What happens when the note is wrong.

It is a common point of reference for a lot of people to be able to tell when a note is wrong. If you are just listening to a piece of music and something is wrong, then you will hear it off, but the further you go into music, the more it is evident and you can more exactly point to is what is wrong and things don’t have to be as glaring to be noticed. This concept then can be expanded into all fields of knowledge when relating to what is heard or read. Hearing wrong information about a subject you are knowledgeable about is in many ways similar to hearing that wrong note.

For example, most everyone would react strongly if in a lecture or paper, someone mentioned that Caesar was gunned down in the forum by a bunch of Italian mobsters armed with pistols, because that is the glaring mistake that just sounds wrong to most people. On the other hand, if when listening to a lecture in which someone said that Athens was a democracy, or that Philip II of Macedon was a tyrant, most people would not bat an eye. In the former case they would know that Athens was the “birthplace of democracy”, or that Philip II was an autocratic ruler who, from a modern perspective, would be a tyrant, but someone who has done extensive study into such situations would start wincing almost as much, if not more than the concept of Caesar getting gunned down. In the former case, yes, Athens was a democracy for some time, but it was also led by a king, by oligarchs and by tyrants depending on when you are talking, and for the latter, Philip was a king, he was a supreme ruler, but tyrant was a specific type of absolute rule, generally with a lower class, ‘popular’ backing.

This situation in particular is somewhat focussed on me, but it is a thought process that is true for any subject that you delve into the depths of. For me, this swathe of knowledge has resulted in some difficulty spending large amounts of time listening to under informed people talking as though they are experts on a subject. This does not mean I dislike it when people put forth a suggestion, admitting it is on less than perfect information, or asking questions to clear up mistakes, but when they act like experts and try and impress people with their ‘knowledge’.

Dorks existed 2,000 years ago, too

A question that has intrigued me for some time now is “Why does a given person write about what they write?” Within this question one may look at all places and genres, including modern works writing reviews of other authors and on down through the ages. For me this interested primarily manifests itself in the purposes behind ancient historians, which is significantly aided by the admittance as to purpose in the author’s own introduction.

The task of writing a history of our nation from Rome’s earliest days fills me, I confess, with some misgivings, and even were I confident in the value of my work, I should hesitate to say so. I am aware that for historians to make extravagant claims is, and always has been, all too common: every writer on history tends to look down his nose at his less cultivated predecessors, happily persuaded that he will better them in point of style, or bring new facts to life…

…I am aware, too, that most readers will take less pleasure in my account of how Rome began and her early history; they will wish to hurry on to more modern times…My own feeling is different; I shall find antiquity a rewarding study, if only because, while I am absorbed in it, I shall be able to turn my eyes from the troubles which for so long have tormented the modern world…
~Livy, The Early History of Rome
Translated by Aubrey de Selincourt

As a student of Ancient History and in particular one whose desire is to study in a history department, this passage is incredibly warming to me. Even today there is more enthusiasm for ‘modern’ history than there is for antiquity. Granted, this means there are fewer people job hunting in the field, but it also leads to less recognition.

Livy is admitting he is a dork in this passage. Despite what is trendy and popular, Livy is writing about something he is interested in and love. If there is a better reason to study something, I have not yet heard of it and it is the same reason I am intending to stay in school for years to come.