Why I started this writing journey…

Hello there, my name is Anton. I’m a writer who enjoys history-writing.

What do I write about here? My interests are broad, but my perspective starts from the view that we’re living through something of an inflection point. One of its defining features is a deep and widespread feeling of uprootedness, largely caused by online life.

Nowadays, so few people believe what they once took for granted. Collective stories about the future are commonly met with skepticism. If we look across all sources of authority, trust has fallen precipitously to new lows.1 And across published literature, mentions of distress and anxiety have risen parabolically to new highs.2 Additionally, if we look outward at world affairs, the next decade or two will likely end up defining the rest of the century, for better or worse.3

Volatile periods like today are defined by unknowns. Novel ways of thinking and living emerge, sometimes by accident. The word “novum” is defined as the potential for newness in culture, politics, and everyday life.4 Accelerating times like ours arguably experience novum “in the extreme.”5 Given that we’re so overloaded with such feelings nowadays, I felt this was a fitting name for my newsletter.

I like to write about what is unique to our time with a deep appreciation for how the past was lived. My approach tries to strike a balance between observational, literary, and historical perspectives. This helps to keep my writing fresh and engaging, bound to pique someone’s interest out there.

This is just a brief summary of the inspiration behind this Substack. I discuss it in much more detail in my introductory essay which I recommend checking out:

structure & posting schedule

I publish every month when I can. I also have a special history-writing series called Past As Prologue.

If these themes interest you, be sure to subscribe for free if you haven’t already

A little about myself

My full name is Anton Cebalo. I’m a first-generation American with roots in Croatia. I loved history enough to pursue both a BA and MA in it. After feeling cooped up in my head for the past few years, doing ghostwriting gigs and other odd jobs, I finally felt the need to start writing independently. This Substack helps me to both clarify my thoughts as well as find other people of a similar mind. So if you’re out there, please don’t be a stranger.

I take the time to research and craft stories on the past, present, and possible future(s). It’s also informed by my own life as well. So, if you like my writing, maybe share this around and subscribe, so I get a little bump of encouragement knowing I’m putting out something worthwhile.

1

In 2022, the average trust across all leading U.S. institutions hit a new low.

A comparable trend is present throughout the world. In 2019, Cambridge University’s Centre for the Future of Democracy recorded the highest level of discontentment across all democracies since it began conducting survey research. And this was before COVID, no less. There has been no follow-up since.

2

An analysis of more than 14 million books published over the last 125 years in three major languages (English, German, and Spanish) shows a sharp increase in expressions of anxiety and worry in many parts of the world.

This was the conclusion made by the 2021-2022 UN Human Development Report. The report further says that “globally, fewer than 30 percent of people think that most people can be trusted, the lowest value on record.”

3

President Xi Jinping told Vladimir Putin in March 2023, “Right now there are changes – the likes of which we haven’t seen for 100 years.”

4

This definition comes from philosopher Ernst Bloch’s three-volume magnum opus The Principle of Hope. The idea has famously influenced science fiction as well.

5

Ernst Bloch writes in The Principle of Hope:

Ages in which nothing happens have almost lost the feeling for the novum; they live in habit and what is coming is no such thing, but rather as circumscribed as what happened yesterday. But ages like the modern one, in which history, perhaps for centuries, stands in the balance, have the feeling for the novum in the extreme, for they sense what future is (pg. 288).

Subscribe to Novum Newsletter

Exploring new ideas in a historical way

People