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With gratitude for today’s twitter feast..

Monday, October 20th, 2014

[ by Charles Cameron -- high risk furniture -- a single tweet with linked explanation, plus two sets of tweets I'd like to see further explained, explored and examined ]

First, a single tweet from Max Fisher with a catchy title and link, where the URL provides free access to the article in question..

Single tweets like this with URLs are at the heart of intelligent twitter-use, and twitter #FFs are the curatorial device for honing in on them. But there have also been occasions when a string of tweets sets forth a noteworthy argument or tale, as in:

  • Jenan Moussa twitterstreams ISIS rules
  • Teju Cole on Nairobi: death and birdsong, death and poetry
  • Second, here are four tweets from Phil Arena via Adam Elkus:

    Fascinating ideation here, that I’d love to see developed.


    And much the same goes for these five diagrammatic tweets from Darin Self via Phil Arena:

    These are really on the edge of my comprehension, but then again I quite deliberately read above my pay-grade, believing that old saw of Browning‘s:

    A man’s reach should exceed his grasp — or what’s a heaven for?


    On peculiarly gifted people

    Thursday, September 25th, 2014

    [ by Charles Cameron -- a DQ contribution to the broader Zenpundit discussions of creativity ]

    SPEC emerson li po

    Emerson and Li Po, East and West.

    I once again ran across this pairing, which has long been a favorite of mine, while working on a poem by Emily Dickinson for “MoPo” — a terrific Coursera course which is introducing me, by the skin of my teeth, to “modernism” in American poetry.


    Apocalyptic arrives, but not yet the Coming One

    Tuesday, September 16th, 2014

    [ by Charles Cameron -- on the intersecting logics of IS, current and classical Islamic eschatology, and violent millennial movements in general ]

     Al Malhamah al Kubra, the great end times battle, image from Dabiq

    Al Malhamah al Kubra, the great end times battle


    Ella Lipin, research associate for Middle East studies for the Council on Foreign Relations, blogged on the apocalyptic side of the “caliphate” a few days back under the title Understanding ISIS’s Apocalyptic Appeal:

    To the outside world, this period of atrocities perpetrated by ISIS, such as the beheading of two American journalists, may be another defining moment in shaping the Middle East. But for many people in the region, ISIS’s message resounds and its arrival marks the end of days and the fulfillment of divine prophecy. To understand ISIS’s appeal and ultimately how to defeat it, the United States must recognize how the organization situates itself within Islamic apocalyptic tradition.

    That’s good, that’s fine.


    To back up a bit, Martin Dempsey said of IS almost a month ago:

    This is an organisation that has an apocalyptic, end-of-days strategic vision which will eventually have to be defeated.

    I noted this with approval, and lamented the lack of earlier awareness of this point in my post The curious case of the unheard word “apocalyptic”.


    And today, Terrence McCoy of the Washington Post quoted Ms Lipin in a piece about Dabiq magazine titled The apocalyptic magazine the Islamic State uses to recruit and radicalize foreigners:

    This is not the beginning, the magazine says. It is the end. It is the culmination of a centuries-long war that has burned and simmered but never been extinguished — that will soon grow to consume everything. It is the apocalypse. And it is coming.

    This is the chilling vision set out in the Islamic State magazine called “Dabiq,” published in several European languages including English.

    Again, that’s good to see.


    But what exactly are the implications?

    I’ve posted my own detailed analysis of a mere 10 pages of Dabiq, focusing explicitly on implications regarding the Saved Sect and the Victorious Group, and the entire logical edifice IS has constructed to take us from the Dabiq hadith via the notion of hirah to the recruitment of a global force of jihadists, in Dabiq issue 3 part 1- Hijrah. Tim Furnish has blogged about this, as has J-P Filiu. Their work is of crucial importance, along with that of David Cook. And the posts I’ve linked here are far from all these scholars have written — each has been covering specifically Islamic apocalyptic for years.


    But that’s the IS logic, and there are other logics that need to be understood.

    One is the Islamic logic that views IS as Kharijites, “breakaways” and heretics who in an excess of religious fervor have broken away from the very religion they profess to follow. That’s a topic that should be addressed from within Islam, IMO. For now, here’s a link to a short video from a Manchester (UK) Salafist sheikh, who views both IS and JN as Kharijite. I’ll report here if I see this line of argument particularly well presented.

    In strictly poetic terms, there’s Shadab Zeest Hashmi‘s Shade, posted in 3QuarksDaily — if you still have a heart for beauty in these grim times:

    Allahu Akbar or God is Great, the anthem stolen by the wicked terrorist, whose attack is aimed at life, what holds life together for me— the zikr: Allahu Akbar, God is Greater, greater than prayer, greater than the spectacularly leaping science, the elegance of logic, the morality police, the lust of the spirit or the intellect, greater than the molten heart of a mother, a day laborer’s fatigue, greater than the beauty of discipline, the disciple of beauty, the ecstasy of disarray, greater than terra firma or the firmament, greater than sorrow.

    If you still have a mind for poetry.


    But there’s at least one other logic that needs to be understood — because it shows what the modifier “apocalyptic” can do to an already violent movement. It’s the logic explored by scholars like Jeffrey Kaplan, Michael Barkun, Catherine Wessinger, Michael Barkun, Richard Landes, Jean Rosenfeld, and John R Hall.

    That’ll require a whole new post. But it’s the horse that pulls the cart of millennial and messianic / mahdist movements — and maybe we should understand the horse before the cart?


    Another Sunday Surprise: Gould and Turner

    Sunday, September 14th, 2014

    [ by Charles Cameron -- this one's for the creative cognition folks out there in Zenland ]

    Damn’d hard to read, I know, but worth it if you care about artistic creation & performance:

    SPEC gould turner

    The top quote is Glenn Gould, speaking in the documentary Glenn Gould, Hereafter, the second from the erudite and delightful poet, distinguished professor and friend, Frederick Turner‘s blog.


    Poetry in the Square

    Wednesday, September 3rd, 2014

    [ by Charles Cameron -- the public square, that is, and specifically Tahrir Square ]

    The Square, directed by Jehane Noujaim — a documentary tracking the lives of six people in Tahrir Square through the two recent Egyptian revolutions — just won the Emmy for Outstanding Directing For Nonfiction Programming, 2014, and is up for the Documentary Feature Oscar. Here’s what struck me right off the bat:
    we will fill the world with our poetry Tahrir
    Yevtushenko had that sort of impact in Russia, Neruda in Chile. Poetry speaks where the oppressed are silent — is such a phrase, “we will fill the world with our poetry” conceivable in the cultured west?

    Russia, Chile. Yevtushenko, Neruda.


    Yevtushenko wrote a poem for Neruda, mentioning Bilbao — which Bilbao? a statue where? — which may give us a clue to poetry and its power:

    You see–
                 over there, among the puddles and garbage,
    standing up under the red lamps
    stands Bilbao — with the soul
                                of a poet — in bronze.
    Bilbao was a tramp and a rebel.
             they set up the monument, fenced off
    by a chain, with due pomp, right in the center,
    although the poet had lived in the slums.
    Then there was some minor overthrow or other,
    and the poet was thrown out, beyond the gates.
            they removed
                                the pedestal
    to a filthy little red-light district.
    And the poet stood,
                                 as the sailor’s adopted brother,
    against a background
                                  you might call native to him.


    And Neruda comments, with a hint of slyness:
    “A poet is
                 beyond the rise and fall of values.
    It’s not hard to remove us from the center,
    but the spot where they set us down
                                                           becomes the center!”


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