This is pretty much what I was trying to say yesterday about history, except that Stephen Muecke, being smarter than I am, says it better.
THE smouldering embers of the culture wars have been stirred again, this time by the Prime Minister, John Howard, talking about the teaching of history in schools. He called for the learning of significant dates, like that of the Battle of Hastings, and decried the influence of postmodern relativism…
What of relativism? The way Howard is using the term is to imply there are people who think there is a different truth for everyone and anything. He means to assert that the date of the Battle of Hastings is 1066; that is reality and don’t mess with it.
While Albert Einstein, the physicist who messed with reality with the theory of relativity, cannot be held accountable for the rise of relativistic thought in philosophy and the arts, both relativity and relativism grew in the same atmosphere of 20th-century modernism. This was a great era of experimental thought.