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Don’t hide your money in a hortus conclusus

Monday, June 20th, 2016

[ by Charles Cameron — a criminal twist in Argentinian politics amid lofty considerations of convents, the Virgin Mary, and unicorns ]
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The King James Version of the Bible, Song of Solomon 4:12, reads:

A garden inclosed is my sister, my spouse; a spring shut up, a fountain sealed.

In the Latin Vulgate, the phrase “a garden enclosed” is rendered “hortus conclusus” — and as the context makes clear, it refers both to a garden, literally, and metaphorically to a woman. In the Christian Middle Ages, the phrase was often used to indicate the Virgin Mary, often enclosed within a literal garden, as in this Hortus Conclusus from Cologne, ca 1430:

600 Hortus Conclusus from Cologne, 1430

Parhaps unsurprisingly, the hortus conclusus is also the place where the unicorn — only ever tamed by a pure virgin — ends up, as in this example from the Cloisters Unicorn Tapestries:

600 Unicorn in Captivity

So much art history, so much beauty, so much virginity — and all so that I can make a couple of points about Jose Lopez, an Argentinean MP who was arrested earlier in the week.

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The unfortunate Lopez made the error of tossing some bags of money, or moneybags as they are sometimes called, over a hedge into a convent garden…

A convent, as we’ll easily understand, is a terrific example of the hortus conclusus — and since nuns are typically sworn to poverty as well as chastity and obedience, it is altogether contrary to the intended purpose of a convent’s hortus conclusus to use it as a stash for ill-gotten gains, especially of a monetary kind — to the estimated tune of US$5-8 million.

So that’s my point number one: that Lopez was acting in direct opposition to the contemplative and unworldly intent of the convent garden. Worse, indeed, he was also carrying some form of Sig Sauer rifle along with his “160 bundles of cash, 108 of dollars, and some of them still thermo-sealed with the stamps from China’s central bank.”

Ouch.

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But what I like best from the report is the sting in the end of this first paragraph:

The ex-Kirchnerite official, considered the right/hand man of ex Federal Planning minister Julio De Vido was caught by the police after neighbors and a nun of the Fatima monastery warned authorities about the presence of a man throwing bags over a dividing line of bushes.

It’s that bit about “throwing bags over a dividing line” that gets me.

I’ve discussed the concept of liminality before, both lightheartedly, as in Liminality I: the kitsch part [note: NSFW], and more seriously, in Liminality II: the serious part — where I discussed the behavior of the USS Topeka at the Equator as the Second Millennium CE turned in to the Third, and the curious tale of the demonic king Hiranyakasipu and his death at the hands of Narasimha, an avatar of Vishnu.

A limen or threshold is always a “special place” set apart, and thus sacred and powerful in its own right — and the limen around a convent’s perimeter even more so. We’ve seen the extraordinary effort ISIS made very early on in their campaign to erase the limen between Iraq and Syria established no less determinedly by Sykes-Picot. And we know, too, that the central rite-of-passage by which a woman becomes a nun is a liminal rite (van Gennep, Victor Turner).

Beware, be very aware of the liminal! Enjoy the security a hortus conclusus provides the pure in heart — but don’t abuse it!

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Sources:

  • Wikipedia, hortus conclusus
  • Wikipedia, Narasimha
  • MercoPress, An Argentine ex-Kirchnerite official caught red-handed trying to hide bags of cash in a monastery
  • Namagiri and Ramanujan

    Sunday, May 1st, 2016

    [ by Charles Cameron — in which we glimpse the (female) divinity hidden behind infinity ]
    .

    Ramanujan and Namagiri

    **

    It is one of the curiosities of mathematics that the great Indian mathematician Srinivasa Ramanujan claimed to have received many, if not all, of his equations from the goddess Namagiri in dreams — and that this idea is all too often quietly omitted from discussions of his uncanny brilliance.

    Now that The Man Who Knew Infinity is out in theaters, it might be wise to explore the connection between Namagiri and Ramanujan a little more closely.

    Dream and waking, darshan and mathematics, inspiration and intuition, intuition and proof, quality and quantity — these polarities are all involved..

    To its credit, the film contains the line:

    You want to know how I get my ideas? God speaks to me.

    However, the idea that “God” might be a goddess seems a reach too far for the screenwriters and director.

    Viewing:

  • Matt Brown, The Man Who Knew Infinity
  • Here’s one version of the trailer:

    **

    Stephen Wolfram posted a fine article on his blog last week, Who Was Ramanujan?. He was willing to mention that Ramanujan’s friend and collaborator, GH Hardy, “could be very nerdy — whether about cricket scores, proving the non-existence of God, or writing down rules for his collaboration with Littlewood” — but fails in 31 pages to mention Ramanujan’s own belief that he received his equations from a goddess.

    All of which caused me to pose a question to Wolfram’s own algorithmic genie, Wolfram Alpha:

    Did Namagiri reveal equations to Ramanujan?

    WolframAlpha skipped the words “Did Namagiri reveal” and “to” and concentrated on responding to “equations” and “Ramanujan” — not quite up to par with AlphaGo, I’m afraid, let alone Ramanujan himself, or better, Namagiri.

    Below’s the DoubleQuote I made to by way of comment — note that I’ve only had space for the first line of WolframApha’s extended response:

    Tablet DQ ramanujan namagiri wolfram 1

    **

    Readings:

  • Stephen Wolfram, Who Was Ramanujan?
  • Hinduism Today, Computing the Mathematical Face of God
  • Huffington Post, Ramanujan’s Mock Modular Forms
  • The Hindu, American mathematicians solve Ramanujan’s “deathbed” puzzle
  • Sadhguru, Doorway to the Beyond
  • Paul Chika Emekwulu, Mathematical Encounters: For the inquisitive mind
  • The Hindu, The Man Who Knew Infinity: A misunderstood mind
  • Waiting for the other Max Boot to drop

    Thursday, March 24th, 2016

    [ by Charles Cameron — on the Tamil Tigers that did not bark in the night ]
    .

    It’s interesting to read Max Boot‘s chronology of suicide attacks in his Commentary piece, What It Takes to Stop Islamic Terror today:

    It’s worth remembering that suicide bombing is a relatively recent tactic: It was first used on a significant scale by Hezbollah in Lebanon in the early 1980s with bloody attacks on the U.S. Marine barracks, the French barracks, the U.S. Embassy, and various Israeli headquarters. This tactic then migrated into the Sunni world where it was picked up by al-Qaeda and then achieved new heights of macabre ubiquity as it was employed by groups ranging from the Palestinian al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade to al-Qaeda in Iraq. Ironically, Hezbollah has now become so strong — with its own Iranian-equipped army and rocket force — that it no longer needs to rely on suicidal attacks, leaving the field to groups such as ISIS.

    No mention of the Tamil Tigers, who after all were not Islamic but quasi-secular Hindu in orientation, of whom the International Institute for Strategic Studies reported:

    Over the course of the conflict, the group employed both conventional military and terrorist tactics. In particular, they pioneered the use of suicide bombers, a tactic used by the LTTE over 200 times

    **

    Come to think of it, why does Boot’s title say Islamic, when Islamist would be only one letter longer, less inflammatory, and more specific?

    Politics as a pocketful of curiosities

    Tuesday, January 19th, 2016

    [ by Charles Cameron — a brief addendum to the previous post ]
    .

    While we’re on the topic of religion and politics, so to speak, here’s a theological curiosity — a pocketful of the current presidency:

    I’ll leave it to individual viewers to decide whether that’s an interfaith pocketful or a pocketful of theological impossibility — either way, it’s thought provoking.

    Quick summary: Christianity 2, Hinduism 1, Buddhism 1, Casinos 1.

    Sunday surprise: kundalini’s rising and the jukebox blows a fuse

    Sunday, October 18th, 2015

    [ by Charles Cameron — some examples of deep dreams, mechanical and spiritual ]
    .

    In the upper panel, a claim made for the Deep Dream Generator:

    SPEC kundalini deep dream

    In the lower panel, an image of the chakras or lotuses in the subtle body, through which the kundalini serpent rises from deep sleep to full spiritual awakening.

    The “sixth level” in the chakra system would be the Ajna chakra:

    The Ajna chakra is positioned in the brain, directly behind the eyebrow center. Its activation site is at the eyebrow region, in the position of the ‘third eye.’

    **

    Deep Dreams:

    Here’s what Google’s Deep Dream Generator comes up with:

    Deep Dream

    Here’s an early statue of Arya Lokeshvara from the Potala Palace, dating to the 7th century and described as the Potala’s most sacred statue:

    Bhairava thangka 600

    This is a detail from Hieronymus Bosch, The Temptation of St Anthony:

    detail, the-temptation-of-st-anthony-1516-1 bosch 600

    From one of the marvellous array of manuscripts of the Beatus commentary on Revelation:

    Beatus 600

    Here’s a deep dream in words, from Hermann Hesse..

    GBG as organ 600

    Another, from Shakespeare:

    shakespeare 600

    A secular deep dream..

    Alice red queen 600

    and a deep dream — as surreal as all the rest, yet capturing “no more than” simple reality — in a photo posted today by Bill Benzon:

    Benzon coke 600

    **

    Roll over, Beethoven:


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