Here's an enjoyable, brief article from the Merriam-Webster website, about Peter Mark Roget and the creation of his famous Thesaurus.
More than just a collection of related words—Peter Mark Roget intended his Thesaurus to be a classification of all knowledge
by Joshua Kendall
Though nearly everyone is familiar with the Roget’s Thesaurus, few people know anything about Peter Mark Roget, the eminent 19th century physician, physiology expert, mathematician, inventor, writer, editor and chess whiz—and what motivated him to write his immortal book.
Roget was obsessed with symmetry. The 1852 Thesaurus divvied 1,000 concepts into six Linnaean classifications.
We tend to think of a thesaurus as a collection of synonyms and antonyms. But Roget’s is essentially a reverse dictionary. With a dictionary, the user looks up a word to find its meaning. With Roget’s, the user start with an idea and then keeps flipping through the book until he finds the word that best expresses it. The organization of the book reflects the unique intelligence of the polymath that created it.
Obsessed with words ever since he began studying Latin as a schoolboy, Roget completed a first draft of the Thesaurus (the Latin word for “treasure” or “treasury”) in 1805, when he was just 26. Then working as a physician in Manchester, Roget managed to crank out this string of word lists in less than a year.
However, it was not until his retirement from science in 1848, at the age of 69, that Roget took on the challenge of finishing the Thesaurus. The still spry Roget worked nonstop for nearly four years to prepare the book for publication. He would continue to tinker with his masterpiece until his death at the age of ninety in 1869, having watched over the publication of some 28 editions.
Roget’s Thesaurus of English Words and Phrases Classified and Arranged so to Assist in Literary Composition clearly bore the stamp of its creator. Roget’s was a two-for-one: it put both a book of synonyms and a topic dictionary (a compendium of thematically arranged concepts) under one cover.
Borrowing the principles of zoological classification, Roget arranged all knowledge—not just words. Just as his hero, the 18th century naturalist Carl Linnaeus divided animals into six classes, Roget divvied up his 1000 concepts as follows:
I Abstract Relations
The first edition actually contains 1002 concepts, but Roget was a stickler for symmetry. Upon discovering that he had a couple too many, he numbered “Absence of Intellect” 450a and “Indiscrimination” 465a.
The 1000 headings of the 1852 edition were arranged not alphabetically but according to where a given idea fit within Roget’s classification system. In that edition, the first entry is “Existence” (which falls under the first class, Abstract Relations). The purpose is to help readers find le mot juste for a given idea—say “being” or “reality” for existence.
Shortly before publication, Roget decided to insert an alphabetical index as an appendix, thus enabling readers to use the Thesaurus as a convention book of synonyms—without necessarily having to delve into its complex philosophical underpinnings.
Since first rolling off the presses of London’s Longman, Brown, Green and Longmans in June 1852, Roget’s Thesaurus of English Words And Phrases has emerged as one of the most recognizable books in the English language. Roget’s has sold more than 40 million copies, and has become a proprietary eponym like Coke, Kleenex, or Google.
Joshua Kendall is the author of The Man Who Made Lists: Love Death Madness and the Creation of Roget’s Thesaurus (Putnam, 2008). His latest book is First Dads: Parenting and Politics from George Washington to Barack Obama (2016).
Man, I had been on such a roll for awhile, as far as blogging goes. I was writing about Shakespeare, Sherlock Holmes, the Bible, my thoughts on the UMC General Conference, the beginning of Lent. And now, here I am...it's almost Palm Sunday, and I haven't blogged for weeks!
The problem is, I have so many interests (Shakespeare, the Bible, Sherlock Holmes, literature, music, language, and much more), I find it difficult to stick with any one of those things for more than a week or so. I've done this for a long time: I get really interested in one thing for a short time: I'll research that one thing, I'll dig through my library, looking for everything I have that deals with that one thing. And I'll often blog, so I can share my thoughts about that one thing with the World Wide Web. And then the next thing comes along...
This is why I haven't taken up blogging as any kind of money making endeavor. At this point in my life, at least, I lack the discipline to be consistent in my attention to any one subject. And yet, I always seem to come back to it after awhile! Here I am, typing my thoughts while I enjoy a cup (or two) of coffee at Star Bagel in Nashville. I wish I could harness my interests enough to make blogging a sustained hobby, rather than a sporadic whim. (Is "sporadic whim" redundant? I think it may be.)
This next week and some change is going to be super busy, so I probably won't hit the "blogosphere" much in the near future, but maybe a little later I can figure out a schedule of some kind, that would enable me to sustain a few of my blogs on different subjects. We shall see.
On this day, the Special Session of the UMC General Conference is meeting to determine the way forward on their policies concerning human sexuality: specifically, whether or not to ordain openly gay clergy, and whether or not to recognize same-sex marriage. The Collect below is from today’s Morning Prayer on the website methodistprayer.org.
COLLECT OF THE DAY
who alone can bring order
to the unruly wills and passions of sinful humanity:
give your people grace
so to love what you command
and to desire what you promise,
that, among the many changes of this world,
our hearts may surely there be fixed
where true joys are to be found;
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and forever.
And here’s one from the 1928 Book of Common Prayer, today’s Morning Prayer service:
A Prayer for All Conditions of Men: (Sun, Wed, Fri)
O GOD, the Creator and Preserver of all mankind, we humbly beseech thee for all sorts and conditions of men; that thou wouldest be pleased to make thy ways known unto them, thy saving health unto all nations. More especially we pray for thy holy Church universal; that it may be so guided and governed by thy good Spirit, that all who profess and call themselves Christians may be led into the way of truth, and hold the faith in unity of spirit, in the bond of peace, and in righteousness of life. Finally, we commend to thy fatherly goodness all those who are any ways afflicted, or distressed, in mind, body, or estate; [* especially those for whom our prayers are desired;] that it may please thee to comfort and relieve them, according to their several necessities; giving them patience under their sufferings, and a happy issue out of all their afflictions. And this we beg for Jesus Christ’s sake. Amen.
Several years ago, I stumbled on a sketch comedy show from byuTV (the broadcasting arm of Brigham Young University) called Studio C. Over the past couple years, the show has become a favorite in our family. This video is just a small example of the hilarity Studio C has provided us...
Just a few months ago, the ten original cast members of Studio C (Matt Meese, Jason Gray, Mallory Everton, Whitney Call, Stephen Meek, Natalie Madsen, Stacey Harkey, James Perry, Adam Berg, and Jeremy Warner) announced that they were leaving byuTV to start their own online comedy channel: JK! Studios. They recently released the first of their new shows, called Loving Lyfe. Here's the first episode...
If you like comedy that's fun for the whole family, you really should check these guys out!
Several years ago, I stumbled across this article from Aish.com, a Jewish website. I thought it was a pretty good summary of the differences between Jewish and Christian perspectives on Jesus. Here it is...
One of the most common questions we receive at Aish.com is: “Why don’t Jews believe in Jesus?” Let’s understand why ― not in order to to disparage other religions, but rather to clarify the Jewish position.
Jews do not accept Jesus as the messiah because:
Over the past several years, I've tried different things to keep my blogging simple, while still leaving myself enough flexibility to pursue the interests about which I feel led to write. To that end, for quite some time I tried to consolidate all my blogging down to a single blog, here at CoryHowell.net. I figured I could blog about all of the different things in which I was interested right, call it "Corybanter," just as I used to call my first blog on Posterous. (I still miss how easy things were in the Posterous days.) Recently I've changed my mind...again.
I recently got interested in Sherlock Holmes again, so I revived my Sherlock Holmes blog: Baker Street Babble. That one lives here at Weebly, where CoryHowell.net also resides.
I also write about Shakespeare from time to time, over on a Tumblr blog entitled Willy Wigglestick. I've been pretty active on that one lately as well.
Speaking of Shakespeare, I also have what I call a "mini-blog" on Medium.com, that I call Bites of Bard. I'm not sure it's a great title, but it's where I share some of my favorite Shakespeare quotes. It's a nice, simple site that lends itself to a quick sharing of a quote.
I recently discovered that my old Corybanter blog on Tumblr was also a good place for sharing a quick quote or link. It's a little easier than putting together a complete post with a lot of text, which I still tend to do right here on Weebly. So even though I had shut that blog down awhile back, I've been reviving it a bit, using it for quick stuff.
Then there's Dallas: The Poetry of Alice K. Howell. This is where I've been transcribing poems that my Grandma Howell wrote back in the 1930s. I have a little black notebook (that's actually my dad's) full of my grandmother's poetry, much of which was published in newspapers in the Oakland, CA area.
I have another one on Medium.com, that I write on from time to time: it's called Bible and Prayer Book. I haven't posted anything there in awhile, but in the past I've used it to jot down thoughts from Bible study based on The Book of Common Prayer. Oh, and speaking of the Bible, I also have a blog here at Weebly called The Bible Bookshelf Blog. I write there from time to time about different versions of the Bible, mostly in English. (I mean, I write the posts in English, but some of the Bibles I cover are not in English.)
That's pretty much it...for now. I have a couple of other blogs that I've started and not kept up. I won't bother linking to them at the moment. I may end up consolidating again sometime in the future, or I may start new blogs somewhere else. Who knows? I just keep writing whatever comes to mind. Thanks for reading.
A couple years before their famous "unmasking," KISS released one of the least successful records of their entire career: Music from "The Elder," a concept album for a movie project that never materialized. Funny thing, though, I really like the record. It's a bit like progressive rock, and completely like the rest of KISS's work. Anyway, below is the video of the only American single from the album: "A World Without Heroes." You can click on the YouTube link to the album to hear the rest of the record.
Last night, we ended up watching the 1990 film Flatliners, starring Julia Roberts, Kiefer Sutherland, Billy Baldwin, Oliver Platt, and of course, Kevin Bacon. I couldn't help looking up the famous "Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon" phenomenon, and landed on the website The Oracle of Bacon. Not only are you able to look up any actor who appears on IMDB, and find their "Bacon number," but you can also find other actors who are major centers of the Hollywood universe. In fact, there are hundreds of actors who have worked with far more people than Bacon has. Anyway, check it out at the Oracle of Bacon.
"You can't believe everything you read on the Internet, people...seriously."
(adj.) wild and frenzied; from Greek κορυβαντες (Korybantes)