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Sunday surprise, Joni I — frostbite and sunstroke

Sunday, December 9th, 2018

[ by Charles Cameron — a study in dualities in songs of the wondrous joni m ]
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Okay, let’s start with the source of that supremely compressed universe, frostbite and sunstroke:

**

I say, “compressed universe” because those two words represent the two poles of the entire universe from one angle, and wherever two such poles are present, they transcend:

  • breath, death
  • alpha, omega
  • womb, tomb
  • etc
  • Wikipedia:

    The unity of opposites is the central category of dialectics, said to be related to the notion of non-duality in a deep sense

    Heraclitus:

    The road up and the road down are the same

    Nicolas of Cusa [in Joseph Kelly, The Problem of Evil in the Western Tradition:

    God is the principle of unity, of identity, bringing together in himself all opposites and then transcending them. He is the opposite of the opposites. He negates the contradictions of the world.

    He is the opposite of the opposites!

    And Wikipedia again:

    Mircea Eliade, a 20th-century historian of religion, used the term extensively in his essays about myth and ritual, describing the coincidentia oppositorum as “the mythical pattern”. Psychiatrist Carl Jung, the philosopher and Islamic Studies professor Henry Corbin as well as Jewish philosophers Gershom Scholem and Abraham Joshua Heschel also used the term.

    That’s pretty much my reading list for eternity, plus or minus Plotinus, Shakespeare and the Upanishads..

    **

    So, Joni. Singer-writer in a long tradition.. Vic Garbarini, Joni Mitchell is a Nervy Broad:

    For Mitchell, ordinary life is a semioticist’s paradise, a place where coincidence and synchronicity can be the catalysts that reveal glimpses of a deeper pattern, a unity that underlies and ultimately resolves what appear on the surface to be irreconcilable opposites. In Mitchell’s tales of incredible coincidences on steamy streets or chance encounters with affable drunks in hotel lobbies, vital pieces of the puzzle drop into place, and the whole is glimpsed.

    Oh yes, Joni sees both sides now:

    Threeness games — some back-up materials

    Wednesday, October 3rd, 2018

    [ by Charles Cameron — ternary logic is of special import because it upsets binary oppositional thinking ]
    .

    In a recent comment, I said that to connect with my various posts on three-player games, there’s this from an episode of Designated Survivor:

    transnational three-way spy trade

    For the record, that’s a win-win-win strategy.

    **

    While we’re on the subject of threeness games, there’s Brett Kavanaugh‘s explanation of Devil’s Triangle as a drinking game in his testimony:

    Sen Whitehouse: Devil’s Triangle?
    Judge Kavanaugh: Drinking game.
    Sen Whitehouse: How’s it played?
    Judge Kavanaugh: Three glasses, in a triangle..
    Sen Whitehouse: And?
    Judge Kavanaugh: You ever play Quarters?
    Sen Whitehouse: No.
    Judge Kavanaugh: It’s a Quarters game.

    Here’s a more conventional explanation:

    A “Devil’s Triangle” is a widely used term for an act of sexual congress between two men and a woman; but during his hearing, Brett Kavanaugh nonsensically insisted that this was some sort of drinking game.

    Okay, these matters are interesting not because they deal with threeness as in friend or foe games in which temporary alliances (twos) can overcome single ones while new alliances can switch losers for winners — nor as in Konrad Lorenz‘s goose pecking order example, where a > b > c > a — but simply because threeness is involved — three players, three cups &c.

    **

    For good measure, from MIT Tech Review, The first “social network” of brains lets three people transmit thoughts to each other’s heads:

    In recent years, physicists and neuroscientists have developed an armory of tools that can sense certain kinds of thoughts and transmit information about them into other brains. That has made brain-to-brain communication a reality.

    These tools include electroencephalograms (EEGs) that record electrical activity in the brain and transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), which can transmit information into the brain.

    That — apart from the brains themselves — is the basic tech involved.

    In 2015, Andrea Stocco and his colleagues at the University of Washington in Seattle used this gear to connect two people via a brain-to-brain interface. The people then played a 20 questions–type game.

    An obvious next step is to allow several people to join such a conversation, and today Stocco and his colleagues announced they have achieved this using a world-first brain-to-brain network. The network, which they call BrainNet, allows a small group to play a collaborative Tetris-like game.

    That’s the gaming.

    And here’s the pretty diagram that allows those like myself who have only the haziest of ideas where or what the occipital cortex is to nod sagely, acknowledging that we learn something new every day..

    **

    One isn’t, I’ve argued, even a number: one is one and all alone, and ever more shall be so. Two is the first number, standing as it does both for binary systems (duel and duet, competition and collaboration) and for many or all, as in the one and the many, or one and all..

    But three — ah, three is the first differentiated number, neither two nor two plus two (aka two multiplied by two, two to its own power, two squared, four).. It stands in its own right: three.

    In the number series, it offers us our first hint that there are shades of grey possible between none and one, yes and no, day and night, black and white..

    Three is the tie-breaker, the umpire, balance, justice — three is the liminal number par excellence.

    **

    And one last scrap of detail:

    The proof-of-principle network connects three people: two senders and one person able to receive and transmit, all in separate rooms and unable to communicate conventionally. The group together has to solve a Tetris-like game in which a falling block has to be rotated so that it fits into a space at the bottom of the screen.

    The two senders, wearing EEGs, can both see the full screen. The game is designed so the shape of the descending block fits in the bottom row either if it is rotated by 180 degrees or if it is not rotated. The senders have to decide which and broadcast the information to the third member of the group.

    This is all a bit primitive thus far, but then it’s also a beginning — a window on vast possibilities.

    **

  • Zenpundit, Numbers by the numbers: three / pt 1,
  • Zenpundit, Spectacularly non-obvious, I: Elkus on strategy & games
  • Zenpundit, Spectacularly non-obvious, 2: threeness games
  • Zenpundit, Spectacular illustration of a game of three

  • & no doubt, more..
  • Three — watch out for it, in Hegel, in CS Peirce, in George Boole, in Clausewitz, everywhere!

    Sunday surprise existential question: so, are actors real people?

    Monday, August 6th, 2018

    { by Charles Cameron — and are you maybe reading this zenpundit post in real life? ]
    .

    You’ve almost certainly seen one or more of these Chevy ads, more than twice..

    Real people. Not actors.

    **

    Indeed, they’ve been viewed so many times, in so many variants, that there’s now a Progressive ad that pulls the obvious reversal:

    Real actors. Not people.

    **

    Then there’s the existential question, referenced in The Atlantic‘s The Reality of Those ‘Real People, Not Actors’ Ads piece:

    During commercial breaks at the Olympics viewing parties I’ve been at in the past week, one company’s ads have consistently sent the room into a round of existential questions. What is reality? Aren’t we all actors? Just how excited can a normal person get about J.D. Power awards?

    Existential? Holy Moly. But then, according to One Of The ‘Real People’ From That Chevy Commercial Speaks Out:

    As The News Wheel reported in 2015, some of the “real people” were actors by profession, a fact explained away by a GM representative who claimed this was just because they scouted for people in LA. Struggling actors who know that faking enthusiasm could yield a better paycheck could explain this.

    Phew, that was a close one!

    **

    And every actor surely knows Shakespeare, no? Jaques, in As You Like It? All the world’s a stage? In the Globe Theatre, motto: All the world enacts a play?

    But forget Shakespeare and the more things in heaven and earth than are dremed of in his existential philosophy — I think I know what the Chevy ads boil down to:

    Real ads. Not truth.

    Aha, mini-epiphany! Fast forward, if you ask me.

    Wittgenstein’s language games and the public sphere

    Monday, May 7th, 2018

    [ by Charles Cameron — suggesting a lessening of TV Trumpery and its critiques ]
    .

    In a tweet earliee today, I suggested that the close reading of a text can be highly rewarding, a point I made most forcefully in Close reading, Synoptic- and Sembl-style, for parallels, patterns.

    Key to a close reading is the “language” in which a given writer or speaker clothes their words.. “language” here being used both in the sense of their metaphors and forms (which is why I’ve been collecting sports and other metaphors, ouroboroi and other forms) and in the sense formulated by Witty Wittgenstein in his Philosophical Investigations (PI).

    The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy offers us a list of regular language games as Wittgenstein uses the term in PI:

    reporting an event, speculating about an event, forming and testing a hypothesis, making up a story, reading it, play-acting, singing catches, guessing riddles, making a joke, translating, asking, thanking

    I want to suggest that we could usefully think of language games in terms of the philosophical, ideological, partisan, religious or psychological drivers that propel them.

    Further, in the case of Trump, we might observe that the language game he is playing is not the one his critics on, say, MSNBC, are basing their own critiques on.

    And here’s the great advantage: once we’ve analyzed the differences between Trump’s language game and aims and those of his critics, we could close shop. We wouldn’t need this constant barrage of Fox and MSNBC news on the topic — any new utterance of his or Giulianis of note could simply be indexed to the sub-para describing that particular disjunction in language game, and basta! — the rest of the news “oxygen” would be available for the discussion of other topics.

    As a subset of that para — I don’t suppose Mueller xxwill want to take every piece of “off the cuff” Trumpery as intended as real “truth” — “all that is the case” –he’ll surely see it as entertainment and distraction — chuff and chaff — and zero in on the key statements of the President’s worldview, viewing them as exemplars not of “truth” but of a language game to be analyzed and evaluated as such. Having zeroed in on these relatively few key phrases, many of the many critiques offered by Trump’s accusers.

    **

    Wittgenstein asks what all that we consider to be games have in common, and decides they share a family resemblance but — in my words, here — the cousins on one side of the family have little (a polite word for “nothing”) in common with the cousins at the other end of thr spectrum.

    If the Olympic Games included language games in their list of sports, Giuliani‘s reference to FBI agents as stormtroopers wight win long jump gold.

    Here’s Jonathan Chait in Giuliani’s FBI ‘Stormtroopers’ Smear Is the Key to Trump’s Authoritarian Mind-set”>:

    In 1995, National Rifle Association president Wayne LaPierre signed his name to a fundraising letter referring to Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms agents as “tjack-booted government thugs.” The implicit association of American federal law enforcement with fascists provoked a furor. Former president George H. W. Bush publicly resigned his NRA membership in protest; LaPierre had to apologize.

    Last night, in the midst of a long, deeply incriminating interview, Rudy Giuliani called FBI agents “stormtroopers.” Here was the president’s lawyer, not an outside lobbyist, comparing federal law enforcement to Nazis directly, rather than indirectly.

    Stormtrooper vs jack-booted government thugs is an interesting comparison (& makes a fine DoubleQuote), and Chait’s “implicit association of American federal law enforcement with fascist” in hth cases exemplify just the kind of language extremism we should be avoiding in our policy debates.

    Chait’s continuing half-paragraph illminates the arcane workings of the media machine in processing such things:

    The Washington Post’s account of Giuliani’s interview noted the remark in a single sentence, in the 30th paragraph of its story. The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and Politico accounts of Giuliani’s interview did not even mention the stormtrooper remark at all.

    There are times I wish for sanity.

    **

    Okay, that was third and last in this series.. Previously:

  • On negative space in the painting..
  • On negative space, private morality in the public square
  • This:

  • Wittgenstein’s language games and the public sphere
  • resource: The Rajneeshis and the Incels

    Wednesday, April 25th, 2018

    [ by Charles Cameron — opposite extremists at opposite extremes — for JM, if he ever gets time to read / view / hear it ]
    .

    As I write this, JM Berger is publishing what will no doubt be a powerfully argued and fascinating theoretical and, I suspect, anecdotal account of a wide range of extremists, Extremism (The MIT Press Essential Knowledge series):

    extremism arises from a perception of “us versus them,” intensified by the conviction that the success of “us” is inseparable from hostile acts against “them.”

    **

    I presented JM’s tweet-stream detailing the stages of his developing theoretical researches culminating in this book on ZP not so very long ago, at JM Berger, Extremism — you have been alerted, informed

    Both the groups I’ll discuss here finally fit JM’s definition, but my interest is in a comparison between two searches at an earlier time in their development when their motives can be seen prior to violence. And what interests me is that their situations are polar opposites. In brief, one laments zero sex, the other enjoys infinite sex.

    In both cases, sex is central, central is too weak a word..

    **

    Sex

    Cobsider the ways of the world around you, Vogue, the tabloids, Playboy, porn..

    Consider your own desires and fantasies, your urgencies and restraint, lust and romance, your personal Casablanca (and note Janis’s Casablance ref!! when we get there)..

    And having considered sex, consider these two extremes on its spectrum:

    **

    Sex to the almost infinite power:

    Consider Christina Aguilera, live, body & voice:

    And consider Janis singing:

    “Move Over” is the only song on the 1971 album “Pearl” that Janis wrote on her own. If the lyric doesn’t strike you as particularly suggestive, just listen to the way she sings it and you’ll see what we mean.

    Apply that to:

    And now multiply by this, drawn from her letters:

    She certainly didn’t subscribe to the radical-feminist orthodoxies of the superfluousness of men. She fell in love at a heartbeat; her sexual appetites are perhaps best described as ravenous (she had female as well as male lovers), her judgment frequently awry.

    That’s — listen to her singing again, concert after concert —

    sexuality, pure & full-throated.

    This — I can’t manage both — from a male (ie female) perspective..

    & woah!:

    [ & btw, philosophers, listen up, if you don’t already ]

    janis song: “a woman left lonely”

    “she would make love to 25,000 on stage, then go home alone..”

    ight be able to do both sex & incel with Janis..

    **

    Given that, that strnegth, that compulsive pull, that driven drive

    Zero Sex, the absence, involuntary

    Those who are involuntarily celibate — can’t get none — perceiving themselves shunned by those who attract them __

    final lyrics, one version:James Brown, It’s a Man’s World..:

    Oh how, how man needs a woman
    I sympathize with the man that don’t have a woman
    He’s lost in the wilderness
    He’s lost in bitterness
    He’s lost in loneliness

    The last three lines occur frequently in different recordings, the line I sympathize with the man that don’t have a woman comes from a version I don’t have access to on video. And that last stanza, with that line in it, could be an incel anthem.

    The raw reality of it: a child’s wail — see how much you can bear to see —

    Hreere, should you care to watch it, is the boy’s full video, unvarnished:

    This boy, this young man, a day or so after making this video, went out and killed six people in Isla Vista, Calif., in an attempt as “the prefect gentleman” to get his revenge on the hottest blondes in UC Santa Barbara. And became, for some, a hero to be emulated.. And emulated he was.

    Readings follow suit:

  • Forbes, The Disturbing Internet Footprint Of Santa Barbara Shooter Elliot Rodger
  • Clarion Project, What is the ‘Incel Revolution’ and Why Should I Care?
  • NYTimes, Toronto Van Attack Suspect Expressed Anger at Women
  • NYTimes, What Is an Incel? A Term Used by the Toronto Van Attack Suspect, Explained
  • WaPo, Inside the online world of ‘incels,’
  • LRB, Does anyone have the right to sex?
  • It is this extreme I have greater difficuty understanding.

    This most recently, btw:

  • LATimes, Killer who committed massacre in Isla Vista was part of alt-righ
  • The SPLC report counts Rodger among 13 alleged alt-right killers whose actions left 43 people dead and more than 60 injured since 2014.

    Elliot Rodger, the 22-year-old who killed six students in the college town of Isla Vista in 2014, was the first “alt-right killer” to strike in recent years..

    As I said, BTW..

    **

    Sex raised hopefully to the power of the infinite:

    And then I hear that howl against the backdrop of the (mixed-bag) documentary about the Rajneeshis:

    Wide-open their hope, shut-down their finale.

    **

    And finally, Something Other

    Now I want to watch, binge-watch Brideshead Revisited, the Jeremy Irons version, for some very un-American, upper-class-snobbish, public-school-boy, Roman-Catholic-gay historical-throwback art-level Britishness:

    Dropping you in at an odd, a very odd luncheon:

    I who have been beaten — four, with a bamboo cane, at Wellington College, (a sort of military academy slash prep school) — for doing the Times crossword in place of my math moework. Ah yes, and when I came up to Christ Church, Oxford, dunked in Mercury, that college’s Tom Quad pool, after exacting the price of a glass of port from my tormentors, almost twenty years before the film from which this excerpt was taken, was filmed.

    For I too am Anglo and Roman Catholic and Buddhist and Taoist and a snob — at least until I meet you or you, and humanity breaks in.


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