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A Dream of Two Headlines

December 13th, 2019

[ by Charles Cameron — a meeting of the opposites in the Lutheran and Catholic martyrologies ]
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I dreamed of two headlines, one occupying most of the page with its sub-head, author’s name, and first few paragraphs, enough to tell the tale — “Naval Academy Midshipman Charged With Setting Fire to Historic Documents” — and in the margin, that other — “Scottish church suspects some lillibethians among its martyrs.”

I’m not interested, today, in the Naval Academy outrage, though maybe on another day.. What interests me today is the possibility that some saints, martyrs indeed, venerated by the Catholic church in Scotland, home of my male forebears across the centuries, may turn out to be found to be “lillibethians” — a word I believe I coined, meaning “followers of Elizabeth” in the Catholic times of Queen Mary.: martyrs indeed, but for the wrong, Protestant faith.

Now the thing is, it might be difficult for the current church to admit that some of its venerated saints who, remember, were killed by the hated, heretical Protestants for their fortitude in holding the true Catholic faith even unto death were, in historical fact, martyred one might say, by right-minded, rigorous, righteous Catholics, for their fortitude in holding the true Protestant faith even unto death..

So.

My dream has me wondering, can one switch religions, from Catholic martyr to Protestant martyr, while still retaining the same respect, veneration indeed, for fortitude in holding the true faith even unto death? Can a venerated Protestant martyr become a venerated Catholic martyr (other team), or vice versa?

**

Could a Catholic pope canonize, as one novelist has suggested, a Protestant Johann Sebastian Bach?

Astonishing, the fertility and freshness of his mind, and as the centuries roll on, the fresh brilliance of this virtuoso performance..

**

Recognizing that the same tale was told from India along the trade routes to Europe, with Bodhisattva becoming Iodasaph, then Ioasaph, then Josaphat, how can we avoid acknowledging that the saints Catholics have venerated for centuries as Barlaam and Josaphat were originally and thus are in fact, Bodhisattva (the apprentice Buddha) and his teacher?

Thus a priest might call the 27th of November, the Feast of St Buddha… Fr Thomas Merton OCSO would very likely have approved.

**

Oh, and the Scottish martyrs. I recall Jorge Luis Borges‘ story, The Theologians, in which the heresiarch and the arch-orthodox duke it out, the definitions of heresy (a death penalty offense) and orthodoxy even shifting at one point — it’s final paragraph is the killer:

It is more correct to record that in Paradise Aurelian knew this: in the unfathomable divinity of God he and John, the heretic and the rector of the Faith, the abhorring and the abhorred, the victim and his accuser, in God these two had ever been one person only.

So may it be with the damned Lutherans and the blessed Catholics — and their respective martyrs!

I wouldn’t trouble you, but.. redux

November 27th, 2019

[ by Charles Cameron — following on from this earlier double ouroboros, posted Sunday ]
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This is such a superb technological ouroboros, delivered by Amazon to our friend, Bryan Alexander, and tweeted by him for our delectation:

With any luck, I’ll get to review Bryan’s book for Zenpundit.

I wouldn’t trouble you, but..

November 25th, 2019

[ by Charles Cameron — A DoubleQuote of ouroboroi ]
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I wouldn’t trouble you with this DoubleQuote, it’s one that every TV commentator and op-ed writer has picked up on, it’s that obvious — but it’s also a double instance of the ourboros, and that’s worth remarking:

**

Have a supercool Sunday..

On the liquidity of mountains, and cats

November 24th, 2019

[ by Charles Cameron — you might not have thought of cats as liquid, though they flow quite nicely on a decent carpet; and as for mountains — would they flow to Mohammed, or would he have to flow to them? ]
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Somewhere I’d heard that Muhammad said that mountains moved like waves. I’d wondered which direction the Rocky Mountains might be moving in, whether they were aiming for the Pacific or the Atlantic coast, and what would happen to real estate prices and military bases in either case. I used to live in Denver..

And today I discovered the concept of the Deborah Number, defined thus:

The Deborah number (De) is a dimensionless number, often used in rheology to characterize the fluidity of materials under specific flow conditions. It quantifies the observation that given enough time even a solid-like material might flow, or a fluid-like material can act solid when it is deformed rapidly enough.

Reiner, whose paper originated the term, notes:

Deborah knew two things. First, that the mountains flow, as everything flows. But, secondly, that they flowed before the Lord, and not before man, for the simple reason that man in his short lifetime cannot see them flowing, while the time of observation of God is infinite. We may therefore well define a non-dimensional number the Deborah number..

The equation by which the Deborah Number, De, is defined as:

De = λ / T, where T is a characteristic time for the deformation process and λ is still the relaxation time.

**

The Deborah reference here is to the book of Judges chapter 5, verse 5, which Reiner reads as saying “The mountains flowed before the lord” — whereas the KJV has “The mountains melted from before the LORD” and the NIV, “he mountains quaked before the Lord”. Melting at least has a transition from solid to liquid state implied, whereas quaking doesn’t really shift mountains from their solidity, though they shake — like Quakers, perhaps?

It seems there may have been some conflation here, for Isaiah finally provides us with a text that gives mountains complete liquidity — Isaiah 64:3 in the KJV gives us “the mountains flowed down at thy presence..”

But see also the SKV renderings in the Addendum below..

**

And what of Muhammad? Shakir translates Qur’an 31.32:

And when a wave like mountains covers them they call upon Allah, being sincere to Him in obedience, but when He brings them safe to the land, some of them follow the middle course; and none denies Our signs but every perfidious, ungrateful one.

That has the waves moving, and their size resembling that of mountains, as I read it. Mohsin Khan‘s version often adds the translator’s explanations in brackets, as here:

And when a wave covers them like shades (i.e. like clouds or the mountains of sea­-water), they invoke Allah, making their invocations for Him only. But when He brings them safe to land, there are among them those that stop in the middle, between (Belief and disbelief). But none denies Our Signs except every perfidious ungrateful.

Here, “mountains of sea-water” are compared with “clouds” inside the brackets, but the text itself doesn’t mention either one..

**

Maybe the mountains won’t budge. That was the opinion of John Owen, who wrote in 1643:

If the mountaine will not come to Mahomet, Mahomet will goe to the mountaine.

Bakker, Egbert J. 2005. Pointing at the Past: From Formula to Performance in Homeric Poetics. Hellenic Studies Series 12. Washington, DC: Center for Hellenic Studies devotes chapter 9 to the topic of Mohammed and the Mountain, referencing Karl Bühler’s Sprachtheorie: Die Darstellungsfunktion der Sprache (1934):

As Bühler puts it himself in reference to the well-known anecdote: either the mountain comes to Mohammed or Mohammed goes to the mountain … he adds that in real life the mountain is a lot more willing to move than in the legend, since the ease with which any given speech arena can be transformed into an imagined new reality is remarkable, and lies at the basis of any mimetic, theatrical illusion. .

Here, the mountain’s movement depends on imagination, even though Bühler seems to refer to it as moving “in real life” as well as in “any mimetic, theatrical illusion”.

Of course, the very idea concealed within the name Rheology is that of universal flow, espoused by Heraclitus:

παντα ρει : Everything Flows

**

And if everything, then cats. It was a tweet by blog-friend Adam Elkus that put me in mind of liquidity in the first place this morning:

Cat physics!

It’s an an obvious field of study once you understand the centrality of cats to the universe, and It’s appropriate enough that a cat physicist, Marc-Antoine Fardin, should have won the Ig Nobel Prize. His definition of liquid is a simple one:

A liquid is traditionally defined as a material that adapts its shape to fit a container.

He proceeds to show two examples which may fit this definition, which I’ve cropped to show you full size. First, a cat demonstrating oval form:

And here’s the rounded rectangle form, adopted by the cat from Adam‘s tweet —

**

Suggested Thinking:

  • >Wolfram MathWorld tells us a sausage-form filled rounded rectangle is termed a stadium. Cat stadium, or a stadium cat? Now there’s food for a football (or baseball, or rock music) thought..
  • _____

    Addendum:

    Tweets from Splymoth A. Klavrock supplied us with the SKV translation of Isaiah 64:1-3:

    Oh if you would only tear the Heavens apart and descend. In your presence the mountains would melt down like when fire crackles through kindling. The fire makes oceans seethe, so your name is made known to your adversaries, and nations quake in your presence.

    You did fearsome things, things we never hoped for, and in the doing of them you descended. The mountains melted down in your presence.

    From all eternity no ear has heard, and no eye has seen any god but you, and the things you do for the ones who wait for you.

    Klavrock had another suggestion, linking the “motion” verb to something internal, close to an “emotion”:

    I think “melted” is the same verb as when the Israelites’ hearts “melt” in fear facing a strong enemy. Which is interesting.

    Many thanks, SK!

    DoubleQuoting Trees, 2001 – 2019, Greta 2019 – 1898

    November 22nd, 2019

    [ by Charles Cameron — from tree-planting in the millions, via Tolkien’s ents in entmoot mode, to the Yukon, science-fiction time-travel, and a Greta Thunberg lookalike ]
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    A couple, Brazilian photographer Sebastião Salgado and his wife, planted 20 million trees in 20 years. Some of their product is visible in this photographic DoubleQuote

    :

    Simply and factually, two states of a hillside are connected by twenty years of planting, similarly but more personally, a photographer and his wife are connected by love and marriage nurtured by their lives together, more abstractly two nodes in a network are connected by edges, in each case, the connections in a network are the strength of that network..

    And in this case, trees are the result of planting over time, and over time this marriage of two persons is no doubt deepened. They make a difference, and if a hundred thousand, scattered across the habitable globe, followed their example, the impact would be considerable.

    Consider also that in the view of a German scientist whose ideas are, according to the Smithsonian, “shaking up the scientific world”. Anthropomorphosizing more than a little, the Smithsonian writer tells us:

    Wise old mother trees feed their saplings with liquid sugar and warn the neighbors when danger approaches. Reckless youngsters take foolhardy risks with leaf-shedding, light-chasing and excessive drinking, and usually pay with their lives. Crown princes wait for the old monarchs to fall, so they can take their place in the full glory of sunlight. It’s all happening in the ultra-slow motion that is tree time, so that what we see is a freeze-frame of the action.

    20,000 trees must have quite a conversation.

    **


    Entmoot

    Cue JRR Tolkien on the tree-like Ents, the ancient and wise guardians of trees and forests introduced in volume 2 of the Lord of the Rings:

    Quickbeam, for example, guarded rowan trees and bore some resemblance to rowans: tall and slender, smooth-skinned, with ruddy lips and grey-green hair. Some ents, such as Treebeard, were like beech-trees or oaks. But there were other kinds. Some recalled the chestnut: brown-skinned Ents with large splayfingered hands, and short thick legs. Some recalled the ash: tall straight grey Ents with many-fingered hands and long legs; some the fir (the tallest Ents), and others the birch, … and the linden.

    A gathering of the ents is called an Entmoot. Tolkien quotes Treebeard:

    The ents have not troubled about the wars of men and wizards for a very long time. But now something is about to happen that has not happened for an age… Ent Moot. [ … ] Beech, oak, chestnut, ash… Good, good, good. Many have come. Now we must decide if the ents will go to war.

    **

    By way of a bookend to this post, here’s a DoubleQuote in images of Greta Thunberg and a 1898 lookalike in a photo from the Yukon:

    As usual, parallelisms promote speculation — in this case, the laughable, laudable conspiracy theory that Thunberg is a time traveler.

    Conspiracy! Science fiction!

    The suggestion is that Greta traveled back from our time, when she despaired of our efforts to reverse human-caused climate change, to the Yukon of 1898, where she set about reversing the problem at its time and place origin. Exactly why human-caused climate change should have started in the Yukon in 1898 is not clear, nor can we understand how, if she began her efforts at reversing the progressive wasting of earth by human impact back in 1898 and had had no notable impact on that process by now, as revealed in the 1898 and 2019 photos of Ms Thunberg.. that too is unclear.

    Fabulation, however, is fabulpous by dedfinition — so we record this conspiracy here.

    Readings:

  • HuffPost, Photo From 1898 Sparks Hilarious Theory That Greta Thunberg Is A Time-Traveler
  • Owen Sound Sun Times, Greta Thunberg look-alike in 1898 Yukon gold rush photo has sparked time-travel conspiracies
  • **

    Okay, here’s a suggestion:

    Greta Thunberg — or the Entmoot , for that matter — might suggest we plant trees:

    Plant for yourself:

    But be warned

    As we plant trees, we must avoid planting monocultures, and ensure we plant variety, as The Economist suggests.


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