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Alchemies of church & bookstore, French Open court & gardens

Wednesday, June 5th, 2019

[ by Charles Cameron — two instances of somewhat unexpected balance ]
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Here, first, something you’ve already seen — the Maastricht bookstore in a restored church, arguably an instance of word being made flesh:

and the gardens now surrounding the clay court on which the French Open is played:

**

Sources:

  • Marcus Fairs, A shop in a church by Merkx + Girod Architecten
  • Gerald Marzorati, How the French Turned a Tennis Court Into a Garden
  • **

    I say alchemy because marriages of hard and soft, above and below, word and flesh, have it in common that they bridge significant metaphysical divides — like the fall of the Berlin wall, to take a political equivalent within living memory — and thus perform a healing work.

    Tikkun olam.

    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 ]
    .

    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!

    **

    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..

    **

    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
  • The Woman with the Golden Gun

    Friday, March 2nd, 2018

    [ by Charles Cameron — James Bond in the Sun Myung-Moon universe? ]
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    As you know, I’m interested in the intersection of religion and violence, and there can hardly be a more emphatic example of that intersection than a religious ceremonial for the blessing of guns — complete with the personnel of an offshoot of messiah the Rev. Sun Myung-Moon‘s Unification Church (upper image, below, worshipper with crown of bullets):

    — and their queenly leader Rev. Yeon Ah Lee-Moon (lower image, above) complete with her weapon of gold.

    **

    Ah, guns of gold.

    I would love to know the symbolic meaning of a crown of bullets — compare Christ’s crown of thorns — but the symbolism of gold…

    Gold corresponds in alchemical symbology to the sun, and silver to the moon, making the original Unification messiah Sun Myung-Moon‘s name a sweet alchemical conjunction of sun and moon, albeit in transcription from the Korean in which the names would no doubt have entirely different valences from their English versions.

    Forget the Moon, then — golden weapons are, in a sense the Aztecs might have appreciated, weapons of the sun, and adornments of sunly male royalty.

    **

    Consider in this light the golden weapon of cartel boss Ramiro Pozos Gonzalez (upper image, below):

    — far outshining Scaramanga‘s golden gun from the James Bond movie The Man with the Golden Gun — (lower image, above, by mrgarethm under CC © Gareth Milner)..

    **

    Gold, oh dear, is also the symbolic essence of wealth-as-power, ie for practical cases, money, cash, dosh — and as such, that substance the desire for which is, famously, scripturally, the root of all evil.

    Golden guns, in this sense, are desirable precisely in inverse relationship to their owner’s desire for good.

    Caveat emptor!

    **

    Sources:

  • BBC, In pictures: US gun-blessing ceremony
  • Mail, Gold plated AK-47 confiscated during arrest of Mexican cartel leader
  • International Spy Museum, Golden Gun
  • Poetic or magical phrasings in otherwise realist contexts

    Saturday, February 3rd, 2018

    [ by Charles Cameron — featuring SWJ, Uma Thurman, and an outbreak of sheer alchemy – !! — on MSNBC ]
    .

    Poetry is irrepressible.

    Often confused with things people print with broken lines, poetry is a view on things, an angle oblique to reality revealing an archipelago of plausible, interesting deeper meanings, not behind but within the everyday.

    Under that definion, poetry is irrepressible, while the broken line stuff is failing, almost dead, precisely because it so oftten lacks authentic poetry.

    Here, then, are three examples of the elements of poetry visible emerging from the dense forests of the prosaic, as the Mayan temples emerge from the Guatemalan forest in this National Geographic image:

    From Exclusive: Laser Scans Reveal Maya “Megalopolis” Below Guatemalan Jungle.

    **

    Small Wars Journal:

    vegetation and the night can come to be seen part of the enemy, a similar view can emerge concerning civilians

    So: “the night can come to be seen part of the enemy” — true in terms of personal experiences of war (we’re talking Vietnam here) no doubt, but also mythic in its resonance, in a way that’s inseparable from its practical, field reality: night as darkness, the unknown, mystery, terror, all providing a cloak for sudden attack.

    From Preventing the Barbarization of Warfare: The USMC CAP Program in Vietnam in the Small Wars Journal, not a source renowned for poetry — or “poetry” for that matter.
    **

    New York Times:

    There’s divinity, and then there’s celebrity:

    Uma Thurman is certainly a star, maybe more —

    Her hall features a large golden Buddha from her parents in Woodstock; her father, Robert Thurman, is a Buddhist professor of Indo-Tibetan studies at Columbia who thinks Uma is a reincarnated goddess.

    — a goddess, with a lower-case “g”?

    From Maureen Dowd, in This Is Why Uma Thurman Is Angry

    **

    MSNBC, The Beat:

    This is no doubt the most astonishing.

    Bringing the moon and the sun together always makes me happy.

    From Ari Melber on The Beat yesterday, at 47.12 almost at the very end of this clip:

    Sheer alchemy, out of the Tube, out of nowhere! Bringing the sun and moon together is the conjunctio, subject of Carl Jung‘s last major work, Mysterium Coniunctionis, and symbolized by the union of sun andd moon, king and queen, gold and silver:

    The middle image, showing the coniunctio, is from the Rosarium Philosophorum (1550): Jolande Jacobi describes it thus in her book The Psychology of C.G. Jung:

    The alchemical conception of one of the stages of the coniunctio. Here the ‘king’ and the ‘queen,’ who may be taken as Sol and his sister Luna, appear as symbols of the primordial psychic opposites, masculine and feminine. Their ‘marriage’ is meant primarily in the spiritual sense, as is clear not only by the words of the middle band spiritus est qui vivificat, but also by the dove as symbol of the spirit, and according to the ancients, amor coniugalis. The primordial opposites confront one another in their naked, unfalsified truth and essence, without conventional covering; the difference between them is evident and ‘essential;’ it can be bridged in fruitful union only through the intermediary of the spirit symbol, the dove, the ‘unifier’ which intervenes from ‘above.’ The branches held to form the cross, the flores mercurii, and the flower hanging down from the dove’s beak—all these symbols of the process of growth illustrate the common effort of man and woman in the living work of the coniunctio.

    Borrowed from Yin, Yan, the Tao, and Wholeness.

    For Ari Melber, out of the blue, to come up with this expression of his “happiness” at “bringing the moon and the sun together” is a stunning instance of the breaking though of the prime symbol of sheer alchemy into an MSNBC news program — in the midst of the Trump / Mueller controversy!

    **

    Had enough?

    Rest assured Inside a Bookshelf at This Genius Hotel:

    A magical — peacetime — way of nightt..

    Daveed Gartenstein-Ross in Foreign Affairs, my oblique analysis

    Sunday, March 5th, 2017

    [ by Charles Cameron — in which Gartenstein-Ross reminds me of Albrecht Dürer ]
    .

    Daveed speaks:

    Daveed is worth reading and heeding, especially when he says he’s written something of particular consequence — so read his Foreign Affairs piece.

    **

    My topic is triggered by a single sentence in Daveed’s piece, and is orthogonal to his. Daveed writes:

    These spaces included both literal ungoverned territory and discursive spaces

    In the overall flow of Daveed’s piece that’s a simple introductory remark, an observation of fact. From my point of view, though, there’s more to it than that — it’s a disjunction & conjunction of the two realms of geography and cognition, matter and mind, or “outer and inner space” if you will. And that’s something always worth noting.

    In fact, Daveed’s comment reminds me of Albrecht Dürer and his illustrations of Saint Michael Fighting the Dragon, from The Apocalypse:

    Here, the supernatural sits comfortably above (Latin: super) the natural.

    **

    The physical-metaphysical (body-mind; outer-inner; objective-subjective) disjunction & conjunction is recognizable in Descartes, and takes contemporary form as the so-called hard problem in consciousness. It’s significant that the “war in heaven” of Durer’s vision no longer fills the skies in our contemporary images of war, though heaven and hell are no less with us than before..

    And so I note that, en passant, Daveed has alluded to what is perhaps the great schism of our time, that between visionary and factual truths.

    Kathleen Raine, poet — and mentor of my youthful self:

    Fact is not the truth of myth; myth is the truth of fact.

    Witness her distress as we abandon truth of myth shining “above” truth of fact, for truth of fact alone:

    Chemistry dissolves the goddess in the alembic,
    Venus the white queen, the universal matrix,
    Down to molecular hexagons and carbon-chains,

    John of Patmos, the alchemists, Durer, Blake, Jung, Raine, have the richer vision.


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