Textuality » 3A Interacting
The Shape of History
The poem "The Shape of History" is based on the concept of information and news and how it developed in the time from today going backwards to the Big Bang.
In the first lines it describes the content of a today's paper: it is full of useless news mixed with important facts, tragedies and inhumanity. Then, the poet looks back to the previous year. He notes that the same day of the previous year only one of the 365 top stories of the year had happened. This means that every day pages and pages are written and printed but only a very few pieces of information are really important. There is a big quantity of news, but the quality is very low.
In fact, a magazine can easily summarize an entire decade into a thin paragraph. Barely enough to fill in a sub-chapter of a high school text.
Going backwards to 500 and 5000 years ago, the reader can notice that things happened less frequently. Why? Because lifestyles were different and focused on the daily routine. Moreover, technology wasn't very developed, and technology is a big spring to speed up life rhythms and increase the number of events.
The poet goes on going back in time, but referring to this movement as a movement in space (farther refers to a physical movement). So, this choice underlines what the title of the poem told: the poem is about the shape of history. The poet groups the years in very big blocks of thousands or even millions of years. Life was even slower. And even more before, when things happened once an Era.
But if the number of things happened decreases, their importance rises.
Until the poet comes to the origin of the universe and the history: the Big Bang. The greatest event, the most important thing. But it was also the only one that happened for trillions of years.
So, starting over from what the poem tells, but taking it in the right chronological sense:
- the universe started with one only big event (Big Bang)
- it went on developing and the number of things happened grew
- the number of events went on growing and growing but their importance decreased exponentially
- nowadays there are every day pages and pages of news, millions and millions of events, but the really exceptional ones are incredibly rare. So rare that our present history can't even be used to fill in a sub-chapter in a history book.
So, this is why the shape of history is a gyre: it begins with a few important things condensed and it widens more and more with a lot of things less and less meaningful.