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The Mercy, logic, the model digitized, the glass, the music survives

Sunday, April 21st, 2019

[ by Charles Cameron — logic, the arts, and technology offer an Easter, resurrection corrective, philosophically speaking, to the ruin of the cathedral of Notre Dame ]
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For the terrible fire that consumed so much of Notre Dame de Paris this week, grief is great. Here, I wish to recall some of the ways in which the essence of the great cathedral has been saved.

Above, Piero della Francesca‘s Madonna della Misericordia. Our Lady of Mercy, for whom the cathedral was named, continues to shelter us all..

**

Perhaps the most extraordinary, as well as the most abstract, form of Notre Dame to survive fire, war, and the French Revolutionary idea — to replace Mary with the goddess Reason enthroned in her place — is the logic embedded in the theology that accompanied its building and — lex orandi, lex credendi — the worship within it, for which purpose it was designed and built

The American philosopher CS Peirce was among the first to propose a kinship between Gothic architecture and the logic of the Paris schoolmen:

Art felt the spirit of a new age, and there could hardly be a greater change than from the highly ornate round-arched architecture of the twelfth century to the comparatively simple Gothic of the thirteenth. Indeed, if any one wishes to know what a scholastic commentary is like, and what the tone of thought in it is, he has only to contemplate a Gothic cathedral. The first quality of either is a religious devotion, truly heroic. One feels that the men who did these works did really believe in religion as we believe in nothing. We cannot easily understand how Thomas Aquinas can speculate so much on the nature of angels, and whether ten thousand of them could dance on a needle’s point. But it was simply because he held them for real. If they are real, why are they not more interesting than the bewildering varieties of insects which naturalists study; or why should the orbits of double stars attract more attention than spiritual intelligences?

Erwin Panofsky‘s work, Gothic Architecture and Scholasticism, is the central presentation of the parallels. Pierre Bourdieu, who translated Panofsky into French, characterizes the work:

The parallelism between the development of Gothic art and the development of scholastic thought in the period between about 1130–1140 and about 1270 cannot be brought out unless one “brackets off phenomenal appearances” and seeks the hidden analogies between the principles of logical organization of Scholasticism and the principles of construction of Gothic architecture. This methodological choice is dictated by the intention of establishing more than a vague “parallelism” or discontinuous, fragmentary “influences”. Renouncing the semblances of proof which satisfy intuitionists or the reassuring but reductive circumstantial proofs which delight positivists, Panofsky is led to identify the historical convergence which provides the object of his research with a hidden principle, a habitus or “habit-forming force”.

**

Rachel Donadio, Witnessing the Fall of Notre-Dame for the Atlantic, depicts the ruin of the cathedral with incredulityn–

How could Notre-Dame be burning? How could Notre-Dame, which had survived for eight centuries—survived plague and wars of religion, survived the French Revolution, survived the Nazis—be falling? Notre-Dame, the heart of Paris, not only a Catholic site but the preeminent symbol of European cultural consciousness, the heart of France, the kilometer zero from which all its farthest villages are measured—how could this majestic structure collapse so fast

— Oh, ruin, from the Latin ruere, meaning to fall.. John Milton, Paradise Lost:

                                                          Hell saw
Heaven ruining from Heaven, and would have fled
Affrighted

Viollet-le-Duc‘s 19th century spire, in this archaic sense of the word, ruined.

Resurrection:

The competition is already afoot to rebuild it.

**

Fortunately, a few years back the entire structure was mapped with ferocious accuracy by Vassar professor Andrew Tallon, using advanced laser photography to capture detail — wear and tear included, to an accuracy of a tenth of an inch:

Vassar College/AFP Photo / Andrew TALLON

Alexis Madrigal, in the Atlantic:

Now, with the building having sustained untold but very substantial damage, the data that Tallon and Blaer created could be an invaluable aid to whoever is charged with rebuilding the structure. Ochsendorf described the data as “essential for capturing [the structure] as built geometry.” (He added, however, that the cathedral, no matter what happens now, “is irreplaceable, of course.”)

Tallon and Blaer’s laser data consist of 1 billion data points, structured as “point clouds,” which software can render into images of the three-dimensional space. Stitch them together, inside and out, map the photographs onto the precise 3-D models, and you have a full digital re-creation of incredible detail and resolution.

Professor Tallon died less than six months ago, in November 2018, age 49. If you’re looking for another Easter parallel, Tallon may be metaphysically resurrected with the promised rebuilding of the cathedral he so loved and diligently studied.

**

It appears that the great Rosace Nord (north rose window) survived the fire —

As Incunabula commented:

By far the greatest blessing – a miracle – is that the Rosace Nord has survived. The South and West windows were very extensively restored in the 18th and 19th century, but the North Rose Window has stood basically unchanged for 800 years, the glass is the 13th century original.

**

To close with a blaze..

In January of this year, Olivier Latry, titular organist of Notre Dame, made what is very likely the final recordings of music on the cathedral’s great organ, for a recording which was released in March, just weeks before the terrible fire. The organ, as built by Aristide Cavaillé-Coll in the nineteenth century, houses some 8,000 pipes; it seems the fire has left it largely intact, though with damage to its electrical systems and wind-chest.

Olivier Latry plays Johann Sebastian Bach‘s Toccata and Fugue in D minor, BWV 565 on the Cavaillé-Coll organ of Notre-Dame de Paris::

Spiritual Warfare, an evolution / devolution

Saturday, March 2nd, 2019

[ by Charles Cameron — fascinating — how a scriptural theme is developed by Catholic and Orthodox sources, is turned by a Calvinist split-off and a related Pentecostal movement to an attack on the Virgin Mary, carried out on Mt Everest — and in New York City, on AOC! ]
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Said president Dave Kubal of Intercessors for America:

It’s been widely publicized that there is a coven of witches that cast spells on President Trump 24 hours a day, seven days a week. This particular coven is found in the southern portion of New York City.

The southern portion of New York City? A coven? Typically, though not always, referring to a gathering of a dozen plus one witches? 24/7?

Is this a witch-hunt? Literally??

So, right in the middle of all of this, the southern district, in the middle of where these witches are doing the 24/7 spell-casting, we find the territory of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Her district is in the center of all of this going on. Is this a coincidence? Maybe … Is there an evil thread running through this area, trying to dispel diabolical power?

Furthermore:

Just this week, there was a spiritual SWAT team that was sent into this particular geographic area to deal with the spiritual activity that is going on there.

**

Sending prayer teams to tackle the malevolent spirits associated with geographical areas is an idea associated with C Peter Wagner, lately of Fuller Theological, the moving spirit behind geographically oriented Spiritual Warfare, and the New Apostolic Reformation.

  • C Peter Wagner, Territorial Spirits: Practical Strategies for How to Crush the Enemy Through Spiritual Warfare
  • C Peter Wagner, Breaking Strongholds in Your City: How to Use Spiritual Mapping Tomake Your Prayers More Strategic, Effective and Targeted
  • I’ve used the full titles and sub-titles of both books above, because I want to catch the geographico-militarist flavor of each — and of course, from my POV and with my interests, the word mapping doesn’t hurt..
  • Spiritual warfare is a concept at least as old as St Paul’s letter to the Christians in Ephesus, telling them:

    Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. 13Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. 14Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; 15And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; 16Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. 17And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:

    It’s also to be found in both Catholic and Orthodox traditions:

  • Dom Lorenzo Scupoli, The Spiritual Combat: and a Treatise on Peace of Soul
  • Theophan the Recluse, Unseen Warfare: The Spiritual Combat and Path to Paradise of Lorenzo Scupoli
  • What can I say? In these classic, sacramental traditions, there’s no emphasis on territorial spirits. Territorial spiritual warfare is an innovation that goes along with the Seven Mountains theory, by which many present-day Pentecostal and other Christians seek dominion over:

  • family,
  • religion,
  • education,
  • media,
  • entertainment,
  • business, and
  • government
  • Dominion theology is the work of an off-shoot of Calvinism pioneered by RK Rushdoony in his master-work:

  • RJ Rushdoony, The Institutes of Biblical Law
  • :

    There’s a slippery slope, I believe that’s the phrase, between the somewhat eschatological dominionism of many who may nonetheless feel a sacred devotion to the Constitution, and Rushdoony‘s original version, which regards anything less than strict Old Testament law with some New Testament changes — “Ye have heard.. but I say unto you..” — and views the existing laws of the United States as tantamount to anarchy:

    For a sense of where C Peter Wagner‘s territorial spiritual warfare takes us, see:

  • C Peter Wagner, Operation Queen’s Palace
  • This includes Wagner‘; endorsement of Ana Mendez‘ spiritual warfare on Mt Everest, fighting the Queen of Heaven. Wagner quotes Mendez‘ report, in which (see final paragraph below) she asserts that among the blessings brought about by her spiritual warfare on the lower slopes of the highest mountain on earth was the death of Mother Theresa, whom she describes as “one of the most visible advocates of exalting Mary as co-redemptrix and mediatrix” — Mary Mother of God in the Catholic tradition, the Theotokos or God-bearer in Orthodoxy.

    Mendez, as quoted by Wagner, reports:

    After five days of prayer, on September 22, 1997, an incredible climbing anointing came over the team, and God led us through the Ice Fall, the most difficult, dangerous, and technically exacting part of the Everest ascent, with no guide but Him and no help other than from His angels. After many hours of crossing crevasses and climbing ice walls, we were about to reach the point where we had located the seat of the Queen of Heaven. At that moment the fury of the devil was unleashed and a huge avalanche broke loose above us, sending megatons of ice and snow crashing our way. At the last moment a huge crevasse in front of us swallowed up the avalanche, saved our lives, and we only had to deal with the [life threatening] resulting cloud of ice for about ten minutes.

    “We continued toward our goal, and when we arrived we took the throne that the Lord had showed us, prophesying against the powers of darkness and declaring the judgment of God on the whore of Babylon and the false religions of the world.

    “That same evening God spoke a clear and strong order: “Go out from this mountain tomorrow before 11:00 AM because I am going to destroy everything. The next day we dismantled the camp in a great hurry, and left Base Camp at 10:30. When the last of our 36 beasts of burden [yaks] had come out, not one, but all three mountain slopes which surrounded Base Camp–Everest, Loh-La, and Nuptse–simultaneously collapsed in the greatest avalanche ever seen in Everest. Base Camp was totally buried under the snow and the enormous falling clouds of ice. The climbing season was closed, and the only flag waving on the top of the world was the one planted by the king of Kings and Lord of Lords.” [ .. ]

    Ana points to some world events which occurred within two weeks after the prophetic act at the throne of the Queen of Heaven which she senses have some connection: (1) The nation of Indonesia, the largest Muslim nation in the world, caught on fire and began to burn on that very day; (2) An earthquake destroyed the Basilica of Assisi in Italy, the place where the Pope had called a meeting for the unity of all world religions; (3) Hurricane Paulina destroyed the infamous temple of “Baal-Christ” in Acapulco, Mexico; (4) Princess Diana of England died, representing the crown of England, to whom Mt. Everest was consecrated by Sir Edmund Hillary; and (5) Mother Theresa, one of the most visible advocates of exalting Mary as co-redemptrix and mediatrix, died in India.

    This attack on the Blessed Virgin Mary, to use another title afforded her in Catholicism, was so blatant as to arouse a comic-book artist to pillory it:

    It is often taught in Catholic circles and elsewhere that Mary, as Queen of Heaven, is portrayed in Revelation 12.1:

    A great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet and a crown of twelve stars on her head.

    The artist Albrecht Durer rendered her thus:

    It’s snowing metaphoric chyrons, ignore unless interested 2

    Wednesday, February 13th, 2019

    [ by Charles Cameron — politics is the straightforward topic, metaphor is the metalanguage we use to describe it, and reveals more than it refers to ].
    .

    More chyrons &c from yesterday’s haul:

    **

    With regard to that last one:

    On Friday, Donald Trump tweeted the headline to a recent Washington Examiner story, which read: “Border rancher: ‘We’ve found prayer rugs out here. It’s unreal.’” As the headline suggests, the story is about a New Mexico rancher who claims to have seen prayer rugs—typically used by observers of Islam—near the U.S.-Mexico border. After the headline, Trump added this: “People coming across the Southern Border from many countries, some of which would be a big surprise.”

    His decision to amplify the Examiner piece has since come under scrutiny. Why? Because the prayer-rug story sounds an awful lot like something that happens in Sicario: Day of the Soldado, as several people have pointed out on Twitter.

    The 2018 action film, which revolves around the drug war along the border, opens with border agents chasing after a group of migrants—one of whom turns out to be a Muslim suicide bomber. He kneels, prays, then detonates his bomb. After that, agents come across abandoned prayer rugs along the border; in the next scene, three suicide bombers walk into a store in Kansas City and kill innocent civilians.

    A case of Matryoshka realities:

    The particular interest here from a formal point of view is that it is Borgesian or Escherian in its flipping of realities — but that only makes the Islamophobia more poisonous, because it’s delivered in what’s effectively a subliminal manner.

    **

    More chyrons etc:

    And the suggestions Melber’s viewers made for art illustrative of the Mueller probe:

    That whole painting series relates back to the Ari Melber conversation I quoted in the previous post, in which his guests suggested the Mueller probe and Giuliani in particular reminded them of Impressionism, Cubism and Jackson Pollock, surrealism, and Salvador Dali with his melting clocks..

    **

    Need to slip this in, it’s excerpted from my transcription of a clip of Hakeem Jeffries of the House Judiciary Cttee questioning Whitaker:

    Manafort. Gates, Cohen, Papanopoulos, and Stone. All in deep trouble. One by one, All the President’s Men, going down in flames. It’s often said, where there’s smoke there’s fire. There’s a lot of smoke emanating from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue now. Yet. You decided not to recuse yourself, is that right?

    And I’m not sure when this exchange took place, but it’s Nicolle Wallace talking with Brennan, and the metaphor here comes from physics (Everett‘s many worlds theory) via science fiction:

    What’s it like to live in these parallel worlds, where the President doesn’t just want to have whatever policy he wants, he wants whatever facts he chooses to pursue that policy..

    The President. Nicolle says, doesn’t want facts, he wants — let’s call them ficts.

    And Nicolle to Brennan again:

    You’ve been warning about this sort of lurch towards autocratic behaviors — one of them is bashing the intelligence community, one of them is bashing law enforcement and the rule if low, another one is bashing the media..

    Bash, bash, bash.

    **

    Phew.

    Here are a few more chyrons from yesterday:

    And here’s a first chyron from today — this one continuing the shift of metaphoric emphasis from sports and games to warfare, the metaphor Trump uses is landmines.. metaphorically invoking hidden dangers that suddenly appear to attack you when you least expect it:

    It’s snowing metaphoric chyrons, ignore unless interested

    Wednesday, February 13th, 2019

    [ by Charles Cameron — thug, pit bull, face-off, head-to-head, hardball, hard-charging, trolling, dueling, jabbing, ripping, hammering, gutting, hit job.. ]
    .

    **

    Those are the screen-grabs — here are some of my fallible transcriptions of spoken snippets with metaphoric or other interest:

    From the Whitaker hearinn:

    Congressman, I’m not a puppet to repeat what you’re saying ..

    2/11/2019, Chris Matthews, Hardball:

    00 We’ve got an explosive show for you tonight ..
    We’re also following the face-off in El Paso, TX, where President Trump and Bedo O’Rourke are holding dueling real-time rallies over the border wall .. ***
    11 Mimi Rocah, More, more dominoes, more chips to fall ..
    39 This is getting to be quite a cage match between a lot of people and his guy, Trump ..
    53 Klobachar: You have to pick your battles with him ..

    **

    The dismissive / offensive Trump tweet reference to the Trail of Tears:

    **

    2/11/2019, Ari Melber, The Beat:

    Building a case like this .. it’;s sort of like Impressionism.

    When you get up close, not sure what you’re seeing, when you step back, aha!

    It also raises the question of whether Rudy Giuliani’s style is more Cubist ..

    Or Jackson Pollock, just throwing stuff at the wall ..

    It’s surreal, it’s surreal. And by the wayu that’s the painting school, I think, Giuliani is in. It’s surrealism, surrealism, pure Dali ..

    And so you say, melting clocks all around — that makes good sense to me ..

    Great conversation!

    Donald Trump ploughing all kinds of time watching television and tweeting at critics, who say he spends too much time watching television and tweetierng at critics. —
    Andrew Weissmann is a very, very powerful weapon in the government’s arsenal ..
    Trump and Beto O’Rourke holding dueling rallies near the border ..

    Hallie Jackson 2/12/2019

    27 We never thought we we were going to find a contract between Trump and Vlad saying, Hey, let’s collude ..
    President Trump and Beto O’Rourke do their owb kind of Texas Two-step there, split-screen style, in El Paso, Texas .. *****

    Nicolle to Brennan:I feel like you just exploded what I call a truth bomb ..

    **

    I’m closing this post here and taking the remainder of my chyrons &c into a new post, making this look very much like the beginning of a series. We’ll continue with posts on other topics from strategy to imagination, and those not interested in my collection of metaphors, chyrons and headlines can safely ignore this series.

    The remaking of angels, their rank and sweep

    Wednesday, January 16th, 2019

    [ by Charles Cameron — on, i suppose, the uphill slog or seduction of genius — or a very different take on complexity? ]
    .

    Paul Klee‘s Angelus Novus — described by the Verso writer Stuart Jeffries as “this goofy, eternally hovering angel with hair that looks like paper scrolls, aerodynamically hopeless wings and googly if rather melancholy eyes”:

    was admired and bought for a thousand marks by Walter Benjamin, and moved with him from one lodging to the next until her fled Germany and the onrushing Nazis. It is also:

    Benjamin’s most famous image, in the 1940 “Theses on the Philosophy of History”: the “angel of history” who is blown backward into the future by the storm of progress.

    or to quote Benjamin himself:

    A Klee painting named Angelus Novus shows an angel looking as though he is about to move away from something he is fixedly contemplating. His eyes are staring, his mouth is open, his wings are spread. This is how one pictures the angel of history. His face is turned toward the past. Where we perceive a chain of events, he sees one single catastrophe which keeps piling wreckage upon wreckage and hurls it in front of his feet. The angel would like to stay, awaken the dead, and make whole what has been smashed. But a storm is blowing from Paradise; it has got caught in his wings with such violence that the angel can no longer close them. The storm irresistibly propels him into the future to which his back is turned, while the pile of debris before him grows skyward. This storm is what we call progress.

    **

    At a time after Darwin, Marx and Freud have dissolved the basics of fundamentalism, and before the likes of Sam Harris, Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett and the brilliant Christopher Hitchens proclaimed “the new atheism” in an easily-won contest with that same low, popular religiosity — all but ignoring the retreat of angels from Renaissance tryptich to Hallmark Card — we might do well to carry the God-NoBoDaddy debate up an octave, and consider the possibility that once angels have been more or less erased from modern western consciousness, they may, as in a palimpsest, reappear in new-old guises..

    **

    Principally, I think here of Rilke‘s angels in the Duino Elegies:

    Who, if I cried out, would hear me among the angels’ hierarchies?
    and even if one of them pressed me suddenly against his heart:
    I would be consumed in that overwhelming existence.
    For beauty is nothing but the beginning of terror, which we are still just able to endure,
    and we are so awed because it serenely disdains to annihilate us.
    Every angel is terrifying.

    Ah!

    Rilke told one of his translators that she should not make the mistake of understanding the angel referred to in the elegies as a Christian angel. To the contrary, this angel was quite distinctly drawn from an Islamic tradition. Rilke writes that in the months before his trip to Duino, he had traveled in Spain and had been consumed with reading the Qu’ran and a book on the life of the Prophet Mohammed. It seems fairly clear that this occurred under the influence of his friend Lou Andreas-Salomé, whose husband, Friedrich Carl Andreas, was a leading scholar of Islamic culture in the Russian Empire, particularly including Naqshibandiyya.

    **

    Let Rilke have traveled next to India or China, the apsarases and gandharvas of Hinduism and Buddhism might have affected him, with their sensuality, their song, their dance..

    **

    But while gandharvas and apsarases capture us by their powers of seduction — in some ways like the houris of Islamic paradise — with Rilke’s angels, drawing no less on the Old Testament than on the Qur’an, our surrender is to elemental force:

    I mean the Angel who appeared
    to the wrestlers of the Old Testament:
    when the wrestlers’ sinews
    grew long like metal strings,
    he felt them under his fingers
    like chords of deep music.

    Whoever was beaten by this Angel
    (who often simply declined the fight)
    went away proud and strengthened
    and great from that harsh hand,
    that kneaded him as if to change his shape.
    Winning does not tempt that man.
    This is how he grows: by being defeated, decisively,
    by constantly greater beings.

    **

    Constantly greater beings, with which we may if we are spiritually fortunate, wrestle — these are Rilke‘s angels, and they fill the gap in the once-dominant Great Chain of Being paradigm, on a rung above human usualness, demanding, promising, skirmishing, delivering…

    To be carried in the arms of an apsara, to be swept by the gale-force storm of an angel, these are human experiences of the transhuman kind, and we need words for them, both forgetful of any surrounding dogma and delighting in their strength as imagery — gandharvas and angels named as such, and constantly revivified by the poetic imagination.

    Klee, Benjamin, Rilke, but also Jacob wrestling with — who? a man, angel, God? — and becoming IsraelGiotto, Fra Angelico, Michelangelo who wrestled form from Carrera marble, Dogen Zenji for whom mountains were the sages into whom, living among them, he blended.. Kalidasa with his yakshas in Cloud Messenger and perhaps supremely in the gandharva marriage in his Shakuntala..

    Isaac becoming Israel, Shakuntala the mother of Bharata.. Of such are sacred nations born.

    **

    Yet this world is wide and deep, the beings above us multitudinous, and the humans touched by them more than a single mind can comprehend. And:

    The problem of god is a problem in ballistics, Icarus discovered this,
    that to shoot for the sun is to fall short of it, those who shoot
    for beauty achieve prettiness, there is a gravity in aesthetics as there is
    in physics, and theology too has its fall, the problem of god being
    that the mind falls short of what is huge enough to conceive it, give
    conception whatever relevant definition you choose, too vast
    to think of, give birth to it — no, no, mind has sheer cliffs of fall, and
    to shoot for a conception of god is full speed ahead to fall, fail ..

    I bow, salute, prostrate, pranam, bow gassho.


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