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Thread: Writers' Study Chat and Feedback - Ask all your questions here!

  1. #3901
    Caillagh de Bodemloze's Avatar to rede I me delyte
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    Default Re: Writers' Study Chat and Feedback - Ask all your questions here!

    @NorseThing: I think it certainly can be an "ends justifying the means" sort of thinking (goal - to stay in the position you already have, which was clearly ordained by the gods/your society/your own palpable magnifence; methods - anything that works, up to and including lying, cheating, theft, rape, torture and murder). Equally, I think it can be a survival mechanism (I have to accept this, because this is just how reality is and I have no way to change it, and the only way I can manage to accept this and get on with my life is to assume that it's right in some way); or it can be unthinking despair; or it can be part of a larger belief system (the gods have chosen me for greatness, so even if I don't do anything I will still attain that greatness).

    @Turkafinwë: Those are all good points - though I think the point about religion is much more nuanced than that. I suspect that individual Ancient Greeks and Romans (for example) had different views on how much the gods interfered with people's lives. If you think the gods are capricious, you're probably not going to assume your situation is the one the gods think you deserve. Likewise, in the modern day, I know of people who think God decides pretty much everything (who catches a cold, who gets a job, who gets to be rich) - but there are other people who believe in God and think that's stupid - and there are people who don't believe in any god but still think that you shouldn't bother trying to change your situation in life, because it just won't work.

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  2. #3902

    Default Re: Writers' Study Chat and Feedback - Ask all your questions here!

    So I have a thought that might be interesting that builds on NorseThing's statement and Caillagh's response to it.

    It makes sense in a number of respects to treat the fate/destiny/know-your-place line of thinking as a way to mainline or standardize a norm that keeps the lower classes down and the upper ones up. After all, the temples and rites were usually maintained and built by rich men, and priests would know that and have an interest in protecting the interests of said rich men. Also, keeping each in his or her station also ensures much more stability in society, which while not necessarily ideal for some, improves many things for all on average. On top of this there was a good deal of influtential thinking that argued that some people genuinely were better than others (in The Republic Plato is fairly clear about that thinking, stratifying society into different classes depending on what drives them; philosopher-king is on top, the Guardians below him, the traders/craftsmen below that, then the lower workers, then slaves).

    However, there is also a sense in which such a way of thinking can be incredibly liberating. If you are a slave or soldier or lower worker but would like to do something else, this can be frustrating. This is even more so the case if it seems possible for you to rise up but still somehow can't. Then not only are you frustrated but also wondering what went wrong; Were you too stupid? Were you not worthy? Did someone else cheat you? etc. However, if it is a given that you have your place and it is genuinely wrong to stray from that place, then each can simply resign themselves to their lot in life. But it is not just about resignation (Caillagh already mentioned that, and I think it is only part of the truth), it is also liberation from ambitions and desires that will almost certainly be thwarted. If I want to be king, but know I cannot, then I can work on losing that desire, on nurturing other desires that are more feasible. This will make me personally more happy in the long run, and also make me more likely to get what I want (because I am working on not wanting things that are "out of my league"). So, a fatalist view of the world can help one to develop a more Stoic and Eipcurean outlook, where desires are actively pushed down if not likely to be fulfilled, and where we take more enjoyment out of the things that do come our way without needing the things that won't.

    It's just a thought, but it's also one that I think is still relevant today. By culling unfulfillable desires we become more easily satisfied, which in turn makes us more happy now and more likely to stay that way, without us always needing the next big thing. We liberate ourselves from ourselves, and from our need to be masters of the universe.
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  3. #3903
    Skotos of Sinope's Avatar Civis
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    Default Re: Writers' Study Chat and Feedback - Ask all your questions here!

    Thanks for starting this, Caillagh. I'm a “long time listener, first time caller” for the Writer's Study. I've lurked but often found I had nothing to add to the conversation.

    I hadn't actually considered the point about how a more class-based society would naturally develop a more tragic view of life. Ironically enough, a lot of my thoughts have been just voiced by Kilo. I had also thought the Stoics. Well, not the class-based connection. I was thinking about what Bertrand Russell said about how Stoicism was a philosophy for a time without optimism or progress, where a grim acceptance of fate all one could manage. But thinking of Caillagh's and Kilo's points, there's more to it. If I recall correctly, among the elite Stoicism was essentially on equal footing with eclectic Middle Platonism during the Late Republic period, and only really became the preeminent school during the Principate, when things became more fixed and a new hierarchy came into being. And here again, Kilo pointed out something interesting, by bringing Plato into the picture. It makes sense that Neo-platonism eclipsed Stoicism jus as the Principate yielded to the Dominate. (At the same time, Diocletian literally made class mobility illegal. By decree, every man had to have the same job as his father.) You're right, it's paradoxical in that a tragic view of life can be oppressive and liberating at the same time. On one hand, it teaches you to remember your place, on the other have you're able to find solace in your lot in life, without giving into despair. As a “survival mechanism” as Caillagh put it, it works well.

    I suppose this is why I kind of envy those Europeans (And those outside the west) with that tragic view of life. I think this makes it so that we Americans are more hard on ourselves when we meet adversity. We have have an expectation of bettering our circumstances and not accepting the world we were born into. Personally, I can't help but put the blame on myself when I've fallen short in my goals. (If all things are possible, then you are responsible for your failures.) NorseThing, you're a yank too, what do you think? It might be just me who feels this way.

    Since Turkafinwë brought up religion, I'd like to unpack that a bit and hone in on one difference among religious people: Could we say something similar about Protestantism and Catholicism? (And here I want to be careful not to offend anyone. Both have aspects that I respect.) So much of Catholic thought can be summed up in the Serenity Prayer: “Give me grace to accept with serenity the things that cannot be changed, courage to change the things which should be changed, and the wisdom to distinguish the one from the other.” Catholicism has an emphasis on obedience and self-restraint, and Protestantism puts more emphasis on free will and the capacity to radically remake and improve oneself. (Yes, I'm oversimplifying a bit.) I've often wondered why Protestantism stopped at Italy's doorstep. Luther was inspired by the corruption he saw in Rome, so if Protestantism was truly an anti-corruption movement, wouldn't it have started in Rome or found its most supporters there? True, it could be that Protestantism simply flourished where church power was weakest and thus was most difficult to snuff out. But is it a coincidence that Protestantism took root where class mobility was higher and social and political hierarchies were low? (Many of the Protestant countries either began as or ended up as republics or elected and constitutionally limited monarchies.) Is it possible that Protestantism went no further south because Catholicism offered this very solace, this “survival mechanism” that Protestantism could not? I honestly don't know.

    If I've misrepresented someone's faith, it was not intentional. And I apologize if I'm derailing this discussion, but you've given me a lot to consider.


    "Thus, even amongst the wildest barbarians does passion retreat in the face of wisdom, and Ares stands ashamed before the Muses." -Diodorus Siculus, Bibliotheca Historica.

  4. #3904
    Alwyn's Avatar Frothy Goodness
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    Default Re: Writers' Study Chat and Feedback - Ask all your questions here!

    I'm following the discussion of the tragic view of life, perceptions of fate and destiny and the challenge of imagining the thinking of characters from another historical era and culture, with interest. I can see how an acceptance of someone's situation could be both a survival mechanism for individuals and be useful for the rulers of a society. Perhaps it reflects the helplessness which many people felt in an era with much less access to information and education, limited social mobility and many dangers (such as illness, brigands and war) which could strike at any time. The connections to philosophies and religious beliefs are thought-provoking, too.

    Fortunately, here in the Writers' Study we have plenty of opportunities to affect our fate and achieve our destiny! Please don't miss your chance to nominate writing for the Writers' Study Yearly Awards 2018, to enter our first ever Occasional Competition by writing an advert, to enter the MAARC LXXVIII, to enter the MCWC XIX and of course to participate in Tale of the Week 284: It is only when you fall that you learn whether you can fly. Thanks to everyone who has already nominated and entered these competitions!
    Last edited by Alwyn; October 14, 2018 at 12:21 PM.
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  5. #3905

    Default Re: Writers' Study Chat and Feedback - Ask all your questions here!

    @Skopos of Sinope The Reformation is a very interesting topic, even for this current discussion at hand. Why Luther stopped at Italy`s doorstep? While Protestantism was --remotely-- successful in the HRE, it kind of depended on the distance to the Holy See. He did argue against the Pope directly but came to the realization that no one in Rome was interested in arguing but simply removing/converting him. He saw that the Clerics in the HRE were more open to discussing the problems of the church and during his lifetime he focused on the German region and thought that it`s stupid to preach in Latin while no one understands it (He describes a situation where citizens were just saying random Latin syllables and some words that had no meaning which they called praying), and so focused on publishing a German Bible (Not the first one but one that`s not atrocious to read).Then came the German Peasant War... And this one is interesting for this discussion.

    The Church and the nobility tried to promote the idea that god always intends who you are - meaning that if you`re born a peasant, he want you to be a peasant. Otherwise you`d be born a king or something different. (Needless to say, many of the nobility and the church didn`t like the rise of the merchant class during the times of the Hansa.) Basically Fatalism, I think. Then came Luther and said "Before God, everyone`s the same". The peasant started to have a more critical view at the Church (who was seen as corrupt and bad by Luther), the nobility who was supported by the church and slowly started to think: "If everyone`s the same, why would god want us to stay in the class we were born in?" They rebelled with Luther and Protestantism in their minds. Funnily enough, Luther meant his words literally. "When You're dead, everyones the same before god's judgement." He was surprised to see peasant with pikes and halberds killing off the nobility (Especially in the northern parts of Austria it was surprisingly similar to the 'Trials' of the French revolution) shouting his name. Protestantism was never intended for this, so he said "Kill all the peasant. God wanted you to be peasants, so be peasants and give the Emperor, who was appointed by God, your taxes and serve him in war" He even publishes his infamous "Against the Muderous, Thiving Hordes of Peasants" and "Can soldiers see heaven" (The discussion if you can wage war and be a good Christian kind of started again at that time) In the end he supported the same fatalistic views the same Church he critisized for corruption had promoted. Slowly everyone kind of reverted back to thinking that they should stay whatever they are. A very simplistic overview, but it kind of highlights how strong this idea of "be what you were born" was at that time.

    To actually add something new to the discussion:
    While this fatalistic outlook can be depressing, it could also be calming. You don's have to worry about loosing everything, if you think that everything you have is god given and therefore cannot be taken away. This might sound absurd at first, but some of the Clergy, especially before 1000 supported this idea. Only if some enemy was working with evil forces or if you're not actually a good Christian could you lose everything. Well - one might look at Europe at then and could argue, that this was basically saying that the heathens pillaging your lands were "evil and working with Satan, there you can kill them". After all, it was the time when the Magyars, Saxons, the Vikings and numerous other raiders were moving across some Kings lands and taking whatever they wanted without any army capable of protecting the peasants. So, this fatalistic view that not only your class was fixed but also your entire life, your possessions and family were given by god and wouldn't be taken away, as long as you were a devout Christian was soothing. This idea gives you a sense of security. (That`s why the attacks on monasteries in England by the Norse raiders were kind of breaking down the entire world view of Christianized Europe).
    In contradiction to this, it was this time when many people rose through the ranks during the conquests of heathen lands. A great part of Europe's nobility has their roots in this part of history (between 700-900). So much about, you are what you were born.


    Quote Originally Posted by Alwyn
    Fortunately, here in the Writers' Study we have plenty of opportunities to affect our fate and achieve our destiny!
    A wonderful and sneaky transition to advertisement - like the ones of those Youtubers who advertise whatever skill-learning based.
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  6. #3906

    Default Re: Writers' Study Chat and Feedback - Ask all your questions here!

    Quote Originally Posted by Alwyn View Post
    Fortunately, here in the Writers' Study we have plenty of opportunities to affect our fate and achieve our destiny! Please don't miss your chance to nominate writing for the Writers' Study Yearly Awards 2018, to enter our first ever Occasional Competition by writing an advert, to enter the MAARC LXXVIII, to enter the MCWC XIX and of course to participate in Tale of the Week 284: It is only when you fall that you learn whether you can fly. Thanks to everyone who has already nominated and entered these competitions!
    Alwyn, it would be awesome to see your nominations as well, or ones from other prominent members of the WS staff. I don't know about everyone else, but I'd be interested to see what things most struck your fancy throughout the year, given how active you are on seemingly every AAR, and how much attention/encouragement you give across the board.
    Last edited by Kilo11; October 16, 2018 at 01:50 PM.
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  7. #3907
    Alwyn's Avatar Frothy Goodness
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    Default Re: Writers' Study Chat and Feedback - Ask all your questions here!

    Yes, I'll be nominating writers and writings for the Writers' Study Yearly Awards and I expect other Writers' Study staff will, too. As you experienced, it's difficult to narrow down our nominations to just three in each category. Thank you to those who have made nominations already. For those who haven't, you're welcome to do so.

    Meanwhile, it's great to see so many entries for Tale of the Week 284. I'm planning to post the poll by the end of tomorrow, so this is a final call for any more entries.
    Last edited by Alwyn; October 20, 2018 at 04:51 AM.
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  8. #3908

    Default Re: Writers' Study Chat and Feedback - Ask all your questions here!

    Quote Originally Posted by Alwyn View Post
    Meanwhile, it's great to see so many entries for Tale of the Week 284. I'm planning to post the poll by the end of tomorrow, so this is a final call for any more entries.
    I was thinking the same thing. I can't remember when the last time was I saw so many, but I'm excited to read them all and see what's been come up with for this one!
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  9. #3909
    Caillagh de Bodemloze's Avatar to rede I me delyte
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    Default Re: Writers' Study Chat and Feedback - Ask all your questions here!

    These are exciting times in the Writers' Study!

    Everyone is invited to join in our First Occasional Competition, and write an advert!

    You are also invited to submit your entries for our current Tale of the Week - hurry, as voting will start very soon!

    Of course, we also have a MAARC and an MCWC for you to take part in.

    Most excitingly of all, the Writers' Study Yearly Awards are running at the moment. Time is running out for you to make your nominations for this year's awards. Let's make them our biggest and best Yearly Awards yet!
    Last edited by Caillagh de Bodemloze; October 20, 2018 at 11:55 AM.

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