Like a deeper layer of Hell, 8chan is an image board for anyone who is too much of an edgelord for 4chan. Created during the Gamergate fiasco when even the brass of 4chan decided that situation was getting out of hand and became a base of operations of sorts for the GG crowd.
From today’s Twitter feed, courtesy of J Scott Shipman:
King cobra bites python. Python constricts cobra. Cobra dies of constriction. Python dies from venom. 100% holy shit.. pic.twitter.com/2PMrtZRDrk
That sadhus like to meditate in cremation grounds was already known to me — they worship Lord Shiva, who likes to meditate there himself, not infrequently covers himself in ashes, and wears a necklace of skulls..
What surprised me though, was to find Russell Moore, president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, and author of The Storm-Tossed Family: How the Cross Reshapes the Home, Christianity Today‘s Book of the Year, recommending so similar a practice..
And if the sadhu‘s practice seems more extreme — fiercer, spiritually? — than Dr Moore‘s quieter — dare I, should I really say, more contemplative? — approach, that only reminds me of Klaus Klostermaier‘s book, Hindu and Christian in Vrindaban, and this marvelous graph:
Theology at 120 degrees Fahrenheit in the shade seems after all, different from theology at 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Theology accompanied by tough chapattis and smoky tea seems different from theology with roast chicken and a glass of wine. Now, what is different, theos or theologian? The theologian at 70 degrees Fahrenheit is in a good position presumes God to be happy and contended, well-fed and rested, without needs of any kind. The theologian at 120 degrees Fahrenheit tries to imagine a God who is hungry and thirsty, who suffers and is sad, who sheds perspiration and knows despair.
Here’s Fr Klostermaier saying Mass in Vrindaban:
First thing in the morning I celebrate the Mass. I wonder if any person responsible for prescribing the liturgical vestments in use today ever read mass at 113 degrees Fahrenheit, in a closed room without a fan? Clouds of flies swarm around the chalice and host. They settle on the hands, on the perspiring face. They cannot be driven away, but return for the tenth time to the place from which they have been chased away. The whole body burns and itches. The clothes are damp, even the vestments. They soon dry. If a priest does not wear them all, he commits – according to existing canon law – at least a dozen or so mortal sins all at once. And it seems impossible to survive, physically or spiritually, without the Mass.
Above the highest heaven is the dwelling place of Krishna. It is a place of infinite idyllic peace, where the dark and gentle river Yamuna flows beside a flowered meadow, where cattle graze; on the river’s bank sweet-scented trees blossom and bend their branches to the earth, where peacocks dance and nightingales call softly. Here Krishna, ever-young, sits beneath the trees, the sound of his flute echoing the nightingales’ call. Sometimes he laughs and jokes and wrestles with his friends, sometimes he teases the cowherd-girls of the village, the Gopis, as they come to the river for water. And sometimes, in the dusk of days an eon long, his flute’s call summons the Gopis to his side. They leave their homes and families and husbands and honor — as it is called by men — and go to him. Their love for him is deeper than their fear of dishonor. He is the fulfillment of all desire…
[ by Charles Cameron — via Strange Fruit and Jonestown, deviously wandering, to Merton and thence O Happy Day ]
Let’s start with the exceeding dark, brilliantly brought to us by Billie Holiday:
I got there via the phrase “strange fruit” — which cropped up without any overt reference to the song in an account of the aftermath of the Jonestown mass-suicide / murder in Guyana — Gaiutra Bahadur‘s The Jonestown We Don’t Know in the NYRB.
A sapling had lifted a child’s patent leather shoe off the ground like “strange fruit that some rare and exotic plant had produced.”
As I tweeted on reading this, “shades of Southern trees bear strange fruit / Blood on the leaves and blood at the root” — Ms. Bahadur responded, “I also thought of this song when I read those lines” to which I replied, “I’m betting Jan Carew. was conscious of it, too.” — Jim Carew being one of Ms. Bahadur‘s sources and the grandson of the Carib chief who had observed Jonestown from its inception to its post-destruction, albeit invisible to the participants from the fringes of the forest surrounding Jim Jones‘ settlement.. “I agree, he probably was” Ms Bahadur commented in closing out our little Twitter ping-pong.
Ms. Bahadur is a vivid raconteur.
Here’s more on the Carib chief, his grandson Carew, and Jonestown from her marvelous piece and those forest fringes:
Jonestown was built in the Kaituma region, heartland of the Caribs, who had dispersed to various islands from their historical homeland in Guyana over centuries. Named after the river running through it, Kaituma means Land of the Everlasting Dreamers..
With candle flies in bottles to light the way, I walked amongst their dead. They’d died in circles, like worshippers around invisible altars
Carew reflected that if anyone understood mass suicides, it was the Caribs, whose mythology marks sites across the Caribbean islands where they jumped from cliffs to their deaths rather than accept slavery at the hands of European colonizers..
I hope you can appreciate with me the poetry to be seen in these quotes.. dark though the Jonestown tragedy indeed was..
Here’s how I was taking this: it seemed like another glimpse, from another angle, of the rich stew of religions bleeding into everything and blossoming anew where the Americas meet, that I’d mentioned in a tweet the day before — a tweet I was, let me admit, just a wee bit proud of:
For the record, far & away most fascinating, explosive area of religious studies these days is the cross-border Mexico-USian folk-syncretic part-narco-theological terrain, Santa Muerte, Templarios cartel &c, studied by Andrew Chesnut, Kate Kingsbury, Robert Bunker and David Metcalfe, with more doctorates between them than I can count.
and here’s my follow-up:
Life lives at the intersection of cultural anthropology, comparative religion & depth psychology — not studied as three separate fields, but as one breathing whole, since the drivers of human actions found at that hermetic crossroads are among the most radical, powerful for change
These have been a rich couple of days for my stumbling onto materials of this sort.
Here are some more mythico-anthro-religious quotes of keen interest — two concerning the Northern Lights:
In ancient China and Europe, the auroras were dragons and serpents, flitting around in the night. In Scandinavian folklore, they were the burning archway that allowed gods to move between heaven and Earth.
According to Sami mythology, spirits are present in everything, from rocks and trees, foxes and reindeer, and the northern lights in the sky.
Those quotes are from what’s ostensibly an Atlantic “science” article, An Ancient Tradition Unfolds in New York, subtitled “The recent light show over the city tapped into a deep vein in human culture”. The city, here, is New York. Is it always?
As to the Sami — here I’d like to drop in the cover of a paperback just issued by Hurst publishers in London, just so you know:
their camouflage is so perfectly tuned that they appear ethereal, as though made from storm clouds
Who they? Rangers? SEALs? Storm clouds themselves? the Fay? Angels? –Who knows? I’ll give you a hint — Peter Matthiessen. Beautiful, no? who or whatever they are..
And then there’sThomas Merton, Trappist monk, priest, hermit, writer, world traveler, on his final journey from Gethsemani Abbey in Kentucky to visit his Buddhist monastic equivalents in Thailand…
I dreamed I was, temporarily, back at Gethsemani. I was dressed in a Buddhist monk’s habit
Merton’s, i suppose, was one of my poet transmissions, delivered by letter. I was just two days into 21 at the time., more than a half century ago.
We’re getting lighter, time to close these files and give you the final video.
Jonestown was gruesome with its strange fruit, lynchings, lynchings and lynchings likewise. It is, I surmise, the depth of our griefs and wounds that allows in us an equal height of joy — as though our griefs hollow us, and thus we can be filled with joy..
Within the profundity of Billie Holiday mourning, then, let us find the possibility Ray Charles embodies in his song, O Happy Day:
[ by Charles Cameron — starts with an anthro DoubleQuote inspired by this morning’s readings & a Steve Martin tweet — though in sensitive times it might be best not to chuckle, let alone guffaw, at strangers’ strange ways ]
One: The tearless eye of a NASA camera on the occasion of the Challenger blow-up:
One of our reporters, who happened to be at a distant nasa base at the time, tells us that afterward a television monitor for nasa’s own internal satellite service kept on its screen a view from a camera on the beach at Cape Canaveral which had been following the spacecraft’s ascent. Now that camera simply stared searchingly out over the blue-gray sea to where it met the blue-gray sky, like a sailor’s widow gazing endlessly at the horizon. Twenty-eight years into the space age, the sea is as much a symbol of eternity as the sky. Both have swallowed up the Challenger and its crew, leaving behind a double emptiness of sea and space.
Two: The professional Ghanaian substitute for tearless eyes:
Ami Dokli is the leader of one of the several groups of professional mourners in Ghana. In a recent interview with BBC Africa, she said that some people cannot cry at their relatives’ funerals, so they rely on her and her team to do the wailing. Dokli and the other women in her team are all widows who, after their husbands died, decided to come together to help others give their loved-ones a proper send-off to the afterlife. But crying for strangers is not the easiest thing in the world, so professional mourners charge a fee for their services, the size of which is in direct relation to the size of the funeral. If it’s a big funeral, their tears cost more.
Do you want to boost your funeral? Hire me….the professional mourner to come and cry at the funeral. Below are the “Summer Special” prices:
1. Normal crying $50,
2. Bahamian hollering $100,
3. Crying and rolling on the ground $150,
4. Crying and threatening to jump into the grave $200,
5. Crying and actually jumping in the grave $1000
That’s my DoubleQuote for the day.
A clutch of videos:
Ghanaian Professional Wailing mourners:
Promotional — funerala with a white lady mourner, extra:
[ by Charles Cameron — a theoretical question or suggestion, with serious or curious personal implications ]
This will get personal, but I’m aiming for a question or suggestion regarding the mapping of risks, in terms both of human life expectancy and of any and all other forms of risk assessment.
moments to flatline — but enough of that
Well, well, I guess some predictive nethods may be better than others. Prophecy has the divine seal of approval, so there’s really no contest except When Prophecy Fails, as Festinger had the audacity to suggest.
Fallback methods, in that event, include prediction, medical prognosis or actuarial life expectancy, mortality or maybe just morbidity, fortune-telling of various sorts — cookie, cookies, tellers, aura readings, tarot..
And for myself, personally, there are various levels of risk that if mapped together would provide a graph with several nodes — to name the obvious, geopolitical risk, life expectancy, expectancy without dialysis, and bleed out.
Let’s takee a stab.
By geopolitical risk I mean roughly what the Doomsday Clock of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists implies — not the time in minutes to Doomsday, but the risk that we’ll be fried in the next year or eight, three, fifteen.. forty-eight.
The year just past proved perilous and chaotic, a year in which many of the risks foreshadowed in our last Clock statement came into full relief. In 2017, we saw reckless language in the nuclear realm heat up already dangerous situations and re-learned that minimizing evidence-based assessments regarding climate and other global challenges does not lead to better public policies.
Eight years or forty-eight?
Let’s hope Doomsday’s a long time coming, or indefinitely postponed.
actuarial life table simplified, simplified
Zeroing in, there’s my life expectancy / prognosis. A couple of years ago, a physician friend gave me (informally) fifty-fifty odds of living the year out, and revised his guesstimate upwards as the year inproved my condition. Okay, five years would get me to eighty, which considering my state of health (morbidity) may be a bit optimistic (mortality). I’ve heard of people on dialysis for sixteen years, and then there are those who get transplants..
But if for some reason, my access to dialysis was cut off, I’m told I’d have eight to maybe twelve days — and Russians toppling the grid, or the President and Congress pulling appropriate insurance might switch me from optimist to Soli Deo Gloria
— in double quick time.
And then there’s arterial bleed out, against which precautions are believe me taken. A minute? four? The equivalent, perhaps, of stepping on a jumping jack in Afghanistan? Kiss your Self goodbye.
So a number, a length of time, can be assessed for any one of these, and when people who study in the assessment of risk can give that number, backing it up with whatever persuasions they find appropriate. A number. 50-50. Three years. By my calculation, the Book of Revelation. By their calculation, the Doomsday Clock of the Atomic Scientists. What, as the younglings say, ev. But a single number, or more expansively, range.
But here’s my question: does anyone have a graphical method for mapping all the variants of risk, say the ones I listed for my personal case?
It feels a bit like a ratcheted system – failing death by nuclear annihilation or Yosemite blowing, there’s my prognosis, hopefully a matter of years. That can jum suddenly to days in the grid goes don (think Puerto Rico) — and leap toi a handful of minutes if, Black Swan forbid, a procedure fails and I’m unexpectedly bleeding out.
So does anyonbe make ratcheted graps of how one risk slips to another?
>And my suggestion, if nobody has such a mapping scheme that I could give a look-see to, is that we should think about how to make such a mapping systen=m available.
Thank you for reading, considering, responding to question or suggestion.
Zenpundit is a blog dedicated to exploring the intersections of foreign policy, history, military theory, national security,strategic thinking, futurism, cognition and a number of other esoteric pursuits.