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jjohn (22)

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Perl hack/Linux buff/OSS junkie.

Journal of jjohn (22)

Saturday August 16, 2003
09:22 PM

Say what?

[ #14161 ]

I just finished reading PKD's The Man in the High Castle. I can think of no higher praise for the book than to say that during these past few years of flag-waving, ham-fisted patrioteering, nothing has evoked my love for the U.S more than Dick's story of a world without it. Showing daily life in an occupied America is far more compelling and heart-wrenching than a thousand statues of Patton, Churchill or Roosevelt. Those that insist on equating Saddham Hussein's Ba'ath party to the Nazis greatly diminish the full scope Hilter's terror and ambition.

With that bit of ham-fisted flag waving accomplished, I direct your attention to a phrase used in the novel that refers to St. Paul's Corinthians I (the Criminal Projective):

46:013:009 For we know in part, and we prophesy in part.

46:013:010 But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.

46:013:011 When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.

46:013:012 For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.

--Pulled from Project Gutenburg.

In context, this phrase appears to be describing the mortal condition of imperfect knowledge. St. Paul appears to be saying: given that we're limited, finite beings, our perception is similiarly limited. However that shouldn't stop us for using what we can see, as incomplete as our knowledge may be.

Of course, that's just how this twentith century mind reads it.

The Phrase Finder appears to disagree with me:

"When I was a that I am a man I have put away childish things and look back at the past as though through a glass darkly..." An obvious allusion to adults being metaphorically blinded to the truth or the inocence [sic] of things.

Confused and befuddled, I turn to the erudite readers of my humble blog for their Solomon-like wisdom. What does "through a glass, darkly" mean to you?

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  • ... are acting as a filter.

    It just means that we don't take things for their face value anymore (innocently, naive) because we connect our experienced situations (the dark glasses) with the thing.

    Sorry that I am so unclear... but philosophy isn't one of my strong sides.

  • Ahh, ancient languages and exegeses. You make me reminisce my undergraduate days, Uncy John!

    The Greek phrase is transliterated, more or less, dia esoptrou en ainigmati, roughly, "through a mirror in riddles". You'll do well to look in a good lexicon for deeper word meanings. (I'm not sure why the KJV would use the word "glass".)

    One interesting tidbit is that "mirrors", in the first century, weren't silver-backed glass. They were polished metal, often steel or bronze, which distorted the reflections

    • You'll do well to look in a good lexicon for deeper word meanings. (I'm not sure why the KJV would use the word "glass".)

      Whoa there, Camper! I'm barely monolingual! I leave the classical languages to, well, classists []. I did find some essays that point out the mirror/glass confusion, though.

      However, your point about getting as close to the original source is cogent. That isn't always possible for me. For instance, I'm happy to run Perl code through the debugger and dive through as many modules as ne

      • However, your point about getting as close to the original source is cogent.

        Any serious historian or academic will do his own translation. You can immediately discount anyone who lacks a passing familiarity with the source language as a crackpot. At the risk of getting on a soapbox, I'll repeat the words of one of my professors. "The primary meaning of a text was directed at its primary audience. Understand that audience."

        • You presume the author had an audience :) Much like art, words can mean a lot of things to a lot of different people even those whom are supposed to be the 'target'. Satire is a good example of this. :)

          You might find Eco's, Experiences in Translation [] interesting if you haven't read it already.

          • I'm pretty confident making that presumption.

            You can't go very far in historical research if you throw out the primary audience. (Of course, you'll have a tough time making sense of Machiavelli if you don't allow for artistry, poetry, and, possibly, satire when identifying that audience.)

            • Making assumptions about a text that was written hundreds years after the fact by a number of different people...well, that's got to be some confidence you got there. :) William Friedman was confident that Bacon was the true author of Shakespeare and had encoded something into the text and he a reasonable amount of data to support this. Who do you think the Voynich was written for? :) Truth in a historical context is a malleable thing...just like people.

              I'm more of a Mark Twain and Mencken kind of person

              • Who do you think the Voynich was written for?

                ME! ME! ME!

                The Voynich manuscript is a wonderful cypher/dadaist object. No matter how long one stares it, the only meaning it has is what the reader imbues into it.

                And I like the pictures.

                • Me, too. Although someday I do hope someone deciphers it and finds out it's an elaborate personal journal some woman wrote down in cipher to keep it from her husband. :)

              • that's got to be some confidence you got there

                It's the kind of confidence that comes from reading primary sources. One of those primary sources includes Clement of Rome, who cites the letter to the Corinthians. The funny thing is that Clement also lived in the first century. (See Eusebius and Origen for more information on Clement.)

                Maybe I'm just not postmodernist enough.

                • I spent enough time among the Shakespeareans who pore over imagery in every line who likely see a lot more in the text than Shakespeare ever meant and among the Baconists who think Shakespeare was not the author of the plays. Others think he was even a plagarist. Shakespeare has only been dead a few hundred years, too. There are a lot of different camps around poor old Bill. It's the same thing with the bible and it has had about 1,000 more years to accrete such disparate scholarship and verity even with th

    • I don't see the problem ... "glass" has commonly been used for "mirror" (remember Alice?). The KJV was trying to use a certain type of language, not trying to be accurate. And while ainigmati literally means riddle, it was used to mean "indistinct" by Plutarch, and, apparently, by Paul here.

      Anyway, I've always understood it as jjohn does. We don't and can't know everything. I think the interpretation of the Phrase Finder there is nonsense. I've never heard it before, and it doesn't even make sense to
  • ALL MUST DIE! :) You've entered the world of cranky old cynics.'re a gangsta rappah with a wicked bad cah with mirrored windahs and you look through them, dahkly.

    When it comes between choosing an annoyingly hyperbolic meaning or a more pedestrian one, I usually choose the latter as hyperbole doesn't get you very far...which might also explain why I never managed to get past page 10 in the bible :)

    • I think I got past page 10. The begats were where I stopped, because it appeared for all intents and purposes to be a record from a husbandry experiment, and I found that rather depressing.

      I'm still planning to go back someday and attempt to finish, but every time I've tried since, I remember the begats and I don't try.


      You are what you think.
  • (preface: I'm not religious... in fact, I've never read the bible. I'm just reading the "code" snippet you submitted).

    First phrase: We don't see everything now... just parts.
    Second phrase: When (I assume Jesus) comes, we'll know it all.
    Third: You learn more with age.
    Fourth: We are just children, and we'll know more later.

  • I bet the Oxford English Dictionary will tell you what was meant by "glass". Too bad it's not available for free on the Internet...but your local libary should have a copy. While I know these are not what was meant, "glass" made me think of a glasses, or a telescope perhaps. I had a nice image of someone looking deep into the universe, but seeing only a very small portion of the whole. Also, I seem to remember that during the 18th century in England, people used to take colored glass with them to the countr