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Sunday, January 28, 2007

Winter Of The Heart

 Jeremy Irons and Jpohn Gielgud in Brideshead Revisited

In the end of January, the snow blows in from the North, howling up the hill where we live, coming like the white sands of winter upon those same lusty winds that bear the brittle grains of summer’s dust. It comes so thickly that it obscures the firmament, filling over the grey tent stretching from east to west with a uniform of white.

The world has lost its horizon, undifferentiated foreground and back. There is no hand in front of your face, and small, well-considered steps become fearful plunges into the unknown. Angry swarms surround the left-over Christmas greens, mixed species, baccate red and undessicate, forming balustrades upon the balcony and atop the antique terra cotta pots in whose smiles are sequestered the long-lived pansies that had flourished through the wet holiday and well into the new year.

It is then we view Brideshead Revisited and The Jewel in the Crown. We turn to a better world whose fancy will not decrease. Each episode opens with its musical theme, the same pictures of the past march by, and we go into that labyrinth of color and sound, and we dance with the ancient mysteries of love and hate, war and peace, food and drink, and man’s humanity and inhumanity within a world spinning out of its orb; all being in the 20th century, all being at the end of empire.

 Perhaps we are sitting in on the beginnings of empire. Many of our countrymen believe our country is just beginning its imperial march. I tell my wife I think it is more like Athens, an Athens no longer spiritually creative, and NATO the Delian League. The greatness of the West in North America started just before 1500 and reached a high point around the writing of the Declaration of Independence, a span just short of 300 years.

This zenith lasted until the Second World War, which saw the great evil and the great good come together in a war like none before as happened in Tolkien’s Middle Earth. Like Tolkien’s world, the world began to run down and unwind after the great war. The greatest moral achievement left was the ending of the Cold War: the refusal by the USA and the USSR to destroy each other and the world. Then the Peace Spring...which in retrospect appears to have been Peace Autumn.

At this point, no one cheered. We looked around like moles thrust into the sunlight, and we sought for greater wars in which to spend as much as we could, and pass the bill to future generations. Now, as we watch Brideshead, the world is looking again to engage in thermo-nuclear stand-off, and we all seem to stutter about the important issues like Anthony Blanche in a louche bar.

As we watch Jewel, General Dyer fires on the defenseless at Jallian Walla Bagh, Gandhi dies (to be re-born next year at this time), there is rioting in the cantonments, and Rose Cottage passes into a mythic past – yet we will dance again to swing records on Lily Chatterjee’s victrola. Each episode closes with its music. This time the music bears the undertone of the passing of enchantment; the death of the Muse. And it never fails to sadden us.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Father Ghraib And Mother Gitmo 2

Another example of the idiosyncratic, yet brilliant, poetry of Richard Cheney.

We can do more than one thing,

We have removed the scorpion's sting;

Yet Al Qaida lies scheming.

Old man Sam of bushy beard,

will by Bush his beard be sheared...

and of scum an ethnic cleaning.

That which is not dead may eternal lie,

And with strange aeons, even death may die;

In his lair, Cheney waits, dreaming.

This small bit of verse was discovered in a trash can in front of the Naval Observatory.

Neo-Conservative Books 1 The NecroNeocon

The NecroNeocon is a Lovecraftian tome consisting of the finest works of the greatest NeoCon minds. A definite plus to any library! With notes in the hand of Abdul Alhazred himself!
It is said to contain the names of 600,000 to 700,000 of the dead ( De Inferis Quaerite ! ), or of only 30,000 to 32,000, depending on whom you ask. Incredible? You betcha!

Thursday, January 25, 2007

What The Heck Is Writing?

I cannot yet answer the question posed in the title. However, I am able to say that when I came to write my review of the film Notes On A Scandal
( ),
I had a very different approach to it relying on my interpretation of the grammar of the Imagery and the grammar of my Emotions.

I was quite content to accept the cinematic observation of Dench's character that the Blanchett character was shallow. As soon as I touched upon this in writing, I realized this was a stupid, self-serving evaluation of Sheba's character. And I mean ' as soon as'! It was as if one form of consciousness- adequate for observation, recall, and the interpretation limited to Images and Emotions- gave way to another form of consciousness - one more attuned to understanding, making distinctions, seeing connections more subtle than those easily discernible by the Logic of Images.

The film began to bear an uncanny resemblance to The Queen, a film where the interest of the tabloid press and the public seems to be unnaturally focused on the sensational and the lurid, rather than on the good works of the individual who is unfortunate enough to fall under this particularly coarse lensed microscope.

In The Queen, Lady Diana is the focus of the emotions of the crowd and the press. One feels sure that it was not her labours in the field of outlawing land mines that led to the more intense outpourings of grief. It was something else; something evocative of someone's guilt, someone's shame, someone's failure, someone's ending of innocence, something of the long and final trek through the tunnels under the surface streets of Paris where wolves are behind and the unearthly light is at the far, other end. All due to writing. Very neat.


The Washington Neo-Conservative Memorial Design 4

This design is called the "Richard Cheney"
It is intended to evoke a plaintive wail that the media does not cover all the good that is going on on Iraq, outweighing the slaughter of innocents by far.
In Iraq, mistakes were made, but on the whole things are just dandy.
This a soupcon of the Military-Industrial-Lobbyist complex in the signs labelled 'money orders' and 'check cashing'.
The lottery sign is a reference to Borges' story 'The Babylonian Lottery'.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Faith And Reason

From The Times Online, The Times Literary Supplement, January 17,2007, article named
 " A Deadly Certitude"

Alas, Islam turned against science in the twelfth century.
The most influential figure was the philosopher Abu Hamid al-Ghazzali, who argued in The Incoherence of the Philosophers against the very idea of laws of nature, on the ground that any such laws would put God’s hands in chains.
According to al-Ghazzali, a piece of cotton placed in a flame does not darken and smoulder because of the heat, but because God wants it to darken and smoulder. After al-Ghazzali, there was no more science worth mentioning in Islamic countries."

Notice that a Muslim philosopher uses Reason to modify Faith. The Religion itself is not inimical to Science, rather Reason is used to do the dirty work!

Then on Monday in , in an article named  "Reason and Pop Atheism"  we see:
"de Lubac might seem to be elevating the place of reason here to such a height that he ends up conceding reason’s right to judge the things of God—the very procedure he found so objectionable in Descartes and Kant. "

This is a demonstration of a recurring theme: Faith is not opposed to Science and Reason. If you believe a Faith to be inimical to Reason, look at what Reason did to Faith in mediaeval Islam. Al-Ghazzali used Reason to make judgements about the works of Allah. This was a fundamental error on his part:  the works may be necessarily good, but the complexity of the process cannot be divined by Al-Ghazzali, neither in his inquiry nor in his lack of inquiry.

Emoticons For The Impaired 2

8 )
name: The Buddy Holly
alternates: The Drew Carey, The Robert Q. Lewis
used to connote: general myopic friendliness with large frames.
: < (
name: The Eric ( from Lon Chaney's The Phantom of the Opera )
used to connote: Don Juan Triumphant, subterranean opera, I'm feeling ugly today,...
-( : {
name: The Kaiser Wilhelm ( non-plussed, neither unhappy nor happy; sort of "Was ist's...?"
used to connote: ambition, hybris, sort of a "Die Welt ist mein Feld" type of bonhomie.
}{ }{ }{ }{
name: The Belly Dancers
alternates: The Hula Dancers, The Chicken Dancers, etc.
used to connote: depends on the type of dance; if chicken dance, used to imply extreme discomfort, usually accompanied by fountains o' chocolate and cheap bubbly.

Monday, January 22, 2007

I'll See The Bible Code When It Comes Out In Mishnah

Recently, quite recently, yesterday, in fact, I decided to look into the structure of statements dealing with future events.
Among such statements are those of prophesy and those foretelling the future.
This brings us to the Bible Code
To be a spoilsport, I shall say right now I consider this particular bit of idolatry of the modern age to be moronic.
The adepts of the Bible Code are creating an entire new Torah based on their slice and dice Torah. Of course, there is need of new Mishnah for the new Torah. And they are creating the new Mishnah, too!
I came across this bit of doggerel on .
It deals with Mel Gibson. Mr. Gibson was not in the Bible until he had the misfortune to mouth off while drunk. Once he did that, his fate was sealed. Amazingly he turns up hidden in the Bible, and in an unfortunate light.
I am shocked!
1. Skip=3,806 – Main skip 147 letters The ones that made me, the mob, was blackened by me (one hundred are his Gods). The one who fixed outside1Give (tell) it right! Please cut off 60! 2 Comes3 an honest, a whole hearted4 person to Gibson: "Guilty one! 5 Are the Nation6 and G-d a joke? Does a heap of ruins a place to permanently place water? No!" (That is) His line! It is their Anger! The story of creation7 the guilty one will negate (refuse to accept)! He placed permanently, and he insulted from a record8. Ah, you are in a heap of ruins. It is a beautiful hotel that is a heap of ruins (that is Kosher). Hashem: "Mel is rotten." It has to be said9 G-d is one10. My God! Hashem is the one that kills11. He killed; or, another interpretation12: "because Hashem is G-d."

Now you see why further elucidation is required. Quite the code. Apparently the idols speak in pidgin.
Remember when it comes to this process, there may not be vowels marked in the text. The choice of vowels appears sometimes to be up to the discretion of the adept.
Furthermore, remember that the letters themselves are a linear sequence of letters; there is no punctuation, there is no separation of letters into words: that must be done by the adept.
Therefore, if I see a sequence ( from the above): M L S R T T N.
This reads " Mel is rotten". I could just as well read it " MuLeS, RoTTeN" or " MoLeS aRe Too TiNy".
Even if the vowels are included, we are very close to " MeLeS Rotten" wherein we "correct" the "i" occurring after "L" and change it to "e". This gives us the statement that the river Meles, where Homer was born, is rotten - probably uttered by a schoolboy studying the Iliad.
I often wonder why my parents wouldn't let me have my own golden calf to pray to.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

In Praise Of Jimmy Carter

I am honored to have been a countryman of Jimmy Carter.

I do not consider it an honor to have any such association with his critics.


Saturday, January 20, 2007

Emoticons For The Impaired

There was a great flurry recently about emoticons, those little bits of type confused with the ancient qwerty-arts into living symbols.

For example, we may see     
:)    (sideways) smiling face. This is not only 'smiling face', but may indicate the writer is in a good mood, the writer is smiling, the writer may be enjoying a good laugh over something (although we would expect :) = lol which would be smiling face, classic Maya glyphic speech indicator, and 'lol' meaning 'laugh out loud' .)

Now, if you are up to speed, you will have noticed that I ended my paragraph above with a 'knowing wink'; i.e.
; )  

By using italics, we can create " smarmy wink", or "wink, wink, nudge":

Having had discussions about President A. of Iran recently, and having actually had a visit from a Farsi speaking individual who translated the infamous "wiped off the map" quote in a proper manner for us of the Greybeard Roundtable, we noticed a lot of noise in the air and on the net about Mr. Hitler. It was primarily things like "He's just like Hitler!" "Yer freakin' crazy, he is not!" "You're a Hitler!" "Am not! You are!" and so on. We decided to provide the proper emoticon for the "Yer a Hitler. No, you are" kind of interchange. This would provide everyone the proper punctuation for ending an insightful discussion into Hitler parallels. We submit the following punctuational emoticon:  
 // : =(            This is the "Sad Hitler". You may use the "Happy Hitler" for stronger effect.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

The Washington Neo-Conservative Memorial Design 3

This one is called "The Douglas Feith"
It is also termed "Iraq-Hawks", with a slight reference to "Nighthawks" diner scene.
The idea was "We buy [oil], you [Iraqees] fry." The builders got it wrong, and we have to read "You buy [our notion of democracy], we fry [your sorry a.] " photo: tEdGuY46

NeoCats and NeoDogs

I have been reading about the Neoconservatives. It seems most of them had been Neoliberal at one time. They only changed the trappings of compulsion.

Their belief in the State Behemoth imposing its will on the country and the world is the same, whether under the aegis of Liberalism or Conservatism. Neoconservatives and Neoliberals are power-brokers.
The difference between them and a Serbian General is that the Neos know when to stop the least, they used to know. Sometimes it goes out of control.

 They are totally the same in the reality that YOU do not matter one whit. Only the allegorical YOU matters, whether you are John Q Public, or you are the forgotten man, or you are the feminist, or whatever the label they apply to you and duct-tape across your mouth... No, we do not matter to them.


Z News January 18 2007

"Z News" is end of time news, like Z, or Zed, at the end of an alphabetic sequence. It is not a funny rendition of Parisian news, "Leesten to zee News at 11:00!", instead of Les Nouvelles or Les Informations. My humor is not necessarily above a little Pepe LePew, but not this time. And , come to think of it, it really isn't "new" at all. I mean, all these things are going to be tedious repetitions of things we've seen before; nihil novi sub sole ( nothing new under the sun) and semper ubi sub-ubi (always wear under-wear). (1) An administration official, Charles Stimson, displays arrogance, even though they know by now that arrogance should not be worn after a catastrophe. "A Pentagon official who criticised US law firms for representing detainees at the Guantanamo Bay US base in Cuba has apologised for his remarks. " He also tacitly threatened them, but read it all at: (2) Israel vs Palestine, Round 4,567: Although Israel withdrew from Gaza more than a year ago, its control over the lives of Palestinians there is in some ways even tighter than before, a new report by an Israeli human rights organisation says and the Israeli HR organization: Gisha: Center for the Legal Protection of Freedom of Movement is an Israeli not-for-profit organization that seeks to protect the fundamental rights of Palestinians living in the Occupied Territories by imposing human rights law as a limitation on the behavior of Israel’s military. (3) Doomsday Clock The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists has "added climate change to the prospect of nuclear annihilation as the greatest threats to humankind. " Therefore, they have pushed the minute hand on the good old Doomsday Clock two minutes closer to midnight. Now, there is considerable controversy about climate change and whether it may be remedied. My own approach- which I frequently tell people and which has given me a well-deserved staus as a crank-is to advise people: "Ask those who have died from it!" ( whether 'it' is climate change, or the Iraq war, or homelessness, fill in the blanks.) (4) Nouri Al-Maliki, the present PM of Iraq, wants more weaponry. Hitherto, the US has feared the extra weaponry would just fall into the hands of the insurgents. The previous ruler of Iraq also requested and received numerous weapons from the USA. Maliki wants the same. Maliki probably is the same. The only thing I know about Al-Maliki is that the President thinks he's the boy. Excellent. Nouri Al-Maliki will go the same way as Saddam Hussein within 8 years.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Piranesi Meditations

Piranesi did a series of drawings entitled I Carceri, The Prisons.

"Our assumptions always become a prison to our possibilities..."

Our assumptions and our belief systems, as we foppishly call them. Belief systems, indeed! The quote continues,

"...,and the mid-nineteenth century's assumptions about the role of women in society turned the world of intelligent, thoughtful women everywhere into a grim, dank dungeon from which they yearned most desperately to escape."

Bram Djikstra, Idols of Perversity, Oxford University Press, 1986, New York. 

How many people today are in prison? How many whose lives are lived in a grim, dank dungeon? How many desperately yearn to escape? We are imprisoned just as the soul of Jacob Marley was, doomed to drag the chains of our assumptions, belief systems, and world views to our graves. Contrary to the opinion of many people, we are not best served by striving to create coherent "belief systems", for any coherence we achieve is on the surface; we do not go deeply into the realms of the soul. Faith is better. Faith is tougher.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Film Review: Notes On A Scandal

Great acting, directing, camera; loved the Foley( as usual). Never bored. Either repelled, fascinated, or enchanted.

Story disturbs on many levels.
Judi Dench plays a Hannibal Lechter of the soul. Bride of Dracula, really. Cate Blanchett's character, Sheba, is portrayed as if David Lynch had been a guest doing a bit of cameo directing. The character is profound, yet presented as shallow. Judi Dench's Sappho from Hell character, who is the obsessive note writer, describes her as shallow, but a cursory survey of the elements in Sheba's life compells us to denounce this as a lie.
The entire film is based on our complicity with the Denchian Sappho and we are forced to focus on Sheba's sin with a 15 year-old boy and not see anything else. Sin and sensuality is the only thing that is not shallow. All is ennuie, all is accidie except the pleasant stroking of naked skin.

The story is in its essence a frantic romp of sensuality and sin. I got the frenetic feeling of an anti-burlesque A Nasty Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum, everything occurring at a fevered pitch and a serio-comedy where Plautus bared his fangs. It was either Sylvester Stallone on Shakespearean English, or it was Two Gentlemen of Verona as interpreted by Thomas Harris (The Silence of the Lambs).

You know, I just may go see it again. (Now that I forced myself to write about it, I feel as if I have a glimmer of understanding. Note this important point: Understanding comes from a variety of conscious behaviors. We need not merely view, we must write; we need not solely write, we need to act, to feel, to do all those things which renders us human and our understanding divine.)


Report From The Committee: Ground Hog Day

The new army of the new Iraq does not have enough experience nor tradition nor understanding of our agenda to effectively perform what is expected of it.
It is mainly Shi'a. It will not be effective against the Shi'a forces.

The army reflects the population at large; it is 80% Shi'a. There are Sunnis who do not wish to leave their home provinces where they feel they are needed to protect their Sunni people. Under fire, it will unfortunately break asunder and all will run to their tribes. They do not believe the fiction of the national state. We do. It is something we learn as children. They do not. They would need a number of years of indoctrination in order to view the world through our eyes.

Therefore, I propose we institute a Ground Hog Day scenario for the new Iraq. This should be firmly based on the film with Bill Murray. Not Surge; Ground Hog Day. Not Cut and Run; Ground Hog Day. You have gotten the idea. Every day that the forces of good fail, give it a try again on the morrow. Try different ways to assassinate Moqtada As-Sadr. Try to execute some people and get it right even in the eyes of the corrupt. I reckon that 10 years, real time, would be enough under the Ground Hog Day scenario to turn things around in Iraq. We cannot lose, for failure would mean the end of our illusions. And those are more dear than any lives. Give it a try in Iran. If the ground hog sees his shadow, there will be only six more weeks of nuclear winter.


Monday, January 15, 2007

My Readers Weigh In

I went into Jenny's Coffee Clutch yesterday. I was alone. It was not a day for a meeting of the Greybeards Club. Boaz and Boulos, two of the workers, found time to talk to me about the old Blogstead. Jenny herself, whose real name is Hanaan, or the sympathetic one, but she is not the antitype of her name, I assure you!-watched us with cats' eyes; to us, to the clock, us, clock,..tick...tock. I asked B & B whether they'd better be working. They laughed and said let the 'ajuuz stare all she wanted! (They did not say this loudly enough that the 'old crone' referred to actually could hear them, however.) They picked some paper up from the floor. There were three crumpled daily local newsy blurbs that infest this type of eatery, stating what shows on which A.M. radio station, some F.M., country music, news of the Whirled, and so on. Mixed in with them was a print-out of my Blog! This is not as nice as it sounds; remember that these papers were on the floor in an advanced state of crumplitude. "How nice." I said, meaning anything but. "We got a question...", Boulos said, and placed the print-out flat on the table and ironed it flat with his hands. He had some oily substance on a finger, and it smeared the ink, but it remained legible. "What is this...," he pointed with the offending digit. "What is this...peace dividend spring? " Silence for a beat or two. Boaz added, "We know 'hurrah' . Just what is this peace dividend spring? Spring of a car?" I sensed this would take a bit. There were 45 minutes until closing. I ordered two of the best BLTs imaginable: one fer me, one fer the missus. This quick transaction allowed us the time to speak, for Hanaan knows that if I were not talking about myself, I would merely have had a finjaan of her wretched tea. We traded talk-time for 2 BLTs, and this order would probably be her last today, a rain day, maybe an ice storm day; only mad dogs and Americans go out in the midday ice storm. Hanaan busied herself at the grill. She jerked her head around and growled. "Hulwaiyaat?" This was her way of letting me know that the sweets for desert she had from the Pain d'Or ( Khubz Dhahabi) delivered by the young Indian (South Asia) delivery service from Shatila Bakery in the early morning still graced her boudoir...I mean her dessert kiosk wherein sweets twirled in a decadent glow of crystal. There were more crumbs than sweets by this time of a Sunday.
Crumbs caught in a Kiosk, I though to myself. Like butterflies caught in a web? Possible headline for a post here, about what I do not know. I had to acquiesce. I told her to put them in a tiffin box. ( Way too many lingos here!) Now as the bacon sizzled and snapped and Hanaan pecked her fingers into the revolving kiosk of sweets, grabbing far too much baklava for me, I spoke to B & B. I explained the origin of the phrase "Peace Dividend". This was something that we were supposed to experience when the Cold War abruptly ended. Since arms budgets would be vastly reduced, we would have more money in our pockets. Of course, the dividend was only declared for a few years; then the company ceased issuing dividends. Boulos smiled. "We doin' O.K." Boaz smiled, too. "Yeah," I said, "...but we coulda! We coulda been...contenders!" They stared at me, goggle-eyed. I had gone too far. "O.K. We could have kept more of our money. And we could have used it for good purposes. You guys could have had medical, now..." This seemed to strike a chord. Their smiles faded. They nodded their heads. They began to understand. So much for Peace Dividend. Now the word 'Spring'. It was the season of Spring and it was an echo of a short story by Ray Bradbury 'Rocket Spring'. The story was written in a time so long ago and so innocent that people could believe that the burning of the rocket's engines as they lifted off into space could melt the snow and moderate the cold, causing the flowers to bud early, causing the sap to rise- a time when technology had not yet put on the right-hand glove of Rotwang...(O.K. The glove of Dr. Strangelove, then.) It was a type for a long gone golden age of innocence, never to come again. At this point, their long faces indicated I had gone too far. They may have been about to cry. Or weep. Or ululate. Hanaan brought over two tiffin boxes and plopped them unceremoniuously on the table. She handed me a brown bag of sweets. Already a oily stain was beginning to stretch across the paper of the bag. "Cash or charge?" She said as she waddled back to the counter.
She spoke from habit.
I said "Charge."
She shook her head. "Not enough. Cash only." She glanced at the clock. Twenty more minutes and she would be rid of us.
I pulled my pockets inside out and explained in Arabic that I had gambled all my coins on sporting events. B & B giggled. Hanaan snorted and turned to clean the griddle. One more thing: the title for Father Ghraib and Mother Gitmo was based upon an erroneous identification between me and the brilliance of Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weil.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Peace Dividend Spring, Hurrah!!

Tomorrow is MLK Day, and I think I shall take it easy, especially if the ice storm breaks over us here near Port Desespoir. We need another Holiday to memorialize another great moral victory of the 20th century. We are possibly too close to the period of time to appreciate the importance of all that happened in the 20th century. Why do we need another National Holiday, indeed, a World Holiday? We remember the 20th century for its horrors and wars. The history of mankind is so filled with horror and war that the future may not find the 20th century's violence too far ahead of the field of competitors for most destructive era. The great things are the hard things, the good things, the good acts, acts of comity. The USA and the USSR worked together and achieved a reduction in nuclear arms. The USA and the USSR, after facing each other down in the Cold War, decided that nuclear war was too horrible a thing for rational men to contemplate. By the time of Reagan and Gorbachev, both sides were competing to achieve more reductions. There was a brief time when, after the fall of the USSR, it seemed that nuclear arms might actually be eliminated. It was one of the greatest moral achievements of all history. It was Peace Dividend Spring! Those days seem to be long gone as we take little steps into a new worldwide arms race. We need a Holiday to commemorate what the good men and women of the USA and the USSR and the UN in the 20th century achieved. We need to remember. We may not get another chance.
photo: BBC News

Proof Goof

I have been accused of being the "Proof Goof".
In the movie Proof, Anthony Hopkins plays a man whose form of dementia is obsessive writing. He fills notebook after notebook with writing. Of course, the writing is obscure and abstruse and demented. Gwyneth Paltrow plays his daughter.

Three imps drawn by Hieronymous Bosch play my nephews. Now you know the source of this unflattering parallelism. The name Proof Goof is a bit more elevated than " The old Foolosopher". I'm trying to remember if Larry was called that in The Iceman Cometh. How about Jimmy Tomorrow?

Many of my postings have an obscure and tenuous relationship to God, or even my daughter, for that matter, at best. Certainly, the Desert Isle is an event that takes place outside the temple. Mundane and Profane. However, my approach to the Holy is somewhat different. I do not go into the inner sanctum and don vestments. The Holy should be always present.
A long time ago I came to a parting of the ways with the Logical Positivist philosophers because they could not make sense of metaphysics and religion, so I tossed them out the cognitive window into the gutter of odd notions along with the night soil, so to speak.

I do not believe there can be any philosophy which does not seriously come to grips with all facets of our existence. You cannot ignore what you don't understand and call it nonsense. The Holy is something present all the time, not merely on the High Holy Days. Therefore, our experience of it must make sense like our other consciousness makes sense.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

First Arab Minister In Israel

A momentous occasion: Israel's Labour party leader has appointed Raleb Majadele as science and technology minister - making him the first Arab Muslim in Israel's cabinet. also The spokesperson for Avigdor Lieberman's Yisrael Beitenu said that the appointment is "a lethal blow to Zionism", adding that Raleb Majadele's appointment as minister of science and technology damages "Israel's character as a Jewish state.". . In case this is not clear, this spokesperson means that the appointment is a bad thing.

There is a segment of Israel which believes that the Arab population within its borders should be marginalized, should be disenfranchised, should be 'removed'.

Meir Kahane was a vocal supporter of transporting Arabs to 'somewhere else'. There is a segment which views Zionism as a means to...shall we say, cleaning up Israel - and this segment is not the President of Iran alone, it is Israeli. If you have expressed a recent opinion on the state of Israel-Palestine recently and did not know this, then you are a dunce. We are all dunces for a time. St. Paul said that we see for a while through a darkling glass. Later...sometimes much later, we shall see clearly. picture at

Friday, January 12, 2007

Stopping By The Blooming Woods On A Winter's Eve

This is the time of year when we used to have a period of weather the older members of the clan called 'the January thaw'.
This was a period of relative warmth coming after the cold in December. It would have been cold right up to a frigid New Year's Day, then back to work and everyone in the doldrums so no one noticed anything-unless there would be a blizzard-but everyone just plodded along, not looking up...until one day when the sun was out and the tears did not freeze to your face when you gazed up into the blue sky.
The January Thaw had arrived.
It would be followed by more cold, but in the meantime, life was good.
This year I decided to take the Christmas tree down well before the Kaiser's birthday on January 27th.
All the decorations of light came down as we plunge back into the dismal grey clime of the area. Words cannot express how the light of Christmas fills my soul with gladness. Contrariwise, when cleaning up after Christmas, a somber mood prevails.
I do not play Christmas music while taking down the tree. That would be too sad. So I played (1) Cat Stevens (both as Cat Stevens and as Yusuf Islam), (2) The Cure, and (3) Leonard Cohen. By Mr. Cohen I was indeed as cold as a new razor's blade.
Everything came down. Everything went. Except for one wreath.
This wreath was a superfluity. A friend, who had purchased his own wreaths, had received two more wreaths from an open-handed neighbor who did not wish to be bothered by the excess. This friend, in a similar spirit of giving, saw my wife a week or so before Xmas and bestowed the two wreaths upon her...and she heard him exclaim as he drove out of sight, thanks for taking them wreaths off my hands, my load is now light!
However, we are used to such largesse. For Christmas itself my mother presented us with some little gifts such as old candles, half of which had been previously lit. We have resigned ourselves to being the last link in the chain between certain consumers in our lives, their purchases, and the inevitable dust bin and land fill.
We are the trash facilitators.
Back to the wreaths. One of the wreaths was hung on a door. The other was laid upon a large potting urn which contained pansies from summer.
The flowers had not died. Pansies seem to be rather hardy. They had come through a couple cold snaps without any visible discomfort. And in the balmy days before Xmas, they were doing fine.
So the wreath was flung upon them, collaring the top of the urn, letting a few pansies show through the opening in the middle and peeking out from underneath. They were going to go soon anyway, right?
Wrong. They still flourish now in January. This morning, as I write this, I hear the rain falling.
The wreath still hugs the pansies, providing protection in case of cold, and the pansies still bloom.
There is nothing inconvenient about that truth.
picture: Gusta van Dobbenburgh

Thursday, January 11, 2007

The New Plan For Iraq

I no longer have an opinion. However, I do not ever want to hear "Dienbienphu" in the next two years.

Claire Grace Schutt

Claire Grace Schutt passed away the morning of New Year's Day.
She was 95 years old.
She had not been well for a long time, suffering from leukemia and Alzheimer's disease. We were just sitting down New Year's Eve morning, that Sunday, getting ready to do the New York Times crossword, when we received the call. So we packed the funeral clothes that had not been unpacked from the previous alert a year earlier, and drove 240 miles through the rain to Toronto.

In 1911, Claire Grace was born into a large family in the Ottawa Valley, in Vinton, in the Pontiac, in Quebec, Canada-and island of Irish culture in the middle of a river of English and French, telling their own Irish stories and viewing the world with their own unique wit.
Claire was one such charming Irish story. She married Henry Schutt and raised a family with him in Manhasset, New York. For us, her story is infinite. It exists forever in our hearts.

We see her face, we hear her voice, we remember her cooking Sunday dinner, we smile at her cheerfulness, her singing, and how she made everything fun. And when we here have gone, the immediacy of these memories is gone, but the underlying patterns of her story still reverberate: piety and hard work, sweetness and love, family and friends, charity and a light spirit. These things echo on to Eternity; continuing in Heaven, continuing on Earth.
photo: Voillemont on A road in Vinton, Quebec

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Gerald Ford

God's Rest.
 I liked Gerry Ford. Still do.
His life showed an amiable axis that exists in the USA which most people are unaware of: Grand Rapids and the western shore of Michigan over to Ann Arbor. He had an interview. I shall tell you what I think of the interview. I think it was a shame that all the former Presidents - Ford, Carter, Clinton, Reagan, and George H.W.Bush- with all their years of experience were never once consulted in the run up to war. Not once. All their words will come out post mortem.


Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Father Ghraib and Mother Gitmo 1

These postings will be exclusively devoted to the poetry of the George W. Bush Administration. What the Hey, IAEA! radionuclides spread around, pit bull guard dog we split th'atom and tamed it down, dead fish pig eye. alls i know, the law of Oil, iraqee attackee radionuclides in the soil! fallooja baquba situation fraught with danger ( i'm o.k.) kick menora, splinter manger! (aren't you? ) Richard Cheney

Frank Barone Cleans Up Congress

Things were quiet at Jenny's Coffee Clutch yesterday.
Too quiet.

So, it was time to stir things up. Frank McQuestion ( pronounced " mac-Ah-shin", emphasis on the upper-case syllable ) made a crack about John Murtha having seriously considered taking a bribe during the ABSCAM affair.
Now I do not have a penny invested in Mr. Murtha. I have been for much of my life a John Conyers man - meaning Mr. Conyers represented the district in which I lived. My daughter interned for Mr. Conyers one summer. Look cross-wise at Mr. Conyers and you will have a fight.
However, as I mentioned, things were too slow. Idle hands and minds may indeed be the devil's workshop, but even Old Nick himself had been laid off and was sleeping in the corner, dead to the world. So, to take up the slack, I rose to the bait. I said that I had seen the film of Mr. Murtha and I did not consider his response an indication that he was or would seriously consider taking a bribe. I said that it sounded to me as if Mr. Murtha were flabbergasted and did not know for the life of him what to say.

McQuestion disagreed and his lips moved, but I was preparing my riposte and heard nothing.
I said Mr. Murtha was obviously shocked. I said that it was as if a beautiful 20-something young lady had come up to Frank McQuestion and said how admirably masculine a figure he cut! Now every spirit at the table rose! We were about to do some serious joke making. Everyone had an opinion at last. So I said that Frank would probably stutter and mutter, then say something about the weather, then say good-bye (not "thank you" for he could not acknowledge the immensity of what he'd just heard) and trip over the curb.

He came back with a brilliant assumption that I could do better in a pig's eye. His face began to erubesce. Then I said "What would you have done? Drawn your enormous dignity about yourself, stand up on your high horse of Justice, put on your baseball cap of Rectitude, and denounce the briber?"
"Yes." he said. "I would so have done!"

Notice that we had reached a point where Master Rhetoric began to take over from Dame Conversation. We spoke in lofty terms and measured periods worthy of Milton and Cicero.
"No," I said. "You would have acted like a young lady in Donegal Town accosted by a drunken sailor. You would have closed tight your legs like a thunderclap, you would have drawn your skirts tight about ye..."

Language was becoming omnitemporal; the usual limits were disappearing.
"...and ye would ha' been off! Run off like a scared coney (rabbit), you big Nancy!"
And so on. You will notice that at this point I assumed a persona much like Frank Barone. This is my homage to Peter Boyle, whom I first saw in the theaters in "Joe", and that was almost 40 years ago. I know that Mr. Boyle passed on a month or so ago. I know I appear tardy in my homage.
However, I told you that news travels slowly around here; the speed of light itself is 55 mph.


Fear And Bennett in Las Vegas

I shall immediately disassociate myself from the low blow in the title: mentioning Bill Bennett and his gambling addiction. I subscribe to a title writing service and use what they give me. So, good old Bill Bennett has a blog. What could be in it? Let's have a look see. Proposed 2008 Platform 1. Global War Against Islamic Terror--call the war right and fight it right. This I like. I particularly like calling the Terror Islamic, thereby ensuring a certain amount of what we shall refer to as the Haditha Effect. In the heat of war, it will be hard to discern who is friend and who is foe. If the terror is Muslim, then all Muslims are fair game. This is what Mr. Bennett would call "leveling the playing field." 2. Publicly commit to regime change in Iran. I would like to see something further, like "using diplomatic means short of nuclear strikes", but what the heck. 3. Fund and deploy a fully operational missile defense system. I would like to expand this by adding a coda: using a technology which cannot be gotten around or short-circuited or evaded by the enemy (whose names are Legion!) I seem to remember that the Rooskies are already working on a way around a missile defense system. Bill is correct: fund a system that incorporates technology that prohibits end runs! What we need is (1) A Manhattan Project for missile defense, and (2) a missile defense Czar to run it. If I not mistaken, Mr. Bennett himself was once a Czar of some program! O.K. I'm bored. We're outta here.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Spring Back, Fall Forward

During the exhilirating Xmas festivities, we renewed acquaintances and had many warm conversations. I was at my brother's for a wonderful spread of food. I was deep into a conversation with Big Bob, the hunter, about global warming when someone nearby suddenly began to talk about hunting up North. He sprang to his feet and ran across the room with a smile as wide as a Christmas tree. Well, I don't like chit-chat, anyway. I write better than I chit. So I took another stab at the enormous Brie in pastry. It was indeed a delight, but the party had been going on for over an hour, and the huge Brie kugel began to resemble Chtulhu wounded and wizened, bleeding his life essence (such as it was) all over the place. I really ate like a swine. I gained exactly 1 pound over the holidays. Blast! My next foray into the oral arts had to do with John who had run in the Chicago Marathon. He had run with his whole bloody family: father, sister, brothers (2), and grandmother. My story was of the year when, as the autumnal equinox had been gone 30 days or so, I set my clock one Saturday night to correct for the passing of daylight savings time. My wife had once taught me a mnemonic ditty: Spring forward, Fall back to remember how to correct. Unfortunately, this year I recalled it as: Spring back, Fall forward. Since this seemed decidedly odd, I had to think about it: Spring if in fear. Suppose a snake were to crawl into the room; I should spring back with alacrity, knocking over the lamp and falling prone upon the bed, where I lay exposed to the venomous fangs... Enough of that. The Intro makes good sense. Now, Fall in exhausted. I was standing at attention in ranks after a 15 mile run with full backpack under the blazing sun. No, it was with full KIT...and we were clothed in rags under a blazing sun. A mean-spirited Colonel Saito sat on his verandah in the shade as Lieutenant Miura kept watch. Those who were in a weakened condition fell forward, their eyes turning upwards in... Enough of that, too. O.K. It makes good sense. I wondered where everyone was that morning. I usually ran at 5:00 A.M. Thus, it was 4:00 A.M. and the streets were pretty deserted. Now that you've read the story, you will have the same problem.

George W. Bush 2007: A Life in Art

"I am the great Isis..." Odilon Redon 
I sense a change coming in the work of the artist, George Bush. After a lifetime spent in the shadow of his father, during which his contemporaries demeaned him with the nickname "Little Boots" or "Caligula", we sense that he is finally coming into his own. The years 2002 through 2006 saw the influence of Goya. Indeed, we term this period "El Sueno de la Razon" which indeed produced many masterpieces, as well as the seemingly obligatory Goyaesque "monstruos".

However, as Harry Truman once said, "If you can't stand the nightmares, get outta the bedroom!" In 2007 we shall see the inception of a period of works inspired by Odilon Redon. This may be the "Great Isis" period, influenced also by a series of poems of Richard Cheney's on Lyndie Englund entitled "Abu Ghraib Wa Umm Gitmo" ( Father Ghraib and Mother Gitmo).

The debt that Bush owes to the Symbolists becomes manifest. The Imagery of Death, especially Death untimely-that of innocents-plays a central role. It is a link which ties together Bush and Redon, as well as Flaubert and Huysmans. Redon's "Grand Isis" hints at disturbance and confusion. Nothing is clear, whether Isis and Harpocrates are stepping into a flower of evil or a portal to divinity. It brings to mind Cleopatra and Caesarion, similarly poised on the brink; ultimately they fell into untimely death. Yet, it is this very lack of clarity which defines and delimits the works of Bush.
This confusion takes us from the mundane and opens a new world of perception, a higher world, as evidenced in the accompanying illustration of "Eye Balloon", a rising to new heights and new glories.

"Eye Balloon" Odilon Redon


Firstest with the Mostest

QUICK DECISION: Stung by charges of being tightfisted and slow to respond, Bush makes tenfold increase in pledged amount. headline from

What is the event behind the headline?
It was the Tsunami which hit Banda Aceh and elsewhere in Asia. The date for the article is January 1, 2005, which is 8 months before Katrina, so back off.

What brought this up is not the usual sophomoric Bush-Bashing that I engage in, but rather a conversation I had with a lady who was under the impression that the USA is always kind and loving to all and sundry in the world, and when disaster happens, we respond first and foremost, and so on and so on. This is the usual litany we learned as children. The facts are: There are many good people in the USA. There are many bad people in the USA. Sometimes the good people get their way, sometimes not.