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Thread: The End of History Illusion

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    The End of History Illusion

    The End of History Illusion

    Does anyone else think this is true? I read this article, and it makes perfect sense.

    What's also interesting is the mention of the Big 5 test. The article seems to imply that the results change when tracked over time. Frankly, I think that's sort of awesome. I could do with being more conscientious and less neurotic.

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    Your Huckleberry lethe's Avatar
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    When I was around 10 or 11 I remember looking back at my 7 year old self with embarrassment. I also remembered that 7 year old was looking back at her 5 year old self as a baby, and that the 5 year old thought the 3 year old was ridiculous for thinking of herself as a "big girl". I also noticed in the media people mentioning how stupid they were in their teen years or seeing old pictures saying, "Oh god, why did I used to wear that?"

    At 10 I looked forward to 16 as my full grown self and also realized that she would look back at my 10 y old self with embarrassment. I realized then no matter what I did, how hard I tried, later on I would be more "mature" or at least different and it would never end. So how was I to stop the embarrassment? It's not like I could just keep my mouth shut and not form opinions until I reached some magical age of wisdom (it would never come).

    In the end I decided to take everything I thought and felt at the time with a grain of salt and to cut my past selves some slack. That improving myself is a good thing and doesn't necessarily mean what I started at was "bad". Just do my best, strive to be better and know that the decisions I made were done to the best of my abilities at the time. It's more work than it sounds, but I've been doing that way since I was a kid.

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    Minister of Love Roger Mexico's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by msg_v2 View Post
    The End of History Illusion

    Does anyone else think this is true? I read this article, and it makes perfect sense.

    What's also interesting is the mention of the Big 5 test. The article seems to imply that the results change when tracked over time. Frankly, I think that's sort of awesome. I could do with being more conscientious and less neurotic.
    Yes. In fact, it strikes me as kind of obvious.

    Trying, as an adult, to rewatch TV shows I liked as a child has pretty much always been a painful experience. So much so that I've rarely ever gotten it into my head to actually do it, in fact. (I guess saying I've never been interested in that sort of thing could be wrong according to the thesis of the article, but you know what I mean.)

    Same with all the stupid "reboots" and pointless sequels from Hollywood lately--just stop. I have nearly zero interest in watching the Michael Bay Ninja Turtles movie for two reasons:

    1. It's a Michael Bay movie. (Actually, as it happens I have a lot of fond memories of watching The Rock as a teenager, but I suspect if I watched it now I would think it was terrible, because it probably is.)

    2. It's a Ninja Turtles movie, and I'm 31 years old. The reason I liked the old series and movies so much when I was 6 years old is that "giant talking turtles fight crime using karate" is exactly the sort of concept which will intrinsically seem profoundly awesome to someone with the aesthetic sensibilities and worldview of a 6-year-old boy.

    My epiphany on this comes from watching the X-Men movies, and just last night seeing some advance footage of the new one.

    Days of Future Past? Man, that shit was deep when I was 14. Now it mostly looks like adults reenacting themselves playing superheroes as children.
    Quote Originally Posted by Ptah View Post
    No history, no exposition, no anecdote or argument changes the invariant: we are all human beings, and some humans are idiots.

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    Senior Member Starjots's Avatar
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    When I look back I generally find the then me did about as well as could be expected given the level of information and experience and needs/desires at the time. Yes I've screwed up plenty. I am a different person now in that respect and will continue to change. But on top of that my personality is quite similar. Maybe a whack on the head or a stroke might change that, but experience, not so much.

    Extreme example: Some people find Jesus or Allah or L Ron Hubbard and they change a lot, seems a common reaction to major screw ups or great adversity or being lost. If they look back they see themselves as changed, except they haven't changed at the most fundamental level. They've merely loaded a different filter/program.

    Regarding the changes in growing up - these are real because the brain continues to change substantially. Even there though I think a parent could identify personality traits that emerge in the first few years that persist and grow.

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    long jacket Iina's Avatar
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    I actually think I've regressed on several fronts, so no, I don't look back in embarrassment at all my prior years.

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    Mens bona regnum possidet ferrus's Avatar
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    And I was primed for an essay on Fukuyama.
    Die Logik ist keine Lehre, sondern ein Spiegelbild der Welt. Die Logik ist transcendental. - Wittgenstein

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    long jacket Iina's Avatar
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    ^Yeah, me too.

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    Minister of Love Roger Mexico's Avatar
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    For the record, I think that if you own a van, airbrushing something garish on the side of it is always a good idea.


    A dimension of this the article doesn't address is that it's not always a linear process. Things about myself I pointedly renounced or "changed" have sometimes been things I've ended up going back to.


    E.g. I notice my attitude toward politics now (a big element of my life, quite often) is probably more similar to my political disposition when I was, say, 20 than it was 4 or 5 years ago. Not that it matters(and this is the sentiment that I've reverted to), but I'm pretty embarrassed about voting for Obama. Not precisely that I voted for him so much (because it really doesn't fucking matter--US elections are a joke), but the recollection of succumbing to the sentiment that maybe it was a worthwhile thing to do.

    I was 25 (in 2008), recently done with college and making a concerted, self-conscious effort to "be an adult" and have "adult" opinions. This meant aggressively renouncing everything I used to find moving and convincing when I was just a dumbshit 19-year-old anarchist who thought I knew everything, of course elections mattered, and of course it made a big difference to the future of the country to have one party rather than the other in charge. Obama seemed like a half-decent guy who might just make a serious effort to steer things in a direction away from some of the more egregious idiocies of the Bush years--we had a system in place, and it was important to work within that system because otherwise... well, what the fuck ever. It was silly--I was a dumbshit 25-year-old liberal who thought I knew everything.

    I was 17 in 2000, but I did volunteer a little here and there with the local branch of the Green Party during the Nader campaign. That's a petty and meaningless detail of my life in practical terms, but now I'm somewhat proud of it. When I encounter people trying to suggest that things in the United States would have happened in a substantially different way if Gore had won, I can only shake my head and say "are you fucking joking?"

    I no longer think I was being young and sophomoric to be cynical about the Republicans vs. Democrats charade--back then I saw the whole thing as inconsequential but emotionally loaded issues being used to set the public at each other's throats so as to distract them while an insular and essentially nonpartisan technocracy quietly went about the business of screwing things up at a deep systemic level, which now strikes me as being perhaps young and inexperienced but nonetheless being struck by a certain intuitive insight into how the system works. Back then I was a nominal left-winger yet frequently got the sense that there were nominal right-wingers with whom I agreed about a lot of important things more than I agreed with the positions of the mainstream liberal establishment. I'm coming back around to that lately--I mean, it's not going to happen, but there's no question I'd rather see a Rand Paul presidency than a Hillary Clinton presidency at this point. Paul's opinions about abortion or gay marriage are complete non-issues to me, since it's not like the president actually has any discretionary authority over those things.

    It's not like I'm out black-blocing again, but my loss of faith in unrealistic ideas about solutions no longer manifests as faith in different, equally unrealistic ideas about solutions. Thesis-antithesis-synthesis.
    Quote Originally Posted by Ptah View Post
    No history, no exposition, no anecdote or argument changes the invariant: we are all human beings, and some humans are idiots.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Roger Mexico View Post
    I was 17 in 2000, but I did volunteer a little here and there with the local branch of the Green Party during the Nader campaign.
    I think the way in some circles this is considered tantamount to enjoying clubbing harbor seals as a hobby is really stupid. I almost did this in 2008, and then wussed out. It's emblematic of what I hate about most "discussions" about political and social issues. They resemble team sports more than anything else, and heaven forbid you don't pick a team, because then everyone assumes you are on the opposite one.

    I would say that I am slightly less cynical than I was a month ago. I no longer look at people who still have passionate feelings about these things as people stuck in a state of arrested development, so there's that. I'm not sure I'll ever be one of them again. Maybe I need to start reading news daily, again.

    I thought of Fukuyama also when I first read the article on io9.com. What baffles me about that is why people bought into that? Why are people so quick to announce that they've witnessed "the end of an era" on the spot, rather than letting time breathe a little bit to see if this is actually the case.

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    Hasta Siempre Madrigal's Avatar
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    On some level I recognize myself in the person I was at every stage of my life, down to the earliest memories. I didn't used to want to rationalize it this way, because I'm a materialist and blah blah blah, but I really think there is an essential quality to people that they don't lose, like an unchanging bass note.

    A lot of the most primal urges I felt when I was a kid are basically the same as they are today, they just find different outlets now. I had the irresistible need to defy or subvert rules and laws, not just on a social level, but on a physical one. I had the need to imagine what things were like, exactly, beyond my own individual sphere, and where I didn't have an answer I would make one up. I was overwhelmed by the sheer number of individual lives going about their business around me and spent a lot of time thinking of how they were connected. A lot of evenings I'd just sit and watch the snowy mountains over the city, and moving car lights over the highways, and try to imagine some coherence or oneness in it all. Where people were going, where they were coming from, and did they care that they're just a little moving speck that I'm watching on a landscape. Sometimes I felt something that's a lot like melancholy or despair, over nothing very concrete except what as an adult I'd call meaninglessness. And I think I just continued to be that way, looking for something that would make everything make sense or form a comprehensive picture.

    I found that in Marxism, which explained the world to me. Not just the world but people, down to their particularities. Everything could be analyzed politically, or economically, everything had an explanation; it wasn't just pure chaos. I guess I pursued Marxism insofar as I felt my actions made any difference. Sometimes I feel like they don't, and I take long pauses which seem sterile on the surface. I need to have the luxury of stopping what I'm doing so I can refocus and redirect my energies. But it's always going to be the same, I'm never going to be content with a life that doesn't look beyond my own in time and space. I'm never going to reach a point where I feel satisfied with myself, because I don't matter and I'm not interesting to myself. Anything I do or think about only has value to me in how it relates to the world. I would have to be satisfied with the world if I were to attain satisfaction on some existential level. That's not going to happen.

    That's what it is, an externally oriented vision of what matters in life. Always was that way and I never cared about anything else.
    Everything under heaven is in utter chaos; the situation is excellent. - Mao

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