D. Joyce-Ahearne

Post-History and Nineties Kids [1990 to 2000, 2000 to present (Post-History)]

 

“We need to talk about your research topic.”

 

TITLE OF THE STUDY

Post-History and Nineties Kids [1990 to 2000, 2000 to present (Post-History)]

 

“It’s outside the time limits.”

“With all due respect sir what the fuck does that even mean?”

“Language.”

“Don’t get me started on language sir.”

“We’ll stick to History then. Not Post-History. I’m not a Post-History teacher.”

“I think I might be sir.”

 

OUTLINE PLAN

“Time is a game played beautifully by children.” – Heraclitus

 

“Well it all has to be all your own words for a start.”

“When a thing has been said and well said, have no scruple: take it and copy it. Sir.”

“And who said that?”

 

EVALUATION OF THE SOURCES

Post-History and Nineties Kids [1990 to 2000, 2000 to present (Post-History)]

https://twitter.com/WhytoQué

 

“You’ve just cited yourself.”

“There was nothing else worthwhile on the topic sir.”

“And that’s your Twitter account.”

 

EXTENDED ESSAY

We are currently living in Post-History. History is finished. The series of seismic events that constituted History came to an end with the millennium, which was meant to be the most seismic event of all time, and one that we thought might put an end to it. But it didn’t, and now we live in an anti-climactic post-millennial world: Post-History.

 

“You’ve made that word up.”

“So.”

“And you’ve also just decided that History is over.”

“Virginia Woolf declared the beginning of the modern era in 1910 sir, with no more authority than me. And D.H. Lawrence said the old world ended in 1915. Sir you have to make these statements sometimes. If only for their aesthetic shock value.”

 

We believed that the millennium might reset time, to what exactly was unclear, but we expected something. Perhaps the culmination of the uncertainty and fragmentation that had begun with the twentieth century, the culmination of everything Modern, through either salvation or damnation.

                But we were short-changed. The millennium was History’s spectacular non-event. History was over; it had nothing left to offer. There could be no more seismic events; the game-changer of all game-changers had been a damp squib. There could be nothing more. And so History gave way to something new.

 

“What about 9/11?”

“I haven’t figured that out yet sir but it’s a research topic after all. Maybe one of next year’s sixth years will figure out how 9/11 fits into it.”

“Y’reckon?”

“They could use me as a source sir.”

 

History ended with the millennium and we left all our historical baggage at the door. All we carried with us was the sense of discord and the anxiety about our place in an uncertain universe that had defined the twentieth century as Modern. This insecurity, now outside of the historical narrative in a Post-Historical world, became the starting point of the post-millennium age.

 

“Worrying about the twentieth century’s “discord and anxiety” is not something I would expect from someone born in 1993.”

“Sir that’s the problem sir, wait and see.”

 

                Post-History is the loss of the final narrative of the past. The twentieth century saw the fracturing of melody and harmony in music; of omniscience and linear narration in literature, of perspective and direct representation in painting. Now we have lost our own linear narrative: History. In a way then the millennium was a major event: it was the logical conclusion to the smashing of accepted “true” narratives that had composed History. It was the smashing of History itself.

 

“We could do with some linear narrative here. The form is all over the place, there doesn’t seem to be any cohesion at all.”

“I know sir will I get extra marks for that?”

 

                What was left, in the wake of the end of History, was a continual presentness. Because there was nowhere for the present to go, it could no longer becomes History after all, it became a continually flowing, disconnected, fleeting series of non-events. We had a constantly shifting present, with no security or thread of time.

                Nothing could go on to become History but also nothing was going to happen from now on anyway, because History had ended with the millennium. All that was left was immediacy and the need to deal with this disconnected presentness we had been left with, that was now the ultimate focus of all Modern anxiety over lost narratives.

 

“You understand that this is meant to be just a normal History essay? You can do Pre-History if you want.”

“Sir if there was a Pre-History then there has to be a Post-History.”

 

                We had to learn to deal with this new present in which nothing happened. What were we to do now with no more History, with no more chance of History? We tried to cobble together all our little moments and assure ourselves that we were here in time and that there was some consistency to the universe.

                All we could do was live in the present because that was all we had. But we were anxious about where we were going. It was as if the present was slipping away too and we feared that it too might one day disappear the way History did.

 

“Sorry now but where exactly did History go then?”

“I’ll get to it sir. It’s exciting isn’t it?”

 

                For the first years of the new millennium we struggled with adapting to a Post-Historical world in which nothing “happened” any more. In the immediate post-millennium years we lived in the moment, unsure what else to do (there was, of course, nothing else we could do anyway). The first years of Post-History were spent in a stupor.

 

“That’s just nonsensical.”

“It’s true sir, I’ve no idea where I was between 2000 and 2005. It’s all a blur.”

“You would have been in primary school.”

 

                And then, slowly, we realised that we had in fact solved our problem. It had arrived with Post-History. It was the Internet. The Internet had, of course, preceded the millennium but in the first years of Post-History, during the stupor years, we saw the true rise of the Internet through broadband, wifi, social media and online news.

Post-History is the Digital Age. In the years following the millennium we saw mass online migration and this is no coincidence. The end of History and the dawn of the Internet complimented each other. The beginning of Post-History saw us struggling with this new experience of fragmentation. The Internet arrived as a saviour.

 

“Why don’t you do it on the history of the Internet?”

“Sir I just explained that in two paragraphs. Keep up.”

 

                Though the fleeting and constant stream of online news, social media notifications, tweets, SnapChats, WhatsApps and texts that we experience now means that life online is just as fragmented as the continual presentness of the Post-Historical world, and though, in fact, it actually makes the present so much more fleeting, its capacity to record and order the present makes up for it. The Internet has redefined the present because it can bank experience. The Internet has replaced History.

 

“That’s where it went sir.”

“So there’s going to be no more History?”

“Unless we fix it sir.”

“So I’ll be out of a job.”

“No you can still teach History sir. But the syllabus won’t be changing. It’s done.”

 

The continual presentness of Post-History is defined, if not supported by, the Internet. It allows us to live constantly in the present, be constantly aware of everything that is happening at that very second that we are alive, as it is happening. Constantly aware of the present, we no longer miss, or feel we need, the History that is no longer there anyway.

The Internet has effectively replaced History as the stage on which the present plays itself out. It guarantees us a past and a feeling of security. The collective unconscious is now Twitter.

 

“That’s a fairly massive statement to make, is it not?”

“Are you on Twitter sir?”

“No.”

“You’d want to hurry.”

 

                The immediate post-millennium years had seen the human race exist in a trance, a hangover from the night of 31st December 1999. When we finally realised that this was it, that there would be no climax, we found ourselves in a changed world. There had been a line drawn under the past and all that was left was the present and the Internet.

 

“It’s entertaining I’ll give you that. You could do this for your English essay.”

“I’m already writing Don Quixote for my English essay sir.”

 

There is no more historical context. The obsession with fixing ourselves in a fractured present means that we find ourselves unable to see the bigger picture, even though the bigger picture is gone. This is dangerous.

There are those who have taken advantage of Post-History. The Neo-liberal democracy emerged from the last millennium as seemingly the only power structure that worked. Everything that preceded it was forgotten and governments who followed that model found that the people just accepted that this was how it had always been and always must be.

 

“Now it’s a conspiracy theory.”

“It’s true sir.”

“Do you even know what Neo-liberal means?”

“It’s a synonym for Post-Historical sir.”

 

With no past to model on and no present to exert upon, we are at the wills of those structures that were in power before the year 2000. We are obsessed with trying to assure our present and so have no interest in the future. We give up on collective progress because we’re all caught up in our individual present. So we just follow what the man tells us is progress. We’re directed by him.

 

“Who’s this man then?”

“He’s everywhere sir. He’s you.”

“And yet you don’t listen to me at all.”

 

Post-History is a democratic wasteland. All hope of a social revolution died with Facebook, because we believe that that’s what Facebook was.

For the Nineties Kids, the millennium is of particular importance. We are the last generation to experience History. The generation born in the first ten years of the millennium were born alongside or after Facebook and Twitter.

                Nineties kids remember History: the fall of the Berlin Wall and the Omagh bomb. We straddle the divide of History and Post-History. We are the generation who must truly contend with the advent of this new phase of human existence.

 

Nobody born in the nineties could possibly remember the fall of the Berlin Wall.”

“But sir it was in the collective consciousness. Like Italia 90.”

“Go on.”

 

                Births are now tweeted and childhoods are chronicled on Facebook until the child is old enough to have his/her own profile and tag him/herself in their own past. Children watch themselves grow up online from their baby photos to the photo they took two minutes ago.

The childhood of the Nineties Kid and social media missed each other coming and going. The original camera films of our photographs have been lost already. The physical photographs are perishable. Our VHS home movies will fade. We will see our past, the last piece of History, disappear as we grow older.

 

“You don’t have any outcomes. Your project has to have outcomes.”

“Too soon to tell sir. It’s meant to be research isn’t it? It’s there now for posterity anyway.”

 

                Nineties Kids are the last bastion of a world they know once existed. We are the last generation of History. All generations born in Post-History are generations with nothing to do and who will do nothing. But we remember a time when people did do things and the duty of the Nineties Kids is to try and reclaim History and defeat the meh-ness of the modern Post-Historical world.

               

“That’s the end?”

“Sudden sir. Make an impact.”

“Nineties kids are going to save the world is it?”

“I doubt it sir I’m just saying that we’re the last generation who could. We probably won’t.”

“What does meh-ness mean?”

“Y’know, like… meh.”

“I really don’t.”

“Meh. It doesn’t really matter.”

“I’m starting to get you.”

 

 

D. Joyce-Ahearne is a student in Trinity College Dublin. He is currently Deputy Editor of Trinity News, having written for the paper for the last two years. He has had poetry published in both English and Irish, both in Ireland and abroad. Last year, he wrote and directed his first play.

 

https://twitter.com/D_JoyceAhearne

http://trinitynews.ie/author/d-joyce-ahearne/

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