Friday, June 10, 2011

Guides and Searches

Every so often people tell me to "goggle" something or other... which verb apparently has become synonymous with "search" - as in "over/through/by means of the INTERNET". I rarely do; the so-called free tools provided are poor and almost never work - they respond with items that do not match, or repeat multiples of items that are identical. Of course the basis of such searches is inappropriate, not to say blatantly disorganized - one might as well "search" for a phone number in the Bible. Oh my. I find all this quite sad, since "searching" is one of the things I do - or have done. However, they are trying - I don't know what they are trying, but they are trying. I often wonder if they ever studied automata theory! Hee hee. But there is another problem, which we might consider - and find not something annoying, but something reassuring.

The problem, as Chesterton perceived, is not that one cannot search by hand (or eye)... but that one may be searching for something which abounds in the storehouse being explored. It is dangerous to search for a single whisp of hay in a haystack - to say nothing of a barn full of haystacks.

BUT! This is not a bad thing. Sometimes, it is a very good thing. (I might take advantage of this opportunity to do a critique of Gobble, but I have no time, and I would want payment, since that is my profession.)

For example, just consider this from Chesterton: is the test of a good encyclopaedia that it does two rather different things at once. The man consulting it finds the thing he wants; he also finds how many thousand things there are that he does not want.
[GKC "Consulting the Encyclopaedia" in The Common Man]
Now, in my never-ending search for Something Good To Read, I have often fallen back on cookbooks - which can be a lot of fun. Or, to take the advice of the great Christopher Morley:
One who loves the English Language can have a lot of fun with a Latin Dictionary.
[C. Morley. The Haunted Bookshop]
You better believe it. I could produce a daily blogg-entry if I had the time, just taking snips from Lewis and Short about the amazing links from Latin to English. But there's more.

Recently I had recourse to the Fourth Edition of Black's Law Dictionary, a huge tome nearly of the size of the great Liddell and Scott Greek Lexicon. Ah, fascinating. Among other things it has a number of excellent legal maxims, most in Latin, which are well worth our consideration, and perhaps I will tell you some later. One is so good I have surmounted it on the title page of the next installment of my Saga, but I must not spill the beans now! Hee hee.

But there were two words I happened to notice which are worth mentioning. One was "MUGGLE":
MUGGLE; MUGGLE HEADS. Marihuana is popularly known among the criminal element as "muggles" or "mooter," and addicts are commonly known as "muggle heads." State v. Navaro, 83 Utah, 6, 26 P.2d 955
Very interesting. I found another word which linked Rowling to Tolkien, but I have misplaced the reference so will defer it for today.

But there was one which rather leaped out: a word akin to those used in the famous chimney song in "Mary Poppins". Actually there were three words, all related: "Chimin. Chiminage. Chiminus." The last was defined as "the way by which the king and all his subjects and all under his protection have a right to pass..." Of course this has an amazing ramifiction into Chesterton and other such matters. Let me just give you two references as a starting point for meditation:
Then I remembered what it was that made me connect such topsy-turvy trespass with ideas quite opposite to the idea of crime. Christmas Eve, of course, and Santa Claus coming down the chimney.
[GKC Manalive "The Two Curates; or, The Burglary Charge"]
The chimney is indeed a chiminus, the royal road:
The best way that a man could test his readiness to encounter the common variety of mankind would be to climb down a chimney into any house at random, and get on as well as possible with the people inside. And that is essentially what each one of us did on the day that he was born.
[GKC Heretics CW1:142]
Quite simply amazing what these lawyers come up with - Mary Poppins, and the royal road that leads down from heaven into the home of the Common Man. As Bert the chimney sweep says, "It's a doorway to a plyce of enchantment..." Ah.

Another day I will tell you some more interesting things that I found which I did not want... they are as amazing as that incredible sequence of three machine instructions that made no sense to me which I found when I was disassembling something back in college... it was a fantastic discovery, and maybe I will tell you that also. Serendipity is yet another one of the signatures of God.


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