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Here’s magic!

Friday, May 17th, 2019

[ by Charles Cameron — Krishna’s flute, evoked by a commercials videographer’s eye — brilliant! ]
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Let me remind you again: real magic is simplicity itself:

Especially if you are a Hindu with strong devotion to Lord Krishna, but even so if you are secular, or the holder of some other faith or practice — there’s magic in this simple hand-gesture, conjuring the flute with which Krishna lures the lovely Radha to his side:

Photo: Jeremy Hunter

Simplicity is the essence of elegance!

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And since this is a series on advertising and magic — what, you might wish to know, is the advertising connection here?

Well, “to borrow a leaf from his bio, photographer JEREMY HUNTER began his career in advertising — as a television creative, working for Young and Rubicam, Leo Burnett, Ogilvy and Bates, and winning a number of international awards in Cannes, Venice, New York and Los Angeles along the way.

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Earlier in this series:

:

  • Advertising series 01: Music
  • Eros, the Renaissance and advertising
  • Authentic, spiritual magic!
  • The magic of advertising or the commercialization of magic?
  • I’ve got about a dozen more posts to go, and already this is shaping up to be a terrific series — keep your eyes out for further installments!

    The magic of advertising or the commercialization of magic?

    Friday, May 17th, 2019

    [ by Charles Cameron — beer and cars, cars, cars, is that all there is to life? — never mind — fourth in my magic and commercials series, links to earlier entries at end of post ]
    .

    There are some commercials that imply — or come pretty close to admitting — that magic of one sort of another is what tbhey’re up to:

    This Dos Equis ad, for instanxce, features a state magician, and we are left with the impression the beer may somehow be the power behind nhis feats of illusion —

    *

    — and the fact that “his beard alone has experienced more than a lesser man’s entire body”..

    **

    There’s so-called “magical thinking” in this commercial by Mercedes-Benz. But this isn’t at allm original, in fact it’s a positively hubristic borrowing: when God does this in the first chapter of Genesis, it’s called “creation”.

    **

    There’s a well-known trope in state magic we can call “Behind the curtain” — since it’s echoes in a take-down of the creator-God — and seeming miracles — in The Wizard of Oz:

    And for your extended pleasure, here are two alternates:

  • distinguished gentleman disguised as a race-car driver
  • Espresso — guess it only works on cars
  • **

    And perhaps best of all there’s what I’ll call “he Gandalf blind-man” — blindness is noit of the essence here, the essence is knowinjg the contours of the world at a level beyond that of mordinary knowing

    — one might equally call this “the Dumbledore blind-man”, though in a contest of wills, UI’d back Gandalf over Dumbledore — and its archetypal essence is to be found in Merlin, court mage to King Arthur, now lost in the mists of Avalon..

    **

    Earlier in this seriesz

    :

  • Advertising series 01: Music
  • Eros, the Renaissance and advertising
  • Authentic, spiritual magic!
  • In my next, I’ll return to authentic magic..

    Mind-stuff.. and a thought-experiment

    Wednesday, May 15th, 2019

    [ by Charles Cameron — I’m no longer captivated by chyrons, it seems — and for the next week weeks, it’ll be glass bead games at BrownPundits and my extended examination of advertising as magic here ]
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    Mind-stuff.. mind-stuff that grabs my attention is what I’ll deliver here

    **

    Baghdadi — not meditating — contemplating, perhaps — more mayhem?

    **

    Another pattern to follow:

    It was unclear whether the increase was the result of a shift of Taliban tactics, or just the greatly increased tempo of the war this year, as both sides pushed to improve their positions at the negotiating table.

    Taliban Train Sights on Aid Groups, an Ominous Turn in Afghanistan

    One thinks — I tend to think — of negotiations as leaning away from warfare and violence and towards peace and reconciliation. My pattern language now needs to encompass negotiations as warfare and violence inducing as well as peace and reconciliation leaning.

    For an analytic mind, boggling; for on the ground negotiators, something to bear in mind

    **

    It’s like our scattered space debris, mind-stuff.

    As Patanjali says: Yogas Chitta Vritti Nirodha — Great Silence quiets the mind-stuff..

    Ah, well..

    I’ll do a post on religions that offer analytic methods shortly..

    **

    And on that topic —

    I have always wondered — I haven’t been here always, but wot the hell, Archie, as Mehitabel would say — always wondered about the parallelism between koans, ie case law precedents in Chan and Zen Buddhist tradition, and case law precedents in Western jurisprudence>

    Now my wish gets new life, as I read Jason Giannetti, Koan and Case Law:

    The Zen koan comes from the Chinese kung-an, meaning a “public case,” as in a legal matter brought before a judge. There are numerous ways in which these koan could be related to law cases. Very straightforwardly, these are public records, the recorded sayings of the early Chan masters that have been passed down and commented upon, just as there may be public legal cases that have authority as precedent and have been commented upon. The koan encounter could be understood as a judgement by a master upon a student based upon the student’s understanding of the “case.” A third way in which the connection could be understood is that the koan tests the student’s understanding of the Dharma. Dharma has many meanings in Buddhism, but one of those meanings is “law.”

    Wheee thanks, Jason!

    **

    Nancy Pelosi’s “self-impeachable” is both a wonderful ouroboros and nonsense — a contradiction in terms. Trump’s “investigating the investigators” is far more (semantically) interesting. It’s a bit like that card game where you call out “War” or “Snap when you see both cards are the same..

    **

    I’m keeping an eye out for security implications of climate chamnge, also “climate migrants” which may well become quite a phenomenon:

  • DoD, FY 2014 Climate Change Adaptation Roadmap
  • DoD, National Security Implications of Climate-related Risks and a Changing Climate
  • World Bank, Groundswell: Preparing for Internal Climate Migration
  • Climate & Security, Activities of Agencies to Address Potential Impact on Global Migration
  • DoD, Report on Effects of a Changing Climate to the Department of Defense
  • Climate & Security, U.S. GAO Issues 2 Reports in 2 Months Covering Climate and Security
  • **

    To wrap up:

    I was looking for an ilklustration to go with my weaponized thoughts post, To weaponize metaphors.. thoughts as clothes, clothes as thoughts, and I finally — too late — came across this:

    I certainly think that pic could be interpreted as illustrating the assembling and disassembling of thoughts (2nd Amendment, Don’t Tread on Me, Safety First etc) as a function of weaponizing them.

    It comes from an (is it?) anti-gun (as if one can be pro- or anti- gun rather than pro- or anti- certain kinds of access) piece titled Thought Experiment: What might the world be like if there were no guns?.

    But a thought experiment? That’s a refreshing change from arguments pro- or con!

    To weaponize metaphors.. thoughts as clothes, clothes as thoughts

    Monday, May 13th, 2019

    [ by Charles Cameron — if i may be a bit presumptuous, language is a topic for the wise — in this case, how language can be used as a knife ]
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    I was reading a Vice News piece, Leaked chats show white nationalist group’s plot to infiltrate Turning Point, and was struck by the phrase “weaponize metaphors” in the paragraph:

    Part of Identity Evropa’s strategy now relies on its ability to weaponize metaphors to make their white nationalism seem more acceptable, like referring to “European heritage” — which white nationalist often use as a euphemism to mean “white” — or seizing on mainstream conservative issues like immigration.

    I frankly don’t see”metaphor” and “euphemism” as equivalents, but at least we’re looking at the language used to convey a political stance, albeit an abhorrent one.

    **

    Semioticians won’t be surprised to see that clothes can also be a mode of signalling — of conveying meaning — every bit as much as verbal language. In fact, to paraphrase my title, we can see here that thoughts can be viewed as clothes, clothes as thoughts.. Indeed, in the paragraph immediately before the one I just quoted, we read:

    According to the leaked Slack chats, about 200 members were expected to attend a secret Identity Evropa conference in Kentucky last weekend. Consistent with their brand overall, the event had a fairly strict dress code: Attendees were urged to wear “dress slacks or chinos” — no jeans. Some attendees fretted about whether they had enough time to get their suits dry-cleaned.

    Clothes as thoughts, thoughts as clothes..

    **

    Speaking of semioticians — Charles Sanders Peirce, the father of semiotics, coined the phrase “the play of musement” which I’ve been toying with recently. Here’s a play, a musement of my own:

  • There’s the music of the spheres, around and within us.

  • Then there’s the boundary layer, the troposphere, the ozone layer, the stratosphere, the mesosphere, the thermosphere, the exosphere and so forth, space, deep space, and deep deep space —

  • or if you’ll believe the brilliant jazz comedian Lord Buckley riffing on Albert Einstein — we should also add “the zonesphere, and the vautisphere, and the routesphere, and the hippisphere, and the flippisphere, and the zippisphere, and the gonesphere, and the way-gonesphere” — hey, the “way-gonesphere” has a distinctly Prajnaparamita feel to it, no? —

  • or better yet, there’s the atmosphere, which includes equally both the sphere of weather out the window and the realm of emotional tensions within a room, group or event..

  • and what Dylan Thomas calls “the weather of the heart”..
  • **

    But really, listen to the whole Hip Einie thing, Buckley gets into the 1905 Annalen der Physik and more:

    And consider the profound beauties of the Heart Sutra with its mantra, and Dylan Thomas marvelous poem:

  • Prajñaparamita, Gone, gone, gone beyond, gone utterly beyond, Enlightenment hail!
  • Dylan Thomas, A Process In The Weather Of The Heart
  • Sunday surprise, what can happen to music

    Monday, May 13th, 2019

    [ by Charles Cameron — Aretha to rabbinic wisdom via N’Orleans — five versions of the one great song — with a Mother’s Day greeting to all Marthas and all Marys ]
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    Consider this song as sung by the awesome Aretha Franklin:

    Here’s the story of Mary and Martha, as John’s Gospel tells it [John 40: 38-42]:

    Now it came to pass, as they went, that he entered into a certain village: and a certain woman named Martha received him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, which also sat at Jesus’ feet, and heard his word. But Martha was cumbered about much serving, and came to him, and said, Lord, dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone? bid her therefore that she help me. And Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things: But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.

    You might say that Martha is the mother of service, and Mary the mother of devotion: they are equally celebrated in the church, yet Mary has the better part.

    Wonderful, then, to encounter the same song as played and sung by N’Orleans’ own Theresa Andersson:

    That’s the extraordinary creative re-creation I was wanting to share with you.

    **

    The Parting of the Waters [Exodus 14: 21-29]:

    And Moses stretched out his hand over the sea; and the Lord caused the sea to go back by a strong east wind all that night, and made the sea dry land, and the waters were divided. And the children of Israel went into the midst of the sea upon the dry ground: and the waters were a wall unto them on their right hand, and on their left.

    And the Egyptians pursued, and went in after them to the midst of the sea, even all Pharaoh’s horses, his chariots, and his horsemen. And it came to pass, that in the morning watch the Lord looked unto the host of the Egyptians through the pillar of fire and of the cloud, and troubled the host of the Egyptians, And took off their chariot wheels, that they drave them heavily: so that the Egyptians said, Let us flee from the face of Israel; for the Lord fighteth for them against the Egyptians.

    And the Lord said unto Moses, Stretch out thine hand over the sea, that the waters may come again upon the Egyptians, upon their chariots, and upon their horsemen. And Moses stretched forth his hand over the sea, and the sea returned to his strength when the morning appeared; and the Egyptians fled against it; and the Lord overthrew the Egyptians in the midst of the sea.

    And the waters returned, and covered the chariots, and the horsemen, and all the host of Pharaoh that came into the sea after them; there remained not so much as one of them. But the children of Israel walked upon dry land in the midst of the sea; and the waters were a wall unto them on their right hand, and on their left.

    Wait: there’s a curious — and beautiful — counterpoint to this story in rabbinic lore:

    The Talmud teaches us that on the night that the Egyptian army drowned in the Red Sea, the first true moment of freedom for the Jews fleeing Egypt, God refused to hear the angels sing their prayers, and said “my creations are drowning in the sea, and you will sing songs?”

    **

    Appendix:

    We could also take — if you have time to join me — another path through that song.

    The Fisk Jubilee Singers:

    Mary’s there, but no Martha. That’s the earliest recording of the song that survives.

    Then there’s The Swan Silvertones:

    Mary don’t you weep — Martha don’t have to moan — it’s been decided that Mary of the song — who might be the sister of Moses — is, or is also, Mary the sister of Martha..

    And let’s close with Take-6:

    **

    Sources:

  • Jerry Zolten, “Oh Mary Don’t You Weep”–The Swan Silvertones (1959)
  • Wikipedia, Mary Don’t You Weep
  • Art & Theology, “Oh Mary, Don’t You Weep”: Death, Resurrection, and the New Exodus

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