Saturday, March 23, 2024

Hay fever

My March 22 post "Eye drops on 113/3/20" documented syncs largely centered around Bruce Charlton's "Why should I care if a mouse has hay fever?" post, which was about a brand of eye drops with a name that implied it was intended for mice. Eye drops and mice entered into the sync stream, but hay fever as such did not -- until now.

Last night I taught a high-school level EFL class, and a vocabulary exercise in the students' textbook included the sentence "Hay fever is an allergy to pollen":

Then this morning I read William Wright's latest, "Thomas B. Marsh, Peter, Alma (the Elder), and Uriel the Archangel," in which it is proposed that the four characters in the title are incarnations of the same being. Thomas B. Marsh has been connected with the word bucket -- see "Thomas B. Bucket, the bucket of story -- oh, you know, the thing!" -- and in "Je suis Charlie Bucket," I went on to connect the bucket theme with Aaron Smith-Teller's Kabbalistic analysis of "There's a Hole in My Bucket" in Scott Alexander's novel Unsong. Since the Archangel Uriel is one of the main characters in Unsong, William's post sent me back to reread that chapter again.

Hay, it turns out, plays a key role in Smith-Teller's exegesis:

And Liza replies: "With straw, dear Henry."

Straw is a kind of hay. Hay is the Monogrammaton, the shortest Name of God. The universe can only be made whole through divine intervention.

But the straw is too long; even the shortest Name of God is too big to fit. Any dose of God would burn the universe to ashes; that’s how this whole problem started. With what shall I cut it, dear Liza, dear Liza? How can God be channeled and applied to the universe safely?

Hay -- or rather its homophone, the Hebrew letter He -- is the shortest Name of God, but even that "would burn the universe to ashes." Fever derives from an Indo-European root meaning "to burn." The problem Smith-Teller is describing is Hay fever.

Scrolling down to the comments on the Unsong chpater, I found that a reader with hayseed (or possibly strawseed) pretensions had, predictably, taken exception to the city-slicker ignorance of Smith-Teller's claim that "straw is a kind of hay":

Aaron may be the divil an’ all for brains when it comes to kabbalah, but he knows nothing about fodder.

Straw and hay are different (as in the old joke about the army sergeant trying to teach country recruits to march. Since they weren’t able to tell their right foot from their left, teaching them “Left, right, left, right, left!” wasn’t working. So he got them to tie a wisp of hay to one foot, and a sop of straw to the other, and then he was able to get them all to march by saying “Hay foot, straw foot, hay foot, straw foot!”)

Straw is the dry stalks of cereal plants left after the grain has been thrashed out. You can feed it to animals, but it serves the same purpose as fibre in a human diet: as roughage, not as something to live on.

Hay is dried grasses (or legumes, like alfalfa). It is fodder (that is, food) for animals. Though nowadays, farmers have gone to silage rather than hay as stored animal feed.

So Aaron’s exegesis drops stone dead at that point where he goes “Straw is a kind of hay”. In the same fashion as a hat is a kind of a bucket, dear Aaron (ten-gallon hats, anyone?)

The line I have bolded -- saying that straw is no more hay than a hat is a bucket -- jumped out at me because some of William Wright's Thomas B. Bucket material has in fact equated hats with buckets. His post "There's a hole in my bucket-face! AND Harry Marsh and the Sorcerer's Stone" -- taking my own post about the Unsong chapter as a starting point -- devotes a few paragraphs to the idea of a "bucket hat."

This afternoon, I taught a different English class, for junior-high level students, and their vocabulary for the day included this:

It's the word straw, and the very first example sentence is about a hat. The second sentence, "I need a straw for drinking," also ties in with the bucket song since, ultimately, the reason Henry needs a straw is so that he can mend his bucket and fetch some water.

The idea of Hay as a divine name made me think of how Yah -- Hay backwards -- is also a divine name. In the bucket song, Harry wants to cut the straw -- and wouldn't you know it, the most famous divine name of all is hew hay (i.e. cut straw) spelled backwards.

Straw backwards is warts, which made me think of an old Pogo strip by Walt Kelly. It's a crying shame that no one has yet devised a Pogo counterpart to the Calvin & Hobbes Search Engine, but I was eventually able to track down the strip in question, from July 12, 1958:

"Warts spelled backwards is 'Straw', that bone building beloved cereal favored by young and old." Cereal has been a recurring sync theme, and it is also a word emphasized by the straw-isn't-hay commenter, who insists that "straw is the dry stalks of cereal plants."

My "Eye drops on 113/3/20" post referenced a comment by Debbie which referenced the number 113 in connection with the "fake colonel" concept. I introduced the latter theme in "Merry, Pippin, Mary Poppins, secret names, golden straw, square heads, and fake colonels," a post which, as the title suggests, also makes prominent reference to straw. The golden straw syncs were old ones, from November 2015. Debbie's dream about the number 113 is also an old one, from December 2015.


Wm Jas Tychonievich said...

Pogo is set in a swamp, and the main character is a possum. That’s a “marsh” connection, plus Leo has proposed that the strange mouse in William Wright’s dream may have been a possum.

Mouse backwards is also a divine name. As noted by Crowley in his Kabbalistic reading of “Hickory Dickory Dock,” mus (mouse) is sum (I am) in reverse.

William Wright (WW) said...

Hay fever may have entered into your 'sync stream' earlier than you think.

"Ya Hey", the song by Vampire Weekend, was on your mind awhile back in the fall of 2023. You had written about how you couldn't stop listening to it. A type of "hey" fever?

Ra1119bee said...


You wrote: Straw is the dry stalks of cereal plants left after the grain has been thrashed out.

And speaking of colonel..... or is it kernel?

Kernel and Colonel are Homophone words,
they're somewhat the same, but different.
Kinda like a 'carbon copy',
same but different, much like 'twins'.

kernel (n.)
"edible substance in a nut or the stone of a fruit," Old English cyrnel
"seed, kernel, pip," from Proto-Germanic *kurnilo- (source also of Middle High German
kornel "a grain," Middle Dutch cornel "coarse meal"), from the root of corn
"seed, grain" (from PIE root *gre-no- "grain") + -el, diminutive suffix.
Figurative sense of "core or central part of anything" is from 1550s.
Here's a copy and paste:
" straw protects the seed from being picked up by birds. It is light in weight and can increase the rate at which the seeds germinate. It also helps in preventing erosion by keeping the soil compact.

Straw and Hay can be used to Protect Seeds.

Very symbolic indeed, no?

And speaking of Hey/Hay check out this beautiful song:

Lennon and Maisy - Ho Hey (The Lumineers) (Live at the Grand Ole Opry)

Wm Jas Tychonievich said...

When I posted this, I had a vague feeling that the “bone” reference in the Pogo strip was significant. Just now I read this in Strange But True by Colin Wilson:

“[French psychometrist Alexis] Didier was given a small leather case belonging to a certain Colonel Llewellyn. Didier placed the case against his stomach, and was then able to tell the owner that it contained a piece of bone — the colonel’s own bone.”

Wm Jas Tychonievich said...

William, I thought of "Ya Hey," too. In fact, it's what made me realize that both Yah and Hay are divine names.

Wm Jas Tychonievich said...

On the "colonel" theme, there's this old article from our friend Bruce:

Behold, the Lord esteemeth all flesh as one

I was listening to an audio recording of the Book of Mormon, and when it got to the part where Nephi says they "did live upon raw meat ...