Wednesday, December 31, 2003

Wednesday December 31, 2003

Filed under: General — m759 @ 8:00 PM

In memory of
John Gregory Dunne,
who died on
Dec. 30, 2003

For further details, click
on the black monolith.

See, too, last year's entries
for Dec. 30 and 31:

"… he might add under his breath,
like the professor in The Last Battle
who has passed on to the next life,
'It's all in Plato, all in Plato:
bless me, what do they teach them
at these schools!' "

Wednesday December 31, 2003

Filed under: General — m759 @ 3:07 PM

Personal Jesus

Columnist Cal Thomas
on Politician Howard Dean: 

What exactly does Dean believe about Jesus, and how is it relevant to his presidential candidacy? “Christ was someone who sought out people who were disenfranchised,” he told the Globe, “people who were left behind.” Dean makes it sound as if He might have been a Democrat. “He fought against self-righteousness of people who had everything,” the candidate continued. “He was a person who set an extraordinary example that has lasted 2,000 years, which is pretty inspiring when you think about it.”

Not really. If that is all Jesus was (or is), then he is just another entry in Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations, to be read or not, according to one’s inspirational need.

C.S. Lewis brilliantly dealt with this watered-down view of Jesus and what He did in the book “Mere Christianity.” Said Lewis, who thought about such things at a far deeper level than Howard Dean, “I’m trying here to prevent anyone from saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: ‘I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I can’t accept His claim to be God.’ That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic – on a level with the man who says he is a poached egg – or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God – or else a madman or something worse.”

For an excellent dramatic portrayal of C. S. Lewis, see the film “Shadowlands,” starring Sir Anthony Hopkins.

For Sir Anthony Hopkins
on his birthday

Your Own Personal Jesus:

Mark Vonnegut in
British Columbia, 1970

The Jesus figure above is,
if not the Son of God,
the son of novelist Kurt Vonnegut
not a bad alternative.

As for “the sort of things Jesus said,”
consider this from a summary of
the younger Vonnegut’s
The Eden Express: A Memoir of Insanity —

“At one point, he decides that
his thoughts are responsible for
an earthquake in California….”

See the rather similar remarks of Jesus
in Mark 11:23.

For further notes on
theology, lunacy, and earthquakes,
see the previous entries, starting with
The Longest Night, Dec. 21, 2003,
and ending with the two Dec. 28 entries
below, both related to the recent Iran
earthquake (and, by implication, to the
quote from Robert Stone in the entries
Stone, not Wood, and Riddle). 

Sunday, December 28, 2003  7:29 PM

Season’s Greetings from the
Institute for Advanced Study,
in keeping with the theme of
the previous entry.


“Warren Ellis’ Die Puny Humans….
  Worth looking at.”

DPH leads to Sohma G. Dawling

who in turn leads,
 via r. sakamoto, to

Oppenheimer’s Aria.
For the aria, after you click on
the above link, click on the
picture at the resulting site

Sunday, December 28, 2003  2:00 PM

Hostages Freed, Iran Says

The Associated Press,
December 28, 2003, 11:46 AM EST

TEHRAN, Iran — Three European hostages seized in southeastern Iran earlier this month have been released, Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi said Sunday.

The $6 million ransom demand was not paid, another Iranian official said.

Drug smugglers seized the hostages — two from Germany and one from Ireland — Dec. 2… as they bicycled to the city of Zahedan from



Thank you, Ma’am.

(See The Magdalene Code, 12/26.
For the “Wham,” see Rosebud, 12/22,
and later entries.)

Another entry not without relevance
is that of 3/07.

Saturday, December 27, 2003

Saturday December 27, 2003

Filed under: General — m759 @ 10:21 PM


“If little else, the brain is an educational toy.  While it may be a frustrating plaything — one whose finer points recede just when you think you are mastering them — it is nonetheless perpetually fascinating, frequently surprising, occasionally rewarding, and it comes already assembled; you don’t have to put it together on Christmas morning.

The problem with possessing such an engaging toy is that other people want to play with it, too.  Sometimes they’d rather play with yours than theirs.  Or they object if you play with yours in a different manner from the way they play with theirs.  The result is, a few games out of a toy department of possibilities are universally and endlessly repeated.  If you don’t play some people’s game, they say that you have ‘lost your marbles,’ not recognizing that,

while Chinese checkers is indeed a fine pastime, a person may also play dominoes, chess, strip poker, tiddlywinks, drop-the-soap or Russian roulette with his brain.

One brain game that is widely, if poorly, played is a gimmick called ‘rational thought.’ “

— Tom Robbins, Even Cowgirls Get the Blues

Sol LeWitt
June 12, 1969

“I took the number twenty-four and there’s twenty-four ways of expressing the numbers one, two, three, four.  And I assigned one kind of line to one, one to two, one to three, and one to four.  One was a vertical line, two was a horizontal line, three was diagonal left to right, and four was diagonal right to left.  These are the basic kind of directions that lines can take…. the absolute ways that lines can be drawn.   And I drew these things as parallel lines very close to one another in boxes.  And then there was a system of changing them so that within twenty-four pages there were different arrangements of actually sixteen squares, four sets of four.  Everything was based on four.  So this was kind of a… more of a… less of a rational… I mean, it gets into the whole idea of methodology.”

Yes, it does.
See Art Wars, Poetry’s Bones, and Time Fold.

Friday, December 26, 2003

Friday December 26, 2003

Filed under: General — Tags: — m759 @ 7:59 PM

ART WARS, St. Stephen’s Day:

The Magdalene Code

Got The Da Vinci Code for Xmas.

From page 262:

When Langdon had first seen The Little Mermaid, he had actually gasped aloud when he noticed that the painting in Ariel’s underwater home was none other than seventeenth-century artist Georges de la Tour’s The Penitent Magdalene — a famous homage to the banished Mary Magdalene — fitting decor considering the movie turned out to be a ninety-minute collage of blatant symbolic references to the lost sanctity of Isis, Eve, Pisces the fish goddess, and, repeatedly, Mary Magdalene.

Related Log24 material —

December 21, 2002:

A Maiden’s Prayer

The Da Vinci Code, pages 445-446:

“The blade and chalice?” Marie asked.  “What exactly do they look like?”

Langdon sensed she was toying with him, but he played along, quickly describing the symbols.

A look of vague recollection crossed her face.  “Ah, yes, of course.  The blade represents all that is masculine.  I believe it is drawn like this, no?”  Using her index finger, she traced a shape on her palm.

“Yes,” Langdon said.  Marie had drawn the less common “closed” form of the blade, although Langdon had seen the symbol portrayed both ways.

“And the inverse,” she said, drawing again upon her palm, “is the chalice, which represents the feminine.”

“Correct,” Langdon said….

… Marie turned on the lights and pointed….

“There you are, Mr. Langdon.  The blade and chalice.”….

“But that’s the Star of Dav–“

Langdon stopped short, mute with amazement as it dawned on him.

The blade and chalice.

Fused as one.

The Star of David… the perfect union of male and female… Solomon’s Seal… marking the Holy of Holies, where the male and female deities — Yahweh and Shekinah — were thought to dwell.

Related Log24 material —

May 25, 2003:
Star Wars

Monday, December 22, 2003

Monday December 22, 2003

Filed under: General — m759 @ 8:00 PM

Sequel to previous 4 entries:

A Christmas Carol
by Dylan Thomas

Current phase of the moon,
from the U.S. Naval Observatory:

And I remember that we went singing carols once, a night or two before Christmas Eve, when there wasn’t the shaving of a moon to light the secret, white-flying streets. At the end of a long road was a drive that led to a large house, and we stumbled up the darkness of the drive that night, each one of us afraid, each one holding a stone in his hand in case, and all of us too brave to say a word. The wind made through the drive-trees noises as of old and unpleasant and maybe web-footed men wheezing in caves. We reached the black bulk of the house.

‘What shall we give them?’ Dan whispered.

‘”Hark the Herald”? ‘‘Christmas comes but Once a Year”?’

‘No,’ Jack said: ‘We’ll sing “Good King Wenceslas.” I’ll count three.’

One, two, three, and we began to sing, our voices high and seemingly distant in the snow-felted darkness round the house that was occupied by nobody we knew. We stood close together, near the dark door.


Good King Wenceslas looked out
On the Feast of Stephen.

And then a small, dry voice, like the voice of someone who has not spoken for a long time, suddenly joined our singing: a small, dry voice from the other side of the door: a small, dry voice through the keyhole. And when we stopped running we were outside our house; the front room was lovely and bright; the gramophone was playing; we saw the red and white balloons hanging from the gas-bracket; uncles and aunts sat by the fire; I thought I smelt our supper being fried in the kitchen. Everything was good again, and Christmas shone through all the familiar town.

‘Perhaps it was a ghost,’ Jim said.

‘Perhaps it was trolls,’ Dan said, who was always reading.

‘Let’s go in and see if there’s any jelly left,’ Jack said. And we did that.

From Quite Early One Morning:
roadcasts by Dylan Thomas
 (first published 1952)
Perhaps it was William Randolph Hearst.

Monday December 22, 2003

Filed under: General — m759 @ 7:59 PM

California Earthquake
Rang Planet ‘Like a Bell’

By Peter Henderson

December 22, 2003 07:06 PM ET

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – California’s largest earthquake in four years struck on Monday, causing Planet Earth to ring “like a bell” and mountains to grow a foot (30 cm) taller, geologists said on Monday.

The magnitude 6.5 quake hit near the coastal city of San Simeon….


Monday December 22, 2003

Filed under: General — m759 @ 4:16 PM

Cambria, California (AP)

An earthquake with a preliminary magnitude of 6.5 rocked the California coast from Los Angeles to San Francisco on Monday.

“Would you like something to read?”

— Dylan Thomas,
   A Child’s Christmas in Wales

Monday December 22, 2003

Filed under: General — m759 @ 2:14 PM

After the Long Night

Sunday, December 21, 2003

Sunday December 21, 2003

Filed under: General — m759 @ 1:00 PM

The Longest Night

Tonight will be
the longest night
of 2003. 



Time Magazine,
 current issue —
“In Memoriam…
Mr. Rogers,
Cash, Kazan,
and Kate”

“My God, it’s full of stars!”

Saturday, December 20, 2003

Saturday December 20, 2003

Filed under: General,Geometry — Tags: — m759 @ 5:00 PM

White, Geometric, and Eternal

This afternoon's surfing:

Prompted by Edward Rothstein's own Fides et Ratio encyclical in today's NY Times, I googled him.

At the New York Review of Books, I came across the following by Rothstein:

"… statements about TNT can be represented within TNT: the formal system can, in a precise way, 'talk' about itself."

This naturally prompted me to check what is on TNT on this, the feast day of St. Emil Artin.  At 5 PM this afternoon, we have Al Pacino in "The Devil's Advocate" — a perfect choice for the festival of an alleged saint.

Preparing for Al, I meditated on the mystical significance of the number 373, as explained in Zen and Language Games: the page number 373 in Robert Stone's theological classic A Flag for Sunrise conveys the metaphysical significance of the phrase "diamonds are forever" — "the eternal in the temporal," according to Stone's Catholic priest.  This suggests a check of another theological classic, Pynchon's Gravity's RainbowPage 373 there begins with the following description of prewar Berlin:

"white and geometric."

This suggests the following illustration of a white and geometric object related to yesterday's entry on Helmut Wielandt:

From antiquark.com

Figure 1

(This object, which illustrates the phrase "makin' the changes," also occurs in this morning's entry on the death of a jazz musician.)

A further search for books containing "white" and "geometric" at Amazon.com yields the following:

Figure 2

From Mosaics, by
Fassett, Bahouth, and Patterson:

"A risco fountain in Mexico city, begun circa 1740 and made up of Mexican pottery and Chinese porcelain, including Ming.

The delicate oriental patterns on so many different-sized plates and saucers [are] underlined by the bold blue and white geometric tiles at the base."

Note that the tiles are those of Diamond Theory; the geometric object in figure 1 above illustrates a group that plays a central role in that theory.

Finally, the word "risco" (from Casa del Risco) associated with figure 2 above leads us to a rather significant theological site associated with the holy city of Santiago de Compostela:

Figure 3

Vicente Risco's
Dedalus in Compostela.

Figure 3 shows James Joyce (alias Dedalus), whose daughter Lucia inspired the recent entry Jazz on St. Lucia's Day — which in turn is related, by last night's 2:45 entry and by Figure 1, to the mathematics of group theory so well expounded by the putative saint Emil Artin.

"His lectures are best described as
polished diamonds."
Fine Hall in its Golden Age,
by Gian-Carlo Rota

If Pynchon plays the role of devil's advocate suggested by his creation, in Gravity's Rainbow, of the character Emil Bummer, we may hope that Rota, no longer in time but now in eternity, can be persuaded to play the important role of saint's advocate for his Emil.

Update of 6:30 PM 12/20/03:


The Absolutist Faith
of The New York Times

White and Geometric, but not Eternal.

Saturday December 20, 2003

Filed under: General — Tags: — m759 @ 2:45 AM

Quarter to Three

"You've got to be true to your code."
Frank Sinatra

In memory of Webster Young,
who died on Saint Lucia's day,
December 13, 2003 —

From my entry of 12/16/03,
Jazz on St. Lucia's Day:


"Now you has jazz."
High Society, 1956

Webster Young was a jazz trumpeter.

In 1957, Young was featured on
saxophonist Jackie McLean's albums
"A Long Drink of the Blues" and
"Makin' the Changes."

Adam Bernstein,
Washington Post, Dec. 18

"One for my baby,
and one more for the road."
— Frank Sinatra


Saturday December 20, 2003

Filed under: General,Geometry — m759 @ 1:09 AM

For St. Emil’s Day

On this date in 1962, Emil Artin died.

He was, in his way, a priest of Apollo, god of music, light, and reason.

The previous entry dealt with permutation groups, in the context of a Jan. 2004 AMS Notices review of a book on the mathematics of juggling.

It turns out that juggling is, in fact, related to Artin’s theory of “braid groups.”  For details, see Juggling Braids.

For more on Apollo, see my entry of


Friday, December 19, 2003

Friday December 19, 2003

Filed under: General,Geometry — Tags: , — m759 @ 10:00 PM

Happy Birthday, Helmut Wielandt
(wherever you may be)

Cover illustration,
AMS Notices, January 2004

In light of my entry on change-ringing of this date last year, the above AMS Notices cover may serve to illustrate what Heidegger so memorably dubbed the

 "Geheimnis des Glockenturms."

For details on the illustration,
click here and scroll down.

(Wielandt was an expert
on permutation groups.)

Thursday, December 18, 2003

Thursday December 18, 2003

Filed under: General — m759 @ 6:29 PM

Christmas Concert

“And now what you’ve all
been waiting for… Wagner!”

— Conclusion of the film “Cosi

Related material:

The Ring and the Rings: Wagner vs. Tolkien, by Alex Ross, in The New Yorker, current (Dec. 22-29) issue.

Tolkien, Wagner, Nationalism, and Modernity, from a 2001 Seattle Opera House conference.

Thursday December 18, 2003

Filed under: General — m759 @ 1:00 AM

Saint Louis

Today is the feast day of Saint Louis Untermeyer, who died on December 18, 1977.  Here are some links in his memory:

His anthology, Modern British Poetry,

his anthology, Modern American Poetry,


a brief biography at http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/.

I grew up with a paperback Untermeyer anthology that I loved.  He may have been middlebrow, but he taught me more than many more refined authors.

Any religion that says Untermeyer is not a saint can go, as far as I am concerned, straight to Hell.

Wednesday, December 17, 2003

Wednesday December 17, 2003

Filed under: General — Tags: — m759 @ 3:00 PM

Fighting Chance

“Give faith a fighting chance.”
— Lee Ann Womack

On this date in 1959, the film “On the Beach” opened worldwide.

From a site on Nevil Shute, author of the book on which the film was based:

The New York Daily News (December 18, 1959) condemned the film:

“This is a would-be shocker which plays right up the alley of a) the Kremlin and b) the Western defeatists and/or traitors who yelp for the scrapping of the H-bomb. … See this picture if you must (it seems bound to be much talked about), but keep in mind that the thinking it represents points the way toward eventual Communist enslavement of the entire human race.”

Another film, based on an author who certainly opposed Communist enslavement, opens worldwide today: the final installment of Tolkien’s “Lord of the Rings.”

To give, as Lee Ann Womack recommends, this author’s theological views a fighting chance, see a Christianity Today article, Saint J. R. R. the Evangelist.

Personally, I have come to believe that Tolkien’s religion, Roman Catholicism, is more like Grima Wormtongue‘s than like Gandalf’s.

Material related to this view may be found in my journal archive for March 2003.

For some philosophical remarks that avoid the lunacy of Christianity, see Faith.

Another admirable work by the author of these eminently sensible remarks, Richard Robinson of Oriel College, Oxford, is one of the best books I have ever encountered:



Tuesday, December 16, 2003

Tuesday December 16, 2003

Filed under: General,Geometry — Tags: , — m759 @ 2:24 PM

Moulin Bleu


Kaleidoscope turning…
Shifting pattern
within unalterable structure…

— Roger Zelazny, Eye of Cat   

See, too, Blue Matrices, and
a link for Beethoven's birthday:

Song for the
Unification of Europe
(Blue 1)

Tuesday December 16, 2003

Filed under: General — m759 @ 1:08 AM

Jazz on St. Lucia’s Day

December 13, Saturday, was
the feast day of St. Lucia.

Lauryn Hill
at St. Lucia

Log24 entry for December 13:

Kaleidoscope turning…
Shifting pattern
within unalterable structure…
Was it a mistake?
There is pain with the power…
Time’s friction at the edges…
Center loosens, forms again elsewhere…

— Roger Zelazny, Eye of Cat

Washington Post, Names and Faces,
Tuesday, Dec. 16, 2003

“A Christmas concert at the Vatican may not be the best place to criticize the Catholic Church for the sexual abuse scandals that have plagued it for the past few years. Or maybe it’s the perfect place.

Musician Lauryn Hill did just that while performing there Saturday night. The Grammy winner read a statement during the concert that scolded the church and its leaders….

La Repubblica newspaper quoted her as saying, ‘I realize some of you may be offended by what I’m saying, but what do you say to the families who were betrayed by the people in whom they believed?’ …

The Vatican said Sunday it had no comment.”


“Now you has jazz.”
High Society, 1956   

Related entries:
9/28/03, 8/29/02.

Sunday, December 14, 2003

Sunday December 14, 2003

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

Hell to Heaven

From Hotel Point:

On a novel, Dow Mossman's
The Stones of Summer

Evidence of Malcolm Lowry’s Under the Volcano. The Dow Mossman character (Dawes Williams) sitting in the Rio Grande tearing pages out of his notebooks. (We get the pages, reproduced somewhat tediously in near-agate type.) Somewhere the ex-Consul Geoffrey Firmin gets mention. Mythic drinking and death in Mexico, vaguely “Jungian.”…

“The first time he had noticed it, language, was in the fourth grade when Miss Norma Jean Thompson, his teacher, turned against the whole class and said:

‘All Americans eventually go to heaven.’

‘By sweet Jesus,’ Ronnie Crown had said that afternoon, sitting on Dunchee’s wall, waiting for Dawes Williams to come tell him about it, ‘that’s about the God Damn dumbest thing I ever heard.’

Dawes Williams had agreed immediately that the message was insipid, but he thought for years that the syntax was inspired. In fact, the first time Norma Jean Thompson had said, ALL AMERICANS EVENTUALLY GO TO HEAVEN, was also the first time Dawes Williams had ever noticed the English sentence."

From Norma Jean Thompson:

"… the Town House Restaurant on Central and Morningside [in Albuquerque]:  'It's like going backwards in time to the late 1950s; you'd think you'd meet Frank Sinatra in there.  You can drown in the big red leather booths, and if you're lucky, they'll take out their private family stock of brandy.  Wonderful Greek salads, steaks and potatoes for lunch or dinner.  Time stops in there, right off Route 66.' "

From wcities.com:

On the Town House Lounge & Restaurant in Albuquerque:

"Try the three-inch Baklava and feel like you have died and gone to heaven…"



See, too, the film "Stone Reader"
and the previous Log24 entry.

Sunday December 14, 2003

Filed under: General — Tags: — m759 @ 2:01 AM


From Robert Stone's Damascus Gate:

"God… that Great F—ing Thing, the Lord of Sacrifices, the setter of riddles."

(See the Web site "Stone, not Wood.")

Christianity may be a religion of lies, but it sometimes has a certain charm.  If in fact there is a heaven, part of it must strongly resemble Paris in the 1890's, as suggested by the picture below.

From today's New York Times:

"The Very Rev. Sturgis Lee Riddle, dean emeritus of the American Episcopal Cathedral in Paris, died on Tuesday at his home on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. He was 94.

His death was reported on the cathedral's Web site."

From the cathedral's Web site,
a Christmas card:

Après l'Office à l'Église de la Sainte-Trinité, Noël 1890
(After the Service at Holy Trinity Church,
Christmas 1890) Jean Béraud

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

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


See, too, my Paris-related entry for December 9, the date of Riddle's death, and recall that in Wild Palms, "the much sought-after Go chip [is] the missing link in the Senator's bid to be immortal, 'like Jesus.' "

Scene from Wild Palms


Saturday, December 13, 2003

Saturday December 13, 2003

Filed under: General,Geometry — Tags: — m759 @ 2:02 PM

We Are the Key:
The Shining of December 13

For James and Lucia Joyce

In the Orbit of Genius —
TIME, Dec. 1, 2003

"Once, when her mother asked if Joyce should visit her in the sanatorium, Lucia said, 'Tell him I am a crossword puzzle, and if he does not mind seeing a crossword puzzle, he is to come out.' "

Compare and contrast
with Finnegans Wake

From Roger Zelazny's Eye of Cat:

"A massive, jaguarlike form with a single, gleaming eye landed on the vehicle's hood forward and to the front.  It was visible for but an instant, and then it sprang away. The car tipped, its air cushion awry, and it was already turning onto its side before he left the trail.  He fought with the wheel and the attitude control, already knowing that it was too late.  There came a strong shock accompanied by a crunching noise, and he felt himself thrown forward.

Kaleidoscope turning… Shifting  pattern within unalterable structure… Was it a mistake? There is pain with the power…  Time's friction at the edges…  Center loosens, forms again elsewhere…  Unalterable?  But – Turn outward.  Here songs of self erode the will till actions lie stillborn upon night's counterpane.  But – Again the movement…  Will it hold beyond a catch of moment?  To fragment…  Not kaleidoscope.  No center.  But again… To form it will.  To will it form.  Structure… Pain…  Deadly, deadly…  And lovely.  Like a sleek, small dog… A plastic statue… The notes of an organ, the first slug of gin on an empty stomach… We settle again, farther than ever before… Center. The light!… It is difficult being a god. The pain. The beauty. The terror of selfless –  Act!  Yes. Center, center, center… Here? Deadly…

necess yet again from bridge of brainbow oyotecraven stare decesis on landaway necessity timeslast the arnings ent and tided turn yet beastfall nor mindstorms neither in their canceling sarved cut the line that binds ecessity towarn and findaway twill open pandorapack wishdearth amen amenusensis opend the mand of min apend the pain of durthwursht vernichtung desiree tolight and eadly dth cessity sesame

We are the key."

Friday, December 12, 2003

Friday December 12, 2003

Filed under: General — m759 @ 4:07 PM

For Sinatra’s Birthday

Sinatra made as good use as anyone in the past century of the 12-note tempered scale, so the above seems a reasonably apt tribute on this, his 12/12 birthday.

Thursday, December 11, 2003

Thursday December 11, 2003

Filed under: General — m759 @ 1:15 PM

Rough Beast

The title is a reference to the horse in yesterday’s entry of 6:13 PM.

The time of that entry, 6:13, is a deliberate reference* to the date of a June 13, 2003, entry, for the birthday of W. B. Yeats.

That entry contains the following —

Behold a Pale Horse:
A link in memory of Gregory Peck,

which leads to…

“It was not a mere soldier’s courage, like gripping a weapon and charging the foe: it was like charging Death itself on his pale horse.

Even at his best, his island parrot, the better loved of the two, spoke no word he was not taught to speak by his master. How then has it come about that this man of his, who is a kind of parrot and not much loved, writes as well as or better than his master? For he wields an able pen, this man of his, no doubt of that. Like charging Death himself on his pale horse. His own skill, learned in the counting house, was in making tallies and accounts, not in turning phrases. Death himself on his pale horse: those are words he would not think of. Only when he yields himself up to this man of his do such words come.”

— J. M. Coetzee, Nobel Prize Lecture
   of Dec. 10, 2003

* As is the time of this entry.

Wednesday, December 10, 2003

Wednesday December 10, 2003

Filed under: General — m759 @ 6:13 PM

Putting Descartes Before Dehors


“Descartes déclare que c’est en moi, non hors de moi, en moi, non dans le monde, que je pourrais voir si quelque chose existe hors de moi.”

ATRIUM, Philosophie

For further details, see ART WARS.

Wednesday December 10, 2003

Filed under: General — Tags: — m759 @ 1:44 PM

Tru Story

From the Internet Broadway Database entry on the play Tru, starring Robert Morse:

"Setting: Truman Capote's
New York apartment at
870 United Nations Plaza.
One week before Christmas, 1975."

For Lewis Allen, producer of Tru, who died on Monday, the Buddhist holy day Rohatsu…

Robert Morse again performs "In My Room" (see previous entry), but this time the space he describes is the complex plane.


Capote collected paperweights; the complex plane is an apt setting for what might be called "paperweights of eternity" — i.e., Riemann spheres.  Click on the spheres for a larger version, the work of Anders Sandberg.

See, too, Russell Crowe as Santa's Helper.

Tuesday, December 9, 2003

Tuesday December 9, 2003

Filed under: General,Geometry — m759 @ 11:11 AM

Street of the Fathers

From Bruce Wagner’s Wild Palms —

Robert Morse sings in Kyoto
as negotiators discuss
the Go chip

In My Room

Coordinates for a 4×4 space:

A Small Go Board Study:

A 4×4
Go Board

Université René Descartes,
45 rue des Saints Pères,

Today’s birthdays:

Kirk Douglas
Buck Henry
John Malkovich

Monday, December 8, 2003

Monday December 8, 2003

Filed under: General — m759 @ 11:11 PM

Dream of Youth

Today is the feast day of

Saint Hermann Weyl.

In his honor, here are two links:

The Jugendtraum and

Langlands on the Jugendtraum.

Monday December 8, 2003

Filed under: General — m759 @ 1:11 AM

Dead Poets Society

On Friday, December 5, 2003, I picked up a copy of An Introduction to Poetry, by X. J. Kennedy and Dana Gioia, 8th ed., at a used book sale for 50 cents.

The previous entry concerns a poem by Buson I found in that book, and contains a link on Kennedy’s name to a work suitable for this holiday season.

As additional thanks for the poem, here are links to a two-part interview with Gioia:

Paradigms Lost: Part One, and

Paradigms Lost: Part Two.

“A poem need not shout to be heard.”
— Dana Gioia

Monday December 8, 2003

Filed under: General — m759 @ 12:00 AM

Happy Rohatsu

“The Buddha was enlightened on the eighth of December when he looked up at the morning star, the planet we call Venus.”

— Shodo Harada Roshi, Dharma Talk

A poem for Rohatsu:

On the one-ton temple bell
a moon-moth, folded into sleep,
sits still.

~by Taniguchi Buson
(translated by X.J. Kennedy)

Commentary on poetry of Buson:

Poetry as an open space
 for lightening of Being

“… a cleft of existence from where the time is to extend to eternity. It is a place where ‘nothing’ crosses with ‘being’ or the ‘clearing’ in Heidegger’s term, the only light place in the dark forest.”

Hiroo Saga

In other words,
From Here to Eternity.

For more on Zen, see the
entry of May 2, 2003.

For more on a Temple Bell, see the
entry of May 1, 2003.

For more on Venus, see the
entry of March 28, 2003.

For more on the morning star, see the
entry of December 8, 2002.

Sunday, December 7, 2003

Sunday December 7, 2003

Filed under: General — m759 @ 1:11 PM

The Last Samurai

“The ‘Samurai Grandmother’
Margaret Singer
   has passed away…”

Singer was the author of
Cults in Our Midst.

For some background on
Singer and Scientology,
see The Anti-Cult Movement.

” ‘I might look like a little old grandma, but I’m no pushover,’ she told a reporter last year, just before tossing back another shot of Bushmills Irish whiskey, her libation of choice.”

“Occasionally threatened, Singer refused to back down. In a 2002 interview with the San Francisco Chronicle, she told how, at 80, she had frightened off someone who’d been leaving menacing notes in her mailbox.”

I’ve got a 12-gauge shotgun
up here with a spray pattern that’ll put a three-foot hole in you, sonny, and you’d better get off my porch, or you’ll be sorry!” she shouted out the window.

Sunday December 7, 2003

Filed under: General — m759 @ 2:45 AM

Annals of Education:

Eyes on the Prize

Dialogue from “Good Will Hunting” —

Will:    He used to just put a belt,
          a stick, and a wrench
          on the kitchen table
          and say, “Choose.”
Sean: Gotta go with the belt, there.
Will:   I used to go with the wrench.

 Location, Location, Location

See, too, Dick Morris on triangulation.

Friday, December 5, 2003

Friday December 5, 2003

Filed under: General — Tags: — m759 @ 1:06 PM
Number 61    Hexagram 61: Inner Truth

For Joan Didion on her birthday

From “On Keeping a Notebook” (1966)
in Slouching Towards Bethlehem:

How it felt to me: that is getting closer to the truth about a notebook. I sometimes delude myself about why I keep a notebook, imagine that some thrifty virtue derives from preserving everything observed.  See enough and write it down, I tell myself, and then some morning when the world seems drained of wonder, some day when I am only going through the motions of doing what I am supposed to do, which is write- on that bankrupt morning I will simply open my notebook and there it will all be, a forgotten account with accumulated interest, paid passage back to the world out there: dialogue overheard in hotels and elevators and at the hatcheck counter in Pavillon (one middle-aged man shows his hat check to another and says, “That’s my old football number”)….

I imagine, in other words, that the notebook is about other people. But of course it is not. I have no real business with what one stranger said to another at the hat-check counter in Pavillon; in fact I suspect that the line “That’s my old football number” touched not my own imagination at all, but merely some memory of something once read, probably “The Eighty-Yard Run.”

From a 1994 interview with Tommy Lee Jones by Bryant Gumbel:

Gumbel: While majoring in English, Jones was also an offensive guard on the Harvard football team. Number 61 in your program, his last game, against Yale, proved to be one of the most famous games every played. Harvard scored 16 points in the last 42 seconds to gain a 29-all tie. (Photo of Jones in football uniform, footage of 1968 football game.)

Mr. J: It couldn’t have been a more spectacular way to leave the game that had been so important to me all my life. The grass had never looked that green, nor the sky that blue.

Gumbel: That lucky game was for Jones a precursor of good fortune to come. It seems Harvard´s team doctor, Thomas Quigley, had caught some of Tommy Lee’s off the field plays and come away impressed. (Photo of Jones at rehearsal)

Mr. J: And when I was about to graduate, he asked if I had thought about going to New York, and I said I didn’t know. He said, “Well, if you do, take this letter and give it to my daughter, she’s doing a play.”

Ms. Jane Alexander (Actress): And I opened it. It was from my father, and it said: “This young man excels at Harvard. He is a good football player, but he wants to be an actor. Take care of him.” So I introduced him to a few agents, and right away he got a job.

Mr. J: And I had one line…. The line was five words long.

Gumbel: Were this a fairy tale, it would be….

Joan Didion: “That’s my old football number.”

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