Sometimes it seems that almost everything there is to be thought about and analyzed (at least in martial arts) has been thought about before. Conclusions have been drawn, problems solved, idiocy and short sightedness ranted at, and bad ideas railed against ....Yet still we have the same conversations that folks were having back in the 16th Century, and even further back into ancient history. I can hear the complaints of George Silver*, for instance, down to the present day.
- Why is it then that we are still trying to solve the same problems? (Though weapons and technology changes, there are still human beings at the other end ...)
- IS it the same problem?
- IS it just because in any group there will always be the same selection of archetypes, arguing the same viewpoints?
- IS it that there is more than one right answer over time .....?
- Do we just not pay enough attention as we try to pass knowledge down?
Also, why is it that solutions that one discovers or stumbles upon now, have all been 'known' for a long time (if you care to do the research), yet often seem hidden or even surprizing in the present? Some of this knowledge, put forward as 'secrets' or huge advances particular to a teacher or system ... are in fact common knowledge that has been around for hundreds (1000s?) of years .....
Are we just short sighted, amnesiac mice, running around on some silly treadmill, thinking that we are getting somewhere new and unexplored?
Or is the incentive to ACTUALLY, TRULY, change something, consciously, just not urgent enough?
(I would say that natural evolutionary forces do the job quite well ... I'm just irritated at out frontal lobe's seeming inability to join in)
I read the book 'Collapse' a while back, Jared Diamond's follow up to 'Guns Germs and Steel'.
One of the reasons he posits as a cause for the collapse of a society, is the 'forgetting' that happens over a few generations as conditions change. A marginal location, for instance, may have originally been able to support a community of fixed size, but given a few generations and a change in rainfall, say, leading to an easier life and a growth in population, and the dry, difficult, and perhaps more common, conditions for growing food are forgotten .... And when they return, the community fails.
Apparently our ability to forget is very powerful.
The recent and terrible Japanese Tsunami also holds examples of 'forgetting' the wisdom of historic knowledge and experience:
And I guess the martial arts are no different ...
My best hope is that in the same way that music, art, and science have morphed over the centuries, we too can keep interpreting the world we see in different ways, and that it will all keep adding to the rich variety of knowledge that is our reality - that would be OK.
The possible alternative of course is much more absurd and futile .... that we are condemned to solve the same problems ad infinitum, endlessly chasing our tails.
It would certainly be nice to think that we are moving in a spiral - didn't Mark Twain make some comment that 'history does not repeat itself, it rhymes? - and not in an endless loop, the minimum length of which is the amount of time it takes each one of us to forget.
* - http://www.pbm.com/~lindahl/paradoxes.html