[ by Charles Cameron — from conjuring to gospel truth — third in a series ]
Kwakiutl winter ceremonial mask, closed and open
Here’s magic, as in my best recollection, a Pacific Northwestern shaman explained it to an anthro friend..
It’s my recollection that [Tlingit / Kwakiutl winter ceremonials] were both entertainment for the long winter nights and “schooling” for the young, and I have a vivid recall of reading somewhere a shaman’s admission to an anthro of the exact nature of the dramatic means by which the shaman’s capacity to defeat death was demonstrated.
I read this in the early eighties, but searching on the web I’ve found something that comes close — Clellan Stearns Ford’s record of Charles James Nowell’s memories in _Smoke from their fires: the life of a Kwakiutl chief_. Around p 120, there are two stories, the first about a girl who “turned the wrong way” during a dance, the second about a girl who is put in a box and burned. In both cases, the nature of the trickery is described but in the version I read all those years ago, the two stories were one — the girl who was put in a box in the fire pit and “burned to death” escapes through a false bottom to the box along a tunnel into the adjoining room, and her voice then issues as if from her ashes, via a kelp tube that goes from the tunnel to the adjoining room where she’s now standing.
She describes her descent into the sea realm, where she is chastened and eventually granted a boon to return to the tribe. A canoe sets out to fetch her, but by the time the audience sees it set out, she’s already secured by rope to the far side of the boat, and at a suitable distance is hauled aboard and brought back to shore, alive.
A child seeing this would be mightily predisposed to believing the shaman had healing powers, and by the time the ruse was revealed, that underpinning of faith is already in place.
In the Nowell version, even the adults, who “know” the deception involved, are deceived: “The fire burned and the box burned, and she was still singing inside, and then the box go up in flames, and they can see her burning there in her blue blanket, and all her relatives just cry and cry. Although they know it is not real, it looks so real they can’t help it. It was all a trick. There was a hole under the box with a tunnel leading out of the house, and the woman went out of the box and put a seal in her place wrapped in a blue blanket, and then someone sang into the fire through a kelp tube, her song. Oh, it looked real!”
I would like to suggest to you that magic, if you think of it as imagic, has to do with image, and is usefully considered as another term for or related to, imagination..
There are a couple of other categoies I’d like to bring to your attention: (i) coincidences or synchronicities, which can border on (2) the miraculous, at its finest a sacred business, (3) poetry, at its most beautiful, true and good, (4) sacraments, defined as revelations of “an inward an spiritual grace” my means of an “outward and physical sign” — and (5) the Eucatastrophe as described by JRR Tolkien in his masterful essay, On Fairy-tales..
The Gospels contain a fairy-story, or a story of a larger kind which embraces all the essence of fairy-stories. They contain many marvels — peculiarly artistic, beautiful, and moving: “mythical” in their perfect, selfcontained significance; and among the marvels is the greatest and most complete conceivable eucatastrophe. But this story has entered History and the primary world; the desire and aspiration of sub-creation has been raised to the fulfillment of Creation. The Birth of Christ is the eucatastrophe of Man’s history. The Resurrection is the eucatastrophe of the story of the Incarnation. This story begins and ends in joy. It has pre-eminently the “inner consistency of reality.” There is no tale ever told that men would rather find was true, and none which so many sceptical men have accepted as true on its own merits. For the Art of it has the supremely convincing tone of Primary Art, that is, of Creation. To reject it leads either to sadness or to wrath.
Magic: there’s more to it than advertising, but advertising may deploy it.
Schwarze Sonne (Black Sun), sometimes called the sonnerad: symbol has become synonymous with myriad far-right groups who traffic in neo-Nazi and/or neo-Volkisch ideologies. The symbol is based on the ancient sun wheel artifacts that were made and used by Norse and Germanic tribes as symbol of their pagan beliefs. Those sun wheels, made centuries upon centuries ago, do not usually resemble the complexity of this particular version. The version above is inlayed into the marble floor of the Castle Wewelsburg, the castle that Himmler made the spiritual and literal home of the SS during the reign of the Third Reich, and has significance within the occult practices of the SS.
The great replacement (French: le grand remplacement) is a right-wing conspiracy theory, which states that the white Catholic French population, and white Christian European population at large, is being systematically replaced with non-European people, specifically Middle Eastern, North and Sub-Saharan African populations, through mass migration and demographic growth. It associates the presence of Muslims in France with potential danger and destruction of French culture and civilization. [ .. ]
News sources will have more details on the shootings, the shooter or shooters, the trial of Brenton Tarrant and so forth. My interest, posting here, will be in this act of cruel terrorism, in Tarrant‘s manifesto and its close relationship to Anders Breivik‘s manifesto, 2083, and whatever else emerges.
Is Islamophobia the issue here? The ideology of Branton Tarrant‘s manifesto is white supremacist, but the attacks themselves, the massacres, take place not on immigration centers, hut on two mosques — clearly identifying the spear-tip of Tarrant‘s rage.
Consider: Hatred, hatred, hatred, and prayer, prayer, prayer:
The Gurdwara (Sikh temple), Oak Creek, WI, 2012
Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, NC, 2015
The Tree of Life and New Light synagogues in Pittsburgh, PA, 2018
The Al Noor and Linwood Mosques in Christchurch, NZ, 2019
There’s context there.
On this most recent occasion I feel a mix of emotions:
The terrorist massacre of women, men and children in two places of Muslim worship on Friday, the Muslim day of prayer, is heartbreaking: my tears and prayers go out to the victims, their families and friends, and all in New Zealand, a small and notably peaceful country — my friend Walter Logeman, therapist and man of peace, lives in Christchurch, and my heart goes out to him this day, as it does to Marianne Elliott, known on Twitter as @zenpeacekeeper, and Leah Farrall, @allthingsct — see below.
In this moment of rage and hate, it is good to remember and praise the lives of those who untiringly promote peace and love.
So I feel sad, very sad, and grateful for my friends.
Australian Senator Fraser Anning released a statement blaming “the immigration program which allowed Muslim fanatics to migrate to New Zealand in the first place” as “the real cause of bloodshed” following Friday’s shootings.
Tarrant’s manifesto :
The first thing to know about Tarrant‘s manifesto is that it is propaganda:
JM: The manifesto is — We treat these often as confessional documents, which are supposed to educate us about the person — but what it really is is a work of propaganda. And this one more than most.
We can tell from the manifesto that he’s a white supremacist, he’s anti-immigrant, he’s anti-Muslim, but when you try to drill down into the details,there’s not a lot of utility in the document. [ ..
One court appearance is probably going to be more illuminating nthan the document itself.
On the mix of immigration, racist and religionist issues:
Immigration and race are closely linked issues. Anti-immigration views allow white supremacists and people who have general right-wing views to incorporate a lot of different forms of hatred under one umbrella. It’s anti-Muslim, obviously, he targeted Muslims. It’s also racist as he describes it. Immigration is a convenient umbrella or fig-leaf for underlying bigotries that are more complex.
Having said that, let’s dig into the weeds, and take a look at one particular item in Tarrant‘s agenda, and that of Breivik. I’ll use the example of Constantinople, but Jerusalem and Vienna would have been other candidates..
Tarrant‘s manifesto includes a Q&A in which the imagined questioner asks:
Did/do you have ties to any other partisans/freedom fighters/ethno soldiers?
to which Tarrant responds:
I support many of those that take a stand against ethnic and cultural genocide. Luca Traini, Anders Breivik, Dylan Roof, Anton Lundin Pettersson, Darren Osbourne etc.
But I have only had brief contact with Knight Justiciar Breivik, receiving a blessing for my mission after contacting his brother knights.
That’s of particular since it mentions actual contact of some sort with Breivik , and also suggests there are in fact, as Breivik suggested, more Knights Justiciar besides (the self-proclaimed) Breivik himself.
We’ll return to that. The next question and response also mentions Breivik, and emphasizes his importance to Tarrant, whose 74-page manifesto was no boubt inspired by Breivik’s own manifesto of 1,515 pages:
Were your beliefs influenced by any other attackers?
I have read the writings of Dylan Roof and many others, but only really took true inspiration from Knight Justiciar Breivik.
Anders Breivik scans geopolitics and notes such things as Hindu nationalism in India as well as crusades and jihad, and one of his focuses within the latter pair of concerns is Anatolia, now known as Turkey — and within Turkey, Constantinople, now known, with the inclusion of largely residential areas on the Asian side of the Bosphorus, as Istanbul.
Breivik quotes a hadith of the Prophet:
Verily you shall conquer Constantinople. What a wonderful leader will he be, and what a wonderful army will that army be!
He refers to Constantinople as a gem of the Christian world:
Constantinople, the jewel of Eastern Christendom, finally fell in 1453 to the armies of Sultan Mahomet II.
He also terms it “the greatest Christian city in the world” and nites that the First Crusade was called by Pope Urban II “in response to an urgent plea for help from the Byzantine emperor in Constantinople”
Tarrant‘s manifesto is much shrter, though 77 pages is long enough to cram in a fair amount of detail, vitriol, and propaganda, including this section, in which he too writes of the Christian city of Constantinople:
You can live in peace in your own lands, and may no harm come to you.
On the east side of the Bosphorus.
But if you attempt to live in European lands, anywhere west of the Bosphorus. We will kill you and drive you roaches from our lands.
We are coming for Constantinople and we will destroy every mosque and minaret in the city.
The Hagia Sophia will be free of minarets and Constantinople will be rightfully christian owned once more.
As we have seen, Tarrant suggests there is in fact a community of Templar Knights of the sort that Breivik also claimed:
I have only had brief contact with Knight Justiciar Breivik, receiving a blessing for my mission after contacting his brother knights.
Breivik himself in his manifesto offers an open invitation to all those Europeamns who self-identify as Knights Justiciar:
Normally, any individual who decides he want to choose the road of the PCCTS (ie Knights Templar), a road of strength and honour, courage and martyrdom, should leave any other organisation for practical reasons (first and foremost in order to protect them). He will then spend a predefined time preparing himself mentally (this cannot be emphasised enough) as well as for planning the actual operation (planning, financing and eventually execution of the plan). This may take longer than 36 months depending on the nature of the assault.
Breivik also stated that the Knights Templar had been reconstituted as an order in 2002, with founding members of the following nationalities and observances:
English Protestant, English Christian atheist, French Catholic, German Christian atheist, Dutch Christian agnostic, Greek Orthodox, Russian Christian atheist, Norwegian Protestant, Serbian Orthodox, Swedish, Belgian, and European-American
That white supremacism may be, as Breivik either knew or fantasized and hoped, an international movement is suggested by the breadth of Tarrant‘s travels, financed by his “profits from investing in the cryptocurrency Bitconnect, in such places as North Korea, Poland, Ukraine, Iceland, and Argentina [details].
Breivik‘s own sense of Temoplar membership as he understands it is reported in his manifesto:
varies from 15-80 Justiciar Knights in Western Europe (2008 estimate)
And to the extent that he wishes his manifesto to foment other actions beyond his own assaults on Oslo and Utoya, Breivik has clearly been successful.
The Newtown shooter Adam Lanza reportedly collected news clippings on Breivik’s attack and other incidents of mass violence before he killed 20 children at the Sandy Hook Elementary School. Other young men, such as the British college student Liam Lyburd, have been inspired to plan or carry out mass shootings based on their admiration for Breivik’s lethality, rather than his beliefs.
U.S. Coast Guard Lieutenant Christopher Hasson was charged with planning a mass-casualty attack modeled in significant part on Breivik’s strategy, and bearing the marks of his belief system.
And now, courtesy of an Australian, New Zealand.
Clint Watts and cascading terrorism:
Clint: If you look at Al-Qaida or ISIS, it starts as this central body, this network, and then it expands out and then they inspire their followers.
In the West, it happens in reverse. Inspired followers start to network online, which build into this infrastructure.
We know this is getting more serious because the frequency and pace are picking up. When the pace picks up, that means that the network is tighter [ .. ] They’re citing each other ideologically, they’re playing to reach others’ attacks — and so this often does what I call cascading terrorism. It inspires others to begin acting.
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.
You know, the left plays a tougher game, it?s very funny. I actually think that the people on the right are tougher, but they don?t play it tougher. OK? I can tell you I have the support of the police, the support of the military, the support of the Bikers for Trump ? I have the tough people, but they don?t play it tough ? until they go to a certain point, and then it would be very bad, very bad. But the left plays it cuter and tougher. Like with all the nonsense that they do in Congress ? with all this invest[igations]?that?s all they want to do is ?you know, they do things that are nasty. Republicans never played this.
For myself as a poet, one of the great but largely unremarked horros of Brenton Tarrant‘s manifesto is its epigrap=h, spelled out in full immediately after the title, Dylan Thomas‘ great poem Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night — with emphasis on the final line:
Rage, rage against the dying of the light..
Listen to Dylan Thomas himself voice this, his final, trembling plea to his dying father:
God, that’s a breth of fresh air amidst all this hatred.
The poem is one of the finest in the English language: to see it thus dragged through the mire is shocking and saddening in the extreme.
” We were very unprepared…..There were gender gaps in Pashto [culture] that we only had a surface level understanding of….”
– Dr. Richard Ledet
Pete and Jon at The Break it Down Show discuss the theory, practice and ground truth of female engagement policy and tactics in conflict zones with Dr. Richard Ledet of Troy University. I had the pleasure of meeting and listening to Dr. Ledet speak at Quantico during a Boyd Conference on another subject some years ago.
Female Empowerment – Today we feature some of Pete and Dr. Rich’s work from their overseas time. Today they discuss their academic paper about the ethical pitfalls of female engagement in conflict zones. If you’re interested in the paper, here is an early draft they presented at a conference at Ft. Leavenworth, KS.
The peer-reviewed article will publish in the Journal of Military Ethics in 2018. These things take time, we’ll do our best to update the show notes when the article is officially published.In the meantime, enjoy Dr. Rich and Pete talking about the pitfalls of working to empower females in conflict zones.
In the Orthodox tradition, the Book of Revelations has not been among the most important texts. Yet there is something positively apocalyptic about the recent speech of the Russian Orthodox Church’s most important convert, Russian President Vladimir Putin. A nuclear-powered and nuclear-armed cruise missile that could circumnavigate the planet avoiding US missile defenses! A nuclear-powered and nuclear-armed submarine drone! And, most of all, a hypersonic “meteorite” too fast for American interceptors, a mighty ognennyi shar, a great “ball of fire”! (Jerry Lee Lewis was not credited, but then Putin’s Russia is not known for overly scrupulous honoring of property rights.)
Jerry Lee Lewis ? That’s a pop refeerence in an otherwise serious context. Let’s see..
Following the massive initial success of Alto’s Adventure, the team released a major update that added a Zen Mode to the title in 2016, which removed obstacles to create a more relaxing experience for players who simply wanted to drift off into the game world. It was around that time that Cymet moved his family from Vancouver to Toronto to work more closely with the team at Snowman, and he said that the ordeal helped “give me a sense of groundedness in this emotion we’ve tried to capture with the game, of going outside your comfort zone and putting yourself somewhere completely new that’s beautiful and interesting, and trying to find the beauty there.”
IMO, and with ref to the above and to zen, seeking beauty leads to prettiness, whereas seeking truth leads to beauty.
Placing that game art in a binary context:
Like many émigrés, Adorno was initially disoriented by US mass culture, which had not yet overrun Europe as it would after the war. This disorientation became a principled distrust. He claimed that capitalist popular culture – jazz, cinema, pop songs, and so on – manipulates us into living lives empty of true freedom, and serves only to distort our desires. Popular culture is not the spontaneous expression of the people, but a profit-driven industry – it robs us of our freedom and bends us to conform to its needs for profit.
When Metallica appeared at the 2014 Glastonbury festival there was a wake-up moment of this kind – the recognition that these guys, unlike so many who had performed there, actually had something to say. Yes, there are distinctions of quality, even in the realm of pop.
Okay, and to close with authentic beauty, art, culture….
A brilliant DoubleQuote in a single tweet:
"I said to the almond tree, ‘Friend, speak to me of God,’ and the almond tree blossomed." ~ Nikos Kazantzakis ?Vincent Van Gogh pic.twitter.com/7yUOUTkXOd
[ by Charles Cameron — on writers and analysts, via Dallas, Syria, Wagner, Bayreuth, Hitler and Israel ]
The symmetry is between two men that Graeme Wood has profiled in The Atlantic — Richard Spencer and John Georgelas aka Yahya Abu Hassan, leader of the alt-right and early American proponent of ISIS, respectively:
Both men are the only sons of wealthy north-Dallas physicians. They both bloomed late, intellectually and politically, and overcompensated by immersing themselves in books and ideas with gusto uncommon among their bourgeois demographic. Both admired Ron Paul, and both saw their home country as a broken land — and themselves as its savior.
They are also both young.
You can read about them both in greater detail in Wood’s twin accounts here:
When I worked at John L Petersen‘s think tank The Arlington Institute, the boss often used to ask me for a “leading indicator” — and I’d reply that one data point seldom meant anything to me, whereas two in parallel or opposition might indicate a trend. My motto became “two is the first number” — a mantram I’ve repeated here from time to time [1, 2, 3], finding notable backup in Aristotle, Carl Jung, and the IsmailiRasa’il Ikhwan al-Safa’, as reported in my post It is always good to find oneself in good company.
Graeme Wood must feel some satisfaction in having written profiles of two such opposite yet well-matched men as Georgelas and Spencer — I certainly take delight in the pairing — and the parallelism is truly quite striking. Yet to deduce a trend from the observation that both are “only sons of wealthy north-Dallas physicians” isn’t grounds for alerting the FBI to profile — let alone surveil — all other such only sons.
Sometimes a coincidence is just a coincidence.
And yet, and yet.
Graeme Wood is a writer, not an analyst, and while the specifics here — “only son”, “north-Dallas physician” — do not in themselves provide “actionable intelligence” for intel purposes, the two stories as Wood spells them out enrich our analytic understanding of the drivers that may be in play in the recruitment of extremists and terrorists.
Chamberlain’s pamphlet about Wagner’s operas and the theater he built for them in Bayreuth, published there in Bayreuth in 1896, is not his best-known work, however. That would be his two-volume work, Die Grundlagen des neunzehnten Jahrhunderts, or The Foundations of the Nineteenth Century — published in the same year, 1899, as Freud‘s Die Traumdeutung — which was to provide Nazism with some of its anti-Semitic ideology. Of similar interest, his 1905 Aryan Worldview.
Now I believe I understand that it is precisely this that characterizes and defines your being: the true awakener is at the same time the bestower of peace.
You are not at all, as you have been described to me, a fanatic. In fact, I would call you the complete opposite of a fanatic. The fanatic inflames the mind, you warm the heart. The fanatic wants to overwhelm people with words, you wish to convince, only to convince them-and that is why you are successful. Indeed, I would also describe you as the opposite of a politician, in the commonly accepted sense of the word, for the essence of all politics is membership of a party, whereas with you all parties disappear, consumed by the heat of your love for the fatherland. It was, I think, the misfortune of our great Bismarck that he became, as fate would have it (by no means through innate predisposition), a little too involved in politics. May you be spared this fate.
I am chasing down byways of history and culture here to be sure — and it is not my intention to make a facile comparison between Trump and Hitler. But Wagner — surely it is interesting to note that not only were Hitler and Chamberlain obsessed with Wagner’s operas, but Graeme Wood’s account of Spencer notes that at one point Richard Spencer worked as “a gofer at the Bavarian State Opera”.
Echo? Parallelism? Kinship?
Wagner is a cultural influence of connsiderable strength — as an Alex Ross article in the New Yorker, The Case for Wagner in Israel, notred in 2012:
In recent decades, musicians have periodically attempted to play Wagner in Israel, setting off impassioned protests; Na’ama Sheffi’s book “The Ring of Myths: The Israelis, Wagner, and the Nazis” gives an account of them. At an Israel Philharmonic concert in 1981, Zubin Mehta, after giving audience members an opportunity to leave the hall, conducted the “Liebestod” from “Tristan und Isolde” as an encore; in response, Ben-Zion Leitner, a Holocaust survivor and a hero of the First Arab-Israeli War, walked in front of the podium, bared his scarred stomach, and shouted, “Play Wagner over my body.” Similarly charged scenes unfolded when Daniel Barenboim led the “Tristan” Prelude in Jerusalem in 2001. This past summer, an effort by the Israel Wagner Society to present a concert at Tel Aviv University created yet another media frenzy; in the end, the university withdrew its permission, and plans to move the event to a Hilton subsequently fell through. The Israeli conductor Asher Fisch, who was to have led the concert, has personal reasons for campaigning against the unwritten ban: his mother, who was forced to leave Vienna in 1939, felt that if her son could conduct Wagner in Israel it would amount to a final victory over Hitler, and he still hopes to realize her dream.
An author’s skilled meanderings in cultural associations may not make for actionable intelligence, but they do provide invaluable context for the overt tides and little known undertows of human history.
Which in turn affect us all, and which we in turn may wish to affect or deflect..
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.