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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::

Descendit ad inferos, he descended to those below..

Sunday, April 21st, 2019

[ by Charles Cameron — the low down, the vanishing point, and the exaltation ]
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There is no Christ: he has died, he is not yet resurrected. According to the usual English translation of the most basic of the Church’s three statements of faith, the Apostles’ Creed, he descending into hell: or as Ephesians 4.9-10 has it:

Now that he ascended, what is it but that he also descended first into the lower parts of the earth? He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things.

This worldly world is no place into which such doctrines comfortably fit. Hell? The lower parts of the earth?

No, there is a low doorway by which we may enter such a cosmos, encounter such a Christ. We must shed, in fact, reality and self-importance, twin delusions, and embrace imagination.

Above all heavens?

**

The second to final section of Bach’s St John Passion deals with this intermediate state, the boirderland between life and death, in this melancholy yet resigned chorus, Ruht wohl, ihr heiligen Gebeine:

The lyric addresses the now dead Christ

Rest well, you blessed limbs,
now I will no longer mourn you,
rest well and bring me also to peace!
The grave that is allotted to you
and encloses no further suffering,
opens heaven for me and closes off Hell.

**

The Latin of the Apostles’ Creed does not actually say that Christ descended into hell, but that he descended to those below, and this in turn is interpreted to mean that he came to those of good character who died before his coming, and were thus unable to hear the gospel he preached until this Holy Saturday — his body in the tomb, his presence preaching to them for their salvation. We are thus offered a neat answer to the otherwise tricky question — what happened to those who, through no fault of their own,never heard him.

For Christianity, this is the archetypal liminal moment, this day between crucifixion and resurrection, death and renewed life. How unimportant it seems, how humble, falling between Good Friday and Easter Day — yet there is beauty here, as the whole gospel story is beautiful.

But there is more. It is characteristic of the Passion story that Christ touches the depths of human doubt on the cross — crying My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?

**

As I have noted before, the Lakota medicine man Archie Fire Lame Deer told his biographer, Richard Erdoes:

I am no wino or pishko, but I am no saint either. A medicine man shouldn’t be a saint. He should experience and feel all the ups and downs, the despair and joy, the magic and the reality, the courage and the fear, of his people. He should be able to sink as low as a bug, or soar as high as an eagle. Unless he can experience both, he is no good as a medicine man.

Ifb you have not suffered as deeply as those who come to you with their sufferings, you will seem shallow to them, and be unable to console them. If youhave not experienced joy as fully as those who rejoice nearby, you will seem stiff and stilted to the, and cannot join thewir dance, their song/\.

Christ on the cross, Christ in the tomb descending to those below — bith are instances of that same descent which is the natural accompaniment of sacent — just as Chrust’s birth in a stable — no room at the inn — is the descen to vulnerable humanity of Godhead impassible — beyond all suffering.

It is in the descent that the ascent is prepared.

**

Or as Heraclitus says:

The way upward and the way downward
is one and the same

Or St John of the Cross, greatest of Spanish mystics, writing of the Dark Night of the Soul:

Although this happy night brings darkness to the spirit, it does so only to give it light in everything; and that, although it humbles it and makes it miserable, it does so only to exalt it and to raise it up; and, although it impoverishes it and empties it of all natural affection and attachment, it does so only that it may enable it to stretch forward, divinely, and thus to have fruition and experience of all things, both above and below, yet to preserve its unrestricted liberty of spirit in them all.

And again, as TS Eliot has it, who quoted that fragment of Heraclitus as an epigraph to his Four Quartets:

And the way up is the way down, the way forward is the way back.

**

I have written this post, this day, to teach myself these things, to do the necessary research, the discovery and the remembering: and I hope they will be of interest and profit to you too.

But I must post in haste — Easter Day approaches, and with it the joyful cry, Christ is risen! Christos aneste.

For your consideration — this I must listen to myself:

For joy!

Advertising series 01: Music

Thursday, April 11th, 2019

[ by Charles Cameron — trying to gauge the appropriateness of music in TV advertising, and getting the sense that music has a — frankly — higher purpose. And then? ]
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I’ve been trying to figure out, from the poetry plane, just what it is that music does or is, or where, and as I’m watching TV commercials, I’m struck each time classical music is used, and forced to consider the role that music plays — in the ads, in my life, and in our lives. Commercials, like haiku, are highly concentrated affairs, and I’ve been learning a lot.

In brief —

**

I don’t terribly mind that you can jazz the greatest of composers IMO, in what feels more like a virtuoso exercise than music as such..

Flying Bach:Red Bull

And when the music is jazzy to begin with, no problem — fun, even ..

Rhapsody in Blue: United

Unh — and ditto, speeded up:

High speed Orchestra: Porsche

**

But Ave Maria?

Ave Maria: Planters

I guess that’s arguably a Hail Mary overpass, and the Ave Maria only slips in very briefly while the peanut’s in flight, so I’ll let it slide by..

But then I must admit I do get a bit uneasy about the semi-sacred last movement of Beethoven’s Ninth being repeatedly associated with a somewhat silly sad for a line of sports-car, lovely though they are:

Ode to Joy: Alfa Romeo

**

The Hallelujah Chorus comes from a sacred oratorio, Handel’s Messiah, to be sure, but Messiah has been drifting from the sacred towards the social for decades, maybe even a century… Boots, though?

Hallelujah: Boots and Shoes

That seems a bit off-kilter: ads are repetitive things, and the idea that millions of concert-goers may have a less than stellar shoe ad pop into their heads in the middle of Handel’s iconic work — not a great taste to leave in the metaphorical mouth, methinks.

**

Compare this commercial using the Lacrimosa from Mozart’s Requiem

Mozart Requiem: DirecTV

— with this paragraph from the philosopher Cornelius Castoriadis:

Remember that philosophers almost always start by saying: “I want to see what being is, what reality is. Now, here is a table. What does this table show to me as characteristic of a real being?” No philosopher ever started by saying: “I want to see what being is, what reality is. Now, here is my memory of my dream of last night. What does this show to me as characteristic of a real being?” No philosopher ever starts by saying “Let Mozart’s Requiem be a paradigm of being, let us start from that.” Why could we not start by positing a dream, a poem, a symphony as paradigmatic of the fullness of being and by seeing in the physical world a deficient mode of being, instead of looking at things the other way round, instead of seeing in the imaginary — that is, human — mode of existence, a deficient or secondary mode of being?

DirecTV? You can count me out.

Kurt Vonnegut quite wonderfully explains:

I am enchanted by the Sermon on the Mount. Being merciful, it seems to me, is the only good idea we have received so far. Perhaps we will get another idea that good by and by-and then we will have two good ideas. What might that second good idea be? I don’t know. How could I know? I will make a wild guess that it will come from music somehow. I have often wondered what music is and why we love it so. It may be that music is that second good idea being born.

**

Frankly, I don’t think commercials are up to the Castoriadis / Vonnegut standard.

But let me leave you with a puzzzlement, a koan — assuming you haven’t diverged too far from my perspective thus far. If the Mozart Requiem should be spared participation in TV advertising, what do you think of Bach — remember Bach? — being embedded in a grisly scene from Silence of the Lambs?

Hannibal Lecter plays Bach:

Masterpiece within a masterpiece? Okay?

Halting Problem, P and NP to start with.. chyrons &c 33

Wednesday, April 3rd, 2019

{ by Charles Cameron — including off and on security clearances, Biden and personal space, Trump and groping, kissing, Sovereign Citizens, a billion dollar swindle, and a cruise named Conspira-Sea — and on and on ]
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So, Fox had a chyron gaffe —

— it’s worth a chuckle — now move along..

**

Okay here’s enantiodromia:

Trump will put $100 billion into a slush fund so he doesn’t have to deal with budget cuts:

Republicans have spent a generation complaining about deficits, government spending and attacking a so-called “big government.” Yet, within just a few years the entire party has turned 180 degrees.

and a nice paradox:

If P gets things right then it lies in its tooth;
and if it speaks falsely, it’s telling the truth!

Where did I get that?

  • Geoffrey K. Pullum, an elementary proof of the undecidability of the halting problem
  • If it was Dr Seuss, I’m betting he’d have employed and enjoyed pee (male) and queue (female), which would have made youthful readers giggle and blush.

    That’s Epimenides territory btw, as in “all Cretans are liars”.

    **

    Getting back to news chyrons — I wasn’t awake to catch this when it showed up on Morning Joe, but a piece on RawStory pointed me to it:

    Joe Scarborough:

    Once again, we’re just looking through a glass darkly, and have no idea what Mueller

    Tom Nichols (professor, Naval War College):

    I would love to play poker with the president because he’s a walking bundle of tells.

    **

    CNN Situation Room 4/1/2019:

    Donald Trump: We’ll keep it closed for a long time. I’m not playing games.
    Kellyanne Conway: It is certainly not a bluff.

    **

    MTP 4/1/2019:

    Jeh Johnson:

    You don’t have to the the former Secretary of Homeland Security to know you can’t shut down a 1,900 mile border. It’s a little like decreeing that it should stop raining..

    [ cf King Knut ]

    [all of them Mexico?]

    Jeh Johnson:

    Cutting off aid is the exact wrong thing to do ..

    Note the lovely symmetry there, equivalent to projection

    **

    Ari Melber:

    Neil Katyal:

    You can’t be playing Ducks and Drakes and releasing selectively some quotes here and some quotes there..

    Is, incidentally, I’m thinking sports metaphors, whistle-blower a sports reference, referee?

    **

    Hardball:

    Rep Steve Cohen:

    This whole thing has been played out like a stall. Like when they used to play basketball without a 32 second, 30 second, 35 secondclock, a 35 second clock and they’re just holding the ball, and they’ve got the lead, they’ve got the lead and they’re holding the ball.

    Chris Matthews:

    That’s Dean Smith’s four corners offense, I know about it. Thanks for the basketball recap. .. This isn’t basketball at all, but there is a question of game-playing here ..*****

    This was re Barr timing the release of the Mueller report (after his redactions) to April 15, when Congress wld be away from town on a 3 week break..

    CM:

    A picture’s worth a thousand words everybody. Natasha, you take this: if we get a New York Times top of the fold picture >of a whole page blacked out .. There isn’t going to be much white left on that page ..

    Natasha Bertrand:

    Is Donald Trump considered a third party because he wasn’t charged?

    I just want to go back really quickly to the question of whether ethics and morals matter. If you’re a morally vacuous person, that makes you more susceptible to beinf blackmailed by a foreign country .. It’s a very big national security issue, and I think that that is the lens through which we have to view this ..

    Jay Inslee:

    Trump has been so inhumane to close the border to refugees, some of whom are climate refugees today, because of the drought..

    First mention I’ve seen of climate refugees***** as a term — cf my poem Mourning the lost Ka’aba

    **

    All In:

    Lachlan Markay:

    A state-sponsored Saudi information warfare apparatus ..

    a full spectrum of information warfare, essentially, against Jeff Bezos, the Washington Post and Amazon ..

    Chris Hayes:

    If it’s true, it’s as real and immediate a threat to free speech in the US as one can possinbbly imagine, if a foreign government that doesn’t like dissidents speaking out of turn so much that it murders themessentially attempts to blackmail and destroythe paper which covers is.

    LM:

    And not just the First Amendment, but we have to remember that Amazon right now is bidding on a ten billion dollar Pentagon cloud storage contract, here as well ..om there are tremendous national security implications

    Ah, and golf:

    There’s even a book about it —

    — a book-length sports metaphor***** for the current presidency?

    Author Rick Reilly describes the President as a “prolific cheater” ..

    **

    Andrea:

    **

    Okay.

    Two major pieces on forms of the extreme associated with the right:

    How Sovereign Citizens Helped Swindle $1 Billion From the Government They Disavow

    And from that article, an aptly named car:

    Mr. Morton’s sentencing was set for that June. But when the 11 a.m. hearing started, he didn’t show. Agents spotted him that afternoon outside a Domino’s in Hermosa Beach, a gray hood and sunglasses shrouding much of his face. He hopped in his white Ford Escape and headed south.

    and an aptly named cruise:

    Worth reading, and really worth knowing about the loosely-defined, quasi-religious Sovereign Citizens movement.

    Also:

    There are two forms of interest here — the vicious circle, a quintessential ouroboric concept, and the implied symmetry in “jihadists and the far-right not only reflect each other, but feed off each other”..

    But the CSM piece I really want to direct your attention to is one written by blog-friend Ann Scott Tyson and quoting blog-friend JM Berger– — who was also quoted in the NYT SovCit piece above:

    Christchurch brings global white supremacist threat into sharp relief

    “This is a much bigger global challenge than it is a challenge just in New Zealand or just in the U.K., with Britain First, or just in the U.S. with the [Ku Klux] Klan and a range of other neo-Nazi and white supremacist groups,” says Seth Jones, director of the Transnational Threats Project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. “There’s a broader collective concern here.”

    **

    This just in before I go.. another symmetry observed:

    The cruel irony of Hussle’s murder is that he was the victim of the type of urban violence he had long tried to remedy: The day after his death, he was scheduled to participate in an LAPD anti-street-violence meeting.

    Off to a good start, chyrons, headlines, phrases, metaphors, 31

    Saturday, March 30th, 2019

    [ by Charles Cameron — Oxford the memory, Edward Said the music critic, WB Yeats and his Tom O’Roughley, Townes Van Zandt in the song of David Broza.. Barr and Aaliyah — four-page letters, kisses .. plus FaallBack, & Wiz Khalifa on my watch [!!] ]

    Minefield, yes —

    — but also two sides on one stage, so two virtues in the music of ideas:

  • polyphony — many voices, and
  • counterpoint, the juxtaposition, clash and resolution of contrary points of view
  • For war and peace as symphonic, see Edward Said:

    When you think about it, when you think about Jew and Palestinian not separately, but as part of a symphony, there is something magnificently imposing about it. A very rich, also very tragic, also in many ways desperate history of extremes – opposites in the Hegelian sense – that is yet to receive its due. So what you are faced with is a kind of sublime grandeur of a series of tragedies, of losses, of sacrifices, of pain that would take the brain of a Bach to figure out. It would require the imagination of someone like Edmund Burke to fathom.

    Just a snippet — the first paragraph from the Guardian piece:

    Lou Armour is a special needs teacher, an introspective man with a walking stick. If you passed him on the street you probably wouldn’t notice anything about him beyond his limp. But 35 years ago he yomped across the Falkland Islands and ran through a minefield under artillery fire on Mount Harriet. His section killed several Argentinians in a bloody battle and Armour found himself attending to a fatally wounded Argentinian soldier who spoke to him in English about visiting Oxford. He watched as the young man died.

    Ah, Oxford.

    That’s I’d say, is a very good start for this post.

    **

    Okay, back into the mire:

  • Defense One, The US Military Is Creating the Future of Employee Monitoring
  • Uh oh, just what we need!

    As I said to Ali Minai, my view is that of WB Yeats in his poem Tom O’Roughley:

    ‘Though logic choppers rule the town,
    And every man and maid and boy
    Has marked a distant object down,
    An aimless joy is a pure joy,’
    Or so did Tom O’Roughley say
    That saw the surges running by,
    ‘And wisdom is a butterfly
    And not a gloomy bird of prey.

    ‘If little planned is little sinned
    But little need the grave distres.
    What’s dying but a second wind?
    How but in zigzag wantonness
    Could trumpeter Michael be so brave?’
    Or something of that sort he said,
    ‘And if my dearest friend were dead
    I’d dance a measure on his grave.’

    **

    Back to the Mueller probe according to President Trump

    :Many, many people were badly hurt by this scam, but more importantly, our country was hurt. Our country was hurt. And they are on artificial respirators right now. They are getting mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.

    — and back to “little pencil-neck Adam Schiff” aka “Adam Schitt”:

    He’s got the smallest, thinnest neck I’ve ever seen. He is not a long-ball hitter, but I saw him today, ‘Well we don’t really know, there still could have been some Russia collusion.’

    Sick, sick.. these are sick people and there has to be accountability because it is all lies and they know it’s lies ..

    Well then:

    That’s an unexpected and welcome follow-up ..

    **

    And so to Trump:

    Wildcard*****, a nice, slightly paradoxical example..

    **

    I’m watching Hanna (Amazon), starring the skilled and lovely Esme Creed-Miles:

    Life, she is full of variety, no?

    **

    elshi & Ruhle:

    **

    MTP 3/29/2019:

    Again, trump, trump, trump..

    Rep Jamie Raskin, his way with words:

    Attorney General Barr writes letters like Agatha Christie novels, there are more and more mysteries built into each one ..

    [Impeachment] it’s the people’s defense against a president who’s acting like a king ..

    Katy Tur:

    **

    The Beat, Ari Melber:

    First, a stream of chyrons..

    Aisha:

    I’m dropping this four-page letter and enclosing it with a kiss..

    Aside: the things we learn!!

    Howard Fineman:

    I think he’s part of the team..

    Let me use a basketball analogy if you don’t mind.. You know how, at the end of a game when one team thinks it’s ahead and they spread the floor and start tossing the ball around to keep from getting fouled to stop the clock, that’s my interpretation [of Barr’s actions] here..

    .. dozens of years of Yale Law School education, and we end at the freak-show tent ..

    A pair:

    Then there’s a quote from Obama’s Selma Bridge speech:

    We are the people Langston Hughes wrote of who “build our temples for tomorrow, strong as we know how.” We are the people Emerson wrote of, “who for truth and honor’s sake stand fast and suffer long;” who are “never tired, so long as we can see far enough.”

    That’s what America is. Not stock photos or airbrushed history, or feeble attempts to define some of us as more American than others.

    Fallback, which I generally don’t like too much, but here —

    — hunting and shooting a sleeping lion —

    If you’re hunting to eat, that’s one thing ..

    You want to impress me — go fight that lion with your bare hands, knuckles, teeth — and then come back and talk to me..

    [cf past Maasai hunting traditions.. ]

    — and which, further into the Fallback episode, brings us more music — Stay in ur lane:

    **

    So here I’ll take a break..


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