zenpundit.com » Latin America

Archive for the ‘Latin America’ Category

Don’t hide your money in a hortus conclusus

Monday, June 20th, 2016

[ by Charles Cameron — a criminal twist in Argentinian politics amid lofty considerations of convents, the Virgin Mary, and unicorns ]
.

The King James Version of the Bible, Song of Solomon 4:12, reads:

A garden inclosed is my sister, my spouse; a spring shut up, a fountain sealed.

In the Latin Vulgate, the phrase “a garden enclosed” is rendered “hortus conclusus” — and as the context makes clear, it refers both to a garden, literally, and metaphorically to a woman. In the Christian Middle Ages, the phrase was often used to indicate the Virgin Mary, often enclosed within a literal garden, as in this Hortus Conclusus from Cologne, ca 1430:

600 Hortus Conclusus from Cologne, 1430

Parhaps unsurprisingly, the hortus conclusus is also the place where the unicorn — only ever tamed by a pure virgin — ends up, as in this example from the Cloisters Unicorn Tapestries:

600 Unicorn in Captivity

So much art history, so much beauty, so much virginity — and all so that I can make a couple of points about Jose Lopez, an Argentinean MP who was arrested earlier in the week.

**

The unfortunate Lopez made the error of tossing some bags of money, or moneybags as they are sometimes called, over a hedge into a convent garden…

A convent, as we’ll easily understand, is a terrific example of the hortus conclusus — and since nuns are typically sworn to poverty as well as chastity and obedience, it is altogether contrary to the intended purpose of a convent’s hortus conclusus to use it as a stash for ill-gotten gains, especially of a monetary kind — to the estimated tune of US$5-8 million.

So that’s my point number one: that Lopez was acting in direct opposition to the contemplative and unworldly intent of the convent garden. Worse, indeed, he was also carrying some form of Sig Sauer rifle along with his “160 bundles of cash, 108 of dollars, and some of them still thermo-sealed with the stamps from China’s central bank.”

Ouch.

**

But what I like best from the report is the sting in the end of this first paragraph:

The ex-Kirchnerite official, considered the right/hand man of ex Federal Planning minister Julio De Vido was caught by the police after neighbors and a nun of the Fatima monastery warned authorities about the presence of a man throwing bags over a dividing line of bushes.

It’s that bit about “throwing bags over a dividing line” that gets me.

I’ve discussed the concept of liminality before, both lightheartedly, as in Liminality I: the kitsch part [note: NSFW], and more seriously, in Liminality II: the serious part — where I discussed the behavior of the USS Topeka at the Equator as the Second Millennium CE turned in to the Third, and the curious tale of the demonic king Hiranyakasipu and his death at the hands of Narasimha, an avatar of Vishnu.

A limen or threshold is always a “special place” set apart, and thus sacred and powerful in its own right — and the limen around a convent’s perimeter even more so. We’ve seen the extraordinary effort ISIS made very early on in their campaign to erase the limen between Iraq and Syria established no less determinedly by Sykes-Picot. And we know, too, that the central rite-of-passage by which a woman becomes a nun is a liminal rite (van Gennep, Victor Turner).

Beware, be very aware of the liminal! Enjoy the security a hortus conclusus provides the pure in heart — but don’t abuse it!

**

Sources:

  • Wikipedia, hortus conclusus
  • Wikipedia, Narasimha
  • MercoPress, An Argentine ex-Kirchnerite official caught red-handed trying to hide bags of cash in a monastery
  • Sunday surprise: Ernst Haas

    Sunday, March 22nd, 2015

    [ by Charles Cameron — beauty is in the viewfinder of this beholder ]
    .

    Two bodies of water:

    Ernst Haas, Tobago Wave
    Tobago Wave, photograph by Ernst Hass, with permission of the Ernst Haas Estate

    **

    The closest correlation to this image that comes to mind is from Genesis:

    And God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament: and it was so.

    **

    I’d like us to explore this juxtaposition of two bodies of water a little farther. Here, for instance, is Terence Stamp, retelling The Tale of the Sands from Idries Shah‘s Tales of the Dervishes:

    And to bring that tale, lyrical as it is, home to the realities of twenty-first century living — and indeed the context of national security — consider the matter of the Rios Voadores or Flying Rivers, as described in a National Geographic piece this February, Quirky Winds Fuel Brazil’s Devastating Drought, Amazon’s Flooding:

    The loop starts in the Atlantic Ocean, where the winds carry moisture westward over the Amazon. Some falls as rain, but as the air passes, it also absorbs moisture from trees. When these “flying rivers” hit the Andes, they swing south, showering rain over crops and cities in eastern Bolivia and southeastern Brazil.

    Beginning a year ago, however, a phenomenon called “atmospheric blocking” transformed that wind pattern. Marengo, a senior scientist at the Brazilian National Center for Early Warning and Monitoring of Natural Disasters (CEMADEN), likens this to a giant bubble that deflected the moisture-laden air, which instead dumped about twice the usual amount of rain over the state of Acre, in western Brazil, and the Bolivian Amazon, where Cartagena lives.

    At the same time, cold fronts from the south, which cause precipitation over São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, were shunted aside, and as the system lingered, the drought took hold ..

    Here’s a video to give you a glimpse..

    **

    Did I mention national security? Here’s what Chuck Hagel said in the second paragraph of his Foreword to the Pentagon’s 2014 Climate Change Adaptation Roadmap:

    Among the future trends that will impact our national security is climate change. Rising global temperatures, changing precipitation patterns, climbing sea levels, and more extreme weather events will intensify the challenges of global instability, hunger, poverty, and conflict. They will likely lead to food and water shortages, pandemic disease, disputes over refugees and resources, and destruction by natural disasters in regions across the globe.

    I have an analytic post forthcoming on Lapido Media about Water shortages and violence in the Middle East. A hat tip to blog-friend Pundita, who has been blogging intensively on water shortages recently [1, 2, eg]. And my grateful thanks to Victoria Haas for her gracious permission to use her father’s superb photograph at the head of this post.

    **

    The master’s eye — to catch the two-in-oneness of sky and sea, cloud and wave, water and water so exactly, in so balanced a form.. and then, within that massive, unmissable symmetry in blue and green, the milder asymmetries he captures of left and right — the billowing, the surging. Exquisite.

    It is Sunday: treat yourself to a viewing of his portraits of Marilyn Munroe, of Jean Cocteau, of Albert Einstein, his extraordinary Sea Gun. Who has both the wanderlust to find and the eye to see such a thing?

    Paris, in a DoubleTweet with Nigeria

    Friday, January 9th, 2015

    [ by Charles Cameron — what’s the value of a human life in tweets, in column inches, in my attention span? ]
    .

    I really don’t have much to say — I’ve lived a year in Paris, have never been to Nigeria, am human.

    **

    I was in Managua shortly after the 1972 earthquake there, driving past block after block of city rubble with yellow flags indicating the locations of bodies buried too deep to be recovered. My Pentax served to dilute and capture my emotions then, as my DoubleTweet and other formalisms do now with these mind-numbing horrors piled on horrors.

    Politics, Religion and Apocalypse #n+3

    Thursday, January 8th, 2015

    [ by Charles Cameron — in brief: Zuma, Mugabe, Ahmadinejad, Chavez and Saint Paul ]
    .

    I keep on thinking we’ve seen enough, but no: the heady blend of statacraft and religion — all too often, apocalyptic, “end times” religion — just keeps on cropping up. Here are three more DoubleQuotes, these ones centering around President Jacob Zuma of South Africa, with scattered flashes of Robert Mugabe, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Hugo Chavez and Saint Paul.

    One:

    SPEC DQ Mugabe Zuma

    Two:

    SPEC DQ Ahmadinejad Zuma

    Three:

    SPEC DQ Zuma St Paul

    **

    I’m way behind after ten or so days of a cough and cold, yesterday I was more or less up and about, and today feels normal with mild residuals, so I’m trying to get this post out at last, and won’t make any comments about the specific pairings — except to say that my long-running obsession with matters eschatological seems to lead me into the far corners of almost everything.

    Which considering how déclassé and generally marginal a topic “the end times” is generally assumed to be, makes me feel both very fortunate and somewhat astonished. Go figure.

    Narco-cartels as MBAs Doing 4GW

    Tuesday, January 7th, 2014

    [by Mark Safranski, a.k.a. “zen“]

     

    Yale organizational behaviorist Rodrigo Canales has an interesting talk on the Narco-insurgency in Mexico ( which he correctly sees as having been as lethal as Syria’s civil war). While this won’t be news to close students of Mexico’s cartel wars, Canales explains how Los Zeta, La Familia, Knights Templar and Sinaloa cartel violence is neither random nor strictly criminal on criminal  violence but is used as part of organizational strategies to create distinctive “franchise brands”, amplify political messaging,  reinforce effects of social service investment in the communities they control and maximize market efficiency of narcotics sales and other contraband. COIN, 4GW and irregular warfare folks will all see familiar elements in Canales management theory driven perspective.

    A useful short tutorial considering the cartels are operating inside the United States and their hyper-violent tactics are eventually going to follow.


    Switch to our mobile site