Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Annuit Coeptis

Except to Be (2)

The first commercial mantra I remember noticing — at around 10, a bit before 1960 — stared out in what I remember as small white block print from the green glass bottles 7-Up came in. Rightly or not I recall the spelling as U LIKE IT IT LIKES U. It (or IT) baffled me intensely. It also threatened me in a way I relate to my fear of the eye over the pyramid, plus cryptic lettering (Cœptis!), on the back of the dollar bill.

In fact I did not like 7-Up. I doubt that I feared being disliked in return. No, the idea of this cloying, pallid liquid entertaining any notice of me, let alone an attitude, through that green glass always already in imagination scattered in shards over the blacktop beside any summer gas station, gave the thought of its approval at least as much anxious weight as the possibility of judgment.

How strange to have connected these. I can't imagine that I could have heard even the conventional translation of the dollar's motto: "Fortune favors our endeavors." I know I didn't know that one of those dodgy Masonic Founding Fathers had altered Virgil's entreaty Jupiter, annue cœptis ("Jupiter, favor my undertakings") to a third-person declaration in which the grammatical subject has absconded to the same impenetrable mysterium as the IT on the soda bottle. Dollar, dollar, who favors them? The nearest antecedent is that eye, glaring through its triangular window — window into what? — in the sky over a lopped, unfinished tomb.


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