Vol. 2, Issue 17
September 17, 2007
Enjoy the remaining week of summer -- Autumn officially begins early next Sunday morning!
IN THIS ISSUE:
1) SCHOLA NEWS -- Free monthly online lectures
2) COGITEM -- Marking in Books
3) DE ASTRIS -- Pegasus and the Autumnal Equinox
4) SIC LOCUTUS -- monastery of Muri
Classicalhomeschooling.org is hosting a series of monthly free online lectures. See the scheduled lectures here.
COGITEM -- Marking in Books
Al Mohler had an outstanding post on his blog last week (and thanks to my father for bringing it to my attention). It's called Some Thoughts on the Reading of Books, and it's so good you ought to go read the whole thing yourself (it's not long).
However, his final point among his "initial suggestions" is something I've been rather opinionated about for many years. He says, "Write in your books; mark them up and make them yours. Books are to be read and used, not collected and coddled. [Make an exception here for those rare antiquarian books that are treasured for their antiquity...] Invent your own system or borrow from another, but learn to have a conversation with the book, pen in hand."
And here is what I say on my Church History and Roman History websites:
"Mark your books! As you read each day, make pencil notes or marks in the margins of your book, underline important or particularly interesting bits, bracket significant sections, make brief outlines, jot exclamation marks or question marks, etc. This will not only keep your mind active and engaged with the text, which is critical, but it will also produce in you the valuable psychological affect of owning the text, its ideas, and your own increasing understanding, and it's a delight to exercise physical ownership of the volumes beyond mere monetary purchase. You are gaining intellectual purchase on them, just as a rock climber gains purchase, grip by grip, upon the Eiger's North Face. I'm quite serious about all this. It is not the mark of a lover of books to refuse to alter them physically - it's the mark of a true lover of books to put his mark upon them. A lover of books alters his books by his commitment to them, and that changes him too."
DE ASTRIS -- Pegasus and the Autumnal Equinox
In Volume 1, Issue 6 of Scholegium I described the location of the Vernal Equinox. At that time (mid-December) Pegasus, the winged horse of Greek mythology, was high in the southwestern sky. Go outside around 9 or 10 PM these days and you'll find the Great Square of Pegasus halfway up the eastern sky. The Square is the body of the horse and it now sits on one corner as it climbs the evening sky; if you extend your arm full length and spread out your hand as wide as it will stretch, your hand will roughly span the Square. There is a line of stars extending from the top corner -- these are the front legs of the horse; there is another extending from the left corner and these are his hind legs. And there's one more extending from the right corner which represent his neck and head. So he's climbing the sky upside down.
As I mentioned in that earlier issue, you can draw an imaginary line from the North Star through the leading star of Cassiopeia and on through the left and bottom corners of the Square (actually the line will go just inside the Square, to the right of those two stars). That line is the Zero Hour Circle, the Prime Meridian of the heavens, from which all other points in the heavens are reckoned. And if you continue that line as far below the Square as the Square is wide, you'll be at the Vernal Equinox, the point where the sun is at the moment of spring around March 21.
At 5:51 AM this coming Sunday morning, September 23, the sun will cross precisely the opposite point in the sky from the vernal equinox and Autumn will begin.
Vita omnium spiritualium hominum sine libris nihil est.
"The life of the spiritual man is nothing without books."
--the medieval catalogue of the monastery of St. Martin at Muri