[ by Charles Cameron — Universities hither and yon, illustrating Matthew 25:29 and it clearly still is news ]
Celebrated cellist Yo-Yo Ma, and acclaimed astronomer Professor Andrea Ghez were among the recipients of honorary degrees at Encaenia..
News below from my alma mater, the University of Oxford
It’s worth noting that the gift to the humanities (top panel, above), though smaller than that to the sciences (lower panel), is to the University of Oxford itself, whereas the gift to the sciences, though larger, is to the city of Oxford.
But Oxford — city with university, town and gown — benefits in both cases.
Contrast that with the University of Alaska:
My hope here would be for the university to prioritize the full continuation of its unique services – the indigenous language and arctic climate change programs — all else is covered elsewhere..
A Biblical explanation:
For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath.
[ by Charles Cameron — Janis, obviously, & Sovereign Citizens, a curious and dangerous wrinkle on anti-governmental thinking worth your attention, with some Janis facts that may surprise you in the tail ]
Here’s a DoubleQuote for you — this from JJ MacNab in a thread about a Sovereign Citizen:
Writing fake checks for $1,680,000 isn’t a political or religious statement even if you hold deep-seated beliefs that owning a new Camaro ZL1, Corvette, and Sierra will bring you closer to God.
And this from Janis Joplin — another JJ, eh?
I bring you this DoubleQuote in fun, and to have some Janis Joplin near to hand.. but the JJ MacNab thread is serious business:
Attempting to defraud the government is what sov cits do. They believe that if they can just get their magical incantation correct, the gov will throw huge bundles of free money at them. Attempting to claim this free money isn’t a political statement for crap’s sake.
From my POV, it can be religious in an anthro-sociological sense, and I’m glad I don’t have to decide between MacNab and Noah Feldman on the First Amendment issue — I think as a Brit I can safely recuse myself from that one…
That last link, the snapshot, is a decent intro to its subject matter — a movement that cops know all too well as a source of dangerously violence at traffic stops, and the courts know equally well as a source of copious legally mumbo-jumbo’d paperwork — as is regularly the case with MacNab, recommended.
Did you know?
Janis recorded that song two days before her death
She snagged the first line from a McClure song / poem
[ 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:
In August, Glosser published an essay in Politico magazine chiding his nephew by sharing the family’s own immigration story as Jews who fled the shtetls of Eastern Europe. “I have watched with dismay and increasing horror as my nephew,” Glosser wrote, “an educated man who is well aware of his heritage, has become the architect of immigration policies that repudiate the very foundation of our family’s life in this country.”
Is House of Cards a poem, then?
Doug Stamper is the dog.
In the opening moments of Netflix’s House of Cards premiere episode from 2013, Frank Underwood (Kevin Spacey) hunched over a dog that’d been injured by a car. “There are two kinds of pain,” he said into the camera. “The sort of pain that makes you strong, or useless pain, the sort of pain that’s only suffering. I have no patience for useless things. Moments like this require someone who will act, who will do the unpleasant thing, the necessary thing.”
He then broke the dog’s neck. “There,” he said. “No more pain.”
In the final moments of the final episode of House of Cards—which occurs in a truncated season made after Spacey left the show due to allegations of sexual misconduct—the president, Claire Hale Underwood (Robin Wright), cradles her dead husband’s henchman, Doug Stamper (Michael Kelly), in her lap. She has just stabbed him in the belly with a letter opener after he nearly slit her throat with it. Underwood puts her hand over his mouth and nose and tells him that everything’s going to be okay. His eyes close. “There, no more pain,” she says. Her eyes flick toward the camera. The credits roll.
Some sort of rhyming is going on here, clearly, but does the poem mean anything?
That “rhyme” is a DoubleQuote, really — a thought-rhyme if you like, and on a technical film-making sense a clever twist to end on. Not so much a synchronicity or coincidence, more a twist of authorial fate.
Twists of fate, eh? And tangled up in blue? Here are two recent Dylan pieces to note:
[ by Charles Cameron — an interdisciplinary meditation on what falls like rain — savor these two at a time, and take your time ]
Gary BB Coleman:
Prose version, Roger Shattuck:
It’s raining women’s voices as if they had died even in memory
And it’s raining you as well marvellous encounters of my life O little drops
Those rearing clouds begin to neigh a whole universe of auricular cities
Listen if it rains while regret and disdain weep to an ancient music
Listen to the bonds fall off which hold you above and below
Clearly drums fall like rain. Hammer blows?
C.B. Cook and gang:
Portia, in Merchant of Venice:
The quality of mercy is not strained;
It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven
Upon the place beneath. It is twice blest;
It blesseth him that gives and him that takes:
Like I said, listen to these, two by two —
The second one here, at four hours, will likely outlast you — but do listen to a minute or three..
As my fingers began to manipulate over keys, words began to fall in place on the melody like drops of water falling from the crevice of a rock,” Dorsey later said. He gave the first performance of “Precious Lord” at his church shortly after his wife and baby’s death, and the act of uninhibited spiritual praise was forever changed.
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