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Never Too Late…



Well, almost never. I started reading a book by Isaiah Berlin that’s been on the shelf since 2013 and just never seemed to get around to it. The Sense of Reality is subtitled “studies in ideas and their history” and the introduction seems to suggest it will help the Agincourt Project achieve its goals. Which, of course, begs the question whether there have been goals along the way.

The Sense of Reality is a collection of essays, eight of them never published previously. But it’s the first which interests me (and perhaps the one I might be able to wrap my mind around): The title essay treats “the impossibility of historians being able to recreate a bygone epoch.” Whether my own efforts toward that end have gained me anything along the way, I say “yes”, they have. But it also helps me understand why the project has been only a relative success when I’ve persuaded (lured, cajoled, bribed, threatened,…) others to play in my corner of the sandbox.

Not knowing exactly how to judge the success of “Agincourt”, I seem to have relied on the criteria of an eight-year-old: whether anyone, having ventured into the project out of sheer curiosity, comes back for a second encounter — a list that is remarkably short.

So, I’ll get back to you on the question of Berlin’s applicability to the problem at hand. I know it is but am I up to it?


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