vendredi, juillet 03, 2009

The Family Business

My cousin's younger girl is going into the "family business", emailed cousin Daniel. Well, he didn't use quote marks to talk about Emily's decision to get a PhD in American history.

Daniel's a historian -- they can retire, but they can't stop mining history. His wife, Barbara, is a historian who now writes historical mysteries.

My mother's cousin, Gabe, now 88, is a historian of the Spanish Civil War -- this next book, he says, will be his last. My dad, of course taught history (American) at a city college in Brooklyn for more than 4 decades.

My cousin, one of them, teaches archaeology out in California.

Notice a certain theme here? It has to do with trying to explain something minor like the rise and fall of civilization.

However, it makes me a little edgy to think that study is our family business. After all, many in our family preferred to be out in the trenches of social justice movements, stirring the pot. Lots of them were smart as all get out. Many professors are activists, by calling their students to become critical thinkers. I wish we had lots more of them.

Maybe I wish that I had fewer of the traits of the historian. My aversion to ideology manifests itself sometimes as cynicism. My sense that we are remaking past generations in our image seems oftimes simplistic. And every decade or so I earn another degree, perhaps trying to make up for that once dreamed of doctorate.

While I'm proud of my family in the "business" I think it's good to have a few noncomformists -- professional ones like journalists.

The apple falls...but often just a few feet from that family tree.

2 commentaires:

Sue a dit…

I was adopted as an infant, and now I believe I MUST have come from your family! :) I've had some kind of "history addiction" for as long as I can remember -- still do, although I don't do much with it except share what I know with my kids in any "hands-on" way I can muster -- a museum here, a book there, a rock in our garden that must surely be some prehistoric fossil ...

We recently went to the American Museum of Natural History, bringing back memories (and that faded spark) for me while igniting a new-found love in my kids. Aidan declared he wanted to be a geologist when he grew up (after a baseball player, of course), fascinated the most with that segment of the museum.

And dear, sweet, charming little Grace ... she takes after her Mommy, proudly announcing her new career path in the field of archaeology. Listening to my almost-four-year-old try to say that word was one of the funniest moments of the day.

Take some healthy measure of pride in your family -- it has certainly shaped you, in one way or another. Oh, and did you neglect to mention that Mr. C seems to be the one to next pick up the baton? :)

Offcenter a dit…

Sue, you are a lot saner than most of the people in my family, so I'd be happy to have you as a younger sister. I love that Museum -- as they get a little older, you can take them to the Met, to MOMA, to all of the wild and wonderful arenas New York has to offer.