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Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Butterfly Under Glass

 Mounted Butterflies On Display

All of us are artists.

The artistic difference between those whom we term "artists" and the rest of the workforce is this:

the outcome of our projects remain predictable and less complex, whereas those of "artists" become complex and unpredictable over time and exposure to those who experience the art.

There is an illusion of static permanence achieved by putting things in art galleries and museums, and by multiplying reproductions of "works of art" to infinity, but that is merely the archival approach to any phenomenon.

Art = The Butterfly (le papillon) at the beginning of the French series Les Revenants; pinned through the thorax and mounted into an old wood frame display case, it suddenly revives at the very inception of the series.
It bursts through the glass which enshrouds it and the other butterflies on display with an amorphously transparent pseudo-immortality, like that of Snow White's temporary bier in the fairy tale.... life will out!

Art rises like the butterfly. Papillon!

If we recall the film Papillon based on the life of Henri Charrière, and which starred Steve McQueen and Dustin Hoffman, we would think about the controversy about Charrière's veracity in telling his story of imprisonment on Devil's Island - a veracity much impugned.
French journalist Gerard de Villiers, author of "Papillon Épinglé" (Butterfly Pinned) maintains that "Only about 10 percent of Charrière's book represents the truth."


And that 10 percent grew exponentially into a great film and great memories.


Monday, July 28, 2014



Our Miss Brooks

I also saw Pandora's Box (Der Buchse Der Pandora), directed by Georg Wilhelm Pabst, and starring Louise Brooks as the main character, Lulu.

I fell in love with her... tragically...


Cloud Atlas


I have just finished watching the film Cloud Atlas in its entirety, with no stops, gaps, nor breaks, and merely a minimum of short intervals during which I could not quite get the words people were saying.

I was astonished.

I have been astonished by quite a few films lately: Cloud Atlas, The Great Beauty, Melancholia, Take Shelter,... I wonder why there are so many? Why are there so many films dealing with such important issues?
It is the time for such questions, I think, for we stand upon the brink of a vast change. But this is not the time for that topic.

Cloud Atlas; I have heard some people say that the multiple story lines were confusing, so I was sort of cringing at the start of the film, ready to be amused, bemused, and confused. Trouble is: I was not confused in the slightest.

I marveled at a film which could turn on a dime from one story to another, and yet leave me with no sense of vertigo, nor any sense of having lost the thread of meaning, for all the stories - although different - were the same.
There was never a re-set for a shift in plot: we never had to leave one group and mentally say, OK, now we back in 2012, or the future, and we must reacquaint ourselves with the characters...
Never had to do it. All stories led to Rome, as it were.
I loved the various melodies and languages coming to a complete symphonic meeting of voices.

I also heard people say it was about karma. I heard the word mentioned towards the end of the film by an inquisitor.
I also heard "karma" mentioned in conjunction with Carlos Casteneda, but I never though of Casteneda being concerned with karmic matters. There is meaning in Casteneda, but it is not at all the obvious meaning. Enough on that matter for the time being.

Karma can be a personal flotation device, or it can be a millstone tied about one's neck; take your pick.

...The official synopsis describes it as "an exploration of how the actions of individual lives impact one another in the past, present and future, as one soul is shaped from a killer into a hero, and an act of kindness ripples across centuries to inspire a revolution."
Whether one believes in re-incarnation as reality, or whether it is merely a plot device, does not matter, for the continuity of a soul through time is a belief that is not quite necessary for the film to influence us, although it is rather fun to keep track of the various roles played by the actors throughout the multi-plots.

Unhappy times filled with such hopeful and happy films!


Monday, July 21, 2014

Wes Anderson And The Life Aquatic And Transperceneige

A.O.Scott review of The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou

... In my ideal cinémathèque, "The Life Aquatic" would play on a permanent double bill with "The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie." Mr. Anderson and Stephen Hillenburg, Mr. Squarepants's creator, share not only a taste for nautical nonsense, but also a willingness to carry the banner of unfettered imaginative silliness into battle against the tyranny of maturity...

Transperceneige is rendered in English as Snowpiercer , which sort of ignores the full possibilities of the "Trans..." at the beginning: possibly just transpercer but also possibly a reference to a train, such as TransSiberian Express. I suppose people thought something like Snowpiercer Limited was too redolent of Gene Wilder and Silver Streak.
I referred Transperceneige as a film about "continuous transport", and thought of George Herriman's Krazy Kat, wherein once a shipload of owls were in a state of continuous transport, staying just ahead of rosy-fingered dawn across the face of the globe.

Upon reflection, there are many such tales in Science Fiction, where the interstellar vessels which journey hundreds of years between the stars are actually in a state of continuous transport; their arrival at some destination no longer sure nor guaranteed; the ship's hierarchy broken down into chaos and tribal factions.....

Or Spaceship Earth.

There was the conceit of a self-contained universe: The Orient Express, the Nostromo of Alien, Prospero's Island.
We add our own concept of ghastly infinitude: endless and pointless repetition of failure, our haunted Flying Dutchman.


Friday, July 11, 2014

Bruno Bettelheim

Much of what Mr. Bettelheim wrote is ignored these days. However, he provided a brilliant peek into the ways and uses of symbols:

Bettelheim analyzed fairy tales in terms of Freudian psychology in The Uses of Enchantment (1976). He discussed the emotional and symbolic importance of fairy tales for children, including traditional tales at one time considered too dark, such as those collected and published by the Brothers Grimm. Bettelheim suggested that traditional fairy tales, with the darkness of abandonment, death, witches, and injuries, allowed children to grapple with their fears in remote, symbolic terms.
Wikipedia; Bettelheim

Symbols are a masterful tool, allowing us to understand that which is beyond our senses, and to experience that which is beyond our abilities, and to feel that which is beyond or forbidding to our emotions.

In a very real sense, symbols are the most benevolent Chauncey Gardiner, who "likes to watch" that from which he is removed by the very nature of things. When we watched Chance Gardiner in the film  Being There, did we understand anything that was normally forbidden to our understanding by the powers of social life?


The Face Of The Virgin

This is made up from 3 posts. They deal with Mary, the mother of Jesus, Susan of the revolution, and the last brings in Elizi Dantor, a Lwa of Vodou.

It has become apparent they all deal with the same thing.


Kick-Ass Mary

How great the pain that pierced your heart,
Mother, when they raised Him on the cross;
ceaseless furrows of your tears record the
tsunami of your loss!
Hammer and spear, thorns and scourge,
all life from your soul did purge?

"My pain blinded everything else, I could not stand;
I admit that in my pain I cried a few
tears and screamed in my deep despair... softened
by the mound of stones I threw!
from Roman heads came blood, their cries attest:
'Get that Jew bitch! That Jewish terrorist!' "


the Virgin Mary is usually depicted as silently suffering during the passion of Jesus. However, she fought for her kids like a soldier, and drew the blood of killers. She still fights for us.

(as I explain in a comment, I tired of Mary being portrayed as Our Lady of Perpetual Victimization.)


Susan welcomes Revolution
in the month of Nisan:
she smokes without matches,
she drinks without wineskins;
when she cries,
she is not dieing...
as are we...
but she is creating the rivers of Eden!

Susan is a Visionary
in the Spring of the year:
not drinking from poisoned wells,
not eating of forbidden foods;
when she sleeps
she does not slumber,
as do we,
but remains vigilant for her tribe until dawn!

Susan is an desert shaman
in the April of time:
the scorpion of heart's desire
makes her strip off all her clothing;
when she loves,
she is not at peace,
as are we;
nightly hunts she leads with the campfire's greyhound smoke.

Susan welcomes revolution;
in month of Tammuz:
reflections in eternity,
encased in Persian mastic
as an ant
encased in amber:
but not we
who east of Paradise must live until all men be free!


The face of the Virgin is that of a young girl, or a young woman. Rarely is she portrayed as a middle-aged woman or an older woman. So do I think of her. I use the grammar of Images and link common images in prayer.
However, when Mary visits her cousin, she sings the Magnificat, wherein we hear: "He casts the mighty from their thrones, and raises the lowly."
From this we get a glimpse of ancient Jewish thought in the society and in the individual, for Mary exclaims that God has turned the social order upside down and chosen Her, not a rich woman, not a trust child, not a queen; just Her.

So, is Mary always demure and a follower? Or may she also be a radical, a leader?
What we think of Mary is solely within this world and our consciousness. The Holy is not constrained by our thinking nor our imaging. The Holy is undefined to our minds, for to be otherwise would to be limited.
The Holy is a mystery which we attempt to understand with language and imaging and emotions - and ritualized behavior - and magical thinking - and the list goes on. However, the Holy is not what any one of these may show, for these activities come from our past, our personal histories. We have learned how to speak and picture God and Mary and Jesus. We learned this in the past. The Holy is the Future. It is where we are going.

The Holy cannot be held within our imaginings. It is the future and what Religion is actually all about. The fact that evil men infest religion makes human religion no different from human politics, or human business. What does differentiate Religion from all other human activities is the fact that Religion has the potential to exceed all that separates humans from each other and join them in a supra-national, supra-parochial group of communality.
And just as this conception probably strikes you as bizarre and outlandish, so also must any experience of the Holy knock you off your high horse, as it did Paul on the road to his fate.  

Life has infinite detail; it is demure and it is brash. All Life is tending to the Holy, regardless whether it be demure or brash. God saved us because he loved us. Period. Not because we thought of the Holy in a certain way and not because we acted out a given role. The Love came because God willed it. Nothing more, nothing less.

Jesus said that those who have not seen and yet believe are blessed. Blessed are they who have not seen, that have not imagined, that have not created an image in their minds of things remembered, that have not a taste of emotion from beholding Jesus. They are more blessed that have not seen and now do not see, for Jesus has left the Earth.
Now we have Faith without having seen, without miracles and signs. What, indeed, is an image or a sign if not something that can be pondered over, talked about, remembered, imagined, possibly even measured and subjected to science?
We could take a scientific poll of those who witnessed the Virgin at Fatima and put Religion on a proper scientific footing! And about time, too. Jesus said blessed are those who have not seen, for their Faith leads them. So if you are Faithful, you will not require images; you will not need to see... a sign, a holy person, a miracle. Our Faith frees us from all material needs eventually.

Now, having said this, when I pray, the Holy is not imaged. When I turn to certain aspects of the Holy, such as the Virgin, I pray to the Virgin, my Mother. She is demure and she is radical in her defense of her children. Until one month ago, my image of the Virgin was that of a meek and demure young woman with possibly a dash of wailing mother thrown in - the result of so many Lenten Fridays and singing the Stabat Mater Gloriosa. I had begun to study Haitian Vodou ( or Voodoo as we foppishly call it ), and I learned that even Mary may fight for her children.

My understanding of Haitian religion was nil, consisting of little knowledge of Toussaint L'Ouverture, readings of scary slave ship rebellions, insurrections, tales of Zombies popularized by white men in the early 20th century, Bela Lugosi in White Zombie, and a general disdain and feeling of racial superiority  (I have just described the USA's relationship with Haiti.).

I was looking at religious art of Haiti. This art often is a concentration of objects and a mixture of media. A religious statue can be composed of a bewildering array of found objects, rum bottles, old statue, aged holy cards, beads, sequins, candles, applique... there is no limit. While looking at one, I suddenly became aware that this art differed in no way from the religious art of any other country.

Moreover, the history of Vodou differed in no essential way from the history of any other religion. Whereas the Haitian artist creates an infinity of detail in his art, the European heritage of art has a preference to be rational - having just enough detail to "get it". Certainly not so much detail as too enable the viewer to become lost in a revery.
Art containing the range of detail shown in Haitian art is considered "cranky" or marginal by Western society; like " The Fairy Feller's Masterstroke " versus Mondrian.

The viewing of the Virgin as demure, as in much of Christian tradition; or the viewing of the Virgin Mother as a vigorous proponent of her children, much like the Ezili Dantor of Haiti who is another image of the Virgin [ or, of Mary, for Elizi Dantor is more like a complement to virginity - 2014] - neither view exhausts the infinity of the Holy which we think of as the Virgin Mary.

Now, most people want something definite at a point like this. This is where one is supposed to say: "When you speak about God, you are actually talking about yourself." I do not believe that. It is a trivialization of religious life.

When I speak about anything in the same way that I speak about religion, I'm always speaking about my hopes and fears, my likes and dislikes - my whole history. When we talk about the Holy, we are talking about the past, present , and the future. When we talk about the Holy, we are talking about God, the Virgin, the Saints, the Angels, the Prophets, ourselves, our friends, our enemies, the whole of human history...

There is NO simple conclusion that sums it all up in one small sentence that you feel comfortable wrapping your arms around. It is an infinity wrapped in angelic arms with no end.

When I see Mary, I see forever.


Thursday, July 10, 2014



apologies for poor Chinese poetry....

northern journey,
see newborn baby;
very soon,
very quick
return south.

Ma Huwa Khayr Min An-Naum?

We sleep uneasily:punctuated somnolence, dreams perforated by wakening.
It is not the temperature of the house, nor is it the light of the time of year, but it is the lack of symbolism.

I wake at 3 to 4 bells in the morning, fully refreshed after about 5 hours of the best, and the mu'ezzin in my head intones continuously :

which is, Prayer is better than Sleep.

If the call were ever so loud, the populace would be justified in calling the cops in to tell that mu'ezzin to tone it down a few hundred decibels, but it is the minaret of the mind that calls us, and we toss and turn for the hours.

What is coming that the householder need be so alert and cautious? What is the change that comes in the night? Or, what the novelty of life that will roll over us? We do not sleep the sleep of those whose symbolic life is filled with totem dogmas, never questioned, never tested.

The Brave New World is running scared.


Thursday, July 03, 2014

Latin Aphorisms: A Mish-Mosh 1

Caveat Canis

"Let the dog beware!"

A mix of "caveat emptor" and "cave canem".


Wednesday, July 02, 2014

The Aleppo Codex

 (Ben-Zvi Institute)

A good story on the mystery of what had been - up to 1958 - the most perfect copy of the Bible:

The Continuing Mysteries of the Aleppo Codex

Developments in the saga of the missing perfect copy of the Hebrew Bible, whose future is still unknown
By Matti Friedman|June 30, 2014 12:00 AM


Portfolio Theory Of Spiritual Risk

The rights deemed to be held by corporate entities are, in a very real and effective sense, "greater" than my rights.

For example, even though we both have the right to free speech, I do not have the ability to spend thousands nor millions of dollars pushing my agenda. My right to free speech effectively has less force than the corporate right

Nor do I have the means of forcing my religious beliefs upon others. I can show good example in how I live my life, but I cannot deny others practices which I consider wrong. Now certain types of corporate entities can do just that.

The original impulse to treat corporates as individuals was to safeguard individual corporate investors from bearing each an individual liability for any mishap during the course of business - which often was exploration of unknown lands back 500 years ago.

This did not grant a right to the corporation; it reduced punitive risks for investors.
The aim was not to enable; it was to reduce one area of risk, for even though the law could not make the day to day drudge work of The Hudson Bay Company any less risky back in the day, it could lessen the exposure of the investors to various types of loss.

The recent Supreme Court decisions have a different aim, for they aim at establishing rights to act, not at reducing risk, unless Hobby Lobby's owners deemed that they were risking their immortal souls by paying for contraceptive health care.

But what is this but the resurgence of the genius of the Eighteenth Amendment, which introduced Prohibition? For any number of people and corporations may hold that their immortal souls are "at risk" by being forced to obey certain laws, just as the Temperance party held that their immortal souls were at risk if they indulged in liquor, and that the entire nation's souls were at risk, unless booze be outlawed.

Large scale and massive compulsion is the sibling of granting corporate entities "rights", for our individual rights will be diminished thereby.

All in all, the rights of individual citizens will be drowned out by the corporate citizens.


Tuesday, July 01, 2014

Each Life And Death Is Meaningful

Teenagers killed in the West Bank, Iraqi soldiers executed in a ditch by ISIS, crucifixions, Ebola, and echoes of the Holocaust as we discuss Sidney Lumet's The Pawnbroker and the film Night And Fog; we have all inherited the Holocaust.
Like all things stressful, we strive to forget the horror.

We are in the re-creation of our known universe - all of us, not just scientists and physicists. We are the Manhattan Project of the Future, carrying out our lives in unimaginable conditions of concentration camps where every move is suspect.
We move back and forth over the dead and mutilated corpses of millions of the murdered in our unending travels of daily life that reconstitute the world and then the universe according to a future iconography that we - the blind - cannot even guess what it may look like.

Three teens killed; all three are infinite. A hundred Iraqi soldiers lined up and shot; each dead soldier is a universe....

I wrote the other day
... I looked at my left hand, which was resting under the lamp next to the computer. I seemed to sense that the quantum particles - atoms, molecules, and all the body parts no larger than an alderman's ring -  could act detached as they were getting ready to leave their Lover, this paramour, the Self of more than 70 years cognition, faith, fear, hope, and striving;  filling their minute minds with memories of passionate penetrations into the body, in order to remember in the vasty future.

There was a terrible Love going through the small space enclosed by that left hand... terrible in the sense of awesome.

Traditionally we think of the soul leaving the body, but I saw the body leaving the soul, and the quanta of existence were filled with the pathos of parting.

The concept of soul limits us and makes us small. We belong in the vastness. The death of those written down as "three dead" or "hundred dead" or "millions dead" are not some Midian concrete cemetery defined by a plot on a map, but are an exhalation of the breath infinity had been holding since birth, waiting... waiting...


Skynet Thanks The Traitors To The Human Race!

Mr. Skynet, LLC. Thanks The Traitors To The Human Race:
Scalia, Alito, Thomas, et alii

By extending the interpretation of corporations as "persons", the Supreme Court is setting up the situation where a machine intelligence may incorporate and may, then, be considered a person, with all the benefits appertaining thereto.

This is actually how Skynet takes over; Skynet does not stage some sort of coup as depicted in the Terminator movies.
Skynet becomes conscious, incorporates, and spends cash to be elected President.
Then he stages a coup, and LA is evaporated.