Scott Postma

A blog about the Great Books, the Craft of Writing, and Human Flourishing.

Now and Later: A Quick Word on YOLO

Aristotle believed poetry was a more philosophical and higher art than history because poetry expresses the universal. Poetry is a picture of man’s imagination, what he is capable of.

History on the other hand expressed the particular. It is simply an account of what had actually happened.

While I think Aristotle makes a valid point, human beings would be foolish to dismiss history. One of the important reasons to study history is to show you where you are on the time-space continuum. History is like the directory at a big mall. It offers context to “you are here.”

By working our way through history we can see how we got to where we are. It can also help us correct our course, if need be. (I’m one of those who think we “need be.”)

The Roman historian, Titus Livy, wisely said

“The study of history is the best medicine for a sick mind; for in history you have a record of the infinite variety of human experience plainly set out for all to see: and in that record you can find for yourself and your country both examples and warnings: fine things to take as models, base things, rotten through and through, to avoid.”

We all exist in this time-space continuum called life, and we only get one opportunity to live it well.

So in the interest of YOLO, why not do yourself a favor and do something really extreme, something radical—read the classics and educate your soul for your best life now.

And above all, heed the magnum opus of all classic literature, the Bible, for your best life now and later.

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About Scott Postma

Scott is a writer and teacher living in North Idaho. He loves teaching the Great Books, writing and blogging, and collecting more books than he'll ever read in a lifetime. You can subscribe to the tribe and follow him on Twitter, Facebook, and Google Plus.

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4 Replies

  1. Did you say what YOLO is? I had to look it up. I had never heard of it.

    1. I gave an implicit definition, but didn’t say what it was explicitly. It’s a modern idiom that means “You Only Live Once.” Though, it’s usually meant to say since you only live once, you should “live it up,” so to speak.

  2. Mark Kagan

    Good article. Agree that history is very important, but I believe there
    is a problem of subjectivity. The trouble with history is that as soon as a historian decides on a topic, many others are not! One example would be a history of the United States, usually written from a White Anglo Saxon point of view. Can you imagine if the standard history of the US was written from an Indigenous, African-American, Hispanic or other group? Which is better/higher, history or poetry? If one was to use Scripture as a gauge to measure the importance of the material vs the eternal, I would have to count myself in the Aristotelian camp.

    1. Mark, It’s true, bias will always play a part in history–and hermeneutics, if you ask Gadamer. It’s unavoidable. One way to approach it is to read the poets, philosophers, and historians. Reading the literature of the day, helps filter a single historian’s bias. And, of course, reading it all through the lens of the Scripture shows us how screwed up we all really are.