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Sunday surprise: Ernst Haas

Sunday, March 22nd, 2015

[ by Charles Cameron — beauty is in the viewfinder of this beholder ]
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Two bodies of water:

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

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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.

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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..

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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.

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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?

Sunday surprise addendum: Magritte and Montparnasse

Monday, March 9th, 2015

[ by Charles Cameron — Lawrence Weschler in the same NYorker issue as Fredric Dannen ]
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In the same issue of the New Yorker as Fredric Dannen‘s piece on the Green Dragons referenced in my earlier post, as it happens, and indeed printed on the same pages, is one of Lawrence Weschler‘s brilliant Convergences — his term for what I call DoubleQuotes.

I’ve composed my own version out of the same two images, here:

Magritte Montparnasse

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William Routt, in his The Madness of Cinema and Thinking Images, has this to say:

Writing under the heading “Convergences” in The New Yorker of November 16th, 1992, Lawrence Weschler explains that a train photographed dangling alongside a brick building “overshot the Gare Montparnasse, in Paris, on October 22, 1895″. What he cannot explain, and what he only points to in the way I have pointed to the coincidence between Lindsay and Deleuze, is the coincidence between this photograph and René Magritte’s well-known 1938 painting of an engine coming out of a fireplace (which is called “Time Transfixed”). The photo hallucinates the painting and the painting the photo. Their connection is delirious.

Delirious or delicious, I couldn’t let the occasion of my discussing that New Yorker issue pass without praising Weschler’s eye for the telling matcvh of images.

Image sources:

  • Rene Magritte, Time Transfixed, 1938
  • Levy & fils, Train wreck at Montparnasse Station
  • A trinity of bomb

    Wednesday, December 3rd, 2014

    [ by Charles Cameron — photojournalistic fakery and a close shave for who knows who? ]
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    To paraphrase the Athanasian Creed, which contains such phrases as:

    Such as the Father is, such is the Son, and such is the Holy Ghost.
    The Father Uncreate, the Son Uncreate, and the Holy Ghost Uncreate.
    The Father Incomprehensible, the Son Incomprehensible, and the Holy Ghost Incomprehensible.
    The Father Eternal, the Son Eternal, and the Holy Ghost Eternal and yet they are not Three Eternals but One Eternal.
    As also there are not Three Uncreated, nor Three Incomprehensibles, but One Uncreated, and One Incomprehensible.
    So likewise the Father is Almighty, the Son Almighty, and the Holy Ghost Almighty. And yet they are not Three Almighties but One Almighty.
    So the Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Ghost is God. And yet they are not Three Gods, but One God.
    So likewise the Father is Lord, the Son Lord, and the Holy Ghost Lord. And yet not Three Lords but One Lord.

    we might say in this case:

    The bomb is Russian, the bomb is Ukrainian, the bomb is Israeli: yet there are not three bombs, but one bomb.

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    I am in agreement with Libor Smolik. It is my impression that these three images are not proof of a global similarity of weaponry, but rather of sloppy journalism.

    A hat tip to FPRI’s Clint Watts for passing this tweet along. And I have to admit that “triples” such as this can beat out my DoubleQuotes on occasion. Well spotted, Libor!

    On the history of the selfie

    Monday, February 3rd, 2014

    [ by Charles Cameron — on self representation, avatars, and what we may be missing ]
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    Caravaggio, Martha and Mary Magdalen, aka The Conversion of the Magdalen

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    Where to begin?

    The Washington Post doesn’t like selfies much, according to Galen Guengerich in the Religion, yes, the Religion section — in a post titled ‘Selfie’ culture promotes a degraded worldview he writes:

    The 2013 word of the year, according to the Oxford Dictionaries, was “selfie,” which Oxford defines as “a photograph that one has taken of oneself, typically one taken with a smartphone or webcam and uploaded to a social media website.” The first use of the term, according to Oxford, occurred when a young Australian got drunk at a friend’s 21st birthday party and fell down the stairs. He hit lip-first and his front teeth punched a hole in his bottom lip. His response was to take a photo of himself and post it online for his friends to see. “Sorry about the focus,” he wrote, “It was a selfie.”

    Okayyyyy…

    As usual, the Kierkegaard / Kardashian combo that tweets as @KimKierkegaard manages to straddle the worlds material (in the Madonna sense) and spiritual (in the sense of the Madonna):

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    I wanted to dig deeper — the WashPost Religion section, Kierkegaard, how could I not? I often want to dig deeper, and today I was driven to do so because today — not or the first time — I ran across a terrorism analyst and blogger named Cristina Caravaggio Giancchini, who uses a detail from her namesake Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio‘s Martha and Mary Magdalen (above) as her avatar…

    Avatars are a kind of selfie, aren’t they?

    In any case, I found myself looking for the particular Caravaggio that contains that detail, discovering it was the Martha and Mary Magdalen, which you see that the top of this post — then kept on digging via Google to learn a little more.

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    Here’s what I found in a blog post titled Fingers and Mirrors: Caravaggio and the Conversion of Mary Magdalene in Renaissance Rome:

    The inclusion of the mirror asks viewers to enter into a dynamic conversation about their own delight in the rich textures of the picture; alongside a powder puff and comb, it points us to Mary’s vanity, and her concern with the things of this world. Rather than showing Mary to herself, however, the mirror captures a diamond of light — a visual representation of the divine grace that inspires Mary to look beyond her earthly passions. The flower that Mary clutches to her chest is an orange blossom: symbol of purity.

    As Debora Shuger realises, in a stimulating essay on early modern mirrors, for Renaissance viewers ‘the object viewed in the mirror is almost never the self’ (22). Such mirrors are, Shuger suggests, if not totally Platonic (reflected an absolute ideal), at least ‘platonically angled, titled upwards in order to reflect paradigms rather than the perceiving eye’ (26). Renaissance mirrors, she concludes, ask us to think differently about the mental worlds and self-awareness of people living in this period: ‘they reflect a selfhood that … is beheld, and beholds itself, in relation to God’ (38).

    Pilgrims who travelled to Aachen in the fifteenth-century appear to have purchased small convex mirrors as souvenirs: as relics were carried through the thronging crowds, travellers held up the mirrors to catch a glimpse of them, and then preserved the mirrors as objects which, according to Rayna Kalas, ‘betokened that moment when the pilgrim had a vision of and was visible before the sacred relic. … Every subsequent glance at this mirror memento might serve to remind the believer of that glimpse of sacred divinity’. In Caravaggio’s painting, though, Mary looks away from the mirror which might capture her reflection (the ‘dark glass’ of Corinthians?), and towards her shadowed but persuasive sister.

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    We began this post with the idea that our 21st century ‘Selfie’ culture “promotes a degraded worldview” — and here by way of contrast, in the use of hand-held mirrors in 15th century Aachen, we see what we are missing…

    … a glimpse of the sacred, in which the sacred glimpses us in transcendent return.

    Brilliant use of “DoubleQuote in the Wild” images!

    Thursday, January 2nd, 2014

    [ by Charles Cameron — a succinct and powerful double photo display, excellent for teaching critical thinking ]
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    Seeing is believing, no?

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    Hat tip: Tim Mathews.


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