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The magic of miniatures

Monday, May 20th, 2019

[ by Charles Cameron — I wasn’t intending this to be my next post in the commercials and magic series, but here it is, with miniatures and matryoshkas all in a row — and Churchill! ]
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Who knows when it started — Egyptian shabtis were small figurines inscribed with the names of the deceased and buried with them, answering for them during judgment in the Hall of Truth where, for the best afterlife, one’s heart should weigh lighter than a feather on the scales —

Myself, buried with my mini-me.

Especially if I am a pharaoh, or person of note:

(From left) Painted shabti of Ramesses IV. 20th Dynasty; decorated shabti of the Lady of the House, Sati – reportedly from Saqqara. 18th Dynasty, reign of Amenhotep III; and, a double shabti of Huy and Ipuy, a father and son pair. 18th Dynasty. Louvre Museum, Brooklyn Museum and Museo Egizio, Turin, Italy. (Photos: Heidi Kontkanen and Margaret Patterson)

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A jar fit for a giant to drink from, one of thousands in the Laotian Plain of Jars:

I was reminded of Egyptian shabtis by an article I saw today about thousand-year-old burial practices in Laos, where the vast Plain of Jars is dotted with thousands of large “jars” so called — some have thought of them as chalices from which giants would drink — used in funerary rites, and the article contained this para:

We’d love to know why these people represented the same jars in which they placed their dead, in miniature to be buried with their dead.

Miniatures!

I suppose we all play with miniatures as children — toy guns, toy sheriff’s badges, dolls and dolls houses — all parents need to ensure their children grow up prepared for adult life! — but after-life may have come first where miniatures are concerned.

In any case, there’s an enormous, likely archetypal pull associated with the large and its small analogs.

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Look at this Myself and Mini-me commercial from National:

The large and the small together are somehow more attractive than just the large alone.

And let’s take this a step further into the realm of magic, as understood by the great anthropologist Sir JG Frazer:

Sympathetic magic, anthropologically speaking, is magic in which you enact in miniature what you want the gods to perform on a larger scale. You urinate — or as Shakespeare more delicately puts it, go to look upon a bush — so the gods will pour down their rain upon you.

That kind of magical thinking — sympathetic magical thinking — is what the boy is instinctively doing in this Farmers rooftop parking commercial, while the Farmers rep thinks it’s gravity that throws a large car way up in the air..

To be honest, my money’s with magic and the boy.

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Farther yet, and we come to the Matryoshka principle, in which Russian dolls are contained (‘nested”) within dolls within dolls:

And now consider this commercial featuring vans nested within vans:

Sir Winston Churchill was playing a brilliant variant on this Matrioshka principle when during a BBC broadcast in October 1939, he said:

I cannot forecast to you the action of Russia. It is a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma; but perhaps there is a key. That key is Russian national interest.

It’s snowing metaphoric chyrons, ignore unless interested 2

Wednesday, February 13th, 2019

[ by Charles Cameron — politics is the straightforward topic, metaphor is the metalanguage we use to describe it, and reveals more than it refers to ].
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More chyrons &c from yesterday’s haul:

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With regard to that last one:

On Friday, Donald Trump tweeted the headline to a recent Washington Examiner story, which read: “Border rancher: ‘We’ve found prayer rugs out here. It’s unreal.’” As the headline suggests, the story is about a New Mexico rancher who claims to have seen prayer rugs—typically used by observers of Islam—near the U.S.-Mexico border. After the headline, Trump added this: “People coming across the Southern Border from many countries, some of which would be a big surprise.”

His decision to amplify the Examiner piece has since come under scrutiny. Why? Because the prayer-rug story sounds an awful lot like something that happens in Sicario: Day of the Soldado, as several people have pointed out on Twitter.

The 2018 action film, which revolves around the drug war along the border, opens with border agents chasing after a group of migrants—one of whom turns out to be a Muslim suicide bomber. He kneels, prays, then detonates his bomb. After that, agents come across abandoned prayer rugs along the border; in the next scene, three suicide bombers walk into a store in Kansas City and kill innocent civilians.

A case of Matryoshka realities:

The particular interest here from a formal point of view is that it is Borgesian or Escherian in its flipping of realities — but that only makes the Islamophobia more poisonous, because it’s delivered in what’s effectively a subliminal manner.

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More chyrons etc:

And the suggestions Melber’s viewers made for art illustrative of the Mueller probe:

That whole painting series relates back to the Ari Melber conversation I quoted in the previous post, in which his guests suggested the Mueller probe and Giuliani in particular reminded them of Impressionism, Cubism and Jackson Pollock, surrealism, and Salvador Dali with his melting clocks..

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Need to slip this in, it’s excerpted from my transcription of a clip of Hakeem Jeffries of the House Judiciary Cttee questioning Whitaker:

Manafort. Gates, Cohen, Papanopoulos, and Stone. All in deep trouble. One by one, All the President’s Men, going down in flames. It’s often said, where there’s smoke there’s fire. There’s a lot of smoke emanating from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue now. Yet. You decided not to recuse yourself, is that right?

And I’m not sure when this exchange took place, but it’s Nicolle Wallace talking with Brennan, and the metaphor here comes from physics (Everett‘s many worlds theory) via science fiction:

What’s it like to live in these parallel worlds, where the President doesn’t just want to have whatever policy he wants, he wants whatever facts he chooses to pursue that policy..

The President. Nicolle says, doesn’t want facts, he wants — let’s call them ficts.

And Nicolle to Brennan again:

You’ve been warning about this sort of lurch towards autocratic behaviors — one of them is bashing the intelligence community, one of them is bashing law enforcement and the rule if low, another one is bashing the media..

Bash, bash, bash.

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Phew.

Here are a few more chyrons from yesterday:

And here’s a first chyron from today — this one continuing the shift of metaphoric emphasis from sports and games to warfare, the metaphor Trump uses is landmines.. metaphorically invoking hidden dangers that suddenly appear to attack you when you least expect it:

It’s snowing metaphoric chyrons, ignore unless interested

Wednesday, February 13th, 2019

[ by Charles Cameron — thug, pit bull, face-off, head-to-head, hardball, hard-charging, trolling, dueling, jabbing, ripping, hammering, gutting, hit job.. ]
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Those are the screen-grabs — here are some of my fallible transcriptions of spoken snippets with metaphoric or other interest:

From the Whitaker hearinn:

Congressman, I’m not a puppet to repeat what you’re saying ..

2/11/2019, Chris Matthews, Hardball:

00 We’ve got an explosive show for you tonight ..
We’re also following the face-off in El Paso, TX, where President Trump and Bedo O’Rourke are holding dueling real-time rallies over the border wall .. ***
11 Mimi Rocah, More, more dominoes, more chips to fall ..
39 This is getting to be quite a cage match between a lot of people and his guy, Trump ..
53 Klobachar: You have to pick your battles with him ..

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The dismissive / offensive Trump tweet reference to the Trail of Tears:

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2/11/2019, Ari Melber, The Beat:

Building a case like this .. it’;s sort of like Impressionism.

When you get up close, not sure what you’re seeing, when you step back, aha!

It also raises the question of whether Rudy Giuliani’s style is more Cubist ..

Or Jackson Pollock, just throwing stuff at the wall ..

It’s surreal, it’s surreal. And by the wayu that’s the painting school, I think, Giuliani is in. It’s surrealism, surrealism, pure Dali ..

And so you say, melting clocks all around — that makes good sense to me ..

Great conversation!

Donald Trump ploughing all kinds of time watching television and tweeting at critics, who say he spends too much time watching television and tweetierng at critics. —
Andrew Weissmann is a very, very powerful weapon in the government’s arsenal ..
Trump and Beto O’Rourke holding dueling rallies near the border ..

Hallie Jackson 2/12/2019

27 We never thought we we were going to find a contract between Trump and Vlad saying, Hey, let’s collude ..
President Trump and Beto O’Rourke do their owb kind of Texas Two-step there, split-screen style, in El Paso, Texas .. *****

Nicolle to Brennan:I feel like you just exploded what I call a truth bomb ..

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I’m closing this post here and taking the remainder of my chyrons &c into a new post, making this look very much like the beginning of a series. We’ll continue with posts on other topics from strategy to imagination, and those not interested in my collection of metaphors, chyrons and headlines can safely ignore this series.

Eyes everywhere and the World Cup

Friday, June 22nd, 2018

[ by Charles Cameron — just keeping a paranoid eye on an old and subtle game.. ]
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You know I’m always looking out for examples of the Matryoshka doll effect, where a large doll holds smaller, nested “child” dolls, one within the other in a diminishing series — theoretically ad infinitum — and more generally of macro-micro, as a pattern always worth pondering?

Well, it’s World Cup time, and The Atlantic just posted a fine run of photos of soccer pitches from around the world — one of which caught my eye:

That’s just a detail, showing you the larger radomes of the Bundesnachrichtendienst / German Intel Service, and smaller versions of the same used to play soccer and — who knows? — pick up signals of my and your interactions around the world and off into near space too perhaps.. Japanese reports of moon tastings, my own poems, your moon-bounced messages..

Here, for your enjoyment, is the whole picture:


Sean Gallup / Getty

People play football at a field next to radomes of the digital communications listening station of the Bundesnachrichtendienst, the German intelligence agency, on June 2, 2015, in Bad Aibling, Germany.

Photographer Sean Gallup certainly has a strong eye for macro-micro, too.

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When I was first introduced to NSA by somone who knew it better at least than I did after dipping into James Bamford, he explained:

NSA > National Security Agency > No Such Agency > “Nonesuch to you, Mister”

I’m grateful Nonesuch wasn’t named the Bundesnachrichtendienst!

See the rest of The Atlantic‘s soccer fields around the world, including this image:


RAUL ARBOLEDA/AFP/Getty Images)

The caption here reads:

Ex-FARC rebels play football in the unarmed zone known as Territorial Spaces for Training and Reincorporation (ETCR in Spanish) “Antonio Narino”, where former guerrilla fighters receive training to facilitate their development, reconciliation and reincorporation to civilian life, in Icononzo, Tolima Department, Colombia, on June 12, 2018

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Next up in an expanding line of intelligent footballs, way out past our friendly moon: the Dyson sphere and matroshka brain architecture ..


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