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Carambolages, huzzah!

Monday, March 14th, 2016

[ by Charles Cameron — a brilliant new exhibition breaks the usual museum rules to provoke prodigious & repeated leaps of imagination ]
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Carambolages Dominos

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Cath Styles, whose Sembl games are closely related to my own HipBone variants on Hermann Hesse‘s Glass Bead Game, recently pointed me to an exhibition called Carambolages that opened recently at the Grand Palais, Galleries Nationales, 3, avenue du General Eisenhower, Paris.

Strolling their website, I was struck by this double image, which in HipBone terms would be called a DoubleQuote, or a Sembl in Cath’s Sembl game:

Carambolages
(left) Sword, Kiribati, Micronesia Islands, Oceania, sd, Paris, Musée du Quai Branly
(right) Bertrand Lavier, Black & Decker, 1998 collection Giuliana and Tommaso Setari

It appears, indeed, that the exhibit in question features a Domino game of Sembls or DoubleQuotes —

Fascinating — and definitely a notable step in the expanding history of bead game variants — which I view, among other things, as an art movement that has yet to be written up as such.

Congratulations, Jean-Hubert Martin! The catalogue will no doubt be as close as I can get physically, but I’m all the way with you in spirit…

Bonne idée, bon chance!

Plus ça change..

Sunday, February 28th, 2016

[ by Charles Cameron — iconoclasm ancient & modern ]
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SPEC DQ destruction of altars

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Ancient:

Eamonn Duffy‘s “prize-winning account of the pre-Reformation church recreates lay people’s experience of religion in fifteenth-century England. Eamon Duffy shows that late medieval Catholicism was neither decadent nor decayed, but was a strong and vigorous tradition, and that the Reformation represented a violent rupture from a popular and theologically respectable religious system.”

& modern:

In Sarah Abu Abdallah‘s “work The Turbulence of Sea and Blood, 2015, we see disarrayed glimpses of multiple narratives such as that of: familial domestic tensions, a juvenile dream of going to Japan, the tendency to smash TVs in moments of anger, and eating fish. While using scenes from the artist’s surroundings and life in Saudi Arabia, like streets or malls, it never attempts to provide the whole picture, but takes a rhizomatic approach to tell a story of the everyday life.

Hat-tip: Hend Amry, who describes the lower image as “Me, this election season”. You see the artist’s description above, “the tendency to smash TVs in moments of anger”. Myself, I view it as a magnificent illstration of the smashing of idols, akin to the Reformation’s dissolution of the monasteries..

Justice Scalia, St Hubert, and the Stag

Thursday, February 25th, 2016

[ by Charles Cameron — filling a gap the WaPo left behind — with Christ, crucified, between the horns of a stag ]
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Butler‘s Lives of the Saints tells us of St Hubert:

He is also said to have been passionately addicted to the diversion of hunting, and was entirely taken up in worldly pursuits, when, moved by divine grace, he resolved at once to renounce the school of vanity, and enter himself in that of Christ, in which his name had been enrolled in baptism.

That telling neatly elides the alleged mechanism by which divine grace moved him. As the image that accompanies it in the online version of the tale shows, Hubert is reported to have been out hunting one Good friday while others were at church, when a stag appeared before him carrying a crucifix betwen its horns:

St.Hubert_Ottawa_St.Patrick_RC_Basilica
St. Patrick’s Basilica, Ottawa, Canada

No wonder, then, that Hubert, moved by such grace, became the patron saint of hunters, nor that Justice Antonin Scalia is reported to have been attending a gathering associated with the knightly Order of St Hubertus at the time of his death.

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From today’s Washington Post, an article which tells us something of Justice Scalia, a fair amount about the Order of St Hubertus, and nothing about St Hubert himself alas:

When Justice Antonin Scalia died 11 days ago at a West Texas ranch, he was among high-ranking members of an exclusive fraternity for hunters called the International Order of St. Hubertus, an Austrian society that dates back to the 1600s.

For more on Justice Scalia’s death at the ranch, read the rest of the WaPo piece; for more on the Order, visit its web pages. I trust this post of mine will somewhat remedy the lack of information about St Hubert himself and his remarkable conversion in both places.

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This story is told of St Placidus:

The Holy Great Martyr Eustathius was named Placidas before his Baptism. He was a military commander under the emperors Titus (79-81) and Trajan (98-117). Even before he came to know Christ, Placidas performed acts of charity, helping the poor and destitute. Therefore, the Lord did not leave the virtuous pagan remain in the darkness of idolatry.

Once while hunting in a forest, he saw a stag which would stop now and then to look him right in the eye. Placidas pursued it on horseback, but could not catch up. The stag leaped over a chasm and stood on the other side facing him. Placidas suddenly saw a radiant Cross between its antlers. In surprise the military commander heard a voice coming from the Cross saying, “Why do you pursue Me, Placidas?”

“Who are You, Master?” asked Placidas.The Voice replied, “I am Jesus Christ, Whom you do not know, yet you honor Me by your good deeds. I have appeared here on this creature for your sake, to capture you in the net of My love for mankind. It is not fitting that one as righteous as you should worship idols and not know the truth. It was to save mankind that I came into the world.”

Placidas cried out, “Lord, I believe that You are the God of Heaven and earth, the Creator of all things. Master, teach me what I should do.” Again the Lord replied, “Go to the bishop of your country and receive Baptism from him, and he will instruct you.”

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Let the Jägermeister herbal liquor label bring us to our conclusion — and to the third saint associated with a vision of stag and crucifix:

The label on Jägermeister bottles features a glowing Christian cross seen between the antlers of a stag.

JAGERMEISTER label

This image is a reference to the two Christian patron saints of hunters, Saint Hubertus and Saint Eustace, both of whom converted to Christianity after experiencing a vision in which they saw a Christian cross between the antlers of a stag.

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St Eustace, then, is the third saint to whom the same vision is attributed. — and the one whose vision has been most gloriously celebrated in art.

Albert Durer‘s engraving of St Eustace in the Metropolitan Museum, New York:

Durer's St Eustace in the Met

Pisanello‘s St Eustace in the National Gallery, London:

Pisanello's St Eustace in the National Gallery

DoubleQuoting Jacques Louis David

Wednesday, February 10th, 2016

[ by Charles CameronNapoleon at the St Bernard Pass goes to Turkey ]
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Jacques Louis David, Bonaparte, the first Versailles version:

Jacques Louis David, Napoleon 600

Introducing Erdoganist art, tweeted by Mustafa Akyol and RT’d by Hayder al-Khoei:

Erdogan

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Oh, but it gets better. How’s this for a wild DoubleQuote? I found it while rummaging around for a “best version” of the Erdogan pic:

From John Robb to Jean Paul Gaultier

Thursday, February 4th, 2016

[ by Charles Cameron — via Christopher Alexander, Arthur Koestler, James Clerk Maxwell, Hermann Hesse, and Wells Cathedral ]
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My topic today is a comment that John Robb just posted on his FaceBook page. As so often, I’ll proceed by indirection. Here’s a wild DoubleQuote illustrating a blogger’s perceived similarity between the “scissors arch” at Wells Cathedral and one of the models in Jean Paul Gaultier‘s 2009 Spring collection:

Jean-Paul Gaultier 2009 wells cathedral 1

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John Robb posted:

Some philosophical thinking:

Human knowledge, at an elemental level, can be described as a “transformation” of data.
Complex ideas are built using layers of “transformations” with each layer feeding into the next (think pyramid)
We teach these transformations at home and at school to our children.
We communicate by sharing transformations.
Questions We Need to Answer in the Age of Cognitive Machines:
How many transformations would it take to model all human knowledge?
How deep (how many layers of transformation is human knowledge) is human knowledge? Both on average or at its deepest point?
How broad is human knowledge (non-dependent transformations)?
How fast is the number of transformations increasing and how fast is it propagating across the human network?

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My interest is in John’s pyramid, considered as a pyramid of arches.

My starting point (with Hermann Hesse‘s Glass Bead Game ever in background) is Arthur Koestler‘s observation in The Act of Creation that the creative spark occurs at the intersection of two planes of thought —

koestler

— or to put that another way, that the creative leap is an associative leap between two concepts, disciplines or aspects of knowledge — thus, an arch:

Maxwell

Likewise:

synthesis

— which in my own DoubleQuotes notation gives us:

Karman Gogh mini

— thus, many arches build to a pyramid:

pyramid of arches

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Of course, with arches one has to be very circumspect, buecause in rich contexts, they’re not simple creatures:

rib vaulting flying buttresses

Among the greatest such arches I know are Taniyama‘s 1955 “surmise” as Barry Mazur puts it, that “every elliptic equation is associated with a modular form” — arching way above my pay grade — an insight that was to bear rich fruit forty years later, in Andrew Wiles‘ proof of Fermat’s Last Theorem; and Erwin Panofsky‘s great book similarly linking the structures of medieval cathedrals and scholastic thought:

panofsky gothic architecture scholasticism

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White we’re on the topic of gothic iconography, another form of arch we might consider is the vesica piscis:

vesica-piscis

— frequently found in medieval art and architecture:

320px-CLUNY-Coffret_Christ_1

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I’m not suggesting, John, that your inquiry and mine are identical — far from it — but that they have a sufficiently rich overlap that an appreciation of one is likely to spark insight in terms of the other.

And with Hesse’s Game, with which I recall from our earlieest conversations you are familiar..

I mentioned Hesse and Christopher Alexander in my bracketed note at the top of this post. It’s my impression that both were striving for a similar encyclopedic architecture to the pyramid John proposes. Hesse on the Glass Bead Game:

All the insights, noble thoughts, and works of art that the human race has produced in its creative eras, all that subsequent periods of scholarly study have reduced to concepts and converted into intellectual values the Glass Bead Game player plays like the organist on an organ. And this organ has attained an almost unimaginable perfection; its manuals and pedals range over the entire intellectual cosmos; its stops are almost beyond number. Theoretically this instrument is capable of reproducing in the Game the entire intellectual content of the universe.

And Hesse is clear that individual moves within the games take the form of parallelisms, resemblances, analogical leaps — writing, for instance:

Beginners learned how to establish parallels, by means of the Game’s symbols, between a piece of classical music and the formula for some law of nature.

Speaking of the playing of his great Game, Hesse said:

I see wise men and poets and scholars and artists harmoniously building the hundred-gated cathedral of the mind.

And Alexander? His book A Pattern Language is pretty clearly his own variant on a Glass Bead Game, following on from what he terms his Bead Game Conjecture (1968 – p. 75 at link):

That it is possible to invent a unifying concept of structure within which all the various concepts of structure now current in different fields of art and science, can be seen from a single point of view. This conjecture is not new. In one form or another people have been wondering about it, as long as they have been wondering about structure itself; but in our world, confused and fragmented by specialisation, the conjecture takes on special significance. If our grasp of the world is to remain coherent, we need a bead game; and it is therefore vital for us to ask ourselves whether or not a bead game can be invented.

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Gentle readers:

For your consideration, delight, temptation, confusion or disagreement, here are three more of Gaultier’s arches, as perceived by Kayan’s Design World:

Jean-Paul Gaultier 2009 1

Jean-Paul Gaultier 2009 7

Jean-Paul Gaultier 2009 10


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