The Past is a Brutally Foreign Place

If the past is a foreign country, it is a shockingly violent one. It is easy to forget how dangerous life used to be, how deeply brutality was once woven into the fabric of daily existence. Cultural memory pacifies the past, leaving us with pale souvenirs whose bloody origins have been bleached away. A woman donning a cross seldom reflects that this instrument of torture was a common punishment in the ancient world; nor does a person who speaks of a whipping boy ponder the old practice of flogging an innocent child in place of a misbehaving prince. We are surrounded by signs of the depravity of our ancestors’ way of life, but we are barely aware of them. Just as travel broadens the mind, a literal-minded tour of our cultural heritage can awaken us to how differently they did things in the past.


Folksonomies: nostalgia violence past golden age

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Debut albums (0.923937): dbpedia
Torture (0.899949): dbpedia | freebase | opencyc
Crucifixion (0.866399): dbpedia | freebase
Cultural heritage (0.813369): website | dbpedia | freebase
Suffering (0.806330): dbpedia | freebase | opencyc
Life (0.760815): dbpedia | freebase
History (0.751212): dbpedia | freebase | opencyc
Violence (0.733636): dbpedia | freebase

 The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined
Books, Brochures, and Chapters>Book:  Pinker, Steven (2011-10-04), The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined, Penguin, Retrieved on 2015-05-29
  • Source Material []
  • Folksonomies: enlightenment culture ethics violence