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Erdogan: Truth as casualty

Monday, January 25th, 2016

[ by Charles Cameron — truth can still be a casualty, even when not at war ]
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That was January 15th.

It didn’t take too long for Erdogan to get around to projecting onto Biden precisely the sort of thing he was in fact doing himself.

Here’s January 23rd:

Psychology — psyche — be thou my muse!

Politics as a cabinet of curiosities

Tuesday, January 19th, 2016

[ by Charles Cameron — see for yourselves — with a theological chaser, for what it’s worth ]
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I’ve been amused, educated, annoyed and entertained by political videos this week. Samples of what’s out there:

Ted Cruz endorsed by a Wild Man:

How Donald Trump talks, #1 — edited for emphasis:

How Trump talks, #2 — analyzed for (Fascinatingly efficient) technique:

** ** **

And perhaps most bizarre of all, Ted Cruz critiqued by Kathleen Parker:

Cruz had said:

If we awaken and energize the body of Christ– if Christians and people of faith come out and vote our values– we will win and we will turn the country around.

Parker comments:

One observation. I don’t know… this seems to have slipped through the cracks a little bit but Ted Cruz said something that I found rather astonishing. He said, you know, “It’s time for the body of Christ to rise up and support me.” I don’t know anyone who takes their religion seriously who would think that Jesus should rise from the grave and resurrect himself to serve Ted Cruz. I know so many people who were offended by that comment. And you know if you want to talk about grandiosity and messianic self-imagery I think he makes Ted Cruz makes Donald Trump look rather sort of like a gentle little lamb.

For the record, Paul makes it explicit in I Corinthians 12. 27 that the members of the Christian community have become the “body of Christ”:

Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular.

Parker exposes an ignorance of basic Christian doctrine, and in her lack of cultural awareness betrays the weak point of a journalism that lacks religious insight — a topic near and dear to me.

**

It is clear that the Christ of the gospels anticipated the breaking of his body and spilling of his blood at the crucifixion, breaking bread which he termed “my body” and sharing a cup of wine at the Last Supper, inviting his disciples to eat and drink and thus partake of him, with a poetic precision that entailed their corporately digesting him and incorporating himself and his mission, body and mind, in themselves.

Yet while this is the record given in the three Synoptic gospels at Matt. 26. 26-29, Mark 14. 22-25 and Luke 22. 17-20, and indeed the foundation of the Eucharist, John’s gospel makes no mention of it. In its place, John offers the great prayer of union — this is my personal reading: I can’t speak for others, and I’m a poet first and foremost — which says in high poetry (John 17. 21-24) what the synoptics have expressed in metaphor:

That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.

And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me. Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me: for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world.

Thus as Alan Watts puts it:

When there is dismemberment in the beginning there is remembrance at the end — that the fulfillment or consummation of the cosmic game is the discovery of what was covered and the recollection of what was scattered.

Thus the body is broken, blood spilled — but not before body and blood have been shared, ingested, digested — and where his single physical body was, the church — body of the bodies of his followers — remains, to perpetuate his task.

Hipbone’s Believe it or Not

Friday, January 8th, 2016

[ by Charles Cameron — how quickly language changes — with a Swiftian nibble chaser]
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From the story update to a 2013 CSM piece, upper panel — oh! how true of so much in the modern mainstream media — with my more succinct 2016 phrasing below:

SPEC DQ clickbait

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It’s good to know the editors at CSM are protecting their readers from a too-literal — perhaps one might say, fundamentalist — reading of their text.

The headline of the story in question reads:

Why do people want to eat babies? Scientists explain.

The subhead:

Admit it: When presented with a baby, you’ve experienced a fleeting desire to eat it. Now science has an explanation.

And better yet, the lead — some would say, lede:

If you’re like most normal people, you’ve briefly considered eating a baby or two.

**

Jonathan Swift might have thought the editors too politcally correct for the necessities of the day, noting —

A young healthy child well nursed, is, at a year old, a most delicious nourishing and wholesome food, whether stewed, roasted, baked, or boiled; and I make no doubt that it will equally serve in a fricassee, or a ragout.

Poetry is dead vs the death penalty for poetry?

Monday, November 30th, 2015

[ by Charles Cameron — current affairs, target practice, and incarnation ]
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Ah.

Palestinian poet and painter Ahraf Fayadh is currently under a death sentence in Saudi Arabia.

It appears important to recognize the full human significance of one’s target

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Flaubert apparently pronounced poetry dead in his posthumous opus, Bouvard et Pécuchet, 1881, and even Newsweek had noted the fact — “filed under: News” — by 2003. Neither Flaubert nor Newsweek, however, was reckoning on the long-standing Arab enthusiasm for poetry, nicely illustrated to this day by the seriousness with which the authorities treat their poets.

**

Oh..

and while we’re on the subject of targeting..

it may also be wise to recognize the full divine significance of one’s target.

Red mercury as scam and symbol

Friday, November 20th, 2015

[ by Charles Cameron — CJ Chivers, nuclear nonsense, faux chemistry, and the alchemical imagination, with hat-tip to Cheryl Rofer ]
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CJ Chivers, conflict journalist extraordinaire and author of a book about the Kalashnikov assault rifle, The Gun, today posted a remarkable account of what he terms The Doomsday Scam, with the subtitle “For decades, aspiring bomb makers — including ISIS — have desperately tried to get their hands on a lethal substance called red mercury. There’s a reason that they never have.”

A taste:

The Islamic State, he said, was shopping for red mercury.

Abu Omar knew what this meant. Red mercury — precious and rare, exceptionally dangerous and exorbitantly expensive, its properties unmatched by any compound known to science — was the stuff of doomsday daydreams. According to well-traveled tales of its potency, when detonated in combination with conventional high explosives, red mercury could create the city-flattening blast of a nuclear bomb. In another application, a famous nuclear scientist once suggested it could be used as a component in a neutron bomb small enough to fit in a sandwich-size paper bag.

and:

To approach the subject of red mercury is to journey into a comic-book universe, a zone where the stubborn facts of science give way to unverifiable claims, fantasy and outright magic, and where villains pursuing the dark promise of a mysterious weapon could be rushing headlong to the end of the world. This is all the more remarkable given the broad agreement among nonproliferation specialists that red mercury, at least as a chemical compound with explosive pop, does not exist.

Indeed, there’s a sidebar in Chivers’ post which sums the topic up nicely:

The shadowy weaponeer’s little helper, red mercury was the unobtainium of the post-Soviet world.

There’s much more, of course — with red mercury rumored to be found in old Singer sewing machines, which briefly raised the price of such machines in Saudi Arabia a thousandfold to $50,000 — and the whole extraordinary piece is more than worthy of your attention. It is also about a concrete, if counter-factual, reading of the term “red mercury.”

Cinnabar, aka mercury sulphide, anyone?

**

A centuries-old debate concerning alchemy has concerned the literal and metaphorical interpretations of alchemical texts.

Scholars up to and including Isaac Newton theorized about and practiced alchemy in their aptly named lab-oratories, at a time when literal and metaphorical “readings” were much less easily considered separately than is the case today. Alchemy was then for a while widely ridiculed as proto- and indeed pseudo-science — a tendency still prevalent in many circles today. And more recently, alchemy has been explored by Carl Jung and followers (and his predecessor, Silberer) as a field of imaginative, metaphorical inquiry illuminating spirituality, psychology and literature.

  • BJT Dobbs, The Foundations of Newton’s Alchemy
  • BJT Dobbs, The Janus Faces of Genius
  • Herbert Silberer, Problems of Mysticism and its Symbolism
  • CG Jung, Psychology and Alchemy
  • CG Jung, Alchemical Studies
  • CG Jung, Mysterium Coniunctionis
  • Marie-Louise von Franz, Aurora Consurgens
  • Titus Burckhardt, Alchemy
  • Jung’s reading of alchemical texts is a symbolic reading — in accordance with the principle “the stone which the builders rejected Has become the chief corner stone” (Psalm 118.22, cf Acts 411), he has taken precisely those materials in the alchemical tradition which modern chemistry rejected as ridiculous, and reclaimed them as symbolic, richly metaphorical expressions of psychological truth.

    **

    It is in that spirit that I turned from Chivers’ fascinating treatment of “red mercury” as an allegedly physical, albeit spurious, substance, with its intriguing narratives of scams from the Cold War to the present day and IS, to take a look at what I might find via a brief search in the Jungian literature. I say “quick” because I have neither the appropriate library nor the time for a more intensive search, but here’s what little I found:

    There’s a “red mercury” reference in Stanton Marlan, The Black Sun: The Alchemy and Art of Darkness, on p. 22:

    The idea is that the raw solar energy must darken and undergo a mortificatio process that reduces it to its prime matter. Only then can the creative energies produce a purified product. In this image the sperm of gold refers not to the ordinary seminal fluid of man but rather to “a semi-material principle,” or aura seminales, the fertile potentiality that prepares the Sun for the sacred marriage with his counterpart, darkness, which is thought to produce a philosophical child or stone and is nourished by the mercurial blood that flows from the wounding encounter of the Lion and the Sun. The blood — called red mercury — is considered a great solvent.

    Marlan then gives us what is effectively a translation of the paragraph above into contemporary therapeutic language:

    Psychologically, there is nourishment in wounding. When psychological blood flows, it can dissolve hardened defenses. This then can be the beginning of true productivity. In dreams the imagery of blood often connotes moments when real feeling and change are possible. The theme of the wound can also suggest a hidden innocence, which is also a subject of mortification. The green color of the lion, which is referred to as “green gold,” suggests something that is immature, unripe, or innocent, as well as growth and fertility. The alchemist imagined this innocence, sometimes called virgin’s milk, as a primary condition, something without Earth and not yet blackened. Typical virgin-milk fantasies are often maintained emotionally in otherwise intellectually sophisticated and developed people.

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    And then there’s what Jung would term synchronicity..

  • CG Jung & Wolfgang Pauli, The Interpretation of Nature and the Psyche
  • In my twitter stream within 3 minutes of my posting my first tweet re Chivers’ piece, & before I’d tweeted my follow up, I ran across this tweet containing the phrase “Drawing Blood will eat the sun”:

    Drawing Blood will eat the sun — just how synchronistically alchemical can Molly Crabapple and Twitter get?


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