It’s the way back that counts

There must be a reason why we have a returning Odyssey from Troy but not one thereto. While we know a lot about Ulysees’s adventures homewards, we know almost nothing about the Greek fleet’s (or Ulysees’s for that matter) journey to Troy.

There is always a return worth recounting, but never a voyage to. Telling a story is a backward-moving operation, not forward-running. Only things that have happened may be told. Things that would or should be are beyond the scope of language. The future tense was not a major thing in Ancient Greek. Timelessness was more popular linguistically. Perhaps this is what allowed Hegel to say that the past is the first category of historical consciousness. Remembering comes before planning. The past counts more than the future. The historian overcomes the prophet.

3 thoughts on “It’s the way back that counts

  1. landzek

    I’m not sure if I entirely agree with that. I’m in the process of completing a philosophy book as we speak that I think tells the story forward for the reader Who is involved in the reading of it. 😋🦄

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  2. landzek

    … or maybe I do agree with your post except that the meaning I gain from it is that we’re always living history in reverse. Perhaps we can never tell the story forward because we are actually on a path of returning by the time we have any cognition of where we might be headed.

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  3. cristian Post author

    And that’s precisely what is meant by our perspective. Think about it, even when we think about the future, what do we actually do? Aren’t we using the past to shape the discourse about what hasn’t yet happened?

    I don’t deny we’re walking forward, it’s just that, for better or worse, our heads are turned backward.

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