Why I started this writing journey

Hello, my name is Anton and this is where I publish my reflections and essays.

What I write about begins from the view that we’re living through an inflection point. One of its defining features is a deep and widespread feeling of uprootedness, spurred by online life. Collective narratives about the future have struggled to hold as so few people believe what they once took for granted.

Across all sources of authority, trust has fallen precipitously to new lows. And across published literature, mentions of distress and anxiety have risen parabolically to new highs. 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.

Volatile periods like these are defined by unknowns and often crises. Novel ways of thinking and living emerge, sometimes by accident. The word “novum” is defined by the capacity for newness in culture, politics, and everyday life.

Accelerating periods like ours arguably experience novum “to the extreme.” Given that we’re so overloaded with such feelings nowadays, I felt it was a fitting name for my newsletter.

I write about what is peculiar 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 which 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 blog. I discuss it in much more detail in my introductory essay which I recommend reading:

structure & posting schedule

To keep things organized, I’ve structured this newsletter along three themes:

I also have a special history-writing series:

You can expect a few posts a month, ideally. But sometimes I have lapses where I don’t write. I generally like to publish on the weekend.

If this perspective interests you, be sure to subscribe for free if you haven’t already.

A little about myself…

My full name is Anton Stjepan Cebalo and I’m a modern historian by study (BA, MA). Feeling cooped up in my head for the past few years, I felt the need to publish my thoughts…

I take the time to thoroughly research and craft stories on the past, present, and possible future(s). Naturally, some of it is informed by my own life as well. So, if you like my writing, stay a while. Maybe share this around and subscribe, so I get a little bump of motivation knowing I’m putting out something worthwhile.


Uncertain periods like ours can be called an interregnum.

Such times stand out because they are “when the old is dying but the new cannot yet be born,” as Antonio Gramsci famously wrote in 1930. During this time, many “morbid symptoms” appear as the public grows “detached from their traditional ideologies and no longer believe what they used to believe previously.” This certainly sounds familiar.


In 2022, the average trust across all 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.


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.”


This definition comes from philosopher Ernst Bloch’s three-volume magnum opus The Principle of Hope. The idea has influenced science fiction as well. For a more detailed explanation of the philosophy behind this newsletter, please read my piece Why Novum?


Bloch writes:

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, they sense what future is (pg. 288)

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Exploring the forces and ideas shaping our time


Anton Cebalo

writer, historian