Tuesday, March 30, 2010


Imagine one of those picturesque movie shots where the heroic lead character gently blows a century's worth of dust off the priceless artifact, then lifts the lid with the utmost care.

Got it? good.

That's me. I am figuratively blowing the dust off my keyboard (and hopefully my brain) and trying to get back to more intellectual endeavors. No, reading Elmo and Grover books is not what I consider to be intellectual.

Last year I spent several posts on The Road Less Traveled. It was a great trip (yes, I meant that.) Recently I have started reading The Fourth Turning. I am on page 78 out of 335. I started reading it two months ago. For one thing, life has been crazy. Having all the kids has finally caught up to me and I actually have less free time during the day than I used to. But the other thing is that this is one of those books that is written in such a way that I can only read a section at a time and digest it before moving on. So here is what I have gleaned thus far.

God is a god of order. This is a concept which I can appreciate very much. I love order, I love sets and even numbers. I don't know why, I just do. So really it doesn't surprise me that there is more order to history than just sections of years and centuries. The authors of this book (Strauss and Howe) chose to call this turnings. Each turning is a somewhat flexible number of years. It is based a great deal on generations and how long a generation is. Each turning is characterized by certain traits. For example, during a fourth turning, there is a crisis, something major that greatly changes the world we know. It's like the winter of time. That's what I love about this book. Everything is cyclic. There are sets and phases. And wouldn't you know history really does repeat itself.

It is quite fascinating to look back over big historical events, good and bad and see how the great invisible wheel has turned. In addition to the ordering of time and events, it is also applied to people. Defined generations can be seen, as well as defined archetypes. A generation is everyone born within about a 20 year period. Depending on when the generation comes to be, they fall into one of four archetypes: hero, artist, prophet or nomad. Each of these groups approaches life and therefore stages of life in a different way. It is fascinating to know that by gaining an understanding of these stages and archetypes, it is possible to glean some idea of why people do the things they do. Not on a personal level to be sure, but on a general public level. Understanding WHY anyone does anything, well for some reason it intrigues me.

I am now getting to the part in the book where the author is illustrating how the myths(or stories) we tell and read and watch are indicative of certain archetypes at certain generational times. I am eager to get a grasp on each type of myth, so as to be able to apply it to the novels I read. For example, to tell you that Star Wars is the tale of a young hero type (Luke), being guided by an old prophet type (Obi-Wan) with a nomad (Han Solo) stuck in the middle, can gives us amazing insight into the time period from whence it came or the time period of George Lucas' life. Seeing the ties between historical and social gives us greater understanding of where we have been and hopefully gives us some guidance for the future.

I highly doubt that much of this made sense, but then that is why I am not the published author here, but the meek lowly student. I would recommend this book. I am sure it is going to be a good one.