Black Holes of Ignorance

Black Holes of Ignorance

and Indifference

Some months back , the editor of a boating magazine wrote that although SEA HISTORY and the NMHS may be less than perfect, they’re what we have ,

and they deserve support from everyone interested in America’s maritime history.

I hope that Dr. Name Withheld (see SH40 , “Letters”) wi ll reconsider her rather curt and snooty dismissal of the Society’s unprofessional ism

and submit a professional-quality analysis of the shortcom ings she perceived and how they might be corrected.

What the maritime history establishment doesn ‘t do and doesn ‘t recognize needs urgent attention.

Peter Spectre of WoodenBoat suggested that I should prepare a timeline survey of American maritime history ,

identifying the ships and eras that now absorb a disproportionate share of avail able resources and outlining the black holes of ignorance

and indifference towards our maritime heritage which are more extensive than the well polished highlights.

I set the project aside when I realized that reducing the historical complexity to understandable , graphic terms was beyond my sk ill .

The multitudinous threads of our maritime history are all of different weights and colors.

Each historical thread must be val ue-judged, as a simple weighting based on tonnage , dollars or numbers doesn ‘t work . C

an SEA HISTORY provide a forum-in addition to the valuable functions it already perforn1s-for “serious” and “professional ” people to state their opinions about needed studies and activities in researching or promoting America’s maritime history?

In my opinion about three-fourths of the subject has been missed so far.

I suspect that the saving of old ships and the objective study of sea history are incompatible endeavors,

and that a useful first step would be to separate these activities, financially and editorially.

I would like to know what Dr. Withheld thinks!

SEA HISTORY, with WoodenBoat and other journals, has provided a forum for this kind of issue- we welcome the challenge to drive on further into these wide seas!

We do not think that ‘ ‘history” should be separated from historic ship saving and keeping,

however; we think service to the ship is endlessly instructive in historiography as it has been in history itself

(which is, after all, a multidimensional, solid thing), and that some of the learning involved goes to poetry, meaning and attitudes as well as to information gathering.- Eo.

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