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If our toes were our fingers, if Pyongyang was Tehran

Sunday, June 17th, 2018

[ by Charles Cameron — metaphors, mathematics, and a question for you all ]
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There’s a toe ointment ad for Kerasil that begins:

If our toes were our fingers, everyone would instantly notice the difference..

— accompanied by various shortt clips of feet serving various functions of hands, see above.

I’ll talk about fingers and toes, okay, if you’ll tell me about Pyongyang and Tehran, deal?

**

This is the first ad — or for that matter, mass media mention — I’ve seen of the hands / feet comparison, and that’s significant in itself because, along with day / night, sun / moon, fingers / toes must be one of the earlier comparisons on which we base all future comparisons / parallelisms / oppositions, and thus analogies, and by extension, metaphors.

Fingers and toes, then, are an early matrix for us, but that matrix gets abstracted into the decimal counting system, no small matter in our culture and many others. And from decimals we can go to the Dewey Decimal System used in, Wiki informs us, 200,000 libraries in at least 135 countries — and that’s just one of the branches of the tree whose roots are in fingers and toes — our fingers and toes, not the toes of a three-toed sloth or woodpecker…

And of course, the day / night, sun / moon and other dual contrasts arguably derive some of their power from the duality hands / feet, which also gives us left / right, sinister / right, right / wrong and the entire range of moral judgments, based on the two sides of the body and extrapolated from there. We seldom think of these things, unless perhaps in early education, but as Jung and others have noted, they hold great significance for psychology and cultural anthropology.


image: the Nassau County Mathletes

Using decimals, we can represent irrational numbers — impossible to represent as fractions, pi and the square root of minus one foremost among them — a notion so disturbing tto the purist Pythagoreans that Tobias Dantzig, in Number: the Language of Science, quotes Proclus as saying:

It is told that those who first brought out the irrationals from concealment into the open perished in shipwreck, to a man. For the unutterable and the formless must needs be concealed. And those who uncovered and touched this image of life were instantly destroyed and shall remain forever exposed to the play of the eternal waves.

Irrational, or just plain crazy? And those waves — a metaphor for randomness, chaos, or for the universality (via Fourier transforms) of the sine wave?

Oh. And when a zen master wants to set a student a problem that cannot be solved by our binarily inclined minds, he gives them the koan “what’s the sound of one hand clapping?”

**

Okay, that’s enough about about hands / feet — now let’s hear about the Pyongyang summit and the Iranian nuclear deal — the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. I’m sure you have plenty of thoughts on the matter — your turn, please..

Metaphors, more

Thursday, June 7th, 2018

[ by Charles Cameron — continuing collecting.. with David Ronfeldt in mind ]
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Let’s start with soem double-barreled good news

and:

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Okay, Game metaphors:

Ari Melber, The Beat:

Donald Trump is circling

Chris Mathews on Hardball:

You know, it has an aspect of, you know, Connections to Kevin Bacon, how many degrees of separation — how many people go to the Seychelles? Does Mueller believe it’s a coincidence?

re the Summit:

It feels more like a teenage romance, on again, off again

Ashley Parker, In the Trump administration, the truth comes out after vigorous denials:

The admission that Trump dictated his son’s statement is the latest example of where on a number of key issues — especially pegged to Mueller’s ongoing Russia probe and Trump’s legal woes — the White House and the president’s lawyers have offered contradicting stories and whipsaw about-faces, often revealing the truth only weeks later, when confronted with their inconsistencies.

Katie, The Lid: a lot of post-game analysis ..
it’s like a marathon, it’s a spring ..
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Giuliani: pardoning himself woudld be unthinkable ..Trump: I have the absolute right to pardon myself ..
Nemo iudex in causa sua ..
or in the words of James Madison often found don our masthead:

No man is allowed to be a judge in his own cause, because his interest would certainly bias his judgment, and, not improbably, corrupt his integrity.

Prettt much the definitive example of why the ouroboros form is one we should be on the alert for — everybody sees this one.
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Macron Is French for Obama — an interesting way to describe a complex equivalence..
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lawyers: we can talk out of both sides of our mouths ..
trump: i cn kill this (investigation) ant time, this is my game..
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I think they went 0 for 6

Is he playing checkers, I think he’s playing chess..

Your family (?) had a pitch- shot — something that appeals to all bases — Sen Flake

[ attorneys on opposing sides being chummy ]:

.. when the bell goes off and they return to their corners ..

Ari, meta-metaphors:

There’s a lot of metaphors in Rap and Law.

And sheer fun:

I don’t know quite what form of ouroboros this is, from WaPo’s No, Canada didn’t burn down the White House, but there’s something more troubling about Trump’s claim — but I semse one there, dom’t you?

In fact, the burning of the White House may be the worst possible example to justify a trade dispute — one of the reasons the White House burned was because of a trade dispute.

And here’s an ourosbouros, close kin to the serpent-bites-tail kind, brought to my attention by Karlie “New and Improved” Ann (many thanks):

Orient yourself: The map is an Ourosbouros

Here’s what I take to be the ouroboric part:

But what does it mean for a machine to draw and follow its own map of the world? Would the result be, eventually, a map that is impervious to inaccuracies and bias? Or is that pure “technochauvinism”? After all, the computer still has to match its map to the world, similar to the way that humans do. The artificial intelligence that “learns” the map could still be confused by minor changes, like a sparkly sticker on a stop sign. That could easily cause an accident or pedestrian injury—more easily, in that instance, than it would with a human driver.

In that case, what’s the purpose of a map that reads itself? And what potential subjectivities could still work their way in?

Here’s a military and linguisttic one. From Anger Flares Up as Group of 7 Heads to Quebec:

as he engaged in a contentious war of words over trade

Soccer and the World Cup:

From How Russian Meddling Gave Us This Year’s World Cup:

In the spring of 2010, Christopher Steele, a former British spy with a shock of graying hair and a quiet, understated manner, received some alarming news: Vladimir Putin, a lifelong ice hockey fan, had taken a sudden interest in soccer.

Putin, then serving a four-year term as prime minister, saw hosting the World Cup as a vital way to project his country’s power, and his own, around the world.

Few, if any, will wonder whether Russia can actually take home the glittering trophy when the tournament ends on July 15. The truth is that it doesn’t really matter what happens on the field.

Russia already won.

it’s really a self-goal .. [if US gets out of G7]
[Stavridis] there are no winners in a trade war ..
i’ll bet my retirement ..

Something to the effect that Trump walked into a room where people were playing poker and wanted to play ?half-and-half, tthrew all the cards up in the air ..
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Nicolle Wallace:

What do you think of that as the way to ?make a rodeo .. foreign policy?

Donald Trump, conclusion of his press conference after Singapore Summit:

Congratulations, everybody. This is, to me, an important event in world history and to be really true to myself, I have to add I want to get it completed. Mike and our team has to get to work and get it completed because otherwise we have done a good job. If you don’t get the ball over the goal line, it doesn’t mean enough.

Thank you. Congratulations to everybody in the room. Thank you very much. I appreciate it. Thank you.

oh, and btw:

We will stop the war games which will save us a tremendous amount of money. Unless and until we see the future negotiations is not going along like it should. We will be saving a tremendous amount of money. Plus. It is very provocative.

Sports analogy:

The Goal That Sealed Russia’s Latest Victory on the World Stage

A goal in the forty-third minute of the match, from Russia’s Denis Cheryshev, was a real and undeniable beauty, no matter how lacklustre the opposition.Video Courtesy Fox
Watching the first game of the World Cup, an entirely lopsided affair between Russia and Saudi Arabia, burdened with the knowledge that the U.S. national team had not qualified for the tournament, I couldn’t help thinking that this was a sports-world reiteration of our country’s broader failures on the international stage.

Danve metaphor, a striking one from a striking article:

Artificial concern for people in pain won’t stop suicide. Radical empathy might.

We perform empathy like a child learning to box-step for a school dance, one-two-three, one-two-three. It’s a performance we don’t really care about.

War, metaphor?

Mr. Trump goes to war [Korea, Gogre Will]
‘Prepared for war’: As Mueller moves to finalize obstruction report, Trump’s allies ready for political battle

Bannon:

Bannon: ‘I couldn’t be prouder’ of Trump

“Donald Trump is accomplishing everything he committed to the American people on the campaign that I stepped in as CEO. I couldn’t be prouder of the guy,” Bannon said. “All he has to do is continue to hit those marks on that whiteboard and he’s going to run the tables.”

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I am adding new materials as I find them, thus saving you from an endless stream of comment notifications.

For Jim Gant, On the Resurrection, 04

Wednesday, April 25th, 2018

[ by Charles Cameron — in thre “expansive” phase of this exploration ]
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In her mysteriously beautiful detective procedural set in a Québécois monastery, The Beautiful Mystery: A Chief Inspector Gamache Novel, Louise Penny arrives, about midway through her tale, at this sentence:

When Frère Mathieu brings out his bomb, the abbot brings out his pipe. One weapon is figurative, and the other isn’t.

I’m riveted.

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Because the phrase “One .. is figurative, and the other isn’t” is like a koan for me — a nut that if I could crack it would also explain such deep mysteries as:

  • “This is my body .. this is my blood” — one interpretation of “body & blood” is figurative, while the other isn’t? and:
  • “he died ..and on the third day he rose again” — one death is figurative, and the other isn’t?
  • Resurrection as myth, resurrection as history?

    **

    You might think I’m being fanciful, but just yesterday the Comey notes became accessible, and we find this exchange between the FBI Director and the President:

    The President then wrapped up our conversation by returning to the issue of finding leakers. I said something about the value of putting a head on a pike as a message. He replied by saying it may involve putting reporters in jail. “They spend a few days in jail, make a new friend, and they are ready to talk.” I laughed as I walked to the door Reince Priebus had opened.

    I trust Comey‘s “head on a pike” is figurative, and it sounds like the other — Trump‘s “putting reporters in jail” — isn’t.

    The thing about language is that it’s polyvalent, polysemous –and that inherent ambiguity is seldom more significant than when making or interpreting threats, scriptures, or poems.

    **

    So I could take this post in the direction of a discussion of the ruthless politics of Washingtom, the Kremlin, Pyongyang, Baghdad, and or Beijing..

    Or into the exegesis of the Eucharist, Resurrection, Adamic Creation stories. In matters Biblical, the question “one reading fictitious, while the other, literal, isn’t?” more or less covers the major theological division of our times..

    On this, see the Catholic Catechism (115-117) for a more Dantesque elucidation:

  • The senses of Scripture

  • According to an ancient tradition, one can distinguish between two senses of Scripture: the literal and the spiritual, the latter being subdivided into the allegorical, moral and anagogical senses. The profound concordance of the four senses guarantees all its richness to the living reading of Scripture in the Church.
  • The literal sense is the meaning conveyed by the words of Scripture and discovered by exegesis, following the rules of sound interpretation: “All other senses of Sacred Scripture are based on the literal.”
  • The spiritual sense. Thanks to the unity of God’s plan, not only the text of Scripture but also the realities and events about which it speaks can be signs.
  • The allegorical sense. We can acquire a more profound understanding of events by recognizing their significance in Christ; thus the crossing of the Red Sea is a sign or type of Christ’s victory and also of Christian Baptism.
  • The moral sense. The events reported in Scripture ought to lead us to act justly. As St. Paul says, they were written “for our instruction”.
  • The anagogical sense (Greek: anagoge, “leading”). We can view realities and events in terms of their eternal significance, leading us toward our true homeland: thus the Church on earth is a sign of the heavenly Jerusalem.
  • Two senses of Scripture: the literal and the spiritual — one is figurative, like Frère Mathieu’s bomb in Ms Penny’s novel, while the other, like the abbot’s lead pipe, isn’t?

    The Jesus of History, the Christ of Faith?

    Or all this might take another turn, with a morph into poetry..

    **

    Or history. Here’s another phrase that’s “riveting” for, I think, the same reason as that phrase “One weapon is figurative, and the other isn’t”:

    Pamphlets were both a cause and a tool of violence.

    A “cause .. of violence” — it t (a pamphlet) incites it. And “a tool of violence” — it’s (at least figuratively) a bludgeon in itself. Hm. I hope that makes sense.

    In any case, I’ve got my eye out for other examples that neatly juxtapose word and deed, as though words aren’t deeds — “speech acts” as the philosophers say. What I’m getting at, eventually, is the nature of sacrament — “an outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual grace” — which is deeply tied up with simile, metaphor, and metamorphosis — “this is my body .. this is my blood”.

    And that quote about pamphlets? Its from a fascinating New Yorker piece, How We Solved Fake News the First Time by Stephen March, which compares fake news on the internet today with fake news in the time of the pamphleteers, and contains this remarkably “ancient and modern” observation:

    There is nothing more congruent to the nourishment of division in a State or Commonwealth, then diversity of Rumours mixt with Falsity and Scandalisme; nothing more prejudicial to a Kingdome, then to have the divisions thereof known to an enemy.

    So, -ismes were already infesting the language like kudzu grass — mixed simile? — back in 1642. And an enemy? Think Putin, ne?

    On which playful note, drawn from seven years before the martyrdom of King Charles I at the hands of the Puritans, I’ll leave you.

    For now.

    Weather: waterworks, fireworks, & how the mindworks

    Friday, April 13th, 2018

    [ by Charles Cameron — and reality alwys strains towards a metaphor of itself, doesn’t it? ]
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    Today’s weather headline:

    This isn’t a metaphor, weather here means weather, even thought you might imagine it’s politics it’s talking about. If it was politics and we were lucky, the header might read:

    Wild storm raging across globe to unleash all modes of extreme weather through the weekend

    **

    Here are some of the details, graphically — very graphically — represented:

    Blizzard conditions and heavy snow

    Extreme fire danger

    Oh, my!

    Tornadoes and severe storms

    Torrents!

    Just suppose this was politics, after all!

    **

    Another headline today:

    That’s almost meteorological, ne?

    Or try this one, a week out, and international in scope:

    I’d be lost without my wifi..

    Games, politics, and game metaphors

    Thursday, February 22nd, 2018

    [ by Charles Cameron — continued from Playing politics and other games, &c ]
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    I’ve been collecting gams and game metaphors applied to politics in Playing politics and other games, &c, but with additional examples surnning to 20 plus comments, and that particular post vanishing below a sea of more recent posts, it’s time to start afresh — hence this post.

    **

    **

    That’s hard to beat, but there are a couple of phrrases I’ve caught in passing..

    MTP: “folks have been playing games with their words on this.” ie their attitudes to Trump firing Muellerl

    John McLaughlin: “To assure the public there have been no games being played here..”

    Chyron on MSNBC: “Blame game?”

    New White House security clearance policy could put ‘bull’s eye’ on Kushner

    “Alex van der Zwaan wasn’t on anyone’s Bingo card” — Rachel Maddow, 20 Feb 2018

    Ari Melber m.06, ouroboros:

    “If your bodyguard needs a bodyguard, things are getting heavy; if your lawyer needs a lawyer, things are going down.”

    “Starting with that cat-and-mouse game.”

    “A rapid set of dominos falling” Chris Hayes, All in, m.16 “A sort of domino effect, Gates tips onto Manafort, Manafor tips onto Trump.”

    **

    It’s almost like a chess board, Mueller has a knight, Flynn .. they’re getting very close to check mate.” m.22

    **

    ‘Mueller is playing chess — Trump is playing Donkey Kong’:

    **


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    Special Counsel Robert Mueller has filed another indictment against Paul Manafort and Rick Gates, listing multiple charges of tax and bank fraud. The editors of The Masthead, The Atlantic’s premium membership program, dove deep into the workings of Manafort’s impact on U.S. politics in their special corruption issue.


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