The strongest single argument to undermine the more extreme contentions of the importance of knowledge of the past is that the required degree of historical knowledge is obviously impractical. So long as one event remains undocumented, undiscussed, our conception of all the others remains provisional, and consequently in every historical narrative there are ellipses and thus uncertainties as a result of our inability to complete our descriptions. This is inevitable. Every event bleeds into another and subdivides mercilessly. What are we to do? Stay calm. When we read a history of the war of 1870 we may realize that there are many things missing, for example there may be no mention at all of the diet of the principal figures, let alone individual soldiers. On the one hand we know that this doesn't matter, and on the other we know that it does. Indeed, the more we know of the interconnection of even the slightest phenomena with the largest, the less happy we will be with any account that sets a firm limit to an event, excepting those prudent, commonsensical accounts which do not pretend to complete statement. But academics insisting on the historicisation of a phenomenon are frequently, perhaps intrinsically incautious. Jameson, for example, in a review of Eagleton's Ideology of the Aesthetic once remarked that it "confronted" the "whole history" of the concept, as if anyone could possibly do such a thing. Some authors may, however, actually believe that Jameson's type of praise is deserved and accurate, but most historians will recognize its absurdity. It is simply a reviewer's exaggeration, and irritating even in that context. But readers do believe this, and even encourage authors to make the pretence, noisily applauding their preferred stevedores as they struggle by theatrically under the pretended burdens of vast but empty barrels, barrels that resound noisily at every step. It requires a strong character to resist the corrupting effects of an enthusiastic readership.