Tuesday, October 16, 2007

59; Gallimaufry

Originating circa 1556, according to Mirriam Webster, 'gallimaufry' is a hodgepodge, originating from galimafree, a French hash (or by some sources English stew) comprised of various meats. It could also be synonymous to 'medley', although 'hodgepodge' suits me better.

I am working on creating a gallimaufry. It won't be a work of completey undecernible theme, there will be four overlapping sections. The notion is that the four areas that cover the ground are: Society, Philosophy, and Science. The fourth section, Personal, needs explanation.

"My work is not a peice of writing designed to meet the taste of an immediate public, but was done to last forever." Such a claim is rather presumptuous, and decidedly pretentious. Yet Thucydides' 'History of the Peloponnesian War' is still read nearly 3,000 years later. During his time the work may have not been to taste, but as a document it is vitally important for his audience, the people of the future, to make sense of the time. Xenophon, a connosieur, wrote more popularly, and has been lambasted in recent times for his poor accounts, by contrast.

Doubtless my Gallimaufry will not be as esteemed as Thucydides' 'History'. Yet in the act of compiling the point of view and notions of a person of my time and place I may be able to create a document of some value for the future. Which is why the fourth section must be Personal, so as to give a fair depiction of the author to the reader. Thucydides was writing in a particular position: he had been general of an Athenian navy, and had been exiled for losing a key battle. With this in mind the point of the 'History' takes a shift in purose, and speeches by Pericles or praises of Spartans make more sense. A description of the author will aid the future's knowledge of my position and biases.

Yeah, it may be pretentious for me to write this. Why am I worthy? What makes me so special or important to write this gallimaufry of how humans make sense of the world in this day and age? But these questions are precisely the point. An average person's views, that is of someone sufficiently rational, would be of use to those who wish to study this period. There are, however, elements of my position which are unique, such as my wealth relative to most other countries, living in the United States, being male, white, etc. It would not be far from saying that I am writing from a point of privelege. There is something fascinating about reading the Stoic 'Meditations' since they were written by Marcus Aurelius. Other writers of my time may not represent what is most current in science, for example.

The other point is to be guide. This age has produced a wealth (perhaps an excess) of the written word. Sorting through may be, I consider, a difficult task. Wading through novels, humor, cookbooks, histories, biographies, mathematical treatises, and so forth would be quite over-whelming. Hopefully my book can help give a good thumbnail sketch of what people generally thought. Presumptuous? Meh. I don't mind.

What is the world? What is our society? What do people think about thought? What do I think about all this? Just another way of wording my project.

Also its a part of my ongoing fight against specializaion. Specialization leads to beureacracy, I reason, which in turn leads to societal problems. Example: trash collectors. Not many people, given the choice, would choose to be a trash collector for their living, goes the argument. So how do we solve this? My notion is that everyone is a trash collector for a period. Yes, 'tis unpleasant, and no, we'd rather be doing something else, but it is for those reasons that we must all take a shift. Taking shifts leads to increased awareness and ownerhsip of your society and resources. But maybe that's just me. A book that transcends boundaries on subjects may, too, be blasphemy. But the feeling I get is that the time is right.

I acknowledge that these words can and may be used against me in a court of law.

Whatever. Its the effort that counts for me. If there was no effort I couldn't claim to have tried.

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