Year 9~XIX Month 2

16 February 2009

60 Weeks past, 200 to go theAbysmal Calendar’s launch: 21~12~2012


Reading List – Month 1 Year 9~XIX

16 February 2009

Catching up on some Canadian content with Timothy Findley, among other things.

Reading List

the Butterfly Plague by Timothy Findley
Truth and Bright Water by Thomas King
the Piano Man’s Daughter by Timothy Findley
the Neon Bible by John Kennedy Toole
Headhunter by Timothy Findley

Canada’s heart of darkness

14 February 2009

Timothey Findley’s Headhunter reflects how far up the river we’ve traveled.

Marlow used literature as psychotherapy. He believed in its
healing powers – not because of its sentiments, but because of
its complexities. No human life need ever be as knotted as Anna
Karenina’s life had been – since the living had the benefit, as she
had not, of her own example. Many a suicide had been thwarted
because of Anna’s death. The trouble was, with books, that no
one read anymore. That way, trains still claimed many victims.”

see also: Medicinal Fiction

from Headhunter

[the character Fagan, an academic from Dublin, describes his journey via the Russian ship Neva, to Montreal to an assembly of guests in Toronto, made up entirely of other characters. Italics are the author’s.]

Fagan went on to describe the journey upstream to Montreal – past a landscape still and grey along the dead shore. He pointed out the fetid colours of the water and the rivers, frothing with chemicals, running down from the mined interior and the boarded-up towns giving way to the cities pouring yellow waste into the wake of the ship and the sick, dying whales that rose from the deep. He said there were many wonders, too – the Saguenay – the Citadel of Quebec – and farms where actual cows could be seen in actual fields… And then to Montreal, where
he debarked and the Neva turned back towards its ocean voyage.

“You make the landscape sound horrific,” said Fabiana.
“I mean to,” said Fagan. Adn then: “it was not for nothing that I came that way.”
“What does that mean?” said Appleby.
“It means that I was not the first to come. It means I followed where others had gone before me.”
“Immigrants?” said Fabiana.
“All of us are immigrants,” said Fagan. “Even the so-called aboriginal peoples of this continent came from somewhere else. I believe it was across an ice bridge, now the Bering Sea.”
“We don’t call them aboriginals,” said Appleby. “We call them Indians.”
“Oh, yes.” Fagan smiled. “I had forgotten where I was.”
“Well, they aren’t Chinese,” said Appleby.
“One name I recall is Cree,” said Fagan. “Another is Ojibway. And what are you, my lord?”
“English,” said Appleby. “What difference does that make?”
“Order of arrival,” said Fagan, still smiling. “Order of arrival, you see, equals order of perception. I only mean to say – this place was once perceived as nothing more or less than a place in which to survive. A place to live.”
“Still is,” said Appleby.
“You think so?”
“What else could it be?”
“A place to buy. A place to alter. A place to destroy.”
“Are you a communist, Fagan?”
“Well, now. I’ve never thought about it.”
“People like you,” said Appleby. “You hate everything, don’t you.”
“Now, Mace – don’t start in on that,” said Rena, waking up from a snooze.
“Couldn’t agree more,” said Marlow, fearing that politics were going to wreck the evening.
“You see,” said Fagan, “my journey up the river made me think about what it was those others who came before us had in mind. they might be greatly surprised by what they found here today. And greatly dismayed, I fear.”
“How do you mean? said Fabiana.
“I mean there is nothing here of what anyone proposed. There is little beauty left – but much ugliness. Little wilderness – but much emptiness. No explorers – but many exploiters. There is no art – no music – no literature – but only entertainment. And there is no philosophy. This that was once a living place for humankind has become a killing ground.”
There was a brief pause.


Every Friday Gets a 13

13 February 2009

theAbysmal Calendar’s numbering Weekdays makes it so.

For those who observe Friday the 13th for good or ill, you will love theAbysmal Calendar. Every Month, Day 13 falls on Friday. Check out Month 1 for this Year’s countdown.

Have no fear, the entirety of theAbysmal Calendar relies heavily on 13 and its numerology.

Medicinal Fiction

7 February 2009

Medicine Between the Lines

“To try to ease him a little, I start talking again. The story is not a happy one, but something in me has to tell it. There is truth in this story that Xavier needs to hear, and maybe it is best that the hears it in sleep so that the medicine in the tale can slip into him unnoticed.”cover-three-day-road

The notion expressed above by one of the narrator’s of Three Day Road, that of medicine in the tale, adds a layer of importance to the role of fiction in our lives. It has greater value than our often fact~heavy social dialogue gives it. And conceiving of it as medicine presents a most significant refutation of its detractors.

The most common argument against fiction denies it as not true to life, not factually accurate, not scientifically meaningful. The most common counter~argument upholds fiction as true of life. The disproportionate value given to facts, statistics and scientific discourse has dulled our imagination, the very stuff with which we create fiction, and absorb it.

Fiction has evolved into such diverse media from the spoken word to the written, to radio, film, televion, comics, blogs, and other works combining media. We immerse ourselves in fictions ranging from escapist pulp to intellectual experimentation, from “Battlefield Earth” to “Finnegan’s Wake.” Each has its audience, each its value.

Arguments against the value of fiction ignore its continuous and continued enjoyment by billions of people.

Reading makes your Brain work

A recent study has determined that the Brain Simulates Actions in Stories as a Person Reads.

“Reading a book triggers an active response in a person’s brain, replicating the activity described in the story, a study by Washington University researchers in St. Louis, Mo., indicates. A brain-imaging study at Washington University tracked brain activity as participants read sections of a story.”

Regardless of whether what we read contains fiction or non~fiction, it stimulates our brain (one physical portion of our emergent mind), reproducing mental activity synonymous with the subject matter.  Reading about an activity may help our performance. That in itself holds value. This may give us a greater means of coping with potential situations we have not yet encountered.

Fiction as Medicine

Back to our Three Day Road exerpt. Fiction works as medicine in two manners, one through its creation, another through its perception. This applies to all creative works of art, whether an illustration, a danse [sic], a song or written fiction. In the creation of fiction, one has to provide a narrative order to the tale, one that strings image and meaning together into a coherent series of story-arcs. The most powerful of these remains the circle, where we end the tale where we’ve begun. Three Day Road follows a non~chronological story structure to accomplis this circle. It has shrugged off the tyranny of chronological storytelling, to weave together traditional elements of First Nations storytelling within the form of written fiction. This, in itself, indicates a means of healing the identity of First Nations’ peoples, who have had their traditions assaulted, and buried under introduced culture. By redefining the written word in their own voice, First Nations’ authors have created a new art, one that combines the ancient with the modern, in a manner that sings with more truth than all compiled histories.

Most particularly, Ceremony by Leslie Marmon Silko, Green Grass Running Water by Thomas King, Kiss of the Fur Queen by Tomson Highway and Three Day Road by Joseph Boyden (the first in a Trilogy) all reflect this combination of the ancient with the modern, and the path to healing. These works and authors have encouraged the creation of this journal, in hopes that it too may find a medicinal path.


Ceremony , a work dense with meaning, demands that we create new Ceremonies, for those unchanged ones we have inherited no longer represent us. We must express the world as we experience and perceive it through our art, in order to find meaning, and to share our insights with those who would listen fully and openly. Although this story calls to the peoples of the First Nations, the American Indians and Indigenous peoples, it would do well to penetrate the stagnant churches of Christianity, who rely on stories written near 2000 years ago, which refuse to change, adapt or evolve, demanding instead that we do. This creation of a new ritual, in itself provides healing, as does the enactment of the ceremony itself.


Green Grass, Running Water, a complex story with Coyote as its muse, weaves a tricky tale of creation stories, modern perception of the First Nations, and surviving in the modern world, despite the harshness and hardships that it imposes with indifferent prejudice. This story deserves attention in all Canadian literature courses, as it expresses a very particular Canadian experience with a lightness of humour that provides an antidote to tragedy. Therein lies its healing powers. Laughter dispels emotional ill~feeling before it becomes illness.


Kiss of the Fur Queen, chronicles as it fictionalises the lives of Tomson Highway and his brother René. The course of writing this appears to have helped Tomson deal with the premature death of René from HIV/AIDS. The antidote to the residential school experience, life in modern Winnipeg, and the subsequent struggles to define themselves in the little explored wilderness between North American tradition, music and the dance, and those introduced by Europe, particularly through classical piano and ballet, seeps through the lines of the pages.

As with most art forms, popular fiction, written for the sole purpose of making money (different from literary or medicinal fiction which becomes popular and makes money), waters down the pool of stories from which we may draw significant meaning. If we put down a story, and never think about it again, never evoke its characters, scenarios, or narrative into our imagination, then what good has it done us? Does momentary distraction truly serve us at all? From what does it distract us?


Midway Day I

4 February 2009

how these four days show synchronicity in theAbysmal Calendar
The four Midway Days (so named because they fall exactly midway through each Quarter of the Year) demonstrate the level at which the various cycles of theAbysmal Calendar synchronize with one another.

52-week-year52~Week Year

tzolkin13~XX Calendar

Taking a look at the 52 Weeks of the Year (364 Days ~ pictured above), divided into 4 Quarters of 13 Weeks or 91 Days each, along with the 13~XX Calendar (pictured above) we get the following structure:

The 4 Midway Days each fall on a Tuesday, the middle Day of the Week. As these are also the middle Days of the Quarters, it seems appropriate.

The 4 Midway Days coincide with the Gregorian Dates Feb 5th, May 7th, Aug 6th and Nov 5th (except during Leap Years, but whacha gonna do?).  We’ll refer to these as Midway Days I, II, III, and IV. Midway Day III falls in the first Week of the Month in which it occurs. Midway Day IV falls in the second Week, Midway Day I falls in the third Week, and Midway Day II falls on the fourth Week.

The 4 Midway Days all share the same number on the 13~XX calendar. The first Year of theAbysmal Calendar (Year 0 13~XIX), the Days bear the number 8.

The 4 Midway Days also bear different glyphs. Midway Day I cycles through glyphs I, VI, XI, XVI, Midway Day II cycles through II, VII, XII, XVII, Midway Day III through III, VIII, XIII, XVIII adn Midway Day IV cycles through IV, IX, XIV, XIX. The New Year’s Day (equivalent to Dec 21st) cycles through V, X, XV, XX.

The 4 Midway Days follow the equivalent cycle to the Neopagan Wheel of the Year ~ although traditionally, the dates are acknowledge at the beginning of the Gregorian Month ~ that is Feb 1st, May 1st, Aug 1st and Nov 1st.  theAbysmal Midway Days fall precisely in the middle of each Quarter.


Another synchronicity involves the 13 Months of the 52~Week Year. If the 13 signs of the Real Solar Zodiac are imposed over the 13 Months of the Year (where Aries = Month 0), then the 4 Midway Days fall in the months attributed to Taurus, Leo, Ophiuchus (for now the symbol of which is the Eagle) and Aquarius.

This may not seem like much, until we note the 4 faces of the Cherubim as described in the Book of Ezekiel as well as in Revelation: they have the faces of a Bull (Taurus), a Lion (Leo), an Eagle (Ophiuchus) and a Man (Aquarius).

At what point does this coincidence stop being mere???


Midway Day I (Feb 5th) falls 45 Days after the observed Solstice and 45 Days before the observed Equinox in Month 1. The Gregorian Calendar’s Quarters aren’t of even lengths, so their middle days do not fall midway. Nor do they fall on the same Weekday as one another. Nor do they have a 13~XX component.

Midway Day I (in the Northern Hemisphere) coincides roughly with Imbolc, St Brigid’s DayGroundhog’s Day, Fersommling, and Candlemas.

The ritual of Groundhog’s Day makes a certain degree of sense, when regarding it within the context of the 52~Week Year. The Groundog emerges, and either sees its shadow, indicating a clear sky, and dives back underground for the remaining 6 Weeks of Winter. Should the sky be overcast, and the Groundhog’s shadow cannot be seen, it indicates milder weather, and an earlier Spring.


So, for those who wish to continue making these annual observances, yet wish also to use theAbysmal Calendar, only a slight change in dates is necessary. And as always, the naming of Months and Holidays remains at the discretion of the community of Calendar users.