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Who loves ya, baby?
I keep thinking about "first as tragedy, then as farce" re: Reagan followed by Trump, but I don't think that's quite the same as history being cyclical.
 

version

Who loves ya, baby?
If it is cyclical, it makes me think of that comment you made about there seemingly being a limited number of video game-esque character models for human beings.
 

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Who loves ya, baby?
It's difficult to gauge whether we've seen something before or whether we've just sanded the edges and distinguishing features off in order to fit it into what we already know, e.g. "The Second Summer of Love".
 

padraig (u.s.)

a monkey that will go ape
my short-take, message board answer is yes, but only in the broadest sense

something on the order of an applied version of Nietzsche's eternal return (which I don't claim to understand perfectly) - time is infinite, humans finite

further, basic human motivations - survival, followed by meaning - remain unchanged, so some kind of repetition is inevitable

what I understand (again, imperfectly) Deleuze to ultimately mean by "difference" is that only universal constant is change (or proactively, becoming)

in other words, a fancier, more mystical (i.e. Deleuzian) way of saying you can never enter the same river twice, as per Heraclitus

as neither you, nor the river, nor the relationship between the two will be the same
 

padraig (u.s.)

a monkey that will go ape
but at the same time some entity that is you and some entity that is the river existed before and exist now

it gets into all kinds of philosophical questions - consciousness, meaning, identity (i.e. Ship of Theseus) etc - that don't have correct yes or no answers

the concept of "history" itself being directly tied to how humans interpret time
 

padraig (u.s.)

a monkey that will go ape
in a literal, Spenglerian sense, yes and no. it depends how much similarity you want to assign to events.

basic human motivations and desires, and physical conditions, remain, but the ways in which that can be culturally expressed are infinite.

the only point of studying history - to me - is to understand your own time, and more abstractly, yourself and your world better.

it's the same as philosophy, taking a different route to the same eventual (albeit unreachable) end

so comparison to me is useful in that sense rather than whether there are literal cycles
 

padraig (u.s.)

a monkey that will go ape
for the record the Rome-U.S. direct comparison in a nutshell goes something like

1) small agrarian republic largely based on a slave economy, with extremely high value placed on personal honor and public service as function of that personal honor
2) becomes a world-spanning empire, defeating its mortal enemy in the process
3) only to find itself essentially adrift as the world's (the known world, for the Romans) only remaining superpower
4) finds itself engaged in imperial overreach, its traditions long ossified into corruption, wealth inequality yawning, might turned inward without a great external enemy to unite its people, the normalization of public violence, etc

there are any number of topics you could examine there - the value of self-image even when it's not actually lived up to, the inevitable problem of managing increasingly complex systems, the limits of expansion, etc

what's difficult is sussing out the useful bits
 

padraig (u.s.)

a monkey that will go ape
one very fascinating thing about the Romans was their ability to absorb many different peoples into "Romanness" (Romanitas)

obviously reminiscent of America as melting pot and the even now enduring appeal of American soft power
 

padraig (u.s.)

a monkey that will go ape
when considering a question like "is history cyclical?" it's also impossible to avoid historiography

we tend to think of history as static - a timeline of events - when in fact it is an endless, ever-changing argument about how to interpret the past

one recent concrete change is the massive shift in the last century from political (history from above) to social and cultural (history from below)
 

padraig (u.s.)

a monkey that will go ape
I guess I think of the cyclical nature of history, or time, as a philosophical (or mystical) question rather than a factual one
 

DannyL

Wild Horses
I think fractal rather than cyclical fits as a better analogy. The more you look for a particular pattern, the more you can see it. Which isn't surprising given the complexity of events.
 

Mr. Tea

Shub-Niggurath, Please
1) small agrarian republic largely based on a slave economy, with extremely high value placed on personal honor and public service as function of that personal honor
2) becomes a world-spanning empire, defeating its mortal enemy in the process
3) only to find itself essentially adrift as the world's (the known world, for the Romans) only remaining superpower
4) finds itself engaged in imperial overreach, its traditions long ossified into corruption, wealth inequality yawning, might turned inward without a great external enemy to unite its people, the normalization of public violence, etc
Great post, but you forgot 5) - the invading barbarians, which were real to the late Romans, of course, and imaginary for the modern USA and Western Europe, although no less threatening to the populist imagination for all that. (And to the extent that both regions are subject to immigration from cultural outsiders, these people are often fleeing economic and political conditions for which Western countries are at least partially culpable - then again, maybe you could say the same about Rome and all those Vandals and Anglo-Saxons and so on, I don't know.)
 
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