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Even the best of academics simply panic at the prospect of any significant contacts between ancient Greeks and the dreadful emptinesses of Central Asia.

They groan, complain. And to try and disguise the centuries of unspeakable terror that should never be mentioned, they will come up with a hundred very sensible reasons why such interactions could never have taken place. It would all be much too difficult; the culture shock would be just too traumatic; the language obstacles would be quite unsurmountable without a modern dictionary or decent training course; the distances would be impossible to cover without planes or trains or a rental car; the people would be hostile, the changes in climate way too extreme.

But there is one fine detail they always seem to miss: that if those who make history were like those who write it, nothing would ever happen. Those who make a difference do so because they are different, because they are prepared if necessary to walk thousands of miles; learn as many languages as needed word by word; ignore the warnings and rewrite the rules; push back the barriers of the impossible.

(Peter Kingsley, A Story Waiting to Pierce You)

i am reminded of a friend who, recalling in detail a 4th Century life, went to academic conferences in the field, perhaps naively supposing that academics would be interested. In fact, as he shruggingly told me, they really really didn’t like his 4th Century Latin nor the idea of knowledge not arrived at through periodicals and weighty tomes and peer review and promotion and salaries. The academic orbits the flame from an exceedingly safe distance and is venomously, casually disparaging about those who have entered and emerged, even with singed wings.

i was once, like Michael Mann’s Dillinger, drawn to my own hunters. This was foolish and vain. One should not expect to be believed or even half-believed; at most, contemptuously tolerated. Secrecy is freedom.

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