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Cherry blossom season 02

Sunday, April 9th, 2017

[ by Charles Cameron — cherry blossoms and kamikaze, Palm Sunday and istishhad ]
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It’s cherry blossom season, it’s Palm Sunday. Blossoms fall, while temporary followers of Christ — they’ll abandon him to crucifixion later in the week — celebrate Christ’s arrival in Jerusalem strewing palm leaves at this feet.

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In the upper panel, Japanese self-sacrifice with intent to kill Americans:

The Yokosuka MXY-7 Ohka (“cherry blossom”) was a purpose-built, rocket powered human-guided anti-shipping kamikaze attack aircraft employed by Japan towards the end of World War II

Kamikaze pilots — the term translates to “divine wind” — drew strong associations between the transience of cherry blossoms and their own lives.

From WIkipedia:

The names of four sub-units within the Kamikaze Special Attack Force were Unit Shikishima, Unit Yamato, Unit Asahi, and Unit Yamazakura.[22] These names were taken from a patriotic death poem, Shikishima no Yamato-gokoro wo hito towaba, asahi ni niou yamazakura bana by the Japanese classical scholar, Motoori Norinaga. The poem reads:

If someone asks about the Yamato spirit [Spirit of Old/True Japan] of Shikishima [a poetic name for Japan] — it is the flowers of yamazakura [mountain cherry blossom] that are fragrant in the Asahi [rising sun].

From Emiko Ohnuki-Tierney, Kamikaze Diaries: Reflections of Japanese Student Soldiers:

As Hayashi entered the military and struggled to come to terms with death, he came to identify himself with cherry blossoms. In a letter to his mother, he laments his fate: the cherry blossoms at the Wo?n-san Base in Korea, where he was stationed, have already fallen, and yet the time for his sortie has not come. To his younger brother he writes from the Kanoya Base: “Cherry blossoms are blooming and I am going” (90). Hayashi consciously draws an analogy between himself and the fl owers; their falling signifi es the time for his death.

Other people also used the metaphor of cherry blossoms to refer to Hayashi. A poem written by his mother after the end of the war contains the idiomatic expression the “falling of my son,” applying the word conventionally used for the falling of cherry petals to the death of Ichizo¯. Hayashi’s friend Hidemura Senzo¯ laments that “Hayashi’s youth is fallen,” like cherry petals, but adds: “Peace arrived but not the peace you wished to bring through your sacrifi ce; it is only in the miserable aftermath of defeat.” Hidemura concludes, “Beauty appears in a sensitive vessel and life is short” (143–47).

See also: Ohnuki-Tierney, Emiko (2002). Kamikaze, Cherry Blossoms, and Nationalisms: The Militarization of Aesthetics in Japanese History.

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In the lower panel, the face of a child killed in the ISIS-claimed suicide bombing of a church in Egypt this Palm Sunday, following an earlier ISIS announcment that they would be targeting Egyptian (Coptic) Christians.

ISIS Claims 2 Deadly Explosions at Egyptian Coptic Churches on Palm Sunday

TANTA, Egypt — Islamic State suicide bombers attacked two Coptic churches in Egypt on Palm Sunday, killing at least 40 worshipers and police officers stationed outside in the deadliest day of violence against Christians in the country in decades.

The militant group claimed responsibility for both attacks in a statement via its Aamaq news agency, having recently signaled its intention to escalate a campaign of violence against Egyptian Christians.

The first explosion occurred about 9:30 at St. George’s Church in the Nile Delta city of Tanta, 50 miles north of Cairo, during a Palm Sunday Mass. Security officials and a witness said that a suicide bomber had barged past security measures and detonated his explosives in the front pews, near the altar.

At least 27 people were killed and 71 others injured, officials said.

Hours later, a second explosion occurred at the gates of St. Mark’s Cathedral in the coastal city of Alexandria. That blast killed 13 people and wounded 21 more, the Health Ministry said.

The patriarch of the Egyptian Coptic Church, Pope Tawadros II, who is to meet with Pope Francis on his visit to Egypt on April 28 and 29, was in the church at the time but was not injured, the Interior Ministry said.

See also:

‘God gave orders to kill every infidel’ ISIS vows to massacre Christians in chilling video<

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The joyous palm leaves of Sunday, greeting Christ‘s arrival in Jerusalem, will ritually and symbolically turn to ashes later in the week, as the adoring crowd turns vicious and demands his crucifixion.

Cherry blossom season 01

Sunday, April 9th, 2017

[ by Charles Cameron — scitech & artpo, two ways of seeing ]
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It is cherry blossom season in Japan:

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The upper panel image above is from an Economist blog, the lower from a Hiroshige print.

From the Economist piece, timeless:

HANAMI, the Japanese custom of contemplating the impermanence of life by gazing at the fleeting beauty of blossoming flowers, goes back a long way. “The Tale of Genji”, a tenth-century masterpiece that is perhaps the world’s first novel, devotes a chapter to the cherry-blossom festival staged in the emperor’s great hall. Diarists have keenly chronicled the comings and goings of cherry blossoms for centuries—records from Kyoto, the old capital, date back 1,200 years. This precious, ancient data set reveals a disturbing trend: in recent decades, the blossoms have emerged much sooner than they once did.

and (continuing) in our own time:

This precious, ancient data set reveals a disturbing trend: in recent decades, the blossoms have emerged much sooner than they once did.

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Header:

Japan’s cherry blossoms are emerging increasingly early


Subhead:

Experts think climate change is to blame

Early: unh-uh. Fleeting: yes.

DoubleQuotes 3, Ouroboros 1

Saturday, January 28th, 2017

[ by Charles Cameron — nothing terribly new here, just catching up with the last week or so ]
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One quick pointer.. The most significant article I’ve seen this week is Zeynep Tufekci’s Does a Protest’s Size Matter? — which contains the line:

A large protest today is less like the March on Washington in 1963 and more like Rosa Parks’s refusal to move to the back of the bus. What used to be an endpoint is now an initial spark.

I think Zeynep’s right on this one — which, FWIW, makes double images like these a whole lot less relevant:


President Trump’s inauguration crowd was smaller than Obama’s, CBS

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Catching up on other examples of “form” in recent news..

I got this one from Zen, who’d posted it on FB.

This really is a pretty definitive illustration of the stress a president incurs in the world’s most terrifying, not to mention deeply contested, job.

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This one goes without saying.

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And here’s my ouroboros of the week:

As the Chinese proverb goaes:

A man needs face like a tree needs bark.

Would we do well to understand President Trump in terms of an honor-shame dynamic?

Thucydides Roundtable, Book I: reflections in a beginner’s mind

Sunday, October 23rd, 2016

[ by Charles Cameron ]
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I’m entirely new to Thucydides, having received my copy of the book only on Friday, so I’ll keep this brief. I hope to have caught up a bit more by this time next week.

Meanwhile, my mind works associatively, so..

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rich-vs-poor-in-rio
Riches and poverty in Rio

The goodness of the land favored the enrichment of particular individuals, and thus created faction which proved a fertile source of ruin. It also invited invasion.

trump-border-wall
Donald Trump

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In Spencer-Brown’s inimitable and enigmatic fashion, the Mark symbolizes the root of cognition, i.e., the dualistic Mark indicates the capability of differentiating a “this” from “everything else but this.”

He does not even use the term barbarian, probably because the Hellenes had not yet been marked off from the rest of the world by one distinctive name.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, in a speech after a suicide bomb explosion in Istanbul on January 12, 2016, said: “Pick a side. You are either on the side of the Turkish government, or you’re on the side of the terrorists.”

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The iconic 'Rumble in the Jungle' belt of late boxing champion Muhammad Ali is displayed for auction at Heritage Auctions house in Manhattan, New York, U.S., August 19, 2016. REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz

The iconic ‘Rumble in the Jungle’ belt of late boxing champion Muhammad Ali is displayed for auction at Heritage Auctions house in Manhattan, New York, U.S., August 19, 2016. REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz

To this day among some of the barbarians, especially in Asia, where prizes for boxing and wrestling are offered, belts are worn by the contestants..

Koki Kameda of Japan, center, donning the newly-captured champion belt, green, in addition to the two he already has, poses with his younger brothers Daiki, left, and Kazuki after Koki's victory over Alexander Munoz of Venezuela in their 12-round WBA bantamweight world title boxing bout in Saitama, Japan, Sunday, Dec. 26, 2010. Koki Kameda won a unanimous decision over Munoz to take the vacant title. (AP Photo/Shizuo Kambayashi)

Koki Kameda of Japan, center, donning the newly-captured champion belt, green, in addition to the two he already has, poses with his younger brothers Daiki, left, and Kazuki after Koki’s victory over Alexander Munoz of Venezuela in their 12-round WBA bantamweight world title boxing bout in Saitama, Japan, Sunday, Dec. 26, 2010. Koki Kameda won a unanimous decision over Munoz to take the vacant title. (AP Photo/Shizuo Kambayashi)

Trolleys come to Terror

Tuesday, October 18th, 2016

[ by Charles Cameron — a western koan makes it onto German TV? ]
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What Hala Jaber calls a supermarket trolley in this tweet is not what this post is about — but it sure does connect trolley and terror!

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Here’s the terror side of things, in a tweet from John Horgan:

The BBC halls it an “interactive courtroom drama interactive courtroom drama centred on a fictional act of terror” and notes:

The public was asked to judge whether a military pilot who downs a hijacked passenger jet due to be crashed into a football stadium is guilty of murder.

Viewers in Germany, Switzerland and Austria gave their verdict online or by phone. The programme was also aired in Slovakia and the Czech Republic.

The vast majority called for the pilot, Lars Koch, to be acquitted.

Here’s the setup:

In the fictional plot, militants from an al-Qaeda offshoot hijack a Lufthansa Airbus A320 with 164 people on board and aim to crash it into a stadium packed with 70,000 people during a football match between Germany and England.

“If I don’t shoot, tens of thousands will die,” German air force Major Lars Koch says as he flouts the orders of his superiors and takes aim at an engine of the plane.

The jet crashes into a field, killing everyone on board.

So, is the pilot guilty, or not guilty?

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At the very least, he has our sympathy — but how does that play out in legal proceedings?

What’s so fascinating here is the pilot’s dilemma, which resembles nothing so much as a zen koan.

Except for the Trolley Problem:

trolley_problem
Image from Wikimedia by McGeddon under license CC-BY-SA-4.0

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Substitute an Airbus for the trolley, 164 people for the lone individual on the trolley line, and 70,000 people for the cluster of five — and the pilot for the guy who can make a decision and switch the tracks.

There you have it: terror plot and trolley problem running in parallel.

To be honest, I think the full hour-plus movie is far more immersive, to use a term from game design, than the Trolley Problem stated verbally as a problem in logic — meaning that the viewer is in some sense projected, catapulted into the fighter-pilot’s hot seat — in his cockpit, facing a high speed, high risk emergency, and in court, on trial for murder.

It’s my guess that more people would vote for the deaths of 164 under this scenario than for the death of one in the case of the trolley — but that’s a guess.

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The German film scenario — adapted from a play by Ferdinand von Schirach — is indeed a courtroom drama, a “case” in the sense of “case law”. And it’s suggestive that koans, too, are considered “cases” in a similar vein. Here, for instance, is a classic definition of koans :

Kung-an may be compared to the case records of the public law court. Kung, or “public”, is the single track followed by all sages and worthy men alike, the highest principle which serves as a road for the whole world. An, or “records”, are the orthodox writings which record what the sages and worthy men regard as principles [..]

This principle accords with the spiritual source, tallies with the mysterious meaning, destroys birth-and-death, and transcends the passions. It cannot be understood by logic; it cannot be transmitted in words; it cannot be explained in writing; it cannot be measured by reason. It is like a poisoned drum that kills all who hear it, or like a great fire that consumes all who come near it. [..]

The so-called venerable masters of Zen are the chief officials of the public law courts of the monastic community, as it were, and their collections of sayings are the case records of points that have been vigorously advocated.

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Relevant texts:

  • John Daido Loori, Sitting with Koans
  • John Daido Loori, The True Dharma Eye

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