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Some end in ashes, some wind up in stained glass

Sunday, May 12th, 2019

[ by Charles Cameron — and some, high lamas, emanations of Avalokiteshvara, become poets of the erotic.. ]
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You know my early mentor Fr Trevor Huddleston CR? I posted three photos of him here, one with Louis Armstrong and a trumpet, one with Nelson Mandela, and one exactly as I knew and now remember and honor him:

Well, today I saw for the first time an image of the stained glass window dedicated to him in Lancing College chapel:

For more on Fr Trevor, see The Life of Trevor Huddleston, Makhalipile (the Dauntless One)

Mandela said of him:

Father Huddleston was a pillar of wisdom, humility and sacrifice to the legions of freedom fighters in the darkest moments of the struggle against apartheid.

His fearlessness won him the support of everyone. No one, neither gangster, tsotsi nor pickpocket would touch him. Their respect for him was such that they would have tried – and if they did it could have cost them their lives. His enormous courage gave him a quality that commanded the respect of the place

and:

No white person has done more for South Africa than Trevor Huddleston.

He was a giant.

**

All of which got me thinking about stained glass as an alternative destination to ashes..

Desmond Tutu was another whose life was decisively influenced by Fr Trevor — and he too can be found in stained glass:

MaryAnn Randolph writes:

This, in St. Mark’s, Minneapolis, is what is called the Peacemaker’s Window. In this magnificent stained glass you will find: Mother Theresa of Calcutta, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Archbishop Tutu, Mahatma Gandhi, the Dalai Lama and many others.

Giants, all — and inspirations, inviting us to join them!

**

Ah, Gandhi-ji and the Dalai Lama — it delights me to see stained glass extending to peacemakers regardless of their religious affiliations!

I’ll leave you with an image of Green Tara, female Buddha to whom the “Great Fifth” Dalai Lama — who unified Tibet, established Lhasa as its capital, and worked to bring together the various lineages of Tibetan Buddhism together with the earlier shamanic Bon tradition — was devoted:

The Dalai Lama himself, in each of his incarnations, is considered an emanation of the Buddha of Compassion, Avalokiteshvara.

**

It was the Sixth, beloved successor of the Great Fifth, who was the rascal poet, writer of such gently erotic verses as:

This white bow in its cloth cover,
On whom shall I bestow it?
I will place it gently inside
My lover’s tiger-skin quiver.

Ah, but he’d be hard to capture in stained glass —

I’ll leave you with him and his compassion, and with the Love Songs of the Sixth Dalai Lama.

Enjoy! Delight!

Word-crumble

Sunday, May 5th, 2019

[ by Charles Cameron — btw, it would make sense for language to be half the world topic, since it is — or we attempt to make it — half the world ]
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**

Danny Cevallos, a legal analyst for MSNBC:

What happens when Congress wants to hold someone in the Executive branch in criminal contempt? Well, a rift opens in the space-time continuum, because that same Executive branch you want to hold in criminal contempt is the Executive branch that has to prosecute that contempt. There’s no other way to do it.

A rift in the space-time continuum? Really? That’s the best instance***** of exaggeration I’ve seen so far, and yes, there’s an implicit ouroboros therein.

**

And now I feel obliged to find a literary equivalent to that New Yorker header, to remove the taste of politics from our mouths with a pleasant DoubleQuote..

Here we go — TS Eliot, no less:

                                            Words strain,
Crack and sometimes break, under the burden,
Under the tension, slip, slide, perish,
Decay with imprecision, will not stay in place,
Will not stay still.

The Mercy, logic, the model digitized, the glass, the music survives

Sunday, April 21st, 2019

[ by Charles Cameron — logic, the arts, and technology offer an Easter, resurrection corrective, philosophically speaking, to the ruin of the cathedral of Notre Dame ]
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For the terrible fire that consumed so much of Notre Dame de Paris this week, grief is great. Here, I wish to recall some of the ways in which the essence of the great cathedral has been saved.

Above, Piero della Francesca‘s Madonna della Misericordia. Our Lady of Mercy, for whom the cathedral was named, continues to shelter us all..

**

Perhaps the most extraordinary, as well as the most abstract, form of Notre Dame to survive fire, war, and the French Revolutionary idea — to replace Mary with the goddess Reason enthroned in her place — is the logic embedded in the theology that accompanied its building and — lex orandi, lex credendi — the worship within it, for which purpose it was designed and built

The American philosopher CS Peirce was among the first to propose a kinship between Gothic architecture and the logic of the Paris schoolmen:

Art felt the spirit of a new age, and there could hardly be a greater change than from the highly ornate round-arched architecture of the twelfth century to the comparatively simple Gothic of the thirteenth. Indeed, if any one wishes to know what a scholastic commentary is like, and what the tone of thought in it is, he has only to contemplate a Gothic cathedral. The first quality of either is a religious devotion, truly heroic. One feels that the men who did these works did really believe in religion as we believe in nothing. We cannot easily understand how Thomas Aquinas can speculate so much on the nature of angels, and whether ten thousand of them could dance on a needle’s point. But it was simply because he held them for real. If they are real, why are they not more interesting than the bewildering varieties of insects which naturalists study; or why should the orbits of double stars attract more attention than spiritual intelligences?

Erwin Panofsky‘s work, Gothic Architecture and Scholasticism, is the central presentation of the parallels. Pierre Bourdieu, who translated Panofsky into French, characterizes the work:

The parallelism between the development of Gothic art and the development of scholastic thought in the period between about 1130–1140 and about 1270 cannot be brought out unless one “brackets off phenomenal appearances” and seeks the hidden analogies between the principles of logical organization of Scholasticism and the principles of construction of Gothic architecture. This methodological choice is dictated by the intention of establishing more than a vague “parallelism” or discontinuous, fragmentary “influences”. Renouncing the semblances of proof which satisfy intuitionists or the reassuring but reductive circumstantial proofs which delight positivists, Panofsky is led to identify the historical convergence which provides the object of his research with a hidden principle, a habitus or “habit-forming force”.

**

Rachel Donadio, Witnessing the Fall of Notre-Dame for the Atlantic, depicts the ruin of the cathedral with incredulityn–

How could Notre-Dame be burning? How could Notre-Dame, which had survived for eight centuries—survived plague and wars of religion, survived the French Revolution, survived the Nazis—be falling? Notre-Dame, the heart of Paris, not only a Catholic site but the preeminent symbol of European cultural consciousness, the heart of France, the kilometer zero from which all its farthest villages are measured—how could this majestic structure collapse so fast

— Oh, ruin, from the Latin ruere, meaning to fall.. John Milton, Paradise Lost:

                                                          Hell saw
Heaven ruining from Heaven, and would have fled
Affrighted

Viollet-le-Duc‘s 19th century spire, in this archaic sense of the word, ruined.

Resurrection:

The competition is already afoot to rebuild it.

**

Fortunately, a few years back the entire structure was mapped with ferocious accuracy by Vassar professor Andrew Tallon, using advanced laser photography to capture detail — wear and tear included, to an accuracy of a tenth of an inch:

Vassar College/AFP Photo / Andrew TALLON

Alexis Madrigal, in the Atlantic:

Now, with the building having sustained untold but very substantial damage, the data that Tallon and Blaer created could be an invaluable aid to whoever is charged with rebuilding the structure. Ochsendorf described the data as “essential for capturing [the structure] as built geometry.” (He added, however, that the cathedral, no matter what happens now, “is irreplaceable, of course.”)

Tallon and Blaer’s laser data consist of 1 billion data points, structured as “point clouds,” which software can render into images of the three-dimensional space. Stitch them together, inside and out, map the photographs onto the precise 3-D models, and you have a full digital re-creation of incredible detail and resolution.

Professor Tallon died less than six months ago, in November 2018, age 49. If you’re looking for another Easter parallel, Tallon may be metaphysically resurrected with the promised rebuilding of the cathedral he so loved and diligently studied.

**

It appears that the great Rosace Nord (north rose window) survived the fire —

As Incunabula commented:

By far the greatest blessing – a miracle – is that the Rosace Nord has survived. The South and West windows were very extensively restored in the 18th and 19th century, but the North Rose Window has stood basically unchanged for 800 years, the glass is the 13th century original.

**

To close with a blaze..

In January of this year, Olivier Latry, titular organist of Notre Dame, made what is very likely the final recordings of music on the cathedral’s great organ, for a recording which was released in March, just weeks before the terrible fire. The organ, as built by Aristide Cavaillé-Coll in the nineteenth century, houses some 8,000 pipes; it seems the fire has left it largely intact, though with damage to its electrical systems and wind-chest.

Olivier Latry plays Johann Sebastian Bach‘s Toccata and Fugue in D minor, BWV 565 on the Cavaillé-Coll organ of Notre-Dame de Paris::

Fanning the flames

Wednesday, April 17th, 2019

[ by Charles Cameron — winds blowing east from Notre Dame ground zero fans the brush-fires of fear, prejudice and concpiracy — this, and a poetic and sacred alternative ]
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It’s often said, and has no doubt been said many times since the horrific fire at Notre Dame began, that fire rages. By the same token, rage inflames. It is rage, and not truth, that brings us these horrific Twitter posts, which I can bring here courtesy of Buzzfeed:

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A great beauty DoubleQuoted:

The Loss of Notre Dame is horrific enough without pouring hatred onto the flames.

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May I refer you to Thomas Merton‘s great poem of sacred, sacrificial fire, Elegy for the Monastery Barn, and to these brief but potent lines from TS Eliot‘s Four Quartets?

The dove descending breaks the air
With flame of incandescent terror
Of which the tongues declare
The one discharge from sin and error.
The only hope, or else despair
Lies in the choice of pyre or pyre—
To be redeemed from fire by fire.

Who then devised the torment? Love.
Love is the unfamiliar Name
Behind the hands that wove
The intolerable shirt of flame
Which human power cannot remove.
We only live, only suspire
Consumed by either fire or fire.

Off to a good start, chyrons, headlines, phrases, metaphors, 31

Saturday, March 30th, 2019

[ by Charles Cameron — Oxford the memory, Edward Said the music critic, WB Yeats and his Tom O’Roughley, Townes Van Zandt in the song of David Broza.. Barr and Aaliyah — four-page letters, kisses .. plus FaallBack, & Wiz Khalifa on my watch [!!] ]

Minefield, yes —

— but also two sides on one stage, so two virtues in the music of ideas:

  • polyphony — many voices, and
  • counterpoint, the juxtaposition, clash and resolution of contrary points of view
  • For war and peace as symphonic, see Edward Said:

    When you think about it, when you think about Jew and Palestinian not separately, but as part of a symphony, there is something magnificently imposing about it. A very rich, also very tragic, also in many ways desperate history of extremes – opposites in the Hegelian sense – that is yet to receive its due. So what you are faced with is a kind of sublime grandeur of a series of tragedies, of losses, of sacrifices, of pain that would take the brain of a Bach to figure out. It would require the imagination of someone like Edmund Burke to fathom.

    Just a snippet — the first paragraph from the Guardian piece:

    Lou Armour is a special needs teacher, an introspective man with a walking stick. If you passed him on the street you probably wouldn’t notice anything about him beyond his limp. But 35 years ago he yomped across the Falkland Islands and ran through a minefield under artillery fire on Mount Harriet. His section killed several Argentinians in a bloody battle and Armour found himself attending to a fatally wounded Argentinian soldier who spoke to him in English about visiting Oxford. He watched as the young man died.

    Ah, Oxford.

    That’s I’d say, is a very good start for this post.

    **

    Okay, back into the mire:

  • Defense One, The US Military Is Creating the Future of Employee Monitoring
  • Uh oh, just what we need!

    As I said to Ali Minai, my view is that of WB Yeats in his poem Tom O’Roughley:

    ‘Though logic choppers rule the town,
    And every man and maid and boy
    Has marked a distant object down,
    An aimless joy is a pure joy,’
    Or so did Tom O’Roughley say
    That saw the surges running by,
    ‘And wisdom is a butterfly
    And not a gloomy bird of prey.

    ‘If little planned is little sinned
    But little need the grave distres.
    What’s dying but a second wind?
    How but in zigzag wantonness
    Could trumpeter Michael be so brave?’
    Or something of that sort he said,
    ‘And if my dearest friend were dead
    I’d dance a measure on his grave.’

    **

    Back to the Mueller probe according to President Trump

    :Many, many people were badly hurt by this scam, but more importantly, our country was hurt. Our country was hurt. And they are on artificial respirators right now. They are getting mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.

    — and back to “little pencil-neck Adam Schiff” aka “Adam Schitt”:

    He’s got the smallest, thinnest neck I’ve ever seen. He is not a long-ball hitter, but I saw him today, ‘Well we don’t really know, there still could have been some Russia collusion.’

    Sick, sick.. these are sick people and there has to be accountability because it is all lies and they know it’s lies ..

    Well then:

    That’s an unexpected and welcome follow-up ..

    **

    And so to Trump:

    Wildcard*****, a nice, slightly paradoxical example..

    **

    I’m watching Hanna (Amazon), starring the skilled and lovely Esme Creed-Miles:

    Life, she is full of variety, no?

    **

    elshi & Ruhle:

    **

    MTP 3/29/2019:

    Again, trump, trump, trump..

    Rep Jamie Raskin, his way with words:

    Attorney General Barr writes letters like Agatha Christie novels, there are more and more mysteries built into each one ..

    [Impeachment] it’s the people’s defense against a president who’s acting like a king ..

    Katy Tur:

    **

    The Beat, Ari Melber:

    First, a stream of chyrons..

    Aisha:

    I’m dropping this four-page letter and enclosing it with a kiss..

    Aside: the things we learn!!

    Howard Fineman:

    I think he’s part of the team..

    Let me use a basketball analogy if you don’t mind.. You know how, at the end of a game when one team thinks it’s ahead and they spread the floor and start tossing the ball around to keep from getting fouled to stop the clock, that’s my interpretation [of Barr’s actions] here..

    .. dozens of years of Yale Law School education, and we end at the freak-show tent ..

    A pair:

    Then there’s a quote from Obama’s Selma Bridge speech:

    We are the people Langston Hughes wrote of who “build our temples for tomorrow, strong as we know how.” We are the people Emerson wrote of, “who for truth and honor’s sake stand fast and suffer long;” who are “never tired, so long as we can see far enough.”

    That’s what America is. Not stock photos or airbrushed history, or feeble attempts to define some of us as more American than others.

    Fallback, which I generally don’t like too much, but here —

    — hunting and shooting a sleeping lion —

    If you’re hunting to eat, that’s one thing ..

    You want to impress me — go fight that lion with your bare hands, knuckles, teeth — and then come back and talk to me..

    [cf past Maasai hunting traditions.. ]

    — and which, further into the Fallback episode, brings us more music — Stay in ur lane:

    **

    So here I’ll take a break..


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