From a Yale historian - complete nonsense: "...just as historical consciousness demands detachment from - or if you prefer, elevation above - the landscape that is the past, so it also requires a certain displacement: an ability to shift back and forth between humility and mastery."
From The Landscape of History: How Historians Map the Past by John Lewis Gaddis (2002)
I find this nonsense for several reasons: (1) he compares writing history to map-making, which is a false (and scientistic) analogy. If history is a map, it's full of pitfalls - literally - not to mention swamps, sinkholes, and dry wells. The analogy substitutes accuracy for truth (even when there can be no accuracy) - in contrast to John Lukacs' humbling refreshing statement, that a historian's task is the "reduction of untruth." (2) Gaddis has gotten giddy from his all his shape-shifting and gadding about. I don't know of any historian who needs to switch on humility at one moment and mastery at the next, and still retain anything like sincerity. What a load of crap!
(3) It never ceases to amaze me what publishers will publish. Gaddis has swallowed all the new physics (well, John Lukacs does too, but he does it more modestly) and come up with the brilliant comment that "[we historians] have been doing a kind of physics all along." Names and words ought to mean something, and the condition of meaning is obedience to a certain form of limits. After reading a few pages of Gaddis...I gagged.
I'd appreciate hearing from any readers who likewise want to poke holes in the ridiculous quoted assertion above by analyzing it rhetorically, philosophically, historically, semantically and in any other way they see fit.
We need to start holding the professoriate to account!!