From lunch to a rare book

January 5, 2007 at 3:35 pm 3 comments

Ah, lunch can sometimes be an inspiring affair. Today, as I picked through my Spicy Dumpling Noodles, and scanned through my RSS Feeds, I became aware of how much online activity seems to revolve around the science vs. religion debate. Much of this has been escalated by the publication of The God Delusion by outspoken athiest, Richard Dawkins. Prior to this event, though, plenty of interesting discussion along this line has taken place at Edge, home to voracious thinkers known as The Reality Club. However, the noise reached fever-pitch sometime ago with the appearance of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, and his noodly appendages, created as a parody by Bobby Henderson. Somehow, the combination of my noodle lunch and the Flying Spaghetti Monster inspired a wild web search that resulted in some amusing discoveries and led me back to my antiquarian roots.

The word ‘noodle’, most likely derives from the latin nodus, which means ‘knot’. The foodstuff originated in China some 4000 years ago. And of course, legend has it that it was brought across to Italy from China by none other than Marco Polo. Nonetheless, it appears that Europe had at least managed to invent its own noodle like pasta before any likely interaction with the Far East. Indeed, through trawling the British Library’s Manuscripts department, Constance Hieatt managed to provide a 13th century Anglo-Norman recipe for noodles and for ravioli. These are documented in her article in Speculum v. 61 #4 (1986), Two Anglo-Norman Culinary Collections Edited From British Library Manuscripts. However the noodles displayed at the above link look nothing like the noodles that I would associate with any traditional Italian pasta or Chinese take-away. So who knows?

But noodles have other associations. In particular, one frequently talks about ‘using one’s noodle’ with reference to putting the old grey matter to work. I would presume that the association of the noodle-knot had somehow managed to link to the image of a brain. But in an interesting twist, in the 19th century, the word was used to denote a fool. Perhaps in the sense that the fool manages to get his thought tangled into a knot. And so, in 1888 we have the appearance of The Book of Noodles by W.A. Clouston. I wonder to myself if this could be an apocyphitic text belonging to the Cult of The Flying Spaghetti Monster. Indeed this church has only managed to produce a singular Gospel. After all, the book includes the wondrous story of a man who sets out to find a trinity of fools that surpass the idiocy of his wife and in-laws. And this made me return to the storm of atheists who are engaged in revolutionary activity that brings to mind the names of Martin Luther and John Calvin. The thrust of their attack rooted in deep-seated rationalism that presents scathing arguments that belief in a personal god is nothing more than foolery. Indeed, the Spaghetti Monster itself is a symbol of Foolish Fear. And ironically its followers are noodles.

Incidentally, my discovery of The Book of Noodles, gave me cause to further peruse the site at which it is hosted, The Internet Sacred Text Archive. It is a fascinating resource. By sheer coincidence, I stumbled on another religious work that had caught me eye recently. This being The Worship of The Serpent, by Rev. John Bathurst Deane. I had seen that this work was a recent acquisition at Bernard Shapero Rare Books recently in my feeds. And my old occultic interest in the history of religions was re-awakened. The thrust of this 19th century book is to present serpent-worship as evidence of the validity of the Genesis story of the garden of Eden. As such, it opens with a fervent Preface:

…I have therefore endeavoured to establish the fact, while I appeal to the argument: to prove the universality of Serpent-worship, while I adduce the universal worship of the Serpent as a testimony to the Temptation and Fall of Man…

And so it seems that this fight to establish the historical proof of any belief in the stories as presented in Biblical text, has raged for much longer than the appearance of a bunch of vocal atheists. Though I would find the argument presented by the good Rev. Deane almost laughable, the text itself is a testament to the battle that arrived with people like Mr Darwin himself.

And so ended my noodle lunch.

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Lazy blogging and link-sharing Aaargh! Jahrbuch der Auktionspreise can’t install on PC’s running IE7

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