This year, it seems as though a lot of people are wondering how it’s possible to really understand something, even if you weren’t there. The question applies to several categories–I just went on a study abroad retreat where a lot of people struggle with explaining their experience in a way that conveys meaning to someone who wasn’t there with them. For more of history, we weren’t actually there. Maybe some older folks among us were, but I don’t think anyone can claim to have been around when Julius Caesar marched over the Rubicon. Not so much.
So the question remains, how do we convey the experience and meaning of an event without actually having been there? How do we understand an even when we can’t actually experience it? I don’t actually have an answer. But my tip #1: Don’t rely on Hollywood renditions of a historical event, or even a place that you went to visit. They are false. False, false, false.
Beyond that, I guess you just have to get really good at telling stories. Telling specific stories. I heard someone say that people resonate with the specific. If you tell a story in broad terms with huge brush strokes, people aren’t going to connect…they aren’t going to see the details of the polipo on the piece of Kamares ware. Be specific. Make it alive.