Teofilo F. Ruiz


On his book The Terror of History: On the Uncertainties of Life in Western Civilization

Cover Interview of November 08, 2011


What I would wish for this book is for those who read it to understand that it is a personal reflection, my reflection.

But I also wish readers to bring themselves into the book and to reflect on history, on their individual and collective histories.

As I mention in the book, the truth is that history has no agency. History does not do anything. We do. If we wish to survive as a species, if we wish for a future that is not as laden with troubles as our past and present have been and are, then we must act.

While denying the validity of progress, my take is not an entirely pessimistic one. We can only move forward as full humans when we take our masks—as Nietzsche suggested—off. Or, when we come to accept that what gives meaning to our lives has been constructed, invented. And that the inventions and formulas we call history are often constructed for the benefit of the few and the burden of the many.

Nonetheless, in spite of this cruel reality, there is beauty in the world. There is meaning in the world that transcends our often futile efforts to make sense of the world as “we have found it.”

Francis Bacon is attributed with saying:  “thou shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” I do not think that many of us today would admit to the idea that there is a Truth with a capital T, or that there is real freedom of the self. There are, I fear, many truths formulated in the myriad contexts of our lives and cultures. Or, perhaps, there is no truth at all.

In the end, finding the truth is far less important or possible than seeking the truth. Thus, I wish the reader to find his or her own way of asking these questions for themselves, and perhaps to come to a better understanding of these problems that I have had done in this book.

I would be most grateful for your comments, suggestions, and criticism. The search does not end here.