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Archive for the ‘paradox’ Category

Human reasons for sympathy: a DQ in the Wild

Thursday, July 17th, 2014

[ by Charles Cameron -- continuing a series reflecting on current events in Gaza ]
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The tweet titled A Jewish woman and a Palestinian woman protesting together in 1973, 1992, and 2001 shows two women standing together three times in thirty years, each time with the same paired messages.

I’ve only reproduced the first image of the three here, partly because I am not sure the whole series shows the same two women — but it seems to be yet another instance of a DoubleQuote in the Wild, this time with two people and their respective placards in juxtaposition:

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I am beginning to see the two sides in a conflict as two sides of a human moebius strip

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Locked horns: reading the abstract news

Sunday, June 1st, 2014

[ by Charles Cameron -- pattern recognition in news media, also polarization, Swiss cows, and klezmer ]
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Berkane & Bergamote, two Heren cows, lock horns for the title of 'queen' in Grimetz, Switzerland

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It’s fairly extraordinary what happens when you scan a news item or op-ed piece in search of those remarks that are abstractions from the particular topic of the piece. I was struck by this today when I read:

A tradition of vigorous, nuanced debate is increasingly being boiled down to a binary choice of worldviews.

I mean, how many other topics in the same newspaper that day might that sentence have been slipped into without causing an eyebrow to lift?

Of similar interest, perhaps, and from the same piece:

ultimately, a big tent does have parameters

That doesn’t strike me as quite as open an insight, but maybe that’s just because “big tent” has more speciic resonance. And then there was:

Both views are completely valid, but they can be conflicting

That one intrigues me because on the face of it, it’s a contradiction: maybe a little set theory, expressed in the form of slightly different wording, could resolve it.

Here’s one more, still from the same piece, with a touch of zen to it — or is that psychotherapy?

By looking at ourselves, we can be better people

And this one, forgive me, is simply chilling:

are you now or have you ever been … ?

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So, “big tent” and all, are we talking about the US Congress here?

Actually, those quotes all come from a Washington Post piece by Marc Fisher titled For Jewish groups, a stand-off between open debate and support of Israel — but that’s pretty much beside my point.

The thing is, as SI Hyakawa pointed out, good writing tends to be writing that moves up and down the “ladder of abstraction” from intimate details (“my cow Bessie” — or “Berkane” or “Bergamote” in this instance) to broad-sweep analysis (“13% of livestock in the region”), because details (and anecdotes) evoke emotion while statistics and abstractions ensure that the wider picture is not omitted from the telling.

WHich is why, among other things, in a world of think tanks and white papers which favor analytics and statictics almost to the exclusion of details and emotions, my own analytic tradecraft, as expressed in the HipBone Games and Sembl Thinking projects, favors quotes and anecdotes as highly as facts and stats.

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One of the specific art acts discussed in that WaPo piece is The Shondes‘ klezmer rock punk song, I Watched the Temple Fall [lyrics, YouTube ]. Here’s what the band has to say about the song:

We wrote “I Watched the Temple Fall” because we were thinking a lot about what Jews put our faith in, and where that faith really lives. We’d been talking about Abraham Joshua Heschel’s notion of Judaism as a religion of time, not space, and thinking about how that related to Zionism. Confining ideas into spaces (temples, states, what have you) can falsely polarize us and take us away from the big, important stuff. We wanted to write a song that clearly said, “Look, it might be devastating to face, but the state of Israel commits actions daily that violate the basic tenets of Judaism.

Rock, punk, and klezmer I don’t know much about, but Heschel‘s book The Sabbath is one that has moved me profoundly, and reading this particular statement made me wonder what David Ronfeldt might find of interest for his Space-Time-Action (STA) theory in the song, or in Heschel’s thought.

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Well, we began this post — about the attractions of abstraction — with an image of two Swiss cows named Berkane and Bergamote locking horns in a championship fight — here’s some klezmer from Itzhak Perlman — again, see, I’m climbing back down the ladder of abstraction to the level of the individual — to round things out:

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Of dualities, contradictions and the nonduality, yet more

Monday, April 7th, 2014

[ by Charles Cameron -- like a fox in the hen-house, artist Miriam Elia among the Penguins ]
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Simply this:

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You may recall my interest in the matter of non-duality, which runs all the way from the lofty theological abstraction of Nicholas of Cusa in his Of the Vision of God:

I have learned that the place wherein Thou art found unveiled is girt round with the coincidence of contradictories, and this is the wall of Paradise wherein Thou dost abide…

to a practical if unexpected means of obtaining ceasefires in “gun battles between police and gangsters”…

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The unfortunate rabbit in the illustration atop this page has been cut in half. By a taxidermist who fancies himself a post-modernist, perhaps?

The image comes from a book by artist Miriam Elia, brilliantly lampooning the contemporary art scene in the pages of a clearly satirical imitation children’s book in the Penguin Ladybird Books series. Penguin is flapping its legal wings, and wants any remaining copies of the book destroyed once the artist has recouped her costs.

  • Read the story at Hyperallergic
  • Read the story at the Independent
  • Read the story at the Guardian

  • Buy your own signed copy, quick, on eBay
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    Okay, as usual, the affair is subtler than our knee-jerk reactions might suggest, and while Penguin comes off a little flat-footed, it is in fact in reasonably courteous discussions with the artist by her own account, and perhaps something good will come out of the kerfuffle. Censorship has a habit of biting back.

    It’s the dual rabbit that concerns me, though. Can it be happy, sliced and spaced like that? IMO, the whole page is a brilliant visual koan.

    Run, Rabbit, run!

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    An iconic photo?

    Wednesday, March 5th, 2014

    [ by Charles Cameron -- iconic, ironic, either way it's interesting, instructive ]
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    Theory and Practice:

    Friday, November 29th, 2013

    [ by Charles Cameron -- how theory works out in practice, and vice versa ]
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    Here’s the first of a pair of “patterns” of interest…

    Theory contradicts practice:

    — with thanks to my friend Peter van der Werff!

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    And here’s the second, a delicious serpent-bites-tail tweet re Egypt:

    Practice contradicts theory:

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    Okay, there are two more items for the “pattern recognition” / “pattern language” archives…

    And here’s wishing you all a Happy Black Friday — if that’s even concedivable!

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