On productivity … mmm

While much is abstruse in these caliginous times, and most blogging seems to be ‘for babes and the shallower type of women’ (as W.B. Selbie described the preaching of his own day), one thing is clear: Ben Myers has not been influenced in the slightest by my wife’s assessment of me. Apparently, I’m ‘relentlessly productive’ at something.

Now there’s a thought.

Speaking of such lists, check out John Crace’s latest piece on 2011’s ‘must reads’.

And speaking of productive, you may like to check out Rowan Williams’ wee chat with Bridget Kendall (of the BBC’s One to One program) about Dostoevsky.


  1. Great cartoon and yes, it sounds like Ben’s hit it on the head! I had to look up ‘caliginous’ but it’ll probably need to come before me another couple of times before it sticks in my vocab.


  2. I also had to look up ‘caliginous’ – in the online dictionary. Caliginous times indeed.

    I asked my husband if he thought I was a ‘babe or shallower type of woman’. And he said, ‘I’ve warned you about reading those women’s magazines’.


  3. My wife told me today she’d be a rich woman if she got paid for every blog post I write. Zing. Maybe someday.

    Caliginous? No wonder I read this blog.


  4. What a delight to find a new (albeit an archaic ) word in ‘caliginous’…thank you Jason. Is it anything to do with what we learned in Latin in the fourth form about that rather murky ancient Roman character Caligula aka ‘Little Boots’?


  5. Janet, I’d love to know the answer to your question. My guess is that ‘caliginous’ (a Latin word birthed somewhere around the 1540s, and referring to mist, darkness, dimness, obscurity, fog and gloom) probably derives from the name of the Emperor Caligula, and refers to the impiety and cruelty that marked the majority of his reign after the first promising eight months from 37 AD. Happy to be corrected if I’m wrong.


  6. my latin dictionary has ‘caliginosus’, full of mist or darkness, dark, gloomy, obscure. No examples are recorded. It comes from ‘caligo, caliginis’, mist, fog, cloud of dust or smoke. The same effect can be induced by being relentlessly productive.

    Caligula is the diminutive of ‘caliga’, army boot. His family were stationed in a military camp on the borders of Germany and they liked a bit of dress-up. No wonder he went a bit funny when he became Emperor.


  7. Rosemary Dobson (b.1920) has been a very productive poet, having thirteen volumes of poetry published. In the introduction to her Selected Poems (1973) Dobson wrote:
    “I hope it will be perceived that the poems presented here are part of a search for something only fugitively glimpsed; a state of grace which one once knew, or imagined, or from which one was turned away….a doomed but urgent wish to express the inexpressible.”

    The Bystander

    I am the one who looks the other way,
    In any painting you may see me stand
    Rapt at the sky, a bird, an angel’s wing,
    While others kneel, present the myrrh, receive
    The benediction from the radiant hand.

    I hold the horses while the knights dismount
    And draw their swords to fight the battle out;
    Or else in dim perspective you may see
    My distant figure on the mountain road
    When in the plains the hosts are put to rout.

    I am the silly soul who looks too late,
    The dullard dreaming, second from the right,
    I hang upon the crowd, but do not mark
    (Cap over eyes) the slaughtered Innocents,
    Or Icarus, his downward-plunging flight.

    Once in a Garden – back view only there –
    How well the painter placed me, stroke on stroke,
    Yet scarcely seen: among the flowers and grass –
    I heard a voice say, “Eat,” and would have turned –
    I often wonder who it was that spoke.


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