About Herodotus Now

The wonderful thing about blogging is that I am freed somewhat from having to torture myself over the construction of every word and sentence to make sure that I am expressing myself in a way that I will be comfortable with for the rest of my life.

Writing is painful enough, but when I have to then read what I wrote at some later date and see my name attached to it, I always feel embarrassed about what I may have thought or believed or how I may have expressed myself–too formal or grandiloquent on some occasions and too personal on others.  Then there is grammar and spelling and fact-checking.

But, in a blog, I can spout off about anything I damn well please–I know I am going to regret using the word “damn”–and nobody can damn well stop me.

Nietzsche, in my opinion, was one of the greatest philosophers ever, and I read once in some commentary that if he were to anonymously submit a paper today, there is no journal on Earth that would publish him.  Too polemical, no footnotes, ad hominem attacks.  A real intellectual bum.

I intend to write something in that vein, although not much in the way of philosophy.  So why “Herodotus Now” and not “Nietzsche Now”?

Herodotus was not only the first historian we know of, but also the first political theorist.  And, I believe that he might even be regarded as the First Westerner.  I know of no other Greek–and Lord knows I am not an authority–prior to him who attempted to define what it was to be a Westerner, or as he called it, “Greek”.

His History is, like Nietzsche’s writings, the kind of work that can no longer be written.  He roved about the ancient world collecting facts as best he could and making observations and then weaving them into a history of the Persian wars that culminates in a statement of Greek exceptionalism defined by a new political philosophy:  constitutionalism, or ‘rule of law, not man’, and liberty.

As someone who has lived in Asia for, lo, these many years and done my best to come to terms with what it means to be a human in all the various guises that we appear around the globe, Herodotus has been an inspiration.  And, although I have no intention of writing exclusively or even primarily about Asian or intercultural matters, I believe that in our era of globalization (which I mark from the Columbian Exchange), Herodotus should be our inspiration.  An abiding, passionate, objective interest in foreign cultures and history, but with a clear awareness of and confidence in one’s own values.

The history of mankind is so convoluted and wonderful, it is impossible for any person to encompass it with complete satisfaction.  And should one take an interest in philosophy, religion, politics, economics, art, science, and so forth, the picture becomes at once more vivid and yet more difficult to describe.

I write this blog to offer impressions of history, culture, politics, economics, etc in light of my limited understanding and experience, but with the hope that I might put some order to my thoughts by forcing myself to express them even in this unsatisfactory form and perhaps to stimulate others to look more deeply into the fount of life than they otherwise might.


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