Thursday, 9 January 2020

Exercise and the Ark of the Covenant


Image result for antique print  runningWe are in that beautiful season of the year known as January, or to give it its full technical name the-season-of-plump-people-jogging. Luckily for all of us, it will be over in a few days, and we may return to our restful cakes and our crumpets of calm.

Originally, exercise was something that Romans did to horses (and soldiers). It was too cruel for proper people. Most of the time horses (and soldiers) were kept penned up so that they couldn't run away. The Latin word for penning up or enclosing was arcere. Occasionally, they would be let out to go and canter freely in the paddock or take up horsey-pilates or whatever it was. To do this was to ex-arcere them, and from that you got exercere, and modern exercise.

The word arcere also gave us the adjective arcane, because arcane knowledge is knowledge that is enclosed and shut away and locked up in a big box. Indeed, arcere itself comes from the noun arca which means box or chest or ark.

The Ark of the Covenant was simply a very fancy chest. We refer to it as an ark because the Latin Bible called it an arca. The Ten Commandments contained therein were therefore the original arcane knowledge. And when, as it saith in the book of Indiana Jones, all those spirits jumped out and killed the nasty Nazis, they were simply exercising.



Image result for raiders of the lost ark last scene warehouse
The Inky Fool's filing system was becoming ever more efficient.

Friday, 3 January 2020

The Two-Faced Janitors of January



[Repost]

Welcome, dear reader, to January. January is a time to look back upon the dunghill of a year that has passed, and to look forward to the miseries to come. However, it is impossible to look both backwards and forwards unless you have two faces and you only have one, I hope. Otherwise you suffer from the horrid genetic disorder known as diprosopus, or you are the Roman god Janus [see picture].

Because Janus had two faces and was able to look in two directions he was the god of boundaries. The first month of the year, being the boundary between the old and the new, was therefore sacred to him and was named Januarius or January.

Janus was also, of course, the god of gates and passages and doorways and portals of all sorts, and that is why doorkeepers are called janitors.

Leonato: You will never run mad, niece.
Beatrice: No, not till a hot January.

I am told that these lines from Much Ado About Nothing sound rather odd when performed in Australia.


Sacred to Janus