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I wouldn’t trouble you, but.. redux

Wednesday, November 27th, 2019

[ by Charles Cameron — following on from this earlier double ouroboros, posted Sunday ]
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This is such a superb technological ouroboros, delivered by Amazon to our friend, Bryan Alexander, and tweeted by him for our delectation:

With any luck, I’ll get to review Bryan’s book for Zenpundit.

I wouldn’t trouble you, but..

Monday, November 25th, 2019

[ by Charles Cameron — A DoubleQuote of ouroboroi ]
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I wouldn’t trouble you with this DoubleQuote, it’s one that every TV commentator and op-ed writer has picked up on, it’s that obvious — but it’s also a double instance of the ourboros, and that’s worth remarking:

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Have a supercool Sunday..

DoubleQuoting Trees, 2001 – 2019, Greta 2019 – 1898

Friday, November 22nd, 2019

[ by Charles Cameron — from tree-planting in the millions, via Tolkien’s ents in entmoot mode, to the Yukon, science-fiction time-travel, and a Greta Thunberg lookalike ]
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A couple, Brazilian photographer Sebastião Salgado and his wife, planted 20 million trees in 20 years. Some of their product is visible in this photographic DoubleQuote

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Simply and factually, two states of a hillside are connected by twenty years of planting, similarly but more personally, a photographer and his wife are connected by love and marriage nurtured by their lives together, more abstractly two nodes in a network are connected by edges, in each case, the connections in a network are the strength of that network..

And in this case, trees are the result of planting over time, and over time this marriage of two persons is no doubt deepened. They make a difference, and if a hundred thousand, scattered across the habitable globe, followed their example, the impact would be considerable.

Consider also that in the view of a German scientist whose ideas are, according to the Smithsonian, “shaking up the scientific world”. Anthropomorphosizing more than a little, the Smithsonian writer tells us:

Wise old mother trees feed their saplings with liquid sugar and warn the neighbors when danger approaches. Reckless youngsters take foolhardy risks with leaf-shedding, light-chasing and excessive drinking, and usually pay with their lives. Crown princes wait for the old monarchs to fall, so they can take their place in the full glory of sunlight. It’s all happening in the ultra-slow motion that is tree time, so that what we see is a freeze-frame of the action.

20,000 trees must have quite a conversation.

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Entmoot

Cue JRR Tolkien on the tree-like Ents, the ancient and wise guardians of trees and forests introduced in volume 2 of the Lord of the Rings:

Quickbeam, for example, guarded rowan trees and bore some resemblance to rowans: tall and slender, smooth-skinned, with ruddy lips and grey-green hair. Some ents, such as Treebeard, were like beech-trees or oaks. But there were other kinds. Some recalled the chestnut: brown-skinned Ents with large splayfingered hands, and short thick legs. Some recalled the ash: tall straight grey Ents with many-fingered hands and long legs; some the fir (the tallest Ents), and others the birch, … and the linden.

A gathering of the ents is called an Entmoot. Tolkien quotes Treebeard:

The ents have not troubled about the wars of men and wizards for a very long time. But now something is about to happen that has not happened for an age… Ent Moot. [ … ] Beech, oak, chestnut, ash… Good, good, good. Many have come. Now we must decide if the ents will go to war.

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By way of a bookend to this post, here’s a DoubleQuote in images of Greta Thunberg and a 1898 lookalike in a photo from the Yukon:

As usual, parallelisms promote speculation — in this case, the laughable, laudable conspiracy theory that Thunberg is a time traveler.

Conspiracy! Science fiction!

The suggestion is that Greta traveled back from our time, when she despaired of our efforts to reverse human-caused climate change, to the Yukon of 1898, where she set about reversing the problem at its time and place origin. Exactly why human-caused climate change should have started in the Yukon in 1898 is not clear, nor can we understand how, if she began her efforts at reversing the progressive wasting of earth by human impact back in 1898 and had had no notable impact on that process by now, as revealed in the 1898 and 2019 photos of Ms Thunberg.. that too is unclear.

Fabulation, however, is fabulpous by dedfinition — so we record this conspiracy here.

Readings:

  • HuffPost, Photo From 1898 Sparks Hilarious Theory That Greta Thunberg Is A Time-Traveler
  • Owen Sound Sun Times, Greta Thunberg look-alike in 1898 Yukon gold rush photo has sparked time-travel conspiracies
  • **

    Okay, here’s a suggestion:

    Greta Thunberg — or the Entmoot , for that matter — might suggest we plant trees:

    Plant for yourself:

    But be warned

    As we plant trees, we must avoid planting monocultures, and ensure we plant variety, as The Economist suggests.

    What terrifies the Chinese about Falun Gong?

    Monday, November 18th, 2019

    [ by Charles Cameron — Falun Gong keeps coming front and center for a day or two, then fading back into the woodwork — so I wanted to get these points made, out there as an information dump for the likes of Rachel Maddow ]
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    What we don’t understand is that the horror-terror of the Taiping Rebellion with its 20 or so million dead in the eighteen-fifties shadow-ghosts the Chinese government’s present fear of, hence hate at — and thus rage against — the 100 million or so practitioners of Falun Gong, so gracefully, graciously performing their qi gong dances on parkland grass, all across the realm..

    TaipingThe Taiping Rebellion, 1850-1864

    **

    As some of you know, I talked briefly with Ali Allawi, one time Iraqi Defense minister, at the October 9, 2007 Jamestown briefing on Iraq, and he said the same was true of Iraqi responses to a militia threatening to kill the Hawza or council of Grand Ayatollahs of Najaf, so as to replace it with their candidate for Mahdi — a revolt of several hundred sectarians, which was put then down with considerable Iraqi force assisted by air support from the US — in what was then the single greatest battle in the Iraq war. Allawi told me the Iraqi fear of a Mahdist rebellion stemmed from their memory of the Babist and Bahai rebellion of the 1860s “in that part of the world” — a memory which remains sore to this day on account of the tens of thousand of lives lost.

    The Chinese have very good reason to be terrified when they find a group of — by one estimate — a hundred million followers of a charismatic leader, Li Hongzhi, whose apocalyptic teachings include an alien takeover of the human race:

    The aliens come from other planets. The names that I use for these planets are different . Some are from dimensions that human beings have not yet discovered. The key is how they have corrupted mankind. Everyone knows that from the beginning until now, there has never been a development of culture like today. Although it has been several thousand years, it has never been like now.

    The aliens have introduced modern machinery like computers and airplanes. They started by teaching mankind about modern science, so people believe more and more science, and spiritually, they are controlled. Everyone thinks that scientists invent on their own when in fact their inspiration is manipulated by the aliens. In terms of culture and spirit, they already control man. Mankind cannot live without science.

    The ultimate purpose is to replace humans. If cloning human beings succeeds, the aliens can officially replace humans. Why does a corpse lie dead, even though it is the same as a living body? The difference is the soul, which is the life of the body. If people reproduce a human person, the gods in heaven will not give its body a human soul. The aliens will take that opportunity to replace the human soul and by doing so they will enter earth and become earthlings.

    When such people grow up, they will help replace humans with aliens. They will produce more and more clones. There will no longer be humans reproduced by humans. They will act like humans, but they will introduce legislation to stop human reproduction.

    **

    These people — the middle-class practitioners of a form of Qi Gong which Hongzhi teaches — office workers, teachers, grad students, grannies — are imprisoned in droves by the Chinese government, and according to Falun Gong representatives abroad, subject to their organs being harvested to sale to those in need of transplants — a peculiarly horrid business, as I can attest, being myself in need to a functioning kidney or two.

    One can disagree with their religious beliefs, and still sympathize with their predicament under brutal Chinese repression.

    **


    The traditional Chinese dance troupe China doesn’t want you to see

    The traditional Chinese dance troupe China doesn’t want you to see is touring the world on behalf of Falun Gong:

    Shen Yun seems like a kitsch dance troupe. But Beijing sees it as the propaganda wing of the Falun Gong movement, and a threat to their rule – and hounds the dancers from city to city, trying to sabotage their shows.

    Or try this:

    The company has five separate touring troupes that carry out a dizzying schedule, a kind of Cirque du Soleil of the east backed by a seemingly bottomless publicity budget. They have played the Lincoln Center in New York and the London Coliseum. In a single week last spring, they hit Philadelphia, Honolulu, Charlotte, Kansas City and Huntsville, Alabama. Then Barcelona, Salzburg, Bremen, Baden-Baden and Paris.

    Well, but then New York dance troupe says China banned shows over Falun Gong links.

    A New York-based dance troupe has accused China of forcing the cancellation of its shows in South Korea over its links to a banned spiritual movement that Beijing calls “an evil cult” intent on “mind control”.

    Shen Yun, a performing company affiliated with the Falun Gong movement, accused China’s government of shutting down their shows in Seoul. The Chinese government maintains that the troupe is “a political tool” of Falun Gong.

    Mind control? Perhaps the whole troupe — all five troupes — are one collective Manchurian Candidate — China, beware!

    **

    Here, in any case, are the Facts about the So-called “Shen Yun” Performance by the “Falun Gong” as the Chinese Embassy in Seoul sees them. Chief among these facts are some pretty astonishing apocalyptic and medical claims:

    Li Hongzhi, the chief ring leader of “Falun Gong”, claims that the mankind has been destroyed 81 times, and that he has delayed the explosion of the earth by 30 years. He claims that the mankind is corrupted, and the earth is the biggest dumping ground of the universe, and that by practicing “Falun Gong”, the “true law” above all religions, one would never become sick or get in danger. He even claims that the Holocaust of Jewish people by Hitler was a result of the changes in celestial phenomena…

    Li Hongzhi is certainly capable of astonishing apocalyptic announcements, as evidenced by his 1999 interview with the Asian edition of Time, which I quoted above.

    **

    Look, there’s more than one side to this coin:

    In Sum:

  • Apocalyptic groups with charismatic leaders have indeed proven problematic, as the case of Jim Jones in Guyana showed us in the West — but to the Chinese, the case of the Taiping Rebellion, with its twenty-plus people dead back in the second half of the nineteenth century, no doubt looms largest.

  • On the other hand — people deserve the right to their religious opinions, even if those opinions differ from the norms of the society around them. And tragedy can ensure when — under the dismissive label “cult” — the state takes it upon itself to intervene, as the FBI holocaust of the Branch Davidians in Waco, TX, teaches us.
  • A very cunning linguism, and more

    Monday, November 18th, 2019

    [ by Charles Cameron — I can’t claim to be the originator of that title phrase — I found it in a book of literary criticism many years ago — but anyway, this post is about examples of form — content optional ]
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    Twinning:

    The images are striking, stunning. Under the title, The Double Vision of Alicia Rodriguez Alvisa, Doreen St. Félix‘s opening para on the phorographer’s double portraits is worth quoting in some detail:

    Alvisa has olive skin, ringlets of curls, and dark, thick eyebrows. She uses different wardrobes and poses to delineate between the two manifestations of herself. Immediately, we know we are observing a psychological exercise. ..

    Which woman is the true Alvisa? Is it the woman lying nude in a tub, her eyes closed, or is it the robed woman kneeling before her, a wrist extended over the water in a way that feels both caring and dangerous? Is it the woman in a baby-doll dress, glancing wistfully out of a window, at the city outside, or is it the woman in underwear, looking, with concern, at her counterpart?

    Is the question itself flawed — the idea that one self should vanquish the other?

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    A congressman whose name I do not know, addressing the question of whether Democrats should cease using the Latin Quid pro quo and instead say something more readily identifiable such as bribery or extortion, quoted as part of a mash by Chuck Todd on Meet the Press, November 14 2019:

    Using Latin, per se, is not something I tend to do, Hallie..

    A lovely piece of reflexive self-mockery, eh?

    **

    A parallel observed:

    Parallels, like the dyadic photo-pairings above, are always worth noting, and at times revelatory:

    **

    A troubling turnaround, visible in court proceedings at Guantanamo:

    they’ve really turned the detainees into martyrs and victims.

    As we all know, martyrdom is a potent Islamic concept — letting CIA torture lend undoubted experiential realism to the sense that one has been victimized, almost martyred, is among the black sites’ least appealing features.

    **

    Ooh, and a humorous apocalyptic ref:

    As my friend Tim Furnish might say of that word, “apocalyptic”:


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