January is for Janus: Looking Both Forward and Back

This month gets its name, as I hope many of you already know, from the Roman god, Janus, who was generally pictured looking both ways at once—thus the title for this post. In fact, if you use the link associated with his name in the previous sentence, the site pictures a coin featuring the most frequent, two-headed (or is it two-faced?) Janus image. Therefore, as I set out to be more regular in posting to this blog, it seems appropriate to use the notion of Janus in January, since I keep looking both forward and back. I’ve been ransacking my poetry files (old stuff, looking backward into the past) for material to place in this high-tech, (for me) futuristic medium. I’ve also been planning some new developments for future posts. I have also been looking back to quietly edit and refine former posts, removing little errors and infelicities of expression—fixing up the past from the present, yesterday’s tomorrow. And then you get to reflect back in comments. It’s all very Januslike.

Today’s post is even more appropriate to the month, since I am composing it yesterday, looking ahead to today. Yes, I am beginning to take my responsibilities here seriously. This way I can take time to revise and edit tomorrow what I write tonight that you will read a little later tomorrow (or even days later, perhaps weeks or months or years afterward).

Go Hawks?

I suppose I should, since it’s the big Iowa bowl game tonight, make some kind of prognostication about the outcome that I can then revise tomorrow to make sure I am correct. But as those of you who know me realize, I’m just not all that interested in sports, unlike so many Facebook friends who are expressing all kinds of excitement about the game this evening. Although I did actually watch the last five minutes of the North Carolina/Pitt game on December 26, missing the actual field goal that won it for Pitt (it was Pitt that won, wasn’t it?). I mostly found it amusing that they chose to call the thing the Meinecke Car Care Bowl. That has to be a maximum ridiculosity for corporate sponsorship flatulence. However, I won’t really care whether Iowa gets to triumph or not. Right now I do hope that everyone at play practice will want to see the game so badly that we don’t have to rehearse very long. But I can let you know tomorrow how that hope works out tonight.


Janus is the god of doors and beginnings. I am hoping that this blog can be a doorway in many ways. First, it is making me open myself, like a door, an experience with which I am actually quite unfamiliar. It’s a passage from writing in isolation toward appreciating an audience. An opening to paid work? A portal for you into my mind and heart, for me into your reactions, interpretations and criticisms.

And of course, we are at the beginning of all this, at the beginning of the year (beginning of the decade according to the culture-meisters).

I am also looking forward because even when we look at this tomorrow, I am already looking beyond that to my Thursday post, already scheduled to self-publish early tomorrow (and I mean tomorrow as in the day after this post appears, so the day after your today). It ransacks the past again, publishing here an essay/research paper I wrote back in 1991. It is going to seem endless (because it is quite long), but as I will advise you in the opening note (which I have actually already written this afternoon), I really like it, and the first paragraphs are quite worth reading. Besides it got me an A in the class for which I wrote it. But let’s have tomorrow wait on tomorrow (or for me writing this, Thursday on Thursday, the day after tomorrow today).

…and now I recommend…

Have I gotten you completely confused (or bored, I suspect)? That was partially my purpose because the real aim of this post is to make a reading recommendation. A favorite book for me from the late Seventies was Douglas R. Hofstadter’s mind-boggling tome, Gödel, Escher, Bach—that almost psychedelic mixture of math, music, philosophy, psychology and information/computer theory. It takes enormous delight in exploring puzzles and conundra of time, space and mind as my little assay about yesterday, today and tomorrow was meant to suggest. It’s an amazing and genuinely enjoyable book, what nonfiction and scientific writing should truly be. (And quite a few former Andrew speech contestants from the Eighties and Nineties have performed selections from it in readers theatre and choral reading entries. Once we even won the New Speech Event at the University of Iowa Speech Colloquy with a nearly improvised version of Achilles and the Tortoise and their many confusing friends.) If you have never dipped into it, the book is funny and informative, revealing the truths of your mind’s operations and the nature of the world, and well worth the time.

Furthermore, Dr. Hofstadter has a newer book, taking the same themes further, I Am a Strange Loop, written after the sad death of his wife but still as lively and provoking as the now-thirty-years-old original. I haven’t read it yet, having just bought a copy in December. Since it’s January, I think I should begin.

Give Hofstadter a shot, even if it’s just checking him out on the internet, and I will (not) see you tomorrow…

Yes! I knew it. Play practice concluded by a quarter to eight so people could go home and watch the game. By the time you read this, you’ll know, if you care, how it all turned out.

And now we’re supposed to get up to nine inches of snow tonight and tomorrow (that would be Wednesday and Thursday, just to clarify after today’s post). What!? —Happy Epiphany, all.

©2010 John Randolph Burrow, Magickal Monkey Enterprises, Ltd, S.A.

4 thoughts on “January is for Janus: Looking Both Forward and Back

  1. Well, your nephew was (of course) tuned in to the Hawkeyes and was extremely happy with the outcome of the Orange Bowl.
    And, the Meineke Car Care Bowl only scratches the surface of the weird bowl game names. The Advocare V 100 Independence Bowl, Papajohns.com bowl, and the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl were among the selections this year….

  2. Hey, Tim! I KNEW you were on the game, of course. I’m glad to find you stopping by here (and you got me to look at your blog, too! I enjoyed it.) and I hope you return some more.

  3. The snow wasn’t as bad as predicted (but within the range the weather people predicted—about five inches).

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