Dashed off a quick piece about learning history at LessWrong --
Comments/questions welcome there or here.
I really enjoyed that piece. From my point of view, it wasn't just about history. It was about mastery.
It made me recall those neuroscience articles who often talk about how (according to them) a big portion of what our brain really is a great pattern recognition technology.
I've found that in years following my own passions and immersing myself in a process of mastery on very different fields of endeavour, those same thresholds appear on a somewhat similar fashion.
Our brains, after all, doesn't seem to be able to appreciate or fully grasp the vast quantities of information that surround us. Unless with repetitive exposure to that information help us chunk it down, classify it and chunk it down into more malleable pieces.
Until mastery is achieved. And you can start zooming in and out at will. Even painting beautiful paints, composing operas, writing great poems, designing new products, mastering business building methods and understanding history, governance and war as only few men's can.
Its a never ending process I think, but I can't imagine one that is more worthwhile.
Thanks for writing that piece, broah!
I read and enjoyed.
I've got a strong focus on teaching myself math right now, so I don't have the luxury of spending much time delving too deep into history. I picked up Musashi on your general recommendation and have been loving it. I'm pretty naive as far as Japanese history goes, so even a light-hearted fictional drama like it is teaching me loads.
I remember when I was younger my role models all seemed to be historical American figures. I think there's often a lot more to learn from historical figures than there are from completely fictional characters.
I've noticed the "Threshold" phenomenon your article is about in many things. Math, for instance. I'd say the thresshold for math is the point when you start cementing your intuition and visualizations for the patterns, rather than just memorizing and calculating. From then on out you have tools to build on to continue to easily learn new abstractions. It's not just rote anymore.
It's when you turn a craft into an art that you've passed the threshold. When you realize what it's all "about" and can see the beauty in it like never before.
It gives you that feeling like you just want to run to the nearest balcony and scream at the top of your lungs to all the ignorant peasants below "JESUS FUCK, LEARN HISTORY/MATH/BIOLOGY/QUANTUM MECHANICS/XYZ. IT'S FREAKIN BEAUTIFUL. "
Kinda a romantic perspective.
I think I've crossed that threshhold with Math and Programming(though I'm still a math idiot by most standards). It must be nice to see History from that perspective.
"The profoundest truth of war is that the issue of battles is usually decided in the minds of the opposing commanders, not in the bodies of their men. The best history would be register of their thoughts and emotions, with a background of events to throw them into relief."
-- B.H. Liddel Hart, quoted in the introduction to Sherman: Soldier, Realist, American
Facinating backstory to maybe the most-viewed image in history. For a long time I also thought the image was done with Photoshop.
The story behind Bliss