Saturday, January 12, 2008

"Ach Du Lieber, Auguste Comte"

Man Invented Time; Yet Man's Time Has Never Been Correct Time
Auguste Comte was the French philosopher who was the father of the philosophy of Positivism--yes, Auguste was a nutty kind'a guy who meant well--the science that Comte proposed as the vehicle in which to use his positivist methods he entitled "Sociology"--the study of "what's social." Comte's philosophy has been bitterly condemned over the years because Comte's perfect society is a "socialist" one; as one critic said, Comte's positivism was the basis of both Karl Marx's and Adolph Hitler's ways of thinking and rationalizing; the individual is merely a member of a society and must respect the morals and the laws of the scientifically designed society, individual rights being obtained through scientific reasoning with the designers of the "perfect" society (or "positive" society as Comte would say). Jean Jacques Rousseau was the Frenchman whose thinking inspired Auguste Comte the most (especially, in Comte's case, Rousseau's Social Contract and also Rousseau's essay on the Origins of Language--Linguistics comes directly from Comte's Philosophy of "Sociology" or Positivism).

Recently in reviewing why I can't seem to get "modern" (I know, we're in the Post-Modernist era), I came across a calendar invented by Auguste Comte--looking for "positive" time--and a calendar following Comte's three stages of thinking, the theological, the metaphysical, and the scientific. Here's Auguste Comte's calendar:
August Comte’s
Positivist Calendar

Since the Enlightenment, Philosophers and Scientists have been trying to make human life a little more rational. Decimal-based monetary systems, for example, began in the US in 1786, on the insistence of Thomas Jefferson. The system was adopted in France in 1793, with decimes and centimes. These terms, meaning tenths and hundredths, became our dimes and cents. The Italians didn't adopt it until 1862, and it didn't get to the British until 1971!

Similarly, the French introduced the metric system in 1795. By the end of the 1900s, almost all countries have adopted it -- the US being the notable exception this time!

Far more resistant to "rationalization" has been time. It does not seem that we will ever change the 60-second minute, 60-minute hour, and 24-hour day, but these are at least consistent and international. The calendar has likewise resisted change, but not for a lack of ideas! You see, the year of 365 days is 4 x 7 x 13 plus 1 (and another 1 on leap years), which means that there are several simple schemes we could be using. For example, we could have four seasons of thirteen weeks of seven days each (plus one, and another on leap years). Or....

August Comte, in 1849, published a 13 month calendar, which he called The Positivist Calendar. It consisted of 13 months of 28 days each (exactly four weeks). There was one extra day at the end of the year which had no weekday assigned to it, and one more extra day on leap years. Every year begins on Monday, Moses 1. It begins with1789 as year one, so the year 2000 would be 212. Each month would look exactly like this:

Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat Sun
1 2 3 4 5 6 7
8 9 10 11 12 13 14
15 16 17 18 19 20 21
22 23 24 25 26 27 28

Here are the names of the months Comte proposed:

  • 1. Moses
  • 2. Homer
  • 3. Aristotle
  • 4. Archimedes
  • 5. Caesar
  • 6. St. Paul
  • 7. Charlemagne
  • 8. Dante
  • 9. Gutenburg
  • 10. Shakespeare
  • 11. Descartes
  • 12. Frederick II
  • 13. Bichat
Individual days were dedicated to significant persons in fields related to the month, e.g...
  • Moses 14 -- Buddha
  • Aristotle 21 -- Socrates
  • Gutenburg 7 -- Columbus
  • Shakespeare 28 -- Mozart
  • Descartes 28 -- Hume
  • Bichat 7 -- Galileo
It never caught on.
I like that "It never caught on."

Nothing progressive ever seems to catch on--like jazz in this country--it was the most progressive music in the world at the TIME of its demise (and, yes, I know jazz isn't dead--but perhaps "my jazz and jazz concepts" are dead); yet the traditional musics (the world's folk musics) eventually beat it dead--the same as Euro-Western Classical music is dead, too, though, here again, I know Classical music is still alive and well in some parts of the world.

Our politicians are spieling about change suddenly--I've never heard them ever use the word in the past--I can see no examples of any "change" these clowns have brought about over the years they've been building their careers off We the People's hard-earned money in Congress. What change in Congress has Hillary brought about since she's been a "New York State" senator? What change has Obama brought about? George W. "Georgie Porgie" Bush has brought about more change than all these candidates put together--I mean you wanna talk about a dude who's brought about "change" to this country--then talk about Baby Boy Bush--negative change, yes, but change--drastic change, ruination change--so why not a counter-change--and why not that counter-change back when Bush stole the 2000 election and begin bringing about the change that led to some character out of Bush's family named Osama Bin Ladin who also brought about change to this nation--who also according to Madame Bhutto before she died has been dead for several years now? Change. What a many sided word!

"Ach Du Lieber, Lord Monboddo"
In reading up on the influence of characters on Emily Dickenson's life and language I came across the wonderful Judge Monboddo--he was said to have had quite an influence on Emily and some of her Amherst acquaintances. Weird girl that Emily; that's why I like her so much.

Lord Monboddo was one of the most respected and eminent Judges at Edinburgh's Court of Session during the 18th century, but he was also something of an oddball. He had a passionate attachment to the ways of the Ancient Greeks and a contempt for anything he considered to be modern. As a result he lived very simply. If the Ancient Greeks didn't use it, neither did he. He traveled only on horseback, for example, as coaches and sedan-chairs were new inventions.

He refused to sit on the Bench with his fellow judges but sat underneath with the court clerks. This was due to a decision, which went against him when he was the claimant in a case involving the value of a horse.

In 1773, he published a notorious book Of the Origin and Progress of Language. It included the theories that man was derived from animals, that orang-utangs were related to humans and capable of speech, and that in the Bay of Bengal there was a nation of human creatures with tails. These ideas "afforded endless matter for jest by the wags of the day", but today are seen to be related to the theory of evolution. Slightly more eccentric was his belief that babies are born with tails and that midwives cut them off at birth.

In 1785, when he was 71, Lord Monboddo was visiting the King's Court in London when part of the ceiling of the courtroom started to collapse. There was a great rush from the building, until the danger was past and order restored. Lord Monboddo, who was deaf and shortsighted, was the only person who did not move from his seat. When asked why, he explained that he thought it was "an annual ceremony, with which, as an alien, he had nothing to do".

From a Googled site/ re: "Lord Monboddo"

Cheers to Lord Monboddo. That reminds me of stories told about Ernest Hemingway during World War II. When Hemingway, who was a member of the press corps and not allowed to wear official US Army ensignia, took it upon himself to declare his little entourage, his Jeep driver and some French Resistance dudes, a platoon and himself as Captain or Major Hemingway--wearing an officer's service revolver--and pretty much going on his own into Paris, arriving in Paris before DeGaulle and the official "Liberation of Paris" parade...anyway, it was said, while headquartering in a French woods just after the Normandy Invasion, during mortar or artillary bombardments, some which hit just outside their headquarters chateau, Hemingway would never dive under a table or run for safety but would just sit through them as though nothing were going on. What you don't know (or hear or see) don't hurt you--Lord Growlingwolf said that.
Here's Emily!
And here's one of Emily's poems:

I felt a funeral in my brain,
And mourners, to and fro,
Kept treading, treading, till it seemed
That sense was breaking through.

And when they all were seated,
A service like a drum
Kept beating, beating, till I thought
My mind was going numb.

And then I heard them lift a box,
And creak across my soul
With those same boots of lead, again.
Then space began to toll

As all the heavens were a bell,
And Being but an ear,
And I and silence some strange race,
Wrecked, solitary, here.

for The Daily Growler

1 comment:

Marybeth said...

I never knew Emily wrote anything that beautiful! I never read that one before. I guess I have to revisit her after having dismissed her years ago as dull and unskilled. Shame on me.