Why do people mistakenly believe the Roman Empire fell in the in the 400s?
It is because of a basic misunderstanding of history and a long told political lie that leaked into modern education.
By 285 CE the Roman Empire had become to large to manage. Communication channels of the period could not rapidly move information through the empire to allow centralized control. Diocletian surveyed the empire at that time and determined that most of the wealth was now centered on the Eastern, greek speaking regions. To make the empire workable, he split the empire into two parts, moving the capital of the entire Empire to the city of Byzantium, establishing a center of rule in Roman with backup administration in Ravenna, and allowed more freedom and independence to the southern and northern extents.
In the 1920s the Lost Generation came home from World War One broken, confused, and alone. These people had been born during a time when technology and scientific, rational thought had ruled all human communication, but also one where a disease was growing in response to racism and colonialism. Vladimir Ilyich Lenin stepped off the train in April, 1917 in St. Petersburg and represented this disease, feeding on the failures of modernism, and like a disease he would spread exponentially through populations of millions of people, leaving hundreds of millions dead in the wake of the ideas he carried. If the spread of democracy and scientific realism lead to massive population increases and an unprecedented change in the status of the individual against the mass state, its failures to eradicate the older medieval trappings of power was a weakness. When war exploded feeding on that weakness, the body reacted with a cancer in the very way humans transfer information. If the old modernism could kill people who rejected it by the thousands, the new ideals killed billions.
Chaos theory says to understand the large system effects look to the small. Just as Lenin was climbing from the train in St. Petersburg, Russia, a complex interplay of pathogens started brewing in a military camp in Kansas. Here I would like to step aside and demonstrate the process that converging waves of chaos would take by paraphrasing an event described in John Barry's The Great Influenza.
In late June I was at a writer's workshop in New Hampshire.
The view outside of my window during my office New Hampshire Writer's Residency, June 28th, 2018.
I, like all writers, am constantly honing my craft. At a recent writing seminar I was asked to work with a photographer to develop a body of writing based on three writing prompts. I was asked to work with a photographer Yoav Horesh and it turned into a magical experience.
The first copy of the book came, and the cat was not impressed.
Jose Gaspar is the namesake of a pirate in the book.
It finally took an agent to persuade me to go it alone.
At the start I spent a great deal of research on the perfect agent, made it a full court press to get my book in front of them, but the fact is my book is not one that sells on reading the first ten pages, which is the most that agents generally read, and the thirty hours of work finding and targeting each perfect agent was wasted hours, although I did learn a lot in the process. The problem with the deep commitment to a single agent is that they do not have a deep commitment to even read what you send them. And if you are working far out in the tent without a net, then you need that sort of commitment.
I became aware of Markus Haala's work a few years ago when a number of students who I was employing started talking about this young, smart, intellectual art instructor who had taken up teaching a few classes in the Boston area. Now Markus was an example of someone who probably never would make it in teaching. He was an artistic genius with a deep knowledge of the art, the ability to push young students beyond the bounds of technique, and the social network to help those students, if they are good enough, make their way through the byzantine art world. Despite this he was making small waves and I was seeing it in new Interns who were passing through my work.
It tool me years, but I finally got a fan website, of sorts...
I have known Rahima in a distant way for a lot of years, and she has followed my writing, as I have followed her blogging. Rahima is one of those prolific bloggers whose intellectual opinions, deep thinking, and matter-of-fact analysis drives Internet conversations on a wide range of subjects. In an interesting way I have watched as she has furtively become an opinion leader on the internet, and have enjoyed many hours of conversation with her on measuring personalities, which I have used to develop characters in my books. Recently, and with her permission, I modelled cast her personality in the role of a samurai companion, and this alter ego will be playing a significant roll in the upcoming book Crack in Time, if I can figure out a way to get copy delivered to a publisher from the afterlife. The result is that Rahima has graced me with a nice author's site one me. It is not so much a fansite as it does not sell merchandise or track my speaking engagements, as it i a critical analysis from a third party about my own philosophy and thinking, as is seen by a reader of my writing and someone who has seen me speak numerous times.
I picked up Apocalypse Nyx by Kameron Hurley as part of my research into the direction of post modern writing and found a book that channels my old, dusty favorites by Nyx Smith.
Nyx Smith, if anyone still remembers this author, wrote a series of books for the Shadowrun role playing game. Unlike most Shadowrun books, which were distinctly vanilla in tone and written to a simple plot model, Smith's works were simmering extravaganzas of character, plot, violence, and betrayal that just happened to be set in the crazy enough world of Shadowrun. The novels were so good they developed a distinct crowd of haters; a no good author knows they have arrived until the haters from a faction against their very existence. The problem with the series is that with the eclipse of Shadowrun, no more will likely ever be published.
That is right! Twice in as many days I was rejected by agents. For those readers who do not realize it, rejection by agents are part of going into writing. I might have worked in television and film for years and have that system down cold, but it does not prepare you for the culture of the book agent. Here is my two tolars on the issue.
For a year before looking for my first agent I ghosted around literary chat boards, listening to the complaints about agentry. Agents, if the boards were believed, were narrow minded readers who could not write themselves but who has in the dim past gained an education in literature that they could not otherwise market. Being universally misanthropes and unable to handle human society, they are shunted into literary agencies where each week they build huge walls between the hard working writer and a steady pay check. Owing to their difficulty in human communications, writers, whom everyone knows are classical models of humanity, must learn techniques to get their message in front of these people that are similar to methods of dealing with unruly horses.
I wanted to give a shout out to a very special book, Bone Gap by Laura Ruby.
To understand my fascination with Bone Gap, I have to first reveal a little about myself. I am autistic and significantly lack some aspects of facial recognition that has to do with emoting. In the television and film industry, no one really cared about this, but in publishing and education it is often seen as a defining characteristic. In one discussion with a very honest agent, he said he does not represent writers who are, "Autistic, PTSD, bipolar, incarcerated, or political." I asked why not, and he gave a very honest answer, "There are to many writers out there to get bogged down with one who will take extra work just to get to the book stands."
Before anyone gets angry and demands head-on-a-pike that sort of honesty in the current world where prejudice not only is growing, but may even get you elected to office, is refreshing. Agents have a TOUGH job, and reputable agents are exactly that, reputable, although they may not always be brave. Be honest, how many of us would have published, The Satanic Verses knowing what would happen to the book in advance? Sure, it made an amazing amount of money, but one of us would put our families in danger to get this book to the world? This is just a smaller version of that.
Autism, according to Wikipedia, is a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by impaired social interaction, verbal and nonverbal communication, and restricted and repetitive behavior. They go on to say that, "Parents usually notice signs in the first two years of their child's life. These signs often develop gradually, though some children with autism reach their developmental milestones at a normal pace and then regress. The diagnostic criteria require that symptoms become apparent in early childhood, typically before age three."
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