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Of dualities, contradictions and the nonduality

Thursday, June 27th, 2013

[ by Charles Cameron — on the basis, the mathematics, the essence of conflict and resolution ]


This DoubleQuote features two great masters on duality and the coincidentia oppositorum: the upper quote is Yogi Berra at his best, a koan worthy of a discourse by John Daido Loori, Roshi, while the lower image a still from Andrei Tarkovsky‘s first feature film, Ivan’s Childhood — which I stole from the ever-bountiful Gwarlingo.

Two is one and one is all and evermore shall be so.


Two into one won’t go, they told me in my schooldays — though not with nearly as much rigor as I presume is found in this article in Physics B

Questions of the two and the one are always of interest, because they are played out in the tensions we are faced with in daily life, and specifically in the tug of war with peace.

Thus, from my miscellaneous readings these past few days, they feature everywhere from a headline like Demonizing Edward Snowden: Which Side Are You On? in the New Yorker, who seem to feel that one should take a side, preferably the one with the least guns:

I’m with Snowden — not only for the reasons that Drake enumerated but also because of an old-fashioned and maybe naïve inkling that journalists are meant to stick up for the underdog and irritate the powerful. On its side, the Obama Administration has the courts, the intelligence services, Congress, the diplomatic service, much of the media, and most of the American public. Snowden’s got Greenwald, a woman from Wikileaks, and a dodgy travel document from Ecuador. Which side are you on?

to some relatively arcane areas of theological debate, in this case Fussing Over the 15th of Sha‘ban:

Question: Is marking out the 15th night of Sha’ban (laylat al-nisf min sha’ban) with extra prayers and devotion sanctioned by Islam, or is doing so judged to be a reprehensible innovation (bid’ah)?

Answer: Each year, a fair amount of fussing and fighting takes place over this issue. Yet the truth of the matter is that scholars have long-held this issue to be one over which there is a valid difference of opinion. The first group considered the night to have no specific virtues over and above any other night of the year, and believed that singling the night out for extra acts of worship is unsanctioned. Another group begged to differ and held that the middle night of Sha’ban does possess special merits and should be earmarked for extra prayers and devotion.

All those who hold the shari’ah to lack nuance and variety, incidentally, would do well to note (a) that it is far from exclusively devoted to the chopping off of hands or feet, and (b) combines within itself debates worthy of the Tannaim and Amoraim, or of the medieval scholastics of the Roman church…


By way of closure, here’s the koan from Alice in Wonderland that Loori Roshi studies in his discourse:

The caterpillar said, “One side will make you grow bigger, and the other side will make you grow smaller.” “One side of what? The other side of what?” thought Alice to herself. “Of the mushroom,” said the caterpillar. Alice looked at the mushroom, trying to make out which were the two sides of it, as it was perfectly round.

If you love your enemies [Matthew 5.44], Who’s side are you on?

And here’s what the great Cardinal Nicholas Cusanus had to say about dualities and opposites 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

Taylor Swift, Sara Mingardo, JS Bach and a quiet WTF

Thursday, June 27th, 2013

[ by Charles Cameron — some very beautiful music accompanied by unexpected visuals ]

I am in full agreement with this tweet today from our co-blogger here on Zenpundit, Scott Shipman:

Cantata 63, Christen ätzet diesen Tag, is indeed among the five or so works of Bach to which I find myself constantly turning, though not to this particular movement or performance. It is the work that John Eliot Gardiner performed so movingly, and that wonderfully caught for us on DVD — I’ve spoken of it before.

Today, though, Scott’s post brings us a mystery I’ve been pondering, and preparing to post about, for a few weeks now. It involves a series of videos, as you can see, and videos take time to watch, I know. I can only say that the music of Cantata 63 itself is wonderful, and the mystery really quite a puzzle. I hope you will find both worth your while.


Without further comment, then, here is Taylor Swift performing Love Story:

That seems simple enough.

Here, though, is the same footage used to present Cantata 63, directed by Karl Richter:

And here is what I take to be the same exact recording, presented with different visuals:


To my mind, those three videos taken together raise all sorts of interesting questions about the sacred and the profane, eros and agape, aesthetics, mixology, you name it…


Here is Sara Mingardo singing the recitative O Selger Tag from the same Cantata — in the superlative rendering which I mentioned above — and only recently rediscovered on YouTube, and can thus bring you:

I have listened to a number of versions of this aria — and to my ear, mind, and heart, Mingardo brings a devotion to this “mere” recitative which far outdistances the others.


Now for the second part of my puzzle:

The second of those videos, with the glamorous Ms Swift’s imagery accompanying Herr Bach’s cantata, was posted by one “voiceofshariah” whose 117 videos include more Bach with Taylor Swift imagery:

— quite a glorious Bach organ piece with which I was not already familiar — but also, under the name “afghanistansomalia”, this version of the B Minor Mass, which I discussed here earlier in a post titled Osama and the flute of the devil:

— which you’ll note is posted after bin Laden‘s death, and — as if to confuse matters even further — this video, again with OBL visuals, of Maurice Jarre‘s soundtrack for the David Lean / Peter O’Toole film, Lawrence of Arabia!

Whoa! Osama bin Laden and Lawrence of Arabia?

What one is to make of all this, I can only guess. I desperately want to get back to the simple appreciation of beauty, however, and will do so, I hope, in an upcoming yet related post.

Recommended Reading – Cyber Edition II

Wednesday, June 26th, 2013

Top billing! Michael Tanji – 140+ Ed Snowden Edition 1.0Compare and ContrastPrepare for the Pendulum Swing 

I’m not going to belabor the tale of woe those trying to deal with Edward Snowden’s theft are dealing with right now. For a moment I want to opine on some of the secondary and tangential issues that I predict is going to make life in the IC more difficult because of his actions:

  1. Polygraphs. If it is true that he only took the job with BAH to gain access to specific data in order to reveal it, IC polygraph units are going to have to cancel leave through 2025. Moving from one agency to another? Get ready to get hooked up to the box (again). In a sys admin job? Pucker up. That old timer you used to get who realized that people were people and they had lives? He’s going to be replaced by a legion of whippersnappers who will all be gunning to catch the next leaker. Good people will be deep-sixed and those who survive will wonder if it’s worth the ***-pain.
  2. Investigations. When you can’t pick up on obvious problem-children, and when the bottom-line is more important than doing a good job, the bureaucracy will retrench and do what it does best: drop into low gear and distrust outsiders. There are only so many government investigators, and it’s not like there are fewer missions. Coverage will slip, tasks won’t get done, the risk of surprise (you know, what we’re supposed to try and avoid) goes up. 

Global Guerrillas  – Info Bomb,  Positive Control 

Here’s a framework that will allow you to put the stuff you read in the news into context.  

From hat bans to NSA leaks about surveillance programs.  

Problem:  Everybody on the planet IS a potential terrorist.

 Solution:  Put everybody on the planet under positive control.  

Positive control means the continuous monitoring.  

  • Location  GPS phone. Implied by utility use (smart grid).  Car GPS.  CCTV.  Facial recognition everywhere.  Social media data.
  • Network  Phone.  Social media connections.  Proximity.  Network analysis.  
  • Behavior  Economic activity.  Utility use.  Content use.  Usage monitoring.

In the case of positive control, any lack of activity or lapse in data flow is considered a dangerous act.  

Try to hide = something to hide.   

Any blocking of monitoring will be made illegal and a major crime.

Multiple systems with overlapping control will provide a complete cradle to grave blanket. 

There’s no way to avoid this.  It’s already here and nobody cares.  

Polizeros –Steve Gibson on NSA surveillance and PRISM. “Most important show ever”

Gibson’s point is that NSA taps into Tier 1 routers, and splits the data off, hence the name PRISM. They don’t have to tap your house or a server farm, just on the Tier 1 routers. Thus Apple, Facebook, and Google et al are correct in saying NSA didn’t have access to their servers. Forget server farms, the question we need to ask is, do they have access to routers near those companies by tapping the fiber optic lines. NSA targets the bandwidth provider of big high tech companies to tap the routers closest to them. All email is readable on the routers because it’s not encrypted (unless you use encryption software.) Semantic technology is used to analyze the data further. 

Joshua Foust – Can the NSA Search for Americans? Who Knows. and Three Guiding Principles for Reforming the NSA 

Lawfare BlogPhilip Bobbitt on the Snowden Affair and The Miminization and Targeting Procedures: An Analysis

Volokh Conspiracy –What is The “Real Story” About Edward Snowden and His Disclosure of NSA Activities? 

Abu Muqawama – Through a Murky PRISM 

Sic Semper Tyrannis – The Snowden Ruckus By Richard Sale and Clerks often have a lot of access 

Pundita – Out with Obama’s China Pivot; in with the Snowden Pivot, and  Obama’s Insider Threat program: Are you having a bad hair day? I might have to report you as a potential traitor to the United States. 

That’s It!

Heavy breathing on the line: The words of the prophets are written in the circuit switching

Tuesday, June 25th, 2013

[dots connected by Lynn C. Rees]



What did Lucius Aemilius Paullus know and when did he know it?

The path inaugurated by that question follows a specific route. A route is lit up by every move you make and every step you take.

At least if online.

In the beginning there was the circuit…


Heavy breathing on the line: Boyd and the hare

Sunday, June 23rd, 2013

[dots connected by Lynn C. Rees]



? 1 ?

? Raises question ?

? 2 ?

What did Lucius Aemilius Paullus know and when did he know it?

? 3 ?

Ask Colonel John Boyd, USAF (1927-1997)

? 4 ?

Namedrop John Boyd

What do most respondants think?

? 5 ?

Naive OODA Loop

? 6 ?

Uncritical Insight

John Boyd is a cheerleader jumping up and down on the sidelines chanting “faster! Faster!! FASTER!!!”.

? 7 ?

Uncritical Insight (cont.)

This reduces Boyd to:

  1. Go fast.
  2. Go faster.
  3. Go ludicrous speed.
  4. Profit!!!

? 8 ?

? – Raises Question  – ?

Is this man a cheerleader?

? 9 ?

? and ?

? and ?

? 10 ?



? 11 ?



? 12 ?

Key Asymmetry

When Boyd smiles, he’s 100 million light years away from being a cheerleader.

? 13 ?

Key Asymmetry (cont.)

If a Boyd particle barely brushed a cheerleader particle, it would annihilate it, leaving behind nothing but:

  1. a tremendous burst of energy
  2. plans for a better fighter plane than the F-35 at 1/1,000,000th the cost.

? 14 ?

Critical Insight

To understand Boyd, understand the battle of Leuctra (371 B.C.)

? 15 ?


? 16 ?


Boyd argued victory came by creating of a fatal disconnect between enemy and reality through:

  • mental isolation
  • moral isolation
  • physical isolation

? 17 ?

Message (cont.) 

All three are critical to the originality of Boyd’s thought:

Boyd was thinking outside the box.

? 18 ?

Message (cont.) 

This box:


? 19 ?

Message (cont.) 

More particularly, this box:


? 20 ?

Message (cont.)

Battle of Cannae (216 BC)

Hannibal Barça put 50,000 or so Roman legionaries inside the box.

? 21 ?

Message (cont.)

Few Romans ever thought outside that box again.

? 22 ?


The physical kill box of Cannae became the mental kill box that military thinkers of the nineteenth century and early twentieth century kept their brains in.

? 23 ?

Problem (cont.)

This is your brain:

Baron Antoine Henri de Jomini

? 24 ?

Problem (cont.)

This is your brain on Cannae:


? 25 ?


Schlieffen, Chief of the Great General Staff of the Second Reich from 1893-1906, was obsessed with Cannae.

He even wrote a book on it.

? 26 ?

Worse (cont.)

Schlieffen used an exhaustive checklist when planning future military operations.

? 27 ?

Worse (cont.)

  1. Does my plan destroy the enemy army like Buonoparte?

? 28 ?

Worse (cont.)

Satisfying those stringent requirements led to the Schlieffen-Moltke Plan:

Schlieffen Plan

? 29 ?

Worse (cont.)

Its results were mixed.

? 30 ?


Schlieffen’s plan failed because it only aimed at physical annihilation of Franco-British forces.

? 31 ?

Critique (cont.)

It’s moral and mental isolation (or annihilation) components were few or vestigial.

This absence dominated the Western Front for the next three years.

? 32 ?

First Cut

Boyd suggested that the German development of infiltration techniques in the later half of the war countered this.

Instead of the long bombardments château generals thought would physically annihilate the enemy trench line, barbed wire, and fortifications…

? 33 ?

First Cut (cont.)

The artillery barrage that accompanied German infiltration attack was sudden and unexpected…

…providing suppression as much through sudden mental or moral disorientation as through physical destruction.

? 34 ?

First Cut (cont.)

Instead of the physical impact of large ranks of infantrymen trudging across No Man’s Land…

Small teams of infiltrators dribbled across the lines in small groups, causing moral and mental derangement by attacking the enemy from the flank or rear in unexpected places at surprising times.

? 35-36 ?

Traditional Greek Order of Battle vs Leuctra’s Order of Battle


? 37 ?

Battle of Leuctra

Boyd referred back to Leuctra rather than Cannae as a guide:

Epaminondas‘ seemingly simpler act of stacking his left 50 deep and weakening his right was just as effective as Hannibal’s more technically complex but brittle double envelopment at Cannae.

? 38 ?

Battle of Leuctra (cont.)

Epaminondas created a fatal disconnect between Spartiate and reality through a balanced attack:

  • physical isolation (more husky Boeotians to beat on the Spartan right)
  • moral isolation (that’s against the rules!)
  • mental isolation (the best Boeotian troops were on the left, not, as was tradition, on the right)

? 39 ?

Key Take Away

Epamimondas won a more efficient victory than Hannibal:

He mauled the Spartans just as effectively as Hannibal mauled the Romans …

Without the enormous luck and complexity involved in pulling off a double envelopment.

? 40 ?

And that’s why the NSA records (meta)data on all Americans.

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