Rahil

Reading Political History

28 May 2016

[aka Criticism of the Experience of Reading Political Histories]

Thoughts after [listening to] 25 minutes of A History of Rome by Hadas Moses:

The format is wonderful: chronologically ordered narrative with huge quotes from ancient sources{, starting with Livy}. It reads like one huge story!

But, is it worth reading such text? It’s so unreal, granted, it does start with the more legendary ancient stuff. Can anything be learned? I highlighted and noted so few bits, especially when compared to, say, Georg Simmel, or any biography: In a biography I can try to see why a person takes the actions that they did; In philosophy, I can match many of my own ideas to the philosopher’s, picking up some words, mapping some ideas together, or with better reading actually learn something or provoke thoughts. But reading a narrative (political) history seems as dull to the mind as reading a narrative fictional book: It feels as if there is no social reality to to try to understand actions; There are no ideas to better understand the world and people’s minds. The society is simply too distant. Perhaps reading about Romans war is similar to reading about New Guinean tribes war. The difference in the experiences of reading and watching a documentary is phenomenal. My mind works during the experience of watching. Things click, neurons are linked.

I will continue, but I think, watching any sort of socially real film is a far better use of time.

Perhaps reading social history is a better experience.

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