Tag Archives: A Bust of Janus Speaks

January 1, 2017

Many people have agreed to name this day the first day of January, 2017, and that this date marks the beginning point of the year.  2016 is over, now on this day we say 2017.  We need this sort of standardization so we might communally preform the usual cycles of society (commercial, political, spiritual, and so on) according to annual schedules.  As a people, like other cultures before ours, we enjoy feeling that that which has started, may start again.  An event that means enough to be remembered, can be remembered again.  Accurately.  We like to say this is the exact day upon which whatever it was happened, happened.

Our need for ritual depends upon such a precision to reality; this moment will come around again and we can plan when that will be.  But it doesn’t.  Temporal repetitiveness would be nightmarish.  Can you imagine the eerie sameness we would experience as we age?  In this Nietzschean eternal return1 what free will would we have?  … More

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Writing about the first day of a year reminds me of the time during Slyuses, when I wrote a monologue about another calendar date the specificity of which unraveled in the telling.  

This one I published at 2:01 am on November 12, and titled it in answer to the question in Ithaca “[w]hy was he doubly irritated?”  Leopold Bloom and Stephen Daedalus have arrived at the Bloom home and Bloom remembers he reminded himself twice before to retrieve his house key from the back pocket of the trousers he wore the day before yesterday.  Both men are keyless and Bloom must decide “[t]o enter or not to enter. To knock or not to knock” and wake Molly.  It is 2:01 am.  In the monologue I wrote, my speaker often wonders to verb or not to verb.  Bloom decides to break in by jumping the outer dwarf wall, and in answer to “[d]id he fall? we get Joyce’s extended description of the date Bloom last weighed himself, itself weighted with date descriptions the likes of which one might use whilst calculating Easter.

I keep the formula for Easter on my desk; it stands proudly with the world’s most ridiculous mathematical formulas ever devised and ought to be admired as such.  I personally don’t care what date Easter will occupy each year.  Why would I?   The when of any annual event is entirely meaningless, but I do love the mathematical yoga it takes to ensure Easter and Passover coincide.  Or worse, God forbid, Easter should occur before Passover.  This could not be allowed.  So every year they do the math. 

Just after Bloom enters the scullery he lights a match and then a candle, which he uses to light his walk through the house so he can let Stephen in by the front door.  The image I used for the post comes from Yurko Gutsulyak’s Energy Calendar made entirely from matches.  Regretfully, it is not an image of the match for November 12.  When there is one day to write and no more, and all else in the world to do as well, compromises must be made.