Wednesday, September 9

Love Potion Number 9

You know, I'm not really very good with songs--I usually have no idea who recorded what or when, but I do remember song titles and snippets of songs, sometimes even with the right lyrics. So on this auspicious date of 090909, I suppose it makes sense that some song with the number 9 popped into my head. And the song was Love Potion Number 9 which I find curious myself.

Anyway, I was just talking about 9 as the universal number in my classical literature class last week because the number 9 shows up often in The Odyssey, as do many other numbers. I bedazzled (or possibly befuddled) my students by showing that cool property of 9 with the multiplying and adding thing. Multiply any number by 9 then add the numbers of the product, continuing to "reduce" the results and the result will be. . . . . 9. So multiply 435 * 9 and you get 3,915. Then you the numbers or digits of the product: 3 + 9 + 1 + 5 = 18 and then 1 + 8 which equals 9. Seriously, try it with any multidigit number. Go ahead. I'll wait.

There's been a lot of conversation about the significance of the number 9 and the importance of today's date: 090909. For the Chinese, apparently, this ranks second to 080808 which is, as you no doubt recall, the date on which they launched the Olympics and with spectacular fanfare and celebration.

Some of the hoopla seems to be simply because these date configurations don't happen very often, but it is kind of cool. A friend of mine was quite excited at the prospect of 04:05:06 on 070809. I didn't celebrate that event as it was, after all, shortly after 4 o'clock in the morning and lasted but a second. Way too easy to miss.

But we do see the number 9 quite often in literature. In fact, Odysseus refers to 9 quite often and then whatever happens occurs on the 10th day, so he must endure or survive 9 nights. What else is significant about 9? Well, it is the last single digit in base 10. It signifies completeness in the Baha'i faith. There are 9 choirs of angels in the Christian hierarchy of Angels. Ramadan is the 9th month of the Islamic calendar. The number 9 is considered a perfect and divine number in Hinduism. There are 9 forms of the Chinese dragon. So it seems there could be something to the idea of the number 9 and what it seems to represent. After all, there is that special and very powerful love potion number 9.

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