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Sunday shame!

Monday, November 5th, 2018

[ by Charles Cameron — my father fought and died for an end to this, well over fifty years ago, and now this.. ]
.

For the record —

— that little yellow star resurfacing on social media in 2018 USA, for shame.

**

Sources:

  • BuzzFeed, A Reporter Got An Anti-Semitic Death Threat From A Trump Supporter
  • Twitter, Binyamin Appelbaum
  • **

    For shame?

    It’s all too easy to moralize. Happily for me, I was born on the “better angels” side of WWII.

    A poem for our night & times, by Carolyn Forché

    Wednesday, October 31st, 2018

    [ by Charles Cameron — Halloween greetings, and a pre-midterm reminder of what demagoguery brings ]
    .

    The box is a box of Halloween humor, a slight thing and entirely innocent, designed to delight with a nostaligic frisson on Halloweens past.. Spooky Halloween Feel Boxes for Adults: Put your hand in — preferably with eyes averted or blindfold — and feel, as in touchy-feel..

    Among the sensations you are invited to feel.. cold spaghetti.. worms in a fishing box.. you get the idea.

    **

    My first association, when I saw a pointer to this article was the Gom Jabbar in Dune — a box containing pain, increasing pain. Should the candidate withdraw his hand from the box, he dies by cyanide needle, and the only means of survival is the ability to overcome instinct, which Paul Atreides manages by recitation of the Litany against Fear:

    I must not fear.
    Fear is the mind-killer.
    Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration.
    I will face my fear.
    I will permit it to pass over me and through me.
    And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path.
    Where the fear has gone there will be nothing.
    Only I will remain.

    **

    Here’s the movie version:

    **

    Black boxes..

    The very idea of boxes filled with feelings is, to my mind, a fine one to explore, in humor, as in the New Yorker piece, or in deadly earnest, as in Frank Herbert‘s masterpiece, Dune.

    **

    But then, reading Colin Stokes and Ellis Rosen‘s NYorker humor piece, I came inevitably to this image:

    I said inevitably, perhaps unavoidably would have been keener to the point. I couldn’t avoid my second association.

    **

    That second association was to Carolyn Forché:‘s prose-poem The Colonel from her second volume, The Country Between Us.

    On reading her poem itself again after so many years, after reading it aloud to audiences on various occasions, after one miraculous night in the early eighties when I heard her read in LA, after reading her American Poetry Review piece about the experiences inn Al Salvador that lead to this particular poem and others — The Memory of Elena with its unforgettable paella among them — that second and more powerful association was to:

    The Colonel

    What you have heard is true. I was in his house. His wife carried a tray of coffee and sugar. His daughter filed her nails, his son went out for the night. There were daily papers, pet dogs, a pistol on the cushion beside him. The moon swung bare on its black cord over the house. On the television was a cop show. It was in English. Broken bottles were embedded in the walls around the house to scoop the kneecaps from a man’s legs or cut his hands to lace. On the windows there were gratings like those in liquor stores. We had dinner, rack of lamb, good wine, a gold bell was on the table for calling the maid. The maid brought green mangoes, salt, a type of bread. I was asked how I enjoyed the country. There was a brief commercial in Spanish. His wife took everything away. There was some talk then of how difficult it had become to govern. The parrot said hello on the terrace. The colonel told it to shut up, and pushed himself from the table. My friend said to me with his eyes: say nothing. The colonel returned with a sack used to bring groceries home. He spilled many human ears on the table. They were like dried peach halves. There is no other way to say this. He took one of them in his hands, shook it in our faces, dropped it into a water glass. It came alive there. I am tired of fooling around he said. As for the rights of anyone, tell your people they can go fuck themselves. He swept the ears to the floor with his arm and held the last of his wine in the air. Something for your poetry, no? he said. Some of the ears on the floor caught this scrap of his voice. Some of the ears on the floor were pressed to the ground.

    **

    Shattering.

    Humor has darkened to tragedy — tragedy does not suffice to speak of this horror — the box of touchy-feelies has become the Colonel’s grocery sack spilled on the floor, dried apricots are dried peach halves — despite the differences, the associative leap was, for me, inevitable.

    And far too All Hallows Eve appropriate for comfort..

    Far too apt for the upcoming midterms, too..

    Sunday surprise — jeeps with souls, telepathic cars

    Sunday, October 28th, 2018

    [ by Charles Cameron — are the shows on TV the medium’s waking life, and advertisements its dreams? ]
    .

    My mom was Freedom, and my dad, Adventure. They baptized me in mud and christened me on rock, so I got tougher, they fostered a love of learning so I got smarter, taught me to appreciate the finer things in life sp I became more civilized and refined. Thank you, Freedom and Adventure, for giving me this rugged, civilized, wandering soul..

    **

    .. we’re helping to give cars the power to read your mind from anywhere ..

    **

    A Jeep is machinery, an engine, a tool, a prosthetic — but now it has a soul — how was that achieved. Is it a shiny new species of Golem? Did someone breathe the Name into it? And the car that Dell is teaching to read minds — does it too have a soul?

    I appreciate Dell, am now on my second or fifth Dell laptop, and I once rolled a Jeep over, and myself and senior son escaped with barely a scratch between the pair of us. It was one of those California days, the road slick with first rain, and I wrote 150 pages for DC charitable NGO as court-required penance.

    My intent is not to knock (diss) Dell or Jeep — in fact I appreciate their products and admire the skills displayed by their advertising agencies — but simply to point up the quasi-spiritual ways in which these ads present cars. There are good insights into humanity, in fact, to be found in these depictions of machines.

    Here’s to (human) real-life civilized, wandering souls!

    A DoubleQuote verified in suspicious package case

    Friday, October 26th, 2018

    [ by Charles Cameron — a note on mental process ]
    .

    A dozen mailed packages, and thankfully none of them exploded.

    **

    **

    When Brennan received a package, I intuitively, quietly flashed to a mental equation, Brennan = Clapper“. I’m sure plenty of other people, investigators included, had the same sort of equation in their minds, or — what amounts to the same thing — the expectation that if Brennan had had a package addressed to him, surely a package for Clapper couldn’t be too far behind.. Both, after all, are intel chiefs who have been critical of Trump on matters of national security and have drawn his ire. And if Brennan is the first shoe, Clapper would be the second shoe to be expected.

    And now that second shoe has dropped: my equation is confirmed.

    If I say this is something of a vindication of my DoubleQuote analytic method, I don’t mean to suggest that many others won’t have intuitively come to the same sort of equation and conclusion. Far from it — part of the motivation behind my development of the DoubleQuotes method was the sense that it’s a built-in human mental process, analogical or horizontal thinking, powerfully important when poets, scientists and others make “creative leaps” across disciplines and silos, typically leaping “out of the box” of conventional assumptions, in a direction opposite to that of linear logic..

    In fact, this analogical thinking may be a more powerful aspect of human thought — but it’s one that is often down-played in our obsession with linear thinking. My DoubleQuotes method merely formalizes a pre-existing, almost instinctual process.

    I do think, however, that practicing this form of thinking, which the HipBone analytic formalism invites us to do, will reinforce our ability to think across silos and disciplinary boundaries, and make those all-important creative leaps.

    **

    At this point, thirteen devices have been found. Let’s pray there are no copy-cats, and in particular none annoyed at the lack of professional skill in the current suspect’s bomb-making, with the skills to carry out less easily intercepted and more potentially fatal variant attacks.

    **

    Use this to plot your own leap, see if it works for you:

    Knowledge, London cabbies and American sommeliers

    Friday, October 26th, 2018

    [ by Charles Cameron — inheritor of yet another form of knowledge]
    .

  • NYT, The Knowledge, London’s Legendary Taxi-Driver Test, Puts Up a Fight in the Age of GPS
  • New Yorker, The Cheating Scandal That Has Shaken the World of Master Wine Sommeliers
  • **

    For Bates it came down to a lifetime of knowledge. “While many questions may seem simple taken on their own, it is really about the amount of information needed to correctly answer one question. For example, if a question was asked about the location of a village in Germany, knowing where that one village is located is a very small part of the preparation for that question. To be sure to get that one question correct, I had to learn every major wine producing village in Germany, broken down by region, in order from north to south and west to east, with 2 or 3 of the most important villages in each. In order to be able to recall that information on demand, I had to learn to draw a map from memory of every wine growing region in the country. All that for the sake of be able to answer one or two questions that, out of context, may not have been all that hard.

    McCabe turned east on Coldharbour Lane, wending through the neighborhoods of Peckham and Bermondsey before reaching the tunnel. He emerged on the far side of the Thames in Limehouse, and from there his three-mile-long trip followed a zigzagging path northeast. “I came out of the tunnel and went forward into Yorkshire Road,” he told me. “I went right into Salmon Lane. Left into Rhodeswell Road, right into Turners Road. I went right into St. Paul’s Way, left into Burdett Road, right into Mile End Road. Left Tredegar Square. I went right Morgan Street, left Coborn Road, right into Tredegar Road. That gave me a forward into Wick Lane, a right into Monier Road, right into Smeed Road — and we’re there. Left into Stour Road.”

    **

    In early September, fifty-six nervous sommeliers in pressed suits and shined shoes assembled at the Four Seasons Hotel in St. Louis, Missouri. They were there to attempt the most difficult and prestigious test in their industry: the Master Sommelier Exam, a three-part, application-only ordeal that just two hundred and forty-nine individuals worldwide have passed—fewer than have travelled to space.

    It’s not enough to know every wine region, village and district in the world, candidates also need to know which years were better than others for each region. The blind tasting of six wines requires not only identifying the grape varietal, but the region it came from and the year it was made. That’s merely scratching the testing surface though; during the service portion examinees have to recall facts about sake, spirits, distilling methods, apertifs and of course ideal food pairings.

    Knowledge of cigar production, with special reference to Havanas, will be required.

    **

    When trees leave, they find a spot where the sunlight can get through despite the existing leaves, and put out a leaf there.

    Suggestion: find, on the limb, branch, and in time, twig of the tree of knowledge you feel most passionate about, a space nobody else is occupying, and know it — in the kind of detail a knowledgeable cabbie knows London, or a master sommelier the aperitifs, wines, beers, ciders, liqueurs, brandies, whiskeys and cigars of the world.

    It’s worth a try.

    **

    esto nobis praegustatum
    in mortis examine.

    In the case of such Knowledge as most concerns us, the examen is still to come.


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