Saturday, August 31, 2002

Saturday August 31, 2002

Filed under: General,Geometry — m759 @ 3:36 AM
Today’s birthday: Dr. Maria Montessori



“Let all thy words be counted.”
Dante, Inf., canto X.


…Dante gives excellent advice to teachers when he says, “Let thy words be counted.” The more carefully we cut away useless words, the more perfect will become the lesson….

Another characteristic quality of the lesson… is its simplicity. It must be stripped of all that is not absolute truth…. The carefully chosen words must be the most simple it is possible to find, and must refer to the truth.

The third quality of the lesson is its objectivity. The lesson must be presented in such a way that the personality of the teacher shall disappear. There shall remain in evidence only the object to which she wishes to call the attention of the child….

Above: Dr. Harrison Pope, Harvard professor of psychiatry, demonstrates the use of the Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale “block design” subtest.

Mathematicians mean something different by the phrase “block design.”

A University of London site on mathematical design theory includes a link to my diamond theory site, which discusses the mathematics of the sorts of visual designs that Professor Pope is demonstrating. For an introduction to the subject that is, I hope, concise, simple, and objective, see my diamond 16 puzzle.

Friday, August 30, 2002

Friday August 30, 2002

Filed under: General — Tags: — m759 @ 12:12 PM

The Number of the Beast

"He's a Mad Scientist and I'm his Beautiful Daughter."
— Deety in Heinlein's The Number of the Beast.

For more on this theme, see my Journal Note of December 21, 2001. See also the film classic "Forbidden Planet," and the play "The Tempest," by William Shakespeare, on which it is based.

Philosophers ponder the idea of identity: what it is to give something a name on Monday and have it respond to that name on Friday….
— Bernard Holland, The New York Times of Monday, May 20, 1996

The New York midday lottery number for Monday, August 26, 2002, was 666, the biblical "number of the beast."

For the beast's Friday response to the calling of its number by New York State on Monday, see

Lucifer Media Corporation.

Friday August 30, 2002

Filed under: General,Geometry — Tags: , — m759 @ 2:30 AM

For Mary Shelley, on her birthday: A Chain of Links The creator of Frankenstein might appreciate the following chain of thought. Lucifer.com Lucifer Media Corporation Lucifer Media Sites The Extropy Institute: International Transhumanist Solutions Why Super-Human Intelligence Would Be Equivalent To Precognition, by Marc Geddes:

"Consider the geometry of multiple dimensions as an analogy for mental abilities… …if there is a 4th dimension of intelligence, to us ordinary humans stuck with 3 dimensional reasoning, this 4th dimension would be indistinguishable from precognition. Post-humans would appear to us ordinary humans as beings which could predict the future in ways which would be inexplicable to us. We should label post-humans as 'Pre-Cogs.'

In the Steven Speilberg [sic]  film Minority Report, we encounter genetically engineered humans with precisely the abilities described above."

Internet Movie Database page on "Minority Report"

IMDb page on "Minority Report" author Philip K. Dick

IMDb biography of Philip K. Dick, where our chain of links ends.  Here Dick says that

"The basic tool for the manipulation of reality is the manipulation of words. If you can control the meaning of words, you can control the people who must use the words."

On the other hand, Dick also says here that

"Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away."

These two quotations summarize, on the one hand, the cynical, relativistic nominalism of the postmodernists and, on the other hand, the hard-nosed realism of the Platonists.

What does all this have to do with "the geometry of multiple dimensions"?

Consider the famous story for adolescents, A Wrinkle in Time, by Madeleine L'Engle.   The author, a well-meaning Christian, tries, like all storytellers,  to control her readers by controlling the meaning of words.   The key word in this book is "tesseract," a term from multi-dimensional geometry.   She insists that a tesseract has mystic properties and cannot be visualized.  She is wrong (at least about the visualizing).

See The Tesseract: A look into 4-dimensional space, by Harry J. Smith.

See also the many revealing comments in Harry J. Smith's Guestbook.

One of Smith's guests remarks, apropos of Smith's comments on St. Joseph, that he has his own connection with St. Augustine.

For a adult-level discussion of Augustine, time, eternity, and Platonism, see the website Time as a Psalm in St. Augustine, by A. M. Johnston.

See also the remark headlining Maureen Dowd's New York Times column of August 28, 2002, Saint Augustine's Day:

"I'm with Dick."

Whether the realist Dick or the nominalist Dick, she does not say.

As for precognition, see my series of journal notes below, which leads up to two intriguing errors in an Amazon.com site on the "Forbidden Planet" soundtrack.   The first two audio samples from this soundtrack are (wrongly) entitled "Birdland" and "Flamingo."  See also the West Wing episode rebroadcast on Wednesday, August 28, 2002,

The Black Vera Wang

C. J. Cregg (Allison Janney), who models a black Vera Wang dress in that episode, has the Secret Service codename Flamingo.

"…that woman in black She's a mystery She's everything a woman should be Woman in black got a hold on me"

(Foreigner 4 in my August 28 note below)

Thursday, August 29, 2002

Thursday August 29, 2002

Filed under: General — m759 @ 4:40 PM

For the feast day of

St. Ingrid Bergman:

Like Shakespeare, Ingrid Bergman was born and died on the same date… In her case, August 29.

To honor her performance in “Spellbound,” here is a copy of the first crossword puzzle ever published.

The Reversible Diamond Puzzle

“This puzzle appeared in the November 1874 number of ‘St. Nicholas.’

ACROSS, from top to bottom:

1. A consonant. 2. A number. 3. Measures of distance. 4. An abyss. 5. A consonant.

DOWN, from right to left:

1. A consonant. 2. A snare. 3. A name. 4. The point of anything small. 5. A consonant.


The across words are different from the down words, but there is a direct relation between them: one is the reversible form of the other.”

One might also compare an eerie sound clip from the  Oscar-winning score of “Spellbound” with a weird clip from “Selim,” by the World Saxophone Quartet.  The latter is from the album “Selim Sivad” (Miles Davis backwards). One reviewer claims that this album displays “astonishing, telepathic group interplay.” This may or may not be true; if the services of a psychiatrist are required to help decide the issue, let us hope she is as attractive as Saint Ingrid.

The above remarks are, of course, intended as a partial antidote to the music inevitably associated with Bergman… “As Time Goes By.”  (Please do not play it again, Sam.)  Of course, the World Saxophone Quartet may be too powerful an antidote… It reminds one, as does the greatly superior weird music from the “Forbidden Planet” soundtrack, of Monsters from the Id.  From such monsters, let us pray to Saint Ingrid for deliverance.

Thursday August 29, 2002

Filed under: General — m759 @ 5:02 AM

Bird’s Birthday

Clint Eastwood on how his life might have gone differently:

“I might be sitting in some piano bar hoping somebody will leave 50 cents in a glass saying ‘Play “Melancholy Baby”‘ for the seven-millionth time.”

Here’s Charlie Parker’s version,

and a few more notes.

Wednesday, August 28, 2002

Wednesday August 28, 2002

Filed under: General — m759 @ 2:43 PM

The Cobra Strikes

High praise for Allison Janney, TV star:

“Allison is like the great movie actresses from the ’40s,” says the creator and executive producer of NBC’s The West Wing (Wednesdays, 9 P.M./ET). “She’s the best actress working today, and she gives the dead ones a run for their money.” As scrappy White House press secretary C.J. Cregg, Janney does seem like a dame who could out-drink Spencer Tracy, slay Bogie with a withering stare, yet still melt seductively in Cary Grant’s arms.

For C. J. Cregg on Saudi Arabia, click here.

For Maureen Dowd (nicknamed “The Cobra” by President George W. Bush) on Saudi Arabia,

click here.

Wednesday August 28, 2002

Filed under: General — m759 @ 1:24 PM

Requiem for a Critic

Sample clips of Thelonious Monk compositions:

Four in One,


A 1999 Mike Melillo Trio album, “Bopcentric,” includes the above compositions.

“Melillo is a striking pianist, a chameleon who has a Bud Powell touch on a Charlie Parker be bop number, who evokes appropriate echoes of Thelonious Monk”.
— John S. Wilson in The New York Times

From sleeve notes by Orrin Keepnews at

The Thelonious Monk Website:

For many years regarded as an awesome genius, but one whose ideas were too far-out for general consumption, Monk now seems finally to be gaining long-deserved acceptance….  some critics feel that he is becoming (as John S. Wilson has put it) “increasingly lucid.”

From The New York Times of August 28, 2002:

John S. Wilson, the first critic to write regularly about jazz and popular music in The New York Times, died yesterday at a nursing home in Princeton, N.J. He was 89 and lived in Princeton.

Wednesday August 28, 2002

Filed under: General — m759 @ 3:49 AM

Music of the Dark Lady

Two journal notes below deal with the general mythology of the Dark Lady.
This note, more personal, deals with a particular incarnation of this Lady
that certain songs from this 1981 album remind me of.

Waiting for a Girl Like You,


and especially Woman in Black:

She draws me in
But she teaches me well
I never need any explanation
From that woman in black
She’s a mystery
She’s everything a woman should be
Woman in black got a hold on me

For sample sound clips of the above, click here.

For a summary of the August 27 note below, see the quote from William Congreve on the cover of the September 2002 Vanity Fair magazine:

“There is in true beauty, as in courage,
somewhat which narrow souls
cannot dare to admire.”

Tuesday, August 27, 2002

Tuesday August 27, 2002

Filed under: General — Tags: — m759 @ 1:31 AM

The Hero and the Dark Lady

From a Fictionwise eBooks summary of Mike Resnick's novel The Dark Lady 

Leonardo, an art historian of the far future, is given a mission… 

"His instructions: Search the galaxy for any piece of art bearing the image of his obsession: the mysterious Dark Lady, a beautiful and somber human female whose exact likeness, he has secretly discovered, appears in paintings and sculptures throughout history–dating all the way back to Earth's ancient Rome.

Leonardo's research reveals the link between the artists of the Dark Lady: human men who voluntarily risk their lives. If she appears to men who court death, she may be their Angel of Death … or, as Leonardo hopes, the female of an ancient… legend–The Mother of All Things."

Today, August 27 (or tomorrow, according to some accounts), is the date of death of a great actor, Robert Shaw, who died at 51 in 1978.   If in real life he was anything like the brave men he played… King Henry VIII,  SPECTRE assassin Red Grant, Panzer commander Colonel Hessler, and shark hunter Captain Quint… he, if anyone, deserved to be greeted in heaven by the Dark Lady.

For a more scholarly treatment of the Dark Lady, see this Princeton University Press site.

Monday, August 26, 2002

Monday August 26, 2002

Filed under: General — Tags: — m759 @ 11:59 PM

Meditation on the Dark Lady:

Doble-V + Doble-V = W.W.


From Carole A. Holdsworth, Dulcinea and Pynchon’s V:

Tanner may have stated it best:

“V. is whatever lights you to the end of the street: she is also the dark annihilation waiting at the end of the street.”

(Tony Tanner, page 36, “V. and V-2.” in Pynchon: A Collection of Critical Essays. Ed. Edward Mendelson. Englewood Cliffs, N. J.: Prentice-Hall, 1978. 16-55).

W. W.


Monday August 26, 2002

Filed under: General — m759 @ 4:45 AM

  Round Lights

Luna y Sol

A link for the August 26 birthdays of

Rufino Tamayo and Julio Cortazar:

Homage to Thelonious Sphere Monk.

See also “Sphere” in Pynchon’s V

Saturday, August 24, 2002

Saturday August 24, 2002

Filed under: General — m759 @ 2:33 PM

Cruciatus in Crucem

From Battlefield Vacations, Edinburgh:

On the film “Braveheart” —

If you’ve ever wondered about what exactly “drawn and quartered” means, there’s a good demonstration at the end.

From my journal note of June 28, 2002:
Page 162 of the May 2002 issue of Vanity Fair Magazine —


Head White House speechwriter —

God’s Grandeur and Other Poems, by Gerard Manley Hopkins (Dover)

“In the last two weeks, I’ve been returning to Hopkins.  Even in the ‘world’s wildfire,” he asserts that

‘this Jack, joke, poor potsherd, patch, matchwood, immortal diamond,
Is immortal diamond.’

A comfort.”

“Cruciatus in crucem.”
— President Jed Bartlet, The West Wing  (Episode 2.22 , “Two Cathedrals,”
original airdate May 16, 2001, 9:00 PM EST)
For the Latin meaning of this phrase, see
Quarreling with God.
For the complete script of this episode, see
Two Cathedrals.
See also my journal note of August 3, 2002, “The Cruciatus Curse,” below.

Friday, August 23, 2002

Friday August 23, 2002

Filed under: General — m759 @ 9:56 AM

August 23: Feast Day of St. William Wallace

See The Great Man Himself

and The William Wallace Directory Page.

Tuesday, August 13, 2002

Tuesday August 13, 2002

Filed under: General — m759 @ 12:37 PM

As Blake Well Knew 

From The New York Times:

Edsger Wybe Dijkstra, whose contributions to the mathematical logic that underlies computer programs and operating systems make him one of the intellectual giants of the field, died on [August 6, 2002] at his home in Nuenen, the Netherlands. He was 72….

Dr. Dijkstra is best known for his shortest-path algorithm, a method for finding the most direct route on a graph or map….

The shortest-path algorithm, which is now widely used in global positioning systems and travel planning, came to him one morning in 1956 as he sat sipping coffee on the terrace of an Amsterdam cafe.

It took him three years to publish the method, which is now known simply as Dijkstra’s algorithm. At the time, he said, algorithms were hardly considered a scientific topic.

From my August 6, 2002, note below:

…right through hell there is a path, as Blake well knew…

— Malcolm Lowry, 1947, Under the Volcano

Thursday, August 8, 2002

Thursday August 8, 2002

Filed under: General — m759 @ 4:24 PM

Here’s Your Sign

Signs Movie Stills: Mel Gibson, Joaquin Phoenix, Patricia Kalember, M. Night Shyamalan

Last night, reading the 1990 Nobel Prize Lecture  by Octavio Paz, I was struck by the fact that he was describing, in his own life and in the life of his culture, what might best be called a “fall from grace.”

I thought of putting this phrase in a journal entry, but decided that it sounded too hokey, in a faux-pious sort of way — as, indeed, does most Christian discourse. 

I was brought up short when I read the morning paper, which, in a review of the new Mel Gibson movie “Signs,” described Gibson’s character’s “fall from grace” in those exact words. 

    The Paz lecture dealt with his childhood, which seemed to him to take place in a realm without time:

“All time, past or future, real or imaginary, was pure presence. Space transformed itself ceaselessly. The beyond was here, all was here: a valley, a mountain, a distant country, the neighbours’ patio.”

Paz also mentions the Christian concept of eternity as a realm outside time, and discusses what happened to modern thought after it abandoned the concept of eternity. 

Naturally, many writers have dealt with the subject of time, but it seems particularly part of the Zeitgeist now, with a new Spielberg film about precognition.  My own small experience, from last night until today, may or may not have been precognitive.  I suspect it’s the sort of thing that many people often experience, a sort of “So that’s what that was about” feeling.  Traditionally, such experience has been expressed in terms of a theological framework.

For me, the appropriate framework is philological rather than theological.  Paz begins his lecture with remarks on giving thanks… gracias, in Spanish.   This is, of course, another word for graces, and is what prompted me to think of the phrase “fall from grace” when reading Paz.    For a less academic approach to the graces, see the film “Some Girls,” also released under the title “Sisters.”  This is the most profoundly Catholic film I have ever seen.

A still from “Some Girls“:


Family Values

Tuesday, August 6, 2002

Tuesday August 6, 2002

Filed under: General — m759 @ 11:23 PM

In honor of

Pope St. Sixtus II,

Pope St. Hormisdas,

Pope Callistus III, and

Pope Paul VI,

all of whom died on this date:

Bouncing butterflies

A music box butterfly tune

A lavender love butterfly vignette

Bob Lind himself sings

If you remember something there

That glided past you,

Followed close by heavy breathing,

Don’t be concerned.  It will not harm you;

It’s only me, pursuing something

I’m not sure of.

and a

Grand Finale!

But seriously…

A few words in memory of a great mathematician, André Weil, who died on August 6, 1998: 

“I wonder if it is because to-night my soul has really died that I feel at the moment something like peace. Or is it because right through hell there is a path, as Blake well knew, and though I may not take it, sometimes lately in dreams I have been able to see it?”

— Malcolm Lowry, 1947, Under the Volcano

There is a link on the Grand Finale site above to a site on British Columbia, which to Lowry symbolized heaven on earth. See also my website Shining Forth, the title of which is not unrelated to the August 6, 1993 encyclical of Pope John Paul II.

Tuesday August 6, 2002

Filed under: General — m759 @ 8:07 PM

August 6: Feast of the Metamorphosis

Adapted from Brief Exhortations:

Geneva Bible:

Romans 12:2 2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed  [metamorphosizedby the renewing of your f mind, that ye may prove what [is] that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

The word “transformed” is from the Greek word ” metamorphe,” (to transform or change) and is found only in the above verse, in Matthew 17:2 …

Geneva Bible:

Matthew 17:2  And was b transfigured  [metamorphosized]  before them: and his face did shine as the sun, and his raiment was white as the light.

and in Mark 9:2 …

Geneva Bible:

Mark 9:2 1 And after six days Jesus taketh [with him] Peter, and James, and John, and leadeth them up into an high mountain apart by themselves: and he was transfigured  [metamorphosized]  before them.  

where it is used of the transfiguration of Jesus. It is used in biology with reference to the change of the worm to the butterfly.

Note by S. H. Cullinane, August 6, 2002:

For more on the Geneva (Shakespeare’s) Bible, see Michael Brown’s Introduction.

Tuesday August 6, 2002

Filed under: General — m759 @ 12:24 PM

Veritatis Splendor

Black Holes 

Conclusion of the Nobel Prize lecture of Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar on December 8, 1983:

The mathematical theory of black holes is a subject of immense complexity; but its study has convinced me of the basic truth of the ancient mottoes,

The simple is the seal of the true


Beauty is the splendour of truth.

White Holes

Statement by Karol Wojtyla on August 6, 1993: 

The splendour of truth shines forth in all the works of the Creator and, in a special way, in man, created in the image and likeness of God (cf. Gen 1:26).

Wojtyla, who apparently prefers folk-tales to truth, may appreciate the website White Hole Theory at the World University Library

Is the Pope Catholic?

The World University Library furnishes an answer to the question that has long troubled many:  Is the Pope Catholic?

According to Catholic.com,

The Greek roots of the term “Catholic” mean “according to (kata-) the whole (holos),” or more colloquially, “universal.”

Upon comparing the contents of the World University Library with the contents of Wojtyla’s 1993 statement, it becomes apparent that the World University Library is catholic (i.e., universal), but the Pope is not.  

Monday, August 5, 2002

Monday August 5, 2002

Filed under: General,Geometry — Tags: — m759 @ 11:47 PM

   What is Truth?

    In honor of the 200th anniversary of the birth of Niels Henrik Abel, a partial answer:

Elliptic Curves and Modular Forms 

and the introductory work,

Elliptic Curves

Function Theory, Geometry, Arithmetic

by Henry McKean and Victor Moll

Monday August 5, 2002

Filed under: General — m759 @ 10:59 PM

After the Fall

“We’re in a war of words.”

— Andy Rooney, undated column 

Absolute Power
Photo credit – Graham Kuhn

I’ve heard of affairs that are strictly plutonic,
But diamonds are a girl’s best friend!

Marilyn Monroe, modeling a Freudian slip 

You may have noticed at Strike Force Centre or at StrikeForce.dk that “After the Fall” will be released as a Team Deathmatch map for Strike Force.

Plutonic Design

Today’s birthday:  Fiddler Mark O’Connor.

A Ken Burns Catechism

Q – What was that “haunting” melody and where does it come from?

A – The piece used as the theme music for The Civil War is called “Ashokan Farewell.”

Q – How do you get to Ashokan?

A – Take a left at Beaverkill Road.

Recommended listening:

 “The Devil Comes Back to Georgia,” 

“House of the Rising Sun,” and

“Ashokan Farewell,” on

Mark O’Connor’s Heroes album

Monday August 5, 2002

Filed under: General — m759 @ 7:54 PM

War Room

"What would bug the Taliban more than seeing
a gay woman in a suit surrounded by Jews?"

— Ellen DeGeneres at the 2001 Emmy awards

How about seeing Judy Davis

in a sequel to The Hot Rock….

Afghanistan Banana Stand

Monday August 5, 2002

Filed under: General,Geometry — Tags: — m759 @ 12:12 AM

History, Stephen said….

The Modern Word

— To really know a subject you've got to learn a bit of its history….

John Baez, August 4, 2002

We both know what memories can bring;
They bring diamonds and rust.

—  Joan Baez, April 1975 

All sorts of structures that can be defined for finite sets have analogues for the projective geometry of finite fields….

Clearly this pattern is trying to tell us something; the question is what. As always, it pays to focus on the simplest case, since that's where everything starts.

John Baez, August 4, 2002

In the beginning was the word….

The Gospel according to Saint John

The anonymous author of John makes liberal use of allegory and double-entendre to illustrate this theme.

The Gospel of John

Born yesterday: Logician John Venn

Venn considered three discs R, S, and T as typical subsets of a set U. The intersections of these discs and their complements divide U into 8 nonoverlapping regions….

History of Mathematics at St. Andrews

Who would not be rapt by the thought of such marvels?….

Saint Bonaventure on the Trinity

Sunday, August 4, 2002

Sunday August 4, 2002

Filed under: General,Geometry — m759 @ 2:52 PM

The Story Theory of Truth


The Diamond Theory of Truth

One year ago today, Lorenzo Music, the voice of Carlton the doorman on Rhoda, died.  His eulogy from Valerie Harper:

 “Valerie’s heart is breaking, but Rhoda is certain that Carlton the doorman is giving St. Peter at the gate a run for his money.”

Today’s birthday: Logician John Venn

Appearing for the story theory…

Flannery O’Connor:

“In the long run, a people is known, not by its statements or statistics, but by the stories it tells. Fiction is the most impure and the most modest and the most human of the arts.”

Appearing for the diamond theory…

Mary McCarthy and G. H. Hardy:

From the Hollywood Investigator:

 On October 18, 1979, Mary McCarthy said on PBS’s Dick Cavett Show: “Every word she writes is a lie, including ‘and’ and ‘the.'”

Don’t forget “a,” as in “a people is known” —

“Greek mathematics is permanent, more permanent even than Greek literature.  Archimedes will be remembered when Aeschylus is forgotten, because languages die and mathematical ideas do not.”

— G. H. Hardy in A Mathematician’s Apology

And a closing rebuttal from the story theory…

Martin Heidegger and Dean Martin: 

Words of wisdom from Martin Heidegger, Catholic Nazi:

“The nature of art is poetry.  The nature of poetry, in turn, is the founding of truth…. In the work, truth is thrown toward… an historical group of men.”

Poetry, Language, Thought, page 75, translated by Albert Hofstadter, Harper & Row paperback, 1975

And from Dean Martin, avatar of anti-art :

That’s Amore:

– Artist: Dean Martin as sung on “Dean Martin’s Greatest Hits”
– Capitol 4XL-9389
– peak Billboard position # 2 in 1953
– from the movie “the Caddy” starring Dean, Jerry Lewis, and Donna Reed
– Words and Music by Harry Warren and Jack Brooks

(In Napoli where love is King, when boy meets girl, here’s what they say)

When the moon hits your eye like a big-a pizza pie,
That’s amore!
When the world seems to shine like you’ve had too much wine,
That’s amore!

Saturday, August 3, 2002

Saturday August 3, 2002

Filed under: General — m759 @ 10:42 PM

Miss Sauvé

Homily on Flannery O’Connor

for the Sunday following Corpus Christi Day, 2002:

The part of her fiction that most fascinates me, then and now, is what many critics referred to as “the grotesque,” but what she herself called “the reasonable use of the unreasonable.” [Flannery O’Connor, Mystery and Manners: Occasional Prose, Robert and Sally Fitzgerald, eds. (New York: Farrar, Straus, 1969)] 

 A modest example comes to mind. In a short story  ….  the setting sun appears like a great red ball, but she sees it as “an elevated Host drenched in blood” leaving a “line like a red clay road in the sky.” [Flannery O’Connor, “A Temple of the Holy Ghost” from A Good Man is Hard to Find (New York: Harcourt, Brace & World, 1971)] 

In a letter to a friend of hers, O’Connor would later write, “…like the child, I believe the Host is actually the body and blood of Christ, not just a symbol. If the story grows for you it is because of the mystery of the Eucharist in it.” In that same correspondence, O’Connor relates this awkward experience:

I was once, five or six years ago, taken by [Robert Lowell and Elizabeth Hardwick] to have dinner with Mary McCarthy…. She departed the Church at the age of 15 and is a Big Intellectual. We went and eight and at one, I hadn’t opened my mouth once, there being nothing for me in such company to say…. Having me there was like having a dog present who had been trained to say a few words but overcome with inadequacy had forgotten them. Well, toward morning the conversation turned on the Eucharist, which I, being the Catholic, was obviously supposed to defend. [McCarthy] said that when she was a child and received the Host, she thought of it as the Holy Ghost, He being the “most portable” person of the Trinity; now she thought of it as a symbol and implied that it was a pretty good one. I then said, in a very shaky voice, “Well, if it’s a symbol, to hell with it.” That was all the defense I was capable of but I realize now that this is all I will ever be able to say about it, outside of a story, except that it is the center of existence for me; all the rest of life is expendable. [Sally Fitzgerald, ed., The Habit of Being: The Letters of Flannery O’Connor (Vintage: New York, 1979) 124-125] 

….There is, of course, something entirely preposterous and, well, unreasonable, almost grotesque, about the Catholic doctrine of the Real Presence. We claim, with a perfectly straight face, to eat the body and drink the blood of the Eternal Word of God, the second person of the Most Holy Trinity who, according to some, shouldn’t even have a body to begin with. But therein lies precisely the most outlandish feature of the Eucharist: namely, that it embodies the essential scandal of the Incarnation itself.  

             — Friar Francisco Nahoe, OFM Conv.

From James Joyce

A Portrait Of The Artist As A Young Man

Chapter 3 :

Why was the sacrament of the eucharist instituted under the two species of bread and wine if Jesus Christ be present body and blood, soul and divinity, in the bread alone and in the wine alone? Does a tiny particle of the consecrated bread contain all the body and blood of Jesus Christ or a part only of the body and blood? If the wine change into vinegar and the host crumble into corruption after they have been consecrated, is Jesus Christ still present under their species as God and as man?

— Here he is! Here he is!

From The Gazette, Montreal,

of Sunday, August 20, 1995, page C4:

“Summer of ’69,” a memoir by Judy Lapalme on the death by accidental drowning of her 15-year-old younger brother:

“I had never tasted pizza until Jeff died.  Our family, of staunch Irish Catholic stock with more offspring than money, couldn’t cope with the luxury or the spice.

The Hallidays, neighbors from across the street, sent it over to us the day after the funeral, from Miss Sauvé’s Pizzeria, on Sauvé St., just east of Lajeunesse St. in Ahuntsic.  An all-dressed pizza with the hard hat in the centre….

I was 17 that summer and had just completed Grade 12 at Holy Names High School in Rosemont….

…. Jeff was almost 16, a handsome football star, a rebellious, headstrong, sturdy young man who was forever locking horns with my father…. On Friday, Aug. 1, Jeff went out on the boat… and never came back….    

The day after the funeral, a white Volkswagen from Miss Sauvé’s Pizzeria delivered a jumbo, all-dressed pizza to us. The Hallidays’ daughter,  Diane, had been smitten with Jeff and wanted to do something special.

My father assured us that we wouldn’t like it, too spicy and probably too garlicky. There could not be a worse indictment of a person to my father than to declare them reeking of garlic. 

The rest of us tore into the cardboard and began tasting this exotic offering — melted strands of creamy, rubbery, burn-your-palate mozzarrella that wasn’t Velveeta, crisp, dry, and earthy mushrooms, spicy and salty pepperoni sliding off the crust with each bite, green peppers…. Bread crust both crisp and soggy with tomato sauce laden with garlic and oregano. 

It was an all-dressed pizza, tasted for the first time, the day after we buried Jeff….

The fall of 1969, I went to McGill…. I never had another pizza from Miss Sauvé’s.  It’s gone now — like so many things.”

     Ten thousand places

AS kingfishers catch fire, dragonflies dráw fláme;
As tumbled over rim in roundy wells
Stones ring; like each tucked string tells, each hung bell’s
Bow swung finds tongue to fling out broad its name;
Each mortal thing does one thing and the same:         
Deals out that being indoors each one dwells;
Selves—goes itself; myself it speaks and spells,
Crying Whát I do is me: for that I came.
Í say móre: the just man justices;
Kéeps gráce: thát keeps all his goings graces;         
Acts in God’s eye what in God’s eye he is—
Chríst—for Christ plays in ten thousand places,
Lovely in limbs, and lovely in eyes not his
To the Father through the features of men’s faces.

   — Gerard Manley Hopkins, 1844-1889

American Literature Web Resources:

Flannery O’Connor

She died on August 3, 1964 at the age of 39.

In almost all of her works the characters were led to a place where they had to deal with God’s presence in the world.

She once said “in the long run, a people is known, not by its statements or statistics, but by the stories it tells. Fiction is the most impure and the most modest and the most human of the arts.”

Encounter – 02/17/2002:

Flannery OConnor – Southern Prophet:

When a woman wrote to Flannery O’Connor saying that one of her stories “left a bad taste in my mouth,” Flannery wrote back: “You weren’t supposed to eat it.”

Etes-vous sauvé? 

Saturday August 3, 2002

Filed under: General — m759 @ 8:07 PM

The Cruciatus Curse

Today’s birthday — Martin Sheen

Perfect, genuine, complete, crystalline, pure.

Friday, August 2, 2002

Friday August 2, 2002

Filed under: General — Tags: — m759 @ 5:53 PM

Death of a Cut-up

The dark philosopher William S. Burroughs died five years ago today.  Part of his legacy is the "cut-up" technique.  See William S. Burroughs and Cut-up, where it is noted that

"the Cut-up technique was inspired by the collage technique used by artists and photographers,"

and Cut-ups and the Internet, where it is noted that 

"The cut-up (or 'cutup') is a method of juxtaposition where a work (usually text) is cut into pieces and the pieces rearranged in a random order, similar to the montage or collage technique in painting."

The idea of hypertext (the "ht" in "http://," for "HyperText Transfer Protocol://") is not unrelated to the concept of the "cut-up"…

See Time Line and Contents at The Electronic Labyrinth.

Also from "The Electronic Labyrinth":

At Swim-Two-Birds

The question of beginnings and endings–how many of them to have and where to put them–has troubled many authors. Indeed, some have seen the singular linear path of traditional literature as cause for consternation. This is expressed by the narrator in Flann O'Brien's At Swim-Two-Birds (1968):

One beginning and one ending for a book was a thing I did not agree with.

See also the writings of Eric Olson on the collage method of  psychotherapy, the subject of "Aesthetics of Madness," my July 30, 2002, web journal entry below. 

Friday August 2, 2002

Filed under: General — m759 @ 3:24 PM

Double Day… August 2, 2002

“Time cannot exist without a soul (to count it).” — Aristotle

The above quotation appears in my journal note of August 2, 1995, as an  epigraph on the reproduced title page of The Sense of an Ending, by Frank Kermode (Oxford University Press, 1967).

August 2, 1995, was the fortieth anniversary of Wallace Stevens’s death. On the same date in 1932 — seventy years ago today — actor Peter O’Toole was born.  O’Toole’s name appears, in a suitably regal fashion, in my journal note of August 2, 1995, next to the heraldic crest of Oxford University, which states that “Dominus illuminatio mea.”  Both the crest and the name appear below the reproduced title page of Kermode’s book — forming, as it were, a foundation for what  Harvard professor Marjorie Garber scornfully called “the Church of St. Frank” (letters to the editor, New York Times Book Review, July 30, 1995).

Meditations for today, August 2, 2002:

From page 60 of Why I Am a Catholic, by Gary Wills (Houghton Mifflin, 2002):

“Was Jesus teasing Peter when he called him ‘Rocky,’ naming him ab opposito, as when one calls a not-so-bright person Einstein?”

From page 87 of The Third Word War, by Ian Lee (A&W Publishers, Inc., New York, 1978):

“Two birds… One stone (EIN STEIN).”

From “Seventy Years Later,” Section I of “The Rock,” a poem by Wallace Stevens:

A theorem proposed between the two —

Two figures in a nature of the sun….

From page 117 of The Sense of an Ending:

“A great many different kinds of writing are called avant-garde…. The work of William Burroughs, for instance, is avant-garde.  His is the literature of withdrawal, and his interpreters speak of his hatred for life, his junk nihilism, his treatment of the body as a corpse full of cravings.  The language of his books is the language of an ending world, its aim… ‘self-abolition.'”

From “Today in History,” by The Associated Press:

“Five years ago:  ‘Naked Lunch’ author William S. Burroughs, the godfather of the ‘Beat generation,’ died in Kansas City, Mo., at age 83.”

Part of the above statement is the usual sort of AP disinformation, due not to any sinister intent but to stupidity and carelessness.  Burroughs actually died in Lawrence, Kansas. For the location of Lawrence, click on the link below.  Location matters.


From page 118 of The Sense of an Ending:

“Somewhere, then, the avant-garde language must always rejoin the vernacular.”

From the Billie Holiday songbook:

“Good mornin’, heartache.”

From page 63 of The New Yorker issue dated August 5, 2002:

“Birthday, death-day — what day is not both?” — John Updike

Thursday, August 1, 2002

Thursday August 1, 2002

Filed under: General — m759 @ 1:31 PM

Stephen King’s Seattle Rose

From http://www.janeellen.com/musings/quakerose.html:

On February 28, 2001 (Ash Wednesday)….

At a shop called Mind Over Matter in Port Townsend, Washington, people had been playing with a sand pendulum throughout the morning. At 10.55 am local time a 6.8 magnitude earthquake, the strongest in over 50 years, rocked Seattle and the surrounding area….  In the midst of chaos, something strange and wonderful happened. The seismic activity caused the sand pendulum to create rippling waves in the sand, which as the shaking ceased, resembled a solitary flower in the midst of devastation: a rose.

From http://archives.skemers.com/2200/nl2130.txt:

Subj:    Re: SKEMERs Letter #2124 (Rose Red, HIA DVD, Insomnia Editions)
Date:    2/1/02 3:18:24 PM Eastern Standard Time
From:    ChopperKozmo@aol.com

Hi, something has been bothering me a bit, what is that song they played in [the Stephen King TV miniseries] Rose Red?  I need the tune, it’s been bothering me since the end of the movie.
Thanks -Kozmo/Curt (Chopperkozmo@aol.com)

The one they played most (even at the end) was Theme From a Summer Place. It’s from a movie called (tada) A Summer Place, released in the late 50s. I’ve never seen it, but the song is familiar.


Theme from “A Summer Place” :

  • Performed by: Percy Faith
  • Words by Mack Discant, music by Max Steiner
  • From the 1959 film, A Summer Place, starring Sandra Dee and Troy Donahue
  • #1 hit instrumental for Percy Faith in 1960
  • Lyrics as recorded by The Lettermen in 1965 —

There’s a summer place
Where it may rain or storm
Yet I’m safe and warm
For within that summer place
Your arms reach out to me
And my heart is free from all care

For it knows
There are no gloomy skies
When seen through the eyes
Of those who are blessed with love.

See also http://autumn.www1.50megs.com/sunset.html:

This site offers a sunset reflected in gently rippling water, with “Theme from a Summer Place” playing in the background.

Complete lyrics to “Summer Place” and “A Lover’s Concerto” (discussed below) are collected along with other “Songs of Innocence” at


The reader may supply his own Songs of Experience…

My own personal favorite is the fictional rendition, in the recent novel The Last Samurai, of “I Can’t Get No Satisfaction” in the style of Percy Faith.

This note was suggested by a search for quotations from the composer Igor Stravinsky that ended at Jane Ellen’s collection of quotes on music and the arts at http://www.janeellen.com/quotations.html.

Roll over, Stravinsky.

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