What the F*ck Happened?
“What the hell went wrong in 2016?” will probably be a question that will be with us for some time. If I let myself, I could spend my entire year dwelling on the political, social, and cultural ramifications of what transpired in 2016. Not that this would be an entirely bad thing, but after spending the better part of two months in an emotional wasteland where anger and despair were determined more by Twitter feeds than by my personal agency, I realized that I cannot keep this up for long.
One thing that I realized upon thinking back over 2016 was how distracted I was from beginning to end. I passively allowed short, disconnected bits of data to shape my attention, my actions, and my internal life. 2016-styled citizenship consisted of reacting to the latest outrage, the most current offense, and participating in the flow of the most recent story to break.
This Year Will Be Different…
This year will be different because I am anchoring my thoughts to particular questions that I want to think about for the next 12 months. There is nothing magical about these questions – they could just as easily be entirely different questions. The point is to alter the streams of bits that affect my thinking by building structures into my life which are anchored by my own questions. Some of these questions are still quite reactionary to the political events of 2016. Other questions seek to intentionally look for a larger context, particularly by asking questions about global perspectives, the draw of utopias, and historiography. Some questions were crafted by my professional life, but others are posed out of a desire to expand the most intimate parts of myself. I expect these questions to change. Hopefully, they will improve. Possibly, I will see them as pieces of larger, interrelated questions. This year I want to think deeper about fewer ideas. These are not the only questions that I want to ask this year, but they are the ones that I want to habitually come back to.
8 Questions for 2017
- How do I consider the Iran-Iraq War from a more global perspective? And what can the Iran-Iraq War contribute to a more global understanding of the 20th Century? #IIW
- What is democracy, and is it a viable system of governance today? #Democracy
- What was Karl Marx’s view of history, and what can be learned from that perspective? #MarxHist
- What is nationalism? What is its appeal, its forms, and what is its relationship to populism? #Nationalism
- What are the logical fallacies to which I am most susceptible, and how can I counter them? #Fallacy
- What relationships exist between how people think about narrative/story and how people think about identity? #Narrative
- What does it mean to live ethically, and how can I live a more rational, moral life? #Ethics
- What is eroticism? And what ideal relationship between eroticism and marriage today? #Eroticism