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Whether, weather or not you believe in climate change

Wednesday, March 21st, 2018

[ by Charles Cameron — in thunder, lightning; in darkness, light; in the eye of the hurricane.. ]

Weather or weather:



  • CNBC, Powerful nor’easter ‘bomb cyclone’
  • WaPo, D.C. lawmaker says recent snowfall caused
  • **

    We don’t need the details of the two articles, or of other coverage such as the New Yorker’s Bomb Cyclones, Nor’easters, and the Messy Relationship Between Weather and Climate — the top panel headline deals with the weather-weather, the regular day to day no need to look further weather, but the lower panel headline lets in alternate, nay Biblical, spiritual explanations — and with that freedom I’ll fly to a consideration of atmosphere and atmosphere — the one measured by the barometer, the other an intangible presence in a room —

    For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.


    That’s Bibical, too — but it may apply, probably does indeed, to those of other and various flocks.. the joyful givers of any denomination, belief or disbelief.

    YMMV, of course. But read this:

    In his correspondence with Suzuki (the two finally met in New York in 1964), Merton refers to the doctrine of analogy in Aquinas by which it was just as legitimate , in one sense, to say of God that he is non-being as to affirm God is being, since God so transcends being as we know it that any attribution of being as we know it would mislead. Merton was quite taken by the mystical tradition of a kind of un-knowing in our contemplation of God. He said to Suzuki: “I have my own way to walk and for some reason Zen is right in the middle of wherever I go. If I could not breathe Zen, I would probably die of asphyxiation.” He also told Suzuki: “Speaking as a monk and not a writer, I am much happier with ’emptiness’ when I do not have to talk about it.” Merton and Suzuki exchanged manuscripts and books and eventually engaged in a written dialogue which appears in Merton’s posthumously published book, Zen and the Birds of Appetite.

    I cannot believe that between Merton the Trappist monk and Suzuki the man most responsible for introducing zen to the west, the I am was not resonant in the air between them.

    Catchall post for comments with form

    Saturday, December 30th, 2017

    [ by Charles Cameron — ouroboric and boustrophedonic news aggregated for yr edification ]

    this is certainly tne essential Ouroboros, no?


    Okay, first, several examples of serpent-bites-own-tail comments:

    How a Liberal Scholar of Conspiracy Theories Became the Subject of a Right-Wing Conspiracy Theory

    That’s pretty straightforward — and this:

    A sample headline in the Netherlands: “The new Trump Ambassador to the Netherlands, Pete Hoekstra, lies about his own lies.”


    Then there are Mueller-specific ouroboroi:

    One of Trump’s lawyers said the president’s legal team wants a second special counsel — one to investigate the investigators..


    Trump’s lawyers want a special counsel to investigate special counsel Robert Mueller:

    Donald Trump’s legal team has suggested appointing another special counsel to investigate the existing special counsel, Robert Mueller, who is probing the Trump campaign’s possible ties to Russia.

    One commenter went a level farther, opining:

    there should be a Special Counsel to investigate the Special Counsel which is investigating the Special Counsel. When concluded, the Special Counsel investigating the Special Counsel, which is investigating the Special Counsel should deliver their report to a newly formed unbiased Special Counsel, which in turn should be investigated to ensure that all the investigative legalities have been adhered to.



    Okay, enough ouroboroi — let’s approach zen from the side, with this:

    President Trump is quoted in a clip in Ari Melber‘s The Beat (MSNBC) at 2.34, “I don’t want to talk about pardon for Michael Flynn yet, we’ll see what happens.” This is followed by a Rachel Maddow clip, in which RM says, “I have a Tree Falls in the Forest question for you: “If the President issues a pardon, do we have to know about it?”

    That’s about as close to an overt koan as we are liable to find on mainstream political TV.

    Go, Rachel! But what exactly do you mean?


    And ah! — we are so fotunate that Rachel is not alone in thinking thoughts of this kind.. Kaveh Akbar has a New Yorker poem, What Use Is Knowing Anything If No One Is Around:

    What use is knowing anything if no one is around
    to watch you know it? Plants reinvent sugar daily
    and hardly anyone applauds. Once as a boy I sat
    in a corner covering my ears, singing Quranic verse

    after Quranic verse. Each syllable was perfect, but only
    the lonely rumble in my head gave praise. This is why
    we put mirrors in birdcages, why we turn on lamps

    to double our shadows.

    and so forth. Thank you, Kaveh Akbar, I hear you, I hear your silent, recited Quranic verses.


    I’ll add further instances of posts and comments with the formal properties I’m so fond of in the comments section as they catch my eye..

    Boustrophedon reference, plus Orpheus

    Friday, September 1st, 2017

    [ by Charles Cameron — party time! — i have a strange sense of party, oxen invited ]

    I’m delighted to note a Boustrophedon reference. first by a poet, naturally, Ange Mlinko, in her poem:

    A levitating anvil. Omen of seagull
    Blown inland. Ranch gate said riverstyx,
    but it was the woodland that looked lethal:

    no place to put down your foot. Bucolics
    demand boustrophedon.

    — then in the New Yorker cmmentary by Dan Chiasson:

    Art imitates life imitating art: “boustrophedon” describes the path that a plow takes as it moves back and forth in a field, the same serpentine path followed by rivers and by classical manuscripts that alternate between left-right and right-left lines of text. Soon, our contemporary Eurydice in the wrong footwear makes the momentous decision to “shed her red wedge / with its Mary Jane band.” Orpheus, who knows how the story ends, steps in to mansplain her error.

    Boustrophedon — plus Orpheus!


    You remember how obsessed I am with boustrophedon?


    Yes indeed, something to watch out for.

    This I must watch on Netflix

    Monday, August 28th, 2017

    [ by Charles Cameron — continuing in the pesky socratic tradition ]


    Here’s the possible parallelism, d’you dare say it’s a moral equivalence, are the scales even close to equal, or isn’t that the moral point anyway?

    Just a few years after the destruction of European Jewry, the soldier wonders, have we now become oppressors? Have the Arabs now been sent into exile?

    Here’s the whole paragraph:

    In 1949, Yizhar Smilansky, a young Israeli veteran, national legislator, and novelist writing under the pen name S. Yizhar, published “Khirbet Khizeh,” a novella about the destruction of a lightly fictionalized Palestinian village near Ashkelon, some thirty miles south of Tel Aviv. Writing from the point of view of a disillusioned Israeli soldier, Yizhar describes the Army’s capture of the village and the expulsion of its remaining inhabitants. The time is 1948, the moment of Israel’s independence and its subsequent victory over five invading Arab armies that had hoped to erase the fledgling Jewish state from the map. It would be forty years before the New Historians—Benny Morris, Avi Shlaim, and Simha Flapan among them—marshalled the nerve and the documentary evidence required to shatter the myth that hundreds of thousands of Palestinian Arabs had all voluntarily “abandoned” their cities and villages. Yizhar was there to bear witness in real time. He wrote from personal experience; he had been an intelligence officer in the war. In “Khirbet Khizeh,” Yizhar’s protagonist is sickened as he comes across an Arab woman who watches as her home is levelled: “She had suddenly understood, it seemed, that it wasn’t just about waiting under the sycamore tree to hear what the Jews wanted and then to go home, but that her home and her world had come to a full stop, and everything had turned dark and was collapsing; suddenly she had grasped something inconceivable, terrible, incredible, standing directly before her, real and cruel, body to body, and there was no going back.” Just a few years after the destruction of European Jewry, the soldier wonders, have we now become oppressors? Have the Arabs now been sent into exile? And why can’t I bring myself to protest? “Khirbet Khizeh” eventually became part of the Israeli public-school curriculum.


    Source & resource:

  • David Remnick, How Do You Make a TV Show Set in the West Bank?
  • Netflix, Fauda
  • **

    With any luck, I’ll report back at some point. It seems to me that a love of the individual Palestinian should nest within a love of the State of Israel as the circles in the tai chih symbol rest within the swirls of the opposite colors. But what a charged topic!

    A koan!

    Matryoshka Trump

    Thursday, July 20th, 2017

    [ by Charles Cameron — NYorker invokes the nested dolls archetype — not kind to Trump ]

    You already know that I sit up and take special notice when certain forms (symmetries, helices, ouroboroi, etc) show up — because forms are a particularly powerful way in which the mind orders its world, or because the world teaches the mind that it is ordered in formal ways, take your pick — well, one of those forms is the nested form called Matryoshka, which I’ve discussed before:

  • Nesting Buddhas and insubstantiality
  • ISIS goes Matryoshka
  • **

    Imagine, then, my interest to read today’s New Yorker post, Valley of the Russian Dolls: A Hollow, Repetitive Form Proves Perfect for Trump.


    I invite you to read the article yourself to learn about Halina Danchenko. who sells Matryoshka dolls. Shoppers are asked not to open the dolls on display in her stone themselves — however “If you want to see what’s inside the leader of the free world, Danchenko will open him for you.”

    The article is witty, if you share her perspective:

    Trump, who is as matronly as a big bullying man can be, already has the de-facto physique of a nesting doll (and something very like the shellac)

    The dolls are witty too, or should I say catty? Read about the two Trump sets that the article describes in detail..


    If you think Trump is father to a host of lies, as the NYT does, why then this article will amuse you, and conversely, if you see him as a straight-shooting man of truth, not so much.

    The writer, Kathryn Schulz, is clearly in the first category:

    Never has a President seemed so entirely hollow as Trump, so intellectually and morally vacant. Nor has any Administration, so early in its tenure, concealed such a lengthy series of deceptions, or grown so bizarrely, fatally fractal: its lawyers have lawyers, its scandals have sub-scandals, its lies have little lie-lets. It’s easy to imagine, given this prevailing opacity and the incompetence of those nominally in charge, that there is another Trump Russian doll out there, this one filled up with actual Russians.

    And her conclusion:

    That might or might not prove to be the truth about what’s going on inside Donald Trump politically. What’s going on psychologically is a different story. All of us are largely hidden from one another, our most important attributes by definition invisible: minds, hearts, psyches, consciences, souls. Even for ourselves, we can access these aspects only through sustained introspection, a habit anathema to Trump; other people, meanwhile, reveal their innermost selves to us chiefly through their actions. On that evidence, the most accurate Trump doll is the one made of Donalds all the way down: utterly full of himself, in all other ways utterly empty.

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