In this guest column, the author argues, first, that being at the place of an event does not guarantee that one understands what is going on and, second, that something's happening with or to me does not guarantee that I understand what has occurred. He shows that it is generally assumed that the best descriptions of oneself are those given by oneself and, further, generally felt that allowing for the possibility that better descriptions than one's own have been produced by others is comparable to surrendering a civil right. He concludes instead that allowing for that possibility is commendable and shows its application to an aspect of the life of Louis XVI that historians and ideologists of revolution have widely ridiculed.

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