Saturday, August 30, 2003

Saturday August 30, 2003

Filed under: General — m759 @ 12:00 AM

Happy Birthday,
Mary Shelley

Frank and Stein quickly realized
they needed the big three things
that every programming language has:
a father;
a name;
and something cool.”

Sounds to me more like a religion.

Premodern Religion…

See Union of American Hebrew Congregations

Modern (A.D.) religion…

See my note
Catholic Tastes
of July 27, 2003. 

Postmodern religion…

See my note
The Transcendent Signified
of July 26, 2003.

Friday, August 29, 2003

Friday August 29, 2003

Filed under: General — m759 @ 3:07 PM

The Shining of Park Place

Today is the birthday of Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr., writer, dean of Harvard Medical School, father of Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., and author of at least seven hymns.

It is also the feast day of Saint Lewis Henry Redner, author of the tune now known as “O Little Town of Bethlehem.”  Redner was church organist for Phillips Brooks, who wrote the “Bethlehem” lyrics but then published the hymn under the facetious name “St. Louis,” a deliberate misspelling of Redner’s name.

Redner died on August 29, 1908, at the Marlborough Hotel in Atlantic City.

Since Holmes Sr. was both a poet and the father of a famous lawyer, a reference to poet-lawyer Wallace Stevens seems in order.

To wit:

“We keep coming back and coming back
To the real: to the hotel
instead of the hymns….”

— Wallace Stevens,
An Ordinary Evening in New Haven

From Best Atlantic City Hotels:

Bally’s Park Place, located at Park Place and Boardwalk, partially stands on the site of the former Marlborough Hotel.

For some background on the theology of hotels, see Stephen King’s classic The Shining and my own note, Shining Forth.

Let us pray that any haunting at the current Park Place and Boardwalk location is done by the blessed spirit of Saint Lewis Redner.


Atlantic City

Park Place



Postscript of 7:11 PM —

From an old Dave Barry column:

“Beth thinks the casinos should offer more of what she described as ‘fun’ games, the type of entertainment-for-the-whole-family activities that people engage in to happily while away the hours. If Beth ran a casino, there would be a brightly lit table surrounded by high rollers in tuxedos and evening gowns, and the air would be charged with excitement as a player rolled the dice, and the crowd would lean forward, and the shout would ring out…

‘He landed on Park Place!’ “

Charles Lindbergh seems to have done
just that.  See yesterday’s entry


and today’s New York Times story

Lindbergh the Family Man.


Thursday, August 28, 2003

Thursday August 28, 2003

Filed under: General — Tags: — m759 @ 11:35 PM


of Saint Augustine

"Frère Jacques, Cuernavaca,
 ach du lieber August."

— John O'Hara, Hope of Heaven


 of heaven"
= "himmlisches

Englisch/Deutsch Wörterbuch

See also today's previous entries.

Thursday August 28, 2003

Filed under: General — Tags: — m759 @ 9:26 PM


          Sigrid Estrada

Louise Glück, the
U.S. poet laureate.

Pulitzer winner Glück
named poet laureate


The Associated Press
8/28/2003, 6:26 PM ET

WASHINGTON (AP) — Louise Glück, winner of a Pulitzer Prize and a dozen other poetry awards, will be the next U.S. poet laureate….

Asked for a sample of her work, she suggested five lines from “The Seven Ages,” published in 2001:

“Immunity to time, to change.  Sensation

Of perfect safety, the sense of being

Protected from what we loved

And our intense need was
                        absorbed by the night

And returned as sustenance.”

Thursday August 28, 2003

Filed under: General — Tags: , , — m759 @ 6:35 PM


In memory of
 Walter J. Ong, S. J.,
professor emeritus
at St. Louis University,
St. Louis, Missouri

"The Garden of Eden is behind us
and there is no road back to innocence;
we can only go forward."

— Anne Morrow Lindbergh,
Earth Shine, p. xii

  Earth Shine, p. xiii: 

We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.

— T. S. Eliot, Four Quartets.

Eliot was a native of St. Louis.

"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."

Mark Helprin, Winter's Tale

Book Cover,

"The pattern of the heavens
     and high, night air"
Wallace Stevens,
An Ordinary Evening in New Haven

See also my notes of
Monday, August 25, 2003
(the feast day of Saint Louis,
for whom the city is named).

For a more Eden-like city,
see my note of
October 23, 2002,
on Cuernavaca, Mexico,
where Charles Lindbergh
courted Anne Morrow.

Wednesday, August 27, 2003

Wednesday August 27, 2003

Filed under: General — m759 @ 3:40 AM

Crystal and Dragon

David Wade published a book called Crystal and Dragon in 1993 about the apparent opposites of structure and fluidity, order and chaos, law and freedom, and so on.

Here is a page on these concepts as they relate to my mathematical work.

Monday, August 25, 2003

Monday August 25, 2003

Filed under: General — Tags: , — m759 @ 4:24 AM

Words Are Events

August 12 was the date of death of Joseph Patrick Kennedy, Jr., and the date I entered some theological remarks in a new Harvard weblog.  It turns out that August 12 was also the feast day of a new saint… Walter Jackson Ong, of St. Louis University, St. Louis, Missouri, a Jesuit institution.

Today, August 25, is the feast day of St. Louis himself, for whom the aforementioned city and university are named.

The New York Times states that Ong was "considered an outstanding postmodern theorist, whose ideas spawned college courses…."

There is, of course, no such thing as a postmodern Jesuit, although James Joyce came close.

From The Walter J. Ong Project:

"Ong's work is often presented alongside the postmodern and deconstruction theories of Claude Levi-Strauss, Jacques Derrida, Michel Foucault, Hélène Cixous, and others. His own work in orality and literacy shows deconstruction to be unnecessary: if you consider language to be fundamentally spoken, as language originally is, it does not consist of signs, but of events. Sound, including the spoken word, is an event. It takes time. The concept of 'sign,' by contrast, derives primarily not from the world of events, but from the world of vision. A sign can be physically carried around, an event cannot: it simply happens. Words are events."


From a commonplace book
on the number 911:

"We keep coming back and coming back
To the real: to the hotel
    instead of the hymns
That fall upon it out of the wind.
    We seek

The poem of pure reality, untouched
By trope or deviation,
    straight to the word,
Straight to the transfixing object,
    to the object

At the exactest point at which
    it is itself,
Transfixing by being purely
    what it is,
A view of New Haven, say,
    through the certain eye,

The eye made clear of uncertainty,
    with the sight
Of simple seeing, without reflection.
    We seek
Nothing beyond reality. Within it,

Everything, the spirit's alchemicana
Included, the spirit that goes
And through included,
    not merely the visible,

The solid, but the movable,
    the moment,
The coming on of feasts
     and the habits of saints,
The pattern of the heavens
     and high, night air."

Wallace Stevens (1879-1955)
An Ordinary Evening in New Haven
IX.1-18, from The Auroras of Autumn,
Knopf, NY (1950)
(Collected Poems, pp. 465-489)
NY Times Obituary (8-3-1955)


The web page where I found the Stevens quote also has the following:


Case 9 of Hekiganroku:
Joshu's Four Gates

A monk asked Joshu,
"What is Joshu?" (Chinese: Chao Chou)

Joshu said,
"East Gate, West Gate,
 North Gate, South Gate."

Setcho's Verse:

Its intention concealed,
    the question came;
The Diamond King's eye was
    as clear as a jewel.
There stood the gates,
    north, south, east, and west,
But the heaviest hammer blow
    could not open them.

Setcho (980-1052),
Hekiganroku, 9 (Blue Cliff Records)
(translated by Katsuki Sekida,
Two Zen Classics, 1977, p. 172)


See also my previous entry for today,
"Gates to the City."

Monday August 25, 2003

Filed under: General — Tags: — m759 @ 3:31 AM

Gates to the City

Today’s birthday:

On August 25, 1918, composer Leonard Bernstein was born.

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.

See also

Lenny’s Gate:

Fred Stein,
Central Park,

Thanks to Sonja Klein Fine Art
 for pointing out the Stein photo.

Sunday, August 24, 2003

Sunday August 24, 2003

Filed under: General — m759 @ 2:56 PM

Passing the Crown

Today’s New York Times Book Review vilifies author John O’Hara as a “jerk.”  Earlier this week, the Times called him a “lout.”  These attacks amount to a virtual crown of thorns. For commentary on these attacks by the Times (a publication generally more sympathetic to Jews than to Catholics), see

The Crucifixion of John O’Hara.

But there is, to use a term of Harvard philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson, “compensation.”

Today’s New York Times Magazine paints an excellent portrait of Harvard President Larry Summers.  This portrait, by author James Traub, is less than flattering.  Traub notes that Summers is “a blunt and overbearing figure,” and quotes an anonymous faculty friend of Summers as saying that many on campus “just despise him. The level of the intensity of their dislike for him is just shocking.”

Traub notes that at Harvard, “Despite the protections of tenure, virtually all of Summers’s critics were too afraid of him to be willing to be quoted by name.”

At Yale, however, at least one professor has dared to criticize Summers openly.

In the Boston Globe on August 14, Alex Beam, Globe columnist, quoted Yale music professor John Halle as saying that Summers, an economist, “knows the price of everything and the value of nothing. By all accounts, he is a deeply vulgar individual….”

These remarks suggest the following illustrations, based on today’s Times Book Review and Times Magazine, of a thorny crown being thoughtfully passed to a new generation.

Author O’Hara

President Summers

Saturday, August 23, 2003

Saturday August 23, 2003

Filed under: General — Tags: — m759 @ 3:07 AM

Pictures of Nothing

‘”The artist delights to go back to the first chaos of the world… All is without forms and void. Some one said of his landscapes that they were pictures of nothing, and very like.”

William Hazlitt, 1816, on J. M. W. Turner

“William Hazlett [sic] once described Turner’s painting as ‘pictures of the elements of air, earth, and water. The artist delights to go back to the first chaos of the world…All is without form and void. Some one said of his landscapes that they were pictures of nothing and very like.   This description could equally well be applied to a Pollock, Newman, or Rothko.”

— Sonja J. Klein, thesis, The Nature of the Sublime, September 2000

The fifty-second A. W. Mellon series of Lectures in the Fine Arts was given last spring at the National Gallery in Washington, D.C., by Kirk Varnedoe, art historian at the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, New Jersey.

The lecture series was titled

Pictures of Nothing:
Abstract Art since Pollock.


The lectures, 2003:

Why Abstract Art? … March 30

Survivals and Fresh Starts … April 6

Minimalism … April 13

After Minimalism … April 27

Satire, Irony, and Abstract Art … May 4

Abstract Art Now … May 11

Varnedoe died on Thursday, August 14, 2003,
the day of the Great Blackout.

Pictures of Nothing:

“Record-breaking crowds turned up at the National Gallery for Kirk’s Mellon Lectures….

… the content of Kirk’s talk was miraculously subtle, as he insisted that there could be no single explanation for how abstraction works, that each piece had to be understood on its own terms — how it came to be made, what it meant then and what it has gone on to mean to viewers since.

Dour works like

Frank Stella’s early
gray-on-black canvases

Die Fahne Hoch,”
Frank Stella,

“Gray on Black,”
or “Date of Death”

seemed to open up under Kirk’s touch to reveal a delicacy and complexity lost in less textured explanations.”

Blake Gopnik in the Washington Post,
Aug. 15, 2003

For another memorial to Varnedoe, see

Fahne Hoch.

A May 18 Washington Post article skillfully summarized Varnedoe’s Mellon Lectures at the National Gallery:

Closing the Circle on Abstract Art.

For more on art and nihilism, see

The Word in the Desert.

Friday, August 22, 2003

Friday August 22, 2003

Filed under: General — m759 @ 4:04 PM

Mr. Holland’s Week

On Monday, August 18, 2003,
a New York Times editor wrote
the following headline
for a book review:

Bending Over Backward
for a Well-Known Lout.

The word “lout” here refers to
author John O’Hara, who often
 wrote about his native Pennsylvania.

And in Three Days…

On Thursday, August 21, 2003,
the Pennsylvania Lottery
midday number was

For some other occurrences of this number,
see my entries of August 19, written
in honor of the birthday of
Jill St. John. 

The “three days” remark referred to above
is from another St. John (2:19), allegedly
the author of an account of the last days
of one Jesus of Nazareth.

Those who share Mel Gibson’s
taste for religious drama may
savor the following dialogue:

Jesus’ Response
to Dishonor

Dramatis Personae:

  • Narrator
  • Group 1
  • Group 2
  • Voice of Jesus
  • Voice of Doom
  • Voice of Hope

Narrator:  Those who had been healed did not join in with the throng at Jesus’ crucifixion who cried, “Crucify Him, crucify Him.”  ….

Voice of Doom:  It was a different story for the guilty ones who had fled from the presence of Jesus. 

Group 1:  The priests and rulers never forgot the feeling of guilt they felt that moment in the temple. 

Group 2:  The Holy Spirit flashed into their minds the prophets’ writings concerning Christ. Would they yield to this conviction?

Voice of Doom:  Nope!  They would have to repent first!   They would not admit that they were wrong!  They knew that they were dead wrong.  But they would not repent of it!  And because Jesus had discerned their thoughts, they hated Him.  With hate in their hearts they slowly returned to the temple.

Voice of Hope:  They could not believe their eyes when they saw the people being healed and praising God!  These guilty ones were convicted that in Jesus the prophecies of the Messiah were fulfilled. As much as they hated Jesus, they could not free themselves from the thought that He might be a prophet sent by God to restore the sacredness of the temple.

Voice of Doom:  So they asked Him a stupid question!   “What miracle can you perform to show us that you have the right to do what you did?”

Voice of Jesus:  “Destroy this temple and in three days I will build it again.”

Voice of Doom:  Those guys couldn’t believe it!

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

“Ask a stupid question…”

For further details, see

The Crucifixion of John O’Hara

Friday August 22, 2003

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

Birthday Tablet

“Of the world’s countless customs and traditions, perhaps none is as elegant, nor as beautiful, as the tradition of sangaku, Japanese temple geometry.”

Tony Rothman

Sangaku means “mathematical tablet.”

Here is a sangaku for
Dr. Mary McClintock Dusenbury
on her birthday.

For an explanation,
click here.

Tuesday, August 19, 2003

Tuesday August 19, 2003

Filed under: General — Tags: — m759 @ 10:23 PM

O'Hara's Fingerpost

In The New York Times Book Review of next Sunday (August 24, 2003), Book Review editor Charles McGrath writes that author John O'Hara

"… discovered a kind of story… in which a line of dialogue or even a single observed detail indicates that something crucial has changed."

From the Online Etymology Dictionary:

crucial – 1706, from Fr. crucial… from L. crux (gen. crucis) "cross." The meaning "decisive, critical" is extended from a logical term, Instantias Crucis, adopted by Francis Bacon (1620); the notion is of cross fingerboard signposts at forking roads, thus a requirement to choose.

The remainder of this note deals with the "single observed detail" 162.



Instantias Crucis

Francis Bacon says

"Among Prerogative Instances I will put in the fourteenth place Instances of the Fingerpost, borrowing the term from the fingerposts which are set up where roads part, to indicate the several directions. These I also call Decisive and Judicial, and in some cases, Oracular and Commanding Instances. I explain them thus. When in the investigation of any nature the understanding is so balanced as to be uncertain to which of two or more natures the cause of the nature in question should be assigned on account of the frequent and ordinary concurrence of many natures, instances of the fingerpost show the union of one of the natures with the nature in question to be sure and indissoluble, of the other to be varied and separable; and thus the question is decided, and the former nature is admitted as the cause, while the latter is dismissed and rejected. Such instances afford very great light and are of high authority, the course of interpretation sometimes ending in them and being completed. Sometimes these instances of the fingerpost meet us accidentally among those already noticed, but for the most part they are new, and are expressly and designedly sought for and applied, and discovered only by earnest and active diligence."

The original:

Inter praerogativas instantiarum, ponemus loco decimo quarto Instantias Crucis; translato vocabulo a Crucibus, quae erectae in biviis indicant et signant viarum separationes. Has etiam Instantias Decisorias et Judiciales, et in casibus nonnullis Instantias Oraculi et Mandati, appellare consuevimus. Earum ratio talis est. Cum in inquisitione naturae alicujus intellectus ponitur tanquam in aequilibrio, ut incertus sit utri naturarum e duabus, vel quandoque pluribus, causa naturae inquisitae attribui aut assignari debeat, propter complurium naturarum concursum frequentem et ordinarium, instantiae crucis ostendunt consortium unius ex naturis (quoad naturam inquisitam) fidum et indissolubile, alterius autem varium et separabile ; unde terminatur quaestio, et recipitur natura illa prior pro causa, missa altera et repudiata. Itaque hujusmodi instantiae sunt maximae lucis, et quasi magnae authoritatis; ita ut curriculum interpretationis quandoque in illas desinat, et per illas perficiatur. Interdum autem Instantiae Crucis illae occurrunt et inveniuntur inter jampridem notatas; at ut plurimum novae sunt, et de industria atque ex composito quaesitae et applicatae, et diligentia sedula et acri tandem erutae.

— Francis Bacon, Novum Organum, Book Two, "Aphorisms," Section XXXVI

A Cubist Crucifixion

An alternate translation:

"When in a Search of any Nature the Understanding stands suspended, the Instances of the Fingerpost shew the true and inviolable Way in which the Question is to be decided. These Instances afford great Light…"

From a review by Adam White Scoville of Iain Pears's novel titled An Instance of the Fingerpost:

"The picture, viewed as a whole, is a cubist description, where each portrait looks strikingly different; the failings of each character's vision are obvious. However, in a cubist painting the viewer often can envision the subject in reality. Here, even after turning the last page, we still have a fuzzy view of what actually transpired. Perhaps we are meant to see the story as a cubist retelling of the crucifixion, as Pilate, Barabbas, Caiaphas, and Mary Magdalene might have told it. If so, it is sublimely done so that the realization gradually and unexpectedly dawns upon the reader. The title, taken from Sir Francis Bacon, suggests that at certain times, 'understanding stands suspended' and in that moment of clarity (somewhat like Wordsworth's 'spots of time,' I think), the answer will become apparent as if a fingerpost were pointing at the way. The final narrative is also titled An Instance of the Fingerpost, perhaps implying that we are to see truth and clarity in this version. But the biggest mystery of this book is that we have actually have no reason to credit the final narrative more than the previous three and so the story remains an enigma, its truth still uncertain."

For the "162" enigma, see


The Matthias Defense, and

The Still Point and the Wheel.

See also the December 2001 Esquire and

the conclusion of my previous entry.

Tuesday August 19, 2003

Filed under: General,Geometry — Tags: — m759 @ 5:23 PM

Intelligence Test

From my August 31, 2002, entry quoting Dr. Maria Montessori on conciseness, simplicity, and objectivity:

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

Another Harvard psychiatrist, Armand Nicholi, is in the news lately with his book The Question of God: C.S. Lewis and Sigmund Freud Debate God, Love, Sex, and the Meaning of Life






For the meaning of the Old-Testament logos above, see the remarks of Plato on the immortality of the soul at


For the meaning of the New-Testament logos above, see the remarks of R. P. Langlands at

The Institute for Advanced Study.

For the meaning of life, see

The Gospel According to Jill St. John,

whose birthday is today.

"Some sources credit her with an I.Q. of 162."

Monday, August 18, 2003

Monday August 18, 2003

Filed under: General,Geometry — Tags: — m759 @ 3:09 PM

Entries since Xanga’s
August 10 Failure:

Sunday, August 17, 2003  2:00 PM

A Thorny Crown of…

West Wing's Toby Ziegler

From the first episode of
the television series
The West Wing“:


Original airdate: Sept. 22, 1999
Written by Aaron Sorkin

That New York sense of humor. It always–

Mary, there’s absolutely no need…

Please, Reverend, they think they’re so much smarter. They think it’s smart talk. But nobody else does.

I’m actually from Connecticut, but that’s neither here nor there. The point is that I hope…

She meant Jewish.

[A stunned silence. Everyone stares at Toby.]

When she said “New York sense of humor,” she was talking about you and me.

You know what, Toby, let’s just not even go there.


Going There, Part I


Crown of Ideas

Kirk Varnedoe, 57, art historian and former curator of the Museum of Modern Art, died Thursday, August 14, 2003.

From his New York Times obituary:

” ‘He loved life in its most tangible forms, and so for him art was as physical and pleasurable as being knocked down by a wave,’ said Adam Gopnik, the writer and a former student of his who collaborated on Mr. Varnedoe’s first big show at the Modern, ‘High & Low.’ ‘Art was always material first — it was never, ever bound by a thorny crown of ideas.’ ”

For a mini-exhibit of ideas in honor of Varnedoe, see

Fahne Hoch.

Verlyn Klinkenborg on Varnedoe:

“I was always struck by the tangibility of the words he used….  It was as if he were laying words down on the table one by one as he used them, like brushes in an artist’s studio. That was why students crowded into his classes and why the National Gallery of Art had overflow audiences for his Mellon Lectures earlier this year. Something synaptic happened when you listened to Kirk Varnedoe, and, remarkably, something synaptic happened when he listened to you. You never knew what you might discover together.”

Perhaps even a “thorny crown of ideas“?

“Crown of Thorns”
Cathedral, Brasilia

Varnedoe’s death coincided with
the Great Blackout of 2003.

“To what extent does this idea of a civic life produced by sense of adversity correspond to actual life in Brasília? I wonder if it is something which the city actually cultivates. Consider, for example the cathedral, on the monumental axis, a circular, concrete framed building whose sixteen ribs are both structural and symbolic, making a structure that reads unambiguously as a crown of thorns; other symbolic elements include the subterranean entrance, the visitor passing through a subterranean passage before emerging in the light of the body of the cathedral. And it is light, shockingly so….”

Modernist Civic Space: The Case of Brasilia, by Richard J. Williams, Department of History of Art, University of Edinburgh, Scotland


Going There, Part II

Simple, Bold, Clear

Art historian Kirk Varnedoe was, of course, not the only one to die on the day of the Great Blackout.

Claude Martel, 34, a senior art director of The New York Times Magazine, also died on Thursday, August 14, 2003.

Janet Froelich, the magazine’s art director, describes below a sample of work that she and Martel did together:

“A new world of ideas”

Froelich notes that “the elements are simple, bold, and clear.”

For another example of elements with these qualities, see my journal entry

Fahne Hoch.

The flag design in that entry
might appeal to Aaron Sorkin’s
Christian antisemite:


S. H. Cullinane,
Aug. 15, 2003

Dr. Mengele,
according to


Note that the elements of the flag design have the qualities described so aptly by Froelich– simplicity, boldness, clarity:

They share these qualities with the Elements of Euclid, a treatise on geometrical ideas.

For the manner in which such concepts might serve as, in Gopnik’s memorable phrase, a “thorny crown of ideas,” see

“Geometry for Jews” in

ART WARS: Geometry as Conceptual Art.

See also the discussion of ideas in my journal entry on theology and art titled

Understanding: On Death and Truth

and the discussion of the wordidea” (as well as the word, and the concept, “Aryan”) in the following classic (introduced by poet W. H. Auden):



Saturday, August 16, 2003  6:00 AM

Varnedoe’s Crown

Kirk Varnedoe, 57, art historian and former curator of the Museum of Modern Art, died Thursday, August 14, 2003.

From his New York Times obituary:

” ‘He loved life in its most tangible forms, and so for him art was as physical and pleasurable as being knocked down by a wave,’ said Adam Gopnik, the writer and a former student of his who collaborated on Mr. Varnedoe’s first big show at the Modern, ‘High & Low.’ ‘Art was always material first — it was never, ever bound by a thorny crown of ideas.’ “

For a mini-exhibit of ideas in honor of Varnedoe, see

Fahne Hoch. 

Verlyn Klinkenborg on Varnedoe:

“I was always struck by the tangibility of the words he used….  It was as if he were laying words down on the table one by one as he used them, like brushes in an artist’s studio. That was why students crowded into his classes and why the National Gallery of Art had overflow audiences for his Mellon Lectures earlier this year. Something synaptic happened when you listened to Kirk Varnedoe, and, remarkably, something synaptic happened when he listened to you. You never knew what you might discover together.”

Perhaps even a “thorny crown of ideas”?

“Crown of Thorns”
Cathedral, Brasilia

Varnedoe’s death coincided with
the Great Blackout of 2003.

“To what extent does this idea of a civic life produced by sense of adversity correspond to actual life in Brasília? I wonder if it is something which the city actually cultivates. Consider, for example the cathedral, on the monumental axis, a circular, concrete framed building whose sixteen ribs are both structural and symbolic, making a structure that reads unambiguously as a crown of thorns; other symbolic elements include the subterranean entrance, the visitor passing through a subterranean passage before emerging in the light of the body of the cathedral. And it is light, shockingly so….”

Modernist Civic Space: The Case of Brasilia, by Richard J. Williams, Department of History of Art, University of Edinburgh, Scotland

Friday, August 15, 2003  3:30 PM


The Boys from Brazil

It turns out that the elementary half-square designs used in Diamond Theory


also appear in the work of artist Nicole Sigaud.

Sigaud’s website The ANACOM Project  has a page that leads to the artist Athos Bulcão, famous for his work in Brasilia.

From the document

Conceptual Art in an
Authoritarian Political Context:
Brasilia, Brazil

by Angélica Madeira:

“Athos created unique visual plans, tiles of high poetic significance, icons inseparable from the city.”

As Sigaud notes, two-color diagonally-divided squares play a large part in the art of Bulcão.

The title of Madeira’s article, and the remarks of Anna Chave on the relationship of conceptual/minimalist art to fascist rhetoric (see my May 9, 2003, entries), suggest possible illustrations for a more politicized version of Diamond Theory:


S. H. Cullinane,
Aug. 15, 2003

Dr. Mengele,
according to


Is it safe?

These illustrations were suggested in part by the fact that today is the anniversary of the death of Macbeth, King of Scotland, and in part by the following illustrations from my journal entries of July 13, 2003 comparing a MOMA curator to Lady Macbeth:


Die Fahne Hoch,
Frank Stella,

Dorothy Miller,
MOMA curator,
died at 99 on
July 11, 2003


Thursday, August 14, 2003  3:45 AM

Famous Last Words

The ending of an Aug. 14 Salon.com article on Mel Gibson’s new film, “The Passion”:

” ‘The Passion’ will most likely offer up the familiar puerile, stereotypical view of the evil Jew calling for Jesus’ blood and the clueless Pilate begging him to reconsider. It is a view guaranteed to stir anew the passions of the rabid Christian, and one that will send the Jews scurrying back to the dark corners of history.”

— Christopher Orlet

“Scurrying”?!  The ghost of Joseph Goebbels, who famously portrayed Jews as sewer rats doing just that, must be laughing — perhaps along with the ghost of Lady Diana Mosley (née Mitford), who died Monday.

This goes well with a story that Orlet tells at his website:

“… to me, the most genuine last words are those that arise naturally from the moment, such as


Joseph Goebbels


Voltaire’s response to a request that he foreswear Satan: ‘This is no time to make new enemies.’ ”

For a view of Satan as an old, familiar, acquaintance, see the link to Prince Ombra in my entry last October 29 for Goebbels’s birthday.

Wednesday, August 13, 2003  3:00 PM

Best Picture

For some reflections inspired in part by

click here.

Tuesday, August 12, 2003  4:44 PM


A sequel to my entry “Catholic Tastes” of July 27, 2003.

Some remarks of Wallace Stevens that seem appropriate on this date:

“It may be that one life is a punishment
For another, as the son’s life for the father’s.”

—  Esthétique du Mal, Wallace Stevens

Joseph Patrick Kennedy, Jr.

“Unless we believe in the hero, what is there
To believe? ….
Devise, devise, and make him of winter’s
Iciest core, a north star, central
In our oblivion, of summer’s
Imagination, the golden rescue:
The bread and wine of the mind….”

Examination of the Hero in a Time of War, Wallace Stevens

Etymology of “Atonement”:

Middle English atonen, to be reconciled, from at one, in agreement

At One

“… We found,
If we found the central evil, the central good….
… we and the diamond globe at last were one.”

Asides on the Oboe, Wallace Stevens

Tuesday, August 12, 2003  1:52 PM

Franken & ‘Stein,
Attorneys at Law

Tue August 12, 2003 04:10 AM ET
NEW YORK (Reuters) – Fox News Network is suing humor writer Al Franken for trademark infringement over the phrase ‘fair and balanced’ on the cover of his upcoming book, saying it has been ‘a signature slogan’ of the network since 1996.”



For answers, click on the pictures
of Franken and ‘Stein.

Sunday, August 17, 2003

Sunday August 17, 2003

Filed under: General,Geometry — Tags: , — m759 @ 6:21 PM

Diamond theory is the theory of affine groups over GF(2) acting on small square and cubic arrays. In the simplest case, the symmetric group of degree 4 acts on a two-colored diamond figure like that in Plato's Meno dialogue, yielding 24 distinct patterns, each of which has some ordinary or color-interchange symmetry .

This symmetry invariance can be generalized to (at least) a group of order approximately 1.3 trillion acting on a 4x4x4 array of cubes.

The theory has applications to finite geometry and to the construction of the large Witt design underlying the Mathieu group of degree 24.

Further Reading:

Saturday, August 16, 2003

Saturday August 16, 2003

Filed under: General,Geometry — Tags: — m759 @ 2:16 AM

My Personal Thorny Crown

Kirk Varnedoe, 57, art historian and former curator of the Museum of Modern Art, died Thursday, August 14, 2003.

From his New York Times obituary:

" 'He loved life in its most tangible forms, and so for him art was as physical and pleasurable as being knocked down by a wave,' said Adam Gopnik, the writer and a former student of his who collaborated on Mr. Varnedoe's first big show at the Modern, 'High & Low.' 'Art was always material first — it was never, ever bound by a thorny crown of ideas.' "

For some background on the phrase "thorny crown of ideas," see the web page


The phrase "thorny crown of ideas" is also of interest in the light of recent controversy over Mel Gibson's new film, "The Passion."

For details of the controversy, see Christopher Orlet's Aug. 14 essay at Salon.com,

Mel Gibson vs. "The Jews"

For a real "thorny crown of ideas," consider the following remarks by another art historian:

"Whether or not we can follow the theorist in his demonstrations, there is one misunderstanding we must avoid at all cost.  We must not confuse the analyses of geometrical symmetries with the mathematics of combination and permutation….

The earliest (and perhaps the rarest) treatise on the theory of design drives home this insight with marvellous precision."

— E. H. Gombrich, 1979, in
   The Sense of Order

This is perhaps the most stupid remark I have ever read.  The "treatise on the theory of design" that Gombrich refers to is

  • Dominique Douat, Methode pour faire une infinité de desseins differents avec des carreaux mipartis de deux couleurs par une ligne diagonale : ou observations du Pere Dominique Douat Religieux Carmes de la Province de Toulouse sur un memoire inséré dans l'Histoire de l'Académie Royale des Sciences de Paris l'année 1704, présenté par le Reverend Sebastien Truchet religieux du même ordre, Academicien honoraire, imprimé chez Jacques Quillau, Imprimeur Juré de l'Université, Paris 1722.

This is the title given at the web page

Truchet & Types:
Tiling Systems and Ornaments

which gives some background. 

Certain of the Truchet/Douat patterns have rather intriguing mathematical properties, sketched in my website Diamond Theory.  These properties become clear if and only we we do what Gombrich moronically declares that we must not do:  "confuse the analyses of geometrical symmetries with the mathematics of combination and permutation."  (The verb "confuse" should, of course, be replaced by the verb "combine.") 

What does all this have to do with

Mel Gibson vs. "The Jews" ?

As jesting Pilate seems to have realized, whenever Jews (or, for that matter, Christians) tell stories, issues of truth may arise.  Such issues, as shown by current events in that damned Semitic Hell-on-Earth that used to be referred to as "the Holy Land," can be of life-and-death importance.

Scene from
The Passion

The Roman soldiers may have fashioned a physical crown of thorns, but the Jews are quite capable of fashioning a very uncomfortable crown of, as Gopnik says, "ideas."

Here is an example.

"Ernst Hans Josef Gombrich, who as an author went by the name E. H. Gombrich, was born in Vienna in 1909….

The Gombrich family was Jewish, but his parents felt this had no particular relevance. In later years Mr. Gombrich said that whether someone was Jewish or not was a preoccupation for the Gestapo."

— Michael Kimmelman's obituary for Gombrich in the New York Times. Kimmelman is chief art critic for the New York Times and author of the Times's Aug. 15 Varnedoe obituary.

The web page Understanding cited above contains a link to

Pilate, Truth, and Friday the Thirteenth,

a page combining some religious remarks with a quotation of an extremely patronizing and superficial reference to my own work (and, in passing, to Truchet/Douat patterns).

This reference, and the above-quoted remark by Gombrich, constitute my own modest claim to what the Jew Gopnik jokingly calls a "thorny crown of ideas."

To me it is no joke.

This partly accounts for the rather strained quality of the attempt at humor in a web page I put together yesterday in response to Varnedoe's obituary:

Fahne Hoch, Macbeth!

Another reason for the strained quality is my being struck by the synchronicity of reading Varnedoe's obituary shortly after I had done a journal entry related to the death in July of an earlier Museum of Modern Art curator.  Like Robert A. Heinlein, I think the God of the Jews is a lousy deity and an even worse father figure.  I do, however, believe in synchronicity.

Tuesday, August 12, 2003

Tuesday August 12, 2003

Filed under: General — m759 @ 5:46 PM

Moving to New Weblog

I am now at log24.com.

This was an archive site, but I am now using it as an active weblog.  I have not been able to use Xanga since Sunday afternoon, apparently because of DDOS attacks (still unacknowledged by Xanga on their home page).

By the way, EmilyMuse, see my reference today at log24.com to the Wallace Stevens poem “Asides on the Oboe.”

Sunday, August 10, 2003

Sunday August 10, 2003

Filed under: General — m759 @ 8:35 AM

Death of a Holy Man

Part I:  An American Religion

Hiroshima Mayor Says
US Worships Nukes

“HIROSHIMA — Hiroshima Mayor Tadatoshi Akiba warned that the world is moving toward war and accused Washington of ‘worshipping’ nuclear weapons during Wednesday’s ceremony marking the 58th anniversary of the atomic bombing of the city….

… the Hiroshima mayor blamed the United States for making the world a more uncertain place through its policy of undermining the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons.

‘A world without nuclear weapons and war that the victims of the atomic bomb have long sought for is slipping into the shadows of growing black clouds that could turn into mushroom clouds at any moment,’ Akiba said. ‘The chief cause of this is the United States’ nuclear policy which, by openly declaring the possibility of a pre-emptive nuclear strike and by starting research into small ‘useable’ nuclear weapons, appears to worship nuclear weapons as God.’ “

Mainichi Shimbun, Aug. 6, 2003

Part II: Holy Men and
             Sons of Bitches

“I am become Death, the Destroyer of Worlds.”

Dr. J. Robert Oppenheimer,
    Director of Los Alamos

John Steinbeck describing Cannery Row in Monterey:

“Its inhabitants are, as the man once said, ‘whores, pimps, gamblers, and sons of bitches,’ by which he meant Everybody. Had the man looked through another peephole he might have said, ‘Saints and angels and martyrs and holy men,’ and he would have meant the same thing.”  

“Now we are all sons of bitches.”

Dr. Kenneth Bainbridge,
    Director of Trinity Test

Part III: Death of a Holy Man

The New York Times, Aug. 10, 2003:

Atom-Bomb Physicist Dies at 98

“Henry A. Boorse, a physicist who was one of the original scientists who worked on the Manhattan Project in the development of the atomic bomb, died on July 28 in Houston, where he lived….

Dr. Boorse was a consultant to the United States Atomic Energy Commission from 1946 to 1958 and to the Brookhaven National Laboratory from 1951 to 1955.

He and Lloyd Motz wrote a two-volume work, The World of the Atom (1966), and — with Jefferson Hane Weaver — a one-volume book, The Atomic Scientists (1989).”

From a review of The Atomic Scientists:

“… the authors try to add a personal element that can excite the reader about science.”

For more excitement, see Timequake, by Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.

Saturday, August 9, 2003

Saturday August 9, 2003

Filed under: General — Tags: — m759 @ 6:29 PM


Today is the feast day of St. Hermann Hesse.  A quotation from a work by Hesse that is to some a sort of Bible:

“You treat world history as a mathematician does mathematics, in which nothing but laws and formulae exist, no reality, no good and evil, no time, no yesterday, no tomorrow, nothing but an eternal, shallow, mathematical present.”

Father Jacobus, Benedictine priest, in The Glass Bead Game, ch. 4 (1943, translated 1960), by Hermann Hesse

A Benedictine Archbishop’s Apology:

“Archbishop Weakland described his feelings ‘at this moment’ as ‘remorse, contrition, shame and emptiness,’ also noting that ‘much self-pity and pride remain.’ He contended he ‘must leave that pride behind.’ “

A Mathematician’s Apology:

C.P. Snow in his introduction to A Mathematician’s Apology (also a Bible, or at least a book of a Bible, to some) quotes G. H. Hardy on hearing the chimes of Vespers:

“It’s rather unfortunate that some of the happiest hours of my life should have been spent within sound of a Roman Catholic church.”

A Bible for Benedictines:

The Encyclopedic Dictionary of Mathematics,
by the Mathematical Society of Japan,

is suitable reading for those Benedictines in Purgatory who have too lightly used words like “no reality” and “shallow” to describe mathematics.

For other remedial reading in the afterlife, see Midsummer Eve’s Dream and Quine in Purgatory.

Saturday August 9, 2003

Filed under: General — m759 @ 4:04 PM

Jews in the News

LOS ANGELES (AP) Aug. 9 –Howard Stern has settled a lawsuit against the producers of the television series “Are You Hot? The Search for America’s Sexiest People,” which he claimed was based on an idea stolen from his radio show.
— AP-NY 08-09-03 1336 EDT

Stern was suing producer Mike Fleiss, cousin of Hollywood Madam Heidi Fleiss.

From the Daily News, 4/30/03:

In Emmy magazine, Mike Fleiss “cites Stern’s work as an influence on his own and says he was inspired to get into TV after seeing Stern’s series on WWOR/ Ch. 9.  ‘It was so irreverent, so brilliant, so satirical,’ Fleiss says in the magazine. ‘That viewing experience changed my life. I knew where I needed to go.’ “

See also yesterday’s entry, Sewage.

For related material, click here.

Saturday August 9, 2003

Filed under: General — m759 @ 12:07 PM

Beware of…
Jews Peddling Stories:

An episode in the ongoing saga of the conflict between the "story theory of truth" and the "diamond theory of truth."

The following set of pictures summarizes some reflections on truth and reality suggested by the August 9, 2003, New York Times obituary of writer William Woolfolk, who died on July 20, 2003.

Woolfolk was the author of The Sex Goddess and was involved in the production of the comic book series The Spirit (see below).

The central strategy of the three Semitic religions — Judaism, Christianity, and Islam — is to pretend that we are all characters in a story whose author is God.  This strategy suggests the following Trinity, based on the work of William Woolfolk (The Sex Goddess and The Spirit) and Steven Spielberg ("Catch Me If You Can").  Like other Semitic tales, the story of this Trinity should not be taken too seriously.


William Woolfolk
Woolfolk as
a Jewish God

The Sex Goddess
Woolfolk's Story


Martin Sheen in Catch Me If You Can
The Father as
a Lutheran God


Amy Adams in Catch Me If You Can
The Father's

DiCaprio as a doctor
The Son

DiCaprio and Adams
The Son's Story

Amy Adams, star of Catch Me If You Can
The Holy

The Spirit, 1942
The Holy
Spirit's Story


A Confession of Faith:

Theology Based On the Film
"Catch Me If You Can":

The Son to God the Lutheran Father:

"I'm nothing really, just a kid in love with your daughter."

This is taken from a review of "Catch Me If You Can" by Thomas S. Hibbs.

For some philosophical background to this confession, see Hibbs's book

Shows About Nothing:
Nihilism in Popular Culture
from The Exorcist to Seinfeld

By the way, today is the anniversary of the dropping on Nagasaki
of a made-in-USA Weapon of Mass Destruction, a plutonium bomb
affectionately named Fat Man.

Fat Man was a sequel to an earlier Jewish story,


Friday, August 8, 2003

Friday August 8, 2003

Filed under: General — m759 @ 12:12 PM


From The New Yorker magazine, issue dated August 11, 2003:

Talk of the Town

As in the rest of the country, political talk radio here is dominated by the hard right. On the AM band, whose low-fidelity signal is perfect for shrill jabber, no fewer than four powerful stations feature “conservative talk.” Two of them, WMCA and WWDJ, are “Christian” and heavily salted with attacks on homosexuality, abortion rights, and stem-cell research and support for school prayer, President Bush’s judicial nominees, and Israeli maximalism. The other two pump out a steadier flow of viscous, untreated political sewage. WOR carries four hours daily of Bob Grant and Bill O’Reilly, reliable voices of irritable reaction. The biggie is WABC, which claims the largest talk-radio audience in the country. The station features fifteen hours a week of Limbaugh, fifteen of Sean Hannity, and ten of Mark Levin (“one of America’s preëminent conservative commentators”).

— Hendrik Hertzberg

For more on this alleged “sewage,” click on the names mentioned.

Those who wish may easily find sites attacking some of these commentators (particularly Bob Grant).

Others may feel that the word “sewage” might be better applied to The New Yorker itself under the recent editorship of Tina Brown.  See

Tina Brown and the Coming Decline
of Celebrity Journalism

at the

Columbia Journalism Review.

Thursday, August 7, 2003

Thursday August 7, 2003

Filed under: General — m759 @ 4:39 PM

at the New York Times

and Bad News and Good News
for Tish b’Av

Today is, until sundown, Tish b’Av, a Jewish holy day.

Bad News:

“Tish b’Av is traditionally held by Jews around the world as a day of mourning for the loss of the First and Second Temples, as well as for the other tragedies which occurred on this day, such as the expulsion of the Spanish Jewry in 1492. As one of the two major fast days of the year, and in the middle of the hot summer, the day has taken on a character unique in the Jewish calender: dark, painful, and intensely sad.”

Meditation on Tish B’Av 

Good News:

It is passed down that the Messiah will be born on Tish b’Av…. The day, then, has an intrinsic meaning of transformation and hope, and can be seen as an opportunity to give birth to the messiah in each of us.”

Meditation on Tish B’Av

Today’s birthday:  Billie Burke, Glinda the Good Witch in The Wizard of Oz.

(at left)
 and Adam

Some Jews may, in view of her birth on this date,  regard Burke as the Messiah… Among this sect is perhaps Adam Moss, who has just been appointed features editor of the New York Times.

The picture of Moss above is from
Party Photos: Gay Journalism Panel.

“Mr. Moss’s appointment was announced [August 5] by Bill Keller, executive editor.

In his new position, Mr. Moss, 46, will oversee coverage of the arts and style, as well as weekly sections including the magazine, The New York Times Book Review, Travel, Real Estate, Circuits and Escapes.

‘It is past time for our magnificent coverage of culture and lifestyles, so essential to our present


and to our future growth, to get the kind of attention we routinely bestow on hard news,’ Mr. Keller wrote in an e-mail message to the staff.”

New York Times, August 6, 2003

Thursday August 7, 2003

Filed under: General — m759 @ 6:45 AM

Morning Flight

I’m working on a morning flight to anywhere but here….

It’s not the way you say you hear my heart
when the music ends
I am just learning how to fly away again”

— Nanci Griffith on KHYI.com, 6:45 AM

Click on the above yantra for deeper meditations from May 24 and 25, 2003.

See entries of June 10-14, 2003, for more on the symbolism of the above figure’s central two triangles, which represent Shiva and Kali united.  For the symbolism of the eight petals, see the eight-ray star of Venus in my Oct. 23, 2002, entry.  This is one interpretation of the eightfold “Spider” symbol

which plays a major role in the Changewar stories of Fritz Leiber (my favorite mythology).  This symbol, like the two-triangles symbol at the center of the eight-petal lotus above, represents “Shiva and Kali united in love,” according to Leiber. (See my journal note “Biblical Proportions,” written on this date in 1997.)

For a Christian perspective on the Spider symbol, see Quine in Purgatory.

For a different religious perspective on the two-triangles symbol in the lotus, see

You Don’t Look Buddhist,

Suzanne Takes You Down, and

Satori at Pearl Harbor.

Wednesday, August 6, 2003

Wednesday August 6, 2003

Filed under: General — Tags: — m759 @ 10:23 AM


“I had a lot of fun with this audacious and exasperating book. … [which] looks more than a little like Greil Marcus’s Lipstick Traces, a ‘secret history’ tracing punk rock through May 1968….”

— Michael Harris, Institut de Mathématiques de Jussieu, Université Paris 7, review of Mathematics and the Roots of Postmodern Thought, by Vladimir Tasic, Notices of the American Mathematical Society, August 2003

For some observations on the transgressive  predecessors of punk rock, see my entry Funeral March of July 26, 2003 (the last conscious day in the life of actress Marie Trintignant — see below), which contains the following:

“Sky is high and so am I,
If you’re a viper — a vi-paah.”
The Day of the Locust,
    by Nathanael West (1939)

As I noted in another another July 26 entry, the disease of postmodernism has, it seems, now infected mathematics.  For some recent outbreaks of infection in physics, see the works referred to below.

Postmodern Fields of Physics: In his book The Dreams of Reason, H. R. Pagels focuses on the science of complexity as the most outstanding new discipline emerging in recent years….”

— “The Semiotics of ‘Postmodern’ Physics,” by Hans J. Pirner, in Symbol and Physical Knowledge: The Conceptual Structure of Physics, ed. by M. Ferrari and I.-O. Stamatescu, Springer Verlag, August 2001 

For a critical look at Pagels’s work, see Midsummer Eve’s Dream.  For a less critical look, see The Marriage of Science and Mysticism.  Pagels’s book on the so-called “science of complexity” was published in June 1988.  For more recent bullshit on complexity, see

The Critical Idiom of Postmodernity and Its Contributions to an Understanding of Complexity, by Matthew Abraham, 2000,

which describes a book on complexity theory that, besides pronouncements about physics, also provides what “could very well be called a ‘postmodern ethic.’ “

The book reviewed is Paul Cilliers’s Complexity and Postmodernism: Understanding Complex Systems.

A search for related material on Cilliers yields the following:

Janis Joplin, Postmodernist

” …’all’ is ‘one,’ … the time is ‘now’ and … ‘tomorrow never happens,’ …. as Janis Joplin says, ‘it’s all the same fucking day.’

It appears that ‘time,’ … the linear, independent notion of ‘time’ that our culture embraces, is an artifact of our abstract thinking …

The problem is that ‘tomorrow never happens’ …. Aboriginal traditionalists are well aware of this topological paradox and so was Janis Joplin. Her use of the expletive in this context is therefore easy to understand … love is never having to say ‘tomorrow.’ “

Web page citing Paul Cilliers

“That’s the dumbest thing I ever heard.”

— Ryan O’Neal in “What’s Up, Doc?”

A more realistic look at postmodernism in action is provided by the following news story:

Brutal Death of an Actress Is France’s Summertime Drama


The actress, Marie Trintignant, died Friday [Aug. 1, 2003] in a Paris hospital, with severe head and face injuries. Her rock star companion, Bertrand Cantat, is confined to a prison hospital….

According to news reports, Ms. Trintignant and Mr. Cantat argued violently in their hotel room in Vilnius in the early hours of [Sunday] July 27 at the end of a night spent eating and drinking….

In coming months, two films starring Ms. Trintignant are scheduled to debut, including “Janis and John” by the director Samuel Benchetrit, her estranged husband and the father of two of her four children. In it, Ms. Trintignant plays Janis Joplin.

New York Times of Aug. 5, 2003

” ‘…as a matter of fact, as we discover all the time, tomorrow never happens, man. It’s all the same f…n’ day, man!’ –Janis Joplin, at live performance in Calgary on 4th July 1970 – exactly four months before her death. (apologies for censoring her exact words which can be heard on the ‘Janis Joplin in Concert’ CD)”

Janis Joplin at FamousTexans.com

All of the above fits in rather nicely with the view of science and scientists in the C. S. Lewis classic That Hideous Strength, which I strongly recommend.

For those few who both abhor postmodernism and regard the American Mathematical Society Notices

as a sort of “holy place” of Platonism, I recommend a biblical reading–

Matthew 24:15, CEV:

“Someday you will see that Horrible Thing in the holy place….”

See also Logos and Logic for more sophisticated religious remarks, by Simone Weil, whose brother, mathematician André Weil, died five years ago today.

Tuesday, August 5, 2003

Tuesday August 5, 2003

Filed under: General — m759 @ 10:42 AM

More excellent poetry from KHYI.com:

Candyland, by James McMurtry.

Another Texas-related link, this one for poet Conrad Aiken‘s birthday:

Politics of Hell and Honorary Waco Wacko.

Monday, August 4, 2003

Monday August 4, 2003

Filed under: General — m759 @ 1:00 PM

Venn’s Trinity

Today is the birthday of logician John Venn.

From the St. Andrews History of Mathematics site:

“Venn considered three discs R, S, and T as typical subsets of a set U. The intersections of these discs and their complements divide U into 8 non-overlapping regions, the unions of which give 256 different Boolean combinations of the original sets R, S, T.” 

Last night’s entry, “A Queer Religion,” gave a Catholic view of the Trinity.  Here are some less interesting but more fruitful thoughts inspired by Venn’s diagram of the Trinity (or, indeed, of any three entities):

“To really know a subject you’ve got to learn a bit of its history….”
John Baez, August 4, 2002

“We both know what memories can bring;
They bring diamonds and rust.”
Joan Baez, April 1975

For the “diamonds” brought by memories of the 28 combinations described above, consider how the symmetric group S8 is related to the symmetries of the finite projective space PG(3,2).  (See Diamond Theory.) 

For the “rust,” consider the following:

“Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt….”
— Matthew 6:19

The letters R, U, S, T in the Venn diagram above are perhaps relevant here, symbolizing, if you will, the earthly confusion of language, as opposed to the heavenly clarity of mathematics.

As for MOTH, see the article Hometown Zeroes (which brings us yet again to the Viper Room, scene of River Phoenix’s death) and the very skillfully designed website MOTHEMATICS.

Monday August 4, 2003

Filed under: General — m759 @ 3:03 AM


The previous entry, on Christian theology, does not imply that all religion is bad.  Consider, for instance, the following from a memorial web page

“Al Grierson’s song Resurrection was sung by Ray Wylie Hubbard, on his outstanding Dangerous Spirits album. The song is awesome, and fits right into Ray Wylie’s spirit ‘and an angel lay on a mattress and spoke of history and death with perfume on her lingerie and whiskey on her breath . . . he’s loading up his saddlebags on the edge of wonder, one is filled with music and the other’s filled with thunder.’ Wow.”

Grierson died on November 2, 2000
— All Souls Day, Dia de los Muertos.

My own favorite resurrection story is “Damnation Morning,” by Fritz Leiber; see Why Me? 

For more on the Day of the Dead, see Under the Volcano.

These are, of course, just stories, but may reflect some as yet unknown truth.

By the way, thanks, Joni, for leading me to KHYI.com on the day of the Toronto Stones concert.

Monday August 4, 2003

Filed under: General — m759 @ 2:00 AM

A Queer Religion

August 4 headline:

Gay bishop on way to win

This suggests the following theological meditation by a gay Christian:

“I can’t resist but end by pointing out the irony of the doctrine of the Trinity as seen by gay eyes. Please don’t take what I say next too seriously. I don’t believe that gender is very important or that it is any more present in God than is ‘green-ness,’ however, I simply can’t resist.

The Trinity seems to be founded on the ecstatic love union of two male persons; the Father and the Son. If one takes this seriously it is incestuous pedophilia. There is no doubt that this union is generative (and so in the origin of the meaning ‘sexual’) in character, because from it bursts forth a third person: Holy Spirit; neuter in Greek, feminine in Hebrew! Whereas Islam detests the Catholic idea that the Blessed Virgin was ‘impregnated’ by God, as demeaning to the transcendence of God, the internal incestuous homosexuality that the doctrine of the Trinity amounts to should really offend more!

Any orthodox  account of the inner life of God is at best highly uncongenial to the paradigm of the heterosexual nuclear family. Amusingly, the contemporary Magisterium fails to notice this and even attempts to use the doctrine of the procession of the Spirit from the Father and the Son to bolster its conventional championing of ‘male-female complementarity’ and the centrality of procreation to all authentically ‘self-giving’ relationships. Absurdities will never cease!”

Amen to the conclusion, at least.

The author of this meditation, “Pharsea,” is a “traditional Catholic” and advocate of the Latin Mass — just like Mel Gibson.  One wonders how Gibson might react to Pharsea’s theology.

As for me… I always thought there was something queer about that religion.

Sunday, August 3, 2003

Sunday August 3, 2003

Filed under: General — m759 @ 2:30 AM

Dancing at Lughnasa

“The place outside the cosmos where I and my pals do our nursing job I simply call the Place. A lot of my nursing consists of amusing and humanizing Soldiers fresh back from raids into time. In fact, my formal title is Entertainer….”

— Fritz Leiber, The Big Time

“And he sang:
‘Dance a little closer to me,
Dance a little closer now,
Dance a little closer tonight.
Dance a little closer to me,
    hey it’s closing time,
And love’s on sale tonight
    at this five and dime.’ “

— “Love at the Five and Dime,”
written and sung by Nanci Griffith 

“Going up.” — Nanci Griffith

Sunday August 3, 2003

Filed under: General — m759 @ 12:00 AM


Saturday, August 2, 2003

Saturday August 2, 2003

Filed under: General — m759 @ 11:59 PM

Late Night Grande Hotel

“I feel like Garbo in this late night Grande Hotel
 ‘Cause living alone is all I’ve ever done well”

Nanci Griffith, Song lyric

“…the thought of those dark three
Is dark, thought of the forms of dark desire.”

— Wallace Stevens,
    “The Owl in the Sarcophagus” 

“I am not as romantically entrancing as the immortal film star… but I have a rough-and-ready charm of my own.”

— Fritz Leiber, The Big Time

“But she that says good-by…
    stood tall in self
    not symbol, quick
And potent, an influence felt
    instead of seen.”
— Wallace Stevens,
“The Owl in the Sarcophagus”


Thank you, KHYI.com, for playing Nanci Griffith on this, the feast day of Presbyterian saint Wallace Stevens.  She is not Garbo or Marie Trintignant (see previous entry), but she will do.

 “Beauty is momentary in the mind —
     The fitful tracing of a portal;
     But in the flesh it is immortal.”
     — Wallace Stevens,
     Peter Quince at the Clavier

Saturday August 2, 2003

Filed under: General — m759 @ 7:59 AM

Dark Desire

Film star dies after fight
with rock boyfriend

“…they seemed destined to become France’s golden couple: the fragile and gifted film actress from one of the country’s great theatrical families, and the radical rock star-poet with a genuine social conscience.

But yesterday Marie Trintignant died in Paris of a cerebral haemorrhage, while her boyfriend, Bernard [sic] Cantat, lead singer of France’s most popular rock band

Noir Désir

was in jail… suspected of landing the blow that plunged her into a coma from which she never emerged.

— Jon Henley in Paris
    Saturday August 2, 2003
The Guardian 

The Details:

“Trintignant… was rushed to hospital at 7.30 on Sunday morning…. 

The singer, adored in France as much for his militant and public stands on issues such as racism, globalisation and the Israeli-Palestinian dispute as for his powerful lyrics and charismatic stage presence, was admitted to hospital shortly afterwards with acute alcohol poisoning and a suspected overdose of prescription drugs.

He had allegedly waited more than five hours since the midnight struggle before sounding the alarm….”

Last Sunday’s site music, for the entry Catholic Tastes, was…  

Nous Voici Dans La Ville – A Christmas song from 15th century France (midi by John Philip Dimick).  

It will serve as a memorial song for Marie.

As for Cantat, see the 
four entries that preceded
the Catholic Tastes entry.

These deal with substance abuse and postmodern French philosophy.

The song I would recommend to memorialize the role of Cantat in this affair is American rather than French…


Pukin’ in the Parkin’ Lot.”

Religious meditation for today:

As remarked in my
obituary for Sam Phillips,
Father of Rock and Roll,

“If there’s a rock and roll heaven,
Well you know they’ve got
a hell of a band.”

Friday, August 1, 2003

Friday August 1, 2003

Filed under: General — m759 @ 5:21 PM

Jack of Diamonds

KHYI plays the Jack of Diamonds again (see yesterday’s entry, Killer Radio):

“I knew a man with money in his hand.
He’d look that Jack of Diamonds in the eye….”

For another version of the Jack, see The Cube Paradigm.

Friday August 1, 2003

Filed under: General — Tags: — m759 @ 4:03 PM

For All Time

“… and the Wichita lineman is still on the line…”

(Reflection on a member of the Radcliffe Class of 1964 who lived near Wichita and now has her own home page… While listening to a song on my “home on The Range – KHYI 95.3FM, Plano, Texas.”)

Readings for a seminar we never really finished:

“…that ineffable constellation of talents that makes the player of rank: a gift for conceiving abstract schematic possibilities; a sense of mathematical poetry in the light of which the infinite chaos of probability and permutation is crystallized under the pressure of intense concentration into geometric blossoms; the ruthless focus of force on the subtlest weakness of an opponent.”

— Trevanian, Shibumi

” ‘Haven’t there been splendidly elegant colors in Japan since ancient times?’

‘Even black has various subtle shades,’ Sosuke nodded.’ “

— Yasunari Kawabata, The Old Capital 

Friday August 1, 2003

Filed under: General — Tags: , — m759 @ 1:40 PM

Fearful Meditation

Ray Price - Time TIME, Aug. 4, 2003

Ray Price — Time

“The Max D. Barnes-penned title track, with its stark-reality lyrics, is nothing short of haunting: ‘Time is a weapon, it’s cold and it’s cruel; It knows no religion and plays by no rules; Time has no conscience when it’s all said and done; Like a beast in the jungle that devours its young.’ That’s so good, it hurts! Price’s still-amazing vocals are simply the chilling icing on the cake.”

— Lisa Berg, NashvilleCountry.com

O fearful meditation! Where, alack,
Shall time’s best jewel from time’s chest lie hid?

— Shakespeare, Sonnet 65

Clue: click here.  This in turn leads to my March 4 entry Fearful Symmetry, which contains the following:

“Every transition from major to minor in a sonata, every transformation of a myth or a religious cult, every classical or artistic formulation was, I realized in that flashing moment, if seen with a truly meditative mind, nothing but a direct route into the interior of the cosmic mystery….”

— Hermann Hesse, The Glass Bead Game

“How strange the change from major to minor….”

— Cole Porter, “Every Time We Say Goodbye

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