The writing on the wall

The notes of time,
presented as a script to presence

Are you here, awake, reading the runes on the wall, cast before you?

The writing on the wall

When you look at the walls,
what language,
what telling,
what stories
are told to you?

The writing on the wall

I was thinking about the end of the world, as we know it, or have known it — [and look, here we are, the “next age”] — the movements in time, from one “age” to another. I wonder about the timelessness [and the timeliness] of things, of movements, of patterning from one “age” to the next.

The writing on the wall

And now, through that, we enter another framing of time.
And, hopefully, apply what we’ve learned: time in, time out
passed time,
now time,
future time

The writing on the wall
The writing on the wall
The writing on the wall

To time, what’s “old?”
What’s really

The writing on the wall

Still — being out there, exploring, I see time in varying ways.

My wanderings south in the great staircase of Escalante, Utah, the great Staircase wilderness, where the stair-stepping of time is shown clearly in the lines of strata from the beginnings of time to the last 5,000 years. Being there, is extraordinarily extraplanetary.
It’s another, more ancient yet newly seen, earth.

The writing on the wall

There, in one distant glimmer, you can see the historical, geological layering —
from the beginnings to the now, the ages of the earth.

The writing on the wall

Sometimes I’ve been told — “read the writing on the wall.” I know, actually, that all the writing is there to be read, all the time, anyway. There are clues that are shown — cracks, scratches, strokes and scribbles.

We’ve talked about the mystery of writingwhat’s seen in scene, and what lies beneath.
The transparencies of messages —
these, that say one thing on one tier, and yet another,
to an other layer of casting for the content
and the heart of meaning. Such is the layering of spell, spell-making and casting, the spoken magic, the read phrasing that brings forth names, recollections, mysteries — even demons.

And to our work, we are studying the surface, all ways — and too, the layering of content and stories that lie beneath the surface of the more quickly known.

Friends at OED sent along this curious reflection, on the ancient phrasing of “writing on the wall.” Perhaps you’ve heard this as well. First time, to my eyes.
For the last several days, studying ancient languages, spells and incantations, I think this patterning might be several thousand years old — like an Aramaic poem, with hidden repetitive sounds and double meanings.
A wording to explore, today, is:

mene mene tekel upharsin, n. and phr.

mene mene tekel upharsin, n. and phr.
[‘An instance of the writing of ‘mene mene tekel upharsin’; (allusively) a sign or warning of impending disaster, an obscure omen. Cf. the writing on the wall at writing n. 6.’]

Pronunciation: Brit. /ˈmɛneɪ ˈmɛneɪ ˈtɛkl juːˈfɑːsɪn/, /ˈmiːni ˈmiːni ˈtɛkl juːˈfɑːsɪn/,  U.S. /ˈmɛneɪ ˈmɛneɪ ˈtɛk(ə)l juˈfɑrs(ə)n/, /ˈmini ˈmini ˈtɛk(ə)l juˈfɑrs(ə)n/
Forms:   16– mene mene tekel upharsin,   19 mene mene tekel eufarsen irreg.,   19 mene mene tekel uparsin irreg..   Also with capital initials.

Etymology: <  Aramaic mĕnē mĕnē tĕqēl ūp̲arsīn (Daniel 5:25) <  mĕnē numbered, mina + tĕqēlweighed, shekel + ū- and + parsīn, plural of pĕrēs divided, Persia, half-mina, half-shekel. The phrase is an elaborate piece of wordplay, relying on the fact that each word can also denote a different coin, and the third word can also be interpreted as ‘Persia’.

For earlier non-allusive uses of the phrase in an English context (with or without accompanying gloss) with direct reference to the story from the biblical Book of Daniel compare:

1545  G. Joye Expos. Daniel v. 74 And euen this is the wryting. Mene Mene, Thekel, Vpharsin: as miche to saye, as god hathe tolde vp and made an ende of thy kyngdome
1607 Times, Places, & Persons Holie Script. 205 The same houre whilst he was boasting of himselfe in the pride of his greatnesse, a peece of hand writeth on the wall where hee was banqueting, Mene, Mene, Tekel, Vpharsin.
1780 Young Ladies Mag I. 231 Belshazzar sent for Daniel, who very freely explained the writing to him. The words were mene mene, tekel, upharsin.

Medieval citations followed contemporary texts of the Vulgate, in which the form of the phrase reflects ΜανὴΘεκὲλΦάρες in the Septuagint; the following are examples:

OE  Ælfric Catholic Homilies: 2nd Ser. (Cambr. Gg.3.28) xxviii. 253 Þærrihte wearð gesewen swilce anes mannes hand writende on ðære healle wage, ætforan ðam cyninge, þas word: Mane, Thechel, Phares.
c1375  Chaucer Monk’s Tale 3396 This hand, that Balthasar so soore agaste, Wroot Mane, techel, phares, and namoore.
c1384 Bible (Wycliffite, E.V.) (Douce 369(2)) (1850) Dan. v. 25 Forsothe this is the wrytyng that is ordeyned, Mane, Techel, Phares.
a1400 (1303)  R. Mannyng Handlyng Synne (Harl.) 9382 He redde hyt as he sate on þe des, ‘Mane techel fares.’
c1475 (1449)  Lydgate Minor Poems (1934) ii. 825 Mane techel phares writen on the walle, Taught hym plainly what wey he shuld goo.

Compare also menetekel phr.menetekel n.mene mene tekel phr.mene mene tekel n.

Punctuation between the words varies, usually according to whether they are perceived as items in a list or as forming a single grammatical phrase.

 A. n.

  An instance of the writing of ‘mene mene tekel upharsin’; (allusively) a sign or warning of impending disaster, an obscure omen. Cf. the writing on the wall at writing n. 6.

1694  tr. Lett. Turkish Spy VIII. iv. iv. 248 Every Syllable of it, is Sacred and Mysterious, as the Mene Mene, Tekel Upharsin of Beltschatzar.
1850  C. Brontë Biogr. Notice E. Bell & A. Bell in  E. Brontë Wuthering Heights (ed. 2) p. xii, A true seer..who can accurately read the ‘Mene, Mene, Tekel, Upharsin’ of an original mind..and who can say with confidence, ‘This is the interpretation thereof’.
1925  D. H. Lawrence Woman who rode Away in Dial Aug. 124 In the..symbols on the heads of the..women she seemed to read once more the Mene Mene Tekel Upharsin. Her kind of womanhood..was to be obliterated again.

 B. phr.

  The words written by a bodiless hand on the wall at Belshazzar’s feast (as recounted in the biblical Book of Daniel). Also in extended use.

Daniel’s interpretation of the words is recounted in Daniel 5:26–8; the word tekel is rendered in English in the AV. as ‘thou art weighed in the balances, and art found wanting’, and this is sometimes taken as the meaning of the whole phrase.
1877  W. E. Gladstone in 19th Cent. Nov. 559 The spectral letters ‘redistribution of seats’ operate as drastically as if they were Mene, mene, tekel, upharsin.
1931  B. Marshall Father Malachy’s Miracle ii. 22 These people would refuse to pay any attention if Almighty God Himself walked into the dive and painted mene, mene tekel upharsin in pentecostal scarlet upon the ballroom floor.
1998 Scotsman 30 Dec. 15/1 Mene, mene tekel eufarsen [sic]… Companies House..is a mine of information, including the 1968 birth of ‘The Writing on the Wall Ltd’ and its pre-ordained (?) 1974 demise.

As a designer — a describer of things, I tend to look at, and in to, most of my clients, their projects and relationships as something that is layered in content — there is invariably the obvious, the most striking challenges, then there are deeper issues, which might, in fact, be the heart or the core seeds of their challenges in enterprise, communications, building and business strategies.

So while you’re always looking
for the “writing on the wall,”
there are usually hints
that offer answers and insights,
long before the first scratching
of marks of content —
on any wall, metaphorically,
or otherwise.

Keep clear, keep watching.
2012 > 2013

TSG | Girvin
NYC Studios