7.0034 Rs: Calendars; Jawbones; Memory Hard and Soft (3/88)

Tue, 1 Jun 1993 19:42:00 EDT

Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 7, No. 0034. Tuesday, 1 Jun 1993.

(1) Date: Thu, 27 May 1993 09:41:00 +0000 (29 lines)
From: banks@vax.ox.ac.uk
Subject: Re: 7.0028 Qs: [Calendars]

(2) Date: Thu, 27 May 1993 10:37:03 -0400 (EDT) (29 lines)
Subject: Re: 7.0025 Rs: Jawbones (2/75)

(3) Date: Fri, 28 May 93 14:43:38 EDT (30 lines)
Subject: Memory Hard and Soft

(1) --------------------------------------------------------------------
Date: Thu, 27 May 1993 09:41:00 +0000
From: banks@vax.ox.ac.uk
Subject: Re: 7.0028 Qs: [Calendars]

Marc Eisinger <eisinger@vnet.IBM.COM> writes:

>I'm looking for a description of calendars from Asia (Chinese,
>Japanese, Vietnamese, etc.) : the way they work, how do they
>deal with the .2422 of the 365.2422 days of the year, lunar
>cycles and so on. Not so much with the ritual, sociological,
>magical aspects but the "mechanical" side.
>Any references ? Thanks in advance.

There is a moderately technical discussion of the Hindu calendar (though
not discussing the .2422 of a day) in C. J. Fuller's _The camphor flame:
popular Hinduism and society in India_ (Princeton University Press, 1992),
pp. 263-66. He also includes a number of suggestions for further reading. I
would also suggest posting the request to the INDOLOGY list

However, as an anthropologist I ought to point out that the '"mechanical"
side' can't really be divorced from the 'ritual, sociological, magical

Marcus Banks
University of Oxford

(2) --------------------------------------------------------------42----
Date: Thu, 27 May 1993 10:37:03 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Re: 7.0025 Rs: Jawbones (2/75)

It's certainly not impossible to translate the Hebrew
pun in Judges 15:16. Going back to C.F. Burney's Judges
commentary of 1918, one finds "With the jawbone of an ass
I have thoroughly assed them," with a learned note about the
English verb "to ass," already attested in the 16th century.
Even better is the French rendering of Levesque, cited by
Burney ad loc., "Avec une m<^a>choire de rosse, je les ai
bien ross<'e>s." And perhaps best of all is the solution
often proposed orally by Marvin Pope (Professor Emeritus
of Bible and Northwest Semitic Languages at Yale)--although
I do not know if he ever put it into print: "With the jawbone
of an ass, mass upon mass." As for the suitability of the
weapon, I cite the following from George Foot Moore's Judges
commentary of 1903 without comment: "A party of Meccan
idolaters having come upon the believers at prayer in a retired
place, words led to blows, and Sa'd ibn Abi Waqqas broke the
head of one of the heathen with the jawbone (lahy = Hebrew
lehi) of a camel." (This tradition is reported by both Tabari
and Ibn Hisham.) Both Moore and Burney, incidentally, take
pains to note that the jawbone is described as "fresh" in verse
15; that means, according to Moore, "heavy and tough; an old
weathered bone would be too light and brittle to serve such a

With good wishes, Alan Cooper, Hebrew Union College
(3) --------------------------------------------------------------36----
Date: Fri, 28 May 93 14:43:38 EDT
Subject: Memory Hard and Soft

In response to Professor Rabkin's brilliant essay on memory I want to just
add that although we cannot "interrogate a text" as we do a speaker, we
can interrogate a text, open it up, read it against the grain, make it
resonate with other texts, in short simulate the dialogic situation that
we find with speakers. That has been the burden of seeing "books" as "texts"
in recent critical theory, or reading in books their discursive formations.

The story about the Kandagan in New Guinea is fascinating and a healthy
caution to us about the meaning and function of technology in the world.
I am also interested in another narrative, the one in which the contemporary
westerner tries out a point or strategy of resistence to technologies that
seem harmful or damaging in some way. Rabkin's discussion of the camera is
compelling to me because outright rejection of this particular technology is
only one possible strategy of resistence to its effects. I wanted to point
out others in my last dispatch.

Incidentally, I was exaggerating about my memory of meals although I trust
my point was taken despite the irony of the telling. Also, I admire the
Dunkers for their rejection of book technology, but only because for them
and for their culture the sense of language as discourse, books as texts,
was not available. Were the culture more given to understanding the book
as fluid, permeable, provisional, perhaps the Dunkers would not have felt
such pressure from Franklin to produce their completed revelations in print

Andy Lakritz, Miami University