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A couple or so couples

[ by Charles Cameron — gathering these things the way an obsessed squirrel gathers nuts ]

I’d say there’s nothing more thought-provocative than running across an unexpected parallelism or opposition — and the closer the parallel the better. Once thought has been provoked, though that’s just the starting point — it needs to run its course with the appropriate caution and rigor. Here, then, are some parallelisms I’ve run into recently, for your provocation.


The Dilletante’s Winterings, Michael McFaul’s easy, broken parallel:

Michael McFaul, the former US ambassador to Russia, has a blog on the site of Ekho Moskvy, the independent radio station based in Moscow. Commenting on the appointment of Steve Bannon to the National Security Council, he wrote:

It’s the equivalent of Putin appointing Alexander Dugin to the [Russian] Security Council and telling generals Bortnikov [head of the FSB] and Gerasimov [head of the general staff] to only attend when they are needed.


Craig Whiteside (2016) The Islamic State and the Return of RevolutionaryWarfare, Small Wars & Insurgencies, 27:5, 743-776, DOI: 10.1080/09592318.2016.1208287:

This paper starts by comparing the Islamic State to the Vietnamese communists in a revolutionary warfare framework..

I didn’t find a single-sentence assertion of this parallelism, not am I expert in revolutionary warfare — but manynof our readers here on Zenpundit are, so I’ll leave the critical appraisal of this proposition to you-all..


Defense One, So, American Mass Shooters and Islamic Terrorists Do Have Something in Common:

Like radical Islamic groups, white supremacist and other right-wing terrorist groups offer people (especially men) who feel isolated and disempowered a chance to feel important and welcome. It’s the same psychological phenomenon, different culture war. And thus the KKK gains new recruits along with ISIL.


And for good measure… not, you understand, that I understand it —

Metod Saniga, Algebraic Geometry: a Tool for Resolving the Enigma of Time?

An illustrative example of such a temporal dimension is provided by a specific linear, single-parametric set (so-called pencil) of conics in the projective plane. This set of conics is found to nicely reproduce the experienced arrow of time when the projective plane is affinized; it simply suffices to postulate that each proper conic of the pencil stands for a single temporal event, and relate three distinct kinds of (proper) affine conic, viz. a hyperbola, a parabola and an ellipse, with the three different kinds of temporal event, viz. the past, present and future, respectively..

Time, as St Augustine noted, makes sense — until you try to figure out what sense it makes.

2 Responses to “A couple or so couples”

  1. Charles Cameron Says:

    Here’s another:

    Sartre’s move toward Marxism, and toward the French Communist Party, oddly mimicked that of the French philosopher Blaise Pascal’s seventeenth-century “wager” in favor of Christianity: the faith might be true, so why not embrace it, since you lose nothing by the embrace, and get at least the chance of all the goodies the faith promises?

    Adam Gopnik, Facing History: Why we love Camus

  2. Grurray Says:

    “And for good measure… not, you understand, that I understand it —”
    That is pretty far out there. Conics are the intersection of planes with cones. I assume he’s analogizing intersections with light cones, but I’m not entirely sure: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Light_cone
    The analogies regarding the past remind me of people I know. Post-modernists, who like Kilgore Trout think that “it is the past which scares the bejesus out of me,” would be afflicted with the ‘Past-Present-Past Configuration’. The future is ever more elusive with the feeling that it’s being stolen from them.
    Reactionaries, on the other hand, seem to be living the ‘Past-Related Arrow Within Arrow’ because each day for them is an intentional march further back searching in vain for a source they inexplicably drifted from.
    And what a nightmare ‘Pure Present’ would be. Maybe we just created the perception of time to liberate us from that stultifying enslavement to the present moment?
    That reminds me of something Gottfried Leibniz, the co-inventor of calculus (along with his professional rival, the alchemist Isaac Newton) once said:
    “the only thing that exists is angels.”
    meaning the individual parts at the given moments, endowed with a divine plan like his infinitesimal integrals under the curve.
    His contemporary Baruch Spinoza went the opposite direction and claiming the one God is the only thing that exists, and all reality necessarily spills over at once from His (or Her, depending on your inclination) universal goodness.

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