[ by Charles Cameron — 3 Quarks Daily, Boston Apocalyptic conference, LapidoMedia, World Religions and Spirituality Project, Bellingcat, Loopcast, Pragati, Sembl ]
First, please vote!
. [ Note added: voting is now closed: my story received the fifth highest tally of votes out of 45 entries, and is now up for consideration by the 3QD editors in the next round — many, many thanks! ]
My story, War in Heaven, is in the running for the 3 Quarks Daily Arts & Literature Prize. 3 Quarks Daily is a great aggregator site, I’m honored to have made the cut so far, and would love to make it to the next level. My entry is #33 in the alphabetical list here, and votes can be cast at the bottom of the page. Networking for votes is all part of the game, so I’m hoping you’ll vote — & encourage your friends to go to that page & vote my entry up.
There’s even a Google Hangout video in which Atlantic Council Non-Resident Senior Fellow August Cole, who directs the Art of Future Warfare project, interviews the contest’s winner and finalists, myself included. August’s book, Ghost Fleet: A Novel of the Next World War, is in the running for next great Tom Clancy like techno-thriller.
You’ll find plenty of other good entries at the 3QD contest page, and daily at 3QD as well — as I say, it’s excellent in its own right, and one of the richest contributors of varied and interesting posts on my RSS feed.
Then, in no particular order — check ’em all out —
To my way of thinking, the critical thing to know about the Islamic State is its “apocalyptic, end-of-days strategic vision” as Martin Dempsey put it — and the implications of that statement, both in terms of strategy and of recruitment & morale. That’s what the Boston conference focused on, and that’s why I think it was no less significant for being sparsely attended. In a series of future blogs I hope to go over the videos of the various presentations and spell some of their implications out — Will McCants‘ book, The ISIS Apocalypse, is due out in September, and I’d like to have filled in some background by then.
Here, though, as I’m giving an update on my own doings, is my presentation — an attempt both to tie together some of the strands of the panel I was commenting on (but could barely hear, but that’s a tale or another day), and to express my sense of the importance of apoclyptic thinking, not merely as an intellectual exercise but as an emotional and indeed visceral relaity for those swept up in it:
The other speakers were Richard Landes, WIlliam McCants, Graeme Wood, Timothy Furnish, Cole Bunzel, Jeffrey Bale, David Cook, J.M. Berger, Itamar Marcus, Charles Jacobs, David Redles, Mia Bloom, Charles Strozier, Brenda Brasher and Paul Berman — quite a stellar crew.
My two latest pieces for LapidoMedia, where I’m currently editor:
Justin then gave our discussion a shoutout at The Loopcast —
— the immediate context starts around the 30 min mark, and runs to around 35 — and followed up with a second Bellingcat post, Analyzing Bin Ladin’s Bookshelf Part 2 — in which he quoted me again. Key here is his remark:
a human with domain expertise is always going to be in a better position to make judgement calls than any algorithm
Agreed — & many thanks, Justin!
Bellingcat — definitely an honor to get a shoutout there,
It’s a terrific feeling to see the next runner in a relay race take off from the handover… Cath is getting some high praise for her work on Sembl for the museum world, including the following:
Sembl incredibly succesfully mixes competitive and collaborative play, creativity and expression, and exploration and inspiration. It’s the sort of game you think about when you’re not playing it, and it’s the sort of game that helps you see the world in new ways.
Writer, Game Developer, Lecturer at Unversity of East London
[ by Charles Cameron — from Tesla to St Augustine is a short creative leap ]
I recently received a LinkedIn invite from one Ferdinando Buscema, who described himself to me as a Glasperlenspieler, a player of the Glass Bead Game. I must say that pleased me, there’s a quiet humility there that calling oneself Magister Ludi or Master of the Game would lack. He’s a player, I’m a player, let’s play.
Erik and I began a never-completed HipBone game many years ago — it was around the topics of Hanibal Lecter, his recreational collection of church collapses, and the origins of the Memory Palace in Simonides‘ encounter with the gods Castor and Pollux — and Erik mentions the HipBone Games briefly in his book. At the moment, I owe him an update on the games, which I’ll post here at Zenpundit in due course.
It was a particular delight for me, then, to see Ferdinando’s obvious and full-throated praise of Erik’s stunning book in his video, followed up by equal praise of Ramon Llul — one of those writers in the Hermetic tradition whose work precedes not just the Bead Game but much of today’s science, from digital computers via genetics to genetic algorithms and cryptography.
Ferdinando’s third treasure turned out to be Nikola Tesla, and in particular the remark he made about his mode of creativity. I hadn’t come across this remark before, but it cried out for DoubleQuotation with a remark of St Augustine’s, which I have carried with me since I first read of it in Dom Cuthbert Butler‘s book, Western Mysticism, back in my teens better than half a century ago.
Here, then, are the two luminous / numinous quotes, from Tesla and Augustine, DoubleQuoted by me for Ferdinando as an offering on first meeting:
It doesn’t hurt, of course, that the word “ictus” which Augustine uses also features in the context of Gregorian Chant, where it indicates the almost simmultaneous touchdown of a bird on a branch and its takeoff on a new curve of flight. I had the honor to learn the word from Dom Joseph Gajard, choirmaster at the Abbey of St Pierre de Solesmes — then and I suspect now the center of the world’s musical paleography and liturgical perormance of the chant, and in my teens my favorite vacation and retreat — under whose cheironomic hand I had the good fortune, once, albeit without much skill, to sing..
And so the beads are dropped into the lake: we watch as their ripples ripple out and intersect..
[ by Charles Cameron — analysis of religious violence requires the skilled use of both mind and heart if it is to comprehend passion with clarity ]
There is a lot of discussion of the complex relationship between religion and politics — presumably including the continuation of politics by other means — these days.
Here Abu Usamah al-Maghribi of ISIS, the immediate precursor of IS, recites the Qur’an:
This clip, incidentally, nicely illsutrates the dilemma facing those poor folks at YouTube who are responsible for determining what videos should be withdrawn for breach of their user contract. On the one hand, it shows a militant leader encouraging his subordinates towards martyrdom, while on the other it is something quite other, turned to that purpose: a recitation from the revealed scripture of a global and diverse religion, one and a half billion people strong…
O you who have believed, what is [the matter] with you that, when you are told to go forth in the cause of Allah , you adhere heavily to the earth? Are you satisfied with the life of this world rather than the Hereafter? But what is the enjoyment of worldly life compared to the Hereafter except a [very] little.
If you do not go forth, He will punish you with a painful punishment and will replace you with another people, and you will not harm Him at all. And Allah is over all things competent.
The reciter, Abu Usamah al-Maghribi, was killed last year by fighters from Jabhat al-Nusra.
I’m not sure that language alone can ever quite sort the different strands that rise and fall in the human beings involved, nor that the distinction we draw between heart and mind is even close to a subtle enough instrument to account for human process. What I want to present here, though, is not an answer or even the suggestion of an answer to such questions, but a vivid evidence of the coexistence of militant intent with religious fervor.
After years of monitoring and reporting on religious violence, it is not its existence but its potential for overwhelming sincerity that I would like to communicate, so that we do not underestimate it — our analysts being, as John Schindler put it in his brilliant piece, Putin’s Orthodox Jihad, “mostly secularists when not atheists” — and thus liable to pay matters of religious passions little or no attention.
That’s the gist of an excerpt I transcribed from an Aussie Insight video last year, which featured host Jenny Brockie and the gentleman depicted, one Abu Bakr. Bakr was arrested just before Christmas and charged with “possession of documents designed to facilitate a terrorist attack”. The exchange went like this:
Jenny Brockie: I see you’re wearing the ISIS flag on your shirt
Abu Bakr: It doesn’t really come down to what sort of flag because this flag, here, people might say you’re a supporter of Jabhat al-Nusra, and this flag here, people might say you’re a supporter of ISIS, but these flags are all one, they’re all the same flag, one Muslim nation and that’s it.
Zenpundit is a blog dedicated to exploring the intersections of foreign policy, history, military theory, national security,strategic thinking, futurism, cognition and a number of other esoteric pursuits.