[ by Charles Cameron — our advertising and magic series continues — the Volkswagen bug in its many transforms! ]
In our last magic and commercials post, The magic of miniatures, we saw the power of associating the small with the large. Volkswagen seems toi have taken this idea to new levels, with the assistance of toy manufacturers and the film industry.
Let’s start here:
Hey boy, c’here!
Remember Chuang-Tsu? Here’s a fragment in Burton Watson’s translation:
Once Chuang Chou dreamt he was a butterfly, a butterfly flitting and fluttering around, happy with himself and doing as he pleased. He didn’t know he was Chuang Chou. Suddenly he woke up and there he was, solid and unmistakable Chuang Chou. But he didn’t know if he was Chuang Chou who had dreamt he was a butterfly, or a butterfly dreaming he was Chuang Chou. Between Chuang Chou and a butterfly there must be some distinction! This is called the Transformation of Things.
This post is all about the transformation of things, eh?
Okay, who’s dreaming here?
There and back again — the mechanics behind the dream:
[ by Charles Cameron — I wasn’t intending this to be my next post in the commercials and magic series, but here it is, with miniatures and matryoshkas all in a row — and Churchill! ]
Who knows when it started — Egyptian shabtis were small figurines inscribed with the names of the deceased and buried with them, answering for them during judgment in the Hall of Truth where, for the best afterlife, one’s heart should weigh lighter than a feather on the scales —
(From left) Painted shabti of Ramesses IV. 20th Dynasty; decorated shabti of the Lady of the House, Sati – reportedly from Saqqara. 18th Dynasty, reign of Amenhotep III; and, a double shabti of Huy and Ipuy, a father and son pair. 18th Dynasty. Louvre Museum, Brooklyn Museum and Museo Egizio, Turin, Italy. (Photos: Heidi Kontkanen and Margaret Patterson)
A jar fit for a giant to drink from, one of thousands in the Laotian Plain of Jars:
I was reminded of Egyptian shabtis by an article I saw today about thousand-year-old burial practices in Laos, where the vast Plain of Jars is dotted with thousands of large “jars” so called — some have thought of them as chalices from which giants would drink — used in funerary rites, and the article contained this para:
We’d love to know why these people represented the same jars in which they placed their dead, in miniature to be buried with their dead.
I suppose we all play with miniatures as children — toy guns, toy sheriff’s badges, dolls and dolls houses — all parents need to ensure their children grow up prepared for adult life! — but after-life may have come first where miniatures are concerned.
In any case, there’s an enormous, likely archetypal pull associated with the large and its small analogs.
Look at this Myself and Mini-me commercial from National:
The large and the small together are somehow more attractive than just the large alone.
And let’s take this a step further into the realm of magic, as understood by the great anthropologist Sir JG Frazer:
Sympathetic magic, anthropologically speaking, is magic in which you enact in miniature what you want the gods to perform on a larger scale. You urinate — or as Shakespeare more delicately puts it, go to look upon a bush — so the gods will pour down their rain upon you.
That kind of magical thinking — sympathetic magical thinking — is what the boy is instinctively doing in this Farmers rooftop parking commercial, while the Farmers rep thinks it’s gravity that throws a large car way up in the air..
To be honest, my money’s with magic and the boy.
Farther yet, and we come to the Matryoshka principle, in which Russian dolls are contained (‘nested”) within dolls within dolls:
And now consider this commercial featuring vans nested within vans:
Sir Winston Churchill was playing a brilliant variant on this Matrioshka principle when during a BBC broadcast in October 1939, he said:
I cannot forecast to you the action of Russia. It is a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma; but perhaps there is a key. That key is Russian national interest.
The al-Qaeda leader also told his offspring not to join al-Qaeda and ordered his wives not to remarry. [ .. ]
The instruction to his 24 children not to fight jihad cites a precedent from the Islamic texts. Omar bin al-Khattab, the successor of the Prophet Mohammad as Islam’s leader, also left written instructions to his son, Abdullah, not to wage holy war.
What does the will of a terrorist mastermind say? There are some surprises: Osama bin Laden apologizes to his children for neglecting them and instructs them not to join al Qaeda. The four-page document, published in a Kuwaiti newspaper, is focused on justifying bin Laden’s jihad against America and Israel and there is no mention of possessions. Bin Laden inherited an estimated $30 million fortune from his father. “You, my children, I apologize for giving you so little of my time because I responded to the need for jihad,” the will states. As justification for not having them join al Qaeda, bin Laden cites an Islamic text that instructs the Prophet Mohammad’s son to not to wage a holy war. As for his wives, they are instructed to “not consider” marrying again and instead focus on raising his children. The Kuwaiti paper says the will dates back to 2001.
:Below is a seven part series I wrote on a number of issues stemming from a twitter dispute I had with @CChristineFair over her labeling of bin Laden’s children as “terror spawn.” The series seeks to delve into the broader issues our dispute raised, such as the status of children born into jihad; agency and the difficulties of walking away. The series of posts can also be found on the blog, but owing to their length I thought it better to put them all in the one place. This was written on May 29, 2012.
[ by Charles Cameron — I share with Michael Cohen the problem of papers in boxes in storage — &c ]
Dom Donilon: North Korea of course is the combination of a cult and kind of a mob operation ..
Rachel 2/28/2019: Would it be an act of bravery, or an act of high-wire walking, to prosecute Trump?
This post is a catchall for the stray bits of chyron, header, quote, metaphor etc left over from previous, more focused posts.
Rachel: When you are talking about allegations of criminal behavior by a sitting president, allegations are sort of on parallel paths — not exactly parallel, I think they might intersect somewhere down the road ..
Two Atlantic headers with gambling metaphors for current affairs, North Korea version:
And a Vanity Fair Hive header:
As someone whose life library and papers are currently in a couple of hundred boxes in storage, I could hardly fail to offer you this paragraph from Emily Jane Fox‘s reporting on Cohen‘s testimony under the title above:
About nine boxes were there waiting for him. The first contained a bunch of junk. The second did, too. “Oh my god,” he said when he opened the third. He’d hit the mother lode. In the third box were three years of Trump’s financial statements, from 2011 through 2013, which Cohen pointed to on Wednesday as evidence that the president had purposefully inflated and deflated his personal assets when it suited him—to secure bank loans or land a higher spot on the Forbes 400 list, for instance, or to lower his tax liability. There were also countless personal notes from Trump, scrawled across newspaper clippings, printed articles, and torn-out pages from glossy magazines. One note, written in Sharpie across an unflattering article, urged Cohen to call a reporter and threaten him with a lawsuit; another, on a story prominently featuring Cohen, read simply, “Michael, enjoy this while it lasts.”
This has been a bit of a rag-tag collection, so let me close with a moment of extraordinary strength: Elijah Cummings’ closing remarks at the conclusion of Michael Cohen’s testimony yesterday:
[ by Charles Cameron — sensing the sense of the season, musically, with JS Bach, GF Handel, and a special appearance by Dean Swift ]
Today’s contest is between Johann Sebastian Bach‘s Christmas Oratorio, here performed by Michel Corboz:
and Georg Friedrich Händel‘s Messiah, here under the baton of Sir Colin Davis at the Barbican, with the marvelous Sara Mingardo in the alto role..
Cast your ballots, faites vos jeux — this is a win-win game.
You knew, perhaps — I didn’t — that Dublin, the place of the first performance of Messiah, was at the time spiritually dominated by Jonathan Swift, Dean of St Patrick’s cathedral, and thus the commander-in-chief under God of that cathedral’s choristers? —
Jonathan Swift of the Modest Proposal “that a young healthy child well nursed, is, at a year old, a most delicious nourishing and wholesome food, whether stewed, roasted, baked, or boiled” —
and that the said Dean Swift was at first unwilling to let his choristers sing in what seemed uneasily like an Opera, but later relented?
The child promised, delivered — despised, rejected — crucified and finally arisen in Handel‘s magnificent music himself became, it would seem, bread broken and shared, thus to be digested spiritually by his followers.
Dean Swift, Handel (Händel was quite British by now) — the two of them crossed staves (a pun, that, ahem) in Dublin that year, 1742 of the Common Era or Anno Domini, 16th in the reign of George II. The King’s Viceroy for Ireland at that date would have been William Cavendish, 3rd Duke of Devonshire, who was a founding governor of the Foundling Hospital in London, an establishment instituted for the “education and maintenance of exposed and deserted young children” — note the echo of Dean Swift‘s concerns, a DoubleQuote in history if you will.
George Frederick Handel conducted Messiah to great acclaim in the chapel of Foundling Hospital in 1750, and was elected a Governor the next day.
Swift‘s children get roasted, God‘s child narrowly escapes death at the hands of Herod the Great, but the children of the Foundling Hospital not only get saved from starvation and the gutter, but are exposed to some of the European world’s most magnificent choral music.
Zenpundit is a blog dedicated to exploring the intersections of foreign policy, history, military theory, national security,strategic thinking, futurism, cognition and a number of other esoteric pursuits.