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Guest Post: Hays on the French Election

Tuesday, April 25th, 2017

[Mark Safranski / “zen“]

Image result for french election

I’d like to welcome a new, occasional, guest-poster at zenpundit.com,  “Jack Hays“.  Mr. Hays has considerable experience in a number of political and policy positions inside government and out and shares with the ZP readership our appreciation for history, strategy and other things further afield.

FRANCE AT THE CROSSROADS

by Jack Hays

The party system of the Fifth Republic is at last overturned and reconfigured almost exactly half a century after its creation, and the second round of the French presidential election now becomes the third big Western contest for the old and new dispensations: first Brexit, next HRC-Trump, and now Macron-Le Pen.
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Each was and is a fight between the postwar managerial state on the one hand, and populist nationalism on the other. The shock has been the latter’s victory in the first two, but the conventional wisdom is that the streak ends here. Surely this new campaign will end for the younger Le Pen as it did for the elder, with the mass of the French electorate banding together to give a supermajority to the establishment. That’s a rational bet any other year, but not this one. There are the macro trends, and then there are the particular details. Marine Le Pen brings together powerful strands of French political history and identity, from the ridiculous to the pathetic to the glorious, from Pierre Poujade to Philippe Pétain to Charles De Gaulle. Emmanuel Macron does as well, although his are the rocks of the known and the institutional, France as governed in our lifetimes, the rule of les énarques. France as a whole has preferred the latter for so long, but their age of prosperity and competence has turned into an age of fear, of murder in the cities and disquiet in the homes. Now we learn what they fear more, because that fear — not hope, not aspiration — will drive the outcome. What is more intolerable: the status quo of En Marche, or the specter of the Front National?
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We do not know. Neither does France. It is both an uncertainty we must endure, and a suspense we cannot afford.

Meanwhile on planet Plantagenet

Monday, April 24th, 2017

[ by Charles Cameron — a DoubleQuote too far — or too good to miss? ]
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On the benfits of having been British, even if it was a while back..

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Looks like we Brits would get to reclaim Eleanor‘s Aquitaine.. and it’s hard for me to tell, but I fear we’d miss out on Carcassonne of the Cathars..

Sunday surprise — literal rainfall ancient and modern

Sunday, March 19th, 2017

[ by Charles Cameron — a DoubleQuote in the arts ]
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Guillaume Apollinaire:

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Il pleut

Il pleut des voix de femmes comme si elles étaient mortes même dans le souvenir
c’est vous aussi qu’il pleut merveilleuses rencontres de ma vie ô gouttelettes
et ces nuages cabrés se prennent à hennir tout un univers de villes auriculaires
écoute s’il pleut tandis que le regret et le dédain pleurent une ancienne musique
écoute tomber les liens qui te retiennent en haut et en bas.

Roger Shattuck, brilliant author of The Banquet Years: The Origins of the Avant-Garde in France) translates:

It’s Raining

It’s raining women’s voices as if they had died even in memory
And it’s raining you as well marvellous encounters of my life O little drops
Those rearing clouds begin to neigh a whole universe of auricular cities
Listen if it rains while regret and disdain weep to an ancient music
Listen to the bonds fall off which hold you above and below

As Edward Hirsch comments at Poetry Foundation:

The slanting lines of Apollinaire’s poem create the sensation of rain running downward across a windowpane. Graphic form and verbal music come together as each long vertical line becomes a rhythmic unit of meaning

— which is itself a verbal / visual DoubleQuote!

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Code running downward..

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This was brought to mind by the magnificent title sequence of the Le Carré thriller The Night Manager:

essentially completing a second DoubleQuote with those falling droplets. those rising bubbles — and there are several filmic equivalents of DoubleQuotes graphic matches aka match cuts — in the sequence itself: bomb cloud > martini, tea cups >machine gun, contrails > pearls..

I’m always happy to see more Le Carré on film..

There’s more than one way for a Muslim to have border problems

Monday, February 27th, 2017

[ by Charles Cameron — Trump, Assad and Trump ]
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The first way, which is drawing a lot of fire these days, is via the Trump “Muslim ban” —

— but it ain’t the only way: angering al-Assad can also do the trick.

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An alternative example of the first kind would give us this —

— in some ways it’s a closer match, since both Russo and Khatib were traveling to significant events where their work would be highlighted. On the other hand, the Muhammad Ali Jr instance is powerful by reason of the issue of his religion coming up..

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Sources:

  • Guardian, US border agents ask Muhammad Ali’s son: ‘Are you a Muslim?’
  • Vox, The White Helmets cinematographer Khaled Khatib was coming to the Oscars
  • Guardian, Leading French academic threatened with deportation at Houston airport
  • **

    But then we could also juxtapose the alternative first examples with one another, making a DoubleQuote of two instances of problems with US border agents —

    — and yes, much of the world is looking on.

    On the felicities of graph-based game-board design: ten

    Sunday, October 9th, 2016

    [ by Charles Cameron — a long, lazy Sunday post, packed with quirky interest and neat maps ]
    .

    Ten? What’s so special about ten, hunh? Just because you have ten fingers, you suppose that makes ten special?

    **

    One:

    As simple as a map can get:

    worry-line
    Simon Kirby, The Worry Line

    Two:

    As complex as one can get:

    most-complex-ny
    Eric Jaffe, The World’s 15 Most Complex Subway Maps

    And I mean complex, cognitively complex:

    When it comes to information processing, an average person’s “cognitive threshold” is about 250 connections, or the equivalent of roughly eight bits of data, according to the researchers. New York’s system neared that limit, with 161 total connections, and the most complicated two-transfer trip a person could make on the subway exceeded it—clocking in at 8.1 bits. Maps for the Paris Metro (with 78 total connections), Tokyo Metro (56), and London Tube (48) clustered around six bits of information.

    Three:

    Naked:

    naked-map
    Nick van Mead, Can you identify the world cities from their ‘naked’ metro maps?

    The Guardian wanted to know if you could recognize various cities if shown their metro maps without the stations markings.. and i could manage Chicago (above).

    Four:

    Coffee:

    coffee-shop-mapo
    Chris Ward, Coffee Stops

    Sadly, the map is not the territory, or I could get my Java from South Ken while sitting at my desk just outside Sacramento.

    The London Coffee Map, “Coffee Stops,” was designed by Chris Ward, who calls himself “the boss who works from coffee shops.” He recently published Out of Office: Work Where You Like and Achieve More, a best-selling guide to leading a successful working life outside an office building. Apparently, being properly caffeinated is one of his biggest tips. Now you can grab your joe at local London cafes with quaint names like Scooter and Electric Elephant.

    Five:

    Mug:

    I could then quaff it from an appropriately poetical Map Mug:

    50112-greater-shakespeare-map-mug-normal
    Royal Shakespeare Company, Greater Shakespeare Map Mug

    The map here representing affinities between characters in the Bard’s various plays:

    greater-shakespeare-map-rsc

    **

    Interlude:

    — and we’re half way to ten, let’s imagine ourselves at Shakespeare and Co‘s bookstore and cafe in Paris

    shakespeare-co

    **

    Six:

    Calvino

    While we’re on a literary streak, here’s a thumbnail of one of artist Rod McLaren‘s illuminations of Italo Calvino‘s Invisible Cities:

    italo-calvino-mapped
    Rod McLaren, Invisible Cities Illustrated #2: Trude/Ersilia

    The detail here is fantastic, as befits Calvino’s work:

    The diagram, a network of curved lines connecting to every other node on a 6 x 5 grid, has two configurations: if the picture is hung one way up, it shows the “Ersilia configuration” (where the lines are like the threads strung between the buildings of Ersilia); if hung the other way up, it shows that of Trude (where the lines are like a complicated airline route map).

    Ersilia (Trading Cities 4, p78):

    In Ersilia, to establish the relationships that sustain the city’s life, the inhabitants stretch strings from the corners of the houses, white or black or gray or black-and-white according to whether they mark a relationship of blood, of trade, or authority, agency. When the strings become so numerous that you can no longer pass among them, the inhabitants leave: the houses are dismantled; only the strings and their supports remain. From a mountainside, camping with their household goods, Ersilia’s refugees look at the labyrinth of taut strings and poles that rise in the plain. That is the city of Ersilia still, and they are nothing.

    They rebuild Ersilia elsewhere. They weave a similar pattern of strings which they would like to be more complex and at the same time more regular than the other. Then they abandon it and take themselves and their houses still farther away.

    Thus, when travelling in the territory of Ersilia, you come upon the ruins of the abandoned cities, without the walls which do not last, without the bones of the dead which the wind rolls away: spiderwebs of intricate relationships seeking a form.

    Trude (Continuous Cities 2, p128):

    If on arriving at Trude I had not read the city’s name written in big letters, I would have thought I was landing at the same airport from which I had taken off. The suburbs they drove me through were no different from the others, with the same greenish and yellowish houses. Following the same signs we swung around the same flower beds in the same squares. The downtown streets displayed goods, packages,signs that had not changed at all. This was the first time I had come to Trude, but I already knew the hotel where I happened to be lodged; I had already heard andspoken my dialogues with the buyers and sellers of hardware; I had ended other days identically,looking through the same goblets at the same swaying navels.

    Why come to Trude? I asked myself. And I already wanted to leave.

    “You can resume your flight whenever you like,” they said to me, “but you will arrive at another Trude, absolutely the same, detail by detail. The world is covered by a sole Trude which does not begin and does not end. Only the name of the airport changes.”

    All of which reminds me of nothing so much as Antonio Gaudi‘s model — made of hanging chains — catenaries —

    inverted-model-barcelona

    which when turned upside down provide the structure for his Sagrada Familia cathedral in Barcelona:

    sagrada-familia

    Seven:

    Ghost:

    Meanwhile, back in London, we have maps of the ghost (ie abandoned) London tube stops:

    ghost-stations
    Dylan Maryk, Ghost Stations On The London Underground

    Eight:

    That’s one way to de-clutter the Tube map — show what ain’t there any more.

    Here’s another —

    declutteredtubemap
    Matt Thomason, 150 years of The London Underground

    Don’t ask me what it means — seeing as Hugh Grant gets a station, it’s either gentlemanly or ungentlemanly, I’m not sure which.

    Nine:

    Music:

    I simply didn’t know you’d have to travel this far to get from Dylan to the Beatles:

    london_music_genres_detail
    Dorian Lynskey, in Tufte, Response to London Underground maps

    I mean —

    bob-dylan-john-lennon
    Michelle Geslani, The Beatles and Bob Dylan met 50 years ago today

    Ten:

    I’ve kept this one for last because in some ways it’s the subtlest:

    exhibition-in-borders-we-trust

    It’s the work of architect Jug Cerovic., and on his page In Borders We Trust he offers this conceptual comment:

    Borders are primarily a mental construct.

    Just like a deity, they exist only insofar as People believe in them. Question is however how necessary our belief in their existence is and when exactly does that belief start harming us?

    At which point do borders cease to be a convenient orientation marker, a helpful tool for the comprehension of the land we inhabit, a common identifier for the construction of a shared identity? At which point do borders become a dogmatic limitation to imagination, a terrifying prison for the body and mind, a symbol and support of hatred?

    Borders do not possess an inherent bad or good character, on the contrary they are a malleable concept subject to appropriation and interpretation.

    “In borders we trust” examines the perception, physical manifestation and enforcement of the couple formed by People and Borders focusing on three key areas of the contemporary migration routes:

  • Gibraltar
  • Serbia
  • Levant
  • For this purpose the peculiar relationship between Borders and People is illustrated with a sequence of three distinct maps:

  • Borders without People
  • Borders with People
  • People without Borders
  • This novel perspective of a seemingly familiar representation, with each component of the couple shown separately and juxtaposed to their combined illustration, questions the articulation and pertinence of our present predicament.

    Happily, this is an area that I’ve delved into at some length myself in my earlier post, No man’s land, one man’s real estate, everyone’s dream? — with specific reference to ISIS’ bulldozing of the border between Iraq and Syria, and the Basque country, Euskadi, saddling the French / Spanish border.

    Cerovic has achieved an eminently practical limited version of one of my own grandiose castle-in-air schemes — building a universal graphical mapping system. Cerovic’s version offers us a universal graphical underground / tube / metro mapping system, in the form of his book One Metro World — you still have a couple of weeks to support it on Kickstarter!

    map-app

    **

    Earlier in this series:

  • On the felicities of graph-based game-board design: preliminaries
  • On the felicities of graph-based game-board design: two dazzlers
  • On the felicities of graph-based game-board design: three
  • On the felicities of graph-based game-board design: four
  • On the felicities of graph-based game-board design: five
  • On the felicities of graph-based game-board design: six
  • On the felicities of graph-based game-board design: seven
  • On the felicities of graph-based game-board design: eight
  • And hey, and we’re back at maps — where we started in

  • On the felicities of graph-based game-board design: nine

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