Friday, May 08, 2009

Million and 1th?

Well, I am just spending a lovely, candlelit Friday night with my book and some Old Milwaukee!
[Wow! You really know how to whoop it up there, Cippy!]
I know.
I’m totally out of control!
Don’t you just love it though when you stumble upon a book [not literally] and it just takes you in to its world?
This is what is happening with me and this book by Martin Amis, House of Meetings. I started it today, and I can’t put it down.
I have not been so taken up with a book [honestly] since sitting down with Don DeLillo’s Libra, earlier this year.
So again, the [brilliant] author uses a phrase I have seen a million times before, and have been unable to interpret, for now, the million and 1th time.
On page 12 → “deus ex machina”.
So I looked it up.
Turns out that this phrase means literally "god from the machine." It’s a plot device in which a person or thing appears "out of the blue" to help a character overcome a seemingly insolvable difficulty.
The Latin phrase "deus ex machina" comes to English usage from Horace's Ars Poetica, where he instructs poets that they must never resort to a god from the machine to solve their plots. He is referring to the conventions of Greek tragedy, where a “mechane” (crane) was used to lower actors playing a god or gods onto the stage. The machine referred to in the phrase could be either the crane employed in the task, or a riser that brought a god up from a trap door.
Which begs the question “What the hell did we do before Wikipedia?”

So there you go, my friends!
Now I know.
And so do you.
Don’t even try and tell me you already knew what deus ex machina meant.
Who do you think you are?
Alex Trebek?

*********

3 comments:

rhapsodyinbooks said...

I did know what it meant, but I was an English major! What is more worrisome is that a Starbucks aficionado would take such a tastebud-defiling activity as drinking Old Milwaukee!

By the way, we both just finished (in seriatum) "Jesus, Interrupted" which you had mentioned before. (We posted a joint review on LibraryThing but I'll probably leave it off the blog). It was okay - nothing new. I'm much more looking forward to the new book by Charles Freeman which we have on order.

Shark said...

Thats crazy, I just used that phrase in my blog yesterday. Probably the first time I'd ever used it too...

cipriano said...

What? [Sharkman!]
You cannot be serious. That is way too coincidental.
I'm gonna go look now.....

Rhapsody:
You read the new Ehrman book?