WARNING: THIS POST IS MORE ABOUT MY THOUGHT PROCESS THAN ABOUT HISTORY QUA HISTORY. FEEL FREE TO ABANDON SHIP IF THIS IS NOT YOUR THING.*
A couple of weeks ago, one of my favorite bloggers in the writing/publishing/creativity world, Dan Blank, wrote a post about choosing a single word to explore over the course of the year. I’ve read about this idea before–several times. I’ve always thought “interesting” and moved on without a pause. This time a word popped into my mind: boundaries.
It’s a word that has a lot of personal resonance for me, but that’s of no interest to you all, except to the extent that my success at defending my time to write, read, think and take road trips with My Own True Love keeps me primed to write blog posts. No mental fuel, no History in the Margins.
But the idea of boundaries is important to me in another way: it’s one of the concepts that holds my eclectic and hopefully electric vision together. I’m fascinated by the times and places where boundaries (literal and metaphorical) blur and the people who kick them down. I like to watch the way they move over time.** I’m interested in the expansion and dismantling of empires. I’m fascinated by frontiers and people who boldly go–where ever.
Over the course of 2014, I plan to think about boundaries: personal, historical, cultural, social. I suspect a lot of that thinking will show up here.
What about you?
◆ Is there a word that sums up (in part or in whole) your ideas about history?
◆ What are your thoughts about boundaries?
◆ Is there a word you plan to think about in 2014?
* I hear the grumbles. First a holiday break, now a little musing. Don’t worry I’ve got some hard core history lined up for the next post.
** Have I mentioned how much I like maps?
Pamela, my word for 2014 is “ataraxia”. It is a Greek word meaning a proper attitude characterized by “freedom from worry”. By suspending judgment, by confining oneself to phenomena or objects as they appear, and by asserting nothing definite as to how they really are or should be, one can escape the perplexities of life and attain an imperturbable peace of mind. For example, the current struggles between the different ideologies of the Democrat and Republican parties with the extreme ideologists of both sides firmly entrenched in dogma is causing much angst in the general populace. If we suspend dogma, however, even just for a little while, and just explore possibilities perhaps we can find a path to enlightenment about those things where we can share a consensus. Take the case of Galileo, Copernicus, and Pope Urban VIII. Galileo and Urban VIII were locked in dogmatic controversy over the heliocentric model of the universe. Even though Urban knew that Galileo was probably right, he just couldn’t give up church dogma at the drop of a hat. Galileo stubbornly asserted his scientific “dogma” and ended up suffering dearly for it by the loss of his freedom. Copernicus, however took the path of “ataraxia”. He wrote about the heliocentric theory as if it were nothing more than an exercise in thought without claiming that it to be dogma and thus furthered the aim of science without strife.
That’s a wonderful word! Is it fair to say that it’s the ancient Greek version of zen?
Apologize not for musings; so much of history (or herstory if you’re an ardent feminist) is about boundaries and their rupture,
Interesting concept though: concentrating on one word for a whole year. I like “boundaries”, but–and I’m not committing to doing anything with this, by-the-by–were I do follow your example I might choose “old”. I think a lot about it, what it means personally, how I define it, how I’d like to redefine it, how I’d like to grow into it and accept it, how society (IMHO) poorly defines it, and how, using your word, society and we put unnecessary boundaries around human old. But, of course, “old” doesn’t apply to just humans does it?! So where do we go with that?
Hmm. Thought provoking. Good blog. Happy New Year.
I’m loving the words and comments that you all are sharing, here and through e-mail. A great one that doesn’t show up in the comments: Rinascimento, the Italian word for Renaissance.