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Sunday: October 9, 2005

Still On Top

Filed under: — site admin @ 11:17 PM UTC

It’s been over three years since I checked, but I’m still Google’s number one hit for “the stupid questions department”.

Great Minds Think Alike

Filed under: — site admin @ 9:37 PM UTC

Helmuth, Graf von Moltke (the Elder):

No battle plan survives contact with the enemy.

Seneca (the Younger):

Vetus proverbium est gladiatorem in harena capere consilium; aliquid adversarii vultus, aliquid manus mota, aliquid ipsa inclinatio corporis intuentem monet. Quid fieri soleat, quid oporteat, in universum et mandari potest et scribi; tale consilium non tantum absentibus, etiam posteris datur: illud alterum, quando fieri debeat aut quemadmodum, ex longinquo nemo suadebit, cum rebus ipsis deliberandum est.

There is an old adage about gladiators, — that they plan their fight in the ring; as they intently watch, something in the adversary’s glance, some movement of his hand, even some slight bending of his body, gives a warning. We can formulate general rules and commit them to writing, as to what is usually done, or ought to be done; such advice may be given, not only to our absent friends, but also to succeeding generations. In regard, however, to that second question, — when or how your plan is to be carried out, — no one will advise at long range; we must take counsel in the presence of the actual situation.

Epistulae Morales 22.1-2, tr. Richard C. Gummere, Loeb Classical Library, 1917

Echthrology, For Sure

Filed under: — site admin @ 5:55 PM UTC

In The Corner, Cliff May writes of the need for a neologism to name the academic study of one’s enemies, whether Communists, Fascists, or militant Islamists, “who they are, what they think, what they want, why they hate us and – most importantly – how they can be defeated”. He consulted Victor Davis Hanson, who suggested either ‘polemiologia’ or ‘echthrologia’: “the polemios root is for political/military enemies, the stronger echthros root would be for cultural, tribal, personal enemies”. I don’t know why Hanson didn’t use the Anglicized endings ‘polemiology’ and ‘echthrology’ — we don’t have professors of Astronomia and Zoologia –, but either way I much prefer the E-word, for three reasons:

  1. ‘Polemiology’ (from polemíoi, “enemies”) is confusing, since — at least to those who know their Greek roots — it sounds too much like ‘polemology’ and ‘polemicology’, either of which would mean Military Studies generally (from pólemos, “war”, and polemiká, “the things of war”, respectively). It’s also unclear how ‘polemiology’ (or ‘polemiologia’, for that matter) would be pronounced: ‘POLL-uh-mee-OLL-uh-jee’ is too sing-song,* ‘poh-LEM-ee-OLL-uh-jee’ just generally awkward, and Hanson’s -ia endings don’t help at all.
  2. All three of the conflicts named have been much more than purely military, and a reference to “cultural, tribal, personal enemies” is more or less what we want, though ‘cultural, tribal, ideological’ would be even better.
  3. Most important, ‘echthrology’ has just the right sound to it, an ugly sound for an ugly (though necessary) endeavor, as if one were clearing one’s throat while very sick. Wouldn’t ‘Professor of Echthrology’ look good on a curriculum vitae?

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*This pronunciation does open up possibilities for light verse:

Higgledy piggledy,
polemiology,
favorite Naval A-
cademy class, . . .

I will . . . leave it to others to finish the rhyme. (Hey, I’m still stuck in the same rhythm!)

Happy Birthday, Henricus Sagittarius

Filed under: — site admin @ 5:06 PM UTC

His birthdate is unknown, but Henricus Sagittarius, better known as Heinrich Schütz, was baptized 420 years ago today. In his honor, I just played Die sieben Wörte Jesu Christi am Kreuz (“The Seven Words of Jesus Christ on the Cross”), performed by the Ensemble Clement Janequin and Les Saqueboutiers de Toulouse (Harmonia Mundi 90.1255). I would have played one of the Passions, but those are currently lent out. It may not sound like much of a recommendation, but Schütz’s passions (Matthew, Luke, and John) sound a lot like Bach’s, but without the arias. This makes the crowd choruses (e.g. “Crucify him!”) the only exciting parts, but the recitative is so utterly (can’t think of a better word) . . . appropriate that I don’t miss the arias at all.

I would have liked to have played the Seven Words and the St. Luke Passion in my favorite recording of both, by Gustav Leonhardt, but that still hasn’t come out on CD, and I don’t have a phonograph, plus my records are still in Baltimore. What’s the hold-up, Telefunken Teldec? Did it only sell 17 copies in record form? I suppose one of these days I’ll give up and spend some money having my last few records burned onto CDs with the appropriate software.