Monday, September 30, 2002

Monday September 30, 2002

Filed under: General — m759 @ 11:47 PM



  • On the author of The Virgin Suicides:
    “Eugenides’ [strength] is his prodigious grasp of history and ancestry as limitless fields that surround us and through which we travel, both forward and backward, toward our unknown destination.”
    Review of Middlesex
  • On stories and life:
    “The story of Cal… the narrator and protagonist of Middlesex, suggests that while facts can tell us a great deal about life, they are never quite sufficient to the task.”
     — Review of Middlesex
  • On the film “East of Eden”:
    “East of Eden was in need of a Cal, and Elia Kazan, the director, found Cal in James Dean.”
    The Life of James Dean 

Monday September 30, 2002

Filed under: General — m759 @ 7:00 PM

Today’s birthday:
Deborah Kerr

From Dr. Mac’s Cultural Calendar:

“Film star Deborah Kerr was born on this day in 1921.
Her signature film is Night of the Iguana.”

Is he

Monday September 30, 2002

Filed under: General — m759 @ 6:21 PM

Meditation for the Feast of
Saint James Dean

From a Xanga journalist in the wee small hours:

Sara Teasdale

Pulitzer Prize for Poetry, 1918
committed suicide, 1933
Sylvia Plath Pulitzer Prize for Poetry
(posthumous), 1982
committed suicide, 1963
Anne Sexton Pulitzer Prize for Poetry, 1967
committed suicide, 1974

For your consideration:

From the twilight zone:
The Virgin Suicides

From the school zone:
Lost in the 50’s

I think I’ll stick with Olivia Newton-John, the cast of “Grease,” and the school zone.

Sunday, September 29, 2002

Sunday September 29, 2002

Filed under: General — m759 @ 11:54 PM

Angel Night

In honor of Ellis Larkins, jazz musician, who died on Sunday, September 29, 2002, the feast of Saint Michael and All Angels, here is the best midi rendition I can find of the classic melody “Angel Eyes.”

(This entry was actually made on October 3, 2002, but I had saved a place for it on Michaelmas.  The midi is from Wesley Dick’s Juke Box page.  For some classic New Orleans funeral music, go to Dick’s home page.)

Sunday September 29, 2002

Filed under: General — m759 @ 10:18 PM

New from Miracle Pictures

Pi in the Sky
for Michaelmas 2002

“Fear not, maiden, your prayer is heard.
Michael am I, guardian of the highest Word.”

A Michaelmas Play

Contact, by Carl Sagan:

Chapter 1 – Transcendental Numbers

  In the seventh grade they were studying “pi.” It was a Greek letter that looked like the architecture at Stonehenge, in England: two vertical pillars with a crossbar at the top. If you measured the circumference of a circle and then divided it by the diameter of the circle, that was pi. At home, Ellie took the top of a mayonnaise jar, wrapped a string around it, straightened the string out, and with a ruler measured the circle’s circumference. She did the same with the diameter, and by long division divided the one number by the other. She got 3.21. That seemed simple enough.

  The next day the teacher, Mr. Weisbrod, said that pi was about 22/7, about 3.1416. But actually, if you wanted to be exact, it was a decimal that went on and on forever without repeating the pattern of numbers. Forever, Ellie thought. She raised her hand. It was the beginning of the school year and she had not asked any questions in this class.
  “How could anybody know that the decimals go on and on forever?”
  “That’s just the way it is,” said the teacher with some asperity.
  “But why? How do you know? How can you count decimals forever?”
  “Miss Arroway” – he was consulting his class list – “this is a stupid question. You’re wasting the class’s time.”

  No one had ever called Ellie stupid before and she found herself bursting into tears….

  After school she bicycled to the library at the nearby college to look through books on mathematics. As nearly as she could figure out from what she read, her question wasn’t all that stupid. According to the Bible, the ancient Hebrews had apparently thought that pi was exactly equal to three. The Greeks and Romans, who knew lots of things about mathematics, had no idea that the digits in pi went on forever without repeating. It was a fact that had been discovered only about 250 years ago. How was she expected to know if she couldn’t ask questions? But Mr. Weisbrod had been right about the first few digits. Pi wasn’t 3.21. Maybe the mayonnaise lid had been a little squashed, not a perfect circle. Or maybe she’d been sloppy in measuring the string. Even if she’d been much more careful, though, they couldn’t expect her to measure an infinite number of decimals.

  There was another possibility, though. You could calculate pi as accurately as you wanted. If you knew something called calculus, you could prove formulas for pi that would let you calculate it to as many decimals as you had time for. The book listed formulas for pi divided by four. Some of them she couldn’t understand at all. But there were some that dazzled her: pi/4, the book said, was the same as 1 – 1/3 + 1/5 – 1/7 + …, with the fractions continuing on forever. Quickly she tried to work it out, adding and subtracting the fractions alternately. The sum would bounce from being bigger than pi/4 to being smaller than pi/4, but after a while you could see that this series of numbers was on a beeline for the right answer. You could never get there exactly, but you could get as close as you wanted if you were very patient. It seemed to her

a miracle

 Cartoon by S.Harris

that the shape of every circle in the world was connected with this series of fractions. How could circles know about fractions? She was determined to learn


  The book said something else: pi was called a “transcendental” number. There was no equation with ordinary numbers in it that could give you pi unless it was infinitely long. She had already taught herself a little algebra and understood what this meant. And pi wasn’t the only transcendental number. In fact there was an infinity of transcendental numbers. More than that, there were infinitely more transcendental numbers that ordinary numbers, even though pi was the only one of them she had ever heard of. In more ways than one, pi was tied to infinity.

  She had caught a glimpse of something majestic.

Chapter 24 – The Artist’s Signature

  The anomaly showed up most starkly in Base 2 arithmetic, where it could be written out entirely as zeros and ones. Her program reassembled the digits into a square raster, an equal number across and down. Hiding in the alternating patterns of digits, deep inside the transcendental number, was a perfect circle, its form traced out by unities in a field of noughts.

  The universe was made on purpose, the circle said. In whatever galaxy you happen to find yourself, you take the circumference of a circle, divide it by its diameter, measure closely enough, and uncover

a miracle

— another circle, drawn kilometers downstream of the decimal point. There would be richer messages farther in. It doesn’t matter what you look like, or what you’re made of, or where you come from. As long as you live in this universe, and have a modest talent for mathematics, sooner or later you’ll find it. It’s already here. It’s inside everything. You don’t have to leave your planet to find it. In the fabric of space and in the nature of matter, as in a great work of art, there is, written small, the artist’s signature. Standing over humans, gods, and demons… there is an intelligence that antedates the universe. The circle had closed. She found what she had been searching for.

Song lyric not in Sagan’s book:

Will the circle be unbroken
by and by, Lord, by and by?
Is a better home a-waitin’
in the sky, Lord, in the sky?

“Contact,” the film: 


Columbia 37669

Date Issued:





Can The Circle Be Unbroken


Carter Family

Recording Date:

May 6, 1935



Music courtesy of honkingduck.com.
For bluegrass midi version, click here.

The above conclusion to Sagan’s book is perhaps the stupidest thing by an alleged scientist that I have ever read.  As a partial antidote, I offer the following.

Today’s birthday: Stanley Kramer, director of “On the Beach.”

From an introduction to a recording of the famous Joe Hill song about Pie in the Sky:

“They used a shill to build a crowd… You know, a carny shill.”


Friday, September 27, 2002

Friday September 27, 2002

Filed under: General — m759 @ 11:56 PM

on the Feast of St. Edgar Degas

Edgar Degas died in Paris on September 27, 1917.

See also today’s news stories about the new permanent sculpture exhibit at the National Gallery in Washington, D. C.

Friday September 27, 2002

Filed under: General — m759 @ 9:59 PM

ART WARS for the clueless

Someone’s weblog entry for 9/27/02:

[27 Sep 2002|08:33pm]

“After a while you learn to cope with things like seeing your dead grandmother crawling up your leg with a knife in her teeth.”
-Hunter S. Thompson

My comment:

How to Handle a Thompson
by m759 2002-09-27 09:05 pm

“What it all boiled down to really was everybody giving everybody else a hard time for no good reason whatever… You just couldn’t march to your own music. Nowadays, you couldn’t even hear it… It was lost, the music which each person had inside himself, and which put him in step with things as they should be.”

The Grifters, Ch. 10, 1963, by
James Myers Thompson
(born on September 27th, 1906)

“The Old Man’s still an artist
 with a Thompson.”

— Terry in “Miller’s Crossing

Friday September 27, 2002

Filed under: General — Tags: — m759 @ 5:10 PM

Modern Times

ART WARS September 27, 2002:

From the Bulletin of the American Mathematical Society, October 2002, p. 563:

"To produce decorations for their weaving, pottery, and other objects, early artists experimented with symmetries and repeating patterns.  Later the study of symmetries of patterns led to tilings, group theory, crystallography, finite geometries, and in modern times to security codes and digital picture compactifications.  Early artists also explored various methods of representing existing objects and living things.  These explorations led to…. [among other things] computer-generated movies (for example, Toy Story)."

— David W. Henderson, Cornell University

From an earlier log24.net note: 


ART WARS   September 12, 2002


John Frankenheimer's film "The Train" —

Und was für ein Bild des Christentums 
ist dabei herausgekommen?

From Today in Science History:

Locomotion No. 1

[On September 27] 1825, the first locomotive to haul a passenger train was operated by George Stephenson's Stockton & Darlington's line in England. The engine "Locomotion No. 1" pulled 34 wagons and 1 solitary coach…. This epic journey was the launchpad for the development of the railways….

From Inventors World Magazine:

Some inventions enjoyed no single moment of birth. For the steam engine or the motion-picture, the birth-process was, on close examination, a gradual series of steps. To quote Robert Stevenson: 'The Locomotive is not the invention of one man, but a nation of mechanical engineers.' George Stevenson (no relation) probably built the first decent, workable steam engines…  Likewise the motion camera developed into cinema through a line of inventors including Prince, Edison and the Lumière brothers, with others fighting for patents. No consensus exists that one of these was its inventor. The first public display was achieved by the Lumière brothers in Paris.

From my log24.net note of Friday, Sept. 13th:

"Dante compares their dance and song to God’s bride on earth, the Church, when she answers the morning bells to rise from bed and 'woo with matins song her Bridegroom's love.' Some critics consider this passage the most 'spiritually erotic' of all the one hundred cantos of the Comedy."

From my log24.net note of September 12:


Everybody's doin'
a brand new dance now…

Friday September 27, 2002

Filed under: General — m759 @ 12:01 AM

The Dark Lady

O dark dark dark. They all go into the dark….
— T. S. Eliot, Four Quartets

From a list of people who died during 1991:

September 27 Oona Chaplin, daughter of Eugene O’Neill/wife of Charles, dies at 66

“Is that the name?  Well!  Well!  Well!  That’s a fine old name in the west here.”

“It is so, indeed,” said the landlady. “For they were kings and queens in Connaught before the Saxon came.  And herself, sir, has the face of a queen, they tell me.”

“They’re right”….

— John Collier, “The Lady on the Grey,” Fancies and Goodnights, Bantam paperback, first printing, March 1953, page 131

See also my note of Friday, September 20, 2002.

“Madame, all stories, if continued far enough, end in death, and he is no true-story teller who would keep that from you.”
— Ernest Hemingway, Death in the Afternoon, Ch. 11

“Love is strong as death.” — Song of Songs 8:6
(“…que cantaba el rey David” — “Las Mañanitas”)

“I’m not even sure he has a heart. (…) He’s an American.”
— Audrey Hepburn in “Love in the Afternoon

“There is never any ending to Paris….”
— Ernest Hemingway, A Moveable Feast

Thursday, September 26, 2002

Thursday September 26, 2002

Filed under: General — m759 @ 2:36 PM

Birthday of T. S. Eliot, 
George Gershwin,
and Olivia Newton-John

Time past and time future
What might have been and what has been
Point to one end, which is always present.
— T. S. Eliot, Four Quartets

In time the Rockies may crumble
Gibraltar may tumble
They’re only made of clay….
— Ira Gershwin

In honor of Tom and George (not to mention Olivia) the muse of dance, Terpsichore, suggests that today we recall Gene Kelly and Leslie Caron as they dance by the Seine in “An American in Paris.”

Today is also the birthday of Martin Heidegger, author of Being and Time.  In honor of Heidegger and his girlfriend Hannah Arendt, I looked for a rendition of “Our Love is Here to Stay” on the glockenspiel,  but could not find one.  The birthday song “Las Mañanitas” will therefore have to do for Tom, George, Olivia, and Martin, as well as Michael and Catherine (see Sept. 25 note below).

Wednesday, September 25, 2002

Wednesday September 25, 2002

Filed under: General — m759 @ 3:02 AM

Birthday of Michael Douglas
and Catherine Zeta-Jones

To honor Michael’s adventures in “Romancing the Stone” (filmed near Veracruz, Mexico) and  Catherine’s impressive performance as the daughter of Zorro, this site’s background music is now the Mexican birthday song, “Las Mañanitas,” as performed at

Classical Guitar Midi Archives.

For the lyrics, courtesy of Dale Hoyt Palfrey,

click here.

De las estrellas del cielo
quisiera bajarte dos:
una para saludarte
y otra para decirte adiós.

From the stars of the heavens
I would like to bring down two:
One to say hello to you
And the other to say goodbye.

Update of September 28:

In honor of Degas, of the petite danseuse Leslie Caron, and of the opening this Sunday of the permanent sculpture exhibition at the National Gallery, this site’s background music has been changed, at least for the weekend, to Gershwin. 

Tuesday, September 24, 2002

Tuesday September 24, 2002

Filed under: General — m759 @ 11:33 PM

The Shining of Lucero

From my journal note, “Shining Forth“:

The Spanish for “Bright Star” is “Lucero.”

The Eye of the Beholder:

When you stand in the dark and look at a star a hundred light years away, not only have the retarded light waves from the star been travelling for a hundred years toward your eyes, but also advanced waves from your eyes have reached a hundred years into the past to encourage the star to shine in your direction.

— John Cramer, “The Quantum Handshake

From Broken Symmetries, by Paul Preuss, 1983:

He’d toyed with “psi” himself…. The reason he and so many other theoretical physicists were suckers for the stuff was easy to understand — for two-thirds of a century an enigma had rested at the heart of theoretical physics, a contradiction, a hard kernel of paradox….   

Peter [Slater] had never thirsted after “hidden variables” to explain what could not be pictured.  Mathematical relationships were enough to satisfy him, mere formal relationships which existed at all times, everywhere, at once.  It was a thin nectar, but he was convinced it was the nectar of the gods.


Those so-called crazy psychics were too sane, that was their problem — they were too stubborn to admit that the universe was already more bizarre than anything they could imagine in their wildest dreams of wizardry. (Ch. 16)

From Secret Passages, by Paul Preuss, 1997:

Minakis caught up and walked beside him in silence, moving with easy strides over the bare ground, listening as Peter [Slater] spoke. “Delos One was ten years ago — quantum theory seemed as natural as water to me then; I could play in it without a care. If I’d had any sense of history, I would have recognized that I’d swallowed the Copenhagen interpretation whole.”

“Back then, you insisted that the quantum world is not a world at all,” Minakis prompted him. “No microworld, only mathematical descriptions.”

“Yes, I was adamant. Those who protested were naive — one has to be willing to tolerate ambiguity, even to be crazy.”

“Bohr’s words?”

“The party line. Of course Bohr did say, ‘It is wrong to think that the task of physics is to find out how nature is. Physics concerns what we can say about nature.’ Meaning that when we start to talk what sounds like philosophy, our colleagues should rip us to pieces.” Peter smiled. “They smell my blood already.”

Peter glanced at Minakis. “Let’s say there are indications — I have personal indications — not convincing, perhaps, but suggestive, that the quantum world penetrates the classical world deeply.” He was silent for a moment, then waved his hand at the ruins. “The world of classical physics, I mean. I suppose I’ve come to realize that the world is more than a laboratory.”

“We are standing where Apollo was born,” Minakis said. “Leto squatted just there, holding fast to a palm tree, and after nine days of labor gave birth to the god of light and music….”

From my journal note, “A Mass for Lucero“:

To Lucero, in memory of
1962 in Cuernavaca

From On Beauty, by Elaine Scarry,
Princeton University Press, 1999 —

“Homer sings of the beauty of particular things. Odysseus, washed up on shore, covered with brine, having nearly drowned, comes upon a human community and one person in particular, Nausicaa, whose beauty simply astonishes him. He has never anywhere seen a face so lovely; he has never anywhere seen any thing so lovely….

I have never laid eyes on anyone like you,
neither man nor woman…
I look at you and a sense of wonder takes me.

Wait, once I saw the like —
in Delos, beside Apollo’s altar —
the young slip of a palm-tree
springing into the light.”

From Secret Passages, by Paul Preuss, 1997:

“When we try to look inside atoms,” Peter said, “not only can we not see what’s going on, we cannot even construct a coherent picture of what’s going on.”

“If you will forgive me, Peter,” Minakis said, turning to the others. “He means that we can construct several pictures — that light and matter are waves, for example, or that light and matter are particles — but that all these pictures are inadequate. What’s left to us is the bare mathematics of quantum theory.”

…. “Whatever the really real world is like, my friend, it is not what you might imagine.”


Talking physics, Peter tended to bluntness. “Tell me more about this real world you imagine but can’t describe.”

Minakis turned away from the view of the sunset. “Are you familiar with John Cramer’s transactional interpretation of quantum mechanics?”

“No I’m not.”


“Read Cramer. I’ll give you his papers. Then we can talk.” 

 From John Cramer, “The Quantum Handshake“:

Advanced waves could perhaps, under the right circumstances, lead to “ansible-type” FTL communication favored by Le Guin and Card…. 

For more on Le Guin and Card, see my journal notes below.

For more on the meaning of “lucero,” see the Wallace Stevens poem “Martial Cadenza.”

Tuesday September 24, 2002

Filed under: General — m759 @ 9:54 PM

The Group

“When shall we four meet again?”

This phrase was suggested by a recent weblog entry recounting how the author hesitated to meet for lunch with three of her friends because, while acquainted in pairs, the four had never met before as a group.  It was not clear how the previous relationships would play out in this larger context.  The author suggested that her readers see the introduction to Orson Scott Card’s Speaker for the Dead  for details.  I did, and found the following:

“The idea of community…. This was not easy.  Most novels get by with showing the relationships between two or, at the most three characters.  This is because the difficulty of creating a character increases with each new major character that is added to the tale.  Characters, as most writers understand, are truly developed through their relationships with others.  If there are only two significant characters, then there is only one relationship to be explored.  If there are three characters, however, there are four relationships: Between A and B, between B and C, between C and A, and finally the relationship when all three are together.”

This implies that when four people meet, there are 11 relationships going on:  six from pairs, four from triplets, and one from the quartet.

It gets worse…

“Even this does not begin to explain the complexity — for in real life, at least, most people change, at least subtly, when they are with different people.  The changes can be pretty major….

So when a storyteller has to create three characters, each different relationship requires that each character in it must be transformed, however subtly, depending on how the relationship is shaping his or her present identity.  Thus, in a three-character story, a storyteller who wishes to convince us of the reality of these characters really has to come up with a dozen different personas, four for each of them.”

Therefore when four people meet, there are actually 44 personas to account for.  This makes the stateroom scene from “A Night at the Opera” look underpopulated.


See also my journal note “Metaphysics for Tina.”

Sunday, September 22, 2002

Sunday September 22, 2002

Filed under: General,Geometry — Tags: , , , — m759 @ 8:02 PM

Force Field of Dreams

Metaphysics and chess in today’s New York Times Magazine:

  • From “Must-See Metaphysics,” by Emily Nussbaum:

    Joss Whedon, creator of a new TV series —

    “I’m a very hard-line, angry atheist” and
    “I want to invade people’s dreams.”

  • From “Check This,” by Wm. Ferguson:

    Garry Kasparov on chess —

    “When the computer sees forced lines,
    it plays like God.”

Putting these quotations together, one is tempted to imagine God having a little game of chess with Whedon, along the lines suggested by C. S. Lewis:

As Lewis tells it the time had come for his “Adversary [as he was wont to speak of the God he had so earnestly sought to avoid] to make His final moves.” (C. S. Lewis, Surprised by Joy, Harcourt, Brace, and World, Inc., 1955, p. 216) Lewis called them “moves” because his life seemed like a chess match in which his pieces were spread all over the board in the most disadvantageous positions. The board was set for a checkmate….

For those who would like to imagine such a game (God vs. Whedon), the following may be helpful.

George Steiner has observed that

The common bond between chess, music, and mathematics may, finally, be the absence of language.

This quotation is apparently from

Fields of Force:
Fischer and Spassky at Reykjavik
. by George Steiner, Viking hardcover, June 1974.

George Steiner as quoted in a review of his book Grammars of Creation:

“I put forward the intuition, provisional and qualified, that the ‘language-animal’ we have been since ancient Greece so designated us, is undergoing mutation.”

The phrase “language-animal” is telling.  A Google search reveals that it is by no means a common phrase, and that Steiner may have taken it from Heidegger.  From another review, by Roger Kimball:

In ”Grammars of Creation,” for example, he tells us that ”the classical and Judaic ideal of man as ‘language animal,’ as uniquely defined by the dignity of speech . . . came to an end in the antilanguage of the death camps.”

This use of the Holocaust not only gives the appearance of establishing one’s credentials as a person of great moral gravity; it also stymies criticism. Who wants to risk the charge of insensitivity by objecting that the Holocaust had nothing to do with the ”ideal of man as ‘language animal’ ”?

Steiner has about as clear an idea of the difference between “classical” and “Judaic” ideals of man as did Michael Dukakis. (See my notes of September 9, 2002.)

Clearly what music, mathematics, and chess have in common is that they are activities based on pure form, not on language. Steiner is correct to that extent. The Greeks had, of course, an extremely strong sense of form, and, indeed, the foremost philosopher of the West, Plato, based his teachings on the notion of Forms. Jews, on the other hand, have based their culture mainly on stories… that is, on language rather than on form. The phrase “language-animal” sounds much more Jewish than Greek. Steiner is himself rather adept at the manipulation of language (and of people by means of language), but, while admiring form-based disciplines, is not particularly adept at them.

I would argue that developing a strong sense of form — of the sort required to, as Lewis would have it, play chess with God — does not require any “mutation,” but merely learning two very powerful non-Jewish approaches to thought and life: the Forms of Plato and the “archetypes” of Jung as exemplified by the 64 hexagrams of the 3,000-year-old Chinese classic, the I Ching.

For a picture of how these 64 Forms, or Hexagrams, might function as a chessboard,

click here.

Other relevant links:

“As you read, watch for patterns. Pay special attention to imagery that is geometric…”


from Shakhmatnaia goriachka

Friday, September 20, 2002

Friday September 20, 2002

Filed under: General — m759 @ 7:00 PM

Music for Patricias

On this date in 1892, actress/author Patricia Collinge was born in Dublin, Ireland.  She is not to be confused with the Patricia Collinge of

In honor of both Patricias, the backgound music of this site is no longer “Baby, Baby, Don’t Get Hooked on Me.”  It is, instead,

a tune that fans of James Joyce may recognize.

Thursday, September 19, 2002

Thursday September 19, 2002

Filed under: General — m759 @ 4:11 PM

William Golding
and the Lost Boys

Author William Golding was born on this date in 1911.

Theater review,
‘The Terrible Tragedy of Peter Pan’
at House Theatre in Chicago

By Chris Jones

“J. M. Barrie’s famous 1904 tale of Peter Pan and the Lost Boys is fertile ground for post-modern exploration.”

See also the Stephen King novel

Hearts in Atlantis.

(Forget the movie, which does not even mention William Golding.)

For a somewhat more cheerful variation on the Lost Boys theme, see the new

Kingdom Hearts game.

Of course, mature audiences might react to this Disney production by recalling the classic question, “Why did Mickey Mouse divorce Minnie Mouse?”

See also the

Lord of the Flies game

at the Nobel Prize Foundation site.

Thursday September 19, 2002

Filed under: General,Geometry — m759 @ 2:16 PM

Fermat’s Sombrero

Mexican singer Vincente Fernandez holds up the Latin Grammy award (L) for Best Ranchero Album he won for “Mas Con El Numero Uno” and the Latin Grammy Legend award at the third annual Latin Grammy Awards September 18, 2002 in Hollywood. REUTERS/Adrees Latif

From a (paper) journal note of January 5, 2002:

Princeton Alumni Weekly 
January 24, 2001 

The Sound of Math:
Turning a mathematical theorem
 and proof into a musical

How do you make a musical about a bunch of dead mathematicians and one very alive, very famous, Princeton math professor? 


Wallace Stevens:
Poet of the American Imagination

Consider these lines from
“Six Significant Landscapes” part VI:

Rationalists, wearing square hats,
Think, in square rooms,
Looking at the floor,
Looking at the ceiling.
They confine themselves
To right-angled triangles.
If they tried rhomboids,
Cones, waving lines, ellipses-
As, for example, the ellipse of the half-moon-
Rationalists would wear sombreros.

Addendum of 9/19/02: See also footnote 25 in

Theological Method and Imagination

by Julian N. Hartt

Thursday September 19, 2002

Filed under: General — m759 @ 1:11 AM

The winner of the self-promotion award
at the third annual Latin Grammys
last night was… 


Jennifer Love Hewitt in Rolling Stone An Awfully Big Adventure is the story of Stella, a headstrong, starry-eyed young teenager whose passion for the theatre leads her into a grownup world of sex and secrets, menace and manipulation.


Girl, you’re a hot-blooded woman-child

And it’s warm where you’re touchin’ me

But I can tell by your tremblin’ smile

You’re seein’ way too much in me

– Mac Davis,      1972

Wednesday, September 18, 2002

Wednesday September 18, 2002

Filed under: General — m759 @ 5:16 PM

Tierra y Cielo:
Meditations on the initials TC

Tierra y Cielo en Baja:

TC Boyle:

Tortilla Curtain:

T y C, Andalucia:

Heaven and Earth in Heidegger

Cuando imaginamos algo en la tierra, este algo también se encuentra bajo el cielo, ante los divinos y junto a los mortales. Esta unidad de ellos designamos la Cuaternidad….

…Heiddeger nos presenta un ejemplo para aplicar la reflexión: un puente….

El puente coliga según su manera cabe sí tierra y cielo, los divinos y los mortales; es una cosa y lo es en tanto que la coligación de la Cuaternidad que hemos caracterizado antes. El puente coliga la Cuaternidad de tal modo que hace sitio a una plaza. Pero sólo aquello que en sí mismo es un lugar puede abrir espacio a una plaza. Antes del puente, hay muchos sitios que pueden ser ocupados por algo. De entre ellos uno se da como un lugar, y esto ocurre por la propia presencia del puente. Luego, el lugar se da por el puente. El puente es una cosa, coliga la Cuaternidad, pero coliga en el modo de otorgar (hacer sitio a) a la Cuaternidad una plaza.

See also


and my note of September 5,


Wednesday September 18, 2002

Filed under: General — Tags: — m759 @ 3:43 AM

The Garden of Allah

 There she stood in the doorway;

I heard the mission bell. And I was thinking to myself, “This could be Heaven or this could be Hell.”
Then she lit up a candle
and she showed me the way…

Mirrors on the ceiling, pink champagne on ice. And she said, “We are all just prisoners here of our own device.”



“The song is loosely based on a recently published book (actually, I wrote the song before I read the book), The Death of Satan  (How Americans Have Lost the Sense of Evil), written by Andrew Delbanco….

…we land at last smack-dab in the ‘culture of irony,’ which is where we sit, like Job, in dust and ashes.


Satan is quite frustrated because things have gotten so bad that even he is confounded….

He waxes nostalgic about the good ol’ days when he hung out in Hollywood with the likes of F. Scott Fitzgerald and Aldous Huxley… [at] the historic Garden of Allah apartment hotel.


A 3 1/2-acre hotel complex of Spanish-style bungalows that once stood on Sunset Boulevard…. During its three-decade heyday, the Garden of Allah was the site of robberies, orgies, drunken rages, tense honeymoons, bloody brawls, divorces, suicides, and murder.”

Monday, September 16, 2002

Monday September 16, 2002

Filed under: General — m759 @ 3:26 PM

A Time to Gather Stones Together
(Ecclesiastes 3:5)

Readings for Yom Kippur:

Sunday, September 15, 2002

Sunday September 15, 2002

Filed under: General,Geometry — m759 @ 11:07 PM

Evariste Galois and 
The Rock That Changed Things

An article in the current New York Review of Books (dated Sept. 26) on Ursula K. Le Guin prompted me to search the Web this evening for information on a short story of hers I remembered liking.  I found the following in the journal of mathematician Peter Berman:

  • A Fisherman of the Inland Sea, Ursula K. Le Guin, 1994:
    A book of short stories. Good, entertaining. I especially liked “The Rock That Changed Things.” This story is set in a highly stratified society, one split between elite and enslaved populations. In this community, the most important art form is a type of mosaic made from rocks, whose patterns are read and interpreted by scholars from the elite group. The main character is a slave woman who discovers new patterns in the mosaics. The story is slightly over-the-top but elegant all the same.

I agree that the story is elegant (from a mathematician, a high compliment), so searched Berman’s pages further, finding this:

A table of parallels

between The French Mathematician (a novel about Galois) and Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

My own version of the Philosopher’s Stone (the phrase used instead of “Sorcerer’s Stone” in the British editions of Harry Potter) appears in my profile picture at top left; see also the picture of Plato’s diamond figure in my main math website.  The mathematics of finite (or “Galois”) fields plays a role in the underlying theory of this figure’s hidden symmetries.  Since the perception of color plays a large role in the Le Guin story and since my version of Plato’s diamond is obtained by coloring Plato’s version, this particular “rock that changes things” might, I hope, inspire Berman to extend his table to include Le Guin’s tale as well.

Even the mosaic theme is appropriate, this being the holiest of the Mosaic holy days.

Dr. Berman, G’mar Chatimah Tova.

Saturday, September 14, 2002

Saturday September 14, 2002

Filed under: General — m759 @ 3:03 AM

God Is Her Co-Pilot

On the soundtrack album of "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil,"  Clint Eastwood advised us to "eliminate the negative."  As a sequel to the extremely negative note below, written at midnight on the night of September 13-14, 2002, the following is my best attempt, on this very dark night of the soul, to eliminate the negative.  

Some of us are old enough to recall that the beloved Grace Kelly, Princess of Monaco, died on September 14, 1982 — exactly 20 years ago —  from injuries she suffered in a car accident the day before.  The following photo recalls happier days of driving the Riviera, in the 1955 film "To Catch a Thief."

This note's title, combined with the photo, suggests that I have a mystical vision of Cary Grant as God.  I can think of worse people to play God.  The best I can do tonight to eliminate the negative is transcribe  the remarks I made in a (paper) journal entry in 1997.  (By the way, I realize that ordinary people are just as important as movie stars, but the latter are more suitable for public discussion.)

In memoriam: Robert Mitchum and James Stewart 

Eternal Triangles (July 3, 1997)

Every civilization tells its own story about the relations between heaven and earth.  Some of the best stories — those of Lao Tsu, the Greek poets, and Buddha — are now almost 26 centuries old.  Some even older stories — those told by the Jews — have enabled our current civilization, led by Charlton Heston as God, to outlast Hitler, Stalin, and Mao.  However, recent claims of Absolute Truth for these stories (The Bible Code) are disturbing.  Perhaps it is time — at least for Robert Mitchum and James Stewart — to meet a kinder, gentler God.

I propose Cary Grant — specifically, as seen in "The Grass is Greener" (1960) with Mitchum and Deborah Kerr, and in "The Philadelphia Story" (1940) with Stewart and Katharine Hepburn.  If we imagine Grant as God, then these films reveal a very old, always entertaining, and sometimes enlightening version of the Trinity:  God and Man as rivals for the Holy Spirit — as played by Deborah, by Kate, and (in heaven) by Grace.  Such a spirit, at work in the real world, may have influenced two of this century's better Bibles:

  1. The Oxford Book of English Prose (1925, reprinted through 1958), and

  2. "LIFE — The 60th Anniversary Issue" (October 1996)

From (1), for Mitchum's memorial, Deborah might pick "The Basket of Roses" (pp. 1057-1060).  From (2), for Stewart's memorial, Kate might select the page of LIFE's covers for 1941 — and all that page implies.

Finally, Grace, in the Highest society (beyond Bibles) might recall the following telegraphic catechism:

Q. — How old Cary Grant?
A. — Old Cary Grant fine.  How you?

Saturday September 14, 2002

Filed under: General — m759 @ 12:00 AM

September 14:
Triumph of the Cross
and Death of
Princess Grace of Monaco

September 13 was the feast day of St. John Chrysostom

From the Catholic Encyclopedia:

“St. John Chrysostom more than once in his writings makes allusion to the adoration of the cross; one citation will suffice: ‘Kings removing their diadems take up the cross, the symbol of their Saviour’s death; on the purple, the cross; in their prayers, the cross; on their armour, the cross; on the holy table, the cross; throughout the universe, the cross. The cross shines brighter than the sun.'”

Today, September 14, is the feast day of the Triumph of

The Cross:

“The primitive form of the cross seems to have been that of the so-called ‘gamma’ cross (crux gammata), better known to Orientalists and students of prehistoric archæology by its Sanskrit name, swastika.” 

— The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume IV
Copyright © 1908
by Robert Appleton Company
Online Edition Copyright © 1999
by Kevin Knight
Nihil Obstat.
Remy Lafort, Censor
+John M. Farley,
Archbishop of New York

Later writers might choose to omit the above sentence, published in 1908, but, as Pilate said, “Quod scripsi, scripsi.”  For modern times, this quotation is perhaps best translated into German, the language of modern Pilates:

Was ich geschrieben habe,
habe ich geschrieben. 

It might well be accompanied by another translation from the same website, which renders the “Ora et labora” of St. Benedict as

Bete und arbeite!

and, indeed, by a classic quotation from twentieth-century German Christian thought:


Gate of Dachau

Friday, September 13, 2002

Friday September 13, 2002

Filed under: General — m759 @ 2:24 PM

Meditation for Friday the 13th

The 1946 British film below (released as “Stairway to Heaven” in the U.S.) is one of my favorites.  I saw it as a child. Since costar Kim Hunter died this week (on 9/11), and since today is Friday the 13th, the following material seems relevant.

Kim Hunter in 1946

R.A.F pilot
and psychiatrist 

Alan McGlashan

Alan McGlashan has practiced as a psychiatrist in London for more than forty years.  He also served as a pilot for the R.A.F. (with MC and Croix de Guerre decorations). 

The doctor in “A Matter of Life and Death” addresses a heavenly court on behalf of his patient, R.A.F pilot David Niven:

In the film, David Niven is saved by mistake from a fated death and his doctor must argue to a heavenly court that he be allowed to live. 

In a similar situation, I would want Dr. Alan McGlashan, a real-life psychiatrist, on my side.  For an excerpt from one of my favorite books, McGlashan’s The Savage and Beautiful Country,

click here.

As Walker Percy has observed (see my Sept. 7 note, “The Boys from Uruguay”), a characteristic activity of human beings is what Percy called “symbol-mongering.”  In honor of today’s anniversary of the births of two R.A.F. fighter pilots,

Sir Peter Guy Wykeham-Barnes (b. 1915) and author

Roald Dahl (b. 1916),

here is one of the better symbols of the past century:

The circle is of course a universal symbol, and can be made to mean just about whatever one wants it to mean.  In keeping with Clint Eastwood’s advice, in the soundtrack album for “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil,” to “accentuate the positive,” here are some positive observations on a circle from the poet (and perhaps saint) Dante, who died on the night of September 13-14:

In the sun, Dante and Beatrice find themselves surrounded by a circle of souls famous for their wisdom on earth. They appear as splendid lights and precious jewels who dance and sing as they lovingly welcome two more into their company. Their love for God is kindled even more and grows as they find more individuals to love. Among the blessed souls are St. Thomas Aquinas and one of his intellectual “enemies”, Siger of Brabant, a brilliant philosopher at the University of Paris, some of whose teachings were condemned as heretical. Conflicts and divisions on earth are now forgotten and absorbed into a communal love song and dance “whose sweetness and harmony are unknown on earth and whose joy becomes one with eternity.”

Dante compares their dance and song to God’s bride on earth, the Church, when she answers the morning bells to rise from bed and “woo with matins song her Bridegroom’s love.” Some critics consider this passage the most “spiritually erotic” of all the one hundred cantos of the Comedy. It is the ending of Canto 10, verses 139-148.

— Fr. James J. Collins, “The Spiritual Journey with Dante V,” Priestly People October 1997

The above material on Dante is from the Servants of the Paraclete website.

For more on the Paraclete, see

The Left Hand of God.

See also the illustration in the note below.

Thursday, September 12, 2002

Thursday September 12, 2002

Filed under: General — m759 @ 6:41 PM

ART WARS   September 12, 2002


John Frankenheimer's film "The Train" —

Und was fur ein Bild des Christentums 
ist dabei herausgekommen?

Thursday September 12, 2002

Filed under: General — m759 @ 2:56 PM

In memory of Kim Hunter,
who died on 9/11, 2002:

A transcription of a journal note from 1996…

National Dance Week

Thursday, May 2, 1996

National Day of Prayer will be observed at noon today, Thursday, May 2, at City Hall.

“Bush once joked that he picked Sununu because his surname rhymed with “deep doo-doo.”
— Dan Goodgame, Time magazine, May 21, 1990
For a time, Sununu wrote stories and poems for children. Concord lawyer Ned Helms recalls that when his wife fell ill, Sununu gave her a book of poems that he said he enjoyed, by Sylvia Plath.

Do do that voodoo that you do so well.

One summer when I played in a small stock company, after the last curtain had come down we would clear the stage and then put on records of Viennese waltzes. We’d dance wildly, joyfully…
— Madeleine L’Engle, Victoria Magazine, November 1995

We’re arranging to have the children baptized on Sunday afternoon, March 25, by the way. Although I honestly dislike, or rather, scorn the rector. I told you about his ghastly H-bomb sermon, didn’t I, where he said this was the happy prospect of the Second Coming and how lucky we Christians were compared to the stupid pacifists and humanists and “educated pagans” who feared being incinerated, etc., etc. I have not been to church since. I felt it was a sin to support such insanity even by my presence.
— Sylvia Plath, March 12, 1962. Amen.
[The bathroom door opens and Stella comes out. Blanche continues talking to Mitch.]
Oh! Have you finished? Wait — I’ll turn on the radio.
[She turns the knobs on the radio and it begins to play “Wien, Wien, nur du allein.” Blanche waltzes to the music with romantic gestures. Mitch is delighted and moves in awkward imitation like a dancing bear. Stanley stalks fiercely through the portieres into the bedroom. He crosses to the small white radio and snatches it off the table. With a shouted oath, he tosses the instrument out the window.]

Colby’s nickname among some of his subordinates at CIA is said to be “The Bookkeeper.”

Alabama plans
female chain gangs

Friday, April 26, 1996, story:

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — The Montgomery prison system is preparing to snap shackles around the ankles of women prisoners, creating female chain gangs in the state that revived male leg-iron crews last year.

I will try to finish my novel and a second book of poems by Christmas. I think I’ll be a pretty good novelist, very funny — my stuff makes me laugh and laugh, and if I can laugh now it must be hellishly funny stuff.
— Sylvia Plath, October 12, 1962
An engine, an engine
Chuffing me off like a Jew,
A Jew to Dachau, Auschwitz, Belsen.
There’s a stake in your fat black heart
And the villagers never liked you.
They are dancing and stamping on you.

1962 —

Everybody’s doin’ a brand new dance now;
I know you’re gonna like it if you give it a chance now…
So come on, c’mon, and do the locomotion with me!

Wednesday, September 11, 2002

Wednesday September 11, 2002

Filed under: General — Tags: — m759 @ 2:56 PM

Double Cross

From the New York Times obituaries of 9/11, 2002:

"Henri Rol-Tanguy, one of France's most decorated Resistance heroes, who organized the popular uprising against the German occupation of Paris… died Sunday [Sept. 8, 2002]. He was 94."

Sunday was V-day in Malta.  See my log24.net notes below:

The Maltese Cross,
The Maltese V,
A Birthday Song, and
The Boys from Uruguay.

For another sort of victory, see my log24.net note of August 24,

Cruciatus in Crucem.

The Cruciatus note describes what might be called the "Red" cross, or Croix de Guerre.  The Maltese Cross note describes a cross more properly associated with intelligence than with courage.  (Both qualities are, of course, needed… courage and a brain, as well as a heart.)  More from the Rol-Tanguy obituary:

"From 1964 to 1987, he was a member of the central committee of the French Communist Party… Mr. Rol-Tanguy received most of France's medals of valor, including the Croix de Guerre and the Grand-Croix de la Légion de l'Honneur."

The following quotations are not without relevance.

Ernest Hemingway:

There is never any ending to Paris and the memory of each person who has lived in it differs from that of any other. We always returned to it no matter who we were or how it was changed or with what difficulties, or ease, it could be reached. Paris was always worth it and you received return for whatever you brought to it. But this is how Paris was in the early days when we were very poor and very happy.

Rick Blaine:

We'll always have Paris.

Here's looking at you, kid.

Wednesday September 11, 2002

Filed under: General — m759 @ 3:16 AM

Doonesbury, morning of
9/11, 2001:

Tuesday, September 10, 2002

Tuesday September 10, 2002

Filed under: General — m759 @ 12:01 PM

The Sound of Hanging Rock

On this date, director Robert Wise was born in Winchester, Indiana.   Credits include

“Born to Kill,”
“I Want to Live,” and
“The Sound of Music.” 

“Director Robert Wise suggests that we all share a collective dark side.” — Robert Weston

According to various Web sources, 

  • On this date in 1964, Rod Stewart records his first song, “Good Morning Little Schoolgirl.”

    Good morning little schoolgirl
    Good morning little schoolgirl
    Can I come home with
    Can I come home with you
    Tell your mama and your papa
    I once was a schoolboy too

  • On this date in 1965, The Byrds begin recording “Turn! Turn! Turn!” 

    A time of war, a time of peace
    A time of love, a time of hate
    A time you may embrace
    A time to refrain from embracing

  • On this date in 1966, Neal Diamond sings his first chart song, “Cherry Cherry.”

    Tell your mamma, girl, I can’t stay long
    We got things we gotta catch up on
    Mmmm, you know
    You know what I’m sayin’

With the exception of The Byrds, the above music seems to reflect the spirit of Pan, a god discussed in my September 9 notes below.

For a perhaps more accurate rendition of the spirit of Pan, see the classic Australian film

Picnic at Hanging Rock.

“From the opening shot of Hanging Rock, lovingly framed by cinematographer Russell Boyd, accompanied by the strains of the pan flute played by Gheorghe Zamfir, the film sets its elegant, restrained tone….” 

Monday, September 9, 2002

Monday September 9, 2002

Filed under: General — m759 @ 11:57 PM

Politics of Hell

Born today: Michael Keaton,
star of “
The Dream Team

Regarding my claim in the note below that Michael Dukakis lied about an ancient Greek pledge, thereby incurring the wrath of the Gods…

A Google search for “Athenian pledge” yields four sites, only two of which are relevant.  One is a site in which U. S. Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY, Harvard ’71) parrots Dukakis, and one is from the final home of William S. Burroughs  — Lawrence, Kansas:

Lawrence the Beautiful

“I ran across this printed paragraph in a supplement to the Journal-World dated, Wednesday, Dec. 8, 1965. The cover, “City of Lawrence, Kansas — Progress Report”, at the top of the inside page has this:

     “City of Heritage. We will never bring disgrace to this city, by any act of dishonesty or cowardice, nor ever desert our comrades; we will fight for the ideals and sacred things of the city, both alone and with many; we will revere and obey the city laws, and do our best to incite a like respect and reverence to others; we will strive unceasingly to quicken the public’s sense of civic duty; that thus in all these ways, we may transmit this city, greater, better, and more beautiful that it was transmitted to us.”

“The Athenian Pledge” 

The link above on Burroughs (Harvard ’36) is to a site subtitled “Secret Agent in Hell.”  Perhaps he now haunts his old alma mater… 

The excellent 1933 Harvard novel Great Circle, by Conrad Aiken, has in its opening paragraph the following:

By all means accept the invitation to hell, should it come.  It will not take you far — from Cambridge to hell is only a step; or at most a hop, skip, and jump. But now you are evading — you are dodging the issue…. after all, Cambridge is hell enough. 

Postscript of 12:55 a.m. September 10:

For a current (9/9/02) Harvard student’s view of Hell, see the description of Solzhenitsyn’s The First Circle at


Monday September 9, 2002

Filed under: General — m759 @ 3:33 PM

On this, his birthday, actor Hugh Grant
is hereby named an

Honorary Waco Wacko.

By the authority vested in me by the possession of

  1. Knowledge of Vivienne Browning’s My Browning Family Album, a work dedicated to Dr. Joseph Armstrong, “founder of the Armstrong Browning Library, Baylor University, Waco, Texas,”
  2. Knowledge that today is the date of the Battle of Marathon, and of the claim that

    The spread of Pan’s worship beyond his home pastures of Arcadia was said to have arisen around the 5th Century BCE. Pan asked why the Athenians neglected him, and promised them victory over the Persians if they would worship him. At Marathon, the Persians were routed and fled in Panic; so, the Athenians built a temple for him on the Acropolis, and his worship soon extended to all Greece.”

    2a. (including subsidiary knowledge of the ridiculous falseness of all political statements, including the following contemptible lie by Michael Dukakis in his 1988 Democratic National Convention acceptance speech:

    “And as I accept your nomination tonight, I can’t help recalling that the first marathon was run in ancient Greece, and that on important occasions like this one, the citizens of Athens would complete their ceremonies by taking a pledge. That pledge, that covenant, is as eloquent and timely today as it was 2000 years ago.  

    ‘We will never bring disgrace to this, our country, by any act of dishonesty or cowardice. We will fight for the ideals of this, our country. We will revere and obey the laws. We will strive to quicken our sense of civic duty. Thus, in all these ways, we will transmit this country greater, better, stronger, prouder and more beautiful than it was transmitted to us.’ “)

    (None of the Harvard intellects associated with Dukakis saw fit to point out that there never was any such pledge. As a consequence, both Harvard University and the Democratic Party remain cursed to this day.),

  3. Knowledge (both intellectual and carnal) of the female form of the god Pan, as seen in the classic and great movie “Sirens” (starring, among others, Hugh Grant) and on the cover of the 1977 Olivia Newton-John album “Making a Good Thing Better,”

  4. Knowledge that even the best critics can be wrong, as exemplified by Roger Ebert’s remarks in his review of “Sirens”

    “Although they are often charged with being emotionally distant, the British have produced more than their share of sexual outlaws, from Oscar Wilde to Aleister Crowley to D.H. Lawrence to Francis Bacon, to balance the ledger. The central figure in ‘Sirens’ is perhaps vaguely inspired by another legendary British bohemian, Augustus John, an artist whose models and mistresses were interchangeable, and who delighted in scandal.

    Named Norman Lindsay, the film’s hero is played by Sam Neill as a notorious painter who lives on an estate in Australia where his art coexists side-by-side with an experiment in living.”

    (Actually, the central figure is not “vaguely inspired” by anyone. He is precisely inspired by an artist named exactly Norman Lindsay, as Roger will learn if he searches the Web. Roger also gets Pan wrong in this film; he says, “the bearded Lindsay is a Pan of sorts.” No. The “Pan of sorts” is in fact the girl who romps joyfully with the local boys and who later, with great amusement, uses her divine x-ray vision to view Tara Fitzgerald naked in church.),

    and, finally,

  5. Knowledge that, as the Greeks well knew,  there is a dark side to all this Pan business (Vivienne Browning’s book reveals that her father was a friend, not only of the bohemian artist Norman Lindsay, but also of the black mage Aleister Crowley. Let us pray that Hugh Grant’s performance as a clergyman in “Sirens” and as a defender of the faith in “The Lair of the White Worm” have prepared him to cope with the dark (or, sometimes, “Brown”) side of the divine.),

I hereby declare Hugh Grant an honorary Waco (home of the Dr. Pepper Museum, the Texas Ranger Hall of Fame, and the Armstrong Browning Library) Wacko.

Sunday, September 8, 2002

Sunday September 8, 2002

Filed under: General — m759 @ 4:24 PM

ART WARS of September 8, 2002:

Sunday in the Park with Forge

From The New York Times obituary section of Saturday, September 7, 2002:

Andrew Forge, 78, Painter
and a Former Dean at Yale, Dies


Andrew Forge, a painter, critic, teacher and former dean of painting at the Yale School of Art, died on Wednesday [Sept. 4] in New Milford, Conn. He was 78…

[As a painter] he reduced his formal vocabulary to two small, basic units: tiny dots and short, thin dashes of paint that he called sticks. He applied those elements meticulously, by the thousands and with continual adjustments of shape, color, orientation and density until they coalesced into luminous, optically unstable fields.

These fields occasionally gave hints of landscapes or figures, but were primarily concerned with their own internal mechanics, which unfolded to the patient viewer with a quiet, riveting lushness. In a New York Times review of Mr. Forge’s retrospective at the Yale Center for British Art in 1996, John Russell wrote that “the whole surface of the canvas is mysteriously alive, composing and recomposing itself as we come to terms with it.”

Above: Untitled image from Andrew Forge: Recent Paintings, April 2001, Bannister Gallery, Rhode Island College, Providence, RI

See also

An Essay on the work of Andrew Forge
by Karen Wilkin
in The New Criterion, September 1996

From that essay:

“At a recent dinner, the conversation—fueled, I admit, by liberal amounts of very good red wine—became a kind of Socratic dialogue about the practice of art criticism…. There was… general agreement that it’s easier to find the rapier phrase to puncture inadequate or pretentious work than to come up with a verbal equivalent for the wordless experience of being deeply moved by something you believe to be first rate.”

See also my journal note of March 22, 2001, The Matthias Defense, which begins with the epigraph

Bit by bit, putting it together.
Piece by piece, working out the vision night and day.
All it takes is time and perseverance
With a little luck along the way.
— Stephen Sondheim

Sunday September 8, 2002

Filed under: General — m759 @ 6:21 AM

The Maltese Cross

In my journal note for Rosh Hashanah (The Boys from Uruguay, Sept. 7) below, I noted that the cross as a symbol of intelligence may be offensive to some readers.

Such readers may contemplate the Maltese cross shown on page 150 of The New Yorker magazine of March 21, 1994, in an article by Nichoison Baker, “The Projector.” On page 152 is an explanation of how the cross functions within a motion picture projector, and a statement that “Without this little thing, there’d be no film industry!”

Development of the Web since 1994 allows us to view the Maltese cross in action at the excellent site

Cabaret Mechanical Theatre

The following diagram is from that site:

© Cabaret Mechanical Theatre 1996-01

Sunday September 8, 2002

Filed under: General — m759 @ 4:44 AM

The Maltese

Today, September 8, is 

The Feast of Our Lady of Victories in Malta.

“The 8th of September festivity is close to Maltese hearts.”

Victory Day: 8th September

“The 8th September is a special public holiday because it commemorates in fact three events.  It is the religious feast celebrating the birth of the Holy Virgin, Maria Bambina; it is the day on which the Great Siege of 1565 ended; and it also the day on which the Italian navy capitulated to the British at the beginning of the end of the Second World War. 

But is it best known as victory day, il-Vitorja, in commemoration of the events of 1565 when the Knights of St John and the Maltese Islanders defeated the Ottoman Turks and helped rid Christendom of the Saracen threat. 

The feast is celebrated in the villages and towns of Senglea, Naxxar, Mellieha and Xaghra on Gozo.”

From Malta’s Importance in History:

“Malta managed to keep the enemy at bay, and was awarded the George Cross for it in 1942. Churchill, Roosevelt, Eisenhower and other leaders visited Malta during this time. Malta was called ‘the under-belly of Europe,’ and her insidious disruption of the Kesserling-Rommel axis who tried hard, and very nearly successfully, to starve the native population and render all military operations impossible through the lack of food and fuel. The lifting of the siege coincided with the Feast of our Lady of Victory: ‘il-Vitorja’, the ‘national’ feast.”


“From about three days before September 8, ground fireworks, Maltese ‘giggifogu’ (derived from Italian ‘guochi di fuoco’), start to light up the Mellieha Parish Square, with amazing effects. The principal show of ground fireworks is held on September 7, a show which ends at about 12.00am.

Fireworks over Mellieha

The D-Day finally arrives. Early in the morning of September 8, many people attend the sermon in honor of Our Lady of Victories.”

Today’s feast is known to Roman Catholics as The Feast of the Nativity of Our Lady

See also the novel by Thomas Pynchon, V

Sunday September 8, 2002

Filed under: General — Tags: — m759 @ 2:00 AM

In honor of the September 8 birthdays of

From a website on Donna Tartt‘s novel The Secret History… 

“It is like a storyteller looking up suddenly into the eyes of his audience across the embers of a once blazing fire…

…the reader feels privy to the secrets of human experience by their passage down through the ages; the telling and re-telling. A phrase from the ghost in Hamlet comes to mind:

‘I could a tale unfold whose lightest word /
Would harrow up thy soul…..’ “

This work of literature seems especially relevant at the start of a new school year, and in light of my remarks below about ancient Greek religion. One should, when praising Apollo, never forget that Dionysus is also a powerful god.

For those who prefer film to the written word, I recommend “Barton Fink” as especially appropriate viewing for the High Holy Days. Judy Davis (my favorite actress) plays a Faulkner-figure’s “secretary” who actually writes most of his scripts.

Tartt is herself from Faulkner country.  For her next book, see this page from Square Books, 160 Courthouse Square, Oxford, Misssissippi.

Let us pray that Tartt fares better in real life than Davis did in the movie.

As music for the High Holy Days, I recommend Don Henley’s “The Garden of Allah.” For some background on the actual Garden of Allah Hotel at 8080 Sunset Boulevard (where “Barton Fink” might have taken place), see


Saturday, September 7, 2002

Saturday September 7, 2002

Filed under: General — m759 @ 11:11 PM

For Elia Kazan:

A Birthday Song:
Las Mañanitas

(Song, lyrics, and animated story) 

Today is the anniversary of the opening of the New York Post Office Building in 1914.

Today is National Postal Workers Day.

From the website Elia Kazan: Postage Paid

Kazan on the set of Viva Zapata, with Marlon Brando, and Jean Peters

“Many years later Kazan said ‘Viva Zapata!,’ which he was filming during the time of his committee testimony, ‘was structured to expose the ineffectiveness of idealistic revolutionaries, I believe that democracy progresses through internecine war, through constant tension – we grow only through conflict. And that’s what democracy is. In that sense, people have to be vigilant, and that vigilance is effective. I truly believe that all power corrupts. Such is probably the thinking behind every political film ever made in Hollywood.’ This was a profound statement about his values and beliefs. Kazan never backed away from his statements.”

Note: In honor of Kazan and of Brando, who really is a contender, the background music of this website has been hushed, so that those who click “A Birthday Song” above can hear it clearly.

Saturday September 7, 2002

Filed under: General — m759 @ 4:44 PM

The Boys from Uruguay

If one were to write a “secret history” of the twentieth century, one possible organizing theme might be the religious struggle between worshippers of the Semitic deity (variously known as Yahweh, God, and Allah) and worshippers of the Aryan deities… notably, the Aryan god of music, light, and reason, Apollo.

(See my jounal notes of Monday, Sept. 2, 2002, below.)

In perhaps the best academic website I have ever seen, Karey L. Perkins quotes Walker Percy:

“The truth is that man’s capacity for symbol-mongering in general and language in particular is…intimately part and parcel of his being human, of his perceiving and knowing, of his very consciousness…”

The greatest symbol-monger of the twentieth century was, of course, Adolf Hitler. His use of the Aryan sun-wheel symbol rose to the level of genius. Of course, it ultimately failed to win the approval of the sun god himself, Apollo, who is also the god of reason.

Since symbol-mongering cannot be avoided, let us hope that it can be done in a somewhat more reasonable way than that of the National Socialist movement. Two examples suggest themselves.

  1. From Peggy Noonan’s column of Friday, Sept. 6:

    The cross, the heart, and the flag.

  2. From Karey Perkins’s website:

    A brain, a heart, and courage

On this Rosh Hashanah, the cross as a symbol of intelligence may be offensive to some worshippers of Yahweh. Let them read The Archivist, a novel by Martha Cooley, and then my journal note The Matthias Defense.

They might also contemplate the biblical quotation in the musical “Contact” broadcast from Lincoln Center on September 1, 2002: “Let there be light!”

Three Jews named Paul have been associated with light…

  1. Saul of Tarsus, who later assumed an alias.

  2. Paul Newman, whose performance in “The Verdict” continues, indirectly, to trouble Cardinal Law of Boston.

  3. Paul R. Halmos, a personal hero of mine ever since I saw his Finite Dimensional Vector Spaces and Measure Theory as an ignorant young undergraduate browsing the bookstores of Harvard Square.

In accordance with the “secret history” theme mentioned above, the struggle between Aryan and Semitic religions may also be viewed in the light of the struggle between Christianity and Communism. Hitler exploited this viewpoint very successfully, pretending to be the champion of the Christians against the godless Reds. Peggy Noonan also successfully uses this strategy. Both Hitler and Noonan manage to ignore the fact that Christianity is itself one of the Semitic religions, and that at least two of its three deities are Jewish.

As for me, I rather identify with the young Hitler clone at the end of the film “The Boys from Brazil.” Forced to decide between Gregory Peck and Sir Laurence Olivier, he sides with Olivier. His reason? Peck lied.

In a similar situation, forced to decide between Peggy Noonan and the Jew Halmos, I would probably side with Halmos. Halmos, who should, if not a saint, be at least dubbed a knight, does not, unlike the great majority of the damned human race, lie.

See Halmos’s memoir, I Want to Be a Mathematician. In particular, see the single index entry “communist by allegation” and the 29 entries under “Uruguay.”

Happy birthday to Elia Kazan and Peggy Noonan, and a happy and prosperous New Year to should-be-Sir Paul R. Halmos. 

Friday, September 6, 2002

Friday September 6, 2002

Filed under: General — m759 @ 5:11 AM

Santa’s Wit

Edmund Gwenn, actor, died on September 6, 1959.

When asked if he thought dying was tough, Gwenn reportedly said,

“Yes, it’s tough, but not as tough as doing comedy.”

This may or may not be true; if it is, Gwenn may be the true source of a quotation variously attributed to Edmund Kean, Edwin Booth, David GarrickDonald WolfitWilliam Holden, and Groucho Marx, Marcel Marceau, Noel Coward, and Oscar Wilde:  

“Dying is easy. Comedy is hard.”

A very dubious version of the Gwenn story attributes the “comedy is hard” part to Jack Lemmon:

The lesson is best illustrated in a story involving Jack Lemmon, whose best work was in comedy. He visited the British actor Edmund Gwenn, suffering in a hospital. Gwenn is said to have lifted the flap on the oxygen tent and said, ”It’s really tough to die.” And Lemmon responded, ”It’s not as tough as doing comedy.”
— Elvis Mitchell in The New York Times Week in Review, Sunday, August 25, 2002

David Bruce, an English instructor at Ohio University, supplies another version of the Gwenn story, from Movie Anecdotes, by Peter Hay. New York: Oxford University Press, 1990:

Edmund Gwenn won an Oscar playing Santa Claus in the movie Miracle on 34 Street. As he lay dying, Jack Lemmon visited him and asked if dying was dead. [sic]  Gwenn replied, “Oh, it’s hard, very hard indeed. But not as hard as doing comedy.”

Santa might appreciate the above misprint, as would Vladimir Nabokov

“Life Everlasting–based on a misprint!”
Pale Fire 

and John Donne

“And death shall be no more, Death, thou shalt die.”
Holy Sonnets

Thursday, September 5, 2002

Thursday September 5, 2002

Filed under: General — m759 @ 11:59 PM

Arrow in the Blue

A description by Arthur Koestler (born Sept. 5, 1905) of a

close encounter with the divine:

“…a wordless essence, a fragrance of eternity, a quiver of the arrow in the blue.”

Koestler also mentions the “blue Andalusian sky.” 

Some thoughts suggested by the above and by the Sept. 5, 2002, New York Times story on the first anniversary of the murder of the Mexican lawyer

María de los Angeles Tames….

1. The blue of the Andalusian sky is essentially the same as the blue of the sky above Baja California.  See photographs of the last Jesuit mission in Mexico,

Santa María de los Angeles

2.  A Google search for “blue Andalusian sky” yielded two results: the Koestler page quoted above, and a page on the Gypsy film “Vengo.”  For a reasonable likeness of St. Sara, patron saint of the Gypsies, also known as The Dark Lady, also known as Kali, see the poster of dancer

Sara Baras at Flamenco-world.com

Es imposible resumir el Flamenco en cuatro palabras, pero al mirar el poster Sara Baras por Paco Sanchez, son esas las palabras que me vienen a la mente.  Gracias, Paco Sanchez.”

For the music Sara dances to, composed and played by Jesús de Rosario, listen to audio clips at

Juana la Loca: Vivir por Amor.

3. For an American version of The Dark Lady, see an homage from Catalonia to

Emmy Lou Harris

For a Harris song that seems appropriate to the blue-sky theme above, see

Thanks to You.

Thursday September 5, 2002

Filed under: General — m759 @ 3:06 PM


Born today: Arthur Koestler,
former Communist and writer on parapsychology

From To Ride Pegasus, by Anne McCaffrey, 1973: 

“Mary-Molly luv, it’s going to be accomplished in steps, this establishment of the Talented in the scheme of things. Not society, mind you, for we’re the original nonconformists…. and Society will never permit us to integrate.  That’s okay!”  He consigned Society to insignificance with a flick of his fingers.  “The Talented form their own society and that’s as it should be: birds of a feather.  No, not birds.  Winged horses!  Ha!  Yes, indeed. Pegasus… the poetic winged horse of flights of fancy.  A bloody good symbol for us.  You’d see a lot from the back of a winged horse…”

“Yes, an airplane has blind spots.  Where would you put a saddle?”  Molly had her practical side.

He laughed and hugged her.  Henry’s frequent demonstrations of affection were a source of great delight to Molly, whose own strength was in tactile contacts. 

“Don’t know.  Lord, how would you bridle a winged horse?”

“With the heart?”

“Indubitably!”  The notion pleased him.  “Yes, with the heart and the head because Pegasus is too strong a steed to control or subdue by any ordinary method.” 

Born today:  Darryl F. Zanuck,
producer of “Viva Zapata!”

Director Eliza Kazan consults with scriptwriter John Steinbeck about the production of “Viva Zapata!” in Cuernavaca, Mexico:

When John woke, I asked him, “Isn’t the Syndicate of Film Technicians and Workers here Communist-dominated?”

Elia Kazan on Darryl Zanuck’s insistence that Zapata’s white horse be emphasized:

Darryl made only one suggestion that he was insistent on. He’d stolen it, no doubt, from an old Warner western, but he offered it as if it were pristine stuff. “Zapata must have a white horse,” he said, “and after they shoot him, we should show the horse running free in the mountains — get the idea? A great fade-out.” We got the idea, all right. Darryl was innocent about the symbol in his suggestion, but so enthusiastic about the emotion of it that he practically foamed at the mouth. John’s face was without expression. Actually, while I thought it was corny, the idea worked out well in the end. 

Born today: comedian Bob Newhart


If Kazan hadn’t directed “Viva Zapata!”…

Zanuck would have ended up shouting,

“I said a WHITE horse!”

Thursday September 5, 2002

Filed under: General — m759 @ 12:36 AM

Birthdate of film producer Darryl F. Zanuck

Among Zanuck’s films were “All about Eve” and “Viva Zapata!”

Bright Star

I do not have a photograph of Lucero Hernandez, the subject of my journal notes

Shining Forth and

Plato, Pegasus, and the Evening Star.

In keeping with Zanuck’s commandment that “The kid stays in the picture!” —

The photo at left, of a very young actress, captures some of Lucero’s beauty.

Center for Global Education,
Augsburg College

Semester-abroad Program in Mexico

“The program is based in Cuernavaca, a city known for its perennial springtime (70-80 degrees). Cuernavaca, the capital of the state of Morelos, is about 50 miles south of Mexico City. Both the city and the state are important in Mexican history: the palace of the conqueror Hernan Cortez borders the central plaza in Cuernavaca and Morelos is known as “the cradle of the Mexican revolution” of 1910 led by Emiliano Zapata, who was born in a small town near Cuernavaca. A city of more than one million, Cuernavaca is also known for its innovative grass-roots education programs, economic cooperatives, and base Christian communities inspired by liberation theology.” 

Wednesday, September 4, 2002

Wednesday September 4, 2002

Filed under: General — m759 @ 3:21 AM

Birthday of AI guru John McCarthy

If you enter the question “Is there such a thing as artificial intelligence?” as a Google search phrase, you will be referred to ALICE, a chat robot. ALICE’s possible answers include “Yes,” “No,” and “Maybe.” Another search strategy leads to the following Google Directory page:

Computers > Artificial Intelligence >
Neural Networks > Companies.

This page, unlike ALICE, suggests that the appropriate answer to our question is the punch line to an old computer joke:  “There is now.”

Tuesday, September 3, 2002

Tuesday September 3, 2002

Filed under: G-Notes,General,Geometry — Tags: , — m759 @ 6:00 PM

Today's birthday: James Joseph Sylvester

"Mathematics is the music of reason." — J. J. Sylvester

Sylvester, a nineteenth-century mathematician, coined the phrase "synthematic totals" to describe some structures based on 6-element sets that R. T. Curtis has called "rather unwieldy objects." See Curtis's abstract, Symmetric Generation of Finite Groups, John Baez's essay, Some Thoughts on the Number 6, and my website, Diamond Theory. See also the abstract of a December 7, 2000, talk, Mathematics and the Art of M. C. Escher, in which Curtis notes that graphic designs can "often convey a mathematical idea more eloquently than pages of symbolism."

Monday, September 2, 2002

Monday September 2, 2002

Filed under: General — m759 @ 6:56 PM

Today’s birthday: Laurindo Almeida

Almeida was a Brazilian guitarist, composer, and arranger. He was one of the pioneers of the bossa nova style. Although he did not write the song ” Manha de Carnaval” (“A day in the life of a fool”), I added this song as background music for this site today partly to honor Brazilian music… and partly because the song is from the classic Brazilian film “Black Orpheus.” (See the two notes below, from today and yesterday, on Orpheus and on vibraphonist Lionel Hampton.)

Monday September 2, 2002

Filed under: General — m759 @ 5:25 AM

Elevation of the Host

Some religious fanatics may be offended by my account, in the note below, of a theatrical bartender-priest at Lincoln Center who last night held a CD aloft in what may seem a parody or satire of the elevation of the host in the Mass. They should consider the following account of how a medieval nun viewed the host:

…she saw a great brightness between the priest’s hands, so vivid and so bright and of such wonderful beauty that in her opinion it could not be compared to anything the human spirit could imagine. And it seemed to her that this brightness had a circular shape….

For another appearance of a priest associated, if only by synchronicity, with Lincoln Center, see the photographs below, both from the New York Times obituaries section of Friday, August 30, 2002.

Richard Lippold, a sculptor known for radiant, expansive abstractions in metal, died on Aug. 22….

Richard Lippold’s ‘‘Orpheus and Apollo’’ at Avery Fisher Hall in 1996.

Jack Manning/The New York Times

Bill Wassmuth, a former Roman Catholic priest who opposed the Aryan Nations group in northern Idaho, died on Tuesday, Aug. 27. 

In this little drama of August 30, played out in the obituary section of the New York Times, it is not clear from the Lippold sculpture who is to play the role of Orpheus and who the role of Apollo. One might interpret the note below, written two days later, as implying that Orpheus is to be played by Lionel Hampton and Apollo by Christ himself.  Such a drama is neither parody nor satire.  It is, on the contrary, deadly serious. 

“A great brightness,” as seen by the medieval nun described above, is traditionally associated with the Aryan sun god Apollo.  For more on this theme in Roman Catholic art, see

Sun-Worship and Catholicism,

The Monstrance and the Wafer God, and

A Catholic rebuttal.

For a less dogmatic approach to these matters, see my journal note of June 13, 2002,

 A Mass for Lucero.

Sunday, September 1, 2002

Sunday September 1, 2002

Filed under: General — m759 @ 11:59 PM

Backbeat in Heaven

The great musician Lionel Hampton died at about 6:15 a.m. EDT Saturday, August 31, 2002, in New York City’s Mount Sinai Medical Center.

Quincy Jones said, “Heaven will definitely be feeling some backbeat now.” (AP story)

Hampton himself said, “I learned all that in the sanctified church.” (N.Y. Times story)

Can we hear an AMEN?

Yes, we heard an amen… Live from Lincoln Center on PBS from about 10 p.m. to 11 p.m. EDT tonight (Sunday, September 1, 2002), in a live broadcast of the final performance of the musical “Contact.”

Theology was made visible by Colleen Dunn, who appeared as Grace (the girl in the yellow dress). Christ himself was present in the form of a CD of “Do You Wanna Dance?” held aloft by a priest (the after-hours club bartender).

The evening ended with the redemption by Grace of a sinner (a maker of TV commercials) and with (as Quincy Jones noted) a strong new backbeat in heaven.

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