Queue swirling lights and rushing sound effects as we go back in time to stop regretting things and make our lives go how we wish they could have gone, with all of the wisdom and hindsight of our later years. After an arbitrary passage through time and space, we find our former self, and we say something like “hey, don’t invest your money there, use it to start the business you’ve always dreamt of.” Then, ignoring all considerations of paradox, physics, entropy, and causality, we zip back to the present time to see how much better our life us now that we made the choice we always wished we had.
This is just a quick post to share an article across which I recently came. It was published in the Wall Street Journal, and since we often discuss linguistics in our posts it seemed worth sharing.
In any closed system, quantities must be conserved. Thermodynamics inform us that energy is conserved. Linear and angular momentum are both conserved, whether we’re looking at billiard balls in a Newtonian paradigm, or photons in a quantum system. Special relativity expands conservation even further to the equivalence between matter and energy. In a closed system, where nothing can escape, quantities are inevitably conserved.
I was a little worried, going into my reading of Aristotle’s The Art of Rhetoric, and subsequently The Poetics, that these classic texts might also fall into that category, where they are lauded for their continued relevance mostly because they are so general that they can hardly fail to be relevant.
mans are staggeringly complex systems. An incalculable number of reactions and events must occur correctly, and in proper synchronization, every moment of life for a human being to live. It is a level of complexity which for all of our science we are still unable to completely understand, and tiny variations produce all of the immense variety of unique individuals in our world. It is therefore no wonder that so much time, effort, and words have been spent in an attempt to understand how those complex individuals interact together in this chaotic organism known as society. The Heart Led Leader is another text to add to that body of literature.
I finally finished reading the collected works of Xenophon! It's true I don't use very many exclamation points, but considering that the first time I picked this up was more than five years ago, and finally sitting down and reading it took me almost a whole month, I think I'm allowed to make an exception to my own rule. Since I've already subjected you to a month and a half worth of Xenophon book reviews, I'm not going to include another overall review; that content will be included in this post, along with my reviews for the various minor treatises included in the Complete Works.
★★★★ I decided to collect the remaining three of Xenophon's Socratic works into a single review, so what follows are reviews for Oeconomicus, Symposium, and Apology. Oeconomicus You've probably seen them: how-to books. They're often almost as bad as self-help books and premature memoirs that bow down library shelves with the weight of their inanities … Continue reading More Socratic Works Review
We wrapped up the last of Xenophon's historical works last week; this week we get to move into his Socratic works, the first of which is Memorabilia. Xenophon wrote this piece as a posthumous defense of his mentor and friend, to exculpate him of the crimes of which he was accused, and to generally exhibit his good character. While Plato's Dialogues get the most attention, Socrates had many other students and inspired many others, including Xenophon, to record vignettes and other writings pertaining to him, and I actually find Xenophon's Socratic writings preferable to the more famous Plato's.
Continuing on through the collected works of Xenophon, we next have Hellenica, which much like Herodotus's Histories is intended as a historical narrative. This time, it picks up the account in 411 BCE, and covers about fifty years, to 362 BCE, which is apparently the year of the Battle of Mantineia. Apparently, it picks up the narrative thread of the Peloponnesian War immediately where Thucydides' history abruptly ends (which is also on my reading list, and I only know this because the information was conveniently included in the front of my translation of Hellenica), and may have been written just for his friends as a sort of historical "vanity" publication. Like The Ten Thousand, this is covering a topic to which Xenophon was a contemporary, so it is considered an important primary source, and hopefully has a bit more historical veracity than his not-really biographical treatment of King Cyrus, who founded the Persian Empire.
I've actually read this part before, but decided to re-read it in light of my recent reading of Herodotus's Histories, which covered the period about a hundred years or so before the events in The Ten Thousand, and provided a lot of valuable context for understanding what was happening in Xenophon's story. Unlike Herodotus, Xenophon is not writing about history in The Ten Thousand; he is writing a semi-autobiographical account of what happened to him and his companions during a campaign as mercenaries in a decidedly short-lived Persian civil war. Like Caesar in his Commentaries, Xenophon refers to himself in the third person, and the result is perhaps the most story-like and modern-seeming of all the ancient works that I've been reading recently. In fact, Conn Iggulden wrote a historical fiction novella primarily based upon the events in The Ten Thousand, and it was a very interesting experience to read that having already read its primary source.