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Of serpent-bites in logic

Saturday, August 31st, 2013

[ by Charles Cameron — continuing my series on the “serpent bites tail” reflexive form (1, 2, 3, 4) in which analytic gems and other insights may often be easily discovered or succinctly expressed — read this post fast for fun, or reflectively (!!) for the ripples ]
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I’m going to lead off with this tweet, which seems very timely considering the news this last week or so about Syria…

I thought this was another quite beautiful example of “serpent bites its own tail” phrasing — timely too — uttered by JM Berger in summarizing his Loopcast with Daveed Gartenstein-Ross on the current status of Al-Qaeda, highly recommended, BTW:

And if you want to know about Hezbollah and its global reach, this one refers to the book you need…

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Okay, having given pride of place to those three, I’d like to catch those of you who are interested up on an entire series of self-referencing tweets I’ve run across since I last posted. I’m really collecting these things because I’d like, one of these days, to do a thorough analysis of what they teach us about our modes of thought, and how we can apply that to pattern-recognition in our own readings, and creative insight in our writings and analytic output… In the meantime, don’t feel obliged to read every last one, just dip in as you feel inclined — think of this as a reference section, okay? Take what you need and leave the rest.

Here’s one that uses the Escher‘s hand draws hand format:

And here’s a pair that needs to stay together:

Continuing… I might as well give you a cluster from Teju Cole, since he’s a master…

Okay, here’s another one with timely reference, this time to the whole NSA business:

Really, this is just such a rich vein of humor and insight:

Let’s go to another wordsmith — they’re often good at this stuff:

Two from philosopher Allen Stairs:

One from quasi-Einstein, via the very bright (non-quasi) Seb Paquet:

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I’ll close with an example from the “all is nothing” category, this one from Peter J Munson:

Flags, shrouds, martyrs and the Fallen

Saturday, August 17th, 2013

[ by Charles Cameron — burial flags, shrouds on the unknown, and the black banner seen from a new angle ]
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I feel grief.

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We are, by now, all too well aware of the cost of war in lives. Sometimes those lives are of unknown souls, perhaps belligerents, perhaps partisans, perhaps peace-makers, perhaps simple souls caught in the cross-fire…

Caitlin Fit Gerald has a suitable memorial for those recently dead in Egypt, which I won’t reproduce here because I would make her already scaled-down images even smaller and less impressive if I did — click through to The Dead, When The Dying Is Done, then click again to see the images at better scale.

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Sometimes the dead are our foes.

What interests me particularly on this occasion is seeing the Sunni Islamist black banner in what is for me a new context — draped like the Shi’ite flag of Islamist Hezballah on the martyrs of their faith.

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It raises for me another question: Hezbollah and the Salafi jihadists alike term their dead “martyrs”. We honor ours no less, wrapping them in symbols of that greater cause for which they gave their lives — “country” — and call them “patriots” to distinguish their cause, and “heroes” to salute their courage.

Yet they gave their lives. To indicate and honor this, we call them “the Fallen” — and perhaps in its quiet way it is enough.

Emptiness and Hezbollah

Friday, July 26th, 2013

[ by Charles Cameron — food for thought, or empty calories? ]
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Sources:

  • Heart Sutra
  • Hezbollah
  • **

    Pondering.

    There’s definitely a form here, a commutative form, and the Buddhist part is interesting because it asserts some kind of commutation is possible between a datum and its own absence — as though the “created” world of Genesis could be viewed as exactly mirroring the “ex nihilo” from which it arises.

    But the Hezbollah identity? That should be of interest to the Europeans who just made a point of distinguishing between political and military versions of Hezbollah!

    Beyond that, pondering.

    Videos, the counter-nasheed and some dancing girls

    Sunday, June 30th, 2013

    [ by Charles Cameron — further notes from the frayed edges of what’s significant ]
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    Okay, you all know I’m interested in the graphics of terrorism and their symbolism, and only a day or two ago I posted Of dualities, contradictions and the nonduality on the two into one phenomenon — well, here’s an addendum:

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    The upper image, showing the Jabha al-Nusra logo — Sunni, left — alongside the Hezbollah insignia — Shi’a, right — morphs into the single image in the lower panel, thereby resolving the sectarian conflict in Syria by filmic means.

    The video from which these two shots were taken, alas, was the work product of the US Government, as part of an effort of outreach by the little-known Digital Outreach Team at the State Department, who at the time of writing appear to have 193 videos uploaded.

    The BBC notes:

    According to the Associated Press news agency, the 50-member Digital Outreach Team tweets, posts Facebook updates and uploads video to YouTube in Arabic, Punjabi, Somali and Urdu, in a bid to counter the radical jihadist message. It seems it’s even had exchanges with terror suspects such as US-born militant Omar Hammami, a former member of Somalia’s al-Shabab.

    The two images above were taken from a video titled Secret meeting between Hassan Nasrallah and al-Zawahiri, but the Beeb’s article focused on what it termed a “spoof Al-Qaeda video”, which I’ll call Pharaoh Ayman speaks to the dancing girls for want of a better name:

    The team’s al-Zawahiri spoof opens with a notice that “fizzy drinks should be consumed while watching this production” – a twist on the usual message at the beginning of al-Qaeda videos saying “it is not permitted to add music to this production … Taking the classic preaching-to-camera format, the three-minute clip features a voiceover in which the Egyptian-born militant repeatedly bungles his speech by saying things like: “The butchers, ahem, sorry, I mean the mujahideen”. In the video – issued by the US State Department’s Digital Outreach Team – al-Zawahiri is backed by punkah-wallahs. The clip then cuts to a shot, as though from behind the speaker, to reveal a troupe of dancers performing in front of him.”

    But see for yourselves, punkah-wallas and all:

    For your further Sundance consideration, and from the same studios, you might also like the lowest and slowest nasheed ever recorded.

    **

    Speaking of graphics — coming up on ZP when I have had a chance to read a little more of El Difraoui, reviews of:

  • Beifuss and Bellini, Branding Terror
  • Abdelasiem El Difraoui, Al-Qaida par l’image. La prophétie du martyre
  • Hezbollah and related graphics

    Sunday, May 26th, 2013

    [ by Charles Cameron — insights into symbolism on both sides of the Syrian conflict, including Nasrallah as Dajjal and Pinocchio, Star Trek darkness, more ]
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    I thought it might be instructive to compare the Hezbollah flag:

    with a couple of variants seen recently:

    The version on the left is captioned Syrian opposition activists re-imagining Hezbollah’s logo after absorbing heavy losses in Qusayr. The one on the right is from another image mocking Hezbollah, this one picturing Nasrollah as the Dajjal.

    Note that in the second image, the gun is pointing down — in a sort of “shoot your own foot” gesture, perhaps?

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    That second image, with the gun reversed, comes from a portrayal of Nasrallah as the Dajjal (below, left) — the one-eyed figure in Muslim apocalyptic serving roughly the same function as the Antichrist in Christian eschatology (depicted in a popular book cover,found by J-P Filiu, below, right):

    Not also the tire substituting for Nasrallah’s black turban.

    This image of Nasrallah is itself a variant on this one, also portraying him as the Dajjal:

    but without the vampiric attributes and tire-turban of the other version.

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    These guys are quick, incidentally — see how fast Nasrallah appeared in StarTrek guise

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    Here are a couple more variants on the Hezbollah flag:

    I’m intrigued by the Pinocchio image, which — if I’m not mistaken — features the tire-turban once again:

    It was lying that made Pinocchio’s nose extend itself, and just as the Devil in Christianity is “the Father of Lies” (John 8.44), so in Islam the term al-Dajjal means “the Deceiver”. And see how the gun has turned into a Serpent, complete with forked tongue?

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    Finally, Phillip Smyth has been posting a series titled Hizballah Cavalcade at Aaron Zelin‘s Jihadology blog, and a couple of details caught my eye in what Smyth terms the “official Hizballah martyrdom posters” for Ashraf Hasan ‘Ayyad and Musen Samir Birro.

    As you can see, each of these posters features the Hezbollah emblem on dog-tags, a soldier’s helmet with poppies growing from it, the outline of a white dove, silhouette of a soldier with rifle raised, and the glint of the sun behind it.

    If anyone has a detailed exegesis of this cluster of images to offer, I’d be most interested.

    **

    Hat tips to Mr Orange for pointing me to the Nasrallah Dajjal graphics, and to Aaron Zelin for Jihadology…


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