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September 19, 2013

That Divine Order

For one of my classes (Music 101), we read an excerpt from a book called That Divine Order by a fellow named Peter Vergo. Basically, Vergo says that the ancient and medieval Western philosophers divided music into three classes, or orders.

Lowest and most humble was musica instrumentalis, or the music of instruments. That covered… well, everything you or I would consider to be music – singing, whistling, playing piano, tapping your feet on the desk in front of you and thereby annoying your classmate, etc.

One level higher was musica humana, including things we might only consider music if in a philosophy class, or if you’re one of the guys who sits outside my dorm window every night smoking hookah – the beating of your heart, the rustling of muscles moving, and the sound of a breath.

Still with me?

The highest (and divine) level of music was musica mundana. Although it sounds like mundane, it actually comes from the Latin mundus, or world. This is nothing that we would consider music – mathematical equations describing the orbit of the planets, or the rotation of the earth.

If you’re bored, skip down a couple of paragraphs to the picture of a pile of crackers (I’ll get to that). If not, keep reading! :)


Boethius, the fellow who came up with this whole orders of music thing. Credit:

I’ve been thinking about all this because a few nights ago I was lying on the green at about 2 am with a couple of friends. We saw a shooting star – I’ve seen them before. But for one of my friends, this was the first time she’d ever seen one – and it got me thinking that maybe music should mean the planets and stars too. I think it’s uniquely Clark that those two experiences – lying on the grass a few hours before sunrise and reading a deadly boring, dry book for class – could come together so nicely.

Alright. Enough pseudo-philosophy.

Let’s talk about a divine order of a wholly different sort. Clark offers an array of dining options, and most of them are pretty good. But there’s one station which stands out head and shoulders above the pack, and that’s the kosher station. I always order my food from there. It’s divine (and blessed by a rabbi)!

My previous experiences with kosher food were limited to matzo, the inordinately dry and somewhat burnt cracker that comes into vogue every year around Passover.


Pictured: not particularly tasty. Credit:

Apologies to any of you out there who like matzo. I don’t. So when a friend recommended I try the kosher station, I was naturally a little doubtful. But I gave it a shot – and have been eating there ever since.

Simply put, the kosher chefs rock! They treat vegetables as stars, not accessories, and they have more than salt and pepper on their spice rack. The rest of Clark’s kitchen staff do great work, but they can’t match the dedication which goes into the kosher meals each day. Highly recommended.

Finally, in a third sort of divine order, it’s Sukkot (the Jewish festival of tabernacles), and so two sukahs (huts) have been erected on the green just outside of Higgins. It’s nice that the university encourages that sort of thing. See you guys next week!

P.S. Next week, by the way, is Simchat Torah, the day of celebrating the Torah. There are a lot of Jewish holidays I never knew about. That’s what I’ve learned from my Israeli roommate!


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