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

The Art Of Mulling

A number of folks have asked recently: Why Ruminations…?

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…while the new novel (The Door-Man) continues to gain traction.

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

Life is full of this kind of dizzying circularity (see Ruminations…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. Or perhaps when invoking The Gettysburg Address:…government of the people, by the people, for the people, . Oh, wait…that’s triple duty.

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

Here’s the backstory: The blog used to be titled Dies Iovis: Ergo…and took its name from the chapter structure of my first novel, As It Is On Earth. In fact, the first 38 blog posts drew from issues in the first novel. Let me explain, starting 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, but it’s actually 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.

That said, now that The Door-Man is heading to your bookshelf, I am calling out the blog for what it is: Ruminations – “a deep or considered thought about something.” I hope to continue weaving together disconnected facts per Walker Percy’s injunction, but as for Thursday deadlines, I doubt St. Jerome set himself a similar deadline when Pope Damasus asked him to consolidate all those loopy latin gospels littering the Levant (…consider this post, now woven).

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

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  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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