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Did You Know?

“Charlemagne” is actually an affectionate nickname meaning “Charles the Mangy”, refering to an unfortunate dermal condition from which he suffered. Alcuin was wont to call him “Raw Chuck”, which wry English humor occasioned much raw Frankish mirth.

Many primitive societies do this with their kings’ names; it’s some Golden Bough type shit or whatever, I guess. The power of the king, assumed to be God-given, is balanced by some ritual of mocking him or eating him or something.

Take for another instance “Alexander the Great”. This is a prudish conventional mistranslation from the Greek “Megalexandros”, more properly “Pissy Alexander”. His incontinence, it seems, was as legendary as his valor. The “meg” element in the name is the same “piss” as in “pismire” and “micturition”, as I’ve gone into before.

But are we really better than the Franks or the Macedonians? I have heard this same primitive practice in use even here, even in America. Anyone from out of country reading this should know that, here in America, our president is traditionally an object of unconditional adoration. We laud him on festival days. Some few pray to him, but for the most part we are sensible, practical folk and consider that heretical, since he has not claimed any sort of divinity. As I say, he for his part (and much to his credit, if I may say) has denied all imputations of divinity and roughly refuses the Congress’ occasional desultory attempts to have him deified. I’m going out on a bit of a limb by praising him for denying his divinity, as the prevailing view around here is more that the Congress is revoltingly pusillanimous in not pushing this matter harder, and that Bush is (if such a thing were possible!) verging on False Humility here. But do we blame Jesus for not spilling his guts to Pilate?

Pilate: So are you, like, God, or what?
Jesus: (darkly) Thou hast said it.

Anyways, with the obvious love we bear towards our leader (and are we sometimes blinded by our love? – perhaps – but I for one would rather err with such a man as Bush than be right with most anyone else), it is sometimes surprising to foreigners to hear him referred to as “Fucknut”, “Ol’ Herpes-Blister Bush”, “That Fucking Dipshit” (I’ve only heard that one in Massachusetts), “Cocksuckah” (likewise) &c. &c.

Yes, sometimes we are not so modern as we think we are.

6 Responses to “Did You Know?”

  1. snjoseph Says:

    Russians often note that Western propaganda is superior because it sprinkles superficial critiques and minor scandals on top of its largely establishment-friendly line. It’s enlightening to learn that this is actually an ancient tradition! Still, I think a leadership cult is most funny when it is driven by painful sincerity instead of nudge-wink irony. Take the following 1936 Uzbek poem:

    O great Stalin, O leader of the peoples,
    Thou who broughtest man to birth,
    Thou who fructifiest the earth…
    Thou who makest bloom the spring,
    Thou who makest vibrate the musical cords.
    Thou, splendour of my spring, O Thou,
    Sun reflected by millions of hearts…

    Yowza! (Quoted from a review of Victor Serge at

  2. Desultor Says:

    Gosh! Why do dictators like such hyperbolic praise? I mean, I think it’s reasonable to assume the older Uzbeks might remember the spring blooming before Stalin. I suppose there could be some sadistic pleasure in knowing they’re lying, and that they know you know, but they have to say it anyway? Like, if you’re an old-time villain shooting at someone’s feet to make them dance, you don’t want it to be all “Free To Be You And Me” and shit. It’s fun because they don’t feel like dancing.

  3. Zed Says:

    The name “Alexander the Great” has nothing to do with the Greek “translation” you provided.

    Alexander was a Macedonian, not Greek, as you correctly claim, and the Macedonians had their own Macedonian language.

    Check out the website given above for more details.

  4. desultor Says:

    Hi Zed,

    Sharp eye! Have a careful look and see if you can find any other errors in this farcical farrago.


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