14. On Old Dusty Books

Defragging your mind, + Arnold Toynbee's spiritual theory of history.

Post #14

Hope everyone’s September is off to a good start!

This week’s content will be in video form. To shortcut to those videos:

  1. The Context of History [8 min]. A discussion of the tendency to treat the contents of old dusty books as a genre of 'irrelevant' historical fiction.

  2. How Individuals Change History [14 min]. This video explains Arnold Toynbee's idea that creative individuals must ‘leave society’ in order to gain spiritual insight, before returning and shaping the world we live in.

If you could use a recap of surrounding themes, and a description of the broader project motivating their exploration, read on…

A theme becomes clear

A lot of my work focuses on the idea that it’s possible to receive a deeper and clearer message from the world, about who we are and what we’re doing here, if we know how to pay attention.

My videos this week elaborate on the theme.

Video #1: The Context of History

If there might be a ‘message in between the lines’, where should we be looking in order to find it?

One place is the past. A loss of meaning or clarity is sort of like ‘losing the plot’ on who we are and what we’re doing here. So it could be helpful to review the plot up until now.

And it kinda makes sense that we’re lost. We sorry actors slid out of the womb around Season 80 (civilization’s eightieth century, or so) of the greatest show on Earth. We haven’t seen the Pilot, or even had a chance to read the script in advance of screening. There are even rumors that the script isn’t even fully written yet! Someone should really call the Screen Actors’ Guild, though one doubts it will be of any use.

Still, there are some cues we can depend on, to learn our parts, if we know where to look. My first video is a brief [8 min] discussion of the task of placing oneself in historical context. I focus on the dangerous tendency to ‘silo away’ historical information, and the preference of treating old dusty books as an irrelevant genre of ‘historical fiction.’

These attitudes are worth overcoming if you want to apply your whole mind and worldview to the rather ambitious project of being alive.

Likes, Subscribes, and other such things make me howl with glee. 🙏

Video #2: Toynbee on ‘Withdrawal and Return’

My second video dives into one of these old dusty books - Arnold Toynbee’s 7,500-page monstrosity, A Study of History.

Toynbee’s idea of ‘withdrawal and return’ suggests that creative individuals must leave society in order to gain spiritual insight, before returning and shaping the world we live in.

It may provide an interesting touchstone for people who think in spiritual terms, or who want a useful concept for analyzing the lives of significant historical people.

Enjoy!

Other news: Should I start a Twitch channel?

I’m currently investigating whether Twitch streaming would be a good format for me. In fact, I recently arranged to pay a researcher to look into the financial viability of this! (Since some people have expressed interest in my general entrepreneurial process, I’ll share a pic of my job posting below¹.)

If anyone has special insight into this topic, or has run into great research here, send it my way. Anything that clears the fog of war could be of help.

That’s all for now friends. See you next time!

building interior

Appendix 1 - Looking for info about how Twitch works