[ by Charles Cameron — Tarkovsky, Nostalghia, Vivaldi, Mingardo ]
I trust you are in no hurry. Watching a film by Tarkovsky invites a certain stillness, permeated with wonder. It is in that stillness that the birds..
…in this case, Nostalghia, are born from the Madonna.
I was reading my daily quota of Three Quarks Daily and found Leanne Ogasawara‘s Dreaming of the Madonna — interesting, indeed beautiful — but when it closed with that video clip I was — transported, transfixed. Such luminous beauty.
The woman painted, the woman carried, and the woman walking.
And then to recall another woman walking, in a clip no less beautiful: the exquisite Sara Mingardo, who has been holding back, listening to and absorbing conductor Rinaldo Alessandrini and Concerto Ialiano performing Vivaldi‘s Gloria from the start of Philippe Béziat‘s movie of that great work, and moves slowly forward to join them to sing her agonized opening notes, “Domine Deaus, Agnus Dei” — “Lord God, Lamb of God”:
It is entirely possible to be lifted from this world into another world — without the necessity of leaving this one.
[ by Charles Cameron — in which we glimpse the (female) divinity hidden behind infinity ]
It is one of the curiosities of mathematics that the great Indian mathematician Srinivasa Ramanujan claimed to have received many, if not all, of his equations from the goddess Namagiri in dreams — and that this idea is all too often quietly omitted from discussions of his uncanny brilliance.
Now that The Man Who Knew Infinity is out in theaters, it might be wise to explore the connection between Namagiri and Ramanujan a little more closely.
Dream and waking, darshan and mathematics, inspiration and intuition, intuition and proof, quality and quantity — these polarities are all involved..
To its credit, the film contains the line:
You want to know how I get my ideas? God speaks to me.
However, the idea that “God” might be a goddess seems a reach too far for the screenwriters and director.
Stephen Wolfram posted a fine article on his blog last week, Who Was Ramanujan?. He was willing to mention that Ramanujan’s friend and collaborator, GH Hardy, “could be very nerdy — whether about cricket scores, proving the non-existence of God, or writing down rules for his collaboration with Littlewood” — but fails in 31 pages to mention Ramanujan’s own belief that he received his equations from a goddess.
All of which caused me to pose a question to Wolfram’s own algorithmic genie, Wolfram Alpha:
Did Namagiri reveal equations to Ramanujan?
WolframAlpha skipped the words “Did Namagiri reveal” and “to” and concentrated on responding to “equations” and “Ramanujan” — not quite up to par with AlphaGo, I’m afraid, let alone Ramanujan himself, or better, Namagiri.
Below’s the DoubleQuote I made to by way of comment — note that I’ve only had space for the first line of WolframApha’s extended response:
[ by Charles Cameron — Robert Redford and Brad Pitt on a Berlin rooftop ]
how do you draw a circle in an entirely linear medium?
The movie is Spy Game, with Robert Redford and Brad Pitt.
To my mind, it’s a brilliant piece of film making: director Tony Scott chose a terrific location for Nathan Muir (Redford)’s debrief reaming of Tom Bishop (Pitt), in the course of which Muir very pointedly tells Bishop:
Listen to this, because this is important. If you’d pulled a stunt there and got nabbed, I wouldn’t come after you. You go off the reservation, I will not come after you.
That’s the heart of the movie, right there, in negative — because the whole movie is about Bishop going off reservation in China, pulling a stunt there, and getting nabbed by the Chinese, and Muir coming after Bishop and rescuing him, with great shenanigans and flashbacks along the way.
Scott wants to draw a circle around that point, to drive it home — but this is a movie, a totally linear sequence frames, whether celluloid or digital, so how do you draw a circle in a linear medium?
Scott shoots the scene atop a circular roof, and before, during and after the conversation between the two men, has the camera circle the building:
I know, I stretch the limits of this blog mercilessly — and I’m spending this post on a piece of cinema technique. Let’s just say that I take Adam Elkus‘ words seriously:
Clausewitz himself was heavily inspired by ideas from other fields and any aspiring Clausewitzian ought to mimic the dead Prussian’s habit of reading widely and promiscuously.
I’m being promiscuous.
There are two other major points caught in Scott’s tight circle. One offers the essence of Spy Game, emphasis on the spy:
Bishop: Okay, help me understand this one. Nathan, what are we doing here? Don’t bullshit me about the greater good. Muir: That’s exactly what it’s about. Because what we do is, unfortunately, very necessary.
The other gets to the other half of the name Spy Game — game:
Bishop: It’s not a fucking game! Muir: Yes, it is. That’s exactly what it is. It’s no kid’s game, either, but a whole other game. And it’s serious, and it’s dangerous, and it’s not one you want to lose.
So, in the gospel according to Spy Game, espionage is a deadly and death-dealing game, played unfortunately but very necessarily for the greater good. All that in three short minutes, with a circle drawn around it for emphasis.
Thus a problem in geometry is artfully transcended.
[ by Charles Cameron — as a poet, i love the term “triple canopy” — okay? ]
I was watching The Big Lebowski — a great film that’s all the better because it features a cameo of my old buddy Jimmie Dale Gilmore — and was caught off-guard when I saw this particular segment:
Once again, the arts — my side of the house, you might say — are bringing me intelligence of strategy — the main course here at Zenpundit, which creativity a close second — and I was pretty sure I’d read much the same thing somewhere in the last few days..
A quick query on FaceBook revealed that I wasn’t making things up out of whole cloth. Stephanie Chenault and Laura Walker had seen it, too.
And then Mark brought the whole thing back home, with this FaceBook post of his:
Very likely, that’s what we all saw..
It’s still Sunday here, and I’ve been pleasantly surprised — so this can still be the Sunday surprise I meant it to be, even though you likely won’t see it till Monday.
And mebbe in future we should simply refer to The Big Safranski as The Dude.
Zenpundit is a blog dedicated to exploring the intersections of foreign policy, history, military theory, national security,strategic thinking, futurism, cognition and a number of other esoteric pursuits.