i wish i was john bishop

Whilst listening to my audio book on the Popes, I’m delighted by two moments of snarky comments with regard to linguistic prowess.

The first comes from 963 AD when the bishops of the Catholic World with the support of Otto I formed the Synod of Rome to depose Pope John XII. Upon hearing the news, the hapless and fuming pope penned this letter to the Synod:

“Bishop John to all the bishops: We hear that you wish to make another pope. If you do, I excommunicate you by Almighty God, and you have no power to ordain no one or celebrate Mass”
To which the rebellious Synod replied:
“We always thought, or rather believed, that two negatives made an affirmative, if your authority did not weaken that of the ancient authors. If, which Heaven forbid, under any pretence you refrain from coming and defending yourself then we shall disregard your excommunication and rather turn it upon yourself as we have justly the power to do.”

A classic cautionary tale about the risks of the double negative. The second story comes from the Council of Florence, hitherto the Council of Ferrara, a meeting set up to rival the Council of Basel and officially designated to discuss the East-West Schism, the Papal Schism, and the Hussites which lasted from 1431-1449. In 1439, Patriarch Joseph II of Constantinople signed the Laetentur Caeli: Bulla Unionis Graecorum, which clarified some finer points of grammatical phrasiology betwixt the East and West Churches, only to die two days later. One attendee was recorded as remarking, with a degree of acidic approval for the Patriarch’s expiration, that

“…after muddling his prepositions, what else could he decently do?”

fringe 2.21 northwest passage

Ann Mathis: I wish there was something I could do for you. Whatever your experiences are, whatever you can’t or won’t tell me about… I think you’re looking for meaning in things that… have no meaning.

Peter: I don’t know who I am anymore.

fringe 1.07 in which we meet mr. jones

Peter: To focus. Mr. Broyles, two thirds of the time my father’s not even lucid. And in those rare and unpredictable moments of clarity, he rambles on about the food and beverages that he missed while he was incarcerated in a mental institution for the better part of the last two decades. To say that he’s not focused is to say that he’s a biped, which is to say, you’re absolutely right, he’s not focused. And it’s not going to change anytime soon. I’m his son, I’m not a puppeteer. I don’t have a remote control. There’s no master switch I can flick and turn him into the man I wish had raised me, or even somebody I don’t have to baby sit every day.

fringe 3.21 the last sam weiss

Walter: I know what it’s like to feel unequal to the task required of you. To feel incapable. I’ll never be the man I was, but I’ve come to embrace those parts of my mind that are… peculiar and broken. I understand now that’s what makes my mind special. I wish you could see yourself the way I see you. You have no idea how extraordinary you are. If you would embrace that, there’s no end to what you can do.

fringe 4.11 making angels

Alt!Astrid: My father… I cannot get the thought out of my mind that… that I couldn’t give him what he wanted because of the way that I am. That he secretly wished I could love him back in a way that he could understand. Do you think if I were more like you, he would’ve loved me more? If I was normal?