What is an alethiophile?

While I’ve got quite a lot of blog posts that are being written, but which are far from ready for publication, I wanted to almost a re-introduction to the blog for readers who haven’t tracked this for the last year and a half. I did write a short introduction then, though of course I have learned plenty in that time and am no longer really the same person as I was then.

So what’s behind the name?

The name alethiophile is a bit of a linguistic joke. It’s derived from 2 Greek words, aletheia and philos. These mean ‘truth’ and ‘friend’ respectively. Most people will, I expect most people will be familiar with the idea of adding –phile onto the end of a word to give connotations of affiliation or of being attracted to something (as in nucleophile in chemistry). Or it may be added to the start of a word as in philosopher ‘lover of wisdom’.

So I wanted to make the general ethos being that of seeking after truth. Yet you will note that I have not included the second e from aletheia. Why is this? Because I don’t always get my facts right. I have also seen subsequent to starting this blog that the philo- ought to be a prefix rather than a suffix.

Being truthful doesn’t always entail being in possession of the correct facts. Likewise, being accurate with your facts doesn’t always mean you will be truthful. Such is the world we live in where terms such as ‘political spin’ are now commonplace.

So I would encourage you, where possible, to point out factual errors so that they may be corrected and to disagree with me if you think that what I write is untruthful. All I ask is that it be done with a reasonable level of courtesy (unless you really think I deserve it) and where feasible, any points of facts can be referenced so I can check them.

But please be patient. I’m not perfect and I don’t pretend to be.

What about the mouse?

Across various incarnations across the web, I am known by an avatar that is a small white mouse. Here, I want to say how it originated and how its meaning has evolved.

Originally, it was picked off an obscure website whose address I have now sadly lost which did lots of silly personality quizzes. Such themes would be “Which ‘Friends’ character are you?” or “What’s your superpower?”

The one which gave me the mouse was based on Philip Pullman’s ‘His Dark Materials’ trilogy and was called something like “What is your daemon?” For those of you unfamiliar with Pullman’s work, his trilogy is a brilliant piece of fiction and I would highly recommend it to you. It’s sometimes labelled as children’s fiction, though that’s largely because the main character is a child. Part of the premise of the books is that in this sort of parallel world that the characters inhabit, a person’s body and their soul are separate, but linked, entities. The soul lives in animal form (daemon) and always stays close to their person. As a child, these animals can change what form they take, but they reflect the person’s personality or character. As they grow older, their daemon adopts a fixed form.

So for example, anyone in a position of service (such as a butler or a soldier) will usually have a dog as their daemon. A fisherman might have his as a seagull or a porpoise. The master of the college at the start of the first book has a raven.

This online quiz reckoned mine would be a mouse, and it gave me this picture to demonstrate. I thought this was quite apposite so I’ve stuck with it. As a symbol, I think it stands out quite well, though the irony is that mice don’t stand out much; neither do I. I’m a fairly short chap and can pass by quite unnoticed. I’m not the most outgoing of people, but can turn on the charisma if I need to, such as in job interviews.

I’m usually content to sit in a corner and observe, interjecting occasionally into a conversation when all else have had their say. This can present difficulties when dealing with particularly talkative or dominant personality types. For example, I had to point out to someone in my church once that I had known them for a year before they had let me finish a sentence.

The thing is, in order to avoid stumbling over my words, I usually work out in my head the content and structure of my argument before I begin. But by the time such a construction is done, the conversation has usually moved on. This is why I think my blog probably contains a far ‘truer’ voice that represents me than what you will encounter with me in a group conversation.

More recently, I came across a lovely little anecdote in Herodotus’ Histories  (book 2, paragraph 141) where, shortly before a battle, a multitude of field mice invaded one camp eating all the quivers and bowstrings, as well as the thongs by which they managed their shields. So when the battle came the next day, one army had nothing to fight with nor anything to defend themselves with. Herodotus finishes with this:

“There stands to this day in the temple of Hephaestus, a stone statue of Sethos, with a mouse in his hand, and an inscription to this effect – ‘Look on me, and learn to reverence the gods.’”

And Sipech?

This has caused some confusion in people, particularly with pronunciation. For the record, I always pronounce it “Sigh-Peck”. It is a contraction of my real name, but I thought it was unique and an easier identifier. It turns out, though, that there are a couple of other inhabitants of the cyber-world who also like to use it, which is why @sipech is not my Twitter name. I was quite miffed when I found this out, as I think a shorter username is a virtue where the character limitation is severely restricting.

So for those that don’t know, I’ll let you have a guess at what my actual name is. I think my blog, as a whole, has it in there. But you’d have to read through quite a few posts to get it.

I’ll sign off with this quote from Gandhi:

“even if you are a minority of one, the truth is the truth.”

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3 responses to “What is an alethiophile?

  1. ramtopsrac

    Thanks for the explanations. I’m not sure I’ll remember them all mind you.

    Truth is a funny thing isn’t it… two people seeing the same crime will tell slightly different ‘truths’ based on how the human mind sees a set of circumstances, and the level of their recall.

    Although I would say I always seek to discern the right course of action, not to speak a lie, to witness to what I know of God, whether it is “true” is possibly dependent on whether it has integrity with my own character and faith, the faith of others, or others views of the actions they witness of me.

    So I like your openness to stand corrected should it be required, even if my knowledge of Greek is so non-existent as to make me completely ineligible to comment on your linguistic skills! Instead, I shall follow and seek to learn… truth or otherwise 😉

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