Auto-correction and Titivillus

Writing has never been easier these days than in the bygone days before the advent of the computer. If you are unsure about how to spell “Tomato,” then the computer will spell it for you by way of auto-correction. And it can even reconstruct your sentences like a pro. The magic is inside the computer, as if it has a mind and even a soul, as it were. This wizardly power of auto-correction can sometimes, however, lead you to an embroglio of nonsense, especially when writing emails or tweeting. Quite devilish, so I think and wonder: are things like auto-correction and the likes a wicked invention of science or science of diabolical existence? Hence, I am talking about Titivillus, the patron demon of scribes.

The birth of Titivillus could trace back to the 13th century when Franciscan theologian John of Wales pinpointed the malicious demonic trickery for the scriber’s mistakes. That’s not a footless excuse for the faux-pas made in a beautifully ornamented medieval script. In medieval times, copying the passages of the Holy Scripture was a painfully punctilious task for a monk to accomplish with perfect penmanship and exquisite illuminations. And the job cost a good amount of his youth with arched back, squinted eyes, and cramped arms and fingers, not in the least due to the time spent scribing. Toiling (even though for the glory of God) and Rejoicing (for the joy of self-fulfillment), Sorrowing always hoovers over the glories. Titivillus often brings this Sorrowing by making the scriber err in labor, such as misspelling or miscopying. When that happens, a corrector scraped off with a penknife or an acidic solution was applied to loosen the ink. Or sometimes he just made little dots under a wrong word, meaning the reader should ignore that bit. In case of more significant errors, the passages were sometimes lined through, and the correction was written in the margin or copied on a smaller piece of parchment and glued into the book.


To think of it, Titivillus has not returned to the Ninth Circle of Hell, always making himself a reason to stay as long as humanity continues writing. Writer’s block is a dark cloud hovering over the soul’s palace, the dome of thoughts. Philological carbuncles, including misspellings and awkward syntax, combine the demon’s interruption and the writer’s fear of writing. The fear is more than devilish trickery or neurotic obsession because it stifles creativeness and imagination of the writer. Still, I cannot help but think that today Titivillus manifests himself in the form of auto-correction, which can change the entire meaning of a whole sentence, often most embarrassingly and awkwardly. You agree?

Hounds of Night

The curtain of the night has drawn. Selene has started her nocturnal promenade with a moon mirror carried on her celestial chariot across the starry highway. Then the earth begins to bellow with great silent roars, trees to dance with leaves rustling in the wind as the chariot is racing, owls to call with their wings flapping, and the hounds howl from the end of the horizon in the glimmering light of the distant stars like lamps flickering in the desolate wilderness amid the haunting sound of Pan’s flute yonder. It’s Hecate’s Time, the Wandering Goddess of Night, appearing from the crossroads with her faithful hounds, heralding the staging of their divine mistress.

Hecate has often been associated with all things witchery, magic, and death, not in the least due to modern-day Wicca practice identified heavily with the Greek goddess, but there’s more to her. She is a protector of the wrongfully accused, a goddess of retribution against injustice and impurity, and an advocate for underdogs. Perhaps, that’s why her animal is a dog, not a cat, which betrays a common association of the latter with someone like her. (In fact, Artemis is the only goddess whose animals are a cat because she was once transformed into it when chased by a besotted man.) Her hounds all have names: Kynegetis (Leader of Dogs from the Orphic Hymn), Kyneolygmate (Howling like a dog), Kynokephalos (Dog-headed), Kyon Melaina (Black Dog), Philoskylax (Lover of Dogs), Skylakitin (Lady of the Dogs). Of all the hounds, Kyon Melnia, aka Black Dog, used to be the wife of the last Trojan King Priam named Hekabe, who threw herself into the sea after the collapse of Troy by the Greeks. Hecate took pity on the queen and transformed her into a great black dog that became her familiar. What a manifestation of divine mercy it was.


It is said that dogs and cats see the spirits of the dead, especially at night. If you have heard a dog howling, another howl, then another, and so forth, as if all of them sing in a canine polyphonic coda. When Hecate’s hounds howl, mortal dogs respond to their divine canine entity as the goddess and her entourage pass by. The hounds also bring victuals offered to Hecate to their mistress at a cemetery where she partakes her daily victuals. So if you think it’s just an ancient myth, listen carefully when your dog or any dog within your earshot howls. It’s either it sees a spirit or Hecate and her nine hounds. For me, well, I have a tabby cat named Toro, and he sees it and them but won’t participate in the chorus because he has her mistress at home.

Adieu, my friend

A week has passed since the Beluga whale died in transit from the Seine to the sea. The question remains with the image still fresh on my mind refusing to fade away with my heartstrings pulled in all withers: did he break away from his kind to find a treasure island like Jim did? Or did malice of fortune take him away from the tribe on a lark to see if he could make it back to where it came from? What is the meaning of all of this anyway?

He had no name because he had so little time to live in this world, and I mean the Beluga whale stranded in the Seine River in Paris, France, and ultimately died in transit to a sea last week. No one knew why he swam all the way up to the freshwater, which was not a typical habitat for the whale species. IT wasn’t the first time to see a whale end up in the river following an orca in May that died of natural causes, but the Beluga whale still lingers in my mind a week after his death. Maybe it’s because of his ever-good-hearted-looking appearance that oozes out a sense of pathos from my feelings. Whatever it may be, he endeared me like my two-year-old tabby tom Toro, and I had been following his tale of the river, which seemed to me his journey to the resting place – among humans with whom he might have cherished good memories. Maybe he disliked his kind, so he ran away from there. Come to think of it, are we also not in favor of our superior humankind when we can’t take any more violence, disappointment, betrayal, and arrogance?

Although I admire the efforts made to revitalize the Beluga whale and to send him back to the sea, I cannot help thinking that there should have been more professionally effective operations to achieve the noble human intention to save nature. We live in an information-saturated, expert-ridden global world, but why is no such help readily unavailable in dire need? Are outstanding vets only for YouTube channels and other media outlets via which they can amplify their view to lucrative celebrities? But the argument is futile since he’s gone. By recording what my heart feels about him, I want to pay tribute to his incredible journey to the human world by himself with kisses and tears. Good-bye, my Beluga whale.