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Better bring a sword to a love fight?

Thursday, March 15th, 2018

[ by Charles Cameron — or, a samurai’s weapon glistens more brightly than an assault rifle ]
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Consider:

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And in case your object that the proposed assault weapon ban (upper image above) is stereotypically associated wwith active shooters in schools, not issues of love and romance, take this, from Does anyone have the right to sex? in the LRB:

On 23 May 2014, Elliot Rodger, a 22-year-old college dropout, became the world’s most famous ‘incel’ – involuntary celibate. The term can, in theory, be applied to both men and women, but in practice it picks out not sexless men in general, but a certain kind of sexless man: the kind who is convinced he is owed sex, and is enraged by the women who deprive him of it. Rodger stabbed to death his two housemates, Weihan Wang and Cheng Hong, and a friend, George Chen, as they entered his apartment on Seville Road in Isla Vista, California. Three hours later he drove to the Alpha Phi sorority house near the campus of UC Santa Barbara. He shot three women on the lawn, killing two of them, Katherine Cooper and Veronika Weiss. Rodger then went on a drive-by shooting spree through Isla Vista, killing Christopher Michaels-Martinez, also a student at UCSB, with a single bullet to the chest inside a Deli Mart, and wounding 14 others. He eventually crashed his BMW coupé at an intersection. He was found dead by the police, having shot himself in the head.

It just didn’t have a headline tht would have made any sense in the DoubleQuote!

**

Okay, gunds and swords.

There’s also the question of whether the pen is mightier than the sword, of course — even the samurain sword? — or to coin a phrase:

Don’t bring ink to a blood fight

Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, Parkland

Thursday, February 15th, 2018

[ by Charles Cameron — a smattering of thoughts about the most recent shooting ]
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Wednesday, 14 February, 2018:

It was Valentine’s Day, among the family members grieving at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, Parkland, in Broward County, Florida (upper panel, below):

— and it was Ash Wednesday, when ashes from palm crosses representing Christ’s hosannah-filled entrance into Jerusalem are smeared on the foreheads of believers (lower panel, above)..

Sources:

  • Daily Herald, Sheriff: 17 killed in Florida high school shooting, image 2
  • Daily Herald, Sheriff: 17 killed in Florida high school shooting, image 1
  • A day set apart for love, a day for mourning. And each in turn could provide a potential shooter with an added impulse to act on this particular day.

    **

    Control is the issue:

    But where? Should we be figuring out how to control youthful impulses, somewhere in the ventromedial prefrontal cortex, the anterior cingulate cortex and the amygdala (upper panel, below) —

    — or how to control the access to semi-automatic weapons of people who are slipping dangerously into forms of mental distress, while respecting both the right to privacy and the right to bear arms (lower panel, above).

    Sources:

  • Daily News, Florida gunman accused of killing 17 in high school massacre
  • Daily News, These are the victims of the Florida high school shooting
  • Impulse control, or gun control?

    **

    Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School is too much of a mouthful: Parkland will be the name etched in memory, alongside Columbine, Virginia Tech, and Sandy Hook. Such names are invoked, not spoken.

    **

    Is there perhaps a connection between the school shooter issue and the national conversation on sexual harassment, such that a major shift in attitudes towards sexual harassment would naturally translate to, or facilitate, a similar shift regarding gun control?

    Are these in fact two conversations — waves on the same wave-front — “whose time (for change) has come”?

    Would each benefit from their being discussed together?

    Sunday subsidiary — typewriters, poetry, guns, roses, and art

    Monday, July 3rd, 2017

    [ by Charles Cameron — one-time typewriter poet & artist ]
    .

    From This Artist Recycles Typewriters into Guns:

    Typewriters revolutionized the way we write and guns changed the wars we fight, yet it can’t be denied that both are artifacts of tremendous cultural impact, despite the dramatic differences in function. This notion helps illuminate the peculiar Typewriter Guns of Québécois artist Eric Nado, a sculptural series of typewriters transformed to look like guns.

    Thankfully non-functional, Nado’s guns seem like strange weaponry from the future, due to their brilliantly vibrant hues and the protruding typewriter parts that seem like alien steampunk appendages in this technological recontextualization. This may be partially an aesthetic choice, but it also relates to the artist’s desire to fully recycle the typewriters. In his project statement, Nado iterates that every piece of the typewriters were re-incorporated into the guns, an almost eerie vein of sustainability given how convincingly dangerous these sculptures look.

    **

    Reminds me of Ernst Jandl‘s sound poem schtzngrmm, based on taking the letters of the word “trench” — “Schützengraben” in German literally, letter by letter, so as to evoke (some of) the sound of trench warfare:

    schtzngrmm
    schtzngrmm
    t-t-t-t
    t-t-t-t
    grrrmmmmm
    t-t-t-t
    s———c———h
    tzngrmm
    tzngrmm
    tzngrmm
    grrrmmmmm
    schtzn
    schtzn
    t-t-t-t
    t-t-t-t
    schtzngrmm
    schtzngrmm
    tssssssssssssss
    grrt
    grrrrrt
    grrrrrrrrrt
    scht
    scht
    t-t-t-t-t-t-t-t-t-t
    scht
    tzngrmm
    tzngrmm
    t-t-t-t-t-t-t-t-t-t
    scht
    scht
    scht
    scht
    scht
    grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr
    t-tt

    But I’ll let Jandl read it himself and comment on that final “t-tt” and its aural cognate, “tod” — death:

    **

    Back in the day, I was a “visual poet” as Jandl was a “sound poet” — the two experiments observed poetry as it approached art and music, respectively — and here’s one of mine, now enshrined in Marvin & Ruth Sackner‘s definitive The Art of Typewriting:

    That’s no gun — it’s a rose, and I presented it to Elizabeth Taylor, no less, when she was supporting Basil Bunting for the Oxford Poetry Professorship, and we met in a pub by the river..

    The trouble with Providence

    Friday, June 16th, 2017

    [ by Charles Cameron — the Virginia shooting — providence, like grace, is whole cloth, or it is nothing ]
    .

    The basic paradox: I thank God Steve Scalise is still among the living, may he fully and speedily recover

    **

    The trouble with Providence is that it makes more sense to the survivors than, on the whole, the deceased or those who grieve them. My father, gunnery officer on the British light cruiser Sheffield, survived the superior firepower of the German heavy cruiser Hipper in the Battle of the Barents Sea, and no doubt that was providential from my own perspective — I was born around elevn months later. Providential, too, it must have been on a larger scale — the Hipper was crippled:

    When told of the news, Hitler flew into a rage. He referred to his ships as useless and decided on the spot that the High Seas Fleet should be scrapped. Admiral Raeder, commander of the Kriegsmarine, tended his resignation and was replaced by Admiral Dönitz.

    My father’s guns, along with those of the Sheffield’s companion cruiser Jamaica, together disabled the Hipper.

    Providential, three — in that same engagement, shrapnel knocked one of the eyes of Captain Robert St. V. Sherbrooke, commanding a contingent of British destroyers from Onslow, out of its socket, such is war, an incident which Sherbrooke ignored in the interest of continuing his command, and for which he later received the Victoria Cross, such is war. Such is war, such is providence, forty of Sherbrooke’s men on the Onslow lost their lives in the same two minutes in which he lost his eye.

    **

    I report all this because Glenn Beck just invoked Providence in the matter of the Congressional baseball practice shooting:

    We have an amazing story to tell of what I believe is Divine Providence. I just — I want you to think of one thing. Imagine what America would be like today, if yesterday the leadership of the G.O.P. and the majority of the G.O.P., 10 percent of the G.O.P. and Congress were dead. If we had coffins that we were facing today instead of one coffin of the shooter and one still in critical condition, what would the conversation be like today?

    I’ve often said, you’re going to wake up on a Monday, and by Friday, your country will be completely different. I believe that is coming. But I do believe we saw Divine Providence happen yesterday. So that didn’t happen this week.

    So providence postpones what it can’t altogether prevent?

    **

    Glenn Beck, apparently — because he’s a Mormon, or a Christian more generally, or a believer, even more ecumenically, or a human, or at least a sentient being — or because he’s a media personality? — can serve as a spokesman for Providence:

    Barry, let me — let me take you now to Divine Providence.

    Beck is addressing Congressman Barry Loudermilk, who was present at the practice, who was himself a target — unlike Glenn — shot at, and providentially spared. It’s providential that we have Beck’s voice to explain to Loudermilk what happened..

    I will tell you — I’ve seen some bad shots in my life. But for as many targets that were out on that field — and to have a rifle, I believe, Divine Providence played a role in keeping, you know, people safe yesterday. It is remarkable the number of rounds that were fired and the — the low number of people that were hit.

    Providence approves the critical wounding of one congressman and the avoidance of same in several other cases, eh?

    **

    Look, if I was one of the congresspersons who survived, I’d be more than a little inclined to thank providence — and if I didn’t survive, I wouldn’t be around to blame it. So here’s a special case of “history is written by the victors” — “belief in providence is written by the survivors”.

    The problem with providence as an explanation is that it tends to overlook those who didn’t survive its providential ministrations. And that’s a problem of cognitive dissonance, if one tries to extend providence past the individual usrvivor or group of survivors, to the world as a whole — or to the “next week” that Beck feels prrovidence is saving some potential victims for..

    Ruthlessly applied, providence comes for us all, as it has first devised us all — and all’s fair in love and hate, war and peace.

    Or unfair. Forget Glenn Beck, I’ll let you decide.

    **

    In a companion piece, Beck offers The Entire List of Who to Blame for the Attempted Slaughter of GOP House Members. Providence doesn’t catch any blame — and neither does the NRA, not Obama:

    Here’s the truth. The shooter is responsible, by himself — not the gun, not the bullets, not the gun industry … not the NRA, not the left, not the right, not the president, not the former president, not Hillary Clinton, not Antifa — no one. The shooter is responsible, period.

    Whee! And while we’re not blaming, or its corrollary, blaming, Glenn also posted The New York Times Runs the Worst Editorial in Human History, Blames SARAH PALIN for Giffords Shooting AGAIN

    **

    The SPLC reports:

    Gunman Who Fired on Congressional Baseball Team Consumed by Anti-Trump Anger

    There’s a specter here, if it’s not providence and it’s not any of the interested parties who are to blame. The specter is polarization.

    But that’s for a follow-up post on The physics of politics, god willing.

    Pistol, crucifix, condom

    Friday, May 12th, 2017

    [ by Charles Cameron — covering all bases? — an astonishing display of symbols ]
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    Lists of three — sex, drugs and rock’n’roll for example, or wine, women and song, as we used to say — sex, lies and videotape — can usefully itemize / totemize the whole of life as it is lived — a jug of wine, a loaf of bread and thou beside me — at the individual, general, universal or transcendent level — when two or three are gathered in my name

    But this image, from a Ukrainian law enforcement advisor’s Instagram account beats all!

    Hat tip: Christopher Miller

    Pistol, crucifix, condom
    — I was wondering whether one could play scissors, paper, rock with those symbols, but..

    **

    Coleridge characterizes symbols thus:

    A symbol is characterized… above all by the translucence of the Eternal through and in the Temporal. It always partakes of the Reality which it Renders Intelligible; and while it enunciates the whole, abides itself as a living part in that Unity of which it is representative.

    At night, to be honest, a pistol, a condom an a crucifix might each be placed on the bedside table of someone in law enforcement as a matter of convenience, with no great symbolic import attached. But they are each nonetheless highly symbolic items. And the greater the degree to which these three items, when considered as symbols, are “translucent” to the individual resder here, the more astonishing their juztaposition in this image will appear.


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