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Eros, the Renaissance and advertising

Sunday, May 5th, 2019

[ by Charles Cameron — Dell ad challenges magic, Couliano shows advertising is magic (in the Renaissance sense) — intro to a series on TV commercials ]
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Continuing the series we began with Advertising series 01: Music..

Dell intro:

Dell Technologies, not having much historical insight into either magic or advertising, pits magic against tech and suggests that tech wins, hands down..

I take that as a personal affront..

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Ioan Couliano:

The late, esteemed scholar Ioan Couliano, in contrast to Dell, shows in his great book Eros and Magic in the Renaissance that magic, as practiced in the Renaissance, is precisely what advertising is up to today..

Renaissance magic, according to Couliano, was a scientifically plausible attempt to manipulate individuals and groups based on a knowledge of motivations, particularly erotic motivations. Its key principle was that everyone (and in a sense everything) could be influenced by appeal to sexual desire. In addition, the magician relied on a profound knowledge of the art of memory to manipulate the imaginations of his subjects. In these respects, Couliano suggests, magic is the precursor of the modern psychological and sociological sciences, and the magician is the distant ancestor of the psychoanalyst and the advertising and publicity agent.

That’s from the cover of Couliano‘s book, and the remainder of this post will track eros from simple erotic desire — mostly from the male perspective? — to the mystical ascent in response to the divine beloved..

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Desire, the universal lure:

The lure of the erotic will peel your money from your wallet in various skillful ways:

Sandals

What is love? Love is advertising. Love — didn’t the Beatles mention this? — is all you need.

Nugenix:

What is love? It is nod-nod, wink-wink..

You wanna go more overt still?

For that (beer) you’d best be in Rio..

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And then there’s the broader sense of desire:

Wanting it all:

But that’s just the desire for food — easily satisfied, even here in these United States..

But wanting the world, in the cultural appropriation sense? That’s a more subtle desire, and Las Vegas aims to satisfy it by bringing analogs of Venice, the Pyramids, whatever, to a single easily accessible location:

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But wait..

All of these inevitably fall short of what interests me: the desire to be acquainted with the ludus globi or game of the world, which Couliano describes:

The ludus globi is the supreme mystical game, the game the Titans made Dionysus play in order to seize him and put him to death. From the ashes of the Titans struck down by the lightning of Zeus, arose mankind, a race guilty without having sinned because of the deicide of its ancestors. But, since the Titans had incorporated part of the god, men also inherited a spark from the murdered child, the divine child whose game is the metaphor of the ages: ?Aion is a child who plays checkers: the sovereignty of a child!

and the desire for the mystical ascent, not infrequently expressed in erotic terms:

In Mecca in 1201, he composes a Diwan dedicated to Nezam (Harmony), daughter of an Imam nobleman of Persian origin, Zahir ibn Rostam. Entitled The Interpreter of Burning Desires, the
Diwan’s prologue contains these intimate confessions:

Now this sheik had a daughter, a slender and willowy adolescent who attracted the attention of anyone who saw her, whose presence alone was the embellishment of public meetings and struck with amazement all who looked upon her. Her name was Nezam (Harmonia) and her surname ?Eye of the Sun and of Beauty” [?ayn al?Shams wa’Z-Baha? .[Scholarly and pious, with experience of the spiritual and mystical life, she personified the venerable antiquity of the Holy Land and the innocent youth of the prophet’s great city. The magic of her glance, the grace of her conversation, was so enchanting that if she happened to be prolix her speech was filled with references; if concise, a marvel of eloquence; holding forth on a subject, clear and lucid. . . . Were it not for petty minds eager for scandal and inclined to slander, I would here comment on the beauty that God lavished on her body as well as on her soul, which was a garden of generosity. .. .

Plato in The Symposium:

Love is simply the name for the desire and pursuit of the whole.

The Mercy, logic, the model digitized, the glass, the music survives

Sunday, April 21st, 2019

[ by Charles Cameron — logic, the arts, and technology offer an Easter, resurrection corrective, philosophically speaking, to the ruin of the cathedral of Notre Dame ]
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For the terrible fire that consumed so much of Notre Dame de Paris this week, grief is great. Here, I wish to recall some of the ways in which the essence of the great cathedral has been saved.

Above, Piero della Francesca‘s Madonna della Misericordia. Our Lady of Mercy, for whom the cathedral was named, continues to shelter us all..

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Perhaps the most extraordinary, as well as the most abstract, form of Notre Dame to survive fire, war, and the French Revolutionary idea — to replace Mary with the goddess Reason enthroned in her place — is the logic embedded in the theology that accompanied its building and — lex orandi, lex credendi — the worship within it, for which purpose it was designed and built

The American philosopher CS Peirce was among the first to propose a kinship between Gothic architecture and the logic of the Paris schoolmen:

Art felt the spirit of a new age, and there could hardly be a greater change than from the highly ornate round-arched architecture of the twelfth century to the comparatively simple Gothic of the thirteenth. Indeed, if any one wishes to know what a scholastic commentary is like, and what the tone of thought in it is, he has only to contemplate a Gothic cathedral. The first quality of either is a religious devotion, truly heroic. One feels that the men who did these works did really believe in religion as we believe in nothing. We cannot easily understand how Thomas Aquinas can speculate so much on the nature of angels, and whether ten thousand of them could dance on a needle’s point. But it was simply because he held them for real. If they are real, why are they not more interesting than the bewildering varieties of insects which naturalists study; or why should the orbits of double stars attract more attention than spiritual intelligences?

Erwin Panofsky‘s work, Gothic Architecture and Scholasticism, is the central presentation of the parallels. Pierre Bourdieu, who translated Panofsky into French, characterizes the work:

The parallelism between the development of Gothic art and the development of scholastic thought in the period between about 1130–1140 and about 1270 cannot be brought out unless one “brackets off phenomenal appearances” and seeks the hidden analogies between the principles of logical organization of Scholasticism and the principles of construction of Gothic architecture. This methodological choice is dictated by the intention of establishing more than a vague “parallelism” or discontinuous, fragmentary “influences”. Renouncing the semblances of proof which satisfy intuitionists or the reassuring but reductive circumstantial proofs which delight positivists, Panofsky is led to identify the historical convergence which provides the object of his research with a hidden principle, a habitus or “habit-forming force”.

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Rachel Donadio, Witnessing the Fall of Notre-Dame for the Atlantic, depicts the ruin of the cathedral with incredulityn–

How could Notre-Dame be burning? How could Notre-Dame, which had survived for eight centuries—survived plague and wars of religion, survived the French Revolution, survived the Nazis—be falling? Notre-Dame, the heart of Paris, not only a Catholic site but the preeminent symbol of European cultural consciousness, the heart of France, the kilometer zero from which all its farthest villages are measured—how could this majestic structure collapse so fast

— Oh, ruin, from the Latin ruere, meaning to fall.. John Milton, Paradise Lost:

                                                          Hell saw
Heaven ruining from Heaven, and would have fled
Affrighted

Viollet-le-Duc‘s 19th century spire, in this archaic sense of the word, ruined.

Resurrection:

The competition is already afoot to rebuild it.

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Fortunately, a few years back the entire structure was mapped with ferocious accuracy by Vassar professor Andrew Tallon, using advanced laser photography to capture detail — wear and tear included, to an accuracy of a tenth of an inch:

Vassar College/AFP Photo / Andrew TALLON

Alexis Madrigal, in the Atlantic:

Now, with the building having sustained untold but very substantial damage, the data that Tallon and Blaer created could be an invaluable aid to whoever is charged with rebuilding the structure. Ochsendorf described the data as “essential for capturing [the structure] as built geometry.” (He added, however, that the cathedral, no matter what happens now, “is irreplaceable, of course.”)

Tallon and Blaer’s laser data consist of 1 billion data points, structured as “point clouds,” which software can render into images of the three-dimensional space. Stitch them together, inside and out, map the photographs onto the precise 3-D models, and you have a full digital re-creation of incredible detail and resolution.

Professor Tallon died less than six months ago, in November 2018, age 49. If you’re looking for another Easter parallel, Tallon may be metaphysically resurrected with the promised rebuilding of the cathedral he so loved and diligently studied.

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It appears that the great Rosace Nord (north rose window) survived the fire —

As Incunabula commented:

By far the greatest blessing – a miracle – is that the Rosace Nord has survived. The South and West windows were very extensively restored in the 18th and 19th century, but the North Rose Window has stood basically unchanged for 800 years, the glass is the 13th century original.

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To close with a blaze..

In January of this year, Olivier Latry, titular organist of Notre Dame, made what is very likely the final recordings of music on the cathedral’s great organ, for a recording which was released in March, just weeks before the terrible fire. The organ, as built by Aristide Cavaillé-Coll in the nineteenth century, houses some 8,000 pipes; it seems the fire has left it largely intact, though with damage to its electrical systems and wind-chest.

Olivier Latry plays Johann Sebastian Bach‘s Toccata and Fugue in D minor, BWV 565 on the Cavaillé-Coll organ of Notre-Dame de Paris::

Advertising series 01: Music

Thursday, April 11th, 2019

[ by Charles Cameron — trying to gauge the appropriateness of music in TV advertising, and getting the sense that music has a — frankly — higher purpose. And then? ]
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I’ve been trying to figure out, from the poetry plane, just what it is that music does or is, or where, and as I’m watching TV commercials, I’m struck each time classical music is used, and forced to consider the role that music plays — in the ads, in my life, and in our lives. Commercials, like haiku, are highly concentrated affairs, and I’ve been learning a lot.

In brief —

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I don’t terribly mind that you can jazz the greatest of composers IMO, in what feels more like a virtuoso exercise than music as such..

Flying Bach:Red Bull

And when the music is jazzy to begin with, no problem — fun, even ..

Rhapsody in Blue: United

Unh — and ditto, speeded up:

High speed Orchestra: Porsche

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But Ave Maria?

Ave Maria: Planters

I guess that’s arguably a Hail Mary overpass, and the Ave Maria only slips in very briefly while the peanut’s in flight, so I’ll let it slide by..

But then I must admit I do get a bit uneasy about the semi-sacred last movement of Beethoven’s Ninth being repeatedly associated with a somewhat silly sad for a line of sports-car, lovely though they are:

Ode to Joy: Alfa Romeo

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The Hallelujah Chorus comes from a sacred oratorio, Handel’s Messiah, to be sure, but Messiah has been drifting from the sacred towards the social for decades, maybe even a century… Boots, though?

Hallelujah: Boots and Shoes

That seems a bit off-kilter: ads are repetitive things, and the idea that millions of concert-goers may have a less than stellar shoe ad pop into their heads in the middle of Handel’s iconic work — not a great taste to leave in the metaphorical mouth, methinks.

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Compare this commercial using the Lacrimosa from Mozart’s Requiem

Mozart Requiem: DirecTV

— with this paragraph from the philosopher Cornelius Castoriadis:

Remember that philosophers almost always start by saying: “I want to see what being is, what reality is. Now, here is a table. What does this table show to me as characteristic of a real being?” No philosopher ever started by saying: “I want to see what being is, what reality is. Now, here is my memory of my dream of last night. What does this show to me as characteristic of a real being?” No philosopher ever starts by saying “Let Mozart’s Requiem be a paradigm of being, let us start from that.” Why could we not start by positing a dream, a poem, a symphony as paradigmatic of the fullness of being and by seeing in the physical world a deficient mode of being, instead of looking at things the other way round, instead of seeing in the imaginary — that is, human — mode of existence, a deficient or secondary mode of being?

DirecTV? You can count me out.

Kurt Vonnegut quite wonderfully explains:

I am enchanted by the Sermon on the Mount. Being merciful, it seems to me, is the only good idea we have received so far. Perhaps we will get another idea that good by and by-and then we will have two good ideas. What might that second good idea be? I don’t know. How could I know? I will make a wild guess that it will come from music somehow. I have often wondered what music is and why we love it so. It may be that music is that second good idea being born.

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Frankly, I don’t think commercials are up to the Castoriadis / Vonnegut standard.

But let me leave you with a puzzzlement, a koan — assuming you haven’t diverged too far from my perspective thus far. If the Mozart Requiem should be spared participation in TV advertising, what do you think of Bach — remember Bach? — being embedded in a grisly scene from Silence of the Lambs?

Hannibal Lecter plays Bach:

Masterpiece within a masterpiece? Okay?

Chyrons, quotes, etc, 18

Wednesday, March 6th, 2019

[ by Charles Cameron — CPAC and Fox, Kushner and the Judiciary Committee, India and Pakistan, even a mention of epistemology, still plenty going on ]
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Misc:

BrownPundits:

It puts India and Pakistan on the same moral plane, right?
You talk about India and Pakistan being rivals. It’s just both sideisms of the most mendacious kind.

??:

No doubt Trump‘s dealing with Cohen and Kim are leading stories about now, so this headline deserves to lead this post, but — wait for it —

— it’s the bit about muscling reality into submission that caught my attention. Just muscling into submission would be metaphor enough for me to take notice — but when it’s reality itself that’s being wrestled down, we’re clearly in epistemological territory, perhaps of the variety Michelle Goldberg: talked about the other day:

..The epistemological terrorism that the Trump administration practices on us every day to keep us in this state of kind of derangement and feeling slightly off-center and not being able to get your bearings in this moment.

Terrorism? Not in the usual natsec sense — but hang on, terror itself is a framing of reality, located in the mind-heart-brain complex, and that’s the stage par excellence on which epistemological experience plays…

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If I could access it, there’s a dueling breaking news chyron at the end of Bryan Williams’ 11th hour for February 26th.

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Dom Donilon:

North Korea of course is the combination of a cult and kind of a mob operation

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A Day of Reckoning for Michael Jackson with “Leaving Neverland”

It is admittedly difficult, while watching “Leaving Neverland,” to hold in mind two contradictory but equally imperative ideas: that victims should be believed, and that the accused are innocent until proved guilty. The first is wildly crucial if we wish to protect the disenfranchised from egregious abuses of power. The second remains the crux of the American criminal-justice system. Can these two ideas coexist? Right now it feels as if they have to, which means that we are sometimes required to make personal choices about how we accept or dismiss the information made available to us.

The ability to hold in mind two contradictory but equally imperative ideas is a strong version of F Scott Fitzgerald‘s definition of genius — strong because Fitzgerald didn’t insist on the ideas in question being imperative.

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There’s a lot of balancing, even mirroring, going on here:

Postpone Brexit? Maybe Get a Do-Over? The Negotiations Enter a High-Stakes Game-Theory Stage
By Amy Davidson SorkinF

Brexit, at the moment, is an exercise in game theory. This week, both Prime Minister Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn, the leader of the Labour Party, grudgingly agreed to open the way for options that could help to break the current deadlock over the terms of Britain’s exit from the European Union. In May’s case, the option was a possible vote in Parliament to delay Brexit, which is now scheduled, ready or not, for March 29th; in Corbyn’s, it was a new referendum that might overturn Brexit altogether. Both May and Corbyn were acting because of rebellions within their own ranks, which escalated last week—when both Labour and Conservative M.P.s resigned from their parties—and threatened to spread. May reportedly made her offer because three members of her cabinet were about to quit, taking a dozen junior ministers with them.

Z
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3-4-2019 MSNBC, a few items

MTP:

Pres Trump:

Russia, if you’re listening ..

Katy Tur:

It suredoesn’t seem as though the Russians thought it was a joke ..

43: RT is starting their propaganda campaign that mirrors WikiLeaks which then mirrors what Donald TYrump is saying..

Melber, The Beat:

Paul H:

We’re not at Impeach yet, but we’re definitely on the road, the car is on the road. And this is the gas for that car, this investigation.

Paul, if this is a car a lot of people thought Bob Mueller was driving it. Thelasttime people remember an Impeac hment proceeding,we had prosecutor Ken Starr now driving it. ARe you suggesting that Jerry Nadler is now really in that

[more — Clift, Hommer, Prius]

Eleanor Clift:

He knew the game was over ..

The document demand:

Ari:

That’s just Kushner..

Richard Painter:

We don’t haveconclusive proof that the President is a Russian mole, but it sure seems like it .

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Hardball:

Sen Klobuchar: Rail, class one rail, down to four companies, the same number we’re seeing on the Monopoly board. And this consolidation that we’re seein in our country cries out for tougher action on anti-trust.

Hemmer argues that Fox—which, as the most watched cable news network, generates about $2.7 billion a year for its parent company, 21st Century Fox—acts as a force multiplier for Trump, solidifying his hold over the Republican Party and intensifying his support. “Fox is not just taking the temperature of the base—it’s raising the temperature,” she says. “It’s a radicalization model.” For both Trump and Fox, “fear is a business strategy—it keeps people watching.” As the President has been beset by scandals, congressional hearings, and even talk of impeachment, Fox has been both his shield and his sword. The White House and Fox interact so seamlessly that it can be hard to determine, during a particular news cycle, which one is following the other’s lead.

Chris Matthews:

Chris M:

Who’s the toy here, the Presidentt? or Fox?

Chris M:

Why is the President of the United States working for Fox?

Jane M:

Despite the discouragement, Falzone kept investigating, and discovered that the National Enquirer, in partnership with Trump, had made a “catch and kill” deal with Daniels—buying the exclusive rights to her story in order to bury it. Falzone pitched this story to Fox, too, but it went nowhere. News of Trump’s payoffs to silence Daniels, and Cohen’s criminal attempts to conceal them as legal fees, remained unknown to the public until the Wall Street Journal broke the story, a year after Trump became President.

All In

Ken Liu:

We want to connect the dots and really put out a narrative of what happened, why it happened, and how we prevent this from happening again

Wajahat Ali:

That’s my slight concern about Biden and Bernie Sanders and Trump, that 2020 is like going to be the ticket of Bengay vs Vick’s Vapor Rub vs Metamucil .

Last Word, O’Donnll:

Frank Rich:

Well, look, everything that Trump is guilty of, he’s accused somebody else of doing — so he’s accused Hillary of having all the questions when he had them, he accused Barack Obama of playing golf all the time when he plays golf all the time, and many worse sins than that

Anita Kumar:

They don’t like her policies, but they say she (AOC) has political game

Katy Tur:

Is she going to be the white whale?

Seb Gorka:

That’s why Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has introduced the New Green Deal: it’s a watermelon, green on the outside, deep, deep, Communist red on the inbside.

Brian Williams:

One of his legal ppl:

I think she’s showing rmarkable patience. One day, Brian, Roger Stone will be a convicted felon, and this judge will be the one who decides how long he goes to jail. He’s playing a short game, she’s playing a long game.

3/5/2019 Brian Wms:

Gen McCaffrey:It’s amazing what’s available through unclassified commercial satellite photography [***** ourob][ .. ]

We’re being played by the North Koreans, and President Trump is negotiating with himself [ .. ]

Let’s .. talk about those exercises. The President now openly referring to them as war games –

— [Brian contd] It is possible he did not know that that phrase existed until now

Physicists playing Calvinball

Saturday, February 23rd, 2019

[ by Charles Cameron — wishing I was fluent in music, and might as well ad mathematics, Hebrew, Arabic, classical Persian, you know the drill, Sanskrit, Tibetan, Japanese.. and their courtly modes and rituals, and could play badminton, chess, dharma combat, go, eh? ]
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Here’s a wonderful description of a game in which the rules — in this case, mathematical languages — change from move to move:

It happens again and again that, when there are many possible descriptions of a physical situation—all making equivalent predictions, yet all wildly different in premise—one will turn out to be preferable, because it extends to an underlying reality, seeming to account for more of the universe at once. And yet this new description might, in turn, have multiple formulations—and one of those alternatives may apply even more broadly. It’s as though physicists are playing a modified telephone game in which, with each whisper, the message is translated into a different language. The languages describe different scales or domains of the same reality but aren’t always related etymologically. In this modified game, the objective isn’t—or isn’t only—to seek a bedrock equation governing reality’s smallest bits. The existence of this branching, interconnected web of mathematical languages, each with its own associated picture of the world, is what needs to be understood.

That’s from A Different Kind of Theory of Everything in The New Yorker, an intriguing rerad, though as a non-physicist, seeing an equivalence with Calvinball — a game in which the game in play constantly changes — is about as far as I can go.

When I was talking with Ali Minai, I said that both music and math were languages I didn’t speak, and that cut me off from much by way of discourse with mathematicians (Ali himself) and musicians (my nephew the conductor Daniel Harding), and Ali commented that music is at least an embodied abstraction, whereas math is a pure abstraction with no embodied component. I hope I’ve understood and expressed that well enough. Anyway, it was a striking comment, and not one that had ever crossed my mind, on a topic of considerable interest and real regret.

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Calvinball:

Richard Feynman would have enjoyed a Calvinball reference, methinks — but for any sober-sided physicists who don’t play bongos, here’s the philsopher Alasdair MacIntyre to much the same effect:

Not one game is being played, but several, and, if the game metaphor may be stretched further, the problem about real life is that moving one’s knight to QB3 may always be replied to by a lob over the net.

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I’d hoped to have more intriguing math or game quotes to offer here, but no luck so far, so I’m gonna post anyway.


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