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Lao Tzu in the Comey hearing

Thursday, June 8th, 2017

[ by Charles Cameron — not the most politically relevant quote from Comey, but perhaps the most curious ]
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It’s not every day you get to see Lao Tzu playing out in the natsc arena:

Sources:

  • Stephen Mitchell, tr., Tao Te Ching, chapter 56
  • Politico, James Comey testimony transcript on Trump and Russia
  • Silence, populated with sounds

    Thursday, February 16th, 2017

    [ by Charles Cameron — A Meditation In Time Of War, you might say ]
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    The DoubleQuote:

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    Sources:

  • John Cage, Silence: Lectures and Writings
  • Sa’ed Atshan, A Palestinian Quaker bears witness to pacifism
  • I was brought to Atshan’s remarkable piece by Tim Burke, writing on his Easily Distracted blog today:

    My colleague Sa’ed Atshan is profoundly committed to trying to get out of the standard confinements of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. At the least if one were going to disagree with him–or accuse him–you would want to contend with the ethical biography he sets out in his Feb. 14 piece for the American Friends Service Committee. Contend with it in its particulars: that’s what he says he believes.

    Instead, here’s what we have: anonymous sites that use innuendo and arguments-by-association assembled by cowards then being used by parents at Friends Central School to manipulate its principal into declaring, “This person shouldn’t be giving a talk at our school”.

    And before you say a damn thing, I don’t like it when similar conduct is used by someone that’s “on my side”. I didn’t like it one bit when one of our students used the same kind of soft lies and pollution-by-contagion to argue against a possible graduation speaker at Swarthmore. I don’t like it period.

    Let the man keep his own silence or speak for himself

    Wednesday, June 15th, 2016

    [ by Charles Cameron — regarding the conflicting reports on Imran Yousuf’s religious affiliation ]
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    Perhaps:

    Maybe:

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    If the Orlando Marine hero Imran Yousuf is a practicing Muslim, that would tend to balance out the Muslim claim of the shooter, Omar Mateen. Yousuf might be Muslim, he might be Hindu, he might be — who knows? He’s certainly a Marine, which (Semper Fi) is a faith or fidelity of its own. In the meantime, let’s let the man keep his own silence, or speak for himself.

    Brevity in Paradox

    Monday, May 2nd, 2016

    [ by Charles Cameron — or as John Cage once said, I have nothing to say and I am saying it and that is poetry ]
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    suzuki_enso-2-sm

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    JV Cunningham has a poem which runs in its entirety:

    Life flows to death as rivers to the sea
    And life is fresh and death is salt to me.

    Brilliant and brief. Samuel Beckett goes him one better, writing:

    My birth was my death. Or put it another way. My birth was the death of me. Words are scarce.

    It’s the scarcity that interests me here. Earlier, in Godot, he had written:

    They give birth astride of a grave, the light gleams an instant, then it’s night once more.

    That’s too wordy. “My birth was the death of me” packs a colloquial punch, while “My birth was my death” is more succinct and correspondingly powerful.

    **

    Birth > death.

    They are opposites, obviously, and almost tautologically so — and yet there is a less-than-obvious “double meaning” to them — when brought into close conjunction they can be said to fold the universe from many back into one.

    This business of the conjunction of opposites is one which Carl Jung made the centerpiece of much of his later work, writing for instance:

    Whoever identifies with an intellectual standpoint will occasionally find his feeling confronting him like an enemy in the guise of the anima; conversely, an intellectual animus will make violent attacks on the feeling standpoint. Therefore, anyone who wants to achieve the difficult feat of realizing something not only intellectually, but also according to its feeling-value, must for better or worse come to grips with the anima/animus problem in order to open the way for a higher union, a coniunctio oppositorum. This is an indispensable prerequisite for wholeness.

    Consider the current US election campaign in this light…

    **

    Shakespeare’s “insult, exult, and all at once” in As you Like It, and Dylan Thomas’ “Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray” in Do not go gentle are 0other instances of brevity in paradox.

    Beckett, Jung, Shakespeare, Dylan Thomas — heady company.

    Chain-links: silence

    Wednesday, October 28th, 2015

    [ by Charles Cameron — sometimes a DoubleQuote — or even a triple or quad — is not enough ]
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    Link Chain vertical

    So here is the first in a new occasional series I’ll call Chain-links. I haven’t figured out a format for presenting these things yet, but something of that kind will probably emerge along the way. In the meanwhile, my first entry in the series is about silence.

    You are invited to consider the series of quotes here as the flow of a single idea down a sequence of steps, fluid, shifting in emphasis..

    **

    A Roman courtroom appearance:

    And Jesus stood before the governor: and the governor asked him, saying, Art thou the King of the Jews? And Jesus said unto him, Thou sayest. And when he was accused of the chief priests and elders, he answered nothing. Then said Pilate unto him, Hearest thou not how many things they witness against thee? And he answered him to never a word; insomuch that the governor marvelled greatly.

                            Matthew 27. 11-14

    A British courtroom, many centuries later:

    Not so. Not so, Master Secretary. The maxim is “Qui tacet consentire”: the maxim of the law is “Silence gives consent”. If therefore you wish to construe what my silence betokened, you must construe that I consented, not that I denied.

                            A Man for All Seasons

                            Thomas More, in A Man for All Seasons

    Contemporary diplomatic protocol:

    A proposal with strong support is deemed to have been agreed unless any member raises an objection to it before a precise deadline: silence signifies assent – or, at least, acquiescence.

                            GR Berridge, Diplomacy: Theory and Practice

    Before a Congressional committee, under interrogation or in court:

    On counsel’s advice, I invoke my right under the Fifth Amendment not to answer, on the grounds I may incriminate myself.

                            “Taking the Fifth”

    When journos ask truth of power:

    No comment.

                            Press secretaries and their bureaucrats everywhere.

    And for good measure:

    Loose lips triptych

    **

    How does Thomas More before Cromwell — or Christ before Pilate — compare with the American who takes the Fifth, the harried executive who won’t comment?

    What kind of speech is silence?

    **

    Water flowing down the steps in the Fort Worth Water Gardens:


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