Thursday, January 1, 2009

History as a Hobby

There will be news in this anniversary year about the Copernican
principle. This reminds me of a strange phenomenon in modern
historiography, and an aspect that no one else seems to have noticed.
My guess is that there will be publicity not just about the Copernican
principle, which says that since the earth is no longer considered the
center of the universe, this shift in perception has adverse effects
on man's sense of himself. (That is the modern version.) Typically
since the last century the Copernican principle has been mentioned
along with two other events which are said to have altered man's
perception of himself. One is Darwin's ideas and the other Freudian
theory. All three events are said to have dethroned man as the center
of the universe, and this dethronement is commonly assumed to have

Now this explanatory model ignores history--during the time when man
was supposedly the center of the world--there is evidence that he (and
she) actually had a view of themselves as part of a larger whole.
Medieval society allowed no one except royalty to think of themselves
as the center of the world, and even royalty seems to have had a sound
grasp that the universe included other dimensions which precluded
self-absorption as a useful energy model.

I am certain other writers have noticed these facts. Probably these
theories have been hashed out somewhere and i am just not aware of it.
I bring up these ideas to point beyond them.

What is interesting in view of the thoughts of the empirical thinker,
the late writer, Jan Cox, is not just that modern historians have got
the story reversed, and it is modern man who is uniquely concerned
with himself as the center of the world. (Actually he used to say:"
the opposite is never true". So take my summary above as just a
direction, not a position I would defend.) What is interesting in
view of this idea that man has been dethroned as the center of the
universe, is that it reveals an enormous lack of apprehension of

the healing and joyous results of considering one's position in a larger whole.

This is not a new mystical technique, and it is not an idea that I
recall Jan Cox phrasing in this manner exactly, but the reality that
he spent his adulthood seeking to allow others to grasp, this reality.
available to all who earnestly and persistently seek to understand
what is going on, this reality, can be approached by reminding oneself
of one's physical and chronological position in relation to the world
we live in. There is no "the truth" in a way you could sketch it, and
have it posted in a public place for all the see and grasp. Anything
that could accurately be labeled 'truth" is an individual gain and act
and healing. There is momentary and personal sight.

These thoughts come from someone for whom history is a hobby. Jan Cox
actually said that history is a dream. So for goodness sakes do not
think I am pushing the profession of history. But my background leads
me to use these ideas to make another point about man and his queries.
And I cannot resist mentioning another thing Jan said---to lighten the
path--he said if you are not smiling (inside,) you haven't yet got it.
"Getting it" always being a moment by moment, temporary thing. I had
better just stop writing, now.

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