The Time I Got A High School Paper Extension In A Bar: The Fourth Turning (But Not In The Way You Think)

Matt Zeigler is a Managing Director and Private Wealth Advisor with Sunpointe Investments, and he’

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  1. Avatar for Tanya Tanya says:

    Another great piece, @MZeigler3! I really like how you interpret generational theory here, and I’m looking forward to your additional essays on the subject.

  2. Thanks Matt, I enjoyed the piece. We share some similarities (age at the least) so your piece made me introspective. I also have a lot internal confusion around what you called generational theory so I am looking forward to the additional thoughts that you teased.

    For one reason or many I tend to be very wary of our pattern-detection systems. As I introspect, I find that this is pretty closely related to some general anti-authority issues. Pattern-detection in the real world is necessarily reductive; it requires us to classify as noise and throw out many things which are actually signal but which don’t fit whatever pattern we’ve detected. I think many of us nowadays realize that we have to be very wary of our cognitive biases precisely because our talent at pattern-detection means we are highly prone to overdefining our reality (and of course doing so in a mostly-rational way is utterly necessary to our survival, maybe even our existence). The similarity with my anti-authority issues arises because authority-at-scale is reductive and requires overdefining systems in much the same way. Authority attracts those who are comfortable with such a situation. Whereas I think scale attracts us all. It is the gateway drug to authoritarianism, both exerting it and accepting it. #whatdoIneedtobetrue

    INTJ Sagittarius, I was (only semi-ashamedly) curious. What can I say – I’m a sucker for a good pattern.

    Haha a good example here. You said later you can’t remember what INTJ stands for. We are all suckers for a good pattern but I find the personality test stuff is reductive in this way that offends me so badly it is probably representative of some underlying disorder. I carry a bit of silly pride that even having been forced to take such tests a few times I will never be able to remember the outcome. Similarly I’m not typically able to recall what my astrology symbol is. If forced I can remember that it begins with an ‘L’ which usually narrows it down to where I can take a guess. And if you ever need reminded what retrograde planetary motion is and why you should be very skeptical of anyone who brings it up seriously in normal (non-nerd) conversation, let me know! :rofl:

    Parallax GIFs - Get the best gif on GIFER

    As it turns out, music is math, and history, and english, and religion, and gym, and even recess. Especially recess. Because when you learn music, or any of these other disciplines, you’re learning to notice and play with patterns.

    My experience is the mirror of yours. This was one of the parts where I smiled because I am a big fan of ‘dualities’, meaning systems/models/experiences which seem to be very different but can eventually be understood as just views on two sides of the same underlying coin. Physics is about models which also are essentially pattern-matching systems, and so for us it is 'physics is math, and history, and english, and religion, and gym, and even recess…" This thinking is at the heart of the classic spherical cow physics joke.

    The generations before? They got us to this point. The ones behind us? We’ve got to bring them up.

    This is the pattern. Less fourth turning talk. More forward turning and talking.

    I think this is a very powerful paragraph. But I also think it is the ‘easy part’ in some sense and the real challenge is ‘what next?’, where I think many of us have found ourselves before. I think a core idea of ET is to have ‘process’ be the category of reply to this question, rather than ‘answer’. But that tends to be about as far as I’ve gotten, because the next part comes into the paradox of scale that I wrote about in another recent comment.

    Looking forward to more of your notes.

  3. Avatar for rwgood rwgood says:

    This is exactly what I wanted to say about the 4th Turning except I didn’t know it until I read your essay.

  4. obsessions with patterns, how systems work (and fail), and general skepticism of authority… ET really is no different than a band in a music scene. We’re trying to survive the industry and who’s hot/who’s not. Without breaking up.

    re: process as the category of reply, not the answer - I keep coming back to @bhunt’s description of “critical distance.” As a reminder (and this keeps coming up in the Breaking News episodes so it’s top of my mind), it’s the idea of maintaining objectivity without losing your pack. People can be right, people can be wrong, and everybody can still have a beer (or wheat grass juice, or whatever is your thing).

    Critical distance shows up everywhere as we think about Howe’s framing, maybe best seen within the “How Our Society Will Change” chapter. From the book,

    from individualism to community
    from privilege to equality
    from defiance to authority
    from deferral to permanence
    from irony to convention

    To reframe, the goal becomes how to keep critical distance within our packs as we build back into broader communities, with a greater sense of equality, a reframing of authority, a longer-term mindset, and a greater sense of community-serving traditions. Process and our impact falls in along these factors.

    At least that’s what I’m thinking. And there’s a million music scene stories on ways this falls apart or hangs together I’m thinking of, which maybe will be helpful.

    What next that’s right for our pack is THE question.

  5. I’ve been wrestling with how to talk about generational theory and how it’s useful for so long - so happy this landed for you, and maybe we can bring some more people into discussing it this way. Or at least that’s the hope!

  6. I’m compiling a list of music/scene examples against Howe’s periods - send me submissions (I know you’ve got them)

  7. Nice piece, Matt. I was also that underage kid playing in bars (and yes, once saw a two of my teachers, sloppy drunk, making out while I was blissfully playing a Rolling Stones song - talk about buzzkill). I was recently talking about those patterns that one observes from the stage (i.e. the “arc of the party”). If my pattern recognition is even slightly accurate, we’ve got some rough times ahead, but yes, we’ll get through them. As a pack.

  8. Thanks for the chart!
    (I would say the main similarity between music and math is that they can’t tell a lie.)

  9. I am (delightfully) shocked how many people have similar stories! The working musicians’ perspective is so valuable. It’s art and culture as business, with repeat iterations, including lots of false starts and failures. Keep the band together brother.

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