Monthly Archives: February 2017

Read-a-long post 4

Part Two – Hokhmah

Chapter Five – “And begin by combining this name”

Now we know who Abraham Abulafia is, and have the old practice of letter combinations updated with a snippet of code.

Words/terms looked up:

Ennoia – Greek Σοφíα, meaning “wisdom” – okay, so that explains Sophia, but not who Lorenza Pellegrini is. (First mentioned in Chapter 3.)

Chapter Six – “Judá León se dio a permutaciones

Judá León se dio a permutaciones
Juda León worked out (various) permutations

De letras y a complejas variaciones
of letters and complex variations

Y al fin pronunció el Nombre que es la Clave,
And finally pronounced the Name which is the Key,

La Puerta, el Eco, el Huésped y el Palacio…
The Door, the Echo, the Guest and the Palace…

http://www.poemas-del-alma.com/jorge-luis-borges-el-golem.htm
message 14: https://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/1567087-discussion-thread-1-foucault-s-pendulum-chapters-1-to-end-of-chapter

This chapter begins with a portion of a poem by Borges!

No?  No is the password?  That is the stupidest thing I’ve read so far in this book.  Now, maybe if No released a sanitized partition that was opened… but could a word processor from that era do that?

Found in the brain of Abulafia is file of 120 quotations.  This book has 120 chapters, each starting with a quotation.  Nice symmetry.

Words/terms looked up:

Macumba – religion is practiced by a large number of Brazilians, and involves the apparent possession of worshippers by their gods

atabaque – a tall, wooden, Afro-Brazilian hand drum, used in capoeria

Part Three – Binah

Chapter Seven – “Do not expect too much of the end of the world.”

Binah meaning understanding https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Binah_(Kabbalah)

Lia? of Chapter 3’s “Lia and the baby”?

The demonstrations and revolution Casaubon reports strikes a strange chord, with anti-Trump demonstrations happening weekly in today’s America.

So here we discover the beginning of the Templar obsession, and a marker of 1972.

Chapter Eight – “Having come from the light and from the gods, here I am in exile, separated from them.”

Location: Pilade’s bar.  I got the reference to Rick’s Cafe from Casablanca. Small victories, and another mention of Lorenza, a pinball wizard?

I think I don’t like Belbo.

Chapter Nine – “In his right hand he held a golden trumpet.”

Yep, definitely don’t like Belbo.

Chapter Ten – “And finally, nothing is cabalistically inferred from vinum”

Hah.  I got the Zhivago joke!

Four kinds of people in the world: cretins, fools, morons, and lunatics.  I can believe this world view.

Chapter Eleven – “His sterility”

Belbo’s imagination at taking on W. Shakespeare’s work as an editor was a nice bit.

I don’t catch the God incognito novel reference. Google lists one published in 1974, possibly the one Eco could have read before publishing Foucault’s Pendulum in 1988.

Also don’t catch the Seven Seas Jim reference.  Possibly this: https://books.google.com/books?id=v1EHAQAAIAAJ&q=Jim+of+the+seven+seas&dq=Jim+of+the+seven+seas&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwiSroLNgq3SAhUJzoMKHeQ0CwkQ6AEIHDAA?  At least it was entertaining to read.

Chapter Twelve – “Sub umbra alarum tuarum, Jehova” Under the shadow of thy Lord.

Cas enters Garamond Press.  Immediately we meet a woman who was named by the men in the office, but not with her real name. Jerks.

I do like the School of Comparative Irrelevance and their impossible courses.

Interesting that the Marquis de Carabas in this chapter references the Puss in Boots origin, I must have known this reference first, but to me the Marquis de Carabas will evoke Gaiman’s Neverwhere instead.

 

 

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Read-a-long post 3

Part Two – Hokhmah

Chapter Three – “In hanc utilitatem clementes angeli”

The intro to this chapter has been translated in Google Groups & recorded in Goodreads as

To this advantage, clement messengers have discovered designs,
symbols, shapes and spells, and have set before us mortals tokens
both obscure and enormous, in no manner near to the accustomed usage
of speech; but through the highest wonder of our reason, we have
been led over into an earnest examination of intelligible things,
and thereupon to their very reverence and love.

We have a name!  The narrator is named Casaubon.

So the main characters we have so far:

  • Abulafia – a wordprocesser
  • Belbo, Jacopo – Missing. Owner of Abulafia.
  • Casaubon – Narrator
  • Diotallevi – explainer of the first Sefirah (p. 16), in the hospital (p.19)
  • Gudrun – Accompanied Diotallevi to the hospital, female, responsible for keeping “the business going.”

It was so funny to see the first improvisations on a word processor. This technology revolutionized the concept of authorship, just like Gutenberg’s movable type press.

Chapter Four – “He who attempts to penetrate into the Rose Garden”

I’m on a roll!

My guess on the password?  Whiskey.

What a strange engraving.

invisiblecollege

Words/terms looked up:

notarikon, gematria, temurah – three ancient methods used by Kabbalists to rearrange words and sentences in the Bible, in the belief that by this method they can derive the esoteric substratum and deeper spiritual meaning of the words.

oriens – The East (Latin)

Read-a-long post 2

Part One – Keter

Chapter Two – “Wee haue divers curious Clocks”

Otherwise known as Trains, Planes, and Automobiles, oh my!

So many brand and trademark names.None meant any to me, nor did they bring up any images in my head.  Except for the bicycles (velocipedes) that were described as having “huge art-nouveau wheels.”  Those brought the familiar pennyfarthing to mind.

So I quickly whipped up a slideshow of 7 slides that illustrate the six cars mentioned in our protagonist’s search for a hiding place.  (Does he have a name yet? I don’t think we know it yet.)

Words/terms looked up:

  • Gramme – not 100% positive, but I believe this passage, “your back protected by a great stone statue of Gramme,” refers to Zénobe Gramme, electrical engineer.
  • Madurodam – I picked up from context that this was an amusement park, but looking this up was fun: https://www.madurodam.nl/en/  Anyone want to go to the Netherlands?
  • Empedocles – (“A vulcanologist does not burn like Empedocles.”) Wikipedia tells me that Diogenes Laërtius records the legend that Empedocles died by throwing himself into Mount Etna in Sicily
  • “Frazer did not flee, hounded, into the wood of Nemi.” – Refers to James George Frazer and his study of ancient myths, especially the legend of the rex Nemorensis – recorded in The Golden Bough.
  • Lavoisier’s mirrors – Antoine Lavoisier was an interesting guy to read about. His work with the Law of Mass Conservation was so poetic: “Nothing is lost, nothing is created, everything is transformed.”
  • catoptric – of or relating to a mirror, a reflector, or reflection.
  • alembic – an alchemical still consisting of two vessels connected by a tube, used for distilling chemicals.
  • eolopile – A device containing a usually spherical chamber or container, in which steam is heated and ejected through one or more narrow tubes to create propulsion or torque.
  • demiurge – an artisan-like figure responsible for the fashioning and maintenance of the physical universe.
  • balneum mariae – also known as a bain-marie, or double boiler (like how we melt chocolate!)  http://www.paranormal-encyclopedia.com/b/balneum-mariae/ records the alchemic link
  • acajou – mahogany

Read-a-long post 1

A group of friends and I have decided to tackle Foucault’s Pendulum together.  We have a target of reading the first 100 pages (roughly the first sixteen chapters) before meeting to talk about it over a couple bottles of wine.

This is where I will keep my notes, so I can come back to them when I inevitably forget everything clever or meaningful when I’m on the spot.

Foucault’s Pendulum, by Umberto Eco is one of those books that I’ve tried to read many times.  I feel good that this time, with friends beside me, I will actually get it done.

Part One – Keter

Chapter One – “When the light of the infinite”

20170131_204334
First mystery: What was the Hebrew passage at the opening of the chapter?

A google image search suggests it is a passage of the Zohar,

a group of books including commentary on the mystical aspects of the Torah … scriptural interpretations as well as material on mysticism, mythical cosmogony, and mystical psychology. The Zohar contains discussions of the nature of God, the origin and structure of the universe, the nature of souls, redemption, the relationship of Ego to Darkness and “true self” to “The Light of God”, and the relationship between the “universal energy” and man.

Were these words from chapter 1, “Tune had begun. Its great pendulum, whose beats are the ages, commenced to vibrate. The era of creation or manifestation had at last arrived.”

Seems reasonable to guess yes, since the entire first chapter seemed to be a meditation on the pendulum hanging in a museum.

Words/terms looked up:

  • panta rei – “Everything flows” from the philosophy of Heraclitius.  Rhei is Greek for stream, which makes me associate this now with Netflix.
  • astigmatic circumference – distorted, misshapen, not round
  • Jacopo Belbo – not a historical figure, simply a character in this book
  • choir, nave, priory – all church related vocabulary. Architectural terms, or in the case of a priory, an entire structure.