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If you were reading the New Yorker after the Dem debate..

Friday, June 28th, 2019

[ by Charles Cameron — on excellence in writing with insight — Katy Waldman ]
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If you were reading the New Yorker after the Dem debate, you might have read [a], with [b] as a chaser, then worried that [c] —

  • John Cassidy, Joe Biden’s Faltering Debate Performance Raises Big Doubts
  • Jelani Cobb, Democratic Debate 2019: Kamala Harris Exposed the Biden Weaknesses
  • Susan Glasser, Kamala Harris Won in Miami, but Vladimir Putin Won in Osaka
  • But I hope you’ll conclude with [d], because I think it gets to the heart of the matter:

  • Katy Waldman, Democratic Debate 2019: Kamala Harris Is the Best Storyteller
  • It’s a much smaller piece, but right on the money. Consider:

    Onstage, Harris, the former prosecutor, distinguishes herself as a storyteller, who conjures up images as well as arguments in ways the other contenders do not. Answering a question about health care, she spoke of parents looking through the glass door of the hospital as they calculated the costs of treating their sick child. Answering a question about detainment camps for undocumented immigrants, she hypothesized about a mother enlisting the services of a coyote, desperate to secure a better chance for her kid. “We need to think about this situation in terms of real people,” Harris insisted. She certainly demonstrated her ability to do so—to imagine policy as embodied in actual American lives. That narrative instinct framed the most powerful moment of the debate. Criticizing Biden for his past lack of support for busing, Harris began telling another story. “There was a little girl in California who was part of the second class to integrate her public school, and she was bused to school every day,” she said. “And that little girl was me.”

    The New Yorker is celebrated for excellent writing with insight: Katy Waldman has insight — nicely done!

    And the Word was made Script and dwelt among us

    Friday, June 7th, 2019

    { by Charles Cameron — the embodiment of the word in script affords calligraphers of all religious beliefs the opportunity to illuminate the written script with beauty }
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    And the Word was made Script and dwelt among us…

    This would describe the indwelling of the numinous presence within scriptures, a doctrine found in the Christian usage that terms the Bible the Word of God, and even more explicitly in the Islamic doctrine that the Qu’ran is the Word of God in a manner equivalent to the Christian doctrine of the Incarnation — that is to say, Christians teach that Jesus is the Word of God, Muslims that the Qu’ran is.

    **

    Incunabula had tweeted:

    The historian Tom Holland picked up on this, and commented:

    How incredibly beautiful. It looks like something out of Rivendell.

    H’e not the only one thinking along similar lines — there’s a Reddit that’s relevant here: The Tibetan Script looks much like Tengwar to me…could it have been Tolkien’s inspiration for written Elvish?. So let’s take a quick look:

    **

    Let’s take a look: DoubleQuote:

    Above, Tolkien’s Quenya script from the inside front leaf, lower border, of the first edition Lord of the Rings, in comparison with the silver Tibetan calligraphy of the interior of Incunabula’s Perfection of Wisdom in 100,000 Verses.

    To be fair, Incunabula’s 13th-15th century work in gold and silver ink is a remarkable work of art, and it may be fair to compare it also —

    —with the 9th century illuminated gospels of the Irish Book of Kells.

    **

    Beauty, anyway — the word becoming scripture in script offers us a manner in which some glimpses of beauty — transcendent sister of goodness and truth — beauty become word..

    Writing is a form of Thinking

    Sunday, March 10th, 2019

    [Mark Safranski / “zen“]

    As a form of amusement and also a bit of self-improvement, I decided to subscribe to a site, MasterClass.

    Related image

    In essence, Masterclass is an edutainment portal where celebrity practitioners in some field teach an online course and there’s downloadable materials and discussion forums – and in some instances, office hours – for those wanteing more connection or feeling of community. So you can learn chess from Gary Kasparov, politics from David Axelrod and Karl Rove, photography from Ann Liebovitz and so on in many different kinds of subjects. While some of these instructors may also be university professors, most are not so what you get is largely an idiosyncratic take on tips, techniques and procedures from some very accomplished person; some will dive deep into a meaningful level of their creative process for you while others will not, keeping it as a how-to for novices or interested amateurs. My primary interest in trying Masterclass was in writing and there are a large number and kinds of writers from which to choose. I decided to begin with the course by Malcolm Gladwell.

    Gladwell, who is one of the most successful non-fiction authors of the past 10-15 years with such books as Outliers, Blink and David and Goliath all of which made the bestseller lists for long periods of time and remain regular sellers.  Sometimes, Gladwell, a journalist, is bashed by academics and scientists as a synthesizer and popularizer, an argument that echoes the familiar complaint from academic historians griping about the success and technical errors found in popular histories preferred by the reading public. I’m not at all troubled by synthesizers, synthesis being a critical intellectual tool nor do I expect the average layman to start reading dry, usually exceptionally narrowly focused jargon-laden papers published in academic journals (in fact, almost no one is reading them). Gladwell’s style of writing and research interests, it must be said, have very little in common with mine but that was the point in taking his course: to learn something new.

    One of the things that has struck me is the extent to which writing is really a reflection of individual thinking. Gladwell breaks some of the “rules” which we are all taught or have drilled into us by editors or as kids by English teachers. He prioritizes being interesting (the real strategic goal if you want to be read) over constructing a conventionally perfect narrative or even proving one’s argumentative point. Secondly, Gladwell emphasizes again and again following curiosity over a systematic research or a writing objective. Curiosity is really, Gladwell’s epistemological theme or driver.

    Gladwell also has had in his lecture series some useful insights. I liked this one, when opining on the reasons why libraries are more useful than Google in doing research, best:

    The physical construction [and organization of books on] of a library shelf teaches you how to think

    Which implies many things and tools we are using in the digital age are teaching us not to think as well as extending our capacity to think.

    We are what we write. We are how we write

    Two Valentines for 2019

    Thursday, February 14th, 2019

    [ by Charles Cameron — one from Mueller, one from Parkland ]
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    Here’s one of those tiny little heart-shaped candies — its image enlarged, so you can read the message on it:

    Courtesy of Meet the Press yesterday..

    **

    And let’s not forget that a year ago, Valentine’s Day was shattered for the students, teachers, staff and neighbors of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida:

    Each in our measure, the rest of us mourned with them.

    The deliciousness of snakes that bite their tails, &c

    Saturday, February 2nd, 2019

    [ by Charles Cameron — continuing my miscellaneous collections, with metaphor, paradox &c a specialty ]
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    Two recent headers caught my eye:

    and:

    **

    You can see why I like those two — there’s something very attractive about the way those headlines double back on themselves.Writers know this self-referential form — the serpent biting it’s tail, or ouroboros — I’ve been suggesting for some time that it’s also a useful heuristic marker of matter of special interest, worth particular attention by intel, natsec and geopolitical analysts.

    **

    Okay, another item — a double number his time — for the collections series:

    This is from about a week ago, I think, and belongs in my war as metaphor category.

    Robert Louis Stevenson once wrote, or perhaps said, “The world is so full of a number of things, I ‘m sure we should all be as happy as kings.” I’m that happy, I have to admit, though I’ve no idea whether kings themselves are — hey, given that Shakespeare himself wrote “Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown…”

    **

    Gov. Northam‘s predicament is one I won’t comment on, but Rev Al Sharpton had a few comments I found worth noting:

  • This (KKK outfit) is a terrorist uniform .. a terrorist, racist outfit ..
  • You’ve got to be consistent if you’re going to take a moral stand ..
  • Clan robe is a terr– Clan represents lynchings, murder, bloodshed; there’s no way to act like you didn’t understand ..
  • When Sharpton didn’t feel the Northam had sufficiently plumbed the depths of black dismay at the confluence of KKK and blackface on his page, the Rev — at least to my ear — put considerable emphasis on the concept of terrorism — the KKK as home-grown, native-born, internal, domestic, normal, pretty much, right-wing terrorists.

    And they’re still around:

    Georgia, 2016

    **

    Anyway, I’ll continue dropping visuals in here, and relegate most of my text collections to this and other comments sections.


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