The Golden Ass: A Valentine’s Day Novel with Something for Everyone

Happy Tuesday!

Okay so Valentines day is tomorrow.  I have expressed how seriously I take this “holiday”(1) in the past.

However as a shameless self-promoter and a young writer/artist desperate for ever more attention as a form of validation (for a struggling artist, everyday is like being single and drunk on Valentine’s day: an emotional fucking roller coaster), I always try to jump on whatever will grab me more traffic without completely whoring out my “talents”.  Which this time of year means writing something about Valentine’s day.

This post started out as a simple etymological exploration of the English word “love”(2) and myth of Eros and Psyche, particularly inspired from the brilliant video from Overly Sarcastic Productions: Miscellaneous Myths: Eros and Psyche.

Then I remembered: this is OBOP what’s so offbeat about writing about “love” during valentines week? It’s onpoint but not offbeat.  So I. Dug. DEEPER. And what I found was…really interesting.

the golden ass

The book in question this week is one that, like the word “love”, has a few different faces and lacks the simplicity that a four letter word seems to promise.

NOTE: I haven’t read this book in it’s entirety yet.  I’m working on it but I couldn’t finish it in time however I promise this will not be the last time I visit t his unique piece of literature.  I have big plans for this rare volume.

There are more than a few interesting(3) things about this novel other than it’s rather lewd title.  The first being is that the original title was “Metamorphosis”, which as far as I can tell has very little to do with the Kafka novel of the same name, but then was renamed by St Augustine of Hippo to the more appropriate “The Golden Ass”(4) and the second is that this is the only novel from the Grecco-Roman to survive in it’s entirety.  Some one cared to make sure that this piece of literature survived the fall of the Roman empire.

As promised, The Golden Ass is about an Ass or more specifically about a man who is driven by curiosity and the desire to learn about magic and accidentally turns himself into a donkey and then goes on adventures.  These adventures include adultery, witches rasing a familyreplacing a man’s heart with a sponge, golden showers, murder, necromancy, , thievery, kidnapping, anonymous sex with an invisible being, animal cruelty, catamite priests, cuckolding, incest, and bestiality.  These are just the highlights, folks.  Truly something for everyone.

Now if you’re still with me, you might be wondering “Fin: what does this lewd and strangely appropriately titled piece of ancient literature have to do with Eros and Psyche?”

One of the inset stories in The Golden Ass is Eros and Psyche. I feel like the entirety of The Golden Ass, rather than one hand-picked and relatively tame piece, does a better job of reflecting the complexity, beauty, and occasionally taboo aspects of love.  Love, for me, in every capacity from romantic to platonic has many different forms and facets.  Sometimes love is beautiful, other times it’s gross, but most often love much more complex than just a couple of star-crossed lovers who get a lovely ending or the loyalty between individuals who have grown together and die together.

Happy Valentine’s day.

-fin

STAY TUNED: The next comic in The Adventures of Fin and Louie is coming soon (probably this week), it’ll be the second to last comic before the end of the “Looking for a Friend/Count Rubber’s Keep” story arc.

Footnotes:

  1. Valentine’s day started out as a guilt trip from a Saint named Valentinus (there are two, no one knows who it was about originally) who, according to legend, was marrying Roman soldiers illegally, they took vows not to be married, and then healed the judges blind daughter.  The judge ruled to against the Saint and the Saint wrote a farewell note reading “Farewell, your Valentine”.  At best, being someone’s “Valentine” is like a passive aggressive death curse or something.

2. Which does have an interesting and complicated history which reflects it’s relatively sloppy application because of how ambiguously it can be used from sports (Tennis) to phrases like “for love or money” roughly meaning “for anything” which it self has revealing implications of motivations.  If you’re interested, read more here: “love” etymology online dictionary

  1. I recognise that one of my weaknesses as a writer is the over-use (I prefer “liberal”) of the word “interesting” however this is one of those posts where “interesting” might be the best word to use liberally to talk about this ancient novel.

  2. I understand that St Augustine of Hippo was not, publicly, a fan of Metamorphosis and likely nicknamed the book a less polite title as a way to smear the reputation of the book.  I think the title is an improvement because otherwise I probably wouldn’t have looked into this book in the first place.

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Why is it called “Soccer” and why rugby is to blame.

Happy Monday!

I hope everyone had a happy and safe New Years Eve.  My new years was quite lovely.

As an American living in England, I very literally learn a new thing everyday.  I’ve learn that the English are as obsessed with bacon as America but English bacon is much better (soz America but these guys cut their bacon nice and thick), that the English have their own ways of pronouncing the alphabet (“h” is “haych” and “z” is “zed”), and they that cookies are biscuts (unless they have chocolate chips and THEN they’re “cookies”).  The list goes on(1).

One difference that I had been well aware of and understand the discrepency for but never understood how it happened was: football versus soccer.  Possibly more confusing, I’ve always wondered why we (Americans) call American football, football.

football-vs-soccer

Clearly it should be called “Handegg Ball”.

Short answer: It’s ruby’s fault and ergo Americans are not to blame (this time).

Long answer: In 1863 a collation of British public schools were trying to come up with a Continue reading

Competitive Worm Charming, Etymologies, and more Friday Fun

I woke up this morning, puttering(1), and got around to looking at a youtube video by this cheeky Brit Thoughty2(2)  on The Weird World of Competitive Worm Charming

 

I then proceeded to have a worm dream something like this:

source http://www.kosapress.com/art-of-science-fiction-038-leonardo-calamati/

I have to admit, I do not have a plan for the worm-pocolapse. Source. Judging from this chart I’m guessing this is a Tremors situation.

sandworm-size-chart

Know your sand worms!

 

Then more English related news, I received an email confirming that my visa has been processed and will be mailed back to me today. All this visa business is terribly dramatic however ether way it’s almost all over.  Either way, there will be tears.  Either way, I kicked a lot of ass to get to this point. And either way, I’m just getting started.

I’ve decided that Fridays are designed to be fun and as some of you may have already gathered, I’m a big fan of etymologies and word play so Friday’s Funday Word is: “FRIDAY”.  Friday is culturally a unique word in many languages deriving meaning from Venus or Venus-dieties including the Aztec god Quetzalcotl, Hinud God Shukra, and in astrology Friday is related to the two Venus signs Taurus and Libra (3).  The reason for why Friday is linguistically tied to Venus across cultures is one that will require further research and a separate post, which if there is significant feedback I will follow through or if anyone wants to take this and write their own essay please send me a link and I’ll re-post, however if there is one thing about the word “Friday” That I learned that I will be sharing for a while is this one last English (and Australian) bit about Friday or often known as POETS day or “PISS OFF EARLY TOMORROW’S SATURDAY”.

 

Footnotes:

  1. Putt (v) – the mindless half asleep wanderings of a toon who is having trouble transitioning between REM cycles, usually between the hours of 2am – 4am, and from what I understand is more prevalent in men and get’s more frequent with age
  2. It’s nice when things work out in theme, thoughty2’s username and byline and about are all references to The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, which if you haven’t read I’ve begun a review series on the entire Hitchhiker’s series which started last week.  The overall series review can be found here.

Source for cover Image

The Fork

I’m often fascinated with tiny details.  Today I’m paying homage to the noble origins of the eating fork.

First, a poem:

“Fork” by Charles Simic

This strange thing must have crept
Right out of hell.
It resembles a bird’s foot
Worn around the cannibal’s neck.

As you hold it in your hand,
As you stab with it into a piece of meat,
It is possible to imagine the rest of the bird:
Its head which like your fist
Is large, bald, beakless, and blind.

In language the fork had made a minor impression which has reflected its evolution.

“Fork in the road” ForkinRoad1

Muppet movie aside, this phrase represents a time when the young fork only had 2 prongs, more resembling its older brother the pitch fork.

Later when the fork became more commonly used, at least by nobility, the hand became known as “the poor man’s fork” as the utensil evolved to include more prongs and the resemblance to the hand became more apparent.  This would evolve into the phrase “fork it over”.

More recently the small city Forks, Washington became quite famous being the location of the surprisingly popular sparkling vampire series Twilight.

08aaec2c2977878fe80a861a402393e4

The fork in new, hip, and way in vogue or at least until a new utensil takes rise.

Next week, I will be posting weekly on Mondays and about once or twice a month with a book review (maybe analysis too, interest and time pending). That being said, my first book review/analysis will be the hilarious, disturbing, and generally unnerving  Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace.

If you have strong feelings on the fork or are excited for Infinite Jest or just want to express how much time you’ve wasted reading this and want to make me aware of that, please feel free to leave comments below.