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Things within things, so to speak, and other stuff

Sunday, June 2nd, 2019

[ by Charles Cameron — strongs words on the significance of chyrons, honor and dishonor in the services, things within things and so on.. ]
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Ari Melber and Jon Meacham talk twitter-fights and chyrons:

This is a truly fascinating clip, containing not only Ari Melber’s nicely phrased “Bob Mueller brought a book to a Twitter fight” and Jon Meacham’s “The Mueller team has been out-gunned”, but also a discussion of chyrons — which as you know, I’ve been tracking in more than thirty recent posts:

Jon Meacham again:

Basically, Mueller is also fighting not only twitter but what I sometimes think of as Chyron Conservatives – you know, the chyrons are the captions at the bottom of the screen ..

The power of the chyron is a really interesting force right now in our public life ..

As you know, there are footnotes in the Mueller report, that have date stamped of certain TV chyrons that Donald Trump reacted to, to explore his mind as criminal evidence ..

Two other Ari Melber quotes of interest — this one a variant on what’s already been said: “trigger fingers turn into twitter fingers” .. — and this one a quasi-ouroboric formulation: “guns as a solution to guns” ..

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Shame and dishonor:

Whatever officials were involved in the attempt to obscure the name of John McCain from the gaze of Donald Trump on the ship bearing that name — on Memorial Day — dishonor an honorable service.

Navy acknowledges request was made to hide USS John S. McCain during Trump visit

“A request was made to the U.S. Navy to minimize the visibility of USS John S. McCain” during President Donald Trump’s recent state visit to Japan, the Navy said in a statement.

Also shameful, if not dishonorable: the scramble up Everest.

The mountain is so crowded by those who want to come home and say I climbed Everest that they’re stumbling over one another. This is the mountain Tibetans call “Chomolungma”– “Goddess Mother of the Snows” — sacred, it seems to me, by virtue of its beauty — and now polluted by our petty pride.

And honor:

I was going to post in honor of U.S. soldiers Captain Silas Soule and Lt. Joseph Cramer, who refused to participate in the Sand Creek Massacre of 200 or so Cheyenne and Arapaho, many of them women and children, until I realized the piece I was going to point to was from November 2017. Their names do not age, but the news oif the annual run from Sand Creek to Denver is now a year and a half stale. . SO I’ll render them honor with these words:

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Xi Jinping’s blind spot:

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Some time when you have an hour — Malcolm Nance‘s intelligence-oriented conversation at USC packs a wallop:

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And finally, things within things, so to speak:

If I recall correctly, the Mughal emperor Jahangir is depicted as preferring to speak first with a Sufi sant, then with a lesser king, then with King James I of England, pretty faithfully rendered btw, and finally on the bottom rung of the ladder, with the artist.

And let’s make that a DoubleQuote`:

Eros, the Renaissance and advertising

Sunday, May 5th, 2019

[ by Charles Cameron — Dell ad challenges magic, Couliano shows advertising is magic (in the Renaissance sense) — intro to a series on TV commercials ]
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Continuing the series we began with Advertising series 01: Music..

Dell intro:

Dell Technologies, not having much historical insight into either magic or advertising, pits magic against tech and suggests that tech wins, hands down..

I take that as a personal affront..

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Ioan Couliano:

The late, esteemed scholar Ioan Couliano, in contrast to Dell, shows in his great book Eros and Magic in the Renaissance that magic, as practiced in the Renaissance, is precisely what advertising is up to today..

Renaissance magic, according to Couliano, was a scientifically plausible attempt to manipulate individuals and groups based on a knowledge of motivations, particularly erotic motivations. Its key principle was that everyone (and in a sense everything) could be influenced by appeal to sexual desire. In addition, the magician relied on a profound knowledge of the art of memory to manipulate the imaginations of his subjects. In these respects, Couliano suggests, magic is the precursor of the modern psychological and sociological sciences, and the magician is the distant ancestor of the psychoanalyst and the advertising and publicity agent.

That’s from the cover of Couliano‘s book, and the remainder of this post will track eros from simple erotic desire — mostly from the male perspective? — to the mystical ascent in response to the divine beloved..

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Desire, the universal lure:

The lure of the erotic will peel your money from your wallet in various skillful ways:

Sandals

What is love? Love is advertising. Love — didn’t the Beatles mention this? — is all you need.

Nugenix:

What is love? It is nod-nod, wink-wink..

You wanna go more overt still?

For that (beer) you’d best be in Rio..

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And then there’s the broader sense of desire:

Wanting it all:

But that’s just the desire for food — easily satisfied, even here in these United States..

But wanting the world, in the cultural appropriation sense? That’s a more subtle desire, and Las Vegas aims to satisfy it by bringing analogs of Venice, the Pyramids, whatever, to a single easily accessible location:

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But wait..

All of these inevitably fall short of what interests me: the desire to be acquainted with the ludus globi or game of the world, which Couliano describes:

The ludus globi is the supreme mystical game, the game the Titans made Dionysus play in order to seize him and put him to death. From the ashes of the Titans struck down by the lightning of Zeus, arose mankind, a race guilty without having sinned because of the deicide of its ancestors. But, since the Titans had incorporated part of the god, men also inherited a spark from the murdered child, the divine child whose game is the metaphor of the ages: ?Aion is a child who plays checkers: the sovereignty of a child!

and the desire for the mystical ascent, not infrequently expressed in erotic terms:

In Mecca in 1201, he composes a Diwan dedicated to Nezam (Harmony), daughter of an Imam nobleman of Persian origin, Zahir ibn Rostam. Entitled The Interpreter of Burning Desires, the
Diwan’s prologue contains these intimate confessions:

Now this sheik had a daughter, a slender and willowy adolescent who attracted the attention of anyone who saw her, whose presence alone was the embellishment of public meetings and struck with amazement all who looked upon her. Her name was Nezam (Harmonia) and her surname ?Eye of the Sun and of Beauty” [?ayn al?Shams wa’Z-Baha? .[Scholarly and pious, with experience of the spiritual and mystical life, she personified the venerable antiquity of the Holy Land and the innocent youth of the prophet’s great city. The magic of her glance, the grace of her conversation, was so enchanting that if she happened to be prolix her speech was filled with references; if concise, a marvel of eloquence; holding forth on a subject, clear and lucid. . . . Were it not for petty minds eager for scandal and inclined to slander, I would here comment on the beauty that God lavished on her body as well as on her soul, which was a garden of generosity. .. .

Plato in The Symposium:

Love is simply the name for the desire and pursuit of the whole.

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
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    Take a deep breath..

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    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
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    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
  • A murmuration — not a tweet but a simurgh

    Friday, January 4th, 2019

    [ by Charles Cameron — from ornithology, via mystical poetry to the sheer joy of language ]
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    Here’s a murmuration of starlings, beautifully videographed near my home town of Sacramento:

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    Thousands of starlings can explode from a single tree — an impressive sight — but atill photogrphers tend to capture their images when the murmurations appear to resemble something — in this case, a bird of some sort, but not a starling..

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    The Simurgh:

    Which brings me to the great Sufi poet Farid ud-Din Attar, whose Conference of the Birds opens with the hoopoe, wisest of birds, taelling the world’s birds in assembly that they must cross seven perilous valleys to find their true sovereign, the Simurgh . These valleys are the valleys of the Quest (Talab), of Love (Ishq), of Knowledge (Ma’refat), of Detachment (Isteghnâ), of Unity (Tawhid), of Wonderment (Hayrat), and of Poverty and Annihilation (Faqr and Fana). You can read something of the meaning of each valley in this page, or here

    Some birds die simply hearing what each valley demands, others as they traverse the valleys — but finally, thirty birds survive and arrive at the Simurgh’s throne:

    ust 30 birds arrive at the home of the simurgh where they realize a startling truth: they are themselves the simurgh. In fact, the word in Persian means “30 birds.” Finally, the birds understand that the Beloved is like the sun in that it can be reflected in a mirror. In other words, we all reflect God because we are God’s shadow and reverberation: nothing is separated from its creator.

    Or otherwise told:

    Out of thousands of birds, only thirty reach the end of the journey. When the light of lights is manifested and they are in peace, they become aware that the Simurgh is them. They begin a new life in the Simurgh and contemplate the inner world. Simurgh, it turns out, means thirty birds; but if forty or fifty had arrived, it would be the same. By annihilating themselves gloriously in the Simurgh they find themselves in joy, learn the secrets, and receive immortality. So long as you do not realize your nothingness and do not renounce your self-pride, vanity, and self-love, you will not reach the heights of immortality.

    You know, there’s a parallel between the Simurgh, comprised of thirty birds, and the Church as body of Christ, constituted by the disciples with whom he broke bread with the Words of Institution, Matthew 26.26:

    And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed it, and brake it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is my body.

    — and not forgetting the Great Prayer of Union of John 17.11:

    And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to thee. Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are.

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    Translations:

  • Sholeh Wolpé, The Conference of the Birds
  • Penguin Classics, The Conference of the Birds
  • James Lipton, An Exaltation of Larks or, The Venereal Game
  • From that last:

    An “exaltation of larks”? Yes! And a “leap of leopards,” a “parliament of owls,” an “ostentation of peacocks,” a “smack of jellyfish,” and a “murder of crows”!

    Slope #1: Mattis Trump, a study in opposites

    Saturday, December 22nd, 2018

    [ by Charles Cameron — Mattis and Jalaluddin Rumi ]
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    Dexter Filkins in the New Yorker, James Mattis Is Out; What Comes Next?

    From the beginning, Mattis and his boss, President Trump, were nearly perfect opposites. Trump, lazy and self-indulgent, appears to think, when he thinks at all, almost entirely of himself. Mattis, by contrast, is a picture of self-restraint, driven by a sense of loyalty to the country and his ideals, symbolized by his high and tight haircut and forty-four years of military service. While his boss revelled in his own hedonism, Mattis walked the battlefields of Afghanistan and Iraq carrying a copy of the Meditations of Marcus Aurelius, the Roman stoic.

    Neatly done there: Mattis‘ hair is specified, Trump‘s implied..

    Seriously, though, it’s both obvious and surprising that Filkins tackles Mattis, on the occasion of his retirement, in geometric or logical terms of the opposition between the man and his boss.

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    In the first of his sermons in Fihi ma Fihi, Jalaluddin Rumi offers us the paradox that when a sage visits the court of a prince, it is the prince who visits the sage:

    when scholars do not study to please princes, but instead pursue learning from first to last for the sake of truth — when their actions and words spring from the truth they have learned and put to use because this is their nature and they cannot live otherwise .. Should such scholars visit a prince, they are still the ones visited and the prince is the visitor, because in every case it is the prince who takes from these scholars and receives help from them. .. Their trade is giving, they do not receive. The Arabs have expressed this in a proverb: “We have learned in order to give, we have not learned in order to take.” And so in all ways they are the visited, and the prince is the visitor.

    Mattis is a scholar of strategy, and Trump not much of a prince.

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    The point is, there’s a downhill slope here, and the man of service holds the high ground over his sad little master.

    Mattis writes in his resignation letter:

    One core belief I have always held is that our strength as a nation is inextricably linked to the strength of our unique and comprehensive system of alliances and partnerships. While the US remains the indispensable nation in the free world, we cannot protect our interests or serve that role effectively without maintaining strong alliances and showing respect to those allies. [ .. ]

    Similarly, I believe we must be resolute and unambiguous in our approach to those countries whose strategic interests are increasingly in tension with ours. It is clear that China and Russia, for example, want to shape a world consistent with their authoritarian model — gaining veto authority over other nations’ economic, diplomatic, and security decisions — to promote their own interests at the expense of their neighbors, America and our allies. That is why we must use all the tools of American power to provide for the common defense.

    My views on treating allies with respect and also being clear-eyed about both malign actors and strategic competitors are strongly held and informed by over four decades of immersion in these issues. We must do everything possible to advance an international order that is most conducive to our security, prosperity and values, and we are strengthened in this effort by the solidarity of our alliances.

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  • NYT, Jim Mattis Kept His Country From the ‘Dark Side’
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    As we all now know, Mattis eventually felt the inverted slope was untenable. Hence:

    Because you have the right to have a Secretary of Defense whose views are better aligned with yours on these and other subjects, I believe it is right for me to step down from my position.


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