Monday, March 30, 2009

What on earth?

I used to blog quite often, in my undergrad years - and somehow, in the messy aftermath of a hectic journalistic "career" and now, grad school, well... I forgot that I even had a blog. This is my not-so-humble ('cause let's face it, blogging isn't exactly humble) attempt to try again. Of course, I'm also hoping that my efforts will be a little more mature this time around (although let's not set our hopes too high, dear, dear reader). This time around, instead of whining about my love life (which is now, thankfully, much more stable than it was when I was 18), I'll be writing about my humdrum little existence in Maine, where life is (as they say) as life should be- well, except for when it's -20 outside or when it's not, but I'm stuck inside writing a paper on Duddy Kravitz. I'm planning to post some of my poetry as well, so... uh... I hope you like poetry.

As for my blog's title, it originated pretty organically. I was perusing through The Mad Farmer Poems, a wonderful book of poetry by Wendell Berry, who is a Kentucky writer and a farmer. I came across this stanza, in the afterword:
"Because the silo is round
each note is round,
each note eternity in a nutshell,
and knowing this the mad farmer
knows also that his song can never be lost,
never exhausted, never indefinitely contained,
that the notes will circle and circle
until the storm relents,
until the door left open permits them

I just love that. But I also love the phrase "in a nutshell," which is delightful both in its strangeness and triteness. It's funny how we use these common phrases without pausing to wonder where they originated or what they even mean. So, dear reader, consider this your education for the day:
According to the Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, 1898,
Pliny tells us that Cicero asserts that the whole Iliad was written on a piece of parchment which might be put into a nutshell. Lalanne describes, in his Curiosit├ęs Bibliographiques, an edition of Rochefoucault’s Maxims, published by Didot in 1829, on pages one inch square, each page containing 26 lines, and each line 44 letters. Charles Toppan, of New York, engraved on a plate one-eighth of an inch square 12,000 letters. The Iliad contains 501,930 letters, and would therefore occupy 42 such plates engraved on both sides. Huet has proved by experiment that a parchment 27 by 21 centim├Ętres would contain the entire Iliad, and such a parchment would go into a common-sized nut; but Mr. Toppan’s engraving would get the whole Iliad into half that size. George P. Marsh says, in his Lectures, he has seen the entire Arabic Koran in a parchment roll four inches wide and half an inch in diameter."

Pretty nifty, huh? (And yes, I just used the word "nifty," and I did it without an iota of shame.) And so fitting, seeing as that's really what a blog is all about: capturing the noteworthy moments of our strange little lives in a virtual notebook, and explaining them in brief. A blog is a person's life, in a nutshell.

So here's mine.


  1. I'm looking forward to reading some of your poetry. Here's to a successful blogging career!

  2. Haha... who knew there was so much background to the phrase "in a nutshell"!

    And, for what it's worth, I'm totally not buying that Illiad thing. :)

  3. Evan: Thanks! :) I'm looking forward to getting back into blogging.

    Amanda: I know- I was a little doubtful, too. That's an awful lot of words to fit into one little nutshell. :)