History And Memory: "The Fifieth Gate" By Mark Baker

1405 words - 6 pages

Mark Baker, in 'The Fiftieth Gate' exposes the true values of both history and memory in determining truth and meaning. Baker, in 'The Fiftieth Gate', disputes the classical view that history is of more importance than memory, instead he argues that history and memory are of equal importance. Baker explores the traditional views of history and memory that are: History is the branch of knowledge that records and researches past events, while memory is the power of retaining and recalling past experiences.Two texts which further explore the notions of history and memory are; Ruth Kluger's 'Still Alive: a holocaust girlhood remembered' and Dan Brown's 'The Da Vinci Code'. These texts present each writer's own unique perspective of the concepts of history and memory and act to enforce Baker's opinion that history and memory are equally valid in establishing truth and meaning.Baker realises that history and memory are vastly different in their appearance so, to establish truth he, critiques the accuracy of history and memory by continually cross referencing his information from both sources against one another. This thorough documentation of events in this way depicts his parents' stories in an accurate and truthful light.'The Fiftieth Gate' exposes the gaps in history as a whole. Throughout the text Baker expresses his historical facts alone as being flawed or inadequate to determine a complete record of events. Baker sees that history can easily be misinterpreted or be recorded wrongly."How easy it is to get things wrong... to set you narrative in a tissue of unintended lies, to forget to read between the lines."Baker a historian by qualification originally believes that history is of greater importance than memory is determining truth, but when his facts, or and Yossl calls them "fecks", fail to satisfy his desire to "prove it" he turns to memory to fill in the blanks in the record of history. This revelation of history being incomplete causes Baker to conclude that "If I [Baker] were granted time before I die I would burn all of my personal papers. I would rather leave the idea of me rather than bits and pieces." The idea that history is incomplete when it is unaided by another medium is what causes Baker to fuse his wealth of historically incomplete facts with the memories of his parents.Baker, through his parent's stories explores both collective and personal memory and the importance of each is deriving meaning. Collective memory is that which is recorded as a whole or combined of or from many individual memory stores. Baker explores collective memory through his father Yossl. Yossl shares a collective memory with the other "Buchenwald Boy's." Baker describes his father's memory as being "written on a page shared by other survivors." By examining the memories of the other "survivors" Baker is able to validate his father's memory and show it to be historically significant.Baker deliberately emphasises the importance of collective memories as...

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