Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Eenie Meenie Minie Moe

The incantation Eenie meenie minie moe puts a matter at hand into the hands of fate. The words have a spiritual, poetic quality. Poet Rodger Kamenetz recalls passing Allen Ginsberg “in the audience during a teaching by the Dalai Lama in New York. While others were dutifully chanting Tibetan syllables, Ginsberg was intoning ‘eenie meenie miney mo.’”[1] The phrase is closely associated with the action of counting and is “based on a counting system that predates the Roman occupation of Britain, that may even be pre-Celtic. If so, it is a rare surviving link with the very distant past. It not only gives us a fragmentary image of how children were being amused at the time Stonehenge was built, but tells us something about how their elders counted and thought and ordered their speech."[2]

[1] The Jew in the Lotus (1994)
[2] Bill Bryson, Made in America (1994)

1 comment:

The Magic Utopian said...

I like this brief discussion of Eenie Meenie Minie Moe. I can almost hear Ginsberg chanting this in the presence of the Dalai Lama.

Good blog.