Interesting guy, Sulla. His Wikipedia page gives you a starting point, but you can't really grasp Sulla from an objective point of view. He did a lot of things in his life, and made a lot of enemies, and a lot of friends.
At any given point, he'll do something really awful and seemingly incredibly self-centered and unjustified, and he'll seem like a real terrible human being
And then he'll turn around and do something really magnificent, brave, generous, honest, and selfless.
Hard to make sense of him. To really get a grasp of him, you need to look at him from a mix of perspectives -- from the perspective of Mithradates, the King of Pontus who fought against him in bitter struggle, from the Marian faction, from contemporaries and recent historians, and from people looking back through various ages.
One of the more interesting statements by him is his last words -- he wrote his own epitaph when he knew he was dying --
"No friend ever served me, and no enemy ever wronged me, whom I have not repaid in full."
Maybe the most interesting thing about Sulla is you always get the sense from him that he felt wholly in control of his own destiny at all times, and that things going wrong were temporary setbacks to be overcome. And he did. He overcame them all.
He did some inhumane and horrible things, and he did some magnificent and benevolent things. He's hard to make sense of. But he's worth studying up on just for the sheer force of will and gravity you get from learning about his life.
Got a long email from a reader with some great questions - he's a very impressive dude, but he has a hard time sticking with something for more than 1.5 to 3 years. If you have this trait as well, you might want to pay close attention to this post
And I have a real problem "falling in line" with the rest of society in a stable, consistent and "normal" life. I just feel like it's not me.
Yup, I know exactly how you feel. I've been in similar places. So have a lot of my friends. Some thoughts -
What I see as a recurring theme in my jump from job to job and industry to industry is my utter lack of real fulfillment. Don't get me wrong, I do have a temporary sense of fulfillment and meaning with the careers I have pursued, they just don't seem to last. Once I have focus on what it is that I want to do I am relentless in achieving it. For instance, after 3 years in the --- industry I have acquired the knowledge that many people don't achieve until 10, 12 or even 15 years in the industry. However, that life-cycle tends to be around 18-months, where I then become unfulfilled by the rate of learning and progress I am making. This ultimately leads to erratic behavior within the succeeding months and a feeling that I need to drop what I'm doing and move onto something else - whether that be a new job or a new career altogether.
Google the term "rage to master" - click around, read some summaries, and then check out a couple academic papers. It will be very worth your time.
The whole idea behind TED Talks have been brought under heavy criticism recently. TED is a platform that has the slogan "Ideas Worth Spreading" and it seems to be only that. Many good ideas float around TED conferences, but little to nothing happens. The ideas of each talk are interesting, but eventually put in the back of people's heads without any action being taken. So, I want to try to take an idea from a TED Talk and actually do something with it.
I recently watched this TED Talk by British hip hop artist Akala. In it, he discuses the origins of hip hop. It started off as a platform for musicians to transmit ideas, to transmit knowledge. Rappers are modern versions of Shakespeare. He ends his talk by talking about how music is able to unite people, something I touched upon in my comparison of country and rap music.
I enjoy music for this sense. It does bring people together. And, I believe it still spreads messages. Sure they are not all intellectual, but each song has a meaning regardless.
I will readily admit I do listen to a lot of hip hop and rap, but my preferences are more mainstream. For example, I am an avid Kanye West fan and most of the music I listen to experiences heavy radio airplay. I don't listen to artists known for their lyrics such as Nas. I still believe though that the music I listen to does have meaning and does convey knowledge.