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That Bach Chaconne

Sunday, May 8th, 2016

[ by Charles Cameron — JS Bach in Palmyra, in the DC Metro, and variously on YouTube ]
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I have to applaud Putin and the Russians for bringing the full orchestra of the Mariinsky Theater from St Petersburg to Palmyra now that the Islamic State has departed, with added kudos for choosing Bach‘s towering Chaconne from his Partita No. 2 in D minor, BWV 1004 as one of three works to be played there — by the Tchaikovsky Competition winning soloist Pavel Milyukov:

As I say, I applaud the gesture. OTOH, British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond, according to Breitbart, called the event “a tasteless attempt to distract attention from the continued suffering of millions of Syrians” and said it “shows that there are no depths to which the regime will not sink.”

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This may not be the greatest performance of that work musically, but the work itself is extraordinary. Johannes Brahms said of it:

On one stave, for a small instrument, the man writes a whole world of the deepest thoughts and most powerful feelings. If I imagined that I could have created, even conceived the piece, I am quite certain that the excess of excitement and earth-shattering experience would have driven me out of my mind.

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It was famously this Chaconne that violinist Joshua Bell played — twice — with his violin case open to receive tips, in DC’s L’Enfant Plaza metro station, during a 45 minute anonymous session in which he netted $32. $32 and change, for a man whose upcoming performance with the National Symphony Orchestra at DC’s Kennedy Center (February 11, 2017) is ticketed at $216 or $223, depending on how well seated you wish to be…

Here’s the poorly recorded, hidden videocam account of the second of those performances, which starts at about the 30’15” mark:

Gene Weingarten‘s description of the event in the Washington Post, Pearls Before Breakfast, won the Pulitzer..

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For the fullest musical appreciation, here is that same Joshua Bell playing the Chaconne in 2014 in the DeLaMar Theater, Amsterdam:

Hillary Hahn, also superb:

The no less beautiful Hélène Grimaud, playing the Busoni transcription for piano:

And last, violinist Christoph Poppen plays the Chaconne, with added chorale motifs as reconstructed by violinist turned musicologist Helga Thoene sung by the Hilliard Ensemble — the culmination of the group’s celebrated album, Morimur:

Post-modern adaptation, or quintessential Bach? Either way, I find the entire project enthralling.

Surrealism and surreal reality

Sunday, April 24th, 2016

[ by Charles Cameron — perception and plutonium ]
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The sureralist master and master surrealist Salvador Dali here invokes optical illusion to illuminate the fickle nature of our perceptions of (non-surreal) reality:

As for reality itself, it has its own form of surreality — in this case, the dismal facts of plutonium stockpiles and their disposal, and their implications for politics (not to mention its conceivable / inconceivable continuation by other means).

All of which is unpleasant to conteplate, seldom discussed, and thus itself a form of perceptual illusion:

FWIW, I see a visual connection between these two images, although that may ba a personal quirk not shared by others. Again, a quirk of perception?

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Readings:

  • RFE / RL, As Putin Swipes At U.S. Over Plutonium Disposal, Nuclear Cooperation Takes A Hit
  • Cheryl Rofer at Nuclear Diner, Plutonium Disposal Difficulties
  • Marx, Putin — to believe or disbelieve, that is the question

    Friday, March 4th, 2016

    [ by Charles Cameron — plus ça change? ]
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    SPEC DQ marx atheism russia prison

    Same difference?

    Those of you who follow my keen interest in sameness and difference will appreciate the irony here.

    There’s no disputin..

    Double No Trumps?

    Friday, January 29th, 2016

    [ by Charles Cameron — silly fun.. ]
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    I’d say that here Kim Jong-Un

    would easily Trump, ahem, Vladimir Putin

    if he’d had access toi a camera and Photoshop.

    Serpent logics: a ramble

    Sunday, November 24th, 2013

    [ by Charles Cameron — continuing my exploration of a pattern language of thoughts, both verbal and imagistic ]
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    One of my favorite patterns derives from the nesting of Russian dolls inside Russian dolls, so it’s only appropriate to start with an example of what I can only call.. Matrioshka shipping!

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    It’s my habit, as you may have seen, to collect certain “ways of thinking” in the miniature format provided by my Twitterstream. Whether you think of them as logical forms, patterns in a pattern language, or amuse-bouches for the mind, they are here to delight and instruct — and when you pile a whole lot of them up together, they can make you just a touch dizzy.

    Today I’ll be bringing my collection up to date with two posts, Serpent logics: a ramble, and Serpent logics: the marathon. If you want a quick look at some of the neat patterns I’ve seen since I last posted on these topics, this post — Serpent logics: a ramble — is the one for you. If, after reading it, you want a gruelling, hilarious, insightful, insane, devious, extended course in this kind of pattern recognition — try Serpent logics: the marathon.

    **

    Here’s one from today, tweeted as I was prepping this post — in a category I’ll simply call…

    Counter-intuitive?

    Admit it, that’s just a trifle mind-blowing, no? C’mon!

    **

    Serpent Bites Tail:

    Here’s a light-and-dark-hearted example of the ourobouros or serpent-bites-tail recursive patterm, with a hat tip to Allan Stairs:

    Follow Kim Kierkegaardashian (@KimKierkegaard) on Twitter if you like mashups between the deepest of theologians and the shallowest of celebrities…

    **

    I have no idea what category this one belongs in, so I’ll slip it in here. It’s from the Electronic Frontier Foundation, protecting our digital private parts:

    Oh my! A Clash of Classifications!

    The EFF even has it’s own playful-serious version of the NSA logo —

    — as the DoubleQuote above — juxtaposing how the Agency views itself with how the EFF sees it — illustrates…

    **

    DoubleQuotes in the Wild

    DoubleQuotes in the Wild is my on-going collection of paired juxtapositions that say more together than they do apart. It’s a beginning training in what F Scott Fitzgerald claimed was the “test of a first-rate intelligence” — “the ability to hold two opposed ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function”.

    The example above comes from Parecidos Razonables, a blog that takes off from the Separated at Birth concept and specializes in double-takes of this sort, often satirical. One of their more celebrated examples:

    I’d have juxtaposed Vladimir Putin with Daniel Craig as James Bond myself, but that idea has already been taken — a Bond fan apparently photoshopped Putin’s face onto a poster of Bond in Casino Royale, and then “plastered” Moscow with his handiwork.

    Apparently the Apparat, like Queen Victoria, was not amused. I’d have been flattered…

    **

    While we’re on the subject of President Putin, here’s another category to consider…

    Mixed games:

    The op eds by Presidents Putin and Rouhani to which Soufan refers are Putin’s A Plea for Caution From Russia and Rouhani’s Why Iran seeks constructive engagement.

    Ali Soufan, the author of Black Banners, is always worth paying attention to — and his tweet, above, clearly belongs with that Alasdair MacIntyre quote I’m so fond of [1, 2]:

    Not one game is being played, but several, and, if the game metaphor may be stretched further, the problem about real life is that moving one’s knight to QB3 may always be replied to by a lob over the net

    **

    Let’s close with some examples from the arts, the first with just a touch of Tibetan Buddhist flavor…

    One of mine:


    For further details, see Death and hallucination color new work by Chinese artist Zhang Huan after life-altering Tibet trip.

    And the second, a pair of images — each in itself a sort of DoubleQuote in the Wild comparing the forms of birds and mechanical objects in a single photo — posted together today by Wm. Benzon under the title Conjunctions:

    Birds and cranes, New Jersey and Lower Manhattan.

    IMGP3517rd - Five ducks and freedom tower

    Birds and cranes, Brooklyn and Governors Island.

    birds of a feather.jpg

    Magnificent — what a generous eye he has — many thanks, good Sir!

    **

    Patterns? You might think of them as Jungian archetypes, Platonic ideas, Hofstadterian analogies — or Ayat, the same word used to describe the verses of the Qur’an, signs in the calligraphy of God:

    Qur’an 41 (Fussilat), 53

    We shall show them Our signs in the horizons and in themselves

    **

    And now, consider your options. Have you had enough of these damn patterns of mine — or would you like to try out for the marathon version?


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