Monday, October 31, 2016

Autumn, Time & Semantics

A Continuation Of The Thoughts From The Last Post...

Why it is that the fall is more conducive to pondering... and specifically to thoughts of time and its passing? 

Augustus Caesar
Obviously, the fall foliage is nature's most striking reminder of time, seasons, cycles and the passing of yet another year.

But there is another reason for me.

One that affects all of us in the Western World... and most anyone who deals with us this time of year.

And, that is: the rather glaring psychic disconnect in our Calendar that starts in September and goes through until Winter starts. If the Autumn has always seemed surreal to you, at least a part of that might be because for these 4 month, we lie to ourselves every day, all day... and live in the shadow of an epic ancient ego trip.

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(Don't worry, I will explain.)

Julius Caesar

Our Glorious Calendar

If you know a little Latin, or even a little bit of any of the Romance Languages (i.e. Italian, French, Spanish, Portuguese etc.), it has probably occurred to you that the prefixes of these months are numbers. September literally meaning 7th month, October, 8th month and so on.

But wait, September is the 9th month, right!?

Hahahaha. Sadly, yes.

We can thank 2 of the hugest douchebags in history for that: Julius & Augustus Caesar.

(note: the 100 hrs of podcasts linked above cover both their lives in great detail, and make a history lesson bar none.)

Maybe they were great guys; they were certainly seriously interesting movers and shakers. But it is a matter of record that the Caesars turned a somewhat democratic republic into an Emperor-led, military dictatorship by force, and not only made people consider them living gods (!), putting their faces and names everywhere... these cats were so bodacious, they had to have their own months as well.

Not only that, but their months had to have 31 days and be at the height of summer. So they stuffed these two monuments to towering ego into our calendar. This would be douchey enough, but good ol' Julius also decreed that the official New Year be fixed at January 1st instead of March 1st.

While this brought the consular (political) year and the civil year into alignment, he neglected to correct the month names. Quintus & Sextus became July & August... Janus, the 2 faced god of doors replaced Mars, the god of war, as the start of the year, and for the most part, none of us free western nations have objected to the tyranny.

It doesn't really take any knowledge of Latin to deduce the discrepancy. A simple elementary school math class would have taught you that Oct means 8.  Oct is for octopus, octagon etc.

(I don't think that this was in School House Rock, but who knows.)

As we all know... October is our 10th month. And yet, we use a base 10 number system that we call the decimal system. Because Dec = 10.

To be honest, all of this applies to the Germanic Languages as well. Despite their not being based on Latin, they still use the Roman numbers and months, with their own pronunciation, for the most part. Romantic or Germanic, Catholic or Protestant, North or South... and all through the colonies of the world... we are stuck with this gloriously inaccurate calendar.

I'm rather surprised no one ever made a real attempt to ditch this thing on the grounds of its being illogical and irrational.

Even more surprising, is that none of the very Christian people of the last 2,000 years rebelled against the idol worship that is built into it. As summer starts, we are all praising the god Juno. Even just mentioning "The 4th of July" or "Le 14 Juillet" (aka Bastille Day if you're French) honors the god-emperor Julius Caesar... Simply having an entire month named after Februus, the Etruscan god of death should disqualify this calendar as heresy. Truth is, most any day of the week, or date in the year honors pagan gods.

Popey G-13
To be fair, the Julian calendar was patched up by Pope Gregory XIII in 1582, and now needs only a leap day every 4 years to be somewhat correct. Why the good Pope didn't think to expunge the calendar of pagan idolatry while he was at it is beyond me though.

Furthermore, he re-instituted the January 1st New Year as well, which had fallen out of favor after the fall of Rome.

You would think a guy who was irked about the sliding of the calendar against the actual solar year could have taken the time to fix the months.

Meanwhile, we still have to utter gibberish when we say our dates.

I am not trying to shame anyone who has lived a number of decades under this calendar and failed to notice that December (lit. 10th month) is the 12th month. It is the way things have been for a couple thousand years now... and why care?

I can't tell anyone what they should care about. Much of what people care about astounds me on a daily basis. And, conversely, what people don't care about is often just as bewildering.

I won't digress into an essay on the virtues and dangers of taking things seriously, but it is generally safer to err on the side of less serious, as most of the terrible things in the world happen when people are too serious about stuff they should really just let go of. (insert patch of land, current currency, old document, manufactured identity etc.)

What I will say, is that it is important for one's mental health to be as honest with oneself as one can.

And, while some amount of minor, or even major, deceit may be necessary in our society... keeping lying and deception to an absolute minimum is important for all of us. I may discuss lying (and caring) in another post... but for now, I will just say that for me, being truthful and transparent is something I cherish.

It helps maintain inner peace, and serves to prevent the stress and tension that lies create.

I wish I could live in a world where one never had to lie or bend the truth. Most people could dispense with feigning interest in their colleagues baby pictures with only minor losses in their social circles.  Other lies might be more difficult to ditch... but, this is somewhat besides the point.

I am far more apt to be truthful, even when it is uncomfortable, than most people I know.  So it is, that having to say, write and see dates all day long that are not only semantically false, but are, as stated, logical fallacies and impossible paradoxes... kinda sucks.

Wait J. Aren't you taking this a bit seriously?  ;-)

It may seem that way in writing. But you generally have to take everything I say as if I have a peaceful, wry grin on my face. I am not losing sleep over this.

But... it bugs me. Ontologically and psychologically.

If you know how the subconscious works, you will be aware that it doesn't differentiate the commands you give it very well... if at all. Basically, everything you say or think goes into that supercomputer, and it does its very best to sort it out, process it, and rectify it.

Feeding it a conundrum might be fun once in awhile... but every day for 4 months? Often a dozen times a day?

When you feed unsolvable conundrums to robots in old school sci-fi, what happens?

Hehehe.  Yeah.

I'm not saying that having our months shifted over is going to cause our heads to explode. Y2K didn't crash the world either.

But... it does use processing power that you could better be using elsewhere. There is a minute moment when your mind rebels every time you tell it bullshit.

Even more to the point, though. We don't have to be doing this. There is no good reason for us to be using some inaccurate, Ancient Roman calendar.

Furthermore, for those of you of a religious bent... it really is idol worship. Julius and Augustus wanted to be worshiped. Not as rock stars (or whatever the Kardashians are)... but literally as gods. They put their names on months to achieve a kind of immortality that few have ever dreamed of. Who could dream that billions of people would write and speak your name every day, trillions of times a year... 2000 years after you are gone?

Not to mention Janus, Mars, Februus and company. Why honor them?

Why even call these things months if they aren't connected to the Moon anymore?

You could get burned alive for bowing to a hollowed out turnip 300 years ago. You can still be targeted for death if you dare to even draw a certain prophet... and yet people are fine with writing false gods on their checks?

The days of the week are just as bad.

In English, somewhat inexplicably, we still use Viking Norse gods for many of the days!! For Pete's sake.

Sure, there was a time when the Danish held sway in the British isles and imposed the "Danelaw" and the Saxons had their own related mythology. But it has been a long time since anyone seriously worshiped Thor or Odin.

Why in 2016, do I still have to say Thursday (Thor's Day) and Wednesday (Wotan' Day)?

Tiw was the Saxon version of the deity known in Norse languages as Tyr, and is the Viking god of war. And Friday is named for Freya, a kind of fairy/god hybrid, queen of the Vanir (non-Asgardian celestial beings), also known as Frigga... for crying out loud.


While I love mythology & comic books (and The Mighty Thor in particular) at least as much as the next guy, I don't need to invoke him every time I make an acupuncture appointment on the day after midweek.

Even the fricking Germans ditched the Norse god named days, and their love of things Norse and Teutonic is legendary.

Why do we name planets, days and months after gods that we don't believe in?

Is there some insidious plot to cause all the Judeo-Christian & Islamic (Abrahamic) people of the world to blaspheme, and commit what is considered biblically a "mortal sin" on a daily basis?  One has to wonder.


As comical as all this is to me, I guess I will wind it up.  While I could go on half-ranting about this stuff for days, I won't beat a dead horse... any more... for now.

I will just leave you all with the idea that we really should chuck this old bathwater out, and start fresh. If there ever was a baby in there, it is long since dead and decomposed.

They did it for weights and measurements on adopting the metric system, and there was no built-in heresy and paradox there. Note that they failed at making the meter the logical division of the Earth's circumference that they set out to make it, though, so we might have to revisit that one as well one day.

But for now, Happy Fall y'all.  Enjoy your Halloween!

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