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Perhaps because I’m looking for the tauromachia

Thursday, September 15th, 2016

[ by Charles Cameron — Syria echoes Guernica ]
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This, from JM Berger today, offers a glimpse of Syria that is neither war, nor peace, if I might put it this way, but war longing for peace:

Irresistibly, it reminds me of this:

Isn’t that a bull’s head in cloth, hanging right above the shoulder of the leaping boy in the Syrian image — and isn’t that alnmost exactly Picasso’s swooping white head, again in cloth, just to the right of it? The illusion of their similarity is enhanced by the aspect ratio of the Twitter image from Syria, which cuts off a stretch of green in the original photo, just below the image as you see it here..

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But it may be I’m seeing this because the bullfight and tauromachia have been on my mind recently — mythic combats of man pitted agains one of his worthiest opponents. There’s an archaic resonance there that’s inmportant in some way, but the actual killing of the bull, blood in the sand, horrifies me, the animal descending from grandeur to humiliation, its bowed head propped on one horn as it awaits finality — terrible.

And I was accordingly happy to recall the less violent version of the sport, still pitting man’s skill against adversary — in the bull-leaping of Knossos:

and its latter-day practice, shown here at the San Fermin Festival in Pamplona:

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Taurus:

taup
This image comes from the fabulous Constellations of Words site.

Syria and drawing the web of tensions

Friday, September 9th, 2016

[ by Charles Cameron — with a Magnus Ranstorp squib in its tail ]
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The issue is complexity, and how you represent it. The case in point is Syria.

Here’s a diagram that suggests complexity as a sort of crazy weaving, all straight lines and colors:

Daveed’s diagram has a network feel to it, with actord as nodes and the tensions between them as edges:

Karl Sharro’s tackling the wider context, but his illustration at least gives the sense of a ball of twine after a cat has carefully re-arranged it:

Juan Cole simply provides a screenshot from Google Maps —

jarabulus

— the headline America’s Syria SNAFU: Pentagon’s Militias fight Turkey & CIA’s Militias — which is effectively friendly fire framed as paradox — and some paras beneath it using words to describe the tangle:

The Turkish incursion into Syria at Jarabulus was advertised as an attack on a Daesh (ISIS, ISIL) stronghold and smuggling station in conjunction with (fundamentalist) remnants of the Free Syrian Army.

But the southern outskirts of Jarabulus had already fallen to the Pentagon-backed Syrian Democratic Forces, which are majority Kurdish but have a significant Arab component. The Arab, non-Kurdish SDF brigades such as the Seljuk brigade, the Army of Revolutionaries, and Northern Sun Brigade had fought to liberate the northern Syrian city of Manbij, due south of Jarabulus from Daesh. They have an outpost in the village of Amarna just a few miles south of Jarabulus, where they call themselves the Jarabulus Military Council.

The Turkish army, having secured Jarabulus itself with the help of fundamentalist militias, moved down to Amarna, where they met fierce resistance from the Syrian Democratic Forces, who are allied with the Kurds. The Turkish air force bombarded the SDF positions in Amarna and the militias responded by destroying two tanks and killing one Turkish soldier. Fighting continues there.

To be honest, I’m not sure which of those means of modeling a complex system leaves us best able to understand the situation on the ground.

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Maybe this one’s the best:

New York Times correction ouroboros

Friday, September 9th, 2016

[ by Charles Cameron — irresistible but sad, sad, sad ]
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Gary Johnson, Libertarian Party presidential candidate, flubbed a question about Aleppo in an interview:

That’s not great.

The New York Times then corrected him:

Gary Johnson, the former New Mexico governor and Libertarian Party presidential nominee, revealed a surprising lack of foreign policy knowledge on Thursday that could rock his insurgent candidacy when he could not answer a basic question about the crisis in Aleppo, Syria.

“What is Aleppo?” Mr. Johnson said when asked on MSNBC how, as president, he would address the refugee crisis in the Syrian city that is the de facto capital of the Islamic State.

That’s not great either.

The Times then had to correct its correction of Mr Johnson:

Correction: September 8, 2016

An earlier version of this article misidentified the de facto capital of the Islamic State. It is Raqqa, in northern Syria, not Aleppo.

That’s having to eat your words.

The Times then had to correct its correction of its correction of Mr Johnson:

Correction: September 8, 2016

An earlier version of the above correction misidentified the Syrian capital as Aleppo. It is Damascus.

That’s having to admit that when you had to eat your own words, you didn’t even chew them properly.

Ouroboros!

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For the record, everyone concerned has my sympathy. Eating one’s own words, eating one’s hat, eating humble pie is seldom pleasant — or in the case of the serpent, eating one’s own tail!

dragon-eats-self-reference-bd

Full disclosure: I too have blind spots, am vastly ignorant, and am prone to error. Plus I’m terrible at geography.

Random DoubleQuotes for later reference

Saturday, August 20th, 2016

[ by Charles Cameron — a resource, mostly for myself ]
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I’ll use this post to drop in random DoubleQuotes I run across, for storage — so I won’t need to trouble you with every example I find, but they’ll all still here for your consideration should you choose — and for any future writing I may do on the topic.

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From the Rio Olympics, the celebrated women’s basketball match with hijab vs bukini:

egypt sports

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Two options for a child in Syria, enshrined in two “iconic” photos, and presented as a lose-lose choice by Khalid Albaih.

khalidalbaih dq syrian children stay or go

Albaih has a terrific eye for symmetries, as you can see from these two other examples:

  • Khalid Albaih, Tree of Life
  • Khalid Albaih, Egypt sentences more than 680 people to death
  • **

    Quite different — but also Syria — is this tweet with its paired images of Aleppo —

    If I had my druthers I’d move from photo-reality into illuminated-manuscript-world, and from now into back then. Or would I? And are we really in photo-reality anyway, or is that an optical illusion?

    **

    There will be more — I’ll just drop them quietly in, here or in the comments section.

    The saints of television

    Friday, August 12th, 2016

    [ by Charles Cameron — on St Clare’s feast, two tales of miraculous television, and the fragmented memory of a third ]
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    Today, August 11th, is in the Catholic calendar the Feast of St Clare of Assisi, friend of St Francis and patron saint of television:

    SPEC DQ miracles of television

    In celebrating her day, I cannot but remember the Sufi al-Sha’rani, whose capacity #20 as recorded in Arberry‘s little book has long delighted me.

    I believe similar, more detailed stories are told of other Sufi saints, one of whom (if memory serves) saw and greeted from Spain a master in Damascus or Baghdad with whom he would subsequently meet.

    I should look into that..


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