The other day a randomized, automatically generated WordPress script reminded me that Joseph Heller once said, “Every writer I know has trouble writing,” – how reassuring – and of course, ‘and have more trouble with endings than with any other part of writing,’ is how Joe should have completed the sentence. Is this just another manifestation of the old saw, “Begin with the ending in mind” – that’s what? Habit No. 2 of Highly Effective People? Or, is it really something else?
For writers it seems being highly effective comes particularly hard. This seems to be a common condition among writers, searching for [and rarely finding] the right ending for the story. Never eventually finding the right ending is the death of many – stories and writers. Myself, I’ve been having that particular problem with this one story for the last eight years. It seems I am not alone.
The basic outline of the history of the Gadsden Purchase that he lays out jibes pretty well with what I learned as far back as high school, but the larger context is something I’ve missed till now, very interesting. I think he did a good job pulling the various strands together, but I also think the point of how strongly the Antebellum South was driven to expand its slave holding was not put strongly enough.
The Defenestration of Prague - Matthäus Merian the Elder, copperplate engraving
Chiefio, someone who’s blog I frequent because I enjoy his “mind pleasers” and general thinking style, has a new post entitled, “Defenestration of Prague”, an event in European history that has been a favorite topic of mine for some time, so I am pleased whenever I see it turn up.
Naturally I felt impelled to add my two cents – which Chiefio may regret, but how was he to know? Live and learn I guess.
Basically, Chiefio takes us down a rather long winded boustrophedon from present geopolitical concerns regarding Euro-American troubles with everything going on generally East and South of the Bosporus back through history to the origins of our modern Occident/Orient conflicts in the aftermath of the Thirty Years War and the events of the Defenestration of Prague which precipitated it.
Dr. Roger Pielke Jr, [‘Pielke the Younger’ around here] my go-to-guy for science policy related topics posted a video on his excellent blog produced by NPR entitled, “Filling Up – 7 Billion, How Did We Get So Big So Fast” a several days ago which hasn’t attracted much comment, but was particularly interesting to me in light of having spent an electricityless weekend two weeks ago reading David P. Goldman’s [the online columnist ‘Spengler’ over at Asia Times Online] very new book, “How Civilizations Die, (and why islam is dying too)” – a must read for people interested in the geo and socio-political implications of demographic trends [well worth looking at as long as you remain aware that his thesis has some theoretical limitations] If you are frightened of the Islam angle for some reason, it is possible to subtract out that aspect and you still come up with a fascinating thesis – which I will let you read the book to discover – or maybe I will write more at a future date.
The take away I will leave you from that book is that the radical decline in fertility rates in the Western world in the last three centuries and the currently collapsing fertility rate in the muslim [you didn’t know either?] and much of the developing world requires a radical rethink of the neo-Malthusian paranoia, of overpopulation apocalypse we have been force fed since the Ehrlichs and their ilk made their onto the scene in the ’60’s and continues to be a core assumption of a great many people, as we grope out way forward into a global future that may be dominated by demographic decline rather than a population bomb. In other words, it reintroduces that concept of depopulation to the modern vocabulary, which used to be a subject of great concern in the premodern and classical worlds.