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Journal — Illuminatus! trilogy, QAnon!! and more..

Monday, August 20th, 2018

[ by Charles Cameron — a dayalong cabinet of curiosities, really — the essence of creativity, paradox, and America, via conspiracies this way and that, contrasts between clearances, and key Rwanda para from the NYorker ]
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Here’s a Diary — a miscellaneous catch-all for today :

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Robert Anton Wilson, The Illuminatus saga stumbles along:

Wilson and Shea derived much of the odder material from letters sent to Playboy magazine while they worked as the editors of its Forum.[19] The books mixed true information with imaginative fiction to engage the reader in what Wilson called “guerrilla ontology”, which he apparently referred to as “Operation Mindfuck” in Illuminatus!

Wilson and Shea mashed up the ten thousand conspiracies and facts of their times to create one fact-spattered fiction, the Illuminatus! trilogy — one from many, e pluribus unum ahem! — whereas in our own day the inventors of QAnon invoked a massive outpouring of different conspiracies within conspiracies:

In November 2017, a small-time YouTube video creator and two moderators of the 4chan website, one of the most extreme message boards on the internet, banded together and plucked out of obscurity an anonymous and cryptic post from the many conspiracy theories that populated the website’s message board.

Over the next several months, they would create videos, a Reddit community, a business and an entire mythology based off the 4chan posts of “Q,” the pseudonym of a person claiming to be a high-ranking military officer. The theory they espoused would become Qanon, and it would eventually make its way from those message boards to national media stories and the rallies of President Donald Trump.

From many, one, and from one, many — Pythagorean sacred mathematics, America, expansive and synthetic thinkjing, the origins of paradox, essence of creativity — between one and many, it’s all there..

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Quick thought:’

We’ve seen Jared Kushner having his clearance restored, and John Brennan having his clearance withdrawn, but just fr the record, they bear considering in tandem, DoubleQuote style.. Right here I’m making the connection.

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Rwanda:

Key NYorker para on Rwandan warning to Kofi Annan, upon whom be the peace, requiescat in pace, a reminder:

Annan then wrote, “We do not recall any specific reports from Kigali to this effect.” A review of the peacekeeping files, he wrote, had turned up only four cables from Kigali in the months preceding the genocide that mentioned “ethnic tensions as being possibly related—or not related—to specific incidents of violence.”

But, in reality, one of the four cables Annan listed consisted of an alarmingly specific report of preparations for the genocide, sent by his force commander in Kigali, the Canadian General Romeo Dallaire, in January of 1994. Dallaire had heard from a trusted informant on the payroll of Rwanda’s ruling party, who described plans to “provoke a civil war,” and to kill Belgian peacekeepers in order to scuttle the U.N. mission. The informant himself said he was involved in drawing up lists of Tutsis in Kigali, and Dallaire wrote, “He suspects it is for their extermination. Example he gave was that in twenty minutes his personnel could kill up to a thousand Tutsis.” Dallaire asked for permission to act on this information by raiding and seizing illegal arms caches. Annan’s office replied at once, in a cable under his name, and signed by his deputy, telling Dallaire not to act but, rather, to follow diplomatic protocol and share his information with Rwanda’s President—the head of the party that Dallaire wanted to act against. Three months later, in April of 1994, everything that Dallaire described in his warning took place, and in the course of a hundred days around a million Tutsis were massacred.

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Ordinary:

Lovely prose, extraordinary normalcy in the New Yorker, Hearing Aretha Franklin’s “I Say a Little Prayer” in the Soviet Union

I was gazing ahead, out the half-shaded window, sitting in the diffuse circle of warm light from a tall floor lamp to the left of me, with my elbows propped on the table and my head resting in the palms of my hands, in front of a half-empty bottle of an acrid, half-dry Bulgarian red called The Evening Bells and a white faience teacup with a chipped rim. In the boreal darkness outside, there was nothing for me to perceive but an irregular checkered pattern of blue- and yellow-lit windows in the apartment building across the way.

Beyond those windows, perfectly and naturally unaware of my existence, ordinary Soviet citizens like me silently lived their ordinary human lives: hugging or ignoring one another, standing still in their kitchens in tank tops and nightgowns and saying something silently to someone unseen, flinging angry words at one another, gesticulating broadly and opening and closing their mouths, drinking tea, eating something greasy from an aluminum pan on the stove, or just staring into the night’s emptiness with unseeing eyes, their foreheads pressed against the windowpane, a slow-burning cigarette squeezed between their pressed lips.

It is into such lives, among so many, that Aretha’s voice penetrates. Whenever we consider any of this world’s painful pasts, dire future threats, and potent presents, we should quickly run them up against all those audiences, normal and overwhelmingly influential, who may be affected.

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I’m reminded..

Okay, I saw that New Yorker piece today on the penetration of Aretha‘s voice into a bloc of Soviet flats in Leningrad, Hearing Aretha Franklin’s “I Say a Little Prayer” in the Soviet Union, and reading it, I’m reminded of the Japanese cult Aum Shinrikyo and its interest in nuclear, biological and chemical weapons.

You’ll remember they attained world notoriety after attacking the Tokyo subway system with sarin gas.. Specifically:

Aum dabbled in many different biological agents. They cultured and experimented with botulin toxin, anthrax, cholera, and Q fever. In 1993, Ashahara led a group of 16 cult doctors and nurses to Zaire, on a supposed medical mission. The actual purpose of the trip to Central Africa was to learn as much as possible about and, ideally, to bring back samples of Ebola virus. In early 1994, cult doctors were quoted on Russian radio as discussing the possibility of using Ebola as a biological weapon.

So, here’s my take:

Some journo sending an early report on the Ebola outbreak was read by someone involved in the Aum Shinrikyo chemical weapons team, who thereupon suggested a trip to Africa to Aum’s guru, Shoko Asahara. I’m sure the journo concerned wasn’t thinking that some member of a a relatively obscure Japanese cult would read their report! — but news ripples out to obscure corners of the world, Aretha‘s voice reaches Leningrad, news of an outbreak in Africa reaches Tokyo, more generally the world is porous, and these things have consequences…

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The world is porous, and there are causes and consequences…

A chess tactic and its Trump/Putin similar

Saturday, July 14th, 2018

[ by Charles Cameron — companion to A soccer tactic and its parliamentary analog ]
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Trump and Putin are on their respective ways to a meet in Helsinki. This post offers a chess angle on the importance of symmetry as a technique Putin happily uses on Trump and others. Symmetry is already a keen interest of mine in the arts, where it is a prime key to beauty. In chess, too, and it would seem in diplomacy and strategy, symmetry matters.

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Here’s the game in which Bobby Fischer kills Robert Byrne in an astounding 21 moves:

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What’s of interest to us here is the symmetry at move 11, shown here in two diagrams:

where the blue lines annotate the symmetries in files a, b, c, d, g, and h

and here:

where the red center-line serves as a mirror for those symmetrical files, their positions highlighted in green.

And here’s the site’s comment on symmetry:

It’s quite often the case that in very symmetrical positions such as this one, things go about very slowly, it’s often a bit of a maneuvering game, not a lot of, let’s say, great tactics, or fireworks, things of course can change, but there’s a great amount of symmetry here..

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Well, chess is the game of strategy par eminence, isn’t it? Here’s a quote I just used in my metaphors collection:

Brian Williams: Putin does the most rudimentary things, like mirroring, which communications experts will tell you is a way to kind of endearing yourself to your guest.
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Clint Watts: [agreeing] Ingratiate and mirror.

President Trump openly says If you say to me that you like me, then I like you. He’s just opening the door for this. Putin has done this with other world leaders. .. You want to build rapport with President Bush, talk about religion and the Christian Orthodox church. you do these things to build and ingratiate and build a mirror relationship with the target.

I’m not saying there’s a direct parallel between the chess comment and the Brian Williams / Clint Watts conversation, which just scratches the surface of the communications stragegy of mirroring and similar techniques, and their relevance to the immadiate situation with Trump on his way to Helsinki to meet Putin

with only two translators in the room

— just that the emphasis on symmetry in the celebrated Fischer chess match gives us a clue to the possible importance of symmetry in crucial strategic situations in general — and thus to the coming week’s Trump / Putin situation.

A soccer tactic and its parliamentary analog

Friday, July 13th, 2018

[ by Charles Cameron — a Croatian filibuster on the football field ]
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In extra time, Croatia’s Mario Mandžuki? had a nine-minute, operatic breakdown, a syncopated series of stops, starts, and seizures, which defined the match and took it away from England.

I jeep looking for sports metaphors in political reportage, and now, in a New Yorker article titled World Cup 2018: The Tragicomic Opera of Croatia’s Mario Mandzukic I find out all about players feigning cramps as a delaying tactic when games go into overtime —

— and it’s a clear analog of the Senate’s filibuster tactic. Either one could be a metaphor for the other, soccer for politics or vide versa.

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Sources:

  • New Yorker, The Tragicomic Opera of Croatia’s Mario Mandzukic
  • US Senate, Filibuster and Cloture
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    Oh, and, The England vs. Croatia World Cup Match Made for Some Awkward Television:

    One segment of the pre-game show was given over to a National Geographic Channel report on Russian Buddhism. If this was intended as outreach to soccer fans so ardent that they always burn in suffering, then perhaps it did some spiritual good. But, as an effort at a culture-enriching sideshow, it was unsuccessful, so out of sync with the analysis and hype surrounding it as to be charming. The correspondent said to the monk, “O.K., so, if everything is an illusion, what’s truth, then?”

    I couldn’t exactly miss that, given my interests, could I?

    GeoPol, the Kremlin & Putin’s Games in the New Yorker

    Saturday, July 7th, 2018

    [ by Charles Cameron — see also GeoPol, the White House & Game Theory in the New Yorker ]
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    Playing Hockey Against Vladimir Putin, By Ben McGrath,July 3, 2018:

    In May, playing hockey in an annual charity exhibition alongside a half-dozen former N.H.L. stars, in Sochi, Vladimir Putin scored five goals and assisted on four more. In previous years, despite learning to skate only in his late fifties, he’d scored as many as eight. “Western journalists ask me how it’s possible,” Slava Fetisov, one of Putin’s teammates and a two-time Stanley Cup winner with the Detroit Red Wings, told me recently. “Let’s say Pavel Bure or Sergei Fedorov”—Hall of Famers both—“score two goals, and the President scores five or six or seven. I say, ‘You have to be in the right time, in the right place.’ That’s what our President does. He’s got a good shot. He understands the game. This is unteachable. If it’s in your genes—your blood—you can play.” Fetisov, who serves as a senator in the Russian Duma, referred to Putin as “one of the most popular leaders in the world,” and added, “this is one of the most unique examples in the history of big politicians, to show they can play the hardest possible sport.” He meant this, he explained, in the sense of providing a healthy model for children, who might otherwise succumb to “street challenges,” like alcohol and drugs. He cited other examples of Putin’s “God-gifted” athleticism: “He can ride the horse, he can swim, he can skate, he can ski, he can do judo and sambo and karate.”

    One can be plenty familiar with Putin-related propaganda—the pectoral flaunting on horseback, the black-belt demonstrations—and still be surprised to hear it reinforced so explicitly in conversation. Fetisov is revered by sports fans on two continents, not only for his grace on the ice but for his courage in standing up to the Soviet regime that sought to prevent him from playing in the United States—which, he told me, is the only country other than Russia where he can imagine wanting to live. “The people are so warm, so friendly, so patriotic,” he said of Americans. The fact that relations between the two countries have devolved almost to Cold War levels is a source of distress for Fetisov, he said, and so, two months ago, in the interest of diplomacy, he smuggled an American filmmaker onto the ice in Sochi as a player on Putin’s opposing team.

    The undercover on-ice agent was Jon Alpert, a winner of sixteen Emmy Awards, and the career leader in penalty minutes—“No one is really close,” he says—for a New York- and New Jersey-based beer-league team called Gitler’s Gorillas. Alpert is sixty-nine and skates with the slightly bent ankles of a novice, although, as a hockey-besotted teen-ager, he tried, unsuccessfully, to walk onto the varsity team at Colgate. He has a more distinguished record when it comes to securing journalistic access, calling himself “a normal guy who has gotten into really unusual places.” He founded the Downtown Community Television Center, in 1972, with his wife, Keiko Tsuno; its Web site describes him as “the first American TV reporter to enter Cambodia after the Vietnam War,” “The only Western reporter to interview Saddam Hussein” between 1993 and 2002, and, in reference to Iran, “The last reporter to gain entry into the Embassy where the American hostages were being held.” In conversation, he is no less prone to pointing at the scoreboard. “I did the last interview with a guy before the Taliban cut his balls off,” he told me.

    His presence in Sochi was a kind of audition for a would-be film project he is calling “Putin on Ice.” Alpert wants to face off against Putin, one on one. “I plan to use analogies,” he said. “Cheating on face-offs, keeping your head up, using violence to settle disputes. We can find a parallel in hockey for everything that’s going on between Russia and the United States.”

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    Okay:

    We can find a parallel in hockey for everything that’s going on between Russia and the United States.

    How’s that for sports metaphors?

    Experts Fear Trump Will Give More Than He Gets, redux

    Friday, June 29th, 2018

    [ by Charles Cameron — history repeats itself, &c ]
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    Here we go:

    Is this some new strategy?

    It would be nice to have a DoubleQuote to set beside this one, comparing the N Korean and Iran nuclear deals. Maybe I’ll find one.

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    Sources:

  • New York Times, In Meeting With Putin, Experts Fear Trump Will Give More Than He Gets
  • Quartz, North Korea experts watching the summit will breathe a sigh of relief if…

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