New is easier than old. Kim Taylor, Feb 19, 2017

Added with permission from Kim Taylor Nanadan (CKF) Iaido, Rokudan (CKF) Jodo and Niten Ichi Ryu Shidoin, January 2023

It was just suggested to me that I should update my manuals, add the new material I’ve written, do a bit of research and have them published properly.

I wouldn’t mind, if someone else does the editing, because I find it easier to write new than to revise old. It’s just easier.

Yet I suppose I should do it, revised editions are usually more useful to students, because the clunky bits are supposedly fixed. My Seitei Iai manual doesn’t even include the last three kata so no question it would be good to revise.

It’s just no fun.

A phrase just appeared in my head: Those who refuse to learn from history are doomed to repeat it. Don’t ask me who said that, there’s argument, probably George Santayana, but the lesson is pretty clear. I just watched an art documentary on Hitler’s “Degererate Art” and of course they had to deal with his rise to power. This happened because of the world wide stock market crash of 1929 that ruined Weimar Germany’s economy, creating widespread anger and unhappiness which was then deliberately focused on “degenerates” which included Jews, Artists, the mentally deficient, Gypsies, and anyone else who wasn’t a pure-bred Aryan (although nobody knows what they were or are, they seem to be mostly an “alternative fact”). Lots of rallies, incoherant but rhythmic speaches, lots of blaming the enemy, and a great big helping of “it can’t happen here” by those who don’t want to pay attention.

It can of course. It has, over and over in history, and it happens often where there are a few factors that predispose a population to look for “the enemy”. If you want to know what those factors are, read some history.

I mentioned the world-wide depression. Well we didn’t have another of those in 2008 you say, we’re smarter than that now so no problemo, we even brought in new regulations to make sure the “correction” doesn’t happen again. (Umm, talk of re-dereguation of the financial industry? Hell the markets love it already.) How about a massive shift from building cars to working in a fast food restaurant? From manufacturing to “service” whatever the hell a service economy is, is that enough disruption? I don’t know, we’ll see.

After you’ve read some of that history, consider yesterday, a rally of the faithful with journalists put in a cage for display and ridicule by the crowd. Consider that as a story, as propaganda. Jews, Gypsies, Homosexuals, Artists. Immigrants, The press, The elite. All degenerates, all the source of your problems.

The real source of your problem? Blame IBM and the PC, that’s the point where the robots began to take over the world. Or was it the steam engine that created urban factories in the first place that took the population off the farms and into the cities, off their home looms and into industrial hell where children could earn almost nothing for risking their lives to clean the lint from under the mechanical looms. All so that the merchant classes of England could become richer and richer. This has happened before.

History is innoculation against stupidity. Well, any education is, by definition, innocluation against stupid. It’s easier not to read your history and just invent stuff of course, and since “everything is relative” we can make stuff up right? Well no, you ought to look up quotes, (if they haven’t burned the books), you ought to check them for context and you ought to consider what things like “relative” actually mean.

You can make up beliefs, they are, by definition things that are opposed to facts, you have to believe them, you have to have faith to say them. You are not allowed to make up facts, that’s not what “fact” means. You don’t believe in a fact, you understand a fact. Don’t smear the meaning of words like belief and knowledge, it’s dangerous. If you have read some about propaganda techniques you will know that accusing your enemies of exactly what you are doing is a well-trod path. Freedom is slavery, ignorance is bliss, alternative facts are a thing, “oh yeah, he went for the hitler thing therefore he lost the argument”.

Three thousand or more years of history tell us that the “ancient Greeks” were concerned about truth and lies. History tells us we can lose that learning (call it the dark ages) and find it again (the enlightenment). If we’ve lost it once we can lose it again (post-truth politics… give it a cute name and it becomes less shocking doesn’t it?). Burn enough books and you may be able to lose it completely, then it will have to be reinvented.

All so some dolt can pretend he’s some sort of glorious leader, loved by all. I’m thinking of Idi Amin by the way, not the guy who popped into your head.

Revise those books, gather new facts, integrate the past with the present. That’s what I ought to do, but it’s just so much easier to learn a new kata than to dive deep into the old one to figure out what it really means.

Dive in. If you want to be ignorant, at least be knowingly ignorant. I’m still thinking about whether I want to read my own tortured prose and try to fix it. Since it’s mine I claim that choice.

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