This week, I show you my conversation with Bryan, a philosopher, writer, and researcher. He's a very thoughtful individual, with a fascinating mind. We talked about his work, writing, music, and much more.
- 00:00 ~ Introduction
- 01:10 ~ Thomas Khun
- 05:55 ~ Bryan's relationship with ideas
- 11:02 ~ Note-taking
- 17:20 ~ Health model of Inquiry
- 20:41 ~ Bryan's current questions
- 26:00 ~ Meditation
- 33:00 ~ Change and Modern Golden Age
- 42:15 ~ Speaking, writing and thinking
- 50:43 ~ Original Sources and influences
- 55:20 ~ Intellectual and creative Humility
- 1:06:03 ~ Classical composers and jazz musicians
- 1:08:30 ~ Types of writing
- 1:10:00 ~ Practices in MGA
- 1:18:00 ~ The kind of person that allows for an MGA
- 1:21:00 ~ Values in a Modern Golden Age
- 1:23:12 ~ Where can you find Bryan?
The “monastery” to “metropolis” discussion of the development and nurturing of an idea is an interesting analogy for pedagogy and learning as well as scaffolding. Having a supportive environment with trust is similar to most learning environments and particularly a difficult one for second language learners to find as the paradigm changes based on age.
I wish there had been more improvisation here with respect to the conversational portions, but instead the interviewer kept going back to a script of pre-formed questions instead of exploring the ideas as they came. I was surprised to see references to David Krakauer and Stefan Zweig pop up here.
Stefan Zweig (reference? his memoir?) apparently suggested that students translate authors as a means of becoming more intimately acquainted with their work. This is similar to restating an author in one’s own words as a means of improving one’s understanding. It’s a lower level of processing that osculates on the idea of having a conversation with a text.
Drinking game using the phrase: “I do believe.” 😅
Rating: 2 of 5; this was in my wheelhouse, but provided no real insight for me. Unlikely to listen to others in this series.
Working over many years with several Indigenous Elders, Duane has published The First Astronomers, a complete overview of traditional First Nations star knowledge.
Cereals provide their offspring with a long-lived supply of energy to power the first growth spurt of the seed. Thousands of years ago, people discovered that they could steal some of the seeds to power their own growth, taking advantage of the storability of seeds to move the food from where it grew to where it might be eaten. Wheat, the pre-eminent cereal, moved along routes that were ancient before the Greek empire, carried, probably, by ox-drawn carts and guided along these black paths by people remembered in Ukraine today as chumaki.
In this episode, Scott Nelson, author of Oceans of Grain, tells me about the various ways in which the ability to move wheat more efficiently changed world history, geography and economics, for starters.
- Scott Reynolds Nelson’s book Oceans of Grain is published by Basic Books.
- Listen to Persephone’s Secret, if you haven’t already, and I promise no vengeful gods will render you dumb.
- Banner photo of a grain elevator and train in Wichita Falls, Texas by Carol M. Highsmith. Image of a 19th century Chumak by Jan Nepomucen Lewicki; Public Domain.
- Transcript coming soon.
Even better, I suspect that some of the history here is right up my alley in relation to work I’ve been doing on oral cultures. Some of it “sounds” like early oral Ukrainian culture is eerily reminiscent to Milman Parry’s work on orality among the guslars of Yugoslavia and reading I’ve been doing on Indigenous astronomy! What a great find. I’ve immediately ordered a copy of the book.
I wouldn’t expect these sorts of information and insight in a typical podcast about food, but Jeremy Cherfas always delivers the goods.
A trained astrophysicist, Dr Duane Hamacher is a lecturer in the Nura Gili Indigenous Centre at the University of New South Wales. After studying planets orbiting other stars for two years, his interest in the crossroads of science and culture was too great and he decided to complete a PhD in Indigenous Studies at Macquarie University. He researches in how navigating the boundaries between Indigenous Knowledge and Western Science can show how these ways of understanding the natural world are beneficial to both.
I’m personally interested in reading/learning about these areas above and beyond the primary education levels which are presented here.
Other people are basically the ultimate memex
The success of a technological memex, is intimately + irrevocably intertwined with how well it supports your capacity to connect with other people, who are the ultimate memex of all
If your TFT isn't socially oriented, it's nothing
— Matt Jugo (@Jeanvaljean689) January 8, 2022
Incidentally, if folks want to join this Obsidian book club on this text, it’s just starting and is comprised of a number of academics and researchers in a vein similar to CT. A quick web search should uncover the details to join.
In the 1930s, Milman Parry and Albert B. Lord, two pioneering scholars of oral poetry, conducted adventurous fieldwork in the Kingdom of Yugoslavia and northern Albania, collecting singularly important examples of Albanian epic song. Wild Songs, Sweet Songs presents these materials, which have not previously been published, for the first time.
Thanks for highlighting it!
It is far from the only source to exhibit this “oddity”. Biblical references from the time of King David exist as well as in Neolithic archaeology.
I’m increasingly confident of a hidden meaning here of which Western culture is unaware (it having been long forgotten) and which is likely that Indigenous peoples may have forgotten (read: had ripped and stolen from their identities during colonialization).
References to this lost knowledge in oral and written sources still remain as evidence of my theory: “communication” or “conversations” with rocks was literally a “bedrock” cultural knowledge underpinning many human cultures and ways of life for millennia.
I’ll define this “communication” more fully shortly as I continue to collect examples in the literature as well as examples in archaeological contexts.
I’d welcome other references from others should they come across them in any contexts.
I went looking for work on tradents in Bavli, found this! "Anyone who has read...Tibetan literature will be familiar with...the ubiquitous verbatim repetition of phrases, sections, literary structures, and even entire chapters, across many different texts" https://t.co/eeN4qoTqss— Dr. Tamar Marvin (@tamar_marvin) Dec 8, 2021
I was so pleased to receive this email from Sue Norman telling me how The Memory Code had been part of the ground work for this wonderful project on revitalising Aboriginal languages. The linked report is from the ABC. It is so rewarding to get endorsement from Aboriginal organisations.
Links from today’s episode:
- Chris Aldrich web site
- Gardens & Streams II (Indieweb pop-up event) on September 25, 2021 https://events.indieweb.org/2021/09/gardens-and-streams-ii-pPUbyYME33V4
- Obsidian (https://obsidian.md/)
- Hypothesis (https://web.hypothes.is/)
- Knowledge and Power in Prehistoric Societies: Orality, Memory, and the Transmission of Culture by Lynne Kelly (Cambridge, 2015)
- Memory Craft by Lynne Kelly (Pegasus, 2019)
- Anthropology: Why it Matters by Tim Ingold (Polity Press, 2018)
- How to Take Smart Notes: One Simple Technique to Boost Writing, Learning and Thinking – for Students, Academics and Nonfiction Book Writers by Sönke Ahrens (Create Space, 2017)
And for the crazy rhetoric and note taking nerds:
Early Philosophical Texts
- Aristotle, Topica, written about 350 BCE Venice, 1495.
- Aristotle, Rhetorica, written about 350 BCE. Basel, 1529.
- Cicero, De Oratore, written about 46 BCE. Northern Italian manuscript about 1450.
- Cicero, Topica, written about 44 BCE. Florentine manuscript, about 1425-30.
- Seneca the Younger, Epistulae morales, written 62-65 CE. French manuscript, about 1175.
- Quintilian, Institutio oratoria, written about 100 CE. Paris, 1542.
- Macrobius, Saturnalia, written about 430 CE. Central Italian manuscript, about 1475.
- Boethius, De topicis differentiis, written about 480-526 CD. English manuscript, about 1275.
- Rodolphus Agricola, De formando studio. Antwerp, 1532; composed 1484.
- Desiderius Erasmus, De ratione studii et instituendi pueros comentarii totidem. [Paris, 1512].
- Philip Melanchthon, Institutiones rhetoricae. Wittenberg .
- Philip Melanchthon, Rhetorices elementa. Lyon, 1537.
- Desiderius Erasmus, De duplici copia verborum ac rerum. Cologne, 1540.
- Petrus Mosellanus, Tabulae de schematibus et tropis…. In Rhetroica Philippi Melanchthonis. In Erasmi Roterdami libellum De duplici copia. Paris, 1542.
- Joachim Camerarius, Elementa rhetoricae. Basel, .
- Henry Peacham, The garden of eloquence: conteyning the figures of grammar and rhetorick. London, 1577.
- One of the first handbooks in English
- Philip Melanchthon, De locis communibus ratio. Augsburg .
- John Brinsley, Ludus literarius: or, The grammar schoole; shewing how to proceede from the first entrance into learning, to the highest perfection. London, 1612.
- [Obadiah Walker], Of education: especially of young gentlemen. Oxford, 1673.
I provocatively (with only a modest amount of wickedness) put forward the idea that a rock is as good a tool for thought as Obsidian.md or Roam Research.
Life imitates art. We shape our tools and thereafter they shape us.
— John M. Culkin, “A Schoolman’s Guide to Marshall McLuhan” (The Saturday Review, March 1967)
Culkin’s framing also makes humanity its own self-contained tool (hopefully for the greater good). We shape our brains and thereafter our brains shape us. While we may use technology and tools, props, and crutches to help us do more or do faster, we shouldn’t loose sight of our humanity. It may be our greatest technology. Perhaps we need to remember to pull it out of our toolbox more often as it’s better evolved and often better fit for more jobs than the tools we’re apt to turn to.