The Outline of History

I read this book in my mid thirties as I recollect.  It was on a discard pile in a second hand book store and I thought “what the hey it’s in terrible shape but only a quarter.”  So I picked it up and actually got it free when I presented two books from the pile.  Jeez he wanted to get rid of that pile.  Today, and having read it,I’d  pay at least a double sawbuck for it even in lousy condition.  But then, now I know it’s contents.

I got, from this book a thorough understanding of the groaning weight of time and just what a hundred or two hundred generations means when compared to my mere forty or so years—two generations— sampling time’s caress.  I also got a new appreciation of why early Egyptian and oriental thinking was and is so different from the western world’s.  You see our language shapes our thinking and it is through either phonetic words or ideograms—pictures that we think.   So a Greek thinks in phonetic (Phoenician) ways while Chinese think in pictures .  I spent a lot of time in the orient and it was very difficult to adapt my thinking to theirs; now I see why.  The thinking of Martians could be no different from western thought than the oriental.

I was also impressed with the sheer sweep and tidal flow of wars, ideas, and cultural transfers.  The interplay of culture, discovery and invention and the impact of raw materials. Also that very different and far flung peoples solved similar problems in a similar way.

All and in a great deal for first a quarter and then merely for the heft of a tattered book.  Most education is much more costly, exhausting, and painful/embarrassing.

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