Saturday, December 23, 2006

Proof that you can learn something from anybody...

19th-Century Depiction of Geoffrey Chaucer
But is it really him?
(Image from

... even if you might not exist.

Truly asiduous readers might recall my blogging from Singapore in the summer of 2005, when I was attending a Society of Biblical Literature conference and presenting a paper on the concept of "holiness" in Mark's Gospel. At that time, I was told of rumors that I didn't exist, to which I responded:
My nonexistence has been greatly exaggerated.

Somebody thinks that I don't exist. No, not here at the conference, where nobody is yet conflating me with the docetic Christ. Rather, it's somebody whom I've never met . . . but maybe that goes without saying. If I had met him, he'd have to believe in my existence, right?

Jeffrey Gibson informs me that a certain Geoff Hudson has been emailing various scholars to alert them to the 'fact' that I am actually an alias for Gibson.

I won't waste my time trying to prove Mr. Hudson wrong. But if you various scholars out there are willing to attest to my existence as the genuine Horace Jeffery Hodges attending this SBL Conference in Singapore . . . well, have at it.
I guess that nobody managed (or tried) to prove my existence to Mr. Hudson, for I received an email from him only yesterday in response to a note that I had posted to one of the biblical studies listserves that I participate in. The listserve had been discussing a certain Gnostic Gospel of Judas and using the acronym GoJ for convenience. I'd previously done a lot of work on Gnosticism and the Gospel of John, so at one point, when a scholar named Hindley referred to the Gnostic GoJ, I got my signals crossed and asked why he though that the Gospel of John was Gnostic. Hindley reminded me:
Jeffrey: That stood for Gospel of Judas, the subject of the post. THAT gospel, I'm sure, most everybody will agree is "Gnostic".
Notice that he called me "Jeffrey" rather than "Jeffery." That was enough for the apparently ever-alert Geoff Hudson, who sent me an email:
I am surprised you have not complained that Hindley has spelt your middle name incorrectly. So why doesn't he call you Horace? May be he knows your real name is Jeffrey -- his Freudian slip, or senior moment, may be?
I replied to this as succinctly as I courteously could:
You have me mixed up with someone else.
To which, Mr. Hudson retorted:
So it seems did ... Hindley who called you Jeffrey. As a long-standing member of the group, he should have known better, shouldn't he?
I could see where this was going -- into an endless string of emails -- so I replied as politely (and briefly) as possible:
I won't try to convince you of my identity, for I recall you making a similar confusion a year or two ago. Have a Merry Christmas anyway.
And I hope that I've seen the end of this. Meanwhile, I have Mr. Hudson to thank for teaching me a new expression: "senior moment."

To be precise, he didn't 'teach' me, for he used the expression without explaining it, leaving me baffled. Because I'm living in Korea, where Koreans often use the word "senior" to refer to somebody above them in Korea's hierarchical society, my initial, unreasonable thought was that Mr. Hudson was suggesting that Hindley had called me "Jeffrey" out of some sort of Confucian evaluation of my hierarchical position relative to his -- but I wasn't sure if this put me above or below Hindley. Who was the 'senior'? Who the 'junior'?

In re-reading Mr. Hudson's email, however, I realized that "senior moment" must be an analogous to "Freudian slip" and that it must be a fixed expression.

So, I Googled it and found the answer on a webpage hosted by the Macmillan English Dictionary:
The term senior moment was coined in America in the mid-nineties, but has become more widely used in the UK during the past couple of years. Originating with specific reference to seniors or senior citizens -- people aged sixty or over -- it has now entered more general use and can be applied in any situation where someone experiences a momentary lapse of memory, regardless of their age. The term highlights the idea that our brains simply weren’t built to cope with the information overload and stress generated by life in the 21st century. An absent-minded activity, like putting cornflakes in the fridge or milk in the cupboard, can also be referred to as a senior moment.
Macmillan even provided a humorous anecdote as an example, "A True Senior Moment":
An elderly couple had dinner at another couple’s house, and after eating, the wives left the table and went into the kitchen.

The two elderly gentlemen were talking, and one said, 'Last night we went out to a new restaurant, and it was really great. I'd recommend it very highly.'

The other man said, 'What's the name of the restaurant?'

The first man thought and thought and finally said, 'What's the name of that flower you give to someone you love? You know ... the one that's red and has thorns.'

'Do you mean a rose?'

'Yes,' the man said, then he turned toward the kitchen and yelled, 'Rose, what's the name of that restaurant we went to last night?'
So, that's a senior moment! I have those all the time. And the expression was coined in America in the mid-90s and resided there before emigrating to the UK more recently. Interesting. Either I've missed it completely in my long absence from the States and the long time since my last UK trip, or I heard it but have suffered a long senior moment since then, for I really don't recall the expression.

Anyway, Mr. Hudson -- if you really are Mr. Hudson -- a hat tip to you for the inadvertent but fascinating English lesson.

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At 6:54 AM, Blogger Hathor said...

I was surprised recently, when I used that expression. It took the person a while to get "senior moment." I guess they were trying to derive the meaning from the context.

At 8:02 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Other than Mr. Hudson, you're the first person whom I know who has used the expression.

I rather like it, though, and intend to use it against my wife whenever she has a senior moment ... which isn't too often since she's a lot sharper than I am.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 12:48 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The expression is used quite often in my neck of the woods, usually by people who would be considered middle-aged or pre-senior. Perhaps it is because they are aware they are getting close to "that" age and already noticing the symptoms, lol.

At 1:21 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Cynthia, I seem to have had this sort of senioritis my whole life.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 10:24 PM, Blogger Hathor said...

The absent minded professor, eh?

I am really close to that age and wonder if those moments are going to get closer and closer. Saying its a "senior moment" is sort of like saying "bless you."

At 10:32 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Hathor, I'd like to use that excuse, but I was already an absentminded hillbilly before I became anything else.

Jeffery Hodges

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