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There’s nothing I can see, so I can’t perceive it..

Monday, April 10th, 2017

[ Charles Cameron — on what may yet remain invisible ]
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It is, surely, a matter of both culure and disposition:

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The Dale McKinnon quote is from In the Light of reverence, a documentary presenting native spirituality in conflict with western land uses in Lakota, Hopi and Wintu sacred areas (the Devil’s Tower, Colorado Plateau, and Mt Shasta, respectively):

Highly recommended.

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Saint-Exupery‘s quote, from The Little Prince, offers a possible explanation and response.

Paul Klee on the role of the artist:

Art does not reproduce the visible; it makes visible

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Recep Tayyip Erdogan and the poetry of names

Tuesday, July 26th, 2016

[ by Charles Cameron — a bridge & burial ground in Turkey, an Oregon creek & road, all named for death ]
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There’s a certain power to names. Ursula LeGuin described it best, perhaps, when she wrote:

He saw that in this dusty and fathomless matter of learning the true name of every place, thing, and being, the power he wanted lay like a jewel at the bottom of a dry well. For magic consists in this, the true naming of a thing.

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I included that quote in my post Indistinguishable from magic? six days ago, little realizing I would need it again so soon, but here we are: a dark magical DoubleTweet:

That’s the more positive of the pair — less so, I think, is this:

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A couple of other notes from the poster of that second tweet:

  • The term “traitor” is still very loosely used in Turkey; some day may come, all those accusing eachother of treason might lie side by side..
  • Istanbul Metropolitan Mayor had announced the will to construct the Traitors’ Cemetary some days ago “for all to spit on when passing by”
  • **

    When my Lakota mentor, Wallace Black Elk, came to teach a class in the building and ceremonial use of the stone people’s lodge (“sweat lodge”) at what was then Southern Oregon State College in Ashland, Oregon, the route to the site where we performed the rituals on Dead Indian Creek went along the clearly marked Dead Indian Road. Wallace always got a chuckle out of that.

    But then, Wallace was glad Columbus told Queen Isabella he was en route for India, not Turkey — “Full-Blooded Turkey I’d be,” he’d say, “Native Turkey Movement, Bureau of Turkey Affairs..”

    The road, though not perhaps the creek, has now been renamed:

    Dead Indian Road

    The rose is my qibla

    Thursday, September 3rd, 2015

    [ by Charles Cameron — some light refreshment after dark sides and devilish walks ]
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    SPEC WBE Sepehri

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    Sources:

  • Sohrab Sepehri, Poetic Voices of the Muslim World
  • Wallace Black Elk, The Greenfield Review, vol 9, double issue 3 & 4
  • with thanks to Joseph Bruchac & Rabia Chaudry

    On Time and timeframes

    Monday, July 1st, 2013

    [ by Charles Cameron — 48 hours, Egyptian time, can mean many things, also DoD foresight, next 48 hrs ]
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    We seem to have at least four “times” here, ranking from 12 to 72 hours — or zero to 72 if you take the Army’s announcement itself as a sort of starting pistol — and they’re operating, obviously enough, under different frames. The army likes nicely rounded numbers like “48 hrs”, PERT chart thinking gives you the least time available in which to take the first step towards a desired aim, here “12 hours” — and “24 hours” is the latest target time for serious, visible progress to avert “worst case” response preparations. Or something along those lines.

    And “72 hours”? That may be Egyptian elastic time, and thus roughly comparable to Lakota time

    The Lakota view of time was simple. “Time was never a specific minute, but rather spaces of time,like early morning, just afternoon or just before midnight. The real meaning of time could be summed up by the phrase “nake nula waunyelo” loosely translated it means:

    “I am ready for whatever, any place, any time, always prepared”.

    When work needed to be done, people were prepared to work late inthe fields or stay up until 3 am to finish goods to be sold at market.When no work needed to be done, they didn’t work.

    The irony is in the next comment:

    Policy makers saw an opportunity to improve things by installing awestern time ethic and a respect for the clock.

    I don’t know Egypt — but I have spent time “on Lakota time” and don’t wear a watch or carry a phone these days… The piece I drew those quotes from, Lessons from the Lakota: Time lessons for today’s managers, may or may not be useful advice for managers, but its overview-with-graphic of different time systems is worth a quick look. Anthropologists would be able to tell you more about individual cultures, but my point is that differing timeframes are among the major features of different worldviews, and we need to have a decent sense of them when we interface with them.

    So “72 hours” may be an instance of relaxed but purposive time, okay? Which wouldn’t necessarily fit well with starched and pressed military time.

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    And here’s the blockbuster:

    According to the Congressional Budget Office’s Analysis of DoD’s Future Years Defense Program from 2013, military foresight time runs five years ahead, while USG foresight time runs to 2030 at least:

    In most years, the Department of Defense (DoD) provides a five-year plan, called the Future Years Defense Program (FYDP), associated with the budget that it submits to the Congress. Because decisions made in the near term can have consequences for the defense budget well beyond that period, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) regularly examines DoD’s FYDP and projects its budgetary impact over several decades. For this analysis, CBO used the FYDP provided to the Congress in March 2012, which covers fiscal years 2013 to 2017; CBO’s projections span the years 2013 to 2030.

    That’s confidence of a kind… but consider this:

    I know, I know — whatever happens in Egypt “momentarily” may turn out to be no more than an eddy briefly interrupting a larger time-flow in the “mid-term” — a phenomenon I’d like to map nicely with some river graphics one of these days.

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    But time? What was it St Augustine said of it?

    What, then, is time? If no one asks me, I know what it is. If I wish to explain it to him who asks me, I do not know.

    Frankenstorm: some rules proposed for prophecy & prediction

    Sunday, October 28th, 2012

    [ by Charles Cameron — some thoughts on news reports and prophecy, since it is not unheard of for people to bolster their versions of prophecy by quoting current events ]
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    AP satellite image - which might as well be titled, in Shelley's words, "look on my works, ye mighty, and despair"

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    I want to explore the relation of prophecy and prediction to news, and my inbox in the last couple of days has provided me with a simple way to compare and contrast the two.

    Here, then, are two versions of what might shortly come to pass:

    The upper panel offers a snippet from the Washington Post‘s piece today — in other words, the news. The lower panel offers the headline from an overtly scripture-driven source — in other words, prophecy.

    The Joel Rosenberg piece providing an interpretation of what might be just a day away, under that alarming headline, begins:

    “For thus says the Lord of hosts, ‘Once more in a little while, I am going to shake the heavens and the earth, the sea also and the dry land. I will shake all the nations.” (Haggai 2:6-7) Just days before one of the most significant and momentous presidential and Congressional elections in American history, God is reminding us that America’s fate lies not in the hands of the politicians, but in His hands. Weather experts are warning Americans on the East Coast to “get ready, be prepared” for Hurricane Sandy, which they say could prove to be one of the most devastating storms in American history. Is that hype, or is it true? Tens of millions Americans are not taking any chances. They are buying water, food, gasoline and other supplies as the storm moves towards land. I can tell you that my family and I in the Washington, D.C. area are doing the same.

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    The interesting question from my POV is whether it is legitimate to invoke supernatural causes when natural causes could sufficiently account for what is observed to be happening.

    There is indeed a major storm system in the offing, and it is indeed as yet uncertain whether it will be devastating, a comparatively minor irritant, or somewhere in between. But the Washington Post appears content to attribute the possibilities to natural forces, whereas Rosenberg prefers an explanation in terms of his views on morality.

    Basically, there are two positions here:

  • If we are shaken, it is because we are sinful.
  • If we are shaken, it is because natural forces are interacting in such a way as to cause devastation on the scale of human interest.
  • I would argue for a third view:

  • If we are shaken, it is because we have messed enough with the planet’s intricate homeostases as to drive weather patterns to inhospitable extremes.
  • **

    Here are some rules that the looming Frankenstorm has prompted me to consixder:

    One:

    Don’t overstate the case: if you want a worst case scenario for warning and planning purposes, clearly mark it as such, and at least sketch the alternative scenarios and an informed guess as to their respective likelihoods.

    Two:

    If you associate a presumed cause to an expected effect, and when the time comes the effect does not happen, admit that the cause as presumed was flawed within your own system of explanation. In the case of Rosenberg’s storm, should it prove to be less of a shaker than Rosenberg’s headline suggests, this would mean he would admit that God obviously didn’t intend to shake America all that much — either because America is less sinful and more pleasing to God than Rosenberg gives it credit for, or because the threat of the storm caused a sufficient moral awakening to make its actuality unnecessary, or because God is more long-suffering than Rosenberg initially imagined.

    Three:

    Keep your explanation internally consistent. The storm is, even in Rosenberg’s sense, a meteorological phenomenon — which is why his post carries the AP satellite image of Hurricane Sandy that I put at the top of this post. It is a stretch — biblically permitted, but a stretch nevertheless — to assert a moral cause (such as tolerance of homosexuality) for a meteorological event, particularly if the known meteorological causes would in themselves be sufficient to account for it.

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    And then there’s the most interesting part of all.

    Suppose that prophecy isn’t a matter of specific and accurate prediction, but a sketch of possible outcomes, along the lines of “if you carry on like that, you’ll drink yourself into an early grave.” When someone says something like that, they don’t mean the person concerned will find an empty grave and get so drunk as to fall into it — they mean that excessive imbibing, over the long term, puts the imbiber at risk of a variety of distressing ends, fatal car crashes and kidney failure among them.

    We have the saying, “pride comes before a fall.” Is that prophecy? It is found in scripture, in Proverbs 16.18:

    Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.

    Arguably the proud and power-hungry have a tendency to overextend themselves — the Greeks would call it hubris, and see nemesis close on its heels. Is it prophecy, then, or a simple observation of human nature? It certainly seems to fit quite a number of circumstances — to be “fulfilled” on a regular basis.

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    My friend and mentor the shaman Wallace Black Elk emphasized to me that in his Lakota tradition, prophecies were understood as visionary warnings of likely outcomes to be avoided — not as inevitabilities.

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    What I’m getting at here is that as predictions become specific — Edgar Whisenart‘s prediction that the Rapture would occur between September 11 and 13, 1988, or Jose Arguelles proclamation that the harmonic convergence of August 17, 1987 would be the great moment of shift — or are interpreted in specific ways — I linked to a minister preaching that Oprah Winfrey was the Antichrist only yesterday — we may be mistaking a poetic reading of trends for an act of previsioning in detail a predetermined, preordained and predestined future.

    From my POV, this would mean that prophetic texts should be read as poetic foreshadowings — “put too much strain on the environment and it will bite back at you” — rather than as matrices into which the events of the day should be shoehorned — back in the days of Nero and Domitian, back in the days of Hitler and Stalin, or today, tomorrow and tomorrow…

    In this way, both prophetic and scientific traditions can be appropriately honored.


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