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Punch counter punch

Sunday, November 25th, 2018

[ by Charles Cameron — a perfect two-snake pattern from the WaPo headline writers ]
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As patterns go, this one is hard to beat:

Source:

  • Washington Post, John Roberts counterpunches the counterpunching president
  • **

    As you may have gathered, the human propensity for patterning is an enduring interest of mine, and my collecting of such things as ouroboroi, parallelisms, paradoxes, moebius formats and mirrorings is effectively a small pattern language study after the example of Christopher Alexander‘s Pattern Language. Mine, drawing its materials from verbal and visual exemplars rather than architectural ones, perhaps reveals more about the workings of the human mind, aka consciousness.

    The “outer world” has yet to catch up with the significance of these studies..

    **

    At a time when my worldly goods in book form consisted of fifty or so over-thumbed, used science fiction paperbacks and one hardback — I no longer recall what it was — I won a minor poetry prize of $50 and decided it was better to splurge it on one thing I’d really treasure than to dribble it away, a coffee here, a sandwich there.. much though I like my coffees.

    Henbce, for about $45, I aacquired my copy of Alexander’s book — hardback #2!

    An I Ching for the West! Nobel-worthy! A Master’s Masterpiece!

    Speaking in two tongues — at least

    Monday, August 27th, 2018

    [ by Charles Cameron — sacred tongues, the split tongues of serpents, gestural languages, the languages of conflict — language itself fascinates, ne? ]
    .

    Here’s the language of Psalm 139 in the King James Version:

    If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there. If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; Even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me.

    And here, as recorded in The Atlantic‘s Mike Pence’s Outer-Space Gospel, is the VP’s language at the inaugural meeting of the National Space Council:

    As President Trump has said, in his words, “It is America’s destiny to be the leader amongst nations on our adventure into the great unknown.” And today we begin the latest chapter of that adventure. But as we embark, let us have faith. Faith that, as the Old Book teaches us that if we rise to the heavens, He will be there.

    and again more recently:

    And as we renew our commitment to lead, let’s go with confidence and let’s go with faith — the faith that we do not go alone. For as millions of Americans have believed throughout the long and storied history of this nation of pioneers, I believe, as well, there is nowhere we can go from His spirit; that if we rise on the wings of the dawn, settle on the far side of the sea, even if we go up to the heavens, even there His hand will guide us, and His right hand will hold us fast.

    So that’s our destiny — our clear and manifest destiny you might say, although it’s not clear whether drilling for oil, fracking, strip mining, or mountain top removal qualify for our destiny also, making our bed in hell..

    **

    And our President?

    His language is seldom Biblical; he prefers mob talk. Let’s begin here, with the actual and admitted prosecutor / mob analogy:

    Last November, a person close to the Trump administration speaking to the Washington Post invoked a chilling metaphor. “This investigation is a classic Gambino-style roll-up,” the source said. “You have to anticipate this roll-up will reach everyone in this administration.” This turns out to be a perfectly apt and quite literal description not only of the investigation, but of Trump’s own ethos and organizing principles.

    So many people have been dissecting Trump’s mafia-like language recently that I’ll confine myself to one headline:

    One cluster:

    One TV header:

    One image:

    and the cuttingest insult of all:

    Trump may imagine that he’s Michael Corleone, the tough and canny rightful heir—or even Sonny Corleone, the terrifyingly violent but at least powerful heir apparent—but after today he is Fredo forever.

    **

    Language games, Witty Wittgenstein would have called them, and they’re played semi-consciously at best..

    Here’s another language, that of the gentlemanly art of boxing as photographed by Muybridge, Eadweard Muybridge:

    and as verbally captured by the Marquess of Queensbury Rules:

    1. To be a fair stand-up boxing match in a twenty-four foot ring or as near that size as practicable.

    2. No wrestling or hugging allowed.

    3. The rounds to be of three minutes duration and one minute time between rounds.

    4. If either man fall through weakness or otherwise, he must get up unassisted, ten seconds be allowed to do so, the other man meanwhile to return to his corner; and when the fallen man is on his legs the round is to be resumed and continued until the three minutes have expired. If one man fails to come to the scratch in the ten seconds allowed, it shall be in the power of the referee to give his award in favour of the other man.

    5. A man hanging on the ropes in a helpless state, with his toes off the ground, shall be considered down.

    6. ..

    and so on and forth.

    Gentlemanly, I said — and with the approval of the Marquess, maybe Noble even.

    Metaphors v, We use sports terms all the time

    Sunday, August 12th, 2018

    [ by Charles Cameron — I’m not the only one thinking sports metaphors are important, though I’ve been collecting a whole lot more examples ]
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    **

    There’s a NYT article — We Use Sports Terms All the Time. But Where Do They Come From? — as you see, tucked away in the Sports section, which I’d really like to transport over here whole, because it’s a sports metaphor article, not a sports article, and sports metaphors are a specialty du maison here at ZP.

    Let’s see if I can ferret out the gist:

    We’re talking about sports idioms, those everyday phrases ingrained in our lexicon, handed down from generation to generation. We use these terms all the time, without really knowing where they came from. Some of their origins are pretty clear: front-runner, on the ropes, the ball is in your court. But there are many others whose provenances are not so apparent.

    The world of sports is a particularly fertile ground for such terms, said Katherine Connor Martin, head of U.S. dictionaries at Oxford University Press. “Sports are written about and discussed a lot, and so have generated a great deal of colorful, specialized vocabulary. And competition exists in many other spheres of life, so sports terms are well suited to be borrowed into other domains, such as business or politics.”

    **

    **

    As I’ve suggested, the whole piece is a rich trove of materials for the sort of exploration I’ve been working on. Just a few minutes ago, as it happens, I heard someone on TV say in regard to the 2020 presidential election:

    If Michael Avenatti wants to throw his hat into the ring, great.

    As it happens, throwing one’s hat into the ring is one of the examples the NYT piece explores a little deeper. Their example:

    In The New York Times: Mr. Mahathir threw his hat in the ring in the recent national elections. Opinion, May 12.

    Their comment:

    Back in the days when boxing was a quasi-legal, rough-and-tumble affair, fighters and even spectators who had an interest in getting into a bout would signal it by tossing in a hat. It’s mostly used now in the rough-and-tumble field of politics to announce that one is running for office.

    Its first use, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, came in The London Times in 1804, in its literal sense: “Belcher first threw his hat into the ring, over the heads of the spectators.”

    Throwing in the towel would be, I suppose, the equal and opposite phrase..

    **

    Other examples they went into in similar detail:

    Wild-Goose Chase

    We need to get a little lost, pursue “productive and instructive disorientation, distraction, wild-goose chases, dead ends.” Book Review, June 4.

    Throw in the Towel

    Anthony Barile, the owner of this wood-oven veteran where other pizza-makers honed their skills, said he was tired and throwing in the towel after nearly 26 years. Food, March 27.

    Out of Left Field

    It was so out of left field and something so different than anything I’ve done. Movies, July 6.

    Hands Down

    Sue is, hands-down, the best at this. I would marry her in a minute. Television, June 21.

    Wheelhouse, Strong Suit, Forte

    One of the many subspecialities within Wright’s wheelhouse is Italian glass. Arts, April 17.

    and so forth, Back to Square One, Across the Board, and my favorite as a Brit:

    Sticky Wicket

    But ad-driven nostalgia is a sticky wicket. Australia, Feb. 7.

    **

    **

    That last quote, under the Sticky Wicket header, was from Australia, a little far from New York. The writer Victor Mather writes, almost as an apology for straying so far afield:

    “Cricket is the U.K.’s baseball,” when it comes to the lexicon, Ms. Martin said. It’s beyond our purview to get into British English too deeply here; there are British alternatives for many terms in American sports.

    I don’t know, however, that any American can suggest a baseball term or phrase as beautiful as the British cricketer’s triple pun:

    bowling a maiden over

    Over and out.

    For the lore, lure, and love of language

    Tuesday, July 31st, 2018

    [ by Charles Cameron — this is / was all written on 29th (“today”), but has been tidied up before posting late today, really a rich day! ]
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    Today has been a rich day for me for language, and I’d like to share some of what I’ve found. I’ll use a series of my own tweets for this purpose, since the tweets include both the particular phrases or sentences that caught my eye, and links and images I’d otherwise have to fish for, giving you an idea of the articles themselves in which I found the items of interest..

    This one’s pretty fabulous, with plants living inside animals — I suppose we are fauna with flora inside us too, though, but the coral instance really hit home:

    That was the first one that really delighted me, this one cinched (clenched?) the deal:

    The bird snaking (its neck), which caught my eye as a companion to the coral (animal) planting (inside its cells), I noted in the tweet, making these two taken together a DoubleTweet. What I didn’t mention was the positively Homeric echo in “reshuffles her storm-cloud-gray wings”..

    **

    which leads me inevitably to my other Homeric finds today, with both the Odyssey:

    and Zeus..

    And that’s enough for now!

    Vog and laze, MARFORPAC, Leilani Estates, and above all, Pele

    Monday, May 28th, 2018

    [ by Charles Cameron — language at the heart of worship where the earth erupts in Hawai’i ]
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    Lava burns across a road in the Leilani Estates subdivision as an unidentified person takes pictures of the flow, Saturday, May 5, 2018 near Pahoa, Hawaii. Offerings of Hawaiian ti leaves, rocks and cans to the fire goddess Pele lie in the street in front of the lava. (AP Photo/Caleb Jones)

    **

    Language! New words! Fresh realities!

    Vog and laze are the first words to catch my eye:

    Through the laze and vog, Kilauea is giving up some of its secrets.

    Then there’s USPACOM and MARFORPAC:

    The additional helicopter support from USPACOM and MARFORPAC provides the County of Hawaii and Hawaii’s Joint Task Force-50 tremendous capability

    There’s a quiet, professional language of scientists and land management experts once we escape the immediacy of vog and laze — and which blends in easily with the alluring speech of realtors:

    At present, Hawaii County Civil Defence officials say the “middle portion of the fissure system” in Leilani Estates and Lanipuna Gardens is the most active.

    Leilani Estates — no doubt the brochures for the subdivision refer to homes there as desirable — and desirable, no doubt, they are..

    And then there is Pele.

    **

    Pele goddess of fire is the restless ever-presence of volcanism on the Hawaiian islands. The restless ever-presence of volcanism on the Hawaiian islands is Pele goddess of fire.

    Say it how you will, scientific realities meet the goddess on the road. Madame Pele, beloved and feared, spits fiery plumes five miles high, speaks lightning, opens mouths in the earth, belches gases:

    Laze contains tiny shards of volcanic glass and killed two people in Hawaii in 2000 after they ventured too close to the boiling acidic cloud.

    The flickering tongues of Madame Pele lick out as she pleases:

    Flying lava shattered a man’s leg while he was on the third-floor balcony of his home on rural Noni Farms Road.

    There is no arguing.

    And yet many living in Kilauea’s shadow welcome the eruption, express reverence for Pele and thank her — even when the lava destroys their home.

    **

    Pele:

    Fire like snow in a high wind in the Himalayas..

    Fire like a river, singing and swinging its way home..

    Pele like an artist’s flaming trail of paint between the trees..

    The slightest touch of Pele — who dares forge a sword in such a furnace?

    Pele.

    **

    Great she is, or to put that another way, the volcanic activity we are now witnessing has a long history and immense potential for destruction — and creation:

    The devastation is poised to continue, and experts have little clue as to when, and where, the current flood of lava will cease to flow. But the belief that Pele is both a destroyer and a creator has offered many locals some consolation. They see the goddess’s unpredictability as a fact of life that they not only accept and prepare for but also internalize and revere. The goddess of fire alone decides when she’ll morph from ka wahine ‘ai honua — the woman who devours the earth — into the shaper of sacred land. The myriad ho’okupu (offerings) found all over the Big Island, from Halema’uma’u crater to black-sand beaches to paved highway roads, attest to her grip on its residents.

    And Madame Pele has grace in plenty to bestow when she so chooses:

    Pele has given us the grace of quiet for today, but we don’t know what tomorrow may bring,” Hawaii County Mayor Harry Kim said at a community meeting Monday night..

    **

    Giver of islands..

    “My house was an offering for Pele,” said Monica Devlin, 71, a retired schoolteacher whose home was destroyed by a lava flow. “I’ve been in her backyard for 30 years,” she reflected, doing the math on when she moved here from Northern California. “In that time I learned that Pele created this island in all its stunning beauty. It’s an awe-inspiring process of destruction and creation and I was lucky to glimpse it.”

    I offer flowers here in my written thoughts, considering her.

    **

    Sources:


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