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Die, ye hypocrites!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

This one is a little difficult to read, and there are a few words I can't make out (anyone who can, let me know), but it's worth a look.  I suspect it meant something to someone, but not me.  Here's the text, or what I could make of it, anyway:


Error is somewhat like a lie, hard to teach and counteract; nature's instinct, &c., is said to be the book of God; how much more reliable is it than the works and words of man; the [?], association, prejudice, customs and interests are the great stumbling blocks; when will man and woman be themselves?  In nature hybrids end with themselves; die, ye hypocrites! ALMA. 168 Herald Uptown.

Thoughts? I considered the possibility that this is somehow from the Bible; I Googled a couple of the phrases and came up with nothing, but perhaps it's paraphrased?  Anyone?  And if it is paraphrased from the Bible, what's the point?  I'd say it was some religious person trying to remind all these degenerates using the personals of their sinning ways (I've seen a few of these), but then why does Alma give an address?  And why not use a passage from the Bible that actually, you know, makes some amount of sense? 

Plus, if you read it one way, it actually looks like a refutation of the Bible: "nature's instinct...is said to be the book of God; [but] how much more reliable is it than the works and words of man."  If I'm reading this right, Alma is basically saying that if we want to understand the world we shouldn't look to the Bible but rather to what people do, and people fall back to "association, prejudice, custom and interests" (how I wish I could make out the few words before), and people are all a bunch of hypocrites.

Who should all die.

Alma sounds half progressive and half crazy.

Or, it's just a code.  I hate falling back on code just because I can't figure out what an ad means, but sometimes it's the only thing that makes sense.

Having trouble reading the ads? Click one to enlarge!

©2009 Pam Epstein

11 comments:

Anonymous October 22, 2009 at 8:40 AM  

I'll give it a shot. It looks to me like the phrase following "the words of man" is "the customary early _____." I couldn't make out that last word at all. And the whole thing makes so little sense that it's difficult to even guess. This is definitely one of the oddest ones yet!
-Emily

Ms Avery October 22, 2009 at 9:08 AM  

I agree with Emily that it looks like "the customary early" something or other. I think "how much more reliable is it" is not meant as a question in the normal way, but as an exclamation -- so they are saying that nature is more godly and reliable than "the words and works of man".

Liz October 22, 2009 at 9:26 AM  

I think it's 'the customary early education'.

I don't know enough about the time period, but is there a chance this could be an advertisement for a religious meeting of some kind? I've been reading about the Pearsall Smiths and the Quakers and the kinds of meetings they used to organise, which is why it springs to mind.

It could, of course, be a very veiled call for universal naturism.

Pam October 22, 2009 at 9:33 AM  

I thought it might be "early" too; I'll buy customary early education!

Ms. Avery - you're absolutely right. I saw it as a question but I think it makes much more sense your way.

Liz - I could see that being the case, but then why so vague? Why just "Alma" and not like the name of an organization or church? It's just odd.

Liz October 22, 2009 at 9:41 AM  

Hmmm... looking at it again, it's not Alma, it's ALMA. Maybe the acronym for some kind of organisation? Although I've got no idea what it could stand for, I'd make an educated guess at the first A standing for American and the last A standing for Association.

Pam October 22, 2009 at 9:49 AM  

That was a typical personal ad thing though. Names of the people who posted the ad were often capitalized - like Hair Dye and Eyebrows, and the Canoes, etc, etc. So that may not mean anything.

Liz October 22, 2009 at 12:26 PM  

Yeah, I figured it could be convention, but the transition from capitals to normal type with the address made me not so sure. Oh well...

drwende October 22, 2009 at 7:21 PM  

The phrasing "how much more reliable is it than the works and words of man" is meant to say the Bible is more reliable than the works of man. I've seen this phrasing in Victorian orations often. The author's calling on man and woman to be themselves by overcoming "association, prejudice, customs and interests," but yes, you really have to be accustomed to the rhetoric of much longer speeches in order to parse it!

My guess is that this is an ad for the meeting of a fringe religious movement. Which fringe, I wouldn't venture to guess.

drwende October 22, 2009 at 9:10 PM  

One additional hint, now I've had some time to dig -- while I can't identify ALMA, the doctrine sounds as if it belongs to one of the New Thought movements of the 19th century. As a group, these movements took the position that turning toward God was "natural" and that proper prayer and positive thinking would clear away the detritus of a corrupting civilization. These were self-help movements, which would seem to fit well with using the classifieds to reach people.

Pam October 23, 2009 at 7:24 AM  

drwende - yes, Ms Avery pointed out the same thing about "how much more reliable..." I've been studying the Victorians long enough that I'm embarrassed that I didn't get that!! Thanks for the tips about New Thought! I'd buy just about anything regarding this ad!

Mario October 28, 2009 at 10:32 PM  

As an aside, ALMA is a good name for a spiritualist organization because it means "soul" in Spanish...

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