Ye Oldde New Year

30 March 2009

Why New Year’s celebrations on January 1st make no sense.

Back when the Romans first established their calendar (Rome was founded 753 BC), there were 10 lunar months, beginning with Mars (modern March), followed by Aprilis, Maia, Iuno, Quintilis, Sextilis, September, October, November, and December.

The Winter Days were not counted – not particularly surprising for such an agricultural civilization.

New Year was celebrated with the New Moon, equivalent to Aprilis 1st. This would have fallen on March 26th 2009 (the New Moon) if we still observed the calendar in this manner.

So with the Spring New Year, many of the festivals took on Vernal overtones – flowers & fertility, the first stages of planting and the harvest, and of course the underlying overtones of human sexuality – seeds and fertility. This is our most fertile time, and so a New Year rife with carousing makes a great degree of sense. Anyone conceived at this time would be born close to the Winter Solstice, which would allow the mother to work through the Harvest, and have the more immobile days of the pregnancy after the fields had gone dormant for the year.

After the addition of the months of January and February, Aprilis 1st continue to be the new year, until much later, when finally, January took over and has remained as such through the Julian & Gregorian Calendar reforms.

When we celebrate New Year’s on January 1st, it seems to have retained a good deal of its Vernal characteristics, without any reflection in the climate around us. It explains why New Year’s seems so much at odds with the Winter festivals that precede it. December holidays must be a particularly odd series of juxtaposition, so close to the Summer solstice in the Southern Hemisphere.

Another important aspect to public vernal celebration lies in our biological clocks – close to the Equinox, particularly around twilight, our body calibrates itself to the season, which compelled us, at least in part, to gather outdoors en masse at this time of year.

The Assyrian New Year falls on April 1st, at least reminding us that oldde habits die hard. Happy New Year

Year 9~XIX Quarter 1

23 March 2009

The beginning of a new Quarter of 13 Weeks (91 Days) from Equinox to Solstice.


So we begin Weeks 13 through 25 to bring us to the Summer Solstice (in the Northern Hemisphere). The Quarter runs from March 23rd to June 20th, with the midway day falling on May 7th.

Quarter 0’s last day falls on the Friday (that’s theAbysmal Weekday, not the Gregorian) of the first Week of Month 3.

Quarter 1’s first day falls on the Saturday of the second Week of Month 3.

The Sun has only just entered the Astrological Aries, and is travelling through the Astronomical Pisces.

just so we know where we’re at thus far.

Happy New Year on the Equinox

19 March 2009

New Years for Iran, Central Asia, Zoroastrians & Baha’i.

Lest we forget that among the great empires throughout history, Persia has certainly made its influence felt. The New Year coincident with the observed Equinox (Vernal in the North) is observed in Iran, through Central Asia & the Middle East, and by Zoroastrians & Baha’i.

The Baha’i Calendar consists of 19 periods of 19 days plus 4 epigonal days (19×19 = 361 + 4 Days). The New Year is on March 21st.

The Persian Calendar is an observational calendar (as opposed to a rules-based calendar like the Gregorian), and it observes 12 months of varying numbers of days meant to track the variation in velocity of the Earth’s orbit around the Sun. This begins Year 1388.

The Persian months have 31, 31, 31, 31, 31, 31, 30, 30, 30, 30, 30, 29/30 Days, which at least makes more sense than the Gregorians fluctuating days/month, particularly considering that it’s a rules-based calendar.

Here’s an informative blog entry on the history of Narouz

Coming Through Slaughter by Michael Ondaatje

18 March 2009

The unrecorded stories of King/Charles/Buddy Bolden.

Intro to Buddy Bolden – Wynton Marsalis (Septet) – Live at the Village Vanguard

“This story begins with a man who’s name was Buddy Bolden. Now, he was from New Orleans, Louisiana. He plays the cornet. But since we’re telling the story, we’ll just say that he’s a trumpet player.

“People like Buddy Bolden mainly because Buddy Bolden knew how to listen. He would listen to anybody. You probably figured out already, Buddy Bolden was a barber. Because you know, barbering is mainly dispensing logic with attitude. So he would stand up all day in his barbershop underneath the slow moving wooden fan, with razor in hand, listening to the hottest gossip known to man and woman. Now as you probably figured out from that, he was also the editor of a newspaper. Now the newspaper that he edited was called The Cricket. But the Tripp sisters had loaned him the money to get the printing press, so he couldn’t put that hottest gossip in the paper, or they would take the press away. So the hottest gossip, he let that come steaming out of his horn on the weekends, and on late nights of the weekdays.

“The people loved to hear Buddy Bolden play. Because his music was synchopated, they danced. Because his music was the blues they danced with feeling. And because it was also jazz music, they danced with feeling and accuracy.

“Buddy Bolden could play so loud, that when he opened up his horn in New Olreans, Louisiana, people way across the river in Algiers could hear it, and it made them feel good because they knew it was time to swing. And that’s where everyone likes to be.”

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Buddy Bolden, also called King Bolden by some, is a touchstone of North American storytelling. As a barber, newspaper editor and cornet player, Bolden listened to many, and repeated their tales in his own inimitable style. Although he is cited as an influential force in the development of Jazz in New Orleans, he was never recorded, and as such, there are many stories about him: the true, the apocryphal and the fantastic. As a result of this enigmatic characteristic, Buddy Bolden well symbolises storytelling in North America at the turn of the 20th Century – through journalism (and its fictions), through his cornet (and the jazz sound particular to him) and through his mythologisation through all the stories told about him.

Coming Through Slaughter is a fine example of the interweaving of all these forms, and reads like a riffing jazz piece.


From Coming Through Slaughter by Michael Ondaatje

p 14
He was the best and the loudest and most loved jazzman of his time, but never professional in the brain. Unconcerned with the crack of the lip he threw out and held immense notes, could reach a force on the first note that attacked the ear. He was obsessed with the magic of air, those smells that turned neuter as they revolved in his lungs then spat out in the chosen key. The way the sides of his mouth would drag a net of air in and dress it in notes an make it last and last, yearning to leave it up there in the sky like air transformed into cloud. He could see the air, could tell where it was freshest in a room by the colour.

Bolden played nearly everything in B-Flat.

[Webb, now a police detective, searches for the missing Bolden, whom he had known since childhood.]

Alcohol burning down his throat as she tells him that Buddy went, disappeared, got lost, I don’t know Webb but he’s gone.
How long?
5 or 6 months.
Nora opening out the curtains so the light falls over him, the cup with the drink in front of his face, between them, shielding him from the story, gulping more down.

What was Bolden’s favourite story? Whose moment of terror did he want to witness, Webb thought…

Looked at objectively The Cricket contained excessive reference to death. The possibilities were terrifying to Bolden and he hunted out examples obsessively as if building a wall. … And then there was the first death, almost on top of him, saved by its fictional quality and nothing else.

But there was a discipline, it was just that we didn’t understand. We thought he was formless, but I think now he was tormented by order, what was outside it. He tore about the plot – see his music was immediately on top of his own life. Echoing. As if, when he was playing he was lost and hunting for the right accidental notes.

Always listening, listening to the wet fluid speech with no order, unfinished stories, badly told jokes that he sober as a spider perfected in silence.

On his last night Webb went to hear Bolden play. Far back, by the door, he stood alone and listened for an hour. He watched him drive into the stories found in the barber shop, his whole plot of song covered with scandal and incident and change. The music was coarse and rough, immediate, dated in half an hour, was about bodies in the river, knives, lovepains, cockiness. Up there on stage he was showing all the possibilities in the middle of the story.

Webb had spoken to Bellocq and discovered nothing. Had spoken to Nora, Crawley, to Cornish, had met the children – Bernadine, Charlie. Their stories were like spokes on a rimless wheel ending in air. Buddy had lived a different life with every one of them.

Dude Botley followed him and tells this story which some believe and which others don’t believe at all.

Then I hear Bolden’s cornet, very quiet, and I move across the street, closer. There he is, relaxed back in a chair blowing that silver softly, just above a whisper adn I see he’s got the hat over the bell of the horn… Thought I knew his blues before, and the hymns at funerals, but what he is playing now is real strange and I listen careful for he’s playing something that sounds like both. … This is the first time I ever heard hymns and blues cooked up together. … It sounded like a battle between the Good Lord and the Devil. Something told me to listen and see who wins.


Year 9~XIX Month 3

16 March 2009

64 Weeks past, 196 to go theAbysmal Calendar’s launch: 21~12~2012


Reading List – Month 2 Year 9~XIX

16 March 2009

Some heavies and a light read.

Reading List:

Molloy by Samuel Beckett
Ceremony by Leslie Marmon Silko
Spadework by Timothy Findley

Ceremony by Leslie Marmon Silko

6 March 2009

The importance of re-inventing ceremony, ritual and stories, from a work of great fiction.

See also: A story within a story, and Medicinal fiction


Ceremony, originally published in 1977, still holds truth within its words, and I strongly urge everyone to read it.

From the text:

I will tell you something about stories,
[he said]
They aren’t just entertainment.
Don’t be fooled.
They are all we have, you see,
all we have to fight off
illness and death.

You don’t have anything
if you don’t have the stories.

Their evil is mighty
but it can’t stand up to our stories.
So they try to destroy the stories
let the stories be confused or forgotten.
They would like that
They would be happy
Because we would be defenseless then.

p12 [Tayo on the Bataan Death march]
He made a story for all of them, a story to give them strength. The words of the story peered oout of his mouth as if they had substance, pebbles and stone extending to hold the corporal up, to keep his knees from buckling, to keep his hands from letting go of the blanket.

“But you know, grandson, this world is fragile.”
The word he used to express “fragile” was filled with the intracacies of a continuing process, and with a strength inherent in spider webs woven across paths through sand hills where early in the morning the sun becomes entangled in each filiment of web. It took a long time to explain the fragility and intricacy because no word exists alone, adn the reason for choosing each word had to be explained with a stroy about why it must be said this certain way. That was the responsibility that went with being human, old Ku’oosh said, the story behind each word must be told so there could be no mistake in the meaning o fwhat had been said; and this demanded great patience and love.

p89 [Grandma outgossips the gossips]
The story was all that coutned. If she had a better one about them, then it didn’t matter what they said.

[Tayo] knew what white people thought about the stories. In school the science teacher had explained what superstition was, and then held the science textbook up for the class to see the true source of explanations. He had studied those books, and he had no reasons to believe the stories anymore. The science books explained the causes and effects.

p126 [Betonie the medicine man]
At one time, the ceremonies as they had been performed were enough for the way the world was then. But after the white people came, elements in this world began to shift; and it became necessary to create new ceremonies. I have made changes in the rituals. The people mistrust this greatly, but only this growth keeps ceremonies strong.
She taught me this above all else: things which don’t shift and grow are dead things. They are things the witchery people want. Withcery works to scare people, to make them fear growth. But it has always been necessary, adn more than ever now, it is. otherwise we won’t make it. We won’t survive. That’s what the witchery is counting on: that we will cling to the ceremonies the way they were, and then their power will triumph, and the people will be no more.