Note: This blog has been defunct for some time and I'm now writing on Thinking Historically on Substack! Please come and subscribe, stay a while, leave a comment, and let's discuss history.
My name is Anton Stjepan Cebalo and I am a history writer.
Note: This blog is now archived and no longer active. I started it long ago to post my essays.
What This Blog Is About
What I write about on this blog is broad, from historiography to philosophy to economics and more. I like to piece together what defines our current moment and where it is headed. Much of my work covers many different periods in world history to underscore modern secular trends and concepts that I consider important.
I try to make my writing as accessible as possible. Today, I see ‘academia’ as being more marginal to everyday life than ever before. And for good reason, it just doesn’t speak to everyday realities anymore. These are interesting times, so we should at least take it a little more seriously. This also means that we shouldn’t apply 20th-century ideas so easily to our own time. The fundamentals of the world economy and how society organizes itself are, in my view, changing far too fast for many of them to be as valid any longer.
Just as the crises of the early 20th century demanded new ideas, it time now to think with this same bold, creative urgency for the 21st century. At the risk of being reckless, let us grant this current moment its due and think big!
What Is ‘Into the Rose Garden?’
“Into the rose-garden” is a phrase taken from the first poem Burnt Norton from the collection Four Quartets by T.S. Eliot.
Here is a snippet:
What might have been and what has been
Point to one end, which is always present.
Footfalls echo in the memory
Down the passage which we did not take
Towards the door we never opened
Into the rose-garden…
The entire poem is ultimately about time and takes the position that the present radically captures both the past and future. The rose-garden is, therefore, an idyllic place that can never be fully realized, but is present in every moment. I write about my interpretation of this poem at length in a separate post.
Although different than its original meaning, I think the phrase captures the general feeling today that we live among ‘lost futures’ or the forgotten ‘rose-gardens.’ These lost futures are the so-called casualties of history, those narratives and dreams that seemed to die by the end of the 20th century. The door to the rose-garden(s) are thought to be closed now, but we sadly did not really realize that they were open. The truth is, the so-called ‘lost futures’ of yesteryears are often just nostalgia. It is the present that captures all of temporality and hence all of our possibilities. And it is ultimately ours for the taking, if we so choose.
Of course, when T.S. Eliot wrote his poem he was not thinking politics nor was he thinking of any social questions. He was instead thinking how unobtainable life’s ‘fullness’ was and how it is so fleeting, because we are bound by our physicality and temporality. It is, after all, poetry. However, I think it has some social value if we start thinking of the rose-garden as something to be enjoyed together rather than subjectively. This is not an attempt at being hopelessly romantic—it’s just a recognition of all the potential and possibilities lost under the current state of things. Perhaps one could say that ‘seeing the rose-garden’ in every present moment is one way I try (and often fail) to orient my life. Of course, it also guides my curiosity and my thoughts on what what could-be.
P.S. This blog is a collection of my ideas as they progressed over time. My opinions are, naturally, subject to change — and my prior opinions should not be taken as wholly indicative of my current thoughts, although they follow me still.