19 October 2016

Some Thoughts on Historical What-Ifs

"Eat your hamburgers, Apollo."
For part 3 of books I read in 2016, I want to start off by making a confession. I quite dislike historical what-ifs. It's not because I think these mind-exercises are of no value. In fact, I think they are valuable exercises. Rather, it's that a lot of historical what-ifs I see in internet discussions (not exactly a high bar of discourse, this blog included) are extremely sloppy exercises in logic that promote the idea of a singular cause for historical outcomes. Moreover, I find it very hard to believe that the so-called "pivotal moments" are really as "pivotal" as they're cracked up to be. Sure, the immediate aftermath will be different, but how different would things be a few centuries since the crossroads? Take Oda Nobunaga for example, since he's in a few anime series this season. "What if he died at the Battle of Okehazama? What if the Honnouji Incident never occurred?" The popular answer to the former is that Japan wouldn't have emerged as a unified nation while for the latter is that Japan would have been an innovative, outward-looking, modern nation much, much earlier. It's shit like this that triggers my historical autism. Why? Because it assumes that the process of unification can stem only from Oda's god-like figure, that a zeal for modernization can be ingrained by a single person on an entire nation regardless of external pressures, or that state policies can never change. I can get into a more detailed discussion on the process of unification/disintegration using Europe, China, Middle East as case studies to show why I don't think Oda is as critical as he's often claimed to be, but I don't want to get too off-topic now.

In any case, as much as I dislike historical what-ifs, I couldn't help but think of even crazier what-if scenarios of my own as I read some of these books. So I apologize beforehand for any simple assumptions or lapses in critical thinking in my opinions below. Like always, I try to write these posts half-jokingly, half-seriously.

16 October 2016

Soil v8 (complete)

Hopefully, my editor Kennit and I can finish this long-abandoned series before the end of the year, but no promises.

And volume 8 is now done!

Soil v8:   Mega
Soil c64:   Mega