Friday, September 22, 2017

Who's afraid of taxation history?

David Tough wraps up Active History's "Income Tax History" week with an essay about "boring history." He explores the virtues of working through boredom, boredom as tool of the market economy, and David Foster Wallace on boredom. He's too polite to say so, but one suspects the "someones" who mock his field as boring --
People who suggest that my work must be boring intend to insult my taste, but they really insult my craft.
 -- may include a lot of his fellow scholars. After all, he declares himself a "political historian" (All the income tax essays this week have been highly political). And political history has been unfashionable in the academy for quite a while. As I think I was trying to grasp a week or so ago, "Boring!" is a way to celebrating one's one ignorance.
The boredom that people evince when they sense they’re in danger of encountering tax history is the boredom of disgust, not surfeit.... [T]hey want you to never start talking about it.
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