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Next notables, metaphors and bright ideas included

Sunday, December 9th, 2018

[ by Charles Cameron — next in the long series beginning with sports and game metaphors, and extending to include miscellaneous memorable items — nb, includes a Tibhirine section, Jim Gant pls note ]
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Here’s a DoubleQuote in images of considerable interest, from David Metcalfe — with the esteemed William Dalrynple DoubleQuoting goddesses in Kerala:

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Ancilliary to my interest in mapping complex realities..

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First “siege warfare” metaphor:

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Something to read alongside John Kiser‘s superb The Monks of Tibhirine: Faith, Love, and Terror in Algeria :

I would be most happy to publish any comments John Kiser has on Kyle Orton‘s blog post, Algeria’s ‘Years of Blood’: Not Quite What They Seem on ZP should he or Jim Gant notice this somewhat obscure entry..

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Good grief:

Key comment:

I will explain all in due course but for now all I want to say is be VERY careful when dabbling in spirituality, it’s not something to mess with.

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And how’s this?

Trump Channels the Worst of China to Beat China

A double ouroboros, methinks: the Worst of China to Beat China, arguably, and self-defeating, axiomatically, no?

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Venkatesh Rao, Quiver Doodles:

I don’t know if this is still true, but I once read about exploited workers in the ship-breaking industry who were worked so hard, and paid so little, they could not even afford to buy enough calories to sustain themselves. They were slowly starving to death. I call this phenomenon entropic ruin, a generalization of the idea of gambler’s ruin to open-ended games that can be non-zero-sum and need not involve gambling. In this case, it’s a deterministic death march. If you systematically consume fewer calories than you expend long term, you will die a premature death.

Via John Kellden

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Did Venkatesh mention “the idea of gambler’s ruin“? How about nuns’ ruin as a subset?

Two nuns allegedly stole $500,000 for trips to Las Vegas

We do know that they had a pattern of going on trips, we do know they had a pattern of going to casinos, and the reality is, they used the account as their personal account,” Marge Graf, an attorney representing St. James, told a group of parents at a meeting last Monday night, according to the Beach Reporter.”

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Mask dancers, Bhutan:

21 Breathtaking Photos Of Isolated Tribes From All Around The World

The dancers are gorgeous, but look to the left and see the monasteries perched on plateaus in a towering rock-face..

I’m pretty sure “isolated tribes” are of particular interest about now because of the evangelical boundary-pusher killed (martyred? now there’s a koan) because he hoped to bring the gospel to Andaman tribal peoples whose isolation is protected by the Indian government.. see my tweet:

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The meeting turned into a bizarre public fight, on camera, in front of reporters.

which leads to:

Trump’s Reality Show in the Oval Office
During a photo op that morphed into a bizarre spectacle, the president brawled with Democratic leaders over funding his border wall.

What poetry has to say about “the mob at the gate”

Friday, October 26th, 2018

[ by Charles Cameron — Donald Trump and Joy Reid. meet CP Cavafy ]
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Donald Trump has been repeating a mantra tying Dems to the word mob recently — here’s one example:

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Belay that! For Trump “the mob at the gates” might equally, scarily, be that “caravan” in Mexico, making its way up to a confrontation with US troops at the border, and no doubt paid for their troubles by George Soros

Take your camera. Go into the middle. You’ll find MS-13. You’ll find Middle Easterners..

Hold it: that’s a powerful image.

But Joy Reid saw the mob differently:

The mob are WOMEN.

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Democrats, the caravan, women — take the mob at the gates as you will, there’s a considerable force, on the outside, massing and pressing to come in. And poetry has something to say about that (recurrent) situation. In the words of CP Cavafy‘s celebrated poem, Waiting for the Barbarians:

What are we waiting for, assembled in the forum?

The barbarians are due here today.

Why isn’t anything going on in the senate?
Why are the senators sitting there without legislating?

Because the barbarians are coming today.
What’s the point of senators making laws now?
Once the barbarians are here, they’ll do the legislating.

Why did our emperor get up so early,
and why is he sitting enthroned at the city’s main gate,
in state, wearing the crown?

But I’ll invite you to read the answer to that question, and the rest of the poem, powerful as it is, on the Poetry Foundation site..

Cavafy has one possible outcome — but there may be as many as there are mobs, or people perceiving them.

In any case, enjoy the poem, and vote.

McCaining it now McCain is gone..

Sunday, September 2nd, 2018

[ by Charles Cameron — heartbreaking, what this man endured and left us as his legacy ]
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Donald Hall with President Obama, a parable in image form

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The questions before us are:

  • how shall we McCain it now John McCain is gone?
  • and:

  • who shall McCain it now John McCain is gone?
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    How?

    I think the answer to that question can be found in McCain’s reputation as a maverick — and if I may clarify that with a few additional quotes, I’d suggest you can find the same quality deployed in Emily Rales‘ declaration of her strategy for the Rales’ Glenstone Museum:

    We always go against the grain.

    It is likewise implicitly in Jami Miscik‘s celebrated comment on CIA analysts:

    To truly nurture creativity, you have to cherish your contrarians, and you have to give them the opportunities to run free.

    Above all, it seems to me, it is present in that photograph of poet Donald Hall — aptly captioned:

    Barack Obama presents the National Medal of Arts to the poet Donald Hall, who seemed to know something about the solace on the other side of grief, and how to get there.

    But I’ll come back to that.

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    Who:

    In politics, in the wake of John McCain, there’s an obvious churn, an uncertainty as to who next will forcible remind us of McCain, and while the question remains open, a couple of recent candidatea can be discerned for the role — one being Mitt Romney — largely, I suspect because he was willing to stand up to Trump with a devastating analogy:

    Here’s what I know. Donald Trump is a phony, a fraud. His promises are as worthless as a degree from Trump University.

    You may or may not agree with the first half of that statement, but the worthlessness of a Trump University diploma is hard to argue with. I don’t believe anyone from Trump on down has been able to come up with a satisfactory “return” to that serve, which to my mind gives game. set and match to Romney.

    and then there’s Beto O’Rourke — I’ll let him speak for himself:

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    I don’t know the who of it,

    Saxophonist Bill Clinton is eulogizing Aretha Franklin on my TV the day after pol Joe Biden together with oval officers Barack Obama and George W. Bush eulogized McCain — and given how riveting and solemn McCain’s lying in state and memorial service in Arizona and then his arrival in Washington and lying in state in the US Capitol had been for the last longest time, remembering the exuberance of Aretha Franklin is both a surprise and a bit of a relief:

    Both Bush and Obama’s eulogies for McCain wre worth hearing or reading in full, but here I’ve selected some choice moments.

    Bush:

    A man who seldom rested is laid to rest and his absence is tangible, like the silence after a mighty roar.

    For John and me, it was a personal journey—hard fought political history. Back in the day, he could frustrate me and I know he’d say the same thing about me, but he also made me better. In recent years we sometimes talked of that intense period like football players, remembering a big game. In the process, rivalry melted away. In the end I got to enjoy one of life’s great gifts, the friendship of John McCain and I’ll miss it.

    He saw our country not only as a physical place or power but as the carrier of enduring human aspirations.

    Obama:

    John liked being unpredictable. Even a little contrarian. He had no interest in conforming to some pre-packaged version of what a senator should be, and he didn’t want a memorial that was going to be pre-packaged either.

    But for all our differences, for all of the times we sparred, I never tried to hide — and I think John came to understand — the long-standing admiration that I had for him.

    By his own account, John was a rebellious young man. In his case, that’s understandable, what faster way to distinguish yourself when you’re the son and grandson of admirals than to mutiny.

    Others this week and this morning have spoken to the depths of his torment and the depths of his courage there in the cells of Hanoi when, day after day, year after year, that youthful iron was tempered into steel.

    And we never doubted the other man’s sincerity. Or the other man’s patriotism. Or that when all was said and done, we were on the same team. We never doubted we were on the same team.

    For more, see:

    The most poignant (and political) excerpts from Meghan McCain’s fiery eulogy for her father

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    And for the rest, let me just say that while it is desirable for politicians to have the moral fortitude — which corresponds directly to the maverick nature — of a John McCain, it is essential in the artist, ass the photo of poet Donald Hall at the top of this page illuminates:

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    It is no mistake that the poet’s countenance so vividly proclaims his fidelity to self. and if we wish to see more McClain influence in our lives, we should look to our oiets, painters, filmmakers — not the shallow but the deep, the profound among us. As the presiding bishop at the funeral noted, the Jesuit poet Gerard Manley Hopkins has the essential prescription for us:

    Each mortal thing does one thing and the same:
    Deals out that being indoors each one dwells;
    Selves — goes itself; myself it speaks and spells,
    Crying Whát I dó is me: for that I came.

    I say móre: the just man justices;
    Keeps grace: thát keeps all his goings graces;
    Acts in God’s eye what in God’s eye he is —
    Chríst — for Christ plays in ten thousand places,
    Lovely in limbs, and lovely in eyes not his
    To the Father through the features of men’s faces.

    That’s from the poet — the priest’s — poem As Kingfishers Catch Fire.

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    And now if you’ll permit, in John McCain’s honor and my father’s, the Navy Hymn — precious to all those whose very lives have cast them against the unfathomable waters:

    and the hymn of the higher patriotism, I vow to thee, my country:

    Sunday surprise: Eucharist above, below and beyond

    Sunday, July 15th, 2018

    [ by Charles Cameron — have you time to spare for a little beauty? ]
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    Prof Emily Steiner of the University of Pennsylvania posted this image, which she described as of the “Stunning mosaics in the apse of S. Maria in Trastevere, attributed to Pietro Cavallini (c.1240-1330)”:

    Dr Steiner attributed the photo to “the talented @pdecherney” — her colleague at U PEnn, Dr Peter Decherney.

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    When I first saw this image, only the top half was visible on my screen, a fine, and I’m no expert, possibly world renowned, and yes, as Dr Steiner says, stunning mosaic of Christos Pantokrator, Christ the ruler of the universe if I’m not mistaken — and again, I’m no expert, and willing to take instruction.

    But stunning, yes. Christ, a mosaic, stunning. Art at the service of praise, beauty as a window on the divine, .

    And then, perhaps an hour later, but lapses of time are mended in this realm, I saw the whole image, sized to fit my screen.

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    And thus the bottom half —

    — with, brightly lit, even moreso if it were possible than the Christ in mosaic above it is, a small table — an altar, with three priests, and more in the wings, celebrating what looks to be the Eucharist — thought I suppose it might also be Vespers — and again, some expert could say whether the central celebrant is, by his zucchetto or skullcap, a cardinal, bishop, or maybe monsignor.

    No matter the celebrant’s rank, he is, as celebrant, at the vanishing point — both the central point of attention photographically, and the point where the priest acts in the person of Christ, in persona Christi, thus himself, his persona, vanishing at the vanishing point.

    Do this in memory of me, Christ said to his disciples at the Last Supper before his crucifixion, in words of sacrifice, previsioning his body about to be broken on the cross the next day — and down the centuries priests have broken bread as he did, speaking his words in his place, Take, eat, this is my body.

    In the consecration, with these wrds, bread and wine become invisibly the body and blood of Christ, which we may remember, digest and allow to transform us.

    It is this which makes the celebration of the Eucharist, in Catholic terms, “the source and summit of the Christian life”.

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    And then, between this focus on the priest celebrant below, and the Christ all-ruling above, there is a mysterious relationship, each reflecting the other as in duet of mirrors — above, below and I invite you to envision, beyond.

    Taking us, to switch religious traditions.. into the upper room with that one and self-same Christ

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    Eucharist: literally, thanksgiving!

    May your Sunday bring you cause for such thanksgiving..

    Their own private Farnboroughs

    Sunday, July 1st, 2018

    [ by Charles Cameron — one vivid memory, two breathtaking photos, one for war-watchers, one for poets ]
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    There are very few days in my life where I know where I was, but on 6 September 1952, I was at the Farnborough Air Show, when John Derry‘s De Havilland 110 fell apart at Mach 1, the body of the aircraft falling safely away from the crowd, but one jet ploughing into the hillside I was perched on — literally, on my dad’s shoulders — a few dozen yards behind us.

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    I was reminded of John Derry and his memorable death by this photo, captioned:

    Military aircraft enthusiasts watch as a United States Air Force F-15 fighter jet travels at low altitude through the “Mach Loop” series of valleys near Dolgellau, Wales, on June 26, 2018. The Mach Loop valleys are regularly used by the military for operational low-flying training, which can take place as low as 250 feet (76 meters) from the nearest terrain. Oli Scarff / AFP / Getty

    The aircraft, as shown above, is certainly striking — but no lesss striking at the tiny observers on the crest of the hillock, who no doubtt had an exhausting hike to get there, to see that remarkable aerial display. “Ooh, look!” These guys have their own private Farnboroughs — and thank God, nobody dies on this occasion.

    I’m posting this here because I think the urge to see, I suppose one might call it the voyeuristic urge, is close cousin ttom the urge to game play. And game play, in military affairs, is a significant matter , from kriegspiel to the rcecently aborted exercises in S Korea.

    Thoughts?

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    OMG —

    and I just can’t resist adding one more image from the same page where I found the one above — for its sheer drama:

    https://cdn.theatlantic.com/assets/media/img/photo/2018/06/photos-of-the-week-3/w02_984690316/main_900.jpg?1530296833

    The full moon rises behind burning moorland as a large wildfire sweeps across the moors between Dovestones and Buckton Vale in Stalybridge, Greater Manchester, on June 26, 2018, in Stalybridge, England. Anthony Devlin / Getty

    Er, Wow!


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