You’ve Drawn The Short Straw.
You’ve been picked by your superiors for “professional development.”
They give you a phone book syllabus and a stack of academic bricks written by guys with alphabet soup at the end of their names.
“These history books are by our best and brightest,” you’re told. “They’re going to change your life.”
“These History Books
Will Make You A
So you get into it. You get out your highlighter. You get out your pen. You get out your sticky notes.
You look like a kid who can’t get his dad’s car keys until he passes the SAT with a perfect 2400.
You’re on this for hours. Days. Weeks.
And finally, after all this back-breaking work, all the blood, all the toil, all the sweat, all the tears…
…You throw up your hands and scream…
“HOW ARE THESE BOOKS MAKING ME A MORE WELL-ROUNDED PROFESSIONAL???”
Trust Your Instincts…
That’s right, all that torture you’ve been put through won’t help you one bit.
All it teaches you is that “Professional Development” is a con…BUT WHY?
Why is it a con?
How does it con you?
And why can’t you sink the sick feeling that all this is useless with more hard work…more blood, toil, sweat, and tears?
It all comes down to ORIENTATION.
No…not that kind of Orientation!
Call it Presuppositions. Call it Hermeneutics. Call it an Inference.
Whatever you call it….
Your Orientation Is
How You See The World.
Your Orientation is your starting point, your foundation. It’s your code, your creed you live by.
You filter everything that happens to you in the world through your Orientation.
And everybody has one.
They may not say it. They may not know it. They may know and act like it is the only one.
But they have one.
And Academic Authors
Worst Orientation of All.
The reason you hate your history books is because the Academics’ Orientation about life is wrong.
Why is that?
You see, since the late 1980s, humanities departments have been over-ran with an doctrine called “New Historicism.”
Everybody in the humanities…from History to Political Science, from Psychology to Philosophy–even English and Literature Departments!
They all live by this code that forms their Orientation (Tyson 281-316).
I don’t like putting words in people’s mouths. So I’m going to let the New Historicists themselves tell you what they believe.
Harold Aram Veeser wrote the Bible of New Historicism in 1989, called The New Historicism. This Orientation is built on one key fact:
“…no discourse, imaginative or archival, gives access to unchanging truths, nor expresses inalterable human nature” (Veeser xi).
If you don’t speak Ivory Tower, let me translate…
Academic Authors Believe
No Such Thing As Human Nature.
Harold Veeser…The Kind of Guys who Write your “Professional Development.”
Now that is a problem.
A Big Problem.
It’s a problem because if there is no such thing as Human Nature…
…Then there are no life lessons.
If there are no life lessons…
…Then there is nothing to learn from the past.
If there is nothing to learn from the past…
…Then there is nothing you can do to get a competitive edge!
That’s a big problem!
We all know from life that there are life lessons. People have been where we are before, and have wisdom to pass on to us so we can do it better the next.
29th Commandant of the Marine Corps and Vietnam War Hero Gen. Alfred Grey understood this very well. That’s why he always told everybody…
“Want a new idea? Read an old book” (Grey 23).
WWI Combat Veteran and British Military Theorist Basil Liddell Hart understood this very well too. That’s why he always told everybody…
“There is no excuse for any literate person to be less than three-thousand years old in his mind” (Van Riper 39).
And Marine Corps Legend Lt. Gen. Paul K. Van Riper understood this better than anybody. That’s why he always told everybody…
“A properly schooled officer never arrives on the battlefield for the first time, even if he has never actually trod the ground, if that officer has read wisely to acquire the wisdom of those who have experienced war in times past” (Van Riper 53).
They guys who have lived real life know that…
Human Nature Is
Real And It Is Timeless.
They figured it out because they lived in the real world.
Trendy academics live in ivory towers.
Their greatest concern is to jump on the next bandwagon, be a part of the in crowd, and get essays and papers published, no matter how silly they sound.
But guys who live in the real world?
They don’t have that luxury.
They’ve got get down and dirty in real life. And that gives them a priceless wisdom that they pass on to the next generation…
…Who are going to be facing the same thing!
But why would academics invent an idea like this in the first place?
Find out in next week’s article…
Aram, Harold Veeser. The New Historicism. Edited by Harold Veeser Aram. New York: Routledge, Chapman and Hall, 1989.
Gray, Gen. Al. Grayisms: And Thoughts on Leadership From General Al Grey, USMC (Retired), 29th Commandant of the Marine Corps. Compiled by Paul Otte. Arlington: Potomac Institute Press, 2015.
Tyson, Lois. Critical Theory Today: A User-Friendly Guide. New York: Routledge, Taylor and Francis Group. 2006.
Van Riper, Paul K. The Past as Prologue: The Importance of History to the Military Profession. Edited by Williamson Murray and Richard Hart Sinnreich. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006.