On Sunday I finished reading Metronome by Lorànt Deutsch which was about the history of Paris over the past twenty-one centuries. It wasn't a heavy book in any sense of the word, but I did feel lightheaded at the conclusion of the final chapter. I could feel the spirit of like a billion people living and dying, ebbing and flowing through history on the same island in the same river adjacent to the same marshes, cathedrals, and Roman ruins. Life took on a surreal vibe where fortresses were now cobblestones and chapels were found five layers of a parking garage below ground.
The inebriation of history that washed over me was definitely not because I've been at Flinders University lately, ebbing and flowing all over the same campus I lived and died on two decades ago. The weird feelings that being back there triggers in me are solely narcissistic.
I do think that appreciating history gives you a viewpoint on your own existence that differs from the average person. I took my shirt off in the Flinders' car park yesterday afternoon so I could don a more lightweight outfit for the drive through peak hour traffic to home. I don't think my self consciousness would have let me do that in 2003, but as a student of history I now think to myself, "What would a Middle Ages Parisian being slaughtered by a Viking care about seeing my nipples in public in 2023 right now?" And if they conceivably wouldn't give a fuck then I don't either. I presume they'll forgive any implications I'm a heathen because they are too busy dealing with plague or famine or civil unrest.
I mean ironically I was a student of history in 2003 at that actual university, but that was in the humanities building and not the car park. Maybe it's not my perspective on life that has changed since then, it's my perspective of my nipples.