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008_ Interview: culture is the frame of reference

02 November, 2020 - 4 min read

008_ Interview: culture is the frame of reference

Hey there, I appreciate your listen to this episode of _bandwidth: coast to coast.

I want these messages before interviews to be a bit of a cocktail.

The largest portion is making something worth paying attention to that helps take something away from the dialogue.

I also want it to serve as a marker for the interview, what’s the theme I took out of it, and how does this, fit with everything else on the series.

On this episode there’s a lot I’m still thinking about.

From riffing with a generational great historian about definitions of Truth, another hill to view culture from, or more questions about western culture and history.

History and culture, how different are those two in your mind?

Culture, is near everything, explains nearly everything and is one of the hardest things to explain, understand, see or live on past the moment it exists in.

When we think of a previous time, or look left and right at our own time, in our own lives, consider the culture within.

What’s been encouraged, allowed, discouraged, ignored, shamed, and what emerges out of that, and, the other unknown factors?

If what you’re viewing isn’t, as my guest comments on studying history, problematic, it likely isn’t true, or you’re not on the path towards that unattainable ideal.

Given the day in which this episode is being posted, November 3rd, 2020, election day, I want to give another thought.

My guest lauded professor and historian Felipe Fernandez-Armesto, presented me with an idea that I haven’t had put all that much time into before.

It’s so simple, and so useful, I now see it in every troll, disregarding remark, twitter bots and easily spotted in network pundits.

And that thought is this, it is much easier for bad ideas to be influential than good ones.

Good ideas are likely recognition of the circumstances in which they exist, complicated, conflicting, and no real solution, but instead a step towards a better place.

Where bad ideas, are typically simple, straightforward and a gross dilution of the reality in which they exist.

As such, they are much easier to package up and catch fire without ever losing their intended message.

In a time when everyone is certain they are right, and complicated thought has seemingly left the room in favor of emotion, recognizing the influence of bad ideas could hardly ever be more valuable.

Felipe is one of the most authored in volume, width and breadth, historian of our time. If you’re going off of goodreads, Felipe has 99 distinct works. And I encourage you to check them out, especially Amerigo: the man who gave his name to America, and Truth: A history and guide for the perplexed.

We talk about the paradox of truth, comfort being the enemy of well-being, the wonder of imagination, if Europe is really a continent or just a plateau out of Asia, and a question you can use to escape out of chit chat.

It was my delight to speak with Felipe, and I’m excited to share this with you. I hope this sparks some thought and delight.

One quick note before this episode begins, right as we were coming up to time, someone came to my door with a delivery, and well, my dog didn’t take too kindly to how they were knocking on the door.

As a result, we ended up pausing the conversation right where we were.

It was a human moment, and called back to the cultural conversation we started with in relation to my dog, I found it humorous and I decided to keep it in.

Queue the ocean.

-J.R.

This was an excerpt from the intro essay to _bandwidth: coast to coast

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