Tuesday, August 29, 2006

A wheel Boethius did NOT write about

Not feeling quite as peppy as you'd like as you contemplate the scholarly song and dance routines you'll be performing in front of your undergraduates this year? Are your eyes feeling as glazed as theirs have always been? Is your energy level falling as the line of advisees at your office door begins to stretch outward towards the crack of doom? Can't quite muster the passion you used to feel in your adminstrative role as subdirector of university internships and special projects liaison?

Have you considered that it might not be the Back to School Blues taking their annual hold? If you are a scholar whose ENTHUSIASM!!!!! has gone the way of your last significant pay raise, consider that you may be suffering a serious humoral imbalance.

Fortunately, medieval medicine offers a quick way to diagnose your ills:

(1) pee in a small jar

(2) take your browser to the following site (you should probably wash your hands first) (I can't believe that I even have to remind you of that at this point in your life): The Relation Between Text and Colours in Medieval Urine Wheels

(3) wonder what those odd stains are at the top of manuscript NKS Fol. 84b, sheet 5

(4) match the color of your bladder's contents to the colors reproduced in the medieval wheels on this page

If your liquid waste is caropos color ut vellus cameli (bluish-grey as camel skin), subpallidus color ut succus carnis semicoctus non remisse (slightly pale as a not reduced juice of meat) or rubeus ut crocus orientalis (red as oriental saffron), then cancel your office hours immediately! Walk away from your Chaucer text! Flee your campus and its needy little students! Go home and rest. Better yet, take a recuperative sabbatical until your urine returns to its normal shade. Doctor's orders.

(thanks, Nelljean Rice, poet/jester of BABEL)


Karl Steel said...


Reminded of a billboard in Tacoma, my godforsaken hometown, reminding people to wash hands after using the toilet.

It says so much about that city that it has to be reminded to get the shit off its hands.

Anonymous said...

Even from this distance I can SMELL the 'start of session' in your posts!


Jeffrey Cohen said...

You know that when the session starts anew, and you are the new department chair, urine trouble.

Dr. Richard Scott Nokes said...

If your pee comes out blue, do you *really* need medieval medicine to tell you you've got a problem?

Jeffrey Cohen said...

Anyone can have blue pee. It's pee as blue-grey as camel skin that really means you ought to worry. So yes, I think this does prove why it is useful -- indeed, salubrious --to spend one's life as a medievalist.