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Archive for March, 2018

As a Brit, my two Emmett Tills

Thursday, March 29th, 2018

[ by Charles Cameron — honoring the Civil Rights movement ]

I’m truly sorry, but these two photos tell a mother’s tale — Emmett Till as his mother knew and loved him, and Emmett Till as she found him, when she ordered his coffin opened…

There’s a documentary now released — Hope and Fury: MLK, the Movement and the Media — which features Emmett Till‘s image as revealed in photographs taken when his coffin was opened, and exploring how that image radicalized Americas’s awareness of the lynching mentality, sending a shock wave amplifying the emergent Civil Rights movement.

America is remembering — and I as a Brit have two Emmett Tills to remember: Hugh Masekela, — and Medgar Evers.


Hugh Masekela:

Hugh Masekela, the great jazz trumpeter whom my own mentor, Fr Trevor Huddleston mentored and gifted:


Medgar Evers:

Medgar Evers, first, because Bob Dylan recorded Only a Pawn in their Game:

which acquainted me, forcibly, with Medgar Evers’ name — and next because I knew his son, Darrell, for a few years:

That’s a pretty extraordinary interview, and the video itself wound up on the Eyes on the Prize cutting room floor.

Darrell’s description of his father’s pooled blood — Darrell being an artist — was seared into my mind by association with the painter’s term crimson lake.. a private association, surely, but no less forceful for that.


In those two names, their holders themselves both now deceased, I honor the civil rights movement in the US — our equivalent in the UK was the anti-apartheid movement, of which Fr Trevor was for many years the president.

Heroes, all — may they rest in peace.

Aargh, more sports, serpents and other forms and metaphors

Thursday, March 29th, 2018

[ by Charles Cameron — following up on the comments section at Games, politics, and game metaphors, which shut down unexpectedly ]

Zell Miller, Wikipedia:

Miller appeared in an interview with Chris Matthews on the MSNBC show Hardball. After Miller expressed irritation at Matthews’ line of questioning, Matthews pressed Miller with the question, “Do you believe now – do you believe, Senator, truthfully, that John Kerry wants to defend the country with spitballs?” Miller angrily told Matthews to “get out of my face,” and declared, “I wish we lived in the day where you could challenge a person to a duel.”

spitballs, duel


“both sides talk tough .. then there’s fighting”



GOLDBERG: And so we here in this dystopian situation where John Bolton, the last person in the world who should be anywhere near the national security bureaucracy. This President has – he has dubious legitimacy at best, he doesn`t have popular support in the country. And we are stumbling toward an apocalyptic war that will kill millions of people, turn America into a pariah and our way of life. There is almost no way to talk about what a dangerous spot we are in without sounding insane.


MATTHEWS: Where does that lead to? What does that lead to if Israel does that against an Islamic country?

CORN: Well, I would say one easy term is apocalypse. I mean, this is where they`re at.

apocalyptic war, apocalypse


Deadline White House, Nicolle Wallace:

what I’d describe as a legal chess-match


Stormy Daniels’ lawyer Michael Avenatti:

I’m a pretty good poker player. We’re going to see how this plays out. We have a piece of litigation and we’re going to handle it diligently and surgically.




Neil Katyal, The Beat:

You don’t go and tell a wwitness who is possibly going to testify against you, Oh, well I’ll give you a pardon, don’t worry about it. You know, criminal lawyers, one of the first things any smart lawyer would do to any one of their ckients is to say, Don’t talk to any witnesses, don’t even say hello to them on the street, let alone something like offering up a pardon, a massive get out of jail free card

get out of jail free card


Hardball “that is the wild-card here”


A Night of Laughs Between Trump and His Favorite Punching Bag


‘Not in a punch-back mode’: Why Trump has been largely silent on Stormy Daniels

The counterpuncher, so far, has held his punches.

“He’s really not in a punch-back mode,” said one friend who has discussed the matter with the president in recent days and requested anonymity to be candid. “Everyone is telling him, look, you can’t win here, so just do nothing.”

counterpuncher, punch-back mode


Jay Sekulow?

he’s a really good shortstop who has been asked to pitch in the world series

A complexity consideration or two

Wednesday, March 28th, 2018

[ by Charles Cameron — that one is a many among many, and how many does that make? ]

There are many, many distinctions that can be drawn at the group level, political, financial, religious, tribal, on the right side of the line in the diagram below — but every one of them in constituted of individuals, for each of whom the considerations on the left side would, to a greater or lesser extent, apply:


How is this multiplied?

Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring, those ripples build a current that can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.

Nice words, nice indeed. Bobby Kennedy‘s words.

But did the darker aspects of “the complex compound of pure and impure impulses” — in every individual, every “tiny ripple” — get lost in the niceness of the words?

I ask because for optimists it so often does, and that’s the great weakness of positive movements. And because for the cynical, so often, no glimpse of the positive aspects can make it through their fog.


Consider this, for each individual:

As every man goes through life he fills in a number of forms for the record, each containing a number of questions . .. There are thus hundreds of little threads radiating from every man, millions of threads in all. If these threads were suddenly to become visible, the whole sky would look like a spider’s web, and if they materialized as rubber bands, buses; trams and even people would all lose the ability to move, and the wind would be unable to carry torn-up newspapers or autumn leaves along the streets of the city. They are not visible, they are not material, but every man is constantly aware of their existence…. Each man, permanently aware of his own invisible threads, naturally develops a respect for the people who manipulate the threads.

That’s not somebody writing about Cambridge Analytica or FaceBook — that’s Alexander Solzhenitsyn, in Cancer Ward, 1968, courtesy Bruce Schneier.

I may add further one and many instances and illuminations in the comments section as I find them — you are invited to do the same..

Two koi fish, the one waterfall

Wednesday, March 28th, 2018

[ by Charles Cameron — a yakuza movie shimmering between American and Japanese ]

Is strategy found here?

In the film, The Outsider, from which I have borrowed the koi quote above — which gives a riverine equivalent of the steady progress open to a pawn in the strict logic of chess — the outsider of the title played by Jared Leto is tatooed with a single koi fish moving up a waterfall, which the woman, enough said, tells him indicates that he is arrogant.


She, Miyu, played by Shioli Kutsuna, has two koi fish —

The film invites your understanding, needlessly, by explaining.


Ah well: how a brush pen readied on an ink-stone resembles a knife blade sharpened on a whet-stone.

Jordan Peterson, ouroboroi, paradise, and so forth

Wednesday, March 28th, 2018

[ by Charles Cameron — oh damn, cameron’s on about the ouroboros again, when do we get to strategy? ]

A slide from a youtubed lecture:


I have found someone who gives emphasis to many of the things I give emphasis to, and which few other peple emphasize. And FWIW, the Jungians do this better than most, but then I’ve been reading and appreciating them for ages. This is new.

Okay, Jordan Peterson. He’s been thinking across a wide range of fundamental concepts for many years now, and considerable fame has accrued to him. How I managed not to notice him until now, I’ll never know. Here he is, anyhow —

— with that ouroboros slide faintly visible behind him. The limits of vision, faintness included, are among his many interests, FWIW.


I’ve read Tanner Greer‘s recent critique of Peterson, which was enough to catch my inner eye, and then today there was an invite from Zen —

Hell yes.

And I’m maybe ten minutes into that lecture, have skipped around a bit, and went back to lecture #7 for a clear shot of the ouroboros behind him, which I’ve now inserted at the top of this post.


Peterson’s ouroboros is a conflation of a bird, a cat and a snake — wings, claws and venom — birds, cats and snakes being the three classes of being that can kill you from a tree. A “winged, legged serpent” — the “dragon of chaos”. That’s not how I get to the ouroboros, and my equivalent interest is in its recursive nature.

I wrote the poem below, as far as memory serves, in the Anscombe-Geach living room, heart of Oxford’s superb logic team at the time, back in the mid nineteen-sixties, and published it, I think, in Micharel Horovitz‘ 1969 anthology of Britain’s equivalent of the USian beat poets, Childrenn of Albion — wow, of which you could have purchased Amazon’s sole remaining copy for $729.32 as I was writing this — now it’s only $32.57 — is that a difference that makes a difference?

Here’s the poem:

I formatted it more recently in a HipBone Games manner, as a single move with a recursive tail.


Another significance of the ouroboros for Peterson is that the serpent (antagonistic to us) guards a treasure (to be desired)..

So along with recursion, we have predatory chaos, aka the unknown and indeed unknowable unknown, and the treasure trove or hoard. And as you might intuit, it’s a short leap from there to the word-hoard — poetry in the palm of your mind, with an early mention in Beowulf.

Here are a few gems from Peterson’s seemingly inexhaustible hoard:

  • there’s no place that’s so safe that there isn’t a snake in it..
  • even God himself can’t define the space so tightly and absolutely that the predator of the unknown can’t make its way in..
  • that’s the story of the garden
  • — and those are from maybe a three minute stretch of a two hour lecture — the word means “reading” — one of forty, is it, in the series?


    Phew. I just received the book, Maps of Meaning: The Architecture of Belief, from Amazon —

    — the print is small — too small for me — stronger glasses coming soon..


    Look, Stormy Daniels was just on 60 Minutes, offering prurient interest under cover of adversarial politics, how could I resist? I could have watched ten more minutes of Peterson video, and grabbed twice the number of notes I’ve made here — but that can wait.

    Stormy Daniels and her lawyer, Michael Avenatti, can show you strategy..

    Ah, but Jordon Peterson can show you abstraction.


    Consider the recent school shootings. I go back to Columbine.. Peterson goes back to abstraction, mapping, and time-space:

    For example, we’re all sitting in this room, and someone leaps in with a weapon.

    It’s like this was known territory a second ago, and now it’s not known territory at all. Even though you’d say, well many things have remained the same, it’s like, yeah, but all the relevant things have suddenly changed, right? And so part of the way of conceptualizing that is that you can manifest a geographic transformation by moving from genuine geographic explored territory into genuine unexplored geographic territory. But you can do that in time as well. Because we exist in time as well as space. And so a space that’s stable and unchanging can be transformed into something completely other than what it is, by the movement forward of time. So why am I telling you that? It’s because we’ve mapped the idea of the difference in space, between the known and the unknown, to the difference in time between a place that works now and a place that no longer works, even though it’s the same place, it’s just extended across time.

    Consider the recent election:

    That’s what an election does, right?

    It’s like, we have our leader, who’s the person at the top of the dominance hierarchy, and defined the nature of this particulatr structure. There’s an election, regulated chaos, noone knows what’s going to happen, it’s the death of the old king, bang! We go into a chaotic state, everyone argues for a while, and then out of that argument they produce a consensus, and poof, we’re in a new state, like that’s the meta-story, right, order > chaos > order, but it’s partial order, chaos, reconstituted and revivified order — that’s the thing, that this order is better than that order, so that there’s progress, and that’s partially why I think the idea of moral relativism is wrong – there’s progress in moral order.


  • plenty of intelligence
  • no actionable intelligence
  • a high level of abstraction
  • following the logic of evolution
  • not the logic of logic
  • too paradoxical for that
  • **

    That’s more than enough.

    Au revoir, quite literally!

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