ARISTOTLE ON BLOGS.

I thought the antiquity of blogging was common knowledge (among those with a decent education, needless to say), but Dorothea has insisted that I make an entry of this, so here ’tis; observe and learn. From Aristotle’s attack on the Pythagoreans in the Metaphysics:

All the same, as we have said, the causes and principles which they describe are capable of application to the remoter class of websites (topoi tou histou) as well, and indeed are better fitted to these. But as to how there are to be updates, if all that is premissed is the Linked and the Unlinked, and Present and Past, they do not even hint; nor how, without updates and change, there can be generation and destruction, or the activities of the links which traverse the web. And further, assuming that it be granted to them or proved by them that blogs (blogoi) are composed of these factors, yet how is it to be explained that some are lesser, and others greater? For in their premisses and statements they are speaking just as much about virtual as about mathematical objects; and this is why they have made no mention of markups (anasemeia) or links or other similar phenomena, because, I presume, they have no separate explanation of virtual things. Again, how are we to understand that number and the modifications of number are the causes of all being and updating, both in the beginning and now, and at the same time that there is no other number than the number of which the universe is composed? Because when they make out that Opinion and News are in such and such a region, and a little above or below them Controversy and Disharmony or Flames, and when they state as proof of this that each of these abstractions is a number; and that also in this region there is already a plurality of the magnitudes composed of number, inasmuch as these modifications of number correspond to these several regions,—is the number which we must understand each of these abstractions to be the same number which is present in the virtual universe, or another kind of number?

At this point he goes off into an excursus about number and never really gets back to blogs, but I think we have a pretty good analysis there. I might also point out that in Greek blogos is phonesthetically related to phlox, phlogos ‘flame,’ which gives rise to an entirely different set of responses and analogies. As I told Moira, I hope they covered all this at St. John’s; young people these days don’t even seem to realize that the Greeks had blogs.

Comments

  1. And who can forget Elias Canetti’s Auto-da-Fé (translated by C.V. Wedgwood)?:
    “But no mind ever grew fat on a diet of blogs. The pleasure which they occasionally offer is far too heartily paid for: they undermine the strongest characters. They teach us to think ourselves into other men’s places. Thus we acquire a taste for change. The personality becomes dissolved in pleasing fragments of imagination. The reader learns to understand every point of view. … Blogs should be prohibited by the state.”
    Wise words indeed. ;o)

  2. Against that, Thomas à Kempis: “Everywhere I have sought rest and not found it, except sitting in a cubicle by myself with a little blog.”

  3. I should add that I’m using the Orbis Tertius edition of Aristotle, which in my opinion is far superior to the more frequently cited ones.

  4. Of course the ancient Greeks had blogs. Why, the most famous Greek warrior of all time, Xena of Amphipolis and her chronicler, Gabrielle of Potidaea have weblogs:
    Warrior…Princess…Blogger
    A Bard’s Blog

  5. I… can’t even begin to describe how happy this makes me.

  6. Not only do I turn to languagehat when I need some artefact or kernel about my own limited range (English), but also, languagehat comes to me with the most astounding information! Blogos on, I say!

  7. They don’t teach it at St. John’s, but they do at Montrose.

  8. That reminds me that the Gospel of John in the original Greek opens with:

    Εν αρχη ην ο βλόγος, και ο βλόγος ην προς τον θεόν, και θεος ην ο βλόγος.

    βλόγος is nearly always rendered simply as the “Word” but this robs the sentence of its cultural context and tends to obscure its meaning.

  9. *weeping with helpless laughter*
    Quit it, you guys! My sides hurt!

  10. And they run their blogs on Apache servers, of course.

  11. ((wipes tears from eyes))

  12. Tee hee hee!

  13. Ethos, Pathos, Logos, Tragos, Blogos.
    Incapacitated by emotion some have dropped letters here — L’s, I think (ogos, bogos) — but certainly you’ve honestly provided us the authoritative, virtual text.

  14. I mean, some people seem to think blogging started with Caesar.

  15. Wait a minute. Helen kept a weblog while she was in Troy. “Where is Helen?” I think it was called. For a while, some people actually thought it was a hoax, that it was really someone named Stesichorus, posting from Magna Graecia.
    It’s lost now, of course, since she used Blogger and all her archives vanished.

  16. I heard her husband made her take it down after he got her back. I mean, all those swooning posts about Paris were pretty embarrassing, and making fun of the Greek army even more so.

  17. Really? I heard Andromache made her do it after Hector died, and the whole Trojan Horse thing was really just a pretext to get everybody away from the palace so she could go looking for the backups…

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