Books, Life, And Punchlines

Graham Sedam, blog, thoughts, life, interests, writing, books, life, punchlines, Justinian's Flea, The Black River Players, Early Mourning, Exit Music, South Dakota, Black Hills
Along with the start of a new year, I've started reading a new book. I met my goal of finishing the book Early Mourning before the end of 2016. Read more about that in a post I wrote called "Exit Music, Enter Early."

The book I started reading is called Justinian's Flea: Plague, Empire, and the Birth of Europe. I've had this book for many years but never got around to reading it. I decided to change it up and read a book that deals with history, and this one seemed to grab my attention. Next, I'm planning on reading a book, The Black River Players, from an author I know, J. Thomas Richards, after I purchase it.

Justinian's Flea is about the Roman Emperor, Justinian. He was the last in a long line of emperors. The book tries to explain why in every angle possible. Justinian was actually a good and successful emperor, the last to be called Great. Why did the empire end under his rule?

The book is also about more than just the rule of Justinian. It takes a look at the emperors leading up to him, the politics and battles that were present through the prior centuries, the changes in and evolution of religion, and the general way all aspects of Roman society and outside peoples came together.

The author, William Rosen, tries to include every angle one could look at when determining the reason(s) behind the end of the Roman Empire. The author wrote an introduction AND a prologue just to try and set the book up right. The book that follows is divided into four sections with individual chapters in each to compartmentalize and bring focus to the different forces at work.

The "flea" is in reference to the bubonic plague that broke out in Pelusium, Egypt and soon spread throughout the empire. The author goes to great lengths to explain that, while the plague certainly helped break up the empire and may have been the final blow, there were too many other issues present to just blame the flea; This he calls the "Three Thousand-Body Problem." So much had changed since the Roman Empire began hundreds of years prior.

I'm not even close to being done with the book right now as I write this, so I'll end the summarizing. I've made it through the introduction and prologue, as I mentioned before, and I'm currently in the third chapter of the first section. Also, if you're interested in reading it, I imagine I've given you enough fuel to pursue that.

I do want to touch upon the author's desire to get it right, and I applaud him for his dedication to this matter. I believe too many people want the easy, abbreviated, convenient answer—the sound-bite as it's known today. They don't want thoughtful conversation or their thinking to be challenged. Everyone has their interests and traits and my point isn't an attempt to tell you that you are living the wrong way, EVEN THOUGH YOU ARE. I believe that we as a people miss out on a lot in life when we gloss over and push away the details.

I've been playfully teased that I can add too much to a story or conversation. Surely, it doesn't happen all of the time and maybe less so nowadays, but I do try and give enough information to present what I'm trying to say in the correct light. The correct light, of course, being my perspective. I can tell you a story about a crew on a rocket ship going to different planets, but if you don't know what a rocket ship is in the first place, you won't appreciate the story as much as you should.

Graham Sedam, blog, thoughts, life, interests, writing, books, life, punchlines, Justinian's Flea, The Black River Players, Early Mourning, Exit Music, South Dakota, Black Hills, Seth Bullock, Martha Bullock, Tombstone
Would you bother listening to a comedian that only recited punchlines? I highly doubt you would. It's the details and the art of telling a good joke leading up to the punchline that makes it funny. Also, it's most likely that the comedian has spent a fair amount of their time coming up with the joke and then even more time trying it out on people to see how they react, to see how the joke can be improved upon.

This may be a stretch, but perhaps tombstones are a little like life's punchline. They don't do much to define someone's life. They literally provide the least amount of information one could give to describe someone's life. They provide a proof of existence. The details of a person's life are no doubt the best part. It's what makes them real and worth remembering, not just alive or dead. The details make a person's life unique and much more interesting.

So, please, do yourself a favor and absorb those details in life. Make them yours and share them with others. Find them in all of your senses. Many people go to great lengths to get the details right. You should notice.

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