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Sunday surprise #21 — Defiant Requiem

Sunday, April 13th, 2014

[ by Charles Cameron -- the power of music -- Verdi's Requiem in the Terezin / Theresienstadt concentration camp ]

Two minutes of your time will bring you the Dies Irae of Giuseppe Verdi‘s Requiem, conducted by Claudio Abbado with the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra:



A little over an hour will bring you an astounding documentary, describing how the Jewish prisoners of the Theresienstadt camp ouside Prague rallied around conductor Rafael Schächter to perform that great Requiem, not once but sixteen times, inside the camp…

From the Defiant Requiem Foundation site:

Conductor Rafael Schächter told the choir, “We will sing to the Nazis what we cannot say to them.” … The performances came to symbolize resistance and defiance and answering the worst of mankind with the best of mankind. The performance is powerful, dramatic and inspirational, with a contemporary message of hope.


You might wish to support a performance of this work in Detroit, currently being funded on Kickstarter:


And the Requiem itself — played here by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra under Ricardo Muti — will take less than two of your hours — you can safely skip the introductory remarks and go straight to the 12 minute mark:

— less than two hours, yet timeless.


Trumping even the horrors of the camps: the power of music.


Sunday surprise #20: when mirrors breathe

Sunday, March 30th, 2014

[ by Charles Cameron -- my sunday surprise series is where i offer my own variant on cute cat pictures and quotes by einstein attributed to gandhi ]



Here for your consideration is a video of a box of mirrors that lives and breathes, believe it or not, on an iron lung:

There are so many things going on in this video to delight me, I hardly know where to begin:

  • mirrors, hence symmetry…
  • mirrors mirroring mirrors, hence recursion…
  • distorting mirrors, hence carnival…
  • diffraction, hence moire effects, or the universe as silk…
  • prismatics, hence the many in the one in the many…
  • diastole / systole, hence the universal tide
  • the inanimate animate, hence the hard question in consciousness — aka “does spirit matter?” and “is matter spirit?”
  • breath, hence life itself
  • We could talk about any or all of these…



  • N-Light Membrane
  • Artists:

  • The Numen Group
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    Peter O’Toole, RIP — & that goes for TE Lawrence and OB Laden, too

    Monday, December 16th, 2013

    [ by Charles Cameron -- farewell to a great actor, also some curious related videos ]

    So Peter O’Toole is no longer among us. Film-makers and actors routinely bring three dimensions out of the two-dimensional silver screen, but O’Toole had the gift to show us more dimensions than most, so I thought a small tribute might be in place.

    As a Brit with an interest in the local strain of theology, O’Toole’s role as King Henry II in Peter Glenville‘s film adaptation of Jean Anouilh‘s Becket was an obvious choice…

    But then, you know, there’s also TE Lawrence, who ties into the fascination hereabouts with strategy, and with the Middle East, and my being a Brit again — so I went looking for a decent clip from David Lean’s “Lawrence of Arabia”, and found…

    I mean, why?

    Lawrence of Arabia didn’t look at all like that, we all know what he looked like, he looked like this:


    I’ve been posting about these exceedingly curious YouTube videos meshing bin Laden imagery with great classical music for a while now [see here and here], and wondering what on earth they might mean. I ran across some more of them recently — if the topic is still of interest, let me know, and I’ll post something on my more recent finds.


    On Islam 1: Reuel Mark Gerecht

    Tuesday, November 26th, 2013

    [ by Charles Cameron -- on an impressive video, featuring Matt Levitt and Reuel Gerecht on Hezbollah ]

    Matthew Levitt‘s contribution to a recent panel at the International Soy Museum was a tour de force. Levitt, whose work as a CT analyst has included stints with both the FBI and Treasury, was discussing his most recent book, Hezbollah: The Global Footprint of Lebanon’s Party of God — both the book and his talk are strongly recommended.

    It is, however, his colleague Reuel Marc Gerecht‘s contribution to that session that I wish to highlight here, because [starting at 44.40] he made a point about Hezbollah from his own CT experience that he still finds it necessary to make in 2013, some two decades after his service with the CIA commenced in the 1990s:

    One of the things I was struck by when I came into the Agency, and I was struck by it on the day that I left the Agency, which was: you almost never had officers either on the clandestine side or in the directorate of analysis, the Directorate of Intelligence, talk about God. You just didn’t have that many people sort of put it together and talk about what actually motivated people.

    You know, there was almost an assumption out there, Oh, the Iranians were upset with us because of our dealing with the Shah etcetera, but the actual analysis of the Iranian complaint against the United States was distinctly secular. Even the analysis of the Hezbollah was distinctly secular. And it never made any sense, particularly if you started to have some exposure to these individuals, and you suddenly realized that no, their motivations aren’t secular usually, their motivations are actually deeply spiritual, they’re religious, they’re about God.

    — and [starting 53.04]:

    There is a profound reflex in the West to look at a group like Hezbollah, and to look at their Iranian sponsors, and to take God out of the equation. Don’t do that. We wouldn’t do it with al-Qaida. Don’t do it with these groups either. If you do that, if you neuter them of their religious belief, if you look at it as just an ethnic movement, if you look at it as just a sectarian movement, if you look at it as just the Shi’a getting even in Lebanon, then you’re making an atrocious analytical mistake, which will bushwhack you, I guarantee you, over and over again. You have to keep God in this equation…

    The one bright spot in this dismal account of the secular mindset blinding itself to religious passion is Gerecht’s statement: “We wouldn’t do it with al-Qaida”.


    For more on the way our own worldviews can blind us to the worldviews of others, see my post on Gaidi Mtaani, together with the two follow ups to that post which I shall be posting here shortly.


    Sunday surprise 10: Bach and Laibach

    Sunday, November 17th, 2013

    [ by Charles Cameron -- Slovenian electronic-industrial group Laibach tackles pone of Bach's late, greatest works ]

    Here’s Glenn Gould playing Contrapunctus XIV from Johann Sebastian Bach‘s Art of Fugue, complete with the hum that seems to generate itself from his immersion in the music:

    And here by way of comparison and contrast, is the Laibach — “music wing of the Neue Slowenische Kunst (NSK) art collective” — interpretation of that same piece:

    For my money, Laibach does a far more interesting job of “electronicizing” Bach than Wendy Carlos ever did, all those many years ago.

    For my money too, there’s the complete Laibach Art of Fugue on CD on its way to me courtesy of Amazon.


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