Friday, December 16, 2016

Soul Translation

Like many communities ours has a local journal that started out covering the "Arts" scene but now provides a more varied bill of fare.  They are good folks and have done nice write ups on my school robotics projects over the years.

Of course over time they have become a little less "Alternative" and a bit more....corporate? So it is nice to see the occasional item appearing in their pages that hearkens back to their granola-crystals-new age origins.

The casual viewer of this ad is probably expecting that it involves some kind of "psychic reading" and pep talk, perhaps involving tarot cards.  And they would be correct. 

But if you enjoy the meaning of words, and have the bad habit of thinking about things differently, so many other possibilities reveal themselves.  Without I should mention, the need for tarot cards.

This advertisement really should be for SOUL INTERPRETATION, as TRANSLATION is an entirely different thing.  Meanings get scrambled over time, and if a word is misused for long enough it wanders away from its origins.

Translation starts with the Latin "trans" meaning across or beyond.  "Translationem" was to carry across, to remove, or to transport.  In the mid 14th century this had via Old French become "translacion" which specifically referenced the then popular practice of moving the bones and other relics of Saints from one place to another.  Oh, the main soul of the Saint stayed put, up in Heaven, but some aspect of it moved right along with the shin bones and locks of hair.  That was after all the main point of trucking the remains off to your cathedral.  The word also became associated with the copying of manuscripts. One assumes that the link there was that in both cases monks were involved.

So if you want to be a real stickler on the point, what is being promoted above is a service by which Souls can be moved about.  I think overall this would be a bad idea.  I mean, Gandhi was a swell guy and to have him still around would in these unsettled times be good for Humanity. But would you want to vacate your own premises to make room for him?  

If we leave off the highly problematic notion of moving souls from one person to another there would still seem to be a niche market.  Could you for instance move the soul of a beloved pet to a new location?  I think many people basically do this.  If for instance you have over the years had eight or nine dachshunds and have trained them all the same way, you would in large measure be getting the same pet again and again.  

Most of us hope that when our days are complete that our soul, or some continuation of our selves, will live on.  There are assorted theories on this process.  Reincarnation, Heaven, Purgatory, The Singularity.

But where would we end up?

I will leave to the more theologically versed the entrance criteria for the Destinations traditionally featuring cumulus clouds and harps, or alternatively brimstone and a thermostat with a single rather uncomfortable setting.  I am not particularly interested by the prospect of waking up in some elaborate computer simulation or sitting about for millennia in the equivalent of a Department of Karmic Vehicles waiting room.

So what's left?

The concept of a human soul side stepping into a slightly less prestigious neighborhood was most memorably explored by Don Marquis and his inimitable alter ego Archy the Cockroach. Seeing life literally from the underside of things Archy was at once a noble and comic figure enduring the indignity of having the soul of a verse libre poet occupying a small scuttling corporeal state.  

You could do worse, but my guess is that those who read the tarot cards for a living are mindful of getting a good tip and would probably tell you that in the next life you get to be a Princess or a Ninja.

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