Thursday, April 5, 2012

A to Z Blogging Challenge - E is for Eco

I came to Umberto Eco through Name of the Rose which given my love of mysteries makes sense. Plus his books have ox stunning powers so it shouldn't be a surprise that E is Eco.

My favorite book though is probably Foucault's Pendulum particularly when Lia finally tells Casaubon off to bring him down from his conspiracy theories. And really if you've ever read Middlemarch you probably already firmly believe anyone named Casaubon should be told off. Here's a quote from it, she's rather frank so please forgive some of the language.

"We move on to the magic numbers your authors are so fond of. You are one and not two, your cock and my cunt is one, and we have one nose and one heart; so you see how many important things come in ones. But we have two eyes, two ears, two nostrils, my breasts, your balls, legs, arms, buttocks. Three is the most magical of all, because our body doesn't know that number; we don't have three of anything, and it should be a very mysterious number that we attribute to God, wherever we live. But if you think about it, I have one cunt and you have one cock, shut up and don't joke, and if we put these two together, a new thing is made, and we become three. So you don't have to be a university professor or use a computer to discover that all cultures on earth have ternary structures, trinities.

"But two arms and two legs make four, and four is a beautiful number when you consider that animals have four legs and little children go on all fours, as the Sphinx knew. We hardly have to discuss five, the fingers of the hand and then with both hands you get that other sacred number, ten. There have to be ten commandments because, if there were twelve, when the priest counts one, two, three, holding up his fingers, and comes to the last two, he'd have to borrow a hand from the sacristan.

"Now if you take the body and count all the things that grow from the trunk, arms, legs, head, and cock, you get six; but for women its seven. For this reason, it seems to me that among your authors six is never taken seriously, except as the double of three, because it's familiar to the males, who don't have any seven. So when the males rule, they prefer to see seven as the mysterious number, forgetting about women's tits, but what the hell."

After reading the book a friend and I spent a whole semester looking for conspiracy theories on campus. We had our own "The Plan" for the hierarchy of academic offices in Ballantine Hall at Indiana University that I won't go into here but suffice to say that it was no mistake that the French and Italian offices were on the 6th floor.

This post is part of the A to Z Blogging Challenge, it might be too late for you to sign up but you can still tell me how you would handle the letters Q, X and Z.


  1. You know, I found Umberto Eco to be ponderous. I read almost 100 pages into "the Rose" and after iceskating across quips in Latin and French, I found myself bewildered and frustrated. No, most of us are not conversant in 5 languages like he is.

    on the other hand, your delight in him is cheering.

    and how did I handle Q, X and Z? I used google to help me find animals whose names started with those letters, sometimes it was the Latin name...

    Mimi Torchia Boothby Watercolors

  2. The Name of the Rose has been floating around my consciousness for years. It's probably time for me to finally read it. New follower, waving to you from the 600's on the A To Z. Good luck with Q, X, and Z.

  3. I have never read Eco, but I enjoyed The Name of the Rose film. That passage you included was awesome!! :)

    DL Hammons @ Cruising Altitude 2.0
    Co-Host of the Blogging from A to Z Challenge.

  4. Some interesting theories in there. Not sure on the math for where they got 6 as a base number though. (2 arms, 2 legs, one head, and one nose? But then what about ears?)

  5. Never heard of any of the titles you mentioned. Will have to check them out. :-)

  6. I have never heard of any of these either but they sound interesting. More books to add to my "To read" list :) Thanks for stopping by today

  7. I've never read any of those.
    This is my third year doing the Challenge and I have completely mastered Q!!
    Hope you're making a lot of new friends.