“The fabric of cultural history” (Carl E. Schorske)

door Prachtige Pjotr

The historian seeks […] to locate and interpret the artifact temporally in a field where two lines intersect. One line is vertical, or diachronic, by which he establishes the relation of a text or a system of thought to previous expressions in the same branch of cultural activity (painting, politics, etc.). The other is horizontal, or synchronic; by it he assesses the relation of the content of the intellectual object to what is appearing in other branches or aspects of a culture at the same time. The diachronic thread is the warp, the synchronic one is the woof in the fabric of cultural history. The historian is the weaver, but the quality of the cloth depends on the strength and color of the thread. He must learn something of spinning from the specialized disciplines whose scholars have in fact lost interest in using history as one of their primary modes of understanding, but who still know better than the historian what in their métier constitutes stout yarn of true color. The historian’s homespun will be less fine than theirs, but if he emulates their method in its making, he should spin yarn serviceable enough for the kind of bold-patterned fabric he is called upon to produce.

SCHORSKE, Karl, Fin-de-siècle Vienna. Politics and culture., Vintage Books, New York, 1981, xxi-xxii.