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Sunday surprise – a British Query

Monday, June 26th, 2017

[ By Charles Cameron — William Blake asks, David Jones responds ]
.

William Blake asks:

And did those feet in ancient time
Walk upon Englands mountains green:
And was the holy Lamb of God,
On Englands pleasant pastures seen!

And did the Countenance Divine,
Shine forth upon our clouded hills?
And was Jerusalem builded here,
Among these dark Satanic Mills?

I won’t quote the rest of the poem, because it’s those last two lines that interest me:

And was Jerusalem builded here,
Among these dark Satanic Mills?

**

Is there a glimpse of Jerusalem to be had, among the mills and chimneys of industry? David Jones, I think, takes the question very seriously, not looking for an answer to some Glastonbury Festival site, but to the contemporary manifestation of those mills — the skyscrapers of the city — not turning his gaze away from them but peering into them, questioning the very assumption that paradise cannot be found among them.

And here, I think, Jones answers — his quest unsatisfied:

I said, Ah! what shall I write?
I enquired up and down.
(He’s tricked me before
with his manifold lurking-places.)
I looked for His symbol at the door.
I have looked for a long while
at the textures and contours.
I have run a hand over the trivial intersections.
I have journeyed among the dead forms
causation projects from pillar to pylon.
I have tired the eyes of the mind
regarding the colours and lights.
I have felt for His wounds
in nozzles and containers.
I have wondered for the automatic devices.
I have tested the inane patterns
without prejudice.
I have been on my guard
not to condemn the unfamiliar.
For it is easy to miss Him
at the turn of a civilisation.

I have watched the wheels go round in case I
might see the living creatures like the appearance
of lamps, in case I might see the Living God projected
from the Machine. I have said to the perfected steel,
be my sister and for the glassy towers I thought I felt
some beginnings of His creature, but A, a, a Domine Deus,
my hands found the glazed work unrefined and the terrible
crystal a stage-paste …Eia, Domine Deus.

It is, I think, a very great poem. Eia, Domine Deus.

Monkey see monkey do, or an eye for an eye

Tuesday, June 20th, 2017

[ by Charles Cameron — or, I suppose you could say, symmetry ]
.

The Finsbury Park Mosque attacker drove a car into a crowd because he was disgusted by the Westminster Bridge attacker who drove a car into a crowd:

Ah well, bin Laden back in the day had a more sophisticated form of the same practice. As he put it in a speech to America::

And as I looked at those demolished towers in Lebanon, it entered my mind that we should punish the oppressor in kind and that we should destroy towers in America in order that they taste some of what we tasted and so that they be deterred from killing our women and children.

Sources:

  • SPLC, What We Know: Finsbury Park Attack
  • Telegraph, Westminster attack: Everything we know so far
  • Zenpundit, Close reading, Synoptic- and Sembl-style
  • Michael Kenney on al-Muhajiroun

    Wednesday, June 7th, 2017

    { by Charles Cameron — including the curious case of the Covenant of Security ]
    .

    Michael Kenney, on the recommendation of John Horgan:

    Lots of reports in the media about London Bridge attacker Khuram Butt’s “membership” in al-Muhajiroun, but this is not how network activists understand membership in al-Muhajrioun. For them it is about “intellectual affiliation,” gaining the ideological and practical knowledge they need to be competent activists. ALM is full of rotating recruits. These people come in, get exposed to the network’s ideas, radicalize to different degrees, and then often leave after a certain period of involvement, typically lasting months or years. Some leave b/c they don’t accept ALM’s interpretation of the Covenant of Security, which forbids attacks in UK, as long as their lives and livelihoods are protected. Butt may have believed that the Covenant no longer applied to him in the UK, allowing him to engage in violence in his home country. This is not ALM’s position on the Covenant, though activists emphasize this is each individual’s decision.

    Here’s a description of the Covenant of Security, from a long-ago Daniel Pipes piece about the Covenant and al-Muhajiroun, titled Does a “Covenant of Security” Protect the United Kingdom?:

    According to Sifaoui, it has long been recognised by the British Islamists, by the British government and by UK intelligence agencies, that as long as Britain guarantees a degree of freedom to the likes of Hassan Butt [a loudmouth pro-terrorist Islamist], the terrorist strikes will continue to be planned within the borders of the UK but will not occur here. Ironically, then, the presence of vocal and active Islamist terrorist sympathisers in the UK actually makes British people safer, while the full brunt of British-based terrorist plotting is suffered by people in other countries.

    Michael Kenney, more:

    To learn more about al-Muhajiroun, please see my JCR article with @steve_coulthart and Dom Wright, Structure and Performance in a Violent Extremist Network:

    This study combines network science and ethnography to explore how al-Muhajiroun, a banned Islamist network, continued its high-risk activism despite being targeted for disruption by British authorities. We analyze news reports, interviews, and field notes using social network analysis and qualitative content analysis to test hypotheses pertaining to network structure and performance. Our analysis suggests that the activist network’s structural properties had important implications for its performance during three separate time periods. What began as a centralized, scale-free-like, small-world network centered on a charismatic leader evolved into a more decentralized “small-world-like” network featuring clusters of local activists connected through multiple bridges. This structure allowed the activist network to engage in contentious politics even as its environment became increasingly hostile. We conclude by discussing the implications of al-Muhajiroun’s small-world solution for scholars and policy makers.

    Meanwhile on planet Plantagenet

    Monday, April 24th, 2017

    [ by Charles Cameron — a DoubleQuote too far — or too good to miss? ]
    .

    On the benfits of having been British, even if it was a while back..

    **

    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..

    Onward, Christian Soldiers

    Wednesday, March 22nd, 2017

    [ by Charles Cameron — as sung by FDR and Winston Churchill in August of 1941 ]
    .

    It seems only appropriate first to bring you the hymn Onward Christian Soldiers as performed by the Manchester Citadel Band and Yorkshire Chorus of the Salvation Army — Christan Soldiers and Salvation Army both having meaning that blends the military with the religious:

    As regular readers here will know, the disjunction and conjunction of the spiritual and military is a central focus of my thoughts and posts here on Zenpundit.

    **

    It may seem entirely trivial in comparison with the stunning footage that follows, but the article that brought me to think once again of the military-religious nexus was a piece from Russia’s Pravmir today, titled Bishop of the Russian Church compares Russia airbase in Syria to a monastery:

    “The situation is interesting in spiritual sense, it reminds of a big convent without Internet, television and almost without a telephone. All servicemen are involved in sport activities, they have a great demand in reading,” the hierarch said in his interview with the Pobeda radio.

    The bishop noted that the servicemen participated in pastoral conversations with great interest.

    “This informational blockade helps them refresh their conscience, in result they have a demand to talk about important spiritual moments. It impressed me much,” he confessed.

    The church official said he saw “an absolutely new face of our military forces there.”

    “Not only weapons and outfit, but their new way of thinking impressed me. It was seen in their discipline, in organization of service, which we witnessed during the week. It differed so much from all the things I saw before that I sincerely rejoiced,” the bishop said.

    That’s worth pondering, you know, as we think about Putin‘s Russia and current events in Syria..

    **

    The near-pacifist son of a World War II naval war hero in me was intrigued enough to go searching for Onward Christian Soldiers as a musical match for this article, and it was in search of an appropriate rendering of the hymn that I ran across the FDR / Churchill footage.

    I am profoundly glad it did.

    In my view today, the most riveting rendering of Onward Christian Soldiers must be the one captured on archival footage here, with Winston Churchill and Franklin Delano Roosevelt present on the Royal Navy battleship HMS Prince of Wales in August 1941:

    The other hymn sung in that clip is the quintessential naval hymn, Eternal Father, Strong to Save with its refrain, O hear us when we call to Thee / For those in peril on the sea..


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