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The erasure of boundaries — also, findings at the K/T boundary?

Monday, April 1st, 2019

[ by Charles Cameron — Tolkien illuminates Arthur C Clarke, Robert DePalma may have made the discovery of a century or two, previous posts on borders and the liminal ]
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Arthur C Clarke, #3 of Clarke’s Three Laws:

Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.

Perhaps a bit facile.. when seen silhouetted against..

JRR Tolkien, quoted by John Garth in War in Tolkien’s Middle-earth, 1916 thus:

‘From the greatness of his wealth of metals and his powers of fire’ Melko constructs a host of ‘beasts like snakes and dragons of irresistible might that should overcreep the Encircling Hills and lap that plain and its fair city in flame and death’. The work of ‘smiths and sorcerers’, these forms violate the boundary between mythical monster and machine, between magic and technology.

That’s a DoubleQuote!

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There’s a parallel, if greater, boundary violation Tolkien points us to in his essay On Fairy-Stories, where he writes of the Gospel that “this story has entered History and the primary world; the desire and aspiration of sub-creation has been raised to the fulfillment of Creation” and declares, “Legend and History have met and fused.”

That’s true alchemy here — a sacred marriage, hieros gamos..

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Sacred marriage, too, is the topic of the 17th century predecessor of Tolkien’s work in fearful yet blessed spiritual fantasy, The Chymical Wedding of Christian Rosenkreutz (1616) — beautifully translated bv Ebenezer Foxcroft (1690), and richly annotated in John Warwick Montgomery’s Cross and Crucible: Johann Valentin Andreae (1586–1654) Phoenix of the Theologians.

Other books on magic / imagination worth considering:

  • Lee Siegel, Net of Magic: Wonders and Deceptions in India
  • Ioan Couliano, Eros and Magic in the Renaissance
  • Henry Corbin, Creative Imagination in the Sufism of Ibn Arabi
  • **

    Take a deep breath..

    **

    While we’re on boundaries, there quite possibly may have been a seismically major discovery relating to the K/T (Cretaceous / Tertiary, now renamed Paleogene) boundary on “The Day” itself:

  • Douglas Preston, The Day the Dinosaurs Died
  • .
    “When I saw that, I knew this wasn’t just any flood deposit,” DePalma said. “We weren’t just near the KT boundary—this whole site is the KT boundary!” From surveying and mapping the layers, DePalma hypothesized that a massive inland surge of water flooded a river valley and filled the low-lying area where we now stood, perhaps as a result of the KT-impact tsunami, which had roared across the proto-Gulf and up the Western Interior Seaway. As the water slowed and became slack, it deposited everything that had been caught up in its travels—the heaviest material first, up to whatever was floating on the surface. All of it was quickly entombed and preserved in the muck: dying and dead creatures, both marine and freshwater; plants, seeds, tree trunks, roots, cones, pine needles, flowers, and pollen; shells, bones, teeth, and eggs; tektites, shocked minerals, tiny diamonds, iridium-laden dust, ash, charcoal, and amber-smeared wood. As the sediments settled, blobs of glass rained into the mud, the largest first, then finer and finer bits, until grains sifted down like snow.

    “We have the whole KT event preserved in these sediments,” DePalma said. “With this deposit, we can chart what happened the day the Cretaceous died.”

    DePalma’s PNAS article:

  • Robert DePalma et al., Prelude to Extinction: a seismically induced onshore surge deposit at the KPg boundary, North Dakota
  • See also:

  • UC Berkeley, 66-million-year-old deathbed linked to dinosaur-killing meteor
  • Ryan F. Mandelbaum, Scientists Find Fossilized Fish That May Have Been Blasted by Debris From Asteroid That Ended the Dinosaur Age
  • **

    Earlier Zenpundit posts on liminality and borders, among them:

  • Liminality II: the serious part
  • Of border crossings, and the pilgrimage to Arbaeen in Karbala
  • Violence at three borders, naturally it’s a pattern
  • Borders, limina and unity
  • Borders as metaphors and membranes
  • McCabe and Melber, bright lines and fuzzy borders
  • Walls. Christianity & poetry. And nations, identities & borders
  • Limina, thresholds, more on spaces-between & their importance
  • with further references in:

  • The importance and impotence of language, #28 in the series
  • And another next, 26, mixed
  • Can you believe it? We’re at Chyrons & metaphors 19
  • Next notables, metaphors and bright ideas included

    Sunday, December 9th, 2018

    [ by Charles Cameron — next in the long series beginning with sports and game metaphors, and extending to include miscellaneous memorable items — nb, includes a Tibhirine section, Jim Gant pls note ]
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    Here’s a DoubleQuote in images of considerable interest, from David Metcalfe — with the esteemed William Dalrynple DoubleQuoting goddesses in Kerala:

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    Ancilliary to my interest in mapping complex realities..

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    First “siege warfare” metaphor:

    **

    Something to read alongside John Kiser‘s superb The Monks of Tibhirine: Faith, Love, and Terror in Algeria :

    I would be most happy to publish any comments John Kiser has on Kyle Orton‘s blog post, Algeria’s ‘Years of Blood’: Not Quite What They Seem on ZP should he or Jim Gant notice this somewhat obscure entry..

    **

    Good grief:

    Key comment:

    I will explain all in due course but for now all I want to say is be VERY careful when dabbling in spirituality, it’s not something to mess with.

    **

    And how’s this?

    Trump Channels the Worst of China to Beat China

    A double ouroboros, methinks: the Worst of China to Beat China, arguably, and self-defeating, axiomatically, no?

    **

    Venkatesh Rao, Quiver Doodles:

    I don’t know if this is still true, but I once read about exploited workers in the ship-breaking industry who were worked so hard, and paid so little, they could not even afford to buy enough calories to sustain themselves. They were slowly starving to death. I call this phenomenon entropic ruin, a generalization of the idea of gambler’s ruin to open-ended games that can be non-zero-sum and need not involve gambling. In this case, it’s a deterministic death march. If you systematically consume fewer calories than you expend long term, you will die a premature death.

    Via John Kellden

    **

    Did Venkatesh mention “the idea of gambler’s ruin“? How about nuns’ ruin as a subset?

    Two nuns allegedly stole $500,000 for trips to Las Vegas

    We do know that they had a pattern of going on trips, we do know they had a pattern of going to casinos, and the reality is, they used the account as their personal account,” Marge Graf, an attorney representing St. James, told a group of parents at a meeting last Monday night, according to the Beach Reporter.”

    **

    Mask dancers, Bhutan:

    21 Breathtaking Photos Of Isolated Tribes From All Around The World

    The dancers are gorgeous, but look to the left and see the monasteries perched on plateaus in a towering rock-face..

    I’m pretty sure “isolated tribes” are of particular interest about now because of the evangelical boundary-pusher killed (martyred? now there’s a koan) because he hoped to bring the gospel to Andaman tribal peoples whose isolation is protected by the Indian government.. see my tweet:

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    A whole lot more..

    This Nancy Pelosi chyron, for instance:

    Which brings me to #2 below:

    — with #3 also deserving a metaphor-mention..

    And we might as well go for the revolt chyron here:

    And that in turn allows for a splendid graphic with both metaphorical and real resonance..

    **

    That should be enough. I’ll collect further items of interest in the comments section.

    Shorts 04: Books, and a personal pic

    Sunday, March 4th, 2018

    [ by Charles Cameron — a quick treasury of treasures, what else? ]
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    Robert Irwin, The Arabian Nights: A Companion

    Abbasid Baghdad did produce its own semi- legendary criminals. Many tales were told of the ingenious exploits of the ninth-century master-thief, al-Uqab (‘the Eagle’), among them the story of a bet he had with a certain doctor that within a set period of time alUqab could steal something from the doctor’s house. Although the house was closely guarded, alUqab drugged the guards. Then, posing as an apparition of Jesus and making use of hypnotism, he succeeded in stealing off with the dcotor himself.

    Robert Irwin was an Oxford contemporary & fellow-traveller.

    **

    Kim Wagner, The Skull of Alum Bheg: The Life and Death of a Rebel of 1857

    In 1963, a human skull was discovered in a pub in south-east England. The handwritten note found inside revealed it to be that of Alum Bheg, an Indian soldier in British service who had been blown from a cannon for his role in the 1857 Uprising, his head brought back as a grisly war-trophy by an Irish officer present at his execution. The skull is a troublesome relic of both anti-colonial violence and the brutality and spectacle of British retribution.

    Ooh, grue! Cf. the food of that served in the Arkansas penal system.

    ^^

    Simon Armitage, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight: an introduction

    We know next to nothing about the author of the poem which has come to be called Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. It was probably written around 1400. In the early 17th century the manuscript was recorded as belonging to a Yorkshireman, Henry Saville of Bank. It was later acquired by Sir Robert Cotton, whose collection also included the Lindisfarne Gospels and the only surviving manuscript of Beowulf . The poem then lay dormant for over 200 years, not coming to light until Queen Victoria was on the throne, thus leapfrogging the attentions of some of our greatest writers and critics. The manuscript, a small, unprepossessing thing, would fit comfortably into an average-size hand, were anyone actually allowed to touch it. Now referred to as Cotton Nero A X, it is considered not only a most brilliant example of Middle English poetry but also as one of the jewels in the crown of English Literature; it now sits in the British Library under conditions of high security and controlled humidity.

    Hat-tip: Hanne Elisabeth Storm Ofteland

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    Rennie Davis, The New Humanity: A Movement to Change the World (Volume 1 of 3)

    This first book returns to ‘Our Roots’ with a behind-the-scenes look straight from the eye of the social-change hurricane that swept North America during the turbulent times of the 1960s. Rennie Davis was the coordinator of the largest coalition of anti-war and civil rights organizations during that era. Now in vivid detail, he explains how the Sixties movement ignited and expanded, growing in strength and staying power. A compelling, riveting story, it was written to inspire today’s generation to stand on the shoulders of those who came before and arise again to change the world. Like a snowball tumbling down the mountain to become an avalanche that takes out the concrete wall of fear and divide, today’s movement will not be ignored or stopped.

    This book is today’s must-read gift to yourself and your friends to uplift humanity and change the world.

    Rennie is an old friend, story for another day. Hat-tip: Rennie Davis.

    **

    This just in:

    Bernard Faure, The Fluid Pantheon: Gods of Medieval Japan, Volume 1

    Written by one of the leading scholars of Japanese religion, The Fluid Pantheon is the first installment of a multivolume project that promises to be a milestone in our understanding of the mythico-ritual system of esoteric Buddhism—specifically the nature and roles of deities in the religious world of medieval Japan and beyond. Bernard Faure introduces readers to medieval Japanese religiosity and shows the centrality of the gods in religious discourse and ritual; in doing so he moves away from the usual textual, historical, and sociological approaches that constitute the “method” of current religious studies. The approach considers the gods (including buddhas and demons) as meaningful and powerful interlocutors and not merely as cyphers for social groups or projections of the human mind. Throughout he engages insights drawn from structuralism, post-structuralism, and Actor-network theory to retrieve the “implicit pantheon” (as opposed to the “explicit orthodox pantheon”) of esoteric Japanese Buddhism (Mikky?).

    Hat-tip: just in from friend Gilles Poitras.

    **

    Enough of books — heres a personal photo — friend Neil Ayer with a Rothka at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston:

    Au ‘voir!

    Shorts 01: Holi festivities, omertà, and so forth

    Friday, March 2nd, 2018

    [ by Charles Cameron — an olla podrida or highly spiced Spanish-style stew ]
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    Holi Festival:

    Today is Holi Festival for those who celebrate it, the day on which we color each other in dyes in honor of Prahlad, a child devotee of the Supreme Beloved:

    Accordingly, I wish that all may be drenched in the colors of devotion this Holi, most joyful of festivals!

    **

    Omertà:

    For a taste of something very different — there has been considerable discussion recently of Paul Manafort‘s seemingly obstinate refusal to plead to Mueller’s charges and save (salvage) at least some of his skin by becoming a cooperating witness rather than an overwhelmingly indicted criminal in the Russian influence affair.

    What I haven’t seen suggested is that the man may be following a code: specifically omerta:

    a code of silence about criminal activity and a refusal to give evidence to authorities.

    Particularly if his Mafia bosses happen to be rough and Russian.

    **

    Hope Hicks:

    There’s an intense Vox piece on the sexism to be found in a plethora of press reports on Hope Hicks. The provocative title: When does Hope Hicks get to be a “wunderkind” instead of a “former model”? And the provocative fact:

    None of this coverage mentioned the salient fact that Hicks’s modeling career spanned ages 10 to 16. She landed the Ralph Lauren deal at age 11. By 16 she had quit her part-time modeling job to focus on her true passion, lacrosse.

    I nwon’t get into the sexism issue, but that “salient fact” does seem to put much of the “former model” language in its place.

    Hick is, however, still model-style gorgeous at 29 — as seen in this photo in which she’s on her way to testify to the House Intelligence Committee:

    Given Donald Trump‘s known eye for beautiful women, isn’t Hope Hicks‘ beauty too a “salient fact”?

    **

    Language lesson

    Under the title McMaster Gives a Belated Russian Lesson, Foreign Policy introduces us to the words maskirovka — military arts by deception — and vranyo. The latter is best explained by the verbal spiral I commented on yesterday:

    A Russian friend explained vranyo this way: ‘You know I’m lying, and I know that you know, and you know that I know that you know, but I go ahead with a straight face, and you nod seriously and take notes.’

    **

    Bluff or threat?

    That’s the question Putin’s recent claims sets before us, and an item in Australian BC’s Is Vladimir Putin bluffing or should we be worried about his new ‘miracle weapons’? caught my eye — a quote from our own Nuclear Posture Review:

    its [Russia’s] “escalate to de-escalate” doctrine implies it might respond with nuclear weapons in any conventional war.

    You know my preoccupation with pattern? Okay, “escalate to de-escalate” has ann exact opposite in French:

    Now almost as familiar in English as in French, “reculer pour mieux sauter” — which I imagine is originally an equestrian show-jumping expression — means to step backwards, the better to leap (forwards).

    A Pattern Language for Strategy, check!

    **

    Trump, Guns, and Golf

    The entire text of Kevin Drum‘s Mother Jones article under that title reads:

    Hey, did Donald Trump ever sign that executive order allowing guns at all his golf resorts, like he promised to do? Just wondering.

    Well, did he?

    World Health — disorder

    Friday, February 2nd, 2018

    [ by Charles Cameron — withdraw preventive measures, then increase risk ]
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    These two, in tandem:

    Oy: I saw these two in my twitter feed about two minutes apart.

    **

    Read this as the whiskey:

    CDC to cut by 80 percent efforts to prevent global disease outbreak

    Four years after the United States pledged to help the world fight infectious-disease epidemics such as Ebola, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is dramatically downsizing its epidemic prevention activities in 39 out of 49 countries because money is running out, U.S. government officials said.

    The CDC programs, part of a global health security initiative, train front-line workers in outbreak detection and work to strengthen laboratory and emergency response systems in countries where disease risks are greatest. The goal is to stop future outbreaks at their source. [..]

    The CDC plans to narrow its focus to 10 “priority countries,” starting in October 2019, the official said. They are India, Thailand and Vietnam in Asia; Jordan in the Middle East; Kenya, Uganda, Liberia, Nigeria and Senegal in Africa; and Guatemala in Central America.

    Countries where the CDC is planning to scale back include some of the world’s hot spots for emerging infectious disease, such as China, Pakistan, Haiti, Rwanda and Congo. Last year, when Congo experienced a potentially deadly Ebola outbreak in a remote, forested area, CDC-trained disease detectives and rapid responders helped contain it quickly.

    **

    Here’s the chaser:

    India’s farmed chickens dosed with world’s strongest antibiotics, study finds

    Chickens raised in India for food have been dosed with some of the strongest antibiotics known to medicine, in practices that could have repercussions throughout the world. [..]

    A study by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism has found that hundreds of tonnes of colistin, described as an antibiotic of last resort, have been shipped to India for the routine treatment of animals, chiefly chickens, on farms.

    The finding is concerning because the use of such powerful drugs can lead to an increasing resistance among farm animals around the world. Colistin is regarded as one of the last lines of defence against serious diseases, including pneumonia, which cannot be treated by other medicines. Without these drugs, diseases that were commonly treatable in the last century will become deadly once again.

    There is nothing to prevent Indian farmers, which include some of the world’s biggest food producers, from exporting their chickens and other related products overseas.

    I suppose we should be grateful that India is high on the list of countries the CDC will still target, but..


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