St. Jerome, The Gettysburg Address, Inside-Out Pockets, and a Latinate Zeus: The Art of Mulling

The Art Of MullingA number of folks have asked recently: Why Dies Iovis:Ergo…?

I assume they’re referring to the name of this blog and not why I would waste even one minute writing this stuff. If the question is to the latter, let’s just say I’m trying to wrestle with a few imponderables, cohere a few thoughts, and stay sharp with my ellipses…until the new novel (The Door-Man, unless I change my mind) gains traction.

But, if I’m right, and it’s really the title that’s in question, my first thought is: Well, they certainly haven’t read AIIOE. Second thought: If they did, they weren’t paying attention (er,…read the epigraph?). Third thought: Hmmmm…maybe there’s an opportunity here.

Accordingly, this week’s post is doing double duty – that is, using itself to explain itself.

See what I did there? Life is full of this kind of dizzying circularity (see DI:E…01.24.13). For example, when turning a pocket inside out to see what’s inside the pocket (what, exactly, did you expect to find?), or discussing your behavior – alone – in front of the bathroom mirror (admit it, you’ve been there, even when you weren’t boozed up). Or perhaps when invoking The Gettysburg Address:…government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth. Oh, wait…that’s triple duty.

Never mind. One could mull on such things forever, which I suppose explains the agenda of DI:E…, but not its Latin sobriquet.

I’ll start with a conundrum: As It is On Earth is comprised of eight chapters, but concludes with Chapter Seven. Now, mull that one for a moment (…remember the Jeopardy tune from last week?). Furthermore, and to confuse things further, each chapter covers a single day over the course of a single week. Now hold on! you bark…since when does the week have eight days?! Wipe the spittle off the screen; I’ll explain.

Basically, I cheated with the numbers: Chapter One and the first chapter are not the same. Sorry, more dizzying circularity.

Okay, here’s the real deal. It’s simple: I started with Chapter 0.

Chapters 1 – 7 take their names from the days of the roman week at the time St. Jerome was hammering out the first official Latin Bible,…including his version of Creation, or Genesis for you non-believing literary types. In AIIOE, the creative work begins on a Tuesday –  Dies Martis. It seemed as good a day as any (…it also works well in the story. See the “Well-Built” calendar from 1999 that’s still hanging in your garage).

And Chapter Zero? It – like most of us – wonders what exactly was going on before all that? I mean, before there were days?…Before Creation. Sorry, science is no help, just ask Thomas Nagel* – The Big Bang only pushes the query back…well, just another “day”.

The long and short of it is that Dies Iovis (which so happens to be the title of the third and pivotal chapter in AIIOE) roughly translates as Jupiter’s Day. You remember Jupiter, he took over from Zeus once the Greeks offered their necks to the Romans. Jupiter was best known for his thunderbolt – that lightning strike which makes us sit up whenever we have a good,…say, pivotal idea (nowadays, it’s a light bulb in a cartoon cloud, but the point here is the surge of electricity).

I suppose I could have just said that Dies Iovis: Ergo… translates to Thursday, Therefore…or I could flesh it out a bit: It’s Thursday, therefore this is the idea I’m mulling today. Or…I could have been even more forthcoming and provided it’s true epigrammatic forbearer: Given all my other less self-indulgent responsibilities, it’s most likely that I will need at least until Thursday to mull before writing said mullery up.

I can only wonder if St. Jerome set himself a similar deadline when Pope Damasus asked him to consolidate all those loopy latin gospels littering the Levant.

*Nagel’s most recent: Mind and Cosmos: Why the Materialist Neo-Darwinian Conception of Nature Is Almost Certainly False.

Return to Dies Iovis: Ergo…

4 Comments
  1. Jeremy Hawker Reply
    "The Door-Man, unless I change my mind". Nice, but why the hyphen? It rules out ambiguous meaning ("can you get the door, man?).
    • admin Reply
      You'll have to wait for the book to understand the hyphen. Hint: hybrid humans
  2. Jeremy Hawker Reply
    That sounds great!
  3. Jermajesty Reply
    An intelligent point of view, well expressed! Thanks!

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