Thursday, October 31, 2002

Thursday October 31, 2002

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


From The Unknowable (1999), by Gregory J. Chaitin, who has written extensively about his constant, which he calls Omega:

"What is Omega? It's just the diamond-hard distilled and crystallized essence of mathematical truth! It's what you get when you compress tremendously the coal of redundant mathematical truth…" 

Charles H. Bennett has written about Omega as a cabalistic number.

Here is another result with religious associations which, historically, has perhaps more claim to be called the "diamond-hard essence" of mathematical truth: The demonstration in Plato's Meno that a diamond inscribed in a square has half the area of the square (or that, vice-versa, the square has twice the area of the diamond).

From Ivars Peterson's discussion of Plato's diamond and the Pythagorean theorem:

"In his textbook The History of Mathematics, Roger Cooke of the University of Vermont describes how the Babylonians might have discovered the Pythagorean theorem more than 1,000 years before Pythagoras.

Basing his account on a passage in Plato's dialogue Meno, Cooke suggests that the discovery arose when someone, either for a practical purpose or perhaps just for fun, found it necessary to construct a square twice as large as a given square…."

From "Halving a Square," a presentation of Plato's diamond by Alexander Bogomolny, the moral of the story:

SOCRATES: And if the truth about reality is always in our soul, the soul must be immortal….

From "Renaissance Metaphysics and the History of Science," at The John Dee Society website:

Galileo on Plato's diamond:

"Cassirer, drawing attention to Galileo's frequent use of the Meno, particularly the incident of the slave's solving without instruction a problem in geometry by 'natural' reason stimulated by questioning, remarks, 'Galileo seems to accept all the consequences drawn by Plato from this fact…..'"

Roger Bacon on Plato's diamond:

"Fastening on the incident of the slave in the Meno, which he had found reproduced in Cicero, Bacon argued from it 'wherefore since this knowledge (of mathematics) is almost innate and as it were precedes discovery and learning or at least is less in need of them than other sciences, it will be first among sciences and will precede others disposing us towards them.'"

It is perhaps appropriate to close this entry, made on All Hallows' Eve, with a link to a page on Dr. John Dee himself.

Tuesday, October 29, 2002

Tuesday October 29, 2002

Filed under: General — Tags: — m759 @ 9:57 PM

Our Judeo-Christian Heritage:

Two Sides of the Same Coin


On this date in 1897, Joseph Goebbels was born. Related reading:

The Calvin College Propaganda Archive and

Prince Ombra.


Joseph Goebbels

Saturday, October 26, 2002

Saturday October 26, 2002

Filed under: General — m759 @ 11:59 PM


From On All Hallows’ Eve, by Grace Chetwin:

“Please continue your account of Morgan le Fay.”

“People think of her as bad. They say that she tried to murder her brother, King Arthur of the Round Table…. But she did good things too. She gave Arthur his sword, Excalibur, and, well, when he lay dying, she and two other queens took him onto their barge and bore him from the world to heal his wounds and make him whole again. It was ‘… a dusky barge, Dark as a funeral scarf from stem to stern,’ and the three queens wore ‘crowns of gold’….”

Greylen smiled. “Very good. You like this Morgan le Fay very much, it is clear.”….

“I know more than that,” Meg went on quickly. “She is also called Nimue and Vivian, but those names are wrong, too.  Her true name goes right back to the Mabinogion — that’s a really old collection of Welsh bardic tales.  Her real name is Rhiannon….”

In honor of Grace Chetwin, this site’s music is now a theme more suitable for All Hallows’ Eve.

Saturday October 26, 2002

Filed under: General — m759 @ 12:00 AM

Midnight in the Garden

From a Nina Simone Lyrics site:

Pack up all my cares and woe,
here I go, singing low,
Bye-bye Blackbird.
Where somebody waits for me,
sugar’s sweet, so is she,
Bye-bye Blackbird.
No one here can love and understand me.
Oh, what hard-luck stories they all hand me.
Make my bed and light the light,
I’ll arrive late tonight,
Blackbird, Bye-bye.

Nina Simone

For more on the eight-point star of Venus,
see “Bright Star,” my note of October 23.

Friday, October 25, 2002

Friday October 25, 2002

Filed under: General — m759 @ 7:59 PM

Wrestling Pablo Picasso

Aster on a
Greek Vase

Picasso by Karsh

Wrestling Ernest

The old men know when an old man dies.
— Ogden Nash

Friday October 25, 2002

Filed under: General — Tags: , , — m759 @ 12:00 PM

Picasso's Birthday

From an art quotes website:

Dore Ashton's Picasso on Art —

"We all know that Art is not truth.
Art is a lie that makes us realize truth,
at least the truth that is given us
to understand." — Pablo Picasso

From "Xanadu" —

"You have to believe we are magic."
— Olivia Newton-John

The Muse


Soul Kiss




A is for Art

"A work of art has an author and yet,
when it is perfect, it has something
which is essentially anonymous about it."
Simone Weil, Gravity and Grace 


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Friday October 25, 2002

Filed under: General — m759 @ 1:11 AM


The last two days were eventful on the obituary front.  See below for a reasonably holy trinity of lives: 

  • Richard Helms as the Father,
  • Derek Bell as the Son, and
  • Adolph Green as the Holy Spirit. 

See also Bonaventure’s
Itinerarium Mentis in Deum and

the graves list for Bonaventure Cemetery in Savannah,
final resting place for Johnny Mercer and plot key
to Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil.

Friday October 25, 2002

Filed under: General — m759 @ 12:00 AM


Thursday, October 24, 2002

Thursday October 24, 2002

Filed under: General — m759 @ 11:59 PM

Green Music

From the online New York Times, Oct. 24, 2002:

Adolph Green, Broadway
Playwright, Dies at 87


Adolph Green, the playwright, performer and lyricist who in a six-decade collaboration with Betty Comden was co-author of such hit Broadway musicals as “On the Town,” “Wonderful Town” and “Bells Are Ringing” and the screenplays for “Singin’ in the Rain” and “The Band Wagon,” died today at his home in Manhattan. He was 87.

“On the Town” Opens in New York, 1944

Adolph Green, Betty Comden, Leonard Bernstein

In honor of Green, of the music of New York City, and of Mrs. Adolph Green, this site’s music is now a piano rendition by Doug McKenzie of “Some Other Time.” 

Thursday October 24, 2002

Filed under: General — m759 @ 9:11 AM

Death of a Chieftain

New York Times, Oct. 24:

Derek Bell, Harpist of the Chieftains, 66, Is Dead

Derek Bell rehearsing for
a 1998 St. Patrick’s Day
concert in New York.

Derek Bell, the versatile harpist with The Chieftains, one of the most celebrated Irish traditional bands, died on Oct. 15 in his hotel in Phoenix. He was 66 and lived in Belfast.”

In honor of Bell, this site’s music is,

for the time being,

the following classic tune by Turlough O’Carolan,

Thursday October 24, 2002

Filed under: General — m759 @ 6:00 AM

A (Very Brief) Course of
Modern Analysis 

In honor of today’s anniversary of the 1873 birth of Edmund Taylor Whittaker, here are some references to a topic that still interests some mathematicians of today.

From A Course of Modern Analysis, by E. T. Whittaker and G. N. Watson, Fourth Edition, Cambridge University Press, 1927, reprinted 1969:

Section 20.7  “…the fact, that x and y can be expressed as one-valued functions of the variable z, makes this variable z of considerable importance… z is called the uniformizing variable of the equation…. When the genus of the algebraic curve f(x,y) = 0 is greater than unity, the uniformisation can be effected by means of what are known as automorphic functions. Two classes of such functions of genus greater than unity have been constructed, the first by Weber…(1886), the second by Whittaker…(1898)….”

The topic of uniformisation of algebraic curves has appeared frequently lately in connection with Wiles’s attack on Fermat’s Last Theorem. See, for instance, Lang’s 1995 AMS Notices article

“Shimura’s… insight was that the ordinary modular functions for a congruence subgroup of SL2(Z) suffice to uniformize elliptic curves defined over the rationals.”

and Charles Daney’s notes

“The property of an elliptic curve [over Q] of being parameterized by modular functions is one way of defining a modular elliptic curve, and the Taniyama-Shimura conjecture asserts that every elliptic curve is modular.”

For a deeper discussion of uniformisation in the context of Wiles’s efforts, see “Elliptic curves and p-adic uniformisation,” by H. Darmon, 1999.

For a more traditional approach to uniformisation, see “On the uniformisation of algebraic curves,” by Yu. V. Brezhnev (24 May, 2002), which cites two of Whittaker’s papers on automorphic functions (from 1898 and 1929) and a 1930 paper, “The uniformisation of algebraic curves,” by J. M. Whittaker, apparently E. T. Whittaker’s son.  

Wednesday, October 23, 2002

Wednesday October 23, 2002

Filed under: General — m759 @ 8:00 PM

Bright Star

From the website of Karey Lea Perkins:

“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…”

Walker Percy, The Message in the Bottle, Farrar, Strauss, and Giroux, 1975

Today’s New York Times story on Richard Helms, together with my reminiscences in the entry that follows it below, suggest the following possibility for symbol-mongering:

Compare the 16-point star of the C.I.A.

with the classic 8-point star of Venus:

This comparison is suggested by the Spanish word “Lucero” (the name, which means “Bright Star,” of the girl in Cuernavaca mentioned two entries down) and by the following passage from Robert A. Heinlein‘s classic novel, Glory Road:

    “I have many names. What would you like to call me?”

    “Is one of them ‘Helen’?”

    She smiled like sunshine and I learned that she had dimples. She looked sixteen and in her first party dress. “You are very gracious. No, she’s not even a relative. That was many, many years ago.” Her face turned thoughtful. “Would you like to call me ‘Ettarre’?”

    “Is that one of your names?”

    “It is much like one of them, allowing for different spelling and accent. Or it could be ‘Esther’ just as closely. Or ‘Aster.’ Or even ‘Estrellita.’ ”

    ” ‘Aster,’ ” I repeated. “Star. Lucky Star!”

The C.I.A. star above is from that organization’s own site.  The star of Venus (alias Aster, alias Ishtar) is from Symbols.com, an excellent site that has the following variations on the Bright Star theme:

Ideogram for light Alchemical sign
Greek “Aster” Babylonian Ishtar
Phoenician Astarte Octagram of Venus
Phaistos Symbol Fortress Octagram

See also my notes The Still Point and the Wheel and Midsummer Eve’s Dream.  Both notes quote Robinson Jeffers:

“For the essence and the end
Of his labor is beauty…
one beauty, the rhythm of that Wheel,
and who can behold it is happy
and will praise it to the people.”

— Robinson Jeffers, “Point Pinos and Point Lobos,”
quoted at the end of The Cosmic Code,
by Heinz Pagels, Simon & Schuster, 1982

Place the eightfold star in a circle, and you have the Buddhist Wheel of Life:

Wednesday October 23, 2002

Filed under: General — m759 @ 5:04 PM

In Memoriam

From the New York Times of Oct. 23, 2002:

Richard M. Helms Dies at 89;
Dashing Ex-Chief of the C.I.A.

      Associated Press

Richard M. Helms, a former C.I.A. director, died today.


WASHINGTON Oct. 23 — “Richard Helms, a former director of central intelligence who defiantly guarded some of the darkest secrets of the cold war, died today of multiple myeloma. He was 89.

An urbane and dashing spymaster, Mr. Helms began his career with a reputation as a truthteller….”

Needless to say, that didn’t last.  I encountered this story this afternoon, after writing the entry below this morning.  The site I described there,


reads as though it were compiled by an intelligence officer, and may serve as a small memorial to Helms.  

Wednesday October 23, 2002

Filed under: General — Tags: — m759 @ 6:35 AM

Eleven Years Ago Today…

On October 23, 1991, I placed in my (paper) journal various entries that would remind me of the past… of Cuernavaca, Mexico, and a girl I knew there in 1962. One of the entries dealt with a book by Arthur Koestler, The Challenge of Chance. A search for links related to that book led to the following site, which I find very interesting:


This is a commonplace-book site, apparently a collection of readings for the end of the century and millennium. No site title or owner is indicated, but the readings are excellent. Accepting the challenge of chance, I reproduce one of the readings… The author was not writing about Cuernavaca, but may as well have been.

From Winter’s Tale, Harcourt Brace (1983):

Four Gates to the City


Every city has its gates, which need not be of stone. Nor need soldiers be upon them or watchers before them. At first, when cities were jewels in a dark and mysterious world, they tended to be round and they had protective walls. To enter, one had to pass through gates, the reward for which was shelter from the overwhelming forests and seas, the merciless and taxing expanse of greens, whites, and blues–wild and free–that stopped at the city walls.

In time the ramparts became higher and the gates more massive, until they simply disappeared and were replaced by barriers, subtler than stone, that girded every city like a crown and held in its spirit. Some claim that the barriers do not exist, and disparage them. Although they themselves can penetrate the new walls with no effort, their spirits (which, also, they claim do not exist) cannot, and are left like orphans around the periphery.

To enter a city intact it is necessary to pass through one of the new gates. They are far more difficult to find than their solid predecessors, for they are tests, mechanisms, devices, and implementations of justice. There once was a map, now long gone, one of the ancient charts upon which colorful animals sleep or rage. Those who saw it said that in its illuminations were figures and symbols of the gates. The east gate was that of acceptance of responsibility, the south gate that of the desire to explore, the west gate that of devotion to beauty, and the north gate that of selfless love. But they were not believed. It was said that a city with entryways like these could not exist, because it would be too wonderful. Those who decide such things decided that whoever had seen the map had only imagined it, and the entire matter was forgotten, treated as if it were a dream, and ignored. This, of course, freed it to live forever.

Tuesday, October 22, 2002

Tuesday October 22, 2002

Filed under: General,Geometry — m759 @ 1:16 AM

Introduction to
Harmonic Analysis

From Dr. Mac’s Cultural Calendar for Oct. 22:

  • The French actress Catherine Deneuve was born on this day in Paris in 1943….
  • The Beach Boys released the single “Good Vibrations” on this day in 1966.

“I hear the sound of a
   gentle word

On the wind that lifts
   her perfume
   through the air.”

— The Beach Boys

In honor of Deneuve and of George W. Mackey, author of the classic 156-page essay, “Harmonic analysis* as the exploitation of symmetry† — A historical survey” (Bulletin of the American Mathematical Society (New Series), Vol. 3, No. 1, Part 1 (July 1980), pp. 543-698), this site’s music is, for the time being, “Good Vibrations.”
For more on harmonic analysis, see “Group Representations and Harmonic Analysis from Euler to Langlands,” by Anthony W. Knapp, Part I and Part II.
* For “the simplest non-trivial model for harmonic analysis,” the Walsh functions, see F. Schipp et. al., Walsh Series: An Introduction to Dyadic Harmonic Analysis, Hilger, 1990. For Mackey’s “exploitation of symmetry” in this context, see my note Symmetry of Walsh Functions, and also the footnote below.
† “Now, it is no easy business defining what one means by the term conceptual…. I think we can say that the conceptual is usually expressible in terms of broad principles. A nice example of this comes in form of harmonic analysis, which is based on the idea, whose scope has been shown by George Mackey… to be immense, that many kinds of entity become easier to handle by decomposing them into components belonging to spaces invariant under specified symmetries.”
The importance of mathematical conceptualisation,
by David Corfield, Department of History and Philosophy of Science, University of Cambridge

Monday, October 21, 2002

Monday October 21, 2002

Filed under: General — Tags: — m759 @ 12:01 AM

Birthdays for a Small Planet

Today's birthdays:

The entry below, "Theology for a Small Planet," sketches an issue that society has failed to address since the fall of 1989, when it was first raised by the Harvard Divinity Bulletin.

In honor mainly of Ursula K. Le Guin, but also of her fellow authors above, I offer Le Guin's solution. It is not new. It has been ignored mainly because of the sort of hateful and contemptible arrogance shown by

  • executives in the tradition of Henry Ford and later Ford Foundation and Ford Motors employees McGeorge Bundy and Robert McNamara (see yesterday's entry below for Ford himself), by
  • theologians in the tradition of the Semitic religions — Judaism, Christianity, and Islam — and by
  • self-proclaimed "shamans of scientism" like Michael Shermer in the tradition of Scientific American magazine.

Here is an introduction to the theology that should replace the ridiculous and outdated Semitic religions.

According to Le Guin,

"Scholarly translators of the Tao Te Ching, as a manual for rulers, use a vocabulary that emphasizes the uniqueness of the Taoist 'sage,' his masculinity, his authority. This language is perpetuated, and degraded, in most popular versions. I wanted a Book of the Way accessible to a present-day, unwise, unpowerful, and perhaps unmale reader, not seeking esoteric secrets, but listening for a voice that speaks to the soul. I would like that reader to see why people have loved the book for 2500 years.

It is the most lovable of all the great religious texts, funny, keen, kind, modest, indestructibly outrageous and inexhaustibly refreshing. Of all the deep springs, this is the purest water. To me it is also the deepest spring."

Tao Te Ching: Chapter 6
translated by Ursula K. Le Guin

The valley spirit never dies
Call it the mystery, the woman.

The mystery,
the Door of the Woman,
is the root
of earth and heaven.

Forever this endures, forever.
And all its uses are easy.

Monday October 21, 2002

Filed under: General — Tags: — m759 @ 12:00 AM

Theology for a Small Planet

THE HARVARD DIVINITY BULLETIN for Fall 1989 contained a special section, "Theology for a Small Planet," with a number of short articles by divinity school faculty and others addressing environment and theology.

From The Harvard Divinity Bulletin, XIX, 3 (1989):

" While Angels Weep…"
Doing Theology on a Small Planet

Timothy C. Weiskel
© Copyright, 1989, Timothy C. Weiskel

…We continue to strut and prance about with a sense of supreme self-importance as if all creation were put in place for our benefit….

From where does such arrogance come? How can our beliefs be so far out of touch with our knowledge? How can we maintain such an inflated sense of personal, collective and species self-importance? ….

The answer, in part, is that Western religious traditions have generated and sustained this petty arrogance…. 

Western cultures have come to believe religiously in their own power, importance and capacity to dominate and control nature.

Some religious groups have transcribed and elaborated creation myths which serve to ennoble and authorize this illusion of domination. In these myths a supreme and omnipotent God figure (usually portrayed as male) is said to have created humankind and enjoined this species to be "fruitful and multiply" and "subdue" the earth. Moreover, it is often a feature of these traditions that selected human groups come to feel entitled, empowered or specially ordained by such a God to be his "chosen people." Through their actions and history, it is believed, this God allegedly manifested his intent for the planet as a whole. In short, human groups created God in their own image and generated divine narratives that accorded themselves privileged status in the whole of creation….

…science itself has become the cornerstone of modern mankind's religiously held belief in human control. In our era, this kind of arrogant science, like the self-important religious traditions of the past, must be questioned….

In short, we all stand in need of a theology for a small planet.

Sunday, October 20, 2002

Sunday October 20, 2002

Filed under: General — m759 @ 3:17 AM


Music for Henry

HomerTheBrave has provided a link to an excellent Tom Tomorrow strip dealing with Ford’s Feb. 23, 1997, commercial-free sponsorship of “Schindler’s List” on TV.

To honor Henry Ford, founder of Ford Motor Co. and author of

The International Jew: The World’s Foremost Problem,

which includes a chapter titled

Jewish Jazz Becomes Our National Music,

this site’s music is now Rhapsody in Blue.

For more on art and power, see the article on Cardinal Richelieu by Deborah Weisgall in today’s New York Times.

Saturday, October 19, 2002

Saturday October 19, 2002

Filed under: General — m759 @ 9:47 AM

What is Truth?

My state of mind
before reading the
New York Times

My state of mind
after reading the
New York Times

In light of the entry below (“Mass Confusion,” Oct. 19, 2002), some further literary reflections seem called for. Since this is, after all, a personal journal, allow me some personal details…

Yesterday I picked up some packages, delivered earlier, that included four books I had ordered. I opened these packages this morning before writing the entry below; their contents may indicate my frame of mind when I later read this morning’s New York Times story that prompted my remarks. The books are, in the order I encountered them as I opened packages,

  • Prince Ombra, by Roderick MacLeish (1982, reprinted in August 2002 as a Tom Doherty Associates Starscape paperback)
  • Truth, edited by Simon Blackburn and Keith Simmons, from the Oxford Readings in Philosophy series (Oxford University Press, 1999, reprinted as a paperback, 2000)
  • The Savage and Beautiful Country, by Alan McGlashan (1967, reprinted in a revised and expanded edition in 1988 as a Daimon Verlag paperback)
  • Abstract Harmonic Analysis, by Lynn H. Loomis (Van Nostrand, 1953… a used copy)

Taken as a whole, this quartet of books supplies a rather powerful answer to the catechism question of Pontius Pilate, “What is truth?”…

The answer, which I pray will some day be delivered at heaven’s gate to all who have lied in the name of religion, is, in Jack Nicholson’s classic words,

You can’t handle the truth!  

Saturday October 19, 2002

Filed under: General — m759 @ 7:47 AM

Mass Confusion

From Garrison Keillor’s Writer’s Almanac:

“It’s the birthday of [novelist] John le Carré, born David John Moore Cornwell, in Poole, England (1931)…. His father was a con artist who wanted his two sons to be lawyers because he thought it would come in handy. He sent them to boarding school, where they learned to speak and act like members of the British upper-class, but when they went home they knew they might have to bail him out of jail, or spend the holidays with a bunch of crooks. He learned German and became a spy, but said he ‘never did anything to alter the world order.'”

From The New York Times of Oct. 19, 2002:

“…victims of sexually abusive priests expressed despair and outrage yesterday at the Vatican’s refusal to endorse the American bishops’ zero tolerance policy….

‘This certainly sends the whole thing into wild confusion,’ said Thomas C. Fox, publisher of The National Catholic Reporter, an independent newsweekly that helped uncover the church’s sexual abuse problem nearly two decades ago. ‘It seems we haven’t moved anywhere in finding a resolution, and that makes it terribly, terribly painful. It’s like this nightmare simply won’t end.'”

Other classic Catholic quotations…

1.  “He ain’t heavy, he’s my brother.”

2.  “What is truth?”

3.  “Writers often cry ‘Truth! Truth at all costs!’ Some are sincere. Others are hypocrites. They use the truth, distort it, exploit it, for an ulterior purpose. Let us consider the case of John Cornwell….”  — Inside the Vatican 

John Cornwell recently wrote a classic study of the Roman Catholic Church, Hitler’s Pope* (Viking Press, October 1999).

According to the Daily Catholic and to Inside the Vatican, Cornwell is the brother of of spy novelist John le Carré (born David Cornwell). An article in the Jerusalem Post, however, seems to say that the spy novelist had only one brother, whose name was in fact Tony, not John.  A Sydney Morning Herald article confirms this version of the Cornwell family history.  Finally, once one learns from the Sydney article that David Cornwell’s father’s name was Ronnie, a perfected Google search reveals a Literary Encyclopedia article that seems to demonstrate conclusively that the Roman Catholic sources cited above lied about John Cornwell’s family background.  Of course, this may be wrong… Those who wish may investigate further.

* (I personally prefer Hitler’s own remarks on the Church’s “static pole,” but tastes differ.)

Friday, October 18, 2002

Friday October 18, 2002

Filed under: General — m759 @ 5:55 AM

Readings for the Oct. 18
Feast of St. Luke

A fellow Xangan is undergoing a spiritual crisis. Well-meaning friends are urging upon her all sorts of advice. The following is my best effort at religious counsel, meant more for the friends than for the woman in crisis.

Part I… Wallace Stevens 

From Brewer’s Dictionary of Phrase and Fable:

Ox Emblematic of St. Luke. It is one of the four figures which made up Ezekiel’s cherub (i. 10). The ox is the emblem of the priesthood….

   The dumb ox. St. Thomas Aquinas; so named by his fellow students at Cologne, on account of his dulness and taciturnity. (1224-1274.)
   Albertus said, “We call him the dumb ox, but he will give one day such a bellow as shall be heard from one end of the world to the other.” (Alban Butler.)

From Wallace Stevens, “The Latest Freed Man“:

It was how the sun came shining into his room:
To be without a description of to be,
For a moment on rising, at the edge of the bed, to be,
To have the ant of the self changed to an ox
With its organic boomings, to be changed
From a doctor into an ox, before standing up,
To know that the change and that the ox-like struggle
Come from the strength that is the strength of the sun,
Whether it comes directly or from the sun.
It was how he was free. It was how his freedom came.
It was being without description, being an ox.

Part II… The Rosy Cross


  • Brautigan, Richard, The Hawkline Monster, Simon and Schuster, 1974…
    Just for the pleasure of reading it… A compelling work of fiction on spiritual matters that includes a conversion to Rosicrucianism in its concluding chapter.
  • Browning, Vivienne (Betty Coley, ed).
    My Browning Family Album. With a Foreword by Ben Travers, and a Poem by Jack Lindsay Springwood, London, 1979…
    The Rosicrucian tradition in Australia (highly relevant background reading for the 1994 film “Sirens”). Includes a mention of Aleister Crowley, dark mage, who also figures (prominently) in….
  • Wilson, Robert Anton, Masks of the Illuminati, Pocket Books, April 1981…
    James Joyce and Albert Einstein join in a metaphysical investigation.

    “He recited from the anonymous Muses Threnody of 1648:

    For we be brethren of the Rosy Cross
    We have the Mason Word and second sight
    Things for to come we can see aright.”

Part III… Stevens Again

A major critical work on Wallace Stevens that is not unrelated to the above three works on the Rosicrucian tradition:

Leonora Woodman, Stanza My Stone: Wallace Stevens and the Hermetic Tradition, West Lafayette, Indiana: Purdue University Press, 1983

From the Department of English, Purdue University:

Leonora Woodman came to Purdue in 1976. In 1979, she became Director of Composition, a position she held until 1986…. At the time of her death in 1991, she was in the midst of an important work on modernist poetry, Literary Modernism and the Fourth Dimension: The Visionary Poetics of D.H. Lawrence, H.D., and Hart Crane.

For more on Gnostic Christianity, see

  • Elaine Pagels, The Gnostic Gospels (Random House, 1979), and
  • Harold Bloom, Omens of Millenium: The Gnosis of Angels, Dreams, and Resurrection (Riverhead Books, 1996).

Thursday, October 17, 2002

Thursday October 17, 2002

Filed under: General — m759 @ 8:42 AM

Slieve na mBan

The view in the entry below is from Slievenamon or Slieve/Sliabh na mBan, a mountain in County Tipperary.

From an interview with  Dr. Mary McAuliffe, an historian who specializes in women’s history of the medieval period in Ireland:

“It seems that there were no witchcraft trials in the Gaelic Irish areas. There isn’t a tradition of witchcraft in the Gaelic Irish communities because people believed in magical women….  Another interesting thing about the… case was that it happened in Slieve na mBan, where the barrier between this world and the next is thinnest. Slieve na mBan means the ‘mountain of women.'” 

From Finn’s Household in Part II Book I of

Gods and Fighting Men
The Story of the Tuatha De Danaan
and of the Fianna of Ireland,
arranged and put into English
by Lady Augusta Gregory
with a preface by W. B. Yeats

“Where do you come from, little one, yourself and your sweet music?” said Finn. “I am come,” he said, “out of the place of the Sidhe in Slieve-nam-ban….”

Finn, again!James Joyce

Thursday October 17, 2002

Filed under: General — m759 @ 5:04 AM

To the Green Lady
 of Perelandra

View from the slopes of Slieve na mBan

In honor of the relationship between theology and literature, of the Green Lady of C. S. Lewis, and of… 

John Flood BA, MA (NUI), Ph.D. (Dublin)
Senior Lecturer. Formerly a tutor at the National University of Ireland, Maynooth, and Trinity College, Dublin, his Ph.D. was on the influence of the interpretation of the figure of Eve in Early Modern writing. His research interests include the Renaissance, George Orwell, J. R. R. Tolkien and the relationship between theology and literature.

… this site’s music is now Caoine Cill Chais, The Lament for Kilcash.

Wednesday, October 16, 2002

Wednesday October 16, 2002

Filed under: General — m759 @ 6:29 PM

Garden Party Revisited

From the Archives:  On this date in 1992,

“Sinead O’Connor was booed off the stage at a show honoring Bob Dylan at Madison Square Garden (famous for booing folks off the stage)….

Click for ordering information.

Sinead’s new album.  The Gaelic title, “Sean-Nos Nua,” means
Old-Style New.

The crowd was acting in disapproval of O’Connor’s tearing up a picture of Pope John Paul II on ‘Saturday Night Live’ October 3, 1992.”

Go mbeidh rincí fada ag gabháil timpeall,
Ceol veidhlín is tinte cnámh.

Wednesday October 16, 2002

Filed under: General — m759 @ 4:20 AM

"History is a nightmare
from which I am trying to awake"
— James Joyce in Ulysses

"Be of good cheer, Master Ridley, and play the man, for we shall this day light such a candle in England as I trust by God's grace shall never be put out."
— Hugh Latimer, former Bishop of Worcester, to his friend Nicholas Ridley, former private chaplain to Henry VIII, on the occasion of their being burned at the stake by the Roman Catholic queen Bloody Mary Tudor on October 16, 1555

Wednesday October 16, 2002

Filed under: General — m759 @ 3:45 AM

Hitler’s Still Point

For the views of the noted philosopher Adolf Hitler on the Roman Catholic Church, click here

Tuesday, October 15, 2002

Tuesday October 15, 2002

Filed under: General — m759 @ 9:10 PM

Are the hams silent now, Clarice? 

See also my Xanga entry of August 3, 2002.

Tuesday October 15, 2002

Filed under: General — m759 @ 2:10 PM

From the Archives:

On this date in 1971, “Rick Nelson was booed off the stage when he didn’t stick to all oldies at the seventh Annual Rock ’n’ Roll Revival show at Madison Square Garden, New York. He tried to slip in some of his new material and the crowd did not approve. The negative reaction to his performance inspired Nelson to write his last top-40 hit, ‘Garden Party,’ which hit the top-ten about a year after the Madison Square Garden debacle. ‘Garden Party,’ ironically, was Nelson’s biggest hit in years.”

“With a little effort, anything can be shown to connect with anything else: existence is infinitely cross-referenced.”

Opening sentence of Martha Cooley’s The Archivist

Woe unto
them that
call evil
good, and
good evil;
that put
for light,
and light
for darkness

Isaiah 5:20

As she spoke
about the Trees
of Life
and Death,
I watched her…
The Archivist

The world
has gone
mad today
And good’s
bad today,

And black’s
white today,
And day’s
night today

Cole Porter

Actor Pat O’Brien died on this date in 1983.

“A man in Ireland, who came in contact with a Bible colporteur, at first repulsed him. Finally he was persuaded to take a Bible and later he said: ‘I read a wee bit out of the New Testament every day, and I pray to God every night and morning.’  When asked if it helped him to read God’s Word and to pray, he answered: ‘Indade it does. When I go to do anything wrong, I just say to myself, “Pat, you’ll be talking to God tonight.” That keeps me from doing it!'”

… noun…
Etymology: French, alteration of Middle French comporteur, from comporter to bear, peddle….
a peddler of religious books

Monday, October 14, 2002

Monday October 14, 2002

Filed under: General — m759 @ 11:11 PM

Going His Way

October 14 in history:

1888 Katherine Mansfield, author, is born.

1977 Bing Crosby, singer/actor (Going My Way), dies.

“He was given up to his dream. What did garden-parties and baskets and lace frocks matter to him? He was far from all those things. He was wonderful, beautiful…. Happy … happy … All is well, said that sleeping face. This is just as it should be. I am content.”

— Katherine Mansfield, “The Garden Party

In honor of Mansfield, Crosby, and other authors and singers, this site’s music is now a midi rendition of Rick Nelson’s classic.

Sunday, October 13, 2002

Sunday October 13, 2002

Filed under: General — Tags: — m759 @ 10:55 PM

Two Literary Classics
(and a visit from a saint)

On this date in 1962, Edward Albee's classic play, "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" opened on Broadway.

George and Martha by
Edward Albee

Click to enlarge.
George and Martha by
 St. James Marshall

As I was preparing this entry, based on the October 13 date of the Albee play's opening, after I looked for a picture of Marshall's book I thought I'd better check dates related to Marshall, too.   This is what I was surprised to find:  Marshall (b. Oct. 10, 1942) died in 1992 on today's date, October 13.  This may be verified at

The James Edward Marshall memorial page,

A James Edward Marshall biography, and

Author Anniversaries for October 13.

The titles of the three acts of Albee's play suffice to indicate its dark spiritual undercurrents:

"Fun and Games" (Act One),
"Walpurgisnacht" (Act Two) and
"The Exorcism" (Act Three).

A theological writer pondered Albee in 1963:

"If, as Tillich has said of Picasso's Guernica, a 'Protestant' picture means not covering up anything but looking at 'the human situation in its depths of estrangement and despair,' then we could call Edward Albee's Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? a 'Protestant' play. On any other definition it might be difficult to justify its religious significance except as sheer nihilism."
— Hugh T. Kerr, Theological Table-Talk, July 1963

It is a great relief to have another George and Martha (who first appeared in 1972) to turn to on this dark anniversary, and a doubly great relief to know that Albee's darkness is balanced by the light of Saint James Edward Marshall, whose feast day is today.

For more on the carousel theme of the Marshall book's cover, click the link for "Spinning Wheel" in the entry below.

Saturday, October 12, 2002

Saturday October 12, 2002

Filed under: General — Tags: — m759 @ 3:26 PM

She's a…
Twentieth Century Fox

Columbus Day
Dinner Dance

Date: Sat Oct 12, 2002
Time: 6:30pm-???
Italian American Club
of Southern Nevada

2333 East Sahara Ave.,
Las Vegas, NV 89104
Live music by Boyd Culter's 5-Piece band, prime rib dinner, and dancing at the Italian-American Club of Southern Nevada. All are welcome to attend. Tickets are only $25 and must be purchased in advance.
Cost: $25.00
For More information
Call 457-3866  or visit  
Web Site

In honor of this dance, of Columbus, and of Joan Didion, this site's music for the weekend is "Spinning Wheel."  For the relevance of this music, see Chapter 65 (set in Las Vegas) of Didion's 1970 novel Play It As It Lays, which, taken by itself, is one of the greatest short stories of the twentieth century.

The photograph of Didion on the back cover of Play It (taken when she was about 36) is one of the most striking combinations of beauty and intelligence that I have ever seen.

She's the queen of cool
And she's the lady who waits.
The Doors, "Twentieth Century Fox," Jan. 1967

Play It As It Lays is of philosophical as well as socio-literary interest; it tells of a young actress's struggles with Hollywood nihilism.  For related material, see The Studio by Didion's husband, John Gregory Dunne.  A review of Dunne's book:

"Not since F. Scott Fitzgerald and Nathanael West has anyone done Hollywood better."

High praise indeed.

Friday, October 11, 2002

Friday October 11, 2002

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

The Fourth Man:
In Lieu of Rosebud, Part III


Posted on Fri, Oct. 11, 2002

Carlos Castañeda, who led
El Nuevo Herald, dies at 70

Carlos Castañeda, the publisher emeritus of El Nuevo Herald whose passionate belief in a free press helped guide several newspapers across Latin America, died Thursday morning in Lisbon, Portugal. He was 70.

From a site titled
Enlightened Transmissions“:

The Active Side of Infinity

by Carlos Castañeda

Carlos’ last book before his untimely death. In his desperate search for meaning, Carlos recapitulates Don Juan’s teachings in perhaps his best effort. The nature of silence, and the statement that the egoic mind is a foreign implant, give deep resonance to these final teachings of Don Juan.

Perhaps a little too active.

Arthur Koestler’s somewhat more respectable mystical thoughts about infinity may be found here.  Related material: my September 5 entry, Arrow in the Blue.

Added ca. 10 to 11:40 p.m. October 11, 2002:

A review of Castaneda seems in order… the bad Carlos, not the good Carlos.  (The bad Carlos being, of course, the bullshit artist who apparently died in 1998, and the good Carlos the publisher who died yesterday.)

From the LiveJournal site of fermina —

Today’s Public Service Message:

Hi. You’re going to die.

My comment:

From a review of Carlos Castaneda’s last book, The Active Side of Infinity:

“We wind up learning something more of Castaneda but not much at all about the active side of infinity, which is mystically translated as ‘intent.’ It appears that we ought to live with intent, never forgetting that we will die, regardless. Death (and the knowledge of it) should thus inform all of our actions and relationships, providing a perspective and enforcing our humility. This is hardly an original idea, and it can’t justify wading through Castaneda’s welter of self-indulgence, which might translate better to a bumper-sticker adage.”

Hmm… What adage might that be?

As for the good Carlos, see “In Lieu of Rosebud, Part II,” below… As was said of Saint Francis Borgia, whose feast is celebrated on the day good Carlos died, he

rendered glorious a name which, but for him, would have remained a source of humiliation.


Friday October 11, 2002

Filed under: General — m759 @ 5:35 AM

In Lieu of Rosebud, Part II*


Posted on Fri, Oct. 11, 2002 

Bernard Ridder dies at 85
Publisher built newspaper empire


Bernard H. Ridder Jr., once one of the nation’s most influential publishers and the inheritor and protector of a family tradition of newspapering, died Thursday night. He was 85….

”If there is one thing he instilled in me,” [his son] Peter Ridder said, “it was to be honest. If you don’t know the answer, say so.”

His father had been publisher of the St. Paul newspapers; his grandfather, Herman Ridder, launched the family business in 1875 as publisher of The Catholic News in New York.

Though six-foot-five and with a commanding presence, he also was known as an honest, compassionate man and boss.

A private memorial service will be held at a date to be determined, the family said. In lieu of flowers, relatives suggested a contribution to a charity of the donor’s choice.

Karl J. Karlson of The St. Paul Pioneer Press contributed to this report.

* For “In Lieu of Rosebud, Part I,” see my entry of October 10, 9:44 a.m., below.

My contributions:

Harry Lime  —

“In Italy for 30 years under the Borgias they had warfare, terror, murder, and bloodshed, but they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, and the Renaissance. In Switzerland they had brotherly love – they had 500 years of democracy and peace, and what did that produce? The cuckoo clock …”

The Catholic Encyclopedia

It is with good reason that Spain and the Church venerate in St. Francis Borgia a great man and a great saint. The highest nobles of Spain are proud of their descent from, or their connexion with him. By his penitent and apostolic life he repaired the sins of his family and rendered glorious a name, which but for him, would have remained a source of humiliation for the Church.

His feast is celebrated 10 October.

The New York Times of October 11, 2002 —

This year’s winner of the Nobel Prize for literature is Imre Kertész, a writer on Auschwitz.

http://auschwitz.dk/Orson.htm —

In honor of Orson Welles and Bernard Ridder (who both died on October 10), of  Imre Kertész (who won a Nobel Prize on October 10), and of the parent site of the Third Man site,


this site’s music is now the Third Man Theme.

Thursday, October 10, 2002

Thursday October 10, 2002

Filed under: General — m759 @ 11:22 PM

Happy National Depression Day!

Welcome to Hilbert’s Hotel

Moray Eel Desk Clerk by Ralph Steadman
(missing drawing from Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas)
15″x 22″. Edition of 50. $175

“Although it’s always crowded,
you still can find some room…”

“Some of our patrons have
very SPECIFIC tastes.” 


A Room at the
Heartbreak Hotel

Song by U2,
Lyrics from Scott A. Yanoff

(These lyrics differ from the official
 version, but I like them better.)

From where I stand
I can see through you
And well ya said pretty woman
“I know it got to you”

I see the stars in your eyes
I want the truth but you want the lies
I dream you come, I run to you
You gave your life for rock ‘n roll a-ha

Stay, we’re on the dark side of love
You’ve got everything you wanted
But what you needed you gave away
For primitive love

And we’re riding the mystery train
For primitive love
A room at the heart
Hearbreak hotel
A room at the heartbreak
Heartbreak hotel
A room at the heartbreak
Heartbreak hotel

(Rest of song continues as above)

You say it’s love, it’s not the money
You let them suck your life out
   like honey
Full of tricks
You’re on the street
Selling your kisses so very sweet

(I’m back.  And I’m gonna make it
I’m gonna make it
Oh the prize is to hold you back)

A primitive love
And we’re riding the mystery train
A primitive love
A room at the heart
Heartbreak hotel.

(Guitar fills, etc.)

See also the official U2 site.

Thursday October 10, 2002

Filed under: General — m759 @ 9:44 AM

In Lieu of Rosebud…

On this date in 1985, Orson Welles died

…sitting at his typewriter, working on the next day's script changes for his movie,"The Other Side of the Wind."

— Louis Bülow, The Third Man and Orson Welles

From a review of "Leaving Las Vegas" — a film starring Nicolas Cage that includes a tribute to Welles:

At least Cage dies without saying "Rosebud."

To me, the musical equivalent of "Rosebud" in this film is a song that Sting sings on the soundtrack, "Angel Eyes," which of course was rendered to perfection in Vegas by Sinatra long before Cage and Sting.

One visual equivalent, in turn, of "Angel Eyes," is to me a sketch for a painting I did in 1976.  This has been likened to the many eyes of an angelic creature named Proginoskes in a novel for children and adolescents by Madeleine L'Engle.

Perhaps the dark cynicism of Leaving Las Vegas (the book) might be somewhat counterbalanced by the looney religiosity of A Wind in the Door, L'Engle's novel.

At any rate, here are links to the "Angel Eyes"

music and picture.

© 1976 Steven H. Cullinane

Also, "Angel Eyes" is now the background music for this site; one night of the Bach midi was enough.

Wednesday, October 9, 2002

Wednesday October 9, 2002

Filed under: General — m759 @ 11:36 PM

Annie’s Song

In honor of Apollo (see entries below) and of the Red Mass celebrated tonight on the TV drama “The West Wing,” this site’s music is, for the time being, Bach’s

Mass in B minor  (BWV.232) 
   § 17. Et in spiritum sanctum (10k) (arr. for 2 guitars by Richard Yates) (David Lovell)

from the Classical Guitar Midi Archives.

Wednesday October 9, 2002

Filed under: General — m759 @ 5:01 PM


Apollo and Dionysus

From the New York Times of October 9, 2002:

Daniel Deverell Perry, a Long Island architect who created the marble temple of art housing the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute in Williamstown, Mass., died Oct. 2 in Woodstock, N.Y…. He was 97.


Clark Art Institute

Nymphs and Satyr


From The Birth of Tragedy, by Friedrich Nietzsche (tr. by Shaun Whiteside):

Chapter 1….

To the two gods of art, Apollo and Dionysus, we owe our recognition that in the Greek world there is a tremendous opposition, as regards both origins and aims, between the Apolline art of the sculptor and the non-visual, Dionysiac art of music.

Chapter 25….

From the foundation of all existence, the Dionysiac substratum of the world, no more can enter the consciousness of the human individual than can be overcome once more by that Apolline power of transfiguration, so that both of these artistic impulses are forced to unfold in strict proportion to one another, according to the law of eternal justice.  Where the Dionysiac powers have risen as impetuously as we now experience them, Apollo, enveloped in a cloud, must also have descended to us; some future generation will behold his most luxuriant effects of beauty.


  • On the Clark Art Institute, from Perry’s obituary in the Times:

    “When it opened in 1955, overlooking 140 acres of fields and ponds, Arts News celebrated its elegant galleries as the ‘best organized and most highly functional museum erected anywhere.'”

  • The “Nymphs and Satyr” illustration above is on the cover of “CAI: Journal of the Clark Art Institute,” Volume 3, 2002.  It is a detail from the larger work of the same title by William Bouguereau.
  • Today, October 9, is the anniversary of the dedication in 28 B.C. of the Temple to Apollo on the Palatine Hill in Rome.  See the journal entry below, which emphasizes the point that Apollo and Dionysus are not as greatly opposed as one might think.

Wednesday October 9, 2002

Filed under: General — Tags: — m759 @ 2:40 AM
To Apollo

On this date in 28 B.C. the Temple of Apollo
was dedicated on the Palatine Hill in Rome.

Horace, Odes, XXXI

Frui paratis et valido mihi,
Latoe, dones et precor integra
Cum mente nec turpem senectam
Degere nec cithara carentem.

O grant me, Phoebus, calm content,
Strength unimpaird, a mind entire,
Old age without dishonour spent,
Nor unbefriended by the lyre!

— The Odes and Carmen Saeculare of Horace,
John Conington, translator.
London, George Bell and Sons, 1882.

Representations of Apollo: 





See also
The Angel in the Stone

"Everything is found 
and lost and buried 
and then found again"

— Tanya Wendling

Tuesday, October 8, 2002

Tuesday October 8, 2002

Filed under: General,Geometry — Tags: — m759 @ 4:08 AM
Starflight Theme

On Graham Greene’s novel
The Human Factor:

“Greene, always the master of economy, never wrote a tighter or more beautifully focused novel.”
Steve Robertson

“The main character is Maurice Castle, the head of the Africa station for a branch of British intelligence….  [the] writing is sparse and neat rather than languid or flowery….”
Kevin Holtsberry 

From Chapter I: 

“Castle could see that telling the truth this time had been an error of judgement, yet, except on really important occasions, he always preferred the truth.  The truth can be double-checked.”

On fiction and truth: 

Here is a short story that is
tight, focused, sparse, and neat.

The story is also true.

Mate in 2 
V. Nabokov, 1919

This problem embodies the “starflight” theme;
for details, see Tim Krabbé’s
 Open Chess Diary, entry 9.

As the example of Nabokov shows, a taste for truth (as in chess or geometry) may accompany a taste for fiction.  This applies also to Krabbé, as shown by the following reviews of his novel The Cave:

New York Times
“Krabbe’s carefully constructed narrative has a geometry so precise that the patterns buried under the surface emerge only in the final pages.”

Library Journal
“A diamond of a book- perfectly proportioned, multifaceted, and containing not one wasted word”

Monday, October 7, 2002

Monday October 7, 2002

Filed under: General — m759 @ 4:10 PM

Comment to Wakariyasui, translated

I do not understand your phrase “the angel and the stone” (though I like it).  Yes, many feel something is missing, and that their life is not complete.  But also they are wise if they are suspicious of “vision.”  Many visions are, of course, false.  –A fellow wanderer.

Monday October 7, 2002

Filed under: General — m759 @ 3:50 AM

Music for R.D. Laing

In honor of the birth in Scotland on this date in 1927 of R. D. Laing, author of The Facts of Life, this site's music is today taken from the classic film "The Piano."


From the 1991 4th draft of Jane Campion's screenplay for
"The Piano":

               Tell me about my real father.

ADA nods and strokes FLORA's hair from her face. FLORA leans back.

               How did you speak to him?

ADA signs to FLORA who watches in love with all the stories of her mother and unreal father.

                         ADA (subtitled)
               I didn't need to speak, I could
               lay thoughts out in his mind
               like they were a sheet

               What happened? Why didn't you
               get married?

ADA continues to sign, her hands casting odd animal-like shadows on the newspapered walls.

                         ADA cont.
               After a while he became
               frightened and he stopped

               She has spoken to me. I heard
               her voice. There was no sound,
               but I heard it here (he presses
               his forehead with a palm of his
               hand). Her voice was there in
               my head. I watched her lips,
               they did not make the words,
               yet the harder I listened the
               clearer I heard her, as clear
               as I hear you, as clear as I
               hear my own voice.

               (trying to understand)
               Spoken words?

               No, but her words are in my
               head. (He looks at BAINES and
               pauses.) I know what you think,
               that it's a trick, that I'm
               making it up. No, the words I
               heard were her words.

Sunday, October 6, 2002

Sunday October 6, 2002

Filed under: General — m759 @ 4:40 AM

Twenty-first Century Fox

On Sunday, October 6, 1889, the Moulin Rouge music hall opened in Paris, an event that to some extent foreshadowed the opening of Fox Studios Australia in Sydney on November 7, 1999.  The Fox ceremonies included, notably, Kylie Minogue singing “Diamonds are a Girl’s Best Friend.” 

Red Windmill

Kylie Minogue

For the mathematical properties of the red windmill (moulin rouge) figure at left, see Diamond Theory.

Saturday, October 5, 2002

Saturday October 5, 2002

Filed under: General — m759 @ 11:30 PM

The Message from Vega

“Mercilessly tasteful”
 — Andrew Mueller,
review of Suzanne Vega’s
Songs in Red and Gray


Saturday October 5, 2002

Filed under: General — m759 @ 12:00 PM

Zen holy day:

Bodhidharma Day

Epigraph to Chapter 23 of Contact, by Carl Sagan:

We have not followed cunningly devised fables….
— II Peter 1:16

Song lyric:

It’s still the same old story….
— Herman Hupfeld, 1931

From Chapter 23 of Contact, by Carl Sagan:

  “You mean you could decode a picture hiding in pi and it would be a mess of Hebrew letters?”
  “Sure.  Big black letters, carved in stone.”
  He looked at her quizzically.
  “Forgive me, Eleanor, but don’t you think you’re being a mite too… indirect?  You don’t belong to a silent order of Buddhist nuns.  Why don’t you just tell your story?”

Moonlight and love songs,
never out of date…. 

See also my journal note 
for Michaelmas, 2002,
Pi in the Sky.” 

Friday, October 4, 2002

Friday October 4, 2002

Filed under: General — Tags: — m759 @ 4:17 AM

The Agony and the Ya-Ya

Today's birthdays:

  • Charlton Heston
  • Anne Rice
  • Patti LaBelle

To honor the birth of these three noted spiritual leaders, I make the following suggestion: Use the mandorla as the New Orleans Mardi Gras symbol.  Rice lives in New Orleans and LaBelle's classic "Lady Marmalade" deals with life in that colorful city.

What, you may well ask, is the mandorla? This striking visual symbol was most recently displayed prominently at a meeting of U.S. cardinals in the Pope's private library on Shakespeare's birthday.  The symbol appears in the upper half of a painting above the Pope.

From Church Anatomy:

The illustration below shows how Barbara G. Walker in her excellent book "The Woman’s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets" describes the mandorla.




The Agony
and the Ecstasy

Based on a novel by Irving Stone, this 1965 movie focuses on the relationship between Michelangelo (Charlton Heston) and Pope Julius II (Rex Harrison), who commissioned the artist to paint the Sistine Chapel ceiling.

Vesica piscis

Mandorla, "almond," the pointed-oval sign of the yoni, is used in oriental art to signify the divine female genital; also called vesica piscis, the Vessel of the Fish. Almonds were holy symbols because of their female, yonic connotations.

Christian art similarly used the mandorla as a frame for figures of God, Jesus, and saints, because the artists forgot what it formerly meant. I. Frazer, G.B., 403



For further details on the mandorla (also known as the "ya-ya") see my June 12, 2002, note The Ya-Ya Monologues.
A somewhat less lurid use of the mandorla in religious art — the emblem of the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina, taken from the website of St. Michael's Church in Charleston — is shown below.

Thursday, October 3, 2002

Thursday October 3, 2002

Filed under: General — m759 @ 4:33 PM


A memorial to jazz pianist Ellis Larkins,
who died on Michaelmas.

Thursday October 3, 2002

Filed under: General — m759 @ 1:06 PM

Literary Landmarks

From Dr. Mac’s Cultural Calendar for Oct. 3:

“On this day in 1610, Ben Jonson’s funniest comedy The Alchemist was entered into the Stationer’s Register.  It involves a servant who when the masters are away sets up a necromantic shop, tricking all and everyone.”

From Literary Calendar for tomorrow, Oct. 4:

“1892 — Robert Lawson, the only author/illustrator to win both the Caldecott Award and the Newbery Award—both coveted awards in the United States for children’s literature, is born.”

As a child I was greatly influenced by Robert Lawson’s illustrations for the Godolphin abridgement of Pilgrim’s Progress.  Later I was to grow up partly in Cuernavaca, Mexico, an appropriate setting for The Valley of the Shadow of Death and other Bunyan/Lawson themes.  Still later, I encountered Malcolm Lowry’s great novel Under the Volcano, set in Cuernavaca.  Lowry’s novel begins with an epigraph from Bunyan.  For the connection with Ben Jonson, see Pete Hamill’s article “The Alchemist of Cuernavaca” in Art News magazine, April 2001, pages 134-137.   See also my journal note of April 4, 2001, The Black Queen.

Wednesday, October 2, 2002

Wednesday October 2, 2002

Filed under: General — m759 @ 9:52 AM

A Crackpot with Power

The following is an greatly abbreviated version of a sci.math group thread on an attempted proof of the four-color theorem.

  • Chip Eastham 2000-10-13 :

    There is a nicely presented approach to proving the Four Color Theorem… at the following… site:


  • “Default” 2000-10-13:

    Where in the proof is the hypothesis of “requiring N colors” (not colorable with N-1 colors) used?

  • Michael Varney 2000-10-14:

    (Following some banter) Go play elsewhere if you buy into 4CT crackpot proofs.

  • “Default” 2000-10-14:

    The proposed 4CT proof is hardly crackpot, and may contain some new ideas (or reformulations of old ones).

  • Michael Varney 2000-10-14:

    That’s what all crackpots say. Join the club.

  • David Eppstein 2000-10-14:

    My first-glance reaction is that it’s an amazing collection of undigested chunks of heavy equipment. It seems more designed to confuse any expert (by making sure it contains something the expert doesn’t understand) than to convince anyone of the truth of the 4CT.

  • “Default” 2000-10-15:

    Skimming the proof I did not see any place where the minimality of the chromatic number N was used, nor any explanation of why a 12-fold covering is introduced (other than it fits the numerology needed to rule out a Steiner system). This makes me skeptical about the proof, but it’s hardly crackpot.

The author of this attempted proof, Ashay Dharwadker, is now an editor of the following Open Directory Project categories:

Science: Math: Combinatorics   and
Science: Math: Combinatorics: Graph Theory.

I agree with “Default,” Eppstein, and Varney.

As “Default” notes, the proof is invalid,  since it does not even use the hypotheses of the theorem.  I pointed this out in November 2000 in a sub-page of a website in the Open Directory combinatorics category,

I also agree with Eppstein that Dharwadker’s writing seems “designed to confuse.” 

Finally, I strongly agree with Varney that Dharwadker is a crackpot.  I reluctantly arrived at this conclusion only last night, after learning that

  1. Dharwadker, who formerly had edited only the graph theory Open Directory category, now is a co-editor of its parent category, combinatorics, and that
  2. My website containing a criticism of Dharwadker’s work has been deleted from the Open Directory combinatics listings. This site, “Diamond Theory,” is only incidentally related to Dharwadker’s attempted proof, and has been in the Open Directory combinatorics listing for about two years.  

Crackpots are annoying, but crackpots with power are both contemptible and infuriating.  I am currently trying to rectify the appalling mistake made by whoever appointed Dharwadker to a position of responsibility.

Tuesday, October 1, 2002

Tuesday October 1, 2002

Filed under: General — m759 @ 1:31 AM

Comment to Wakariyasui:

You are a philosopher after my own heart.

Here’s a big smile from old Douglas and
a link to a midi of the sort he apparently liked.

Posted 10/1/2002 at 1:10 am by m759

Tuesday October 1, 2002

Filed under: General — Tags: , — m759 @ 12:25 AM

Who’s on First?

To Lucero on October First, 2002:
A Poem by Homero Aridjis


Es tu nombre y es también octubre
es el diván y tus ungüentos
es ella tú la joven de las turbaciones
y son las palomas en vuelos secretos
y el último escalón de la torre
y es la amada acechando el amor en antemuros
y es lo dable en cada movimiento y los objetos
y son los pabellones
y el no estar del todo en una acción
y es el Cantar de los Cantares
y es el amor que te ama
y es un resumen de vigilia
de vigilancia sola al borde de la noche
al borde del soñador y los insomnios
y también es abril y noviembre
y los disturbios interiores de agosto
y es tu desnudez
que absorbe la luz de los espejos
y es tu capacidad de trigo
de hacerte mirar en las cosas
y eres tú y soy yo
y es un caminarte en círculo
dar a tus hechos dimensión de arco
y a solas con tu impulso decirte la palabra.

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