zenpundit.com

Picking up on symmetries observed

August 16th, 2017

[ by Charles Cameron — after Scaramucci on symmetry ]
.

It’s encouraging — heart-heartening — to see Doreen St. Félix at the New Yorker picking up on An Image of Revolutionary Fire at Charlottesville:

Two points about her commentary strike my interest. The first had to do, specifically, with symmetry, an old hobby-horse of mine as you may know:

Steve Helber shot an image of peculiar symmetry, in which a man of fortitude was bearing a different light. Two men extend weapons: one is the Confederate flag, furled, hiding its retrograde design, and the other is an aerosol can, modified to eject fire. The figures stand in a classical configuration, on the diagonal, as if a Dutch master has placed them just so.

The second made reference to theology..

The composition of this photo is fiercely theological. The black man is wielding what the black theologian James Cone, quoting the prophet Jeremiah, might call the “burning fire shut up in my bones,” what James Baldwin would have identified as “the fire next time.” (Cornel West, a student of Cone, has advanced the liberatory concept of “black prophetic fire”; West travelled to the city to march with members of Charlottesville’s faith community on Saturday.) It is a pose that upsets a desire for docility; it’s a rebuke to slogans such as “This is not us” or “Love not hate.” This graceful man has appropriated not only the flames of white-supremacist bigotry but also the debauched, rhetorical fire of Trump, who gloated, earlier this week, that he would respond to a foreign threat with “fire and fury.” The resistance has its fire, too.

**

I don’t think I see that image the same way St. Félix does. She sees fire on both sides — the fires of the tiki torches in the hands of the supremacists, though they are absent from this particular pohotograph, and the fire visible in the photo, wielded by the “man of fortitude”. Using an improvised flame-thrower strikes me as, if anything, more menacing than waving a furled flag, to be honest, and even though flame-man is in the lower position, his flame makes him, in my eyes, the dominant figure in the composition — and flag-wielder, correspondingly, even though holding the higher ground, more the underdog,

While my sympathies would naturally lie with those who protest supremacism rather than those who proclaim it, this image at first saddens me with the spectacle of fire-power unilaterally vielded by the guy I’d otherwise cheer for — and it’s only when I read a little deeper —

Long said that the protest had seemed peaceful until “someone pointed a gun at my head. Then the same person pointed it at my foot and shot the ground.”)

— that I began to understand why he, rather than the supremacist, might be the one who has feeling most threatened.

**

I feel ambiguous, then, about St Félix’ reading of the photo, but grateful that someone has an eye out for form, art, symmetry, in the photo-reporting of a vile, incendiary event.

Orwell, Fascism, &c – we need our own red lines, but where?

August 16th, 2017

[ by Charles Cameron — how far gone are we — from a sorta leftist-centrist-don’t-really-fit-labels POV? ]
.

I’m not sure what exactly JM was responding to here, there have been too many pointers..

**

I for one don’t think Charlottesville stacks up against Kristallnacht, and am wary of the words Fascism and Nazi. I wholeheartedly agree with JM Berger in his piece today, Calling them Nazis:

There’s an increasingly common argument online against referring to the alt-right by its chosen name. “Call them Nazis” is the refrain. If you haven’t said it yourself, you’ve probably seen other people saying it.

While this approach may be understandable and may suit certain rhetorical purposes, it’s a grave mistake for journalists and experts who substantively study and cover the movement to embrace this approach.

JM continues:

The alt-right category is extremely important to understanding what’s happening in this movement. Nazis are only part of this movement, or more correctly neo-Nazis, since most of them aren’t German nationalists. If neo-Nazis were America’s only problem, it would be a much smaller problem.

**

My concern here is with a somewhat different angle, and not specifically with the Charlottesville clashes. I’m noting the widespread tendency to suggest we’re already in Brownshirt territory, if not deeper in than that, and I think it may be a bit premature.

IMO, we need to be cautious in where we draw the lines that say, beyond here is Fascism, or Nazism, it seems to me: exaggeration only serves to discredit those who indulge.

There are real problems, both with overt swastika-wavers and with those who support or merely tolerate them. Which way the wind will blow over the coming few years, however, is yet to be seen.

**

However, getting back to Orwell

— it does seem to me that scooping up more than a million IP addresses of epople who may have an interest in protesting Trump gies way beyond some kind of Orwell Limit.

Orwell kept his resistance movement cellular and basically unnowable: datamining the web blows an enormous hole in that strategy.

I’d have to say that with today’s news about DOJ vs DisruptJ20, one of my personal Orwell Red Lines has been crossed.

Rock paper scissors lizards geese

August 15th, 2017

[ by Charles Cameron — oh, and children and chimps, and a stunning woman-song by Nina Paley, too ]
.

Bill Benzon just posted a piece titled Chimps can learn rock-paper-scissors (sorta’) on his New Savanna blog, introducing and questioning a paper on chimps, (human) children and RPS — fascinating!

Bill’s final paragaph, describing the common side-blotched lizard [!!]. caught me

The lower panel features an illustration from Konrad Lorenz, Paul Leyhausen, Motivation of human and animal behavior: an ethological view — showing geese whose pecking order follows the same “transverse patterning” as the female lizards do in their choosing of male mates..

Threeness, in my view, is a significant matter.

**

Earlier threeness readings:

  • Of games III: Rock, Paper, Tank
  • Spectacularly non-obvious, I: Elkus on strategy & games
  • Spectacularly non-obvious, 2: threeness games
  • **

    Ahoy!

    Bill Benzon also posted Nina Paley’s God-Mother, a new animation today. Nina P was the one who, single-handed and beyond almost all copyright, brought us the stunning, feature-length, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RzTg7YXuy34 [!!] animation of the Ramayana, Sita Sings the Blues.

    Here you go, woman / ouroboros, from the intro to Nina’s next feature:

    God-Mother from Nina Paley on Vimeo.

    Nina Paley is one of my heros for life.

    CORREX: Addendum to AQAP, the Trolley Problem — and child mind..

    August 15th, 2017

    [ by Charles Cameron — apologies ]
    .

    Addendum removed / corrected

    I’d briefly added the following at the end of my post AQAP, the Trolley Problem — and child mind..:

    Addendum, five minutes or so later:

    No sooner had I finished posting the above, than this turned up in my twitter-feed:

    Child mind?

    My bad. The image can easily be misread in this way, but as the tweeter SLandinSoCal notes:

    NO, the train is NOT running over the reporter. The reporter is trying to hold the train back. His feet are popping up railroad ties.

    I have removed this addendum from my earlier post, and this correction is for the record.

    AQAP, the Trolley Problem — and child mind..

    August 15th, 2017

    [ by Charles Cameron — a new terror-tactic from the terrorists ]
    .

    We’ve dealt with the trolley problem before here on ZP, in Trolleys come to Terror and A real-life situation not unlike the trolley problem, but with the recent online oublication of AQAP’s Inspire magazine #17, the jihadists have at last made their own view on the topic known — and if the illustration, bottom panel above, is anything to go by, this time they’re in favor of saving lives, not taking them.

    **

    Oops — when you read the whole article, you’ll see that they’re actually recommending train derailment as a tactic, in much the same way they recommended pressure-cooker bombs and “mowing truck” assaults in earlier issues.

    Damn.

    **

    And then again, ICYMI..

    Never trust anyone under the age of three..


    Switch to our mobile site