Aegypt and Zee Chermans

So, in his book The Occult Mind: Magick in Theory and Practice, Christopher Lehrich talks about the idea of Ægypt, which is the imaginary country that Renaissance occultists like to talk about, as opposed to the actual country of Egypt. This is important, because across their writings Ægypt has some consistent characteristics — it’s not just sticking any old bullshit on Egypt, but a relatively fully-imagined mythical place.

This is Egypt:



And this is Aegypt:




I propose that we need more of these dualistic terms. For instance, the mythical Emerald Isle that many Irish-Americans imagine could be renamed Oirland, or Jaysustopia, or Erin Go Fuck Yourself. Horrible caricatures appearing in Hollywood films could be called Injuns to distinguish them from Native Americans (unless that would give Hollywood license to do more of ’em, in which case never mind). And the actual German army of the 1930s and 40s could have its hyper-effective, tournament-winning hardware fetishist equivalent in the group I like to call Zee Chermans.

People who get all misty about MG42s and eidelweiss blossoms aren’t endorsing Nazi atrocities (they are usually not, in my experience). They’ve just fallen for the romance of Zee Chermans as opposed to the Germans. If you are conflicted about the fate of some hapless 19-year-old conscript in a war film where he gets mown down by the goodies as a disposable mook, don’t worry; those are Zee Chermans, not the Germans.

(Although I may have just created two different sets of Zee Chermans, the fun Rommel ones and the bad Himmler ones. Hmm. Might have to rethink this one.)

Can you think of any other useful second names?

Aegypt and Zee Chermans

Awesome Names: Cowboy Edition

I apologise, readers, but due to the pressures of work and other commitments, Movie Monday has been postponed to Tuesday this week (I was just so attached to the title that I ignored the fact that Monday is my busiest day. I should have called it Film Friday or something). However, as a consolation, here is a short post about names, a subject that you know I enjoy.

I have been reading Life and Adventures of Nat Love, Better Known in the Cattle Country as “Deadwood Dick,” by Himself; a True History of Slavery Days, Life on the Great Cattle Ranges and on the Plains of the “Wild and Woolly” West, Based on Facts, and Personal Experiences of the Author. One of the things I have learned from this narrative, written by one of the most famous of the African-American cowboys, is that cowboys are almost up there with Vikings and old-timey gangsters in their naming conventions — the randomness thereof, anyway, if not the colour.

Consider this incident from the life of Nat Love:

After the horse got tired and I dismounted the boss said he would give me a job and pay me $30.00 per month and more later on. He asked what my name was and I answered Nat Love, he said to the boys we will call him Red River Dick. I went by this name for a long time.

OK, so:

  1. “Red river dick” sounds absolutely awful. I do not want to think about “red river dick.”
  2. It’s not like his name was Szmyrzlyn Nrasznafrsjowicz or something: it’s “Nat Love.” “Red River Dick” is longer.
  3. This type of thing happens all the time. If you subscribed to the ODNB Life of the Day like I told you to, you’ll see there are all these entries that are like “Tom Smith, known as Raymond Smith, was blah blah blah…”. Why?

Or check this out:

Christmas, Dec. 25, 1872, is a day in my memory which time cannot blot out. I and a number of friends were in a place called Holbrook, Ariz. A dispute started over a saddle horse with the following result. Arizona Bob drew his forty-five Colt revolver, but before he had time to fire he was instantly killed by A. Jack. Then a general fight ensued in which five horses and three men were killed.

It was a sad thing for me to see my friends dead in a corral on a Christmas morning, but I helped bury the dead and took care of the wounded. The names were A. Jack, Wild Horse Pete and Arizona Bill.

I can only assume that “A.” stands for “Arizona,” since we already have a gunfight that involves both Arizona Bob and Arizona Bill.

Also, “deadwood dick” doesn’t sound too good either. I’m just saying.

Awesome Names: Cowboy Edition

The Inconspicuous Fate of Mr Glibberie and the Conspicuous Fate of Dean Mahomed

You may recall Mr Glibberie, vicar of Halstead, castigated by some 16th-century Puritans as “a verie ridiculous preacher.” I mentioned him in an earlier Invective Through the Ages post. At the time, I wondered if there were any other information out there on poor Mr Glibberie. I’m sure — I hope — that buried in some archive somewhere there is more mention of poor old Glibberie, but I’m sorry to say that on Google there is only his identification as “verie ridiculous”. He’s even in Elton’s The Tudor Constitution, the poor pitiful bastard. There’s your afterlife, Glibberie. 430 years later, that’s your two words: “verie ridiculous.” Still, that’s two words more than most of us. They could have been “notorious murderer,” I guess, but even then murderers have some dignity. 

Are you familiar with the case of Dean Mahomed? He opened the first curry house in England, the Hindoostanee Coffee House, which is definitely a thing. We all have a lot to thank him for. I mean, I’m sure that if it hadn’t been him, it would have been somebody else, but it’s pleasant to think of this Bengali immigrant running a curry house in London in 1810. Here he is around then, looking the picture of Georgian prosperity. 



The restaurant folded, sadly, but the seed, I like to think, was sown. There’s a plaque on the site now. 

Dean Mahomed is famous not only for introducing both curry and shampooing (although he used the term to mean head massage) to Britain but also for being the first Indian author to write a book in English. Anybody will tell you that. What they won’t tell you is that it’s incredibly dull

Think about it! Here’s this guy, Sake Dean Mahomed, and from his youth in Bengal he joins the army as a servant and then goes to all sorts of places — to Ireland, to Britain — at a time when that was pretty rare. He pioneers one of Britain’s best-loved culinary delights, he’s clearly a hell of a guy, and what kind of book does he write? 

In a few months after our arrival, the Nabob Aspa-doulah, in consequence of a difference with the Fouzdars Maboub and Cossi-bussant, arising from their non-compliance to pay the usual annual tribute, due for some time, collected his troops together, in order to march against them, having first dispatched an express to General Stibber, who commanded our army, acquainting him of his intended expedition, and requesting his immediate assistance. 

Now, I like a long sentence as much as the next guy, but really. And there’s exciting stuff happening — travels to new places, plots, poisonings, storms, wars, I don’t know — but the whole thing is just a bit … it’s 19th-century and not in that fun overstuffed way. 

Whatever. These two thoughts have nothing to do with each other, but the two books are close to one another on my shelf. Dean Mahomed was a cool dude and it is good that we are now more aware of his contribution to our culture. Mr Glibberie was probably a shithead, but you never know. Puritans didn’t like all sorts of people. 

I will try to have something a little more contentful tomorrow, or at the very least on Thursday. 

The Inconspicuous Fate of Mr Glibberie and the Conspicuous Fate of Dean Mahomed

Last name post for a while, I promise

OK, so here is a list of English officers who served under mercenary commander John Hawkwood in England in the 14th century. It is in no way exhaustive, but it’s a good illustration of the point I’m making. This list comes from Frances Stonor Saunders’s book Hawkwood: Diabolical Englishman. I’ve put the names in order. 

John Clifford, John Fowey, John Biston, John Dent, John Maybury, John Colman, John Bracefield, John Rodon, John Sibbald, John Guernock, John Butler, Robert Silver, Robin Barber, Robin Boyce, Nicholas Tanfield, Nicholas Payton, William Tilley, William Best, William Codrington, Philip Power, Peter Stonor, David Rose, Roger Marshal, Richard Goss, Sabraam. 

That’s 11 Johns out of 26, not counting John Hawkwood himself. And Sabraam is a bit of an interesting oddity!


Last name post for a while, I promise

Names again

It is late and I am tired, so forgive me for this short update. Today I want to draw your attention to someone to whom my attention was drawn by friend-of-the-blog Alex. He was just an ordinary sort of guy, but he had an amazing name. I give you: 



Lieutenant-General Sir Manley Power. 

Yeah, you read that right. Manley Power. Look at the smug face on that guy. That is the face of a man who knows that his name is Manley Power. He also had a great-grandson, Admiral Sir Manley Laurence Power. 

I have nothing to say about either of them, historically speaking. They were both distinguished officers, fought in the conflicts of their days (Napoleonic and WWII, respectively), got some medals and whatnot. 

Mainly I just … I mean … 

come on! General Sir Manley Power.

Names again

Awesome names: second in a series

Today has been another long day, so with the promise of a proper update tomorrow I will spend today talking about names again. These ones, as I promised, are from vikings, specifically people who appear in Icelandic sagas. I’ve tried to leave out very famous people like Olaf the Peacock or Aud the Deep-Minded (although notice that I just included them!) and focus on slightly less well-known characters. Notice also that a lot of these people have the same first name, which gives you some idea of the usefulness of by-names. To begin, then: 

Thorbjorg Ship-Breast, Thorbjorg the Little Prophetess, Thorbjorg the Pride of the Farm, Thorkel the Thin, Thorkel Scratcher, Thorkel Pup, Thorolf Red-nose, Thorolf Stuck-up, Thorgrim Skin-hood, Thorstein Cod-biter, Thorarin the Evil, Thora of the Embroidered Hand, Thorgeir Lamb, Thorgeir Earth-long, Thorhalla Chatterbox, Thorodd Helmet, Thorolf Blister-pate, Sigrid the Ambitious, Thorfin the Skull-splitter, Thordis Stick, Thord Hobbler, Thord Horse-head, Thord the Cat, Thord the Coward, Sigtrygg Travel-quick, Sigtrygg Silk-beard, Skeggi the Dueller, Solvi Chopper, Goat-Bjorn, Ref the Sly, Ozur Snout, Orm Broken-shell, Ljot the Pale, Ketil the Lucky Fisher, Ketil the Slayer, Ketil Thistle, Ketil Steam, Olaf the Quiet, Beard-Avaldi, Strut-Harald, Helgi the Spy, Helgi the Lean, Helga the Fair, An Bow-bender, An Red-cloak, Hallvard Travel-hard, Hallfred the Troublesome Poet, Halfdan the Mild and Meal-stingy, Halfdan White-leg, Hallbjorn Half-troll, Hallbjorn Slickstone-eye, Gunnlaug Serpent-tongue, Sheath-Grani, Grim Hairy-cheeks, Geirmund Thunder, Eyvind the Plagiarist, Eysteinn Fart, Einar Fly, Audun the Uninspired, Breeches-Aud, Atli the Squinter, Abjorn the Fleshy, Asgeir Scatter-brain, An Twig-belly. 

So, yeah. Audun the Uninspired! That’s cold. 

Hey, you want to hear an Icelandic saga joke? 

Q: How many Icelanders does it take to screw in a lightbulb? 

A: There was a man named Ketil. Ketil’s father was called Bjorn, and his father … 

Also, last day for the banner contest is tomorrow! I said prizes! Priiiiiizes!

Awesome names: second in a series

Awesome names: first in a series

OK, so, like anyone else, I love a good gangster nickname. And there is no better source of gangster nicknames than The Gangs of New York by Herbert Asbury. I mean, it’s probably lies from start to finish, but it’s fantastic lies. And it has some of the best names in any work of scurrilous non-history ever published. Today we will be reviewing some names from it. These are some of my favourites, in no particular order: 

Sweeney the Boy, Terrible John, Silver Dollar Smith, Slobbery Jim, Razor Riley, Rags Riley, Mush Riley, Crazy Butch, Dan the Dude, Gold Mine Jimmy Carrigio, Big Nose Bunker, Yakey Yake Brady, Battle Annie, Gyp the Blood, Greedy Jake, Bill the Butcher, Worcester Sam, Louie the Lump, Patsy the Barber, Owney the Killer, Old Mother Hubbard, Happy Jack Mulraney, One-Armed Charley, Eat-’em-Up Jack McManus, Cow-legged Sam, Peg Leg Lonergan, Ike the Blood, the Lobster Kid, Cyclone Louie, London Izzy Lazarus, Hungry Joe, Goo Goo Knox, Kid Glove Rosey, Ida the Goose, Rough House Hogan, Hell-cat Maggie, Itsky Joe, Dopey Benny, Red Rocks Farrell, Dandy Jimmy Dolan, Ding Dong, Ralph the Barber, One Lung Curran. 

And here are some gangs: The Yakey Yakes, the Swamp Angels, the Squab Wheelmen, the Slaughterhousers, the Shirt Tails, the Rough Riders, the Pearl Buttons, the Parlour Mob, the Neighbours’ Sons, the Marginals. 

Aren’t those great? If you run games or write fiction, I think Herbert Asbury has a lot to tell you about scary badass names. 

Tomorrow we will talk about Viking names and how they are cooler than every bullshit fake barbarian name in literature. 

Awesome names: first in a series