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Who is President of the United States?

Friday, January 12th, 2018

[ by Charles Cameron — going all diagnostic on you! ]
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Roberta R. Greene in her Social Work with the Aged and Their Families (p. 100) lists questions nurses routinely asked by physician using Kahn’s Mental Status Questionnaire. I’m only too aware of these, having been subjected to these questions regularly over the past year..

5. What year is it?
6. How old are you?
7. What is your birthday?
8. What year were you born?
9. Who is President of the United States?

They are going to ask President Trump these questions, I immagine, as part of his overall medical evaluation. But that last one:

Who is President of the United States?

That’s an ouroboric question right there — what will he say?

If he says, President Trump, then he’s third-personalizing himself, and that’s diagnostically called illeism: Julius Caesar uses the third person in describing his French campaigns in De Bello Gallico.

But if he avoids that third person usage —

Me! It’s me!

That would suggest he may be uncertain of his victory over Secretary Clinton back when — after all, she won the popular vote!

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Oh the ouroboros! Oh the dilemma!

I had one of those medical questionnaires this morning. My conclusion: the questionnaire or routinized test has not yet been devised that doesn’t seem faintly ridiculous..

Please note that Roberta Greene’s work currently costs $100 as a book book. Urgh. Kindle $45.95 us a little better.

Best Trump Ouroboros ever — and other phrasings of interest

Tuesday, January 9th, 2018

[ by Charles Cameron — politics gets literary fast in this one ]
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An amazingly candid gesture from Donald Trump‘s back-story:

In a 1997 interview with Howard Stern, he described escaping from his own wedding reception—his second, when he married Marla Maples—as quickly as possible to look at coverage of the wedding.

How “Fox & Friends” Rewrites Trump’s Reality

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The only vaguely comparable gesture I can think of for its severity is the one in which an unstable genius by any account, the poet Rainer Maria Rilke, chose not to attend his own daughter Ruth‘s wedding because he weighed up “the realization of my inner life” against “the work required to achieve an external life” and decided not to attend lest he miss a poem inbound during the journey or ceremony — or was it Cézanne he praised, “for not losing an afternoon of painting even to attend his only daughter’s wedding”? Surely they can’t both have missed their daughters’ respective weddings!

Or can they, almost?

Here’s a poem by Richard Michelson from More Money than God:

Cézanne Forgets His Wife’s Funeral

The day Rilke missed his daughter’s wedding,
the lesser poets, pens capped, were making love
in the Bavarian countryside, or feeding the chickens
on their fathers’ farms. But Rilke is bent over, chiseling
each syllable, although the chiselers who run the world
pay by the pound. Here, in the cherry orchard of his
patron’s château, he pauses, listens for the nightingales
singing their Keatsian songs, masking the pitiful sound
of his grandmother’s dying. What’s your excuse?

..

But in truth I am late again, running lights
and thinking of Cézanne, who is smiling
as he folds up his easel. Hortense, come quickly,
look
, he calls out; only then, remembering.

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Well, that little meander through Rilke and Cézanne was a little more romantically endearing than the Trump matter..

Other oddments I’ve run across recently — I’ll use the comments section here to collect others —

A Freedom Outpost ouroboros:

Evidently now writing about Facebook censorship is grounds for being censored on Facebook.

Not terribly democratic, if true..

A note from friend JM Berger:

.. and there was something about whether Steve Bannon was a scapegoat or a lightning rod — a fine distinction for ontologists to ponder.

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Discuss, eh?

Uday and Qusay Trump motif traces back to Bill Maher

Sunday, January 7th, 2018

[ by Charles Cameron — more striking examples of form in the news, “pressed down and flowing over” ]
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Michael Wolff‘s book Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House has been quoted extensively, but one accusation struck me forcibly, both because of its viciousnes and because it has a formal property of double, parallel construction. The comparison was between Trump‘s sons Donald Jr. and Eric, and Saddam‘s sons, Uday and Qusay:

Don Jr. and Eric — behind their backs known to Trump insiders as Uday and Qusay, after the sons of Saddam Hussein — wondered if there couldn’t somehow be two parallel White House structures, one dedicated to their father’s big-picture views, personal appearance and salesmanship, and the other concerned with day-to-day management issues.

Crudely but vividly put in a Pinterest graphgc [I’ve reduced its scale, but you get the idea]:

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Under the header, Maher Rips Trump Sons — Calls Them ‘Uday and Qusay’, Breitbart reported in September 2016 what seems to me most likely the original source of Wolff’s unsourced remark:

On the Friday airing of HBO’s “Real Time,” host Bill Maher slammed the two sons of Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, Donald Trump, Jr. and Eric Trump.

Maher partially cited a Trump quote from his 2008 book, “Think Big,” which he used as a segue to attack the Trump children.

“Donald Trump also once said, ’Sometimes people will come into my office and they will be great. They will look great, they’ll sound great, they dress beautifully. Everything is great. Then after you hire them they turn out to be morons,’ which explains his sons Uday and Qusay.”

“I mean Trump, Sr. at the what House is bad enough without these two American psychos putting plastic over the furniture so that they can axe murder prostitutes while discussing Phil Collins,” he continued.

According to Breitbart, then, Maher would seem to be the ur-source — with just a hint that Trump himself may be partially responsible at that:

which explains his sons Uday and Qusay.

The Trump sourcing strikes me as so attenuated as to be worthless, but the tie to Maher seems undeniable — whether it’s Wolff’s only source or not.

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Here are a couple of other items in the news which have caught my eye on account of their formal propeties. Here, from Real clear Politics, is the first:

President Trump said there was no collusion between himself on the Russians, but there was collusion between Hillary Clinton and the Russians and the Democratic National Committee and the Russians.

That strrikes me as a clear instance of what psychologists term projectionAri Melber writes in his intro to psychologist Dr. Justin Frank, who discusses the issue with him:

Trump uses ‘projection’ as a defense tactic

Trump is an expert at projecting his own faults onto his political rivals as a defense mechanism

There are plenty of other arguable examples of Trump’s likely instinctive use of projection, but to my mind the most powerful are those that use the same words or phrases — eg: “collusion between [self, other] and the Russians” — in a short span to contrast the denial [against self] and accusation {against the other].

It’s a widely-found psychological trick — and a beautiful formal setup. The saying about “the pot calling the kettle black” summarizes it nicely, as Ari Melber obviously knows:

And dig this example:

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A second form to keep an eye out for, and one of my own favorites, is the serpent-bites-its-tail motif, or ouroboros.

Discussing Trump saying he’llannounce his “Dishonest and Corrupt Media Awards” tomorroww:–

“I will be announcing THE MOST DISHONEST & CORRUPT MEDIA AWARDS OF THE YEAR on Monday at 5:00 o’clock,” Trump wrote. “Subjects will cover Dishonesty & Bad Reporting in various categories from the Fake News Media. Stay tuned!

Everyone in comedy took immediate advantage, proposing themslves (!) for awards:

but it was Ari Melber, host of MSNBC’s The Beat, who nailed the ouroboric implications of Trump’s challenge with this question:

Will he be physically able to give an award to anyone other than himself?

It may not feature groovy graphics, like the two late-night comedians’ tweets do — but that explicit Trumpian self-reference really stings!

Enough. I’m getting dizzy, and that’s something my doctors would scribble about it I mentioned it. Gotta save them pencil-wear — I’m not so simple as a list of symptoms, added to a single numbered diagnosis,

Catchall post for comments with form

Saturday, December 30th, 2017

[ by Charles Cameron — ouroboric and boustrophedonic news aggregated for yr edification ]
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this is certainly tne essential Ouroboros, no?

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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.”

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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..

And:

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.

??!!

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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?

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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.

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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..

Game and other metaphors

Tuesday, December 19th, 2017

[ by Charles Cameron — chess, billiards, dominoes and roulette — one horse, but no cats ]
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I’m always fascinated by chess and other game metaphors, but they’re generally verbal, so this one is a treat:

That’s from a War on the Rocks / US Institute of Peace piece, Harnessing Iraq’s deadly array of armed groups after ISIL, by Sarhang Hamasaeed — the first in a series.

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War is the continuation of games by other means. Everyone and her donkey has an “x is the continuation of y by other means” formulation, and they’re mostly a bit lame — this is mine.

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Some recent game metaphors I’ve caught while my computer has been in the shop:

Chris Matthews had a rather neat billiards insight: “you always want to place the ball after the shot..

Somewhere — it’s probably a cliche by now — “the first domino to fall”.

“Nasser is playing roulette with the stability of the whole world” — in the TV series, Crown. second season, episode 1.

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Okay, non-game metaphors, of particular interest when they’re religious:

Al Franken was identified as a sacrificial lamb after his fellow Dems turned on him en masse by Kevin Nealon, a metaphor disputed by Stephanie Ruhle.

Scapegoats, sacrificial lambs amd martyrs are about as heady a set of transcendental metaphors as one might hope for — Franken is in heady conceptual company here.

And here’s a newly-minted Franken-word:

There’s a new word which has registered on the media’s radar, and that is “unresign” — or “un-resign,” depending on the news organization.

Aah, aah.

Okay, back to religion. Church MilitantSteve Bannon apparently used the phrase at a Vaticaan conference in 2014:

In his presentation, Mr. Bannon, then the head of the hard-right website Breitbart News and now Mr. Trump’s chief strategist, called on the “church militant” to fight a global war against a “new barbarity” of “Islamic fascism” and international financial elites, with 2,500 years of Western civilization at risk.

Samuel Freedman commented in the NYT:

While most listeners probably overlooked the term “church militant,” knowledgeable Catholics would have recognized it as a concept deeply embedded in the church’s teaching. Moreover, they would have noticed that Mr. Bannon had taken the term out of context, invoking it in a call for cultural and military conflict rather than for spiritual warfare, particularly within one’s soul, its longstanding connotation.

Metaphor? The Church as an army? Salvation Army? Or a direct reference to the Church, factually, actually, Militant?

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Well-turned phrases:

“The cost of doing nothing is not nothing.” John Delaney, (D-MD)

“The Arabs never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity,” quoted in The Jerusalem Post, November 2002.

Well, that’s a bit ancient. How about:

This is what hell looks like: a country where people talk about morals and wave bibles, defending someone who’s accused of pedophilia. .. and what we need is redmption.

That’s Frank Schaeffer, son of Francis Schaeffer — founder of L’Abri and the conservative right movement — on JoyAM. Fierce.

And cruel, but decidedly witty — this amazing headline:

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Then there are the ouroboroi — the self-referential phrasings:

Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA):

You call it the Trump privilege. I call it the privilege privilege.

Also: “To spy on the spies.”

And somewhere: “investigating the investigators..”

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Mercifully, no cute cats nor kitties.


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