zenpundit.com » 2018 » June

## Archive for June, 2018

### 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 ]
.

**

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..

### Red Bull joins the wise

Monday, June 11th, 2018

[ by Charles Cameron — red bull expands on pascal, takes us deeper into instinctive / archetypal thought ]
.

**

I came across a powerful paragraph in Beyond a joke, a piece witth the enticing subtitle, “The brain holds many secrets that admen would love to learn – not least, how to change behaviour. Rory Sutherland explores how comedy rouses the grey matter.” Powerful, in that it connects, at least for me, with at least three major quotes from “wise men of old” from here and beyond:

The reason for this glaring discrepancy is that the part of the brain used to write economic papers is not the part of the brain that chooses a drink. The part of my brain that causes me to chug a can of Red Bull on the way home from work has a logic all of its own.

**

You remember my old DoubleQuotes format?

I used it to make various kinds of connections beyween two quotes? Well, I’ve come to feel its clumsy visually, takes up too much space — breaks the train of thought it’s embedded in rather than illuminating it? But the concept, the holding together of two ideas in close juxtaposition, still seems extraordinarily useful to me.

So here are elements of that para, juxtaposed with sayings from Blaise Pascal, Christ, and the Tao Te Ching — quite a variety of “wise” sources:

• The heart has its reasons reason knows not of.
• The part of my brain that causes me to chug a can of Red Bull on the way home from work has a logic all of its own.
• The part of the brain used to write economic papers is not the part of the brain that chooses a drink.
• The way that can be named is not the true way.
• The part of the brain used to write economic papers is not the part of the brain that chooses a drink.
• In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you.
• Christ, Lao Tze, and Pascal! If the correlations are as powerful as I take them to be, and even if you omit the “many mansions” one which is I’ll admit bit of a stretch, that’s a power packed para.

And the “many mansions”? It may be a bit of a stretch, but I think it adds a certain audacity to the whole — jazzes up what’s alreadt strong with an intriguing elan — what do you think?

**

The Bollingen classic:

Jolande Jacobi, Complex/Archetype/Symbol in the Psychology of C. G. Jung

**

### Seeking the Beloved, for Jim Gant

Thursday, June 7th, 2018

[ by Charles Cameron — two great poems, my friend, and the impassioned voice of Sara Mingardo ]
.

Rainer Maria Rilke:

You who never arrived..

You who never arrived
in my arms, Beloved, who were lost
from the start,
I don’t even know what songs
would please you. I have given up trying
to recognize you in the surging wave of
the next moment. All the immense
images in me — the far-off, deeply-felt
landscape, cities, towers, and bridges, and
unsuspected turns in the path,
and those powerful lands that were once
pulsing with the life of the gods–
all rise within me to mean
you, who forever elude me.

You, Beloved, who are all
the gardens I have ever gazed at,
longing. An open window
in a country house– , and you almost
stepped out, pensive, to meet me.
Streets that I chanced upon,–
you had just walked down them and vanished.
And sometimes, in a shop, the mirrors
were still dizzy with your presence and,
startled, gave back my too-sudden image.
Who knows? Perhaps the same
bird echoed through both of us
yesterday, separate, in the evening…

**

Hide and go seek, or for the truly young at heart, peek-a-boo, is the earliest of games, and the most profound. We are seekers: there is something, some treasure to be found.

Among the greatest of our comrades was Rabia of Basra who, sensing an unaccustomed absence of the divine beloved, wept all night long in prayer, WHere are You, Why have you left me? — only to be comforted in the morning by the renewal of the presence, which patiently asked, And Rabia, who do you suppose cried all night long, praying so urgently for my presence?

Let us go seek, for the great game is upon us.

**

David Jones:

If Rilke gave us the romantic beloved, Jones shows us the search for the beloved in the person of Christ, seeking his form without success in the structures of modernity..

This poem is remarkable also for the two great wailing cries in Latin that give it its title and final words, giving poetry a passion more eaily found these days in the blues.. I know of no poem in the English language quite like it,.

A, a, a, Domine Deus

I said, Ah! what shall I write?
I enquired up and down.
(He’s tricked me before
with his manifold lurking-places.)
I looked for His symbol at the door.
I have looked for a long while
at the textures and contours.
I have run a hand over the trivial intersections.
I have journeyed among the dead forms
causation projects from pillar to pylon.
I have tired the eyes of the mind
regarding the colours and lights.
I have felt for His wounds
in nozzles and containers.
I have wondered for the automatic devices.
I have tested the inane patterns
without prejudice.
I have been on my guard
not to condemn the unfamiliar.
For it is easy to miss Him
at the turn of a civilisation.

I have watched the wheels go round in case I
might see the living creatures like the appearance
of lamps, in case I might see the Living God projected
from the Machine. I have said to the perfected steel,
be my sister and for the glassy towers I thought I felt
some beginnings of His creature, but A,a,a Domine Deus,
my hands found the glazed work unrefined and the terrible
crystal a stage-paste … Eia, Domine Deus.

**

We are frtunate to have that same cry, Domine Deus, delivered with unmatched devotional intensity in the voice of Sara Mingardo, in Rinaldo Alessandrini‘s version of Vivaldi‘s Gloria, RV589:

I am posting this in the hope that it will go some way towards illuminating the equivalent devotional inttensity in Jones‘ poem. The whole Gloria in Alessandrini‘s version with Mingardo, can be found here on YouTube.

### Metaphors, more

Thursday, June 7th, 2018

[ by Charles Cameron — continuing collecting.. with David Ronfeldt in mind ]
.

and:

**

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

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 ..
.
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.
.
Macron Is French for Obama — an interesting way to describe a complex equivalence..
.
lawyers: we can talk out of both sides of our mouths ..
trump: i cn kill this (investigation) ant time, this is my game..
.
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:

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.

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 ..
.
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?

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.”

**

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

### Heather R Higgins on Jordan Peterson, from The Hill

Wednesday, June 6th, 2018

[ posted by Charles Cameron — a direct share of Higgins‘ piece, How philosopher Jordan Peterson will change the world ]
.

How philosopher Jordan Peterson will change the world

Your first sign that something different is afoot: the event is immediately sold out. The second clue: scalpers want over \$500 for rear orchestra seats, and over \$1,000 for prime. Yes it’s New York. But this isn’t “Hamilton”. It’s a bloody lecture.

And when you get there, there isn’t just one line around the block — there are two, one running in either direction. The audience to this beyond-sold-out event is disproportionately male, many young. And in line you overhear references to Jung, identity politics, biology, responsibility, faith, Nietzsche, the importance of not lying, and Solzhenitsyn. Whoa.

Why is Dr. Jordan Peterson, clinical psychologist and professor at the University of Toronto, who recently gained meteoric attention in taking on the thought police and their language criminalizing legislation in Canada, attracting such a huge following of devotees, and eliciting both hatred and real fear among ideologues?
If you’re a young man, there’s a good chance you’ve experienced socially-approved condescension, because, well, it’s all patriarchy and social injustice and men are privileged (unless they are also part of an approved minority or sexual/gender orientation).

Young men hear falsehoods peddled as “truths”: That the sexes are not only equal, they are the same in everything but reproductive organs, and that any differences between males and females are socially constructed. That their opinion on any issue of gender is inherently inferior due to their Y chromosomes. That they are implicitly biased, and must have this bias “trained” out of them.

Additionally, they have observed a movement, where emotions matter and facts don’t, that shuts down critical thought as unsafe, and silences debate through vilification.

They know these things are wrong. But they don’t know why. They are parched for understanding, hope, and purpose to their lives. And into that desert comes the clear water of Dr. Peterson.

The first reason Peterson has had such impact is that this is no ordinary psychologist or professor, staying in his narrow lane. Peterson not only is extraordinarily intelligent, but also widely learned. Listening to him is like wrapping your mind with a Paul Johnson history, an interdisciplinary, intercultural, time-traveling tapestry of transcendent themes and truths — where evolutionary biology, history, literature, philosophy, psychology, music, art, religions, culture and myth are all interwoven.

People find him because of viral YouTube clips, where he dismembers sanctimonious ideologues with a mike-dropping command of fact and logic; they stay for two hour lectures on psychology, mythology, and religious texts — there are more than 400 hours online — on their new-found quest for understanding and meaning.

Peterson’s focus for decades has been what drives human beings to do evil, particularly the great evils of the 20th century, from Auschwitz to Soviet gulags, as well as helping people have agency over their own lives and the ability to endure and transcend the inescapable suffering of life.

That empathy makes him singularly effective and compelling: unlike most intellectuals’ arrogant pieties that are driven more by resentment than concern, Peterson is obsessed with actual human suffering. He cares deeply about real people, and particularly the unnecessary suffering caused by others, about which he becomes passionately angry. The high purpose of doing what he can to prevent the evil that human beings do — whether out of malice because they believe there is no meaning to life, or through lofty intentions because that is the price of their putative utopia — permeates his work.

His third atypical quality is exceptional humility. For Peterson, growth comes from constantly questioning himself, and being open to seeing another person’s point of view, even where the disagreements are profound.

In consequence, for all the attempts to pigeonhole his beliefs, he can’t be neatly put on left or right, Christian or not. To him routine questions are complicated, and modesty is called for.

If he does have defining principles, they would seem to be recognizing complexity and nuance, applying deeper wisdom than simplistic materialist explanations, being absolutely truthful, refusing to lie, and speaking out — whatever the cost — against those pernicious ideas and efforts that will hurt others. And because he has been teaching for a long time, he is skilled at taking grand concepts and challenging ideas and accessibly transposing them into everyday lives.

People may not like what Jordan Peterson says, but he is hard to disagree with. He serves as a role model for many, teaching them that facts do matter, to not assume conventional wisdom is right, to not be simplistic, and that it is not intentions that matter, but consequences.

Even more importantly, for many individuals, he reconnects them with responsibility for their lives, giving them agency and purpose — and not just for themselves, but in the effect they will then have on the world around them. Peterson is very insistent that each individual decision moves the entire world closer to either heaven or a bottomless hell. Because those aren’t just theoretical places we may go to after we die, but apt descriptions of the worlds we create around us.

Peterson is in part a font of self-help wisdom, a modern Dr. Norman Vincent Peale, drawing not on faith but on Jung, Nietzsche, Solzhenitsyn, biology, evolution, psychology, and learned wisdom, perceived through myth, religions, and history, all to provide better ways of being.

But he is also a cultural force. He is the scourge of simplistic, pernicious pieties, including: bias and social oppression as the presumed causes of inequality of outcome, equality of outcome as an unquestioningly desirable and enforced goal, identity as a subjective choice and the sexes as the same, patriarchy, white privilege, implicit bias, safe spaces, affirmative rights, postmodernism, nihilism, neo-Marxism, and identity politics.

As Peterson gets better known, he seems to find fewer and fewer on the left who will debate him. That’s no surprise — watch the debates that do exist, and be reminded of the attempted mugging of “Crocodile Dundee”, when he smiles pityingly and says “That’s not a knife. THIS is a knife,” before reducing his assailant to a quivering blob.

But those who like orthodoxies that would limit the speech, ideas, and freedoms of others in order to enforce a social construction of their own should be afraid. Like the boy who had the courage to tell the emperor he had no clothes, or like Alexander Solzhenitsyn, whose lone voice of truth helped topple a totalitarian empire, when this too crumbles, Jordan Peterson will be seen as the courageous catalyst that exposed the lies and made us a wiser people.

Heather R. Higgins is CEO of Independent Women’s Voice, an organization promoting conservative free market solutions that advance prosperity, freedom, and greater choices. Follow her on Twitter @TheHRH.

**

Shave off a dozen percentage points for over-the-top, and you have what I’d consider the single simplest and best account of Jordan Peterson and the reasons for his astounding popularity — which inckude a refusal to concede anything much to nuance and an a considered and measured indifference to applausee or dismisal alike. Having found a pair of great teachers in Jung and in his clinical patients keeps him deep and humble respectively. And he saves me a whole lot of work I thought was my obligation, while stretching me intellectually — not always an easy feat, although the comments section here certainly keeps me on my toes.

I am almost as grateful to Heather Higgins for this introduction as to Dr Peterson himself, the introductee. Brava,bravo, bravo!

Switch to our mobile site