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Apocalypse: waves and mountains

Sunday, October 9th, 2016

[ by Charles Cameron — with delighted appreciation to historian Damien Kempf ]
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Damien Kempf asks, “So… what’s the apocalypse really going to be like?” and tweets 15 signs of the end times, in images from the 16th century Bodleian MS, Douce 134:

Now you see them — the waves, I mean —

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— and now you don’t!

Oops!

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As I wrote in Theory and Practice, Ideal and Real, War and Peace a while back:

There are two distinct scenarions that I try to bear in mind, in one of which an archipelago of islands is seen in a seascape, while the other shows a number of lakes in a landscape of mountains, hills and valleys.

The only difference between them, as I envision them, is the water level.

Raise the water level, and the lakes join to become a sea in which the isolated remaining hill and mountain tops have become islands — lower the water level, and the islands become the hills and mountain tops of a landscape, with the sea now diminished to a congeries of lakes and pools in its valleys.

Your thoughts?

On play as wildness

Saturday, September 24th, 2016

[ by Charles Cameron — what’s true of hex maps is true of all mental models ]
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There’s a certain let-your-hair-down quality to play.

It appears that one Tausendsassa Friedensreich Regentag Dunkelbunt Hundertwasser said or perhaps wrote, muttered, whispered, shouted, or simply thought out loud, “the straight line is a godless line” — at any rate, someone noticed and recorded the phrase, and now it’s scattered across the net and difficult to track to its source.

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But we do love order, don’t we?

hex-grid

And so the rivers on our hexagonal maps all too easily follow the hexagons..

rivers-and-tree-clusters-hexagonal-map

when they’d more realistically cross over them, following their own courses:

free-rivers

and note how easily even our efforts to bring natural variety to our hexagonal mappings conform more to hexagons than to variety.

hexmaptopo

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Zennist Thich Nhat Hanh in Listening Deeply for Peace writes:

A traditional Vietnamese Zen garden is very different from a Japanese Zen garden. Our Zen gardens, called hon non bo, are wild and exuberant, more playful than the formal Japanese gardens with their restrained patterns. Vietnamese Zen gardens are seriously unserious. For us, the whole world is contained in this peaceful place. All activities of life unfold in true peace in the garden: in one part, children will be playing, and in another part, some elderly men will be having a chess game; couples are walking; families are having picnics; animals are free to wander around. Beautiful trees are growing next to abundant grasses and flowers. There is water, and there are rock formations. All ecologies are represented in this one microecology without discrimination. It is a miniature, peaceful world. It is a beautiful living metaphor for what a new global ethic could bring.

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Here is the wrestling of a tree with such angels as gravity, sun, wind and rain:

methuselah-bristlecone-pine-tree

Here is the wild calligraphy of the Rio Mamoré across the forests of the Amazon basin:

meanders_oli_2014194

From the Forgiveness Chronicles: Rwanda

Wednesday, June 15th, 2016

[ by Charles Cameron — a reminder from 2014 — for those who preach love, for those who preach mercy ]
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Rwanda detail
Dominique Ndahimana, Perpetrator (left); Cansilde Munganyinka, Survivor

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Dominique Ndahimana:

The day I thought of asking pardon, I felt unburdened and relieved. I had lost my humanity because of the crime I committed, but now I am like any human being.

Cansilde Munganyinka:

After I was chased from my village and Dominique and others looted it, I became homeless and insane. Later, when he asked my pardon, I said: ‘I have nothing to feed my children. Are you going to help raise my children? Are you going to build a house for them?’ The next week, Dominique came with some survivors and former prisoners who perpetrated genocide. There were more than 50 of them, and they built my family a house. Ever since then, I have started to feel better. I was like a dry stick; now I feel peaceful in my heart, and I share this peace with my neighbors.

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Rwanda

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Another perpetrator / survivor pair:

François Ntambara

Because of the genocide perpetrated in 1994, I participated in the killing of the son of this woman. We are now members of the same group of unity and reconciliation. We share in everything; if she needs some water to drink, I fetch some for her. There is no suspicion between us, whether under sunlight or during the night. I used to have nightmares recalling the sad events I have been through, but now I can sleep peacefully. And when we are together, we are like brother and sister, no suspicion between us.

Epiphanie Mukamusoni:

He killed my child, then he came to ask me pardon. I immediately granted it to him because he did not do it by himself — he was haunted by the devil. I was pleased by the way he testified to the crime instead of keeping it in hiding, because it hurts if someone keeps hiding a crime he committed against you. Before, when I had not yet granted him pardon, he could not come close to me. I treated him like my enemy. But now, I would rather treat him like my own child.

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Source:

  • Pieter Hugo, Portraits of Reconciliation: 20 years after the genocide in Rwanda
  • photos by Susan Dominus
  • Creating a web-based format for debate and deliberation: discuss?

    Friday, December 12th, 2014

    [ by Charles Cameron — Talmud, hypertext, spider webs, Indra’s net, noosphere, rosaries, renga, the bead game, Xanadu, hooks-and-eyes, onward! ]
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    Let me firmly anchor this post and its comments, which will no doubt shift and turn as the wind wishes, in discussion of the possibility of improving on current affordances for online deliberation.

    Let’s begin here:

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    There are a variety of precursor streams to this discussion: I have listed a few that appeal to me in the sub-head of this post and believe we will reach each and all of them in some form and forum if this discussion takes off. And I would like to offer the immediate hospitality of this Zenpundit post and comment section to make a beginning.

    Greg’s tweet shows us a page of the Talmud, which is interesting to me for two reasons:

  • it presents many voices debating a central topic
  • it does so using an intricate graphical format
  • The script of a play or movie also records multiple voices in discourse, as does an orchestral score — but the format of the Talmudic score is more intricate, allowing the notation of counterpoint that extends across centuries, and provoking in turn centuries of further commentary and debate.

    What can we devise by way of a format, given the constraints of screen space and the affordances of software and interface design, that maximizes the possibility of debate with respect, on the highly charged topics of the day.

    We know from the Talmud that such an arrangement is possible in retrospect (when emotion can be recollected in tranquility): I am asking how we can come closest to it in real time. The topics are typically hotly contested, patience and tolerance may not always be in sufficient supply, and moderation by humans with powers of summary and editing should probably not be ruled out of our consdierations. But how do we create a platform that is truly polyphonic, that sustains the voices of all participants without one shouting down or crowding out another, that indeed may embody a practic of listening..?

    Carl Rogers has shown us that the ability to express one’s interlocutor’s ideas clearly enough that they acknowledge one has understood them is a significant skill in navigating conversational rapids.

    The Talmud should be an inspiration but not a constraint for us. The question is not how to build a Talmud, but how to build a format that can host civil discussion which refines itself as it grows — so that, to use a gardening metaphor, it is neither overgrown nor too harshly manicured, but manages a carefully curated profusion of insights and —

    actual interactions between the emotions and ideas in participating or observing individuals’ minds and hearts

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    Because polyphony is not many voices talking past one another, but together — sometimes discordant, but attempting to resolve those discords as they arrive, and with a figured bass of our common humanity underwriting the lot of them.

    And I have said it before: here JS Bach is the master. What he manages with a multitude of musical voices in counterpoint is, in my opinion, what we need in terms of verbal voices in debate.

    I am particularly hoping to hear from some of those who participated in tweeted comments arising from my previous post here titled Some thoughts for Marc Andreessen & Adam Elkus, including also Greg Loyd, Callum Flack, Belinda Barnet, Ken (chumulu) — Jon Lebkowsky if he’s around — and friends, and friends of friends.

    What say you?

    In Praise of Charles Cameron

    Thursday, October 10th, 2013

    [by Mark Safranski, a.k.a. “zen“]

    I am not sure how many of the readers ever make it to the “About” page, but there are blurbs for all of the bloggers here, done in my usual ad hoc style. This is what it reads for Charles Cameron:

    Charles Cameron,  has also posted at Small Wars Journal, All Things Counterterrorism, for the Chicago Boyz Afghanistan 2050 roundtable and elsewhere.  Charles read Theology at Christ Church, Oxford, under AE Harvey, and was at one time a Principal Researcher with Boston University’s Center for Millennial Studies and the Senior Analyst with the Arlington Institute

    All well and good, though that does not begin to scratch the surface of Charles who has a most interesting biography as a poet, bohemian adventurer and independent scholar. There’s a bit more available at his Sembl project page. If you ever have the chance to sit and talk with Charles F2F over coffee or a beer, you are in for a treat, if wide-ranging intellect and deep learning delivered with gentlemanly grace is your thing.

    The reason for this post is that there is a new addition to Charles’ bio – he is now the Managing Editor of zenpundit.com.

    Charles’s contributions here in terms of writing are invaluable, but he has also been an increasing factor behind the scenes. His ideas for potential round table projects, soliciting guest posts, recruiting new bloggers and raising the profile of ZP have been all to the good. I have come to realize that my own limitations in terms of schedule to execute some of these ideas Charles has brought may be preventing good things from happening that the readership would enjoy. It is time for me to step back a bit and give Charles the freedom to grow the blog and move zenpundit.com  forward.  I can’t think of anyone better suited for the role than Charles Cameron.

    Yes, I will still be here, as will Scott Shipman and Lynn Rees, but it’s time for a new hand at the wheel.

    “Truth is lived, not taught”

     – Herman Hesse


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