It’s the birthday of the Father of Modern Science, Galileo Galilei, (born in Pisa, Italy (1564). It was Copernicus who suggested that it was the sun, and not the Earth, that was at the center of the universe. But Galileo became a famous public defender of that theory, called heliocentrism. The pope and Galileo were on friendly terms, and the pope encouraged Galileo to write a book outlining the controversy. But of course the pope instructed Galileo that he must not promote heliocentrism, and asked that his own beliefs be represented. So Galileo wrote Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems, which purported to be a debate between two philosophers; but one of the two, Simplicio, sounded stupid, and it was this figure that acted as a mouthpiece of the pope. No one knows whether Galileo deliberately attacked the Pope — it’s probable that he just couldn’t write as convincing of an argument from a philosophy that undermined his own scientific beliefs. In any case, the pope was definitely not a fan of the book, and Galileo was put on trial for heresy. He publicly renounced his views, but he still spent the rest of his life under house arrest, and his books were banned.
Wow. Talk about your author’s bias and purpose. Remember the other day when we talked about characters, and how writers purposefully and intentionally name their characters? Simplicio? Simple? As in simple-minded? Consider that when we begin fictional narratives in the next few weeks. The characters in your writing all matter, whether they have a major or minor role. And they are your creation–name them accordingly.
One more note: heliocentrism. Remind you of anything? Helios? Hmmmm?
My son told me an interesting fact this weekend, and I verified it on the ‘net:
4. “Illegal for a man to give his sweetheart a box of candy weighing less than fifty pounds.” I don’t know, this might be a smart law, not a silly law. Yes it would be expensive. Yes it would be heavy. But what woman wouldn’t like to get fifty pounds of chocolate! Talk about being able to pick and choose your favorite pieces!
That begs the question: What wife or girlfriend became so angry at her cheap husband/boyfriend that she decided to get the required signatures and petition for a new law to be put on the books? Okay, aside from finding this fantastic writing prompt, the real reason I’m writing about chocolate this morning is because I owe people. A lot of people.
My friend stepped in for me BIG TIME yesterday. My other co-workers always have my back. My husband went back to the store for ME when he was already home because I was too tired. This morning, a heavy bronze crab sculpture I have in my bathroom fell (yes, I am the owner of a heavy bronze crab sculpture) and my husband asked me if I was okay.
I was kvetching that no matter what I do, I don’t get it all done. I still didn’t finish training myself on a new reading program I must start today. I still didn’t get everything I needed from the store. I still didn’t have time to clean this morning. What I really needed to do was just shut up and consider how lucky I am.
It should be a law that I must reciprocate with no less than 50 lbs. of the best, smoothest, most delicious chocolates for all of these people in my world I cherish, love, and appreciate. The best I can do for now is to say, “I love you, and I am so grateful for you.” And I’ll try to throw in a few Hershey’s kisses, too.
Valentine’s Day is coming up on Sunday, and we’re celebrating all week with love letters from the literary world.
Poet John Keats(books by this author) lived to be just 25 years old, but in that time he wrote some of the most exquisite love letters in the English language. The letters were to Fanny Brawne to whom he became engaged.
He was 23 years old, recently back from a walking tour of Scotland, England, and Ireland (during which time he’d probably caught the tuberculosis that would soon kill him), and had moved back to a grassy area of London, where he met and fell in love with Fanny Brawne. During this time, he composed a number of his great poems, including Ode to a Nightingale. And one Wednesday in the autumn, he wrote this letter, considered by many the most beautiful in the English language:
My dearest Girl,
This moment I have set myself to copy some verses out fair. I cannot proceed with any degree of content. I must write you a line or two and see if that will assist in dismissing you from my Mind for ever so short a time. Upon my soul I can think of nothing else. The time is passed when I had power to advise and warn you against the unpromising morning of my Life. My love has made me selfish. I cannot exist without you. I am forgetful of every thing but seeing you again — my Life seems to stop there — I see no further. You have absorb’d me. I have a sensation at the present moment as though I was dissolving — I should exquisitely miserable without the hope of soon seeing you. I should be afraid to separate myself far from you. My sweet Fanny, will your heart never change? My love, will it? I have no limit now to my love … I have been astonished that Men could die Martyrs for religion — I have shudder’d at it. I shudder no more. I could be martyr’d for my religion — love is my religion — I could die for that. I could die for you. My Creed is Love and you are its only tenet. You have ravish’d me away by a Power I cannot resist; and yet I could resist till I saw you; and even since I have seen you I have endeavored often “to reason against the reasons of my Love.” I can do that no more — the pain would be too great. My love is selfish. I cannot breathe without you.
Yours for ever
The following spring, Keats wrote: “My dear Girl, I love you ever and ever and without reserve. The more I have known you the more I have lov’d. … You are always new. The last of your kisses was ever the sweetest; the last smile the brightest; the last movement the gracefullest. When you pass’d my window home yesterday, I was filled with as much admiration as if I had then seen you for the first time.”
Keats and Brawne became engaged. He wanted to earn some money for them before they got married. But then he began coughing up blood. When he saw it, he said: “I know the color of that blood; it is arterial blood. I cannot be deceived in that color. That drop of blood is my death warrant. I must die.” He wrote to tell her that she was free to break off their engagement since he would likely not survive. But she would not, and he was hugely relieved. But he died before they married.
My fellow bloggers out there in the technosphere have taken up the challenge to write a post-a-day on their blogs for the month of January. (“I can do that!” Mrs. L thought to herself.) So what if there’s laundry to do, meals to prepare, and holiday decorations to take down? I can do this! Or can I?
And like any good resolution, which is also part of the “resolve” word family (resolution, resolve, resolute) I am going to give it my best.
But I needed a theme. I love themes. Those are the universal truths and connections among all cultures, societies, time, and beliefs that allow us not to float away, untethered, distracted, or isolated.
Don-da-da-da! (That’s supposed to be trumpets blaring): The theme for January is the “Myth of the Month Club.” Each day I will feature a myth, legend, folktale, deity (remember? polytheism? deity? gods…goddesses…demi-gods, etc.? Come on…you remember, right?) And what better or more appropriate way to start off January with that two-faced deity himself, doesn’t know if he’s coming or going, looking back to look forward, JANUS!
Janus is one of Saturn’s (the planet) satellites (moons). Remember, Saturn is, in mythology, the old man who grunts and grumbles at Baby New Year. It is no accident that French astronomer Audouin Dollfus who discovered this tiny, two-faced moon in 1966 named it Janus. Janus and Saturn are connected to the same myth: that time turns, we look to our past, and to our futures, all at the same time, in the present moment.