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Midas meets Medusa — a symmetry observed

Thursday, June 16th, 2016

[ by Charles Cameron — a little light-hearted lévi-straussian mythologic ]
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Here’s an irresistible example of what I call DoubleQuotes-style thinking:

Midas and Medusa

The details are very well thought out, too — the flowers in Midas‘ hand are still gold, since he’s touched them, but they’re not turned to stone by Medusa‘s gaze since they’re of the vegetable kingdom — whereas the bird in her cage, being of the animal kingdom, looks distinctly gray as though it has been turned to stone.

I’m not sure that the boxed comment “a very brief affair” is right, though — as my son Emlyn‘s commented, It’s a love at first sight that lasts for ever!

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The other mythological DoubleQuote or conceptual symmetry I very much admire is the one whereby Narcissus, the epitome of visual reflection, is paired with Echo, avatar of reflection’s aural equivalent.

The Battle of the Thames, 2016

Thursday, June 16th, 2016

[ by Charles Cameron — in homage to Admiral Lord Nelson turning a blind eye ]
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Foolish persons, having no understanding of Britain’s long and cherished history of naval warfare, nor of the contemporary relevance of the Monty Python mode of doing battle, have had the temerity to mock today’s splendid outings or innings on the Thames:

Brexit Battle on Thames

Foolish persons may be satisfied with the visual splendor depicted in the upper panel, but Zenpundit‘s core strategic following will also appreciate the order of battle below.

Sources:

  • Evening Standard, Thames flotilla ‘battle’
  • Pádraig Belton, #Flotilla order of battle…
  • **

    In game theoretic terms, as between Nigel Farrage of UKIP and Brussels bureaucracy, I perceive my British fellows to be facing a lose-lose choice.

    Here by way of a suitable corrective is the first suite of Handel’s Water Music:

    On the orthogonality of rabbit and duck

    Monday, February 1st, 2016

    [ by Charles Cameron — a brief comic digression about them and us ]
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    Generally, we’re stuck with this:

    It is a good one, I’ll admit.

    I’m inclined, however, to agree with this analysis on occasion:

    What I hadn’t realized, though, is that the theriomorphic rabbit and duck divinities in question are orthogonally related:

    Very clever!

    **

    Two sides to every coin, two hands for every koan?

    Trump, Barthes and Calvinball

    Thursday, January 28th, 2016

    [ by Charles Cameron — not to mention Alasdair MacIntyre ]
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    First, Calvinball:

    all_games_turn_into_calvinball 2 panel 602

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    If you’ve been following my stuff for a while, you’ll know I’m interested in situations where two teams or individuals are playing two different games. As the philosopher Alasdair MacIntyre put it:

    Not one game is being played, but several, and, if the game metaphor may be stretched further, the problem about real life is that moving one’s knight to QB3 may always be replied to by a lob over the net.

    **

    Roland Barthes, the French philosopher, made a related observation:

    This public knows very well the distinction between wrestling and boxing; it knows that boxing is a Jansenist sport, based on a demonstration of excellence. One can bet on the outcome of a boxing-match: with wrestling, it would make no sense. A boxing-match is a story which is constructed before the eyes of the spectator; in wrestling, on the contrary, it is each moment which is intelligible, not the passage of time… The logical conclusion of the contest does not interest the wrestling-fan, while on the contrary a boxing-match always implies a science of the future. In other words, wrestling is a sum of spectacles, of which no single one is a function: each moment imposes the total knowledge of a passion which rises erect and alone, without ever extending to the crowning moment of a result.

    **

    So what does this have to do with Donald Trump?

    Just that one of the more interesting things I’ve read about Trump’s campaign is Judd Legum‘s This French Philosopher Is The Only One Who Can Explain Why Trump Is Skipping The Republican Debate — and his key graph essentially applies Barthes’ distinction to MacIntyre’s observation:

    In the current campaign, Trump is behaving like a professional wrestler while Trump’s opponents are conducting the race like a boxing match. As the rest of the field measures up their next jab, Trump decks them over the head with a metal chair.

    If, like me, you find that idea illuminating, by all means read the whole thing.

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    Bingo!

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    Ah, but..

    .. now that Go, like Chess, has fallen to the wiles of the computer, I suppose we can chuck our games of strategy books and cast our pleading glances towards the new overlords.

    **

    Throw away books? Never!!

    And just for the record, here’s Calvinball, the full version:

    calvinball2012

    Two serpent-eats-tail views of the Brennan email hack

    Sunday, October 25th, 2015

    [ by Charles Cameron — spy vs spy as delicate moral balance ]
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    spy vs spy

    There are two sentences in When The Hackers Become The Hacked: Why Reading John Brennan’s Emails Feels Wrong, Ali Watkins‘ HuffPo piece a couple of days ago, that feature a neat sense of paradox, and what’s most interesting about them is that they show us two different sides of the coin.

    The first [upper panel, below] has a bit of an “ooh, look” feel to it, finding its turning point in the fact that the keeper of secrets has had his own secrets exposed:

    SPEC Brennan

    while the second [lower panel, above] centers on how it feels “from the inside“.

    **

    All of which reminds me of the Talmudic distinction between the Israelites’ view, watching as their enemies the Egyptians perish in the Red Sea, and God’s view, seeing the Egyptian plight from the inside as it were, encapsulated in R Johanan‘s phrase:

    My creatures are drowning in the sea, and you want to sing songs!

    Kudos to Ali Watkins.


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