Friday, February 22, 2008

What divides BCE and CE?

The conventions for expressing dates are a nice example of binary thought. What is any real difference between 11:59pm and 12:01 am. Yet they are considered a day apart. But what is fun to notice is the terminology that used to indicate the time before and after the supposed birth of the Christian deity. This used to be usage to which all westerners adhered in speaking of dates, regardless of their personal religious views. To do otherwise would be to be incomprehensible to one's readers. At some point in the 20th century the provincialness of this convention became so obvious that the iniitals were changed from B.C. to B.C.E., where the latter stood for Before Common Era. So we apparently are more cosmopolitan historians now. Maybe CE stands for Cosmopolitan Era.

Except----there is still this verbal gulf between indivisible worlds, a chasm signifying nothing except the silliness of which the human intellect is capable. On what significant grounds does history come galloping up to 1 BCE (rear up, perhaps,} and then leap across to 1 CE? At least the Christians had a reason which to them was a convincingly major event by which to order history. What could be the importance now which leads us to divide history into two severed pieces? Well, one thing is the new dating convention points to the tenacity of the human intellect in dividing everything into twos, a bisection which enables human mentation to reason (that is, hit the asphalt) at all. Still, for some, being able to count just to two, barely counts.

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