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On the literary transmission of terror: 1: mirroring Twitter-feeds

Monday, August 5th, 2019

[ by Charles Cameron — IMO, these paired mass casualty shootings call for mass humility on both sides of the divide — let’s build a corpus callosum for the nation ]
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Let’s just do this with headlines, the El Paso shooter above, the Dayton shooter below:

The moral would appear to be: no matter what “side” you’re on, there may be some folk who take it to an extremist extreme. They may kill for ideas on “your side” — at least in contemporary American politics. I tend to the left, so Crusius is no surprise, but Connor Betts, WTF?

ANd you’ll tell me it’s the opposite way around for some of you — WTF are Crusius and others like him doing?

And BTW, DoubleQuote!

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Okay — Connor Betts:

The Dayton shooting was the 250th mass shooting “event” in the US this year, but its exact motivation is unclear at the time of this writing — the shooter, Connor Betts, who was wearing a bullet-proof vest, killed his sister among others, and had written a “hit list” of girls while at High School at one point — so school issues and family feud are among the possible explanations for his violence, which killed 9 in 26 seconds before he was taken down by police. He was far from a Breivik follower, however. His Twitter page revealed, as reported by Heavy:

Or quoting Heavy again —

[H]e described himself as “he/him / anime fan / metalhead / leftist / i’m going to hell and i’m not coming back.” He wrote on Twitter that he would happily vote for Democrat Elizabeth Warren, praised Satan, was upset about the 2016 presidential election results, and added, “I want socialism, and i’ll not wait for the idiots to finally come round to understanding.”

That’s pretty aggressively [is that the word?] left and male, eh?

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Sources:

  • Heavy, Patrick Crusius: Suspect’s Twitter Page Shows Trump Support
  • Heavy, Connor Betts: Twitter Posts on Being a Leftist, Guns
  • Readings:

  • Politico, What Both Sides Don’t Get About American Gun Culture
  • The Hill, Graham to offer bipartisan ‘red flag’ bill with Trump’s support [added]
  • Whoa boy, Roy Lichtenstein

    Sunday, June 30th, 2019

    [ by Charles Cameron — from comix-pop to painting paint to a swirling portrait of complexity, aka tohu=bohu ]
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    Whoa boy, I had no idea Roy Lichtenstein ever painted anything like this:

    **

    I knew, of course, that he’d painted blown-up mersions of comic frames:

    Whaam! 1963 Roy Lichtenstein 1923-1997 Purchased 1966

    But that’s too easily “cool” to impress me much. Far more interesting is his painting of painting:

    He’s still doing a blow-up, in this case even more extreme than in his comic-book blow up Whaam, above — but this time it’s self-conscious, a painter taking paint for his subject, a serpent biting its own tail you might say, an exemplary ouroboros.

    **

    And in the course of my quick search for Lichtenstein images, I also found this, which interests me as, potentially, an image of multiple musical voices intersecting and separating — a strange, wave-like form of polyphony:

    Composition II 1996 Roy Lichtenstein 1923-1997 ARTIST ROOMS Tate and National Galleries of Scotland. Lent by The Roy Lichtenstein Foundation Collection 2015

    This in turn reminds me of the “wavy music” in Reynolds Stone‘s bookplate for my aunt Esther:

    **

    But to return to that first image:

    That’s an astonishing image of tohu-bohu, the “formless and void” just before creation as envisaged in Genesis. And here’s my point:

    This image is both patterned (with formal properties) and abstract (formless), as befits that great mirror in which all forms arise and fade away, and thus a superb image for complexity, which is both patterned like overlapping waves, and swirling beyond our comprehension..

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    Here’s R Cromb‘s version of tohu-bohu:

    And that of the Nuremberg Chronicle, 1493:

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    Ah, for a breath of theology hovering above the waters, see Catherine Keller & a theology of chaos, Part 1 and, no doubt, Catherine Keller, The Face of the Deep: A Theology of Becoming.

    Walls. Christianity & poetry. And nations, identities & borders

    Monday, February 25th, 2019

    [ by Charles Cameron — continuing our probing of borders, and liminality, with hints of mirroring and parallelism ]
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    Let’s start with a “borders” video for your consideration:

    That’s worth viewing, though it’s no more the final word on the subject than Robert Frost‘s poem, Mending Wall:

    Something there is that doesn’t love a wall,
    That sends the frozen-ground-swell under it,
    And spills the upper boulders in the sun;
    And makes gaps even two can pass abreast.
    The work of hunters is another thing:
    I have come after them and made repair
    Where they have left not one stone on a stone,
    But they would have the rabbit out of hiding,
    To please the yelping dogs. The gaps I mean,
    No one has seen them made or heard them made,
    But at spring mending-time we find them there.

    Walls here, I’d, suggest, are liminal as forming borders between one part of the neighborhood and another — but those gaps are likewise liminal, separating if you will one section of all from another. As this (minor) reading suggests, the situation is more complex than a simple statement that walls are bad / good.

    Indeed, as here, poetry is often deployed in the service of nuance..

    **

    We’ve had earlier Zenpundit posts on liminality and borders, among them:

  • Of border crossings, and the pilgrimage to Arbaeen in Karbala
  • Violence at three borders, naturally it’s a pattern
  • Borders, limina and unity
  • Borders as metaphors and membranes
  • McCabe and Melber, bright lines and fuzzy borders
  • **

    My interest here is first drawn in by succinctly stated patterns of mirroring and parallelism found in an Atlantic article, What Does It Mean to Be a Canadian Citizen? The first comes from JFK, and may indeed be his most frequently quoted utterance:

    Ask not what your country can do for you—ask what you can do for your country

    That’s the mirroring example.

    The parallel universes example suggested here is no less succinct:

    The time-honored saying “No taxation without representation” does seem to imply, as a corollary, “No representation without taxation.”

    **

    Okay, those are the two quotes that caught my eye for reasons of formal symmetry. The rest of the article, I’d suggest, is extremely interesting for what it says about borders, nationalities and Canada in particular. Here’s one of the writer’s crucial observations:

    About 24 percent of immigrants from Hong Kong return to the territory after acquiring Canadian citizenship, as do 30 percent of immigrants from Taiwan.

    You can see the appeal. Hong Kong’s economy is growing much faster than Canada’s. Its income-tax rates top out at 17 percent. Canada does not tax the foreign-source income of nonresident citizens, in effect creating a geopolitical arbitrage opportunity too attractive to miss: the protections of Canadian nationality at low Hong Kong prices.

    And this, from the concluding para, will give you an idea of the questions the article leaves us with:

    Is citizenship a kind of subscription service, to be suspended and resumed as our needs change? Are countries competing service providers, their terms and conditions subject to the ebbs and flows of consumer preference? Edmund Burke long ago articulated an ambitious vision of society as a “partnership not only between those who are living, but between those who are living, those who are dead, and those who are to be born.” Does any of that still resonate? Or is it a bygone idea of a vanished age, dissolved in a globalized world?

    Punch counter punch

    Sunday, November 25th, 2018

    [ by Charles Cameron — a perfect two-snake pattern from the WaPo headline writers ]
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    As patterns go, this one is hard to beat:

    Source:

  • Washington Post, John Roberts counterpunches the counterpunching president
  • **

    As you may have gathered, the human propensity for patterning is an enduring interest of mine, and my collecting of such things as ouroboroi, parallelisms, paradoxes, moebius formats and mirrorings is effectively a small pattern language study after the example of Christopher Alexander‘s Pattern Language. Mine, drawing its materials from verbal and visual exemplars rather than architectural ones, perhaps reveals more about the workings of the human mind, aka consciousness.

    The “outer world” has yet to catch up with the significance of these studies..

    **

    At a time when my worldly goods in book form consisted of fifty or so over-thumbed, used science fiction paperbacks and one hardback — I no longer recall what it was — I won a minor poetry prize of $50 and decided it was better to splurge it on one thing I’d really treasure than to dribble it away, a coffee here, a sandwich there.. much though I like my coffees.

    Henbce, for about $45, I aacquired my copy of Alexander’s book — hardback #2!

    An I Ching for the West! Nobel-worthy! A Master’s Masterpiece!

    Reciprocal: a term for form, symmetry, balance — and beyond

    Monday, August 13th, 2018

    [ by Charles Cameron — weaving a web of mirrors, echos, neurons and mimetics ]
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    Magic: the Gathering — the game designers know this pattern well!

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    The Far Right And Reciprocal Radicalisation

    Could fragmentation within the Far-Right contribute to increasingly extreme responses to Islamist terrorism? There is increasing evidence of instrumental responses from some of the most extreme groups, which seek to encourage the strategic use of violence.

    Reciprocal radicalisation, or cumulative extremism, is a concept that suggests extremist groups become more extreme in response to each other’s activity. This means a group may frame violence as justified or necessary because they perceive an opposing group as extreme. Identifying how to respond to such a dynamic has become increasingly important, as terrorist threats from both Far-Right and Islamist groups increase, alongside increased hate crime and group membership.

    The nature of siloing would encourage a focus on ISIS violence alone, a terrorism subset of natsec foreign policy, or on alt-right violence alone, a terrorism subset of natsec interior policy, thus remaining blind to the possibility that the two comprise a whole system, with systemic interactions between the two. The UK Centre for Research and Evidence on Security Threats report whose header and intro paragraph I’m quoting here is dealing with a pattern in that system, huzzah.

    Such patterns — true reciprocity, which is a form of mirroring, and the kind of escalating reciprocity described here, which is more like an echo chamber with built-in feedback loop, are significant both because they cross-pollinate silos, in a system-friendly way, but also because they offer hints of a pattern language of forms that can be watched for and cataloged.

    **

    Wilder speculation:

    Speaking of mirroring — other readings of mine recently have brought to my attention the intersection of two “hot” fields of study — mirror neurons as a biological substrate for much in human behavior, including our propensity of violence, and Rene Girard’s mimetics as a psychological substrate for much in human nature, including our propensity of violence..

    The conjunction of the two, which I intuited, is explored in Vittorio Gallese, The Two Sides of Mimesis: Girards Mimetic Theory, Embodied Simulation and Social Identification.

    Again, we have a creative leap, again we have silo-crossing, and again mirroring is the form that lies behind the analogical possibility that creates the possibility of the leap.


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