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Saturday, June 24, 2006

Truth: 1

I was speaking with a Customs Agent for a Great Lakes Shipping Company and talk veered to the weather. He had seen Al Gore's documentary last night. In summary, we decided that at present, whether Global Warming is true or not seems to be entirely dependent on who is paying for it. Carbon Dioxide emitting industries say no, industries such as Insurance which have to pay for weather claims sometimes say yes. Does this mean that we consider a statement to be true if it is in our interest that it be true? And false if its falsity be in our interest? It seems so. It seems to be true for many situations. We will come back to Truth again, especially when we consider statements about the Holy and whether there exist verification procedures which allow us to assign such statements any truth-value at all, much less True or False.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Butterflies Caught in a Web: 2

I heard from the land where light travels at 55 miles per hour.

It was stated that if someone has done nothing wrong, then someone should not care whether the government mines for data.
I think that misses the point. (And I do wish I could go on and on about this, and write reams and reams of foolscap and lead you by the nose to that proverbial pond of fresh, blue water from which you would not drink!)

The method of data mining described does not seek a wrong done by you. It seeks your guilt by association.

Not by one degree of separation, either. You do not have to have been a drinking buddy of Abu Musab the Z to be under suspicion. You are under suspicion if we can link you up within 7 degrees. In other words, you will be guilty by a tenuous link and you will be delivered to the Trial as described by Kafka where no charge will be made against you and no defense is possible.
You have not committed a crime, and thus are innocent. However, you cannot be free, since there will be a link from you to that crime whose suppression compels us to suspend our freedom. Thus, you will be enslaved. It is already happening at Guantanamo Bay. I do not think anyone disputes that fact. But notice how they all talk about it, pro and con. It is Kafka. There is no exit. It is Caligari: a tale told by a mad man. We will always talk, even though there is no object of our desire worth speech. We will watch it on TV at 11:00. We will be the audience to our own demise.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Temporary Autonomous Zones: 1

Who were the "politicians" in high school? Do you remember them? They were pretty much the puppets of the authority system which existed. They were pathetic toadies for the most

Not everyone can be a politician, thank God. The politicians of the Boomer Generation are the boomers who disgust me. Consider the two boomer presidents. Consider the boomer-led congress: they stick their ethics into the freezer along with their bribes.

I saw this on an anti-war site: To Disagree Silently is to Agree Sign seen at Boston Protest March in 2003
No way.
There is no way that I will allow even those politicians I agree with to incorporate me into whatever corrupt body politic they envisage.
The original Christians withdrew from the pagan society around them. The Shi'a in Western Islam have a history of living in silence lest they be attacked by the ruling power. Arnold Toynbee in his A Study of History describes the process of Withdrawal and Return where an individual or group withdraw from a society , then return to add their own original yeast to the fruits of fermentation. They change Society because they cannot put their new wine into old wineskins.

To disagree silently may imply we disagree with all existing sides and have our own. Your insistence upon our forming ranks with one side or the other right now is your way of silencing us. The Internet works as a Temporary Autonomous Zone whereto we withdraw to communicate with people of similar interests and whence we return with whatever new Boone's Farm we may have. BUT, our Boone's Farm is infinitely superior to the dreg-filled swill offered to us by the political class.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Modern Myths: 1

Brad Pitt has outbid Leonardo DiCaprio for the rights to Max Brook's World War Z, Z meaning Zombie. The novel is set 10 years after the global zombie epidemic and will be published in the fall. Much worse than global warming. Zombies are one form of the modern and diseased myth of the Resurrection, similar to the Vampire mythos. Since there is no God, we cannot look forward to the day of a glorious resurrection, but we can anticipate living as blood-drinking nosferatu, or as mindless zombies. Suddenly we wonder if there is a difference between zombie-dom and our present lives? Anyway, myths and mythic symbols continue to pervade the World we call Reality. We think we are supremely rational, but we do not understand that Reason is only one part of our nature. The other is Faith. I prefer Faith. If you wonder why I prefer Faith, look at the myths: Zombie resurrection versus Glorious Resurrection. And even if you still think religion is something done in private (sort of Pudenda Fides), then I would yet prefer Phillip Jose Farmer's To Your Scattered Bodies Go than Zombie myths.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

The Founding Fathers and Mothers: 1

The President has proposed some sort of Marriage Amendment.
I can only assume that the intelligence is all in and is 100% correct this time.

The problem I have with the politics of Marriage is in the fact that Jesus condemns divorce and this is the only statement on sexual morality in the New Testament. Therefore, when the leader of a nation that (1) calls itself Christian, and (2) has a 50% divorce rate, and (3) seeks to confirm the sanctity of Marriage, yet does not (4) address the matter which contravenes the divine injunction against divorce, I would have to say that once again the intelligence is all wrong.
The crux of the matter are gay marriages. If one believes that homosexuality is against the law of God and bases this belief upon the story of Abraham, Lot, and the cities of the plain, then one must attempt to explain Matthew 11:23: "...If the miracles worked in you (Capernaum) had taken place in Sodom, it would be standing today." Now we may allow that Jesus was using a certain hyperbole here, but the text seems to clearly indicate that belief in Jesus has far more importance than sexual activity.
At this point you may point out that belief in Jesus implies repentance of one sins. True, we answer, once again pointing to the divorce injunction being the only statement on sexual morality in the NT. If you call on St.Paul, the depravity of which he speaks is the result of falling into idolatry. What St.Paul calls depravity must necessarily be the result of not acknowledging God.
Furthermore, the list of ills extends to greed, envy, murder, just to name a few. (I sense no motivation for a Constitutional Amendment against greed.)

Acknowledging God takes you back to Sodom, and then I respond as above. And so on. I suspicion this is why Jesus only had one statement of sexual morality to be recorded: He knew where our interests were and where we would focus and how interminably we would talk and chatter and chew the fat over sex and ignore all other problems. This is what we're doing today. I have friends who are gay. They are good people and good Christians and Muslims. Let them live their lives. Those who wish to bedevil them, crawl back to the stone of obscurity which is your heart.

Butterflies Caught in a Web

Hamilcar Barca of Tunisia provided a link from New Scientist viewing the Dark Side: excerpt: "Meanwhile, the NSA is pursuing its plans to tap the web, since phone logs have limited scope. They can only be used to build a very basic picture of someone's contact network, a process sometimes called "connecting the dots". Clusters of people in highly connected groups become apparent, as do people with few connections who appear to be the intermediaries between such groups. The idea is to see by how many links or "degrees" separate people from, say, a member of a blacklisted organisation." Since I go to the mosque to study Arabic, I suppose the only thing I can say at this time is ," See ya in Gitmo!" (I think Stephen King's character of Pennywise in IT is a metaphor for the Present Age: fun and happiness hiding the bloody fangs which will tear and rend.)

Who was Abu Ghraib?

In Bereshit, in Genesis, we read that Moses had a son Gershom so named because he was a stranger in a strange land.

The usual derivation of the name is from gersham meaning stranger. Ghraib means "stranger, foreigner". Abu Ghraib is "father of a stranger". So Abu Ghraib could refer to Moses. If not, who was this Father of a Stranger? Why was his son considered strange to the extent that his father was known for his strange offspring?


Saturday, June 10, 2006

A Note on Narrative

I constantly use the expression "narrative" and most recently in The Grasses of the Field. I need to make it clear what I mean by it, since "narrative" is a term used frequently in recent philosophy and, as a result, is often used in writing and discourse. Narrative is the conscious expression of the process of the cognitive systems which encode and organize experiences as Immediate Memory, then to Short Term Memory, then Long Term Memory. That is essentially what I mean. Why do I take a good word like "narrative" - meaning "story" ( if it's used in a film, it means we have Morgan Freeman doing the voice-over) - and change it? I mean to indicate that all narratives and all stories - all ordered expressions of consciousness - are based on the above procedure called "Narrative". When you look at and read a story, it must seem rather straighforward and commonsense that events come one after the other in a more or less linear way. You may think that necessarily there is one way to tell a story and this is it: start at the beginning and go through the middle and end at the end. But what I am saying is that if the proverbial Martian were available to comment on this, he or she may indicate that the Martian notion of story is indeed different. If our basic notion of "story" were to be universally true, this would show us that all living beings seem to share similar encoding processes. In summary, the story and the narrative which we read or which we daydream on or which we view at the Cinema Paradiso is a form of human expression based on the encoding of memories of the human cognitive systems. A "story" need not be a form universal to all sentient beings, only to those sharing similar cognitive systems. This is what we mean when we say things like, "There are only 4, or 5 basic plots in literature.", Romeo and Juliet being an example of "boy meets girl". Although R&J would be in essence "boy meets girl", we see that its detail makes it considerably different from the story of Daphne Manners and Hari Kumar in The Jewel in the Crown. We might say that "boy meets girl" is the template within which we place an infinitude of detail. So also is the Narrative the template established by the cognition of human beings. Within these Narratives, we place the infinite detail of personal histories. Notice that this implies that the Narrative ( capital N from now on ) is indeed based upon an experience. In the post "The Grasses of the Field: 1", the use of Narrative indicates that the story of one's relationship with God is actually based upon an experience with God, albeit very early in one's life and almost impossible to recall in everyday consciousness.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

The Julia Set

In case you are enthusiasts of Benoit Mandelbrot, this is not about fractal geometry, not about the geometric Julia Set, not about anything at all, actually, since it flips back and forth in my mind like a cheap holographic gizmo.

The word “set” is a red herring, designed to throw you off the trail, and all because I edited a previous post. I had a post previously wherein I mentioned a friend who referred to Ann Coulter as Julia, meaning Julia Streicher, because of the intemperance of her remarks. Now Julius Streicher was, if I remember correctly, a rabid and foul early leader among the SturmAbteilung in Germany in the 1920s. I really cannot approve of throwing Nazi nomenclature around as so many of us do.
I was just reading about opposition to the presence of Iran’s president at the World Cup in Germany. A lady referred to him as the worst thing since Hitler. Well, that’s a condemnation so presto! out-of-the-can, as it were, that it runs the risk of being dismissed as hackneyed by its hearers. I really do not like doing that.

So I removed the passage about Ms. Coulter and my friend. Then she becomes front-page news for being intemperate, foul-mouthed, and generally acting like her namesake, Julius. Apparently she is widow-bashing, upset that 4 ladies in New Jersey have had the absolute good luck to have had their husbands die cruelly in the World Trade Center.
This upset her sense of fairness. People usually say “widows AND orphans” when using old saws about bad luck and cruel villains – like Enron. Surely there must be some people orphaned by 9/11 whom she could rip on. That would be choice Coulter.
I saw her interview with a completely befuddled Matt Lauer, who is apparently not used to being roundly abused by authors of books, who are usually more like Clifton Webb than Roberto Duran. She was wearing a skirt that seemed awfully short, and all in all was sort of a brainy Paris Hilton from Hell’s Cote d’Azur. She was movie star aesthetics right in your face and you definitely felt that the make-up people had mistakenly left her fuse too short again.

However, if The Producers is ever re-done again, she would be a great leading lady in “Springtime for Hitler.”

Sunday, June 04, 2006

The Shape of Things to Come 2

A note: I hope to finish what I started in The Shape of Things to Come very soon. However, the more I read it, the more I am not sure I actually know what I have already written. It seems to go in directions I was not aware of. This is what writing does; it bogs you down. Instead of everything being bright and clear as it was when you merely felt those waves of inspiration flow into your head, now you are in a Garden of the Forking Paths. Blast!


We were watching Rick Mercer last night. If you do not receive Canadian Broadcasting Company (CBC) on your cable or dish or intravenous entertainment drip, that’s too bad. Over the years, there have been great Canadian satires and comedy. There’s SCTV, CODCO, The Royal Canadian Air Farce… They have a history of good satire on governments. In the USA, we have to pretty much toe the line of the people who actually own the country: the Organized Religion-Corporate-Big Government-Big Union combine. And that’s fine. But when someone steps out of line, such as Bill Maher did during the beginning of the "Glorious Fatherland War to Secure Oil and Depose a Really Bad Guy and Spread! Democracy" ... ( a cheap shot, I agree. When I hear of spreading democracy across the world uttered by the present power group, I think of some large authoritarian figure looming over a frightened figure captioned Dame Democracy and growling, “ Against the wall!…Assume the position!…Spread ‘em!”) …the Media responds as it should and gave him his walking papers, jeering at him that if he did not like it here, maybe he should go live in Kofi Annan’s hometown! We have people that do satire here. We do not showcase them nearly as much in prime time, however. Laughter is subversive. HOWEVER, laughter is also accompanied by feelings of well being, assuming one is not wearing the top hat that is the target of young rascals’ snowballs. (I never wear the topper after a good snow, even if it is Mozart that is being pummeled at the local Opera.) For some extremely odd and mysterious reason, our primary form of Comedy is the juxtaposition of incongruous images, such as Waging War + 14 Million Dollar Inaugural while people are dying at home with no medical coverage and people are dying in the wars. This kind of Comedy is not accompanied by a feeling of well being.

La France 2

What do the Maquis in World War II France, Sting, Jean Cocteau, and Tucker Carlson have in common? Not much, thank heavens, other than they are bedeviling me at the moment. Somewhere within the confines of this rambling old blogstead, I have recently mentioned Jean Cocteau and Sting, or Sting + Police. Now there is something I can not remember. What was the name of song by Sting or Police for which the video was an exact copy of scenes from Jean Cocteau's Orphee? I can not recall. If you ever wish to see Orphee, you should probably get a little familiarity with France during WW II, particularly the French Resistance (Maquis). Yes. The French Resistance. Frenchmen actually gave up their lives to fight Mr. Hitler and his Vichy pals. And now we are at Mr. Tucker Carlson who recently referred to the French as "surrender monkeys". I am not too upset, since he was obviously quoting Groundskeeper Willie. He also forgot who surrendered to whom at Yorktown, and who benefited from it. However, what caught my attention was that Mr. Carlson's bowtie was gone. Not only was it gone, but the top 3 buttons of his shirt were open, giving him a vague - very vague - Stanley Kowalski of the evening news and commentary look. Or perhaps he has always been dependent on the kindness of strangeness. When he began his show, he sported a bowtie. This set him apart as an independent thinker. I mean, who else wore bow ties? I think Dave Garroway did, although I'm not sure. Robert Q. Lewis definitely did. I can not recall whether H.V. Kaltenborn sported one. I do not recall whether Bill Buckley wore one. When Mr. Buckley spoke, I do not think I was musing on his cravat. And, of course, Mr.Farrakhan wears a bow tie. However, the intelligence of Mr. Farrakhan is not subsumed in the category of his neck apparel. Nor the other gentlemen, mentioned and unmentioned. Now Mr. Carlson ( I'm sure now he'd say, "Call me Tuck!") has lost the bowtie. This puts him back in with the rest of us non-independent shlubs. Visualize for a moment the whole process: Losing the tie is a given. Now, what about the shirt? Shall we open it or leave it buttoned? If we leave it buttoned, Tucker'll look like the President of Iran. Blazer and buttoned shirt is definitely a Shiite fashion statement. O.K. Open the top button. Now he looks like he should be on ESPN. Open the next...and one more for luck (we'll need it!). I have seen the show. I think he could streak during the bloody commentary and I would not miss a meme.

Friday, June 02, 2006

The Visitor

Recently I said that my old blogstead only had one visitor, mostly because we were way out in the country. That was not a correct observation. My daughter said that if she were to read my blog and did not know me, she doubts whether she would leave a note. She reads it now and leaves no notes anyway. I said that an anonymous little scrap that said “brilliant stuff.” might be in order. I believe she made a noise that sounded like “harrumph!” – and not in a pleasant sense. I gathered that she thought my blog was like being in a dream by the painter Henry Fuseli; one never knows when something may jump out at you. And, she said, if you think I’m going to sit there reading the blog with another window open to Google so I can catch some glimpse of what your meaning is, you are seriously mistaken. And this from the young lady with whom I sat for 3 hours on a hot, late summer’s day waiting for a vehicle inspection in our nation’s capitol! (Yes, 3 hours. If you’re a resident of D.C., you’re saying “Only 3 hours…?!” It was a new car she had and we were rear-ended by a cabbie who had fallen asleep in the line. Since he was going at a creeping speed, the contretemps was actually looked upon as great fun, breaking the intolerably hot boredom. Oh, and the credit card machine was not working that day, a fact they informed us of only when we had actually secured a spot and started the inspection process. Everyone was going across the street to the US Post Office to get money orders. Another young lady observed that she had heard from a friend that the machine had not been working for six months. And so on. It’s a tough situation when the activities of stray dogs are your only entertainment for three hours. I dreamt of Cujo and Atticus Finch.) The main purpose of the blog is to leave a testimony of my beliefs for my daughter. I may have mentioned that once returning from a trip to Toronto, she sandbagged me by turning to me and asking me what my beliefs about God were. This was and is important. We love our children and try to protect them from a world often more monstrous than our imaginations can conjure up. We strive to teach Values and Morality and then they go away and we hope something of the teaching will stick. However, what I’ve just described seems to be a process fit for a more rural and bucolic age. The world in which we live – and I include here our own society, our own country: no way do I believe that this country is God’s Little Acre surrounded by a sea of perversity – has become so pernicious that I fear it will chew my babies up and spit out their bones. Do not you yourselves feel in this age of Globalization…the contradictions between “Family Values” and forcing both parents to work, thereby achieving the Brave New World concept of the State raising the children …the absolute love of power…the uncontrolled lack of civility in political discourse…the enthronement of Greed and Constant Consumption... Do you not feel that future monster lumbering toward us? Do you not see the irresolvable darkness of the Watcher on the Plain waiting in mountainous solitude for the last drop of Godliness to drip from our redoubt? I will not go into that night without bearing witness. If I can leave her nothing else, I will try to tell her how the Holy reveals itself to me throughout my own personal history. I hope this will help her make sense of how the Holy reveals itself to her. Organized Religion alone has proven itself not entirely capable of doing so. How could they? They are not her Father. A Dream of a Cross

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Reading: 1

I am reading some character sketches by Ben Hur Lampman, published in a small book for the troops in 1943. My wife asked about his name and I said that I thought his parents had been admirers of General Wallace’s historical novel. (General Wallace had fought under Grant at Shiloh Church. That’s where Albert Sidney Johnston died. When writers or orators have said that the flower of youth has passed away in this war or that, it was no hyperbole nor flight of fancy. It was true. It still is true. A country looses the gathering wave of newness and bright faces and love and passionate involvement…and must settle for the greys of middle-age who know everything and have all the answers already. So ever will Empires pass away as long as humankind sees fit to spread the ideals it holds dearest with sword and fire.) I become tangential and meiotic from my intension. Reading is a craft. Reading is a form of consciousness to which we must try to return. I read everything under the sun. When I was a young, I would rise from my bed at night and sit reading by the night-light in the bathroom. I cannot remember why I did not get my fill of reading during the day. Perhaps Kindergarten wore heavily upon me; perhaps my parents disapproved of too much solitary pursuit. And let it be truly said that although we sing paeans to reading as an part of education, yet it is too solitary by far; it removes the reader from the bosom of society; it turns your head from the event planning procedures of the daylight brain, diverting you from that straight thoroughfare lined with sunlit buildings, regularly spaced on either side, and sends you down a hidden fork in the road: suddenly, suspiciously, filled with shops and stores with exotic wares – Calle Desconocida, I think, in Borges’ poems. Reading is way too much of a Temporary Autonomous Zone (TAZ). If we are not on guard, those TAZs could become PAZs (Permament Autonomous Zones). Autonomous Zones are really not consistent with Consumer Culture, which by definition is a Permanent Dependency Zone. I try to give a chance to every author. I will read at least something of their writing. I have tried to read Anne Rice 3 times! I have tried to read Danielle Steele. I failed. I do not mean to imply these authors are somehow beneath my august level of falderol. I literally could not read them. I made it through 2 pages of Anne Rice and about the same in Ms. Steele. Not giving up once, I came back and tried again. But no success. There is a certain structure and logos that grab my attention and these ladies did not have it. They have it for many others, however. The point is that, even though a particular book or blog or broadside or pamphlet may not be to your liking, there is something. There is an author out there for you. Give everything a test. Always try at least a paragraph. My usual rule is five pages. If someone can’t get my attention in five pages, another 200 won’t do it. To be conscious needs more than Music. To be conscious needs more than Images. It requires a grasp of language, too: spoken, written, and read. My name in Montag and I am of the readers. We maintain culture against the firemen who burn the consciousness of what has gone before.