[History is] our conversation with the dead, and we practice a kind of ventriloquism in order to hear from the other side. – Mary Beard

Actually, ventriloquism is just a conversation
with oneself, whereas history as we practice it
is more like a séance: we sit in the dark
holding hands and hoping for illumination
of any kind, but all we get is vague thumping
and the occasional cryptic knock.