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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.

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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:

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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.

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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..

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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:

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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.

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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…”

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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

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

    Central Standard Time

    Monday, June 13th, 2016

    [by Mark Safranski /”zen“]

    I wanted to announce the debut of a Chicago-oriented culture e-zine, Central Standard Time, to which I will be one of the regular contributors. What is CST? In the words of the publisher, the Grammy nominated producer and professor of music, Joe Tortorici:

    The intent of this site is to suggest more than a solitary blogger’s view of the world. Central Standard Time exists to be a catalyst for timely discussions and a showcase for contemporary arts. Impetus for this effort echoes the pivotal era of the Chicago Literary Renaissance.

    Rising from the Great Fire of 1871, Chicago embraced the industrial revolution and the fundamental shift of American life from a rural to urban environment. In step with this cultural evolution came a wellspring of creativity spanning the intellectual and artistic spectrum that continued through the mid-twentieth century. It fostered the Literary Realism period in both fiction and non-fiction, and the ascendency of topical columnists writing for the myriad newspapers of the day. The Jazz Age was about to transform Chicago and the world. Art Nouveau gave way to Picasso and Duchamp; the Modern Age was born.

    I stand in awe of the diversity during this period and how Chicago helped shape American literature. Henry Fuller and Theodore Dreiser wrote novels defining Midland Realism; prolific commentators and humorists George Ade and Eugene Field gave new stimulus to the daily read; Finley Dunne and his “Mr. Dooley” narrative spoke to social and political issues from a seat in his South Side Irish pub (of course); Nelson Algren, Saul Bellow, and the immortal Ben Hecht influenced generations of writers; poets Carl Sandberg, Harriet Monroe, and Gwendolyn Brooks bridged the racial divide; Upton Sinclair’s “The Jungle” remains required reading in every American Literature course; in our time, Studs Terkel, Mike Royko, and Jack Mabley sustained the gritty narrative of urban life while Erma Bombeck made us smile.

    Within this multiplicity were common threads. Each of these intellectual giants created his own world by authoring plays, poetry, political commentary, neighborhood novels, and an enduring slang narrative. The age of compartmentalized sterility was more than a century in the future. Newspapers and periodicals served as incubators for numerous literary careers; The Chicago Tribune, Chicago Daily News, Chicago Post, Monroe’s Poetry, Chicago Journal, Chicago Sun, the South Side Writer’s Group, Chicago Sun Times, and Floyd Dell’s Friday Literary Review. The new millennium offers a unique method for sharing information. We would be remiss to not use this broad avenue for illumination and entertainment.

    In this spirit, Central Standard Time hopes to carry on the task of publishing compelling stories, thoughtful opinions, visual and aural beauty, laughter, and everything else that makes us human.

    Read the rest here.

    Literary graces not being my strongest suit, I will continue to focus on natsec and strategy related pieces geared to a more general and less policy wonky, .mil, .gov oriented readership that visits here. My first post at CST dealt with the terror attacks in Orlando that unfolded Saturday:

    It’s not Your Father’s War on Terror Any More

    ….While Americans quickly became politically divided on partisan lines over how to characterize Mateen’s terrorism as a problem of gun control, homophobia or Islamic radicalization, the security threat Americans now face with terrorism is different and potentially more socially disruptive that the kinds of state-sponsored terrorism of the 20th century or even that of non-state actors like al Qaida, whose September 11 attack launched the United States into fifteen years of war. The strategic targeting, the terrorist tactics, the ideological motivations and the kinds of people who become terrorists have shifted away from the model of Abu Nidal or Osama bin Laden to that of Omar Mateen or Syed Rizwan Farook and Tashfeen Malik. It’s not your father’s war on terror any more.

    Previous iterations of terrorists have significant differences with the acts of Islamist terrorism seen in Orlando, San Bernardino or at Fort Hood in that some constraints on violence were imposed by the secretive nature and disciplined organizational structure of modern terrorist organizations and their often grandiose political aspirations. The 1970’s era terror groups such as the PLO, IRA or the Red Brigades enjoyed covert intelligence, training and funding from the Soviet bloc and radical states like Gaddafi’s Libya; while this gave these groups greater security and resources, it also gave their patrons a “veto” over any and all terror operations. Or more than a veto. Reputedly master Palestinian terrorist Abu Nidal met his end at the hands of Iraqi state security when he defied his chief supporter Saddam Hussein’s “requests” once too often. In short, it was not in the interest of terrorism sponsoring states to let terrorist groups off their short leash during the Cold War, lest they spark WWIII.

    Read the rest here.


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