The forthcoming installments of this article should be read with the grain of salt to be wary of historical narratives of technology.
Here we are in what we call the “present,” looking into the “past” and thus to the “future.” Since the past has been cohered into a narrative, it is generally considered factual. The events upon which this history is founded may distinguish themselves from fancy or lies by having actually happened. So any alternate narratives are considered “fictional,” due to the unfortunate feature not-actually-having-happened. But what is acknowledged as history is in fact as much of a posterior fictional construction as any set of lies or fancy.
Short story long – history is that against which we construct what we call the present, even though history itself is only composed of our perception of the present. So it’s a “lie.” If such a thing could be said to exist. OK – THAT LAST LINE WAS A JOKE.
Next week – the apple pie.