Sunday, February 29, 2004

Sunday February 29, 2004

Filed under: General — m759 @ 3:22 PM

Types of Ambiguity

1.  Oscar: military phonetic for the letter 'O'

2.  "… this symbol among the Greeks was more circle than dot, but among those in India, more dot than circle."

— Robert Kaplan, The Nothing That Is: A Natural History of Zero


3.  A bindi is an auspicious mark worn by young girls and women. Bindi is derived from bindu, the Sanskrit word for dot.  It is usually a red dot made with vermilion powder which is worn by women between their eyebrows on their forehead.  Considered a symbol of Goddess Parvati, a bindi signifies female energy….

— Indian Customs & Traditions

4.  Sometimes I feel so reckless and wild
Sometimes I feel like a motherless child
I gave nobody life, I am nobody's wife
And I seem to be nobody's daughter
So red is the color that I like the best
It's your Indian skin and the badge
On my chest
The heat of my pride
The lips of a bride
The sad heart of the truth
And the flag of youth
And blood that is thicker than water

Shawn Colvin of Vermillion, SD,
    "The Story" lyrics

5.  Hamlet  Do you think I meant country matters?
Ophelia  I think nothing, my lord.
Hamlet  That's a fair thought to lie between maid's legs.
Ophelia  What is, my lord?
Hamlet   Nothing.

6.  Macbeth  "…. a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing."

7.  Enter a Messenger.

Sunday February 29, 2004

Filed under: General — m759 @ 3:28 AM

Vita Brevis

“In many ways, the arts are the highest achievements of man.”

— Harvard President
   Lawrence H. Summers,
   Feb. 26, 2004 

”We intensively train children in the Arts and ritual because deep down we know that these are the only things that really MATTER. This is what we must share first with the young, in case they DIE.”

— Lucy Ellmann, Dot in the Universe,
   quoted in today’s New York Times

Saturday, February 28, 2004

Saturday February 28, 2004

Filed under: General — Tags: — m759 @ 7:00 PM

Inner Truth
and Outer Style

Inner Truth:

Hexagram 61: Inner Truth

Outer Style:

Joan Didion

“Everything I learned,
I learned at Vogue.”

Joan Didion, Nov. 2001 interview
with Amy Spindler.

Spindler died on Friday, Feb. 27, 2004.

For related material, see

Truth and Style: ART WARS at Harvard



Saturday February 28, 2004

Filed under: General — m759 @ 1:00 PM

Truth and Style

From today’s New York Times obituary for Amy M. Spindler, former fashion critic of The New York Times and style editor of its magazine, who died yesterday at 40:

“Anna Wintour, the editor in chief of Vogue, whom Ms. Spindler regarded as a competitor when she became style editor of The Times Magazine, in 1998, said: ‘She took criticism in a new direction. She wasn’t afraid to tell the truth.’ “

“I don’t believe in truth. I believe in style.”
— Hugh Grant in Vogue magazine, July 1995

Again from Spindler’s obituary:

“In a front-page article on Sept. 5, 1995, she [Spindler] noted a new piety on parade, marked by store windows and catalogs full of monastic robes, pilgrim’s boots and dangling crosses. Perhaps, she wrote, ‘the financially strained fashion industry is seeking salvation from above.’ “


Amy M. Spindler

See also
Strike That Pose (August 1995)
and the two previous log24.net entries
on art and religion at Harvard.

For even more context, see
Truth and Style: ART WARS at Harvard.

Thursday, February 26, 2004

Thursday February 26, 2004

Filed under: General — m759 @ 4:07 PM

ART WARS at Harvard

From today’s Harvard Crimson:

“The VES [Visual and Environmental Studies] department is still recovering, both internally and in public perception, from the firing of former chair Ellen Phelan in spring 2001. Phelan, a distinguished painter who brought in top New York artists, was replaced by Kenan Professor of English Marjorie Garber, an English scholar with no formal background in the practice of visual arts.”

Here’s more on Phelan and art at Harvard (rated R for colorful language).

See also Strike That Pose.

Follow-up from the Harvard Crimson,
Friday, Feb. 27, 2004:

Crimson/Gloria B. Ho
Harvard President
Lawrence H. Summers
struck a thoughtful pose
while meeting with students
last night.

By Lauren A. E. Schuker
Crimson Staff Writer

Summers… expressed his strong commitment to the visual and performing arts at Harvard.

“In many ways, the arts are the highest achievements of man,” Summers said, “and universities have always been focused on humanities.”

Summers added that he was concerned that there is a disparity between critiquing and creating works of art.

“You don’t have to be particularly accomplished to study macroeconomic theory or European history,” he said, “but you do if you want to study creative writing or musical performance. That is problematic.”

Summers also added that he hoped to see the University develop more respect for the arts and more “explicit academic evaluation” in the future.

Thursday February 26, 2004

Filed under: General — m759 @ 1:01 PM

The Oscar for best picture goes to…

The Best Picture

Aldous Huxley, 1925

“… And when at last one has arrived at San Sepolcro, what is there to be seen? A little town surrounded by walls, set in a broad flat valley between hills; some fine Renaissance palaces with pretty balconies of wrought iron; a not very interesting church, and finally, the best picture in the world.

The best picture in the world is painted in fresco on the wall of a room in the town hall….  Its clear, yet subtly sober colours shine out from the wall with scarcely impaired freshness….  We need no imagination to help us figure forth its beauty; it stands there before us in entire and actual splendour, the greatest picture in the world.

The greatest picture in the world…. You smile. The expression is ludicrous, of course.”

Yet not as ludicrous as the following

Cheesy Consolation

Doonesbury 2/26/04:

  The Harvard Jesus:  

Nancy K. Dutton
in the Harvard Crimson
Monday, Feb. 23, 2004


Maureen Dowd on
The Passion of the Christ:

“I went with a Jewish pal, who tried to stay sanguine. ‘The Jews may have killed Jesus,’ he said.  ‘But they also gave us ‘Easter Parade.’ “

New York Times, Feb. 26, 2004

For a truly cheesy Easter parade at Harvard University, see

The Crimson Passion.

Wednesday, February 25, 2004

Wednesday February 25, 2004

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

Modernism as a Religion

In light of the controversy over Mel Gibson's bloody passion play that opens today, some more restrained theological remarks seem in order.  Fortunately, Yale University Press has provided a framework — uniting physics, art, and literature in what amounts to a new religion — for making such remarks.  Here is some background.

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

"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."

Recommended related material —

By others:

Inside Modernism:  Relativity Theory, Cubism, Narrative, Thomas Vargish and Delo E. Mook, Yale University Press, 1999

Signifying Nothing: The Fourth Dimension in Modernist Art and Literature

Corpus Hypercubus,
by Dali.  Not cubist,
perhaps "hypercubist."

By myself: 

Finite Relativity

The Crucifixion of John O'Hara

Block Designs

The Da Vinci Code and Symbology at Harvard

The Crimson Passion

Material that is related, though not recommended —

The Aesthetics of the Machine

Connecting Physics and the Arts

Tuesday, February 24, 2004

Tuesday February 24, 2004

Filed under: General — Tags: — m759 @ 2:30 PM

The Crimson Passion

Monday, February 23, 2004

Monday February 23, 2004

Filed under: General — m759 @ 3:00 PM

Solving for X

Frederick Morgan
in 2001

On the Hudson Review, whose longtime editor Frederick Morgan died on Friday, Feb. 20, 2004:

“The first issue featured… poetry by Wallace Stevens….” — NY Times 2/23/04

A search on “Wallace Stevens” “Hudson Review” yields a reference to

Jarman, Mark.
“Solving for X:
The Poetry and Prose
of Wallace Stevens.”
The Hudson Review,
51.1 (Fall 1998): 250(7).

A further search on “Mark Jarman” leads to

The Excitement,
by Mark Jarman,
The Hudson Review,
 55th Anniversary Issue,
Spring 2003,

a poem in which X himself makes an appearance:

The years into old age and death
    were set then.
And I have often thought
    about those years.
For this was the peak moment
    in family history,
The Lord come unto Granddad….

We may imagine Granddad as played by the recipient of last night’s Screen Actors Guild lifetime achievement award:

“This is the peak for me.”
— Karl Malden, Feb. 22, 2004

Sunday, February 22, 2004

Sunday February 22, 2004

Filed under: General,Geometry — Tags: — m759 @ 8:53 AM


"What modern painters are trying to do,
if they only knew it, is paint invariants."

— James J. Gibson in Leonardo

(Vol. 11, pp. 227-235.
Pergamon Press Ltd., 1978)

Those who have clicked
on the title above
may find the following of interest.

Sean Socha

Wallace Stevens'

and the Visual Arts

I see modern art's usefulness for Stevens in its reconfiguration of the relationship between imagination and reality…. Stevens will incorporate a device from painting to illustrate his poetic idea. For instance, "Metaphors of a Magnifico" (Harmonium) illustrates an idea about the fragmentation and/or subjectivity of reality and the importance of perspective by incorporating the Cubist technique of multiple perspectives.

Also perhaps relevant:

Einstein wanted to know what was invariant (the same) for all observers. The original title for his theory was (translated from German) "Theory of Invariants." — Wikipedia

Friday, February 20, 2004

Friday February 20, 2004

Filed under: General,Geometry — Tags: — m759 @ 3:24 PM

Finite Relativity

Today is the 18th birthday of my note

The Relativity Problem in Finite Geometry.”

That note begins with a quotation from Weyl:

“This is the relativity problem: to fix objectively a class of equivalent coordinatizations and to ascertain the group of transformations S mediating between them.”

— Hermann Weyl, The Classical Groups, Princeton University Press, 1946, p. 16

Here is another quotation from Weyl, on the profound branch of mathematics known as Galois theory, which he says

“… is nothing else but the relativity theory for the set Sigma, a set which, by its discrete and finite character, is conceptually so much simpler than the infinite set of points in space or space-time dealt with by ordinary relativity theory.”

— Weyl, Symmetry, Princeton University Press, 1952, p. 138

This second quotation applies equally well to the much less profound, but more accessible, part of mathematics described in Diamond Theory and in my note of Feb. 20, 1986.

Friday February 20, 2004

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

The Da Vinci Code
Symbology at Harvard

The protagonist of the recent bestseller The Da Vinci Code is Robert Langdon, "a professor of Religious Symbology at Harvard University."  A prominent part in the novel is played by the well-known Catholic organization Opus Dei.  Less well known (indeed, like Langdon, nonexistent) is the academic discipline of "symbology."  (For related disciplines that do exist, click here.) What might a course in this subject at Harvard be like?

Harvard Crimson, April 10, 2003:

While Opus Dei members said that they do not refer to their practices of recruitment as "fishing," the Work’s founder does describe the process of what he calls "winning new apostles" with an aquatic metaphor.

Point #978 of The Way invokes a passage in the New Testament in which Jesus tells Peter that he will make him a "fisher of men." The point reads:

" ‘Follow me, and I will make you into fishers of men.’ Not without reason does our Lord use these words: men—like fish—have to be caught by the head. What evangelical depth there is in the ‘intellectual apostolate!’ ”

IMAGE- Escher, 'Fishes and Scales'

IMAGE- Cullinane, 'Invariance'

Exercise for Symbology 101:

Describe the symmetry
in each of the pictures above.
Show that the second picture
retains its underlying structural
symmetry under a group of
322,560 transformations.

Having reviewed yesterday's notes
on Gombrich, Gadamer, and Panofsky,
discuss the astrological meaning of
the above symbols in light of
today's date, February 20.

Extra credit:

Relate the above astrological
symbolism to the four-diamond
symbol in Jung's Aion.

Happy metaphors!

Robert Langdon

Thursday, February 19, 2004

Thursday February 19, 2004

Filed under: General — m759 @ 9:22 PM

What is Poetry, Part II —

Gombrich vs. Gadamer

Excerpts from
Tetsuhiro Kato on

Gombrich and the
Hermeneutics of Art

Kato on Gombrich

“… according to Gombrich, an image is susceptible to become a target for ‘symbol detectives’…. But the hidden authorial intention… ([for example]… astrology, recalling the famous warning of Panofsky [1955: 32]), almost always tends to become a reproduction of the interpreter’s own ideological prejudice. Not to give into the irrationalism such psychological overinterpretation might invite…. we have to look for the origin of meaning… in…  the social context…. The event of image making is not the faithful transcription of the outside world by an innocent eye, but it is the result of the artist’s act of selecting the ‘nearest equivalence’… based on social convention….”

Kato on Gadamer 

“For [Gadamer], picture reading is a process where a beholder encounters a picture as addressing him or her with a kind of personal question, and the understanding develops in the form of its answer (Gadamer 1981: 23-24; Gadamer 1985: 97,102-103).  But, it must be noted that by this Gadamer does not mean to identify the understanding of an image with some sort of ‘subsumption’ of the image into its meaning (Gadamer 1985: 100). He insists rather that we can understand an image only by actualizing what is implied in the work, and engage in a dialogue with it. This process is ideally repeated again and again, and implies different relations than the original conditions that gave birth to the work in the beginning (Gadamer 1985: 100).

What matters here for Gadamer is to let the aesthetic aspect of image take its own ‘Zeitgestalt’ (Gadamer 1985: 101).”

Example (?) — the Zeitgestalt
of today’s previous entry:

See, too,
 The Quality of Diamond.

Kato’s References:

Gadamer, Hans-Georg. 1981. “Philosophie und Literatur: Was ist die Literatur?,” Phänomenologische Forschungen 11 (1981): 18-45.

Gadamer, Hans-Georg. 1985. “Über das Lesen von Bauten und Bildern.” Modernität und Tradition: Festschrift für Max Imdahl zum 60. Geburtstag. Ed. Gottfried Boehm, Karlheinz Stierle, Gundorf Winter. Munchen: Wilhelm Fink. 97-103.

Panofsky, Erwin. 1955. Meaning in the Visual Arts: Papers in and on Art History. New York: Anchor.

Thursday February 19, 2004

Filed under: General — m759 @ 12:00 PM

Five Easy Pieces
for Lee Marvin’s Birthday


“EVERYTHING’S a story.
You are a story– I am a story.”
— Frances Hodgson Burnett,
A Little Princess


“You see that sign, sir?”
[Pointing to a notice demanding
courtesy from customers]



“You see this sign?”



“Aquarians are
extremely independent.”

Wednesday, February 18, 2004

Wednesday February 18, 2004

Filed under: General — m759 @ 7:20 PM

Diamonds and Whirls

New applets have rotating 3D versions of the diamond and whirl cubes in Block Designs.

Wednesday February 18, 2004

Filed under: General — m759 @ 12:25 PM


“Oh, Sara!” she whispered joyfully. “It is like a story!”

“It IS a story,” said Sara. “EVERYTHING’S a story. You are a story– I am a story.”

— Frances Hodgson Burnett,
    A Little Princess

For further details, see Why Narrative?

Wednesday February 18, 2004

Filed under: General — m759 @ 11:11 AM

Hard Core, Part II:
Star of Africa

In memory of St. Katharine Hepburn,
who died on St. Peter’s Day, 2003:
“Although the greater saints
are more acceptable to God
than the lesser,
it is sometimes profitable
to pray to the lesser.”
St. Thomas Aquinas  

From The Times, UK, Feb. 18, 2004:

Straw denies
a big-three takeover
at EU summit

Britain’s Foreign Secretary “said that there were no plans to set up a small body within the EU to take control of its affairs.

However, he told a news conference at the Foreign Office that it made sense for the three biggest economies to work ‘collaboratively’ on matters of common interest….

At tonight’s summit Mr Blair, Gerhard Schröder, the German Chancellor, and President Chirac of France will discuss initiatives to co-ordinate and strengthen the EU’s industrial policy….

German commentators regard the summit as a sea-change in British policy towards Europe — a signal that London’s main aim is no longer to split Paris and Berlin.”

Tuesday, February 17, 2004

Tuesday February 17, 2004

Filed under: General — m759 @ 4:35 PM

Hard Core

From USATODAY.com,
Posted 2/16/2004 11:16 PM

Diamond at heart of star
outweighs any on Earth

Astronomers announced Friday that a white dwarf star they’ve been studying is a chunk of crystallized carbon that weighs 5 million trillion trillion pounds. That’s the same as a diamond that is approximately 10 billion trillion trillion carats, or a one followed by 34 zeros.

Twinkle-twinkle indeed: An artist’s conception of the diamond core of a dead white-dwarf star.

Center for Astrophysics.

“It’s the mother of all diamonds,” said astronomer Travis Metcalfe, Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics….

The biggest diamond on Earth is the 530-carat Star of Africa, part of the Crown Jewels of England. It was cut from a 3,100-carat gem*, the biggest ever found.

* The Cullinan diamond

Tuesday February 17, 2004

Filed under: General — m759 @ 1:20 PM

Black History Month

Monday, February 16, 2004

Monday February 16, 2004

Filed under: General — m759 @ 8:19 PM

Gestalt Update

Updated Block Designs page with material on Gestalt aesthetics and the work of James J. Gibson.

Saturday, February 14, 2004

Saturday February 14, 2004

Filed under: General — m759 @ 1:11 PM

Export Janet.

“… on behalf of the
Entertainment Industry Coalition
for Free Trade (EIC),
we appreciate the opportunity
to appear before you….”
Testimony before the
U. S. International
Trade Commission

at mpaa.org

From the CNN transcript of Lou Dobbs Tonight, Friday the 13th of February, 2004…

DOBBS: Joining us tonight… Steve Forbes, the editor and chief of “Forbes”…. Mark Morrison, managing editor of “Businessweek”……..

MORRISON: We’d all like to see more job creation and less exporting of jobs. But coming to the right answer as to achieving that, what policy changes, can we make? We don’t want to go down a protectionist road.

DOBBS: Why not?

MORRISON: What would you suggest?

DOBBS: Why not?

You want to know what I would suggest? You go first.

FORBES: I don’t want another depression.

DOBBS: You don’t want a Great Depression. Do you think Smoot-Hawley caused the depression?

FORBES: It certainly contributed to it.

DOBBS: Oh, for crying out loud. The fact of the matter is, that…

FORBES: Do you want to go to North Carolina and say to the BMW workers send the jobs back to Germany?

DOBBS: I haven’t made a proposal yet and Forbes is all over me here.

FORBES: You want to have a lively show, keep your ratings up.


DOBBS: Yes, we’ll do that talking about Smoot-Hawley.

The fact of the matter is…

FORBES: Culture… Janet Jackson Act.

DOBBS: The fact of the matter is, we’re exporting our wealth at an alarming rate. We simply cannot continue this. And we’ve got 3 trillion dollars in IOUs. You tell me, at some point you are going to have to make a decision, either you are going to have free trade that has mindlessly led us to this point, or you are going to have fair, managed, mutual trade and build the economy back up.

FORBES: The trouble with managed trade it’s managed by politicians.

DOBBS: Well, I’d rather it be managed by politicians…

FORBES: Managing anything is something to be avoided and deplored. There — our economy today.

DOBBS: There are politicians who care about working men and women in this country. Who care about long-term wealth of this economy [more] than heads of multinationals who are indifferent.


Can I Get a Witness?

Thursday, February 12, 2004

Thursday February 12, 2004

Filed under: General — m759 @ 10:02 PM

Profile in Courage:

Bush Distances Himself from Aide
on Exporting Jobs

Thursday, February 12, 2004  1:23 PM ET

By Adam Entous

HARRISBURG, Pa. (Reuters) – Under pressure from fellow Republicans, President Bush distanced himself on Thursday from one of his top economic advisers who said the outsourcing of U.S. jobs to workers overseas may benefit the economy.

“The (economic) numbers are good. But I don’t worry about numbers, I worry about people,” Bush told students and teachers at a high school in Pennsylvania — a pivotal state in this year’s election and one of the hardest hit by factory job losses during his presidency.

Without mentioning by name the chairman of his Council of Economic Advisers, Gregory Mankiw, Bush said he was concerned “there are people looking for work because jobs have gone overseas” and vowed to “act to make sure there are more jobs at home” by keeping taxes low and by retraining displaced workers. Bush offered no new initiatives to curb outsourcing and aides said he opposed restrictions on free trade.

“You can fool all of the people
all of the time.”

— Art Buchwald

Thursday February 12, 2004

Filed under: General — m759 @ 12:00 PM

The Smoking Stovepipe

“What appears to have happened is this. Sometime soon after 9-11, the neocons persuaded the president that invading Iraq was the next crucial step in winning the war on terror and evil in which Divine Providence had chosen him to be the Churchill of his generation. And if the country and Congress were unconvinced of the need for war, it was his job to convince them.

And here is where the administration began to cross the line. To persuade us that Saddam was a mortal threat to which the only recourse was war, they needed evidence. But, apparently, there was little or no hard evidence to be had. No smoking guns….

First, they decided on war. Then they sent everyone out on a global scavenger hunt to find the evidence to prove we had no alternative but war. And though the information that came back was suspicious and the sources suspect, at least it pointed, as desired, in the right direction.

And, so, the hawks fed it to their propagandists in the press and ‘stovepiped’ it to the White House, where it soon began to appear in the statements and speeches of the president and his War Cabinet.”

Patrick J. Buchanan, Feb. 11, 2004


Happy birthday, Abie baby.

“Every totalitarian leader claims that, in himself, he is nothing at all: His strength is only the strength of the people who stand behind him, whose deepest strivings only he expresses. The catch is, those who oppose the leader by definition not only oppose him, but they also oppose the deepest and noblest strivings of the people.”

— a column opposing the president at foreignpolicy.com.

Wednesday, February 11, 2004

Wednesday February 11, 2004

Filed under: General — m759 @ 10:15 AM

On Exporting Jobs

The liberal view:

“Outsourcing raises American productivity, gives our economy a boost, increases foreign demand for U.S. products and leaves us better off.”

Nicholas D. Kristof
   in today’s New York Times

The Perot view:

“Perot Systems, the computer services company founded by former presidential candidate Ross Perot, is all set to add about 3,500 jobs in India and move into two new facilities there this year.”

Times of India, Feb. 7, 2004

The conservative view:

As noted by Pat Buchanan in yesterday’s entry, the conservative view is strongly anti-free-trade.  This view currently seems best defended, not by Buchanan and Perot’s largely defunct Reform Party, but instead by the Communist Party… in, for instance, its incarnation as the International Committee of the Fourth International (ICFI).   See the Committee’s World Socialist Web Site for details.

See particularly the World Socialist account of demonstrations against the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) in Miami last year:

Legal observer details police violence
against FTAA protesters in Miami

Supporters of free-trader John Kerry might consider taking the Communists a bit more seriously this year.  There is no credible challenge to Bush from the right, but a challenge to Kerry from the disgruntled left — in the form of write-ins, stay-at-homes, and votes for obscure leftist candidates — could tip a close election in Bush’s favor… as Nader did in 2000.

Tuesday, February 10, 2004

Tuesday February 10, 2004

Filed under: General — m759 @ 12:07 PM

George W. Bush,

Part I:


2:09 PM PST, February 9, 2004

President’s Economic Report
Endorses Export of Jobs

By Warren Vieth and Edwin Chen,
Los Angeles Times Staff Writers

WASHINGTON — The movement of American factory jobs and white-collar work to other countries is part of a positive transformation that will enrich the U.S. economy over time, even if it causes short-term pain and dislocation, the Bush administration said today.

The embrace of foreign “outsourcing,” an accelerating trend that has contributed to U.S. job losses in recent years and has become an issue in the 2004 elections, is contained in the president’s annual report to Congress on the health of the U.S. economy….

Although trade expansion inevitably hurts some workers, it says, the benefits will eventually outweigh the costs as Americans are able to buy goods and services at lower costs and as jobs are created in growing sectors of the economy.

The report endorses the relatively new phenomenon of outsourcing high-end white-collar work to India and other countries, a trend that has created concern within affected professions such as computer programming and medical diagnostics.

Part II:

A search on liberal “free trade” leads to the following quote:

“One of the central concepts of classical liberal economic thought is the superiority of free trade over protectionism.”

Therefore George W. Bush, by courageously advocating free trade despite its political unpopularity, is a classic liberal.

Part III:

Context for the above quote:

The Liberal Agenda for the 21st Century

George W. Bush’s free-trade policy
fits right in.

Part IV:

The Conservative Alternative…

Patrick J. Buchanan,

author of “The Death of Manufacturing

and A Republic, Not an Empire.

“Let it be said: George Bush is beatable. He has no explanation and no cure for the hemorrhaging of manufacturing jobs at Depression rates, no plan to stop the outsourcing of white-collar jobs to Asia, no desire or will to stop the invasion from Mexico.

Yet, he remains a favorite against Kerry, because Kerry has no answers, either. Both are globalists. Both are free-traders. Both favor open borders. Again, it needs to be said:  There is no conservative party in America.”

Patrick J. Buchanan, Feb. 2, 2004

Not yet, there isn’t.

Monday, February 9, 2004

Monday February 9, 2004

Filed under: General — m759 @ 6:36 PM

Hermes and Folded Time

Yesterday’s entry on painter Ward Jackson and the philosopher Gadamer involved what is called hermeneutics, or the art of interpretation.  Gadamer was a leader in this field.  The following passage perhaps belabors the obvious, but it puts hermeneutics clearly in context.

From Daniel Chandler’s Semiotics for Beginners:

“The ‘tightness’ of semiotic codes themselves varies from the rule-bound closure of logical codes (such as computer codes) to the interpretative looseness of poetic codes. Pierre Guiraud notes that ‘signification is more or less codified,‘ and that some systems are so ‘open’ that they ‘scarcely merit the designation ‘code’ but are merely systems of “hermeneutic” interpretation’ (*Guiraud 1975, 24). Guiraud makes the distinction that a code is ‘a system of explicit social conventions’ whilst ‘a hermeneutics’ is ‘a system of implicit, latent and purely contingent signs,’ adding that ‘it is not that the latter are neither conventional nor social, but they are so in a looser, more obscure and often unconscious way’ (*ibid., 41). His claim that (formal) codes are ‘explicit’ seems untenable since few codes would be likely to be widely regarded as wholly explicit. He refers to two ‘levels of signification,’ but it may be more productive to refer to a descriptive spectrum based on relative explicitness, with technical codes veering towards one pole and interpretative practices veering towards the other. At one end of the spectrum are what Guiraud refers to as ‘explicit, socialized codes in which the meaning is a datum of the message as a result of a formal convention between participants’ (*ibid., 43-4). In such cases, he argues, ‘the code of a message is explicitly given by the sender’ (*ibid., 65). At the other end of the spectrum are ‘the individual and more or less implicit hermeneutics in which meaning is the result of an interpretation on the part of the receiver’ (*ibid., 43-4). Guiraud refers to interpretative practices as more ‘poetic,’ being ‘engendered by the receiver using a system or systems of implicit interpretation which, by virtue of usage, are more or less socialized and conventionalized’ (*ibid., 41). Later he adds that ‘a hermeneutics is a grid supplied by the receiver; a philosophical, aesthetic, or cultural grid which he applies to the text’ (*ibid., 65).”

* Pierre Guiraud, Semiology (trans. George Gross), London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1975

Related material:

From Michalinos Zembylas on Michel Serres:

“Serres’ use of Hermes is reminiscent of hermeneutics. The word derives from Hermes and implies that the idea of hermeneutics as a theory of interpretation (and consequently of communication) is necessary when there is a possibility for misunderstanding. Hermes translated the ‘word of Gods’; an interpreter translates the written text, and a teacher ‘translates’ the literature….  Understanding then is aided by the mediation of a hermeneut…. According to Gadamer (1975), the pleasure such understanding elicits is the joy of knowledge (which does not operate as an enchantment but as a kind of transformation). It is worth exploring this idea a bit more since there are interesting connections with Serres’ work.”

There is also an interesting connection with Guiraud’s work.  As quoted above, Guiraud wrote that

“…a hermeneutics is a grid supplied by the receiver; a philosophical, aesthetic, or cultural grid which he applies to the text.”

Serres describes Hermes as passing through “folded time.”  Precisely how time can be folded into a grid is the subject of my note The Grid of Time, which gives the context for the Serres phrase “folded time.”

For more on hermeneutics and Gadamer’s “joy of knowledge,” see Ian Lee in The Third Word War on “understanding the J.O.K.E.” (the Joy of Knowledge Encyclopedia).

Sunday, February 8, 2004

Sunday February 8, 2004

Filed under: General,Geometry — m759 @ 2:00 PM

The Quality of Diamond

On February 3, 2004, archivist and abstract painter Ward Jackson died at 75.  From today’s New York Times:

“Inspired by painters like Piet Mondrian and Josef Albers, Mr. Jackson made austere, hard-edged geometric compositions, typically on diamond-shaped canvases.”

On a 2003 exhibit by Pablo Helguera that included Mr. Jackson:

Parallel Lives

Parallel Lives recounts and recontextualizes real episodes from the lives of five disparate individuals including Florence Foster Jenkins, arguably the world’s worst opera singer; Giulio Camillo, a Renaissance mystic who aimed to build a memory container for all things; Friedrich Froebel, the inventor of the kindergarten education system, the members of the last existing Shaker community, and Ward Jackson, the lifelong archivist of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum.

Parallel Lives pays homage to Hans-Georg Gadamer (1900-2002) and his system of philosophical hermeneutics built through an exploration of historicity, language, and art. This exhibition, which draws its title from the classic work by Plutarch, is a project that explores biography as a medium, drawing from the earlier innovation of the biographical practice in works like Marcel Schwob’s “Imaginary Lives” (1896) and John Aubrey’s “Brief Lives” (1681). Through display means, the project blends the lives of these individuals into one basic story, visually stating the relationship between individualism and society as best summarized by Gadamer’s famous phrase: “we all are others, and we all are a self.”

On February 3, the day that Jackson died, there were five different log24.net entries:

  1. The Quality with No Name 
  2. Speaking Globally
  3. Lila
  4. Theory of Design
  5. Retiring Faculty.

Parallels with the Helguera exhibit:

Florence Foster Jenkins: Janet Jackson in (2) above.

Giulio Camillo: Myself as compiler of the synchronistic excerpts in (5).

Friedrich Froebel: David Wade in (4).

The last Shakers: Christopher Alexander and his acolytes in (1).

Ward Jackson: On Feb. 3, Jackson became a permanent part of Quality — i.e., Reality — itself, as described in (3).

Some thoughts of Hans-Georg Gadamer
relevant to Jackson’s death:

Gadamer, Art, and Play

by G.T. Karnezis

The pleasure it [art] elicits “is the joy of knowledge.” It does not operate as an enchantment but “a transformation into the true.” Art, then, would seem to be an essentializing agent insofar as it reveals what is essential. Gadamer asks us to see reality as a horizon of “still undecided possibilities,” of unfulfilled expectations, of contingency. If, in a particular case, however, “a meaningful whole completes and fulfills itself in reality,” it is like a drama. If someone sees the whole of reality as a closed circle of meaning” he will be able to speak “of the comedy and tragedy of life” (genres becoming ways of conceiving reality). In such cases where reality “is understood as a play, there emerges the reality of what play is, which we call the play of art.” As such, art is a realization: “By means of it everyone recognizes that that is how things are.” Reality, in this viewpoint, is what has not been transformed. Art is defined as “the raising up of this reality to its truth.”

As noted in entry (3) above
on the day that Jackson died,

“All the world’s a stage.”

William Shakespeare

Saturday, February 7, 2004

Saturday February 7, 2004

Filed under: General — m759 @ 2:00 PM

Attack Ad

Saturday February 7, 2004

Filed under: General — Tags: — m759 @ 1:00 PM

Scholarship vs. Bullshit

“Examples are the stained-glass windows of knowledge.” — Vladimir Nabokov

An example of scholarship:

Paul Friedlander.

An example of bullshit:

Leo Strauss.

Further background:

Noble lies and perpetual war: Leo Strauss, the neo-cons, and Iraq.

Friday, February 6, 2004

Friday February 6, 2004

Filed under: General — m759 @ 7:35 AM

Government by Crackpots

Morning briefing:

Paul Krugman on Laurie Mylroie in today’s New York Times

Get Me Rewrite!,

Peter Bergen in the Washington Monthly

Laurie Mylroie: The Neocons’
Favorite Conspiracy Theorist

and Cecil Adams in the Chicago Reader on…

Leo Strauss and
the Neocon Crackpots

Strauss lectured on Plato at the University of Chicago.  For more on Plato and philosophy at the University of Chicago, see the classic Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.

Thursday, February 5, 2004

Thursday February 5, 2004

Filed under: General — m759 @ 2:56 PM

Quantum Logic:

A memorial to the late Alan Bullock,
founding master of St. Catherine’s College,
Oxford, and historian of the Third Reich.

Bullock died on Groundhog Day.

From an obituary:

“Hitler: a Study in Tyranny was published in 1952 with the aphorism from Aristotle: ‘Men do not become tyrants in order to keep out the cold.’  In the same year Alan Bullock took up his appointment to the oddly-named office of ‘Censor’ of St. Catherine’s Society – a male society, constitutionally part of the University, with a handful of tutors and no residential accommodation.  Ten years later it became a College….”

Emblem of
St. Catherine’s
College, Oxford

Quantum Oscillator
from Nov. 25, 2003
(St. Catherine’s Day)

Explaining what these Catherine wheels symbolize seems an appropriate task for Oxford philosophers.  From the St. Catherine’s College site: “The College’s motto – Nova et Vetera (the new and the old) – sums up its unique quality among Oxford colleges.”

See also today’s previous entry, prompted by a recent MIT Press book on philosophy and quantum theory.

Thursday February 5, 2004

Filed under: General — m759 @ 12:00 PM

Affirmation of Place and Time:
East Coker and Grand Rapids

This morning’s meditation:

“Let us talk together with the courage, humor, and ardor of Socrates.

In that long conversation, we may find ourselves considering something Plato’s follower Plotinus said long ago about ‘a principle which transcends being,’ in whose domain one can ‘assert identity without the affirmation of being.’  There, ‘everything has taken its stand forever, an identity well pleased, we might say, to be as it is…. Its entire content is simultaneously present in that identity: this is pure being in eternal actuality; nowhere is there any future, for every then is a now; nor is there any past, for nothing there has ever ceased to be.’  Individuality and existence in space and time may be masks that our sensibilities impose on the far different face of quantum reality.”

— Peter Pesic, Seeing Double: Shared Identities in Physics, Philosophy, and Literature, MIT Press paperback, 2003, p. 145

A search for more on Plotinus led to sites on the Trinity, which in turn led to the excellent archives at Calvin College in Grand Rapids.

A search for the theological underpinnings of Calvin College led to the Christian Reformed church:

“Our emblem is
the cross in a triangle.”

The triangle, as a symbol of “the delta factor,” also plays an important role in the semiotic theory of Walker Percy.  A search for current material on Percy led back to one of my favorite websites, that of Percy expert Karey Perkins, and thus to the following paper:

The “East Coker” Dance
in T. S. Eliot’s Four Quartets:
An Affirmation of Place and Time

by Karey Perkins

For a rather different, but excellent, literary affirmation of place and time — in Grand Rapids, rather than East Coker — see, for instance, Michigan Roll, a novel by Tom Kakonis.

We may, for the purposes of this trinitarian meditation, regard Percy and Kakonis as speaking for the Son and Karey Perkins as a spokesperson for the Holy Spirit.  As often in my meditations, I choose to regard the poet Wallace Stevens as speaking perceptively about (if not for, or as) the Father.  A search for related material leads to a 1948 comment by Thomas McGreevy, who

“… wrote of Stevens’ ‘Credences of Summer’ (Collected Poems 376),

On every page I find things that content me, as ‘The trumpet of the morning blows in the clouds and through / The sky.’

A devout Roman Catholic, he added, ‘And I think my delight in it is of the Holy Spirit.’ (26 May 1948).”

An ensuing search for material on “Credences of Summer” led back, surprisingly, to an essay — not very scholarly, but interesting — on Stevens, Plotinus, and neoplatonism.

Thus the circle closed.

As previous entries have indicated, I have little respect for Christianity as a religion, since Christians are, in my experience, for the most part, damned liars.  The Trinity as philosophical poetry, is, however, another matter.  I respect Pesic’s speculations on identity, but wish he had a firmer grasp of his subject’s roots in trinitarian thought.  For Stevens, Percy, and Perkins, I have more than respect.

Tuesday, February 3, 2004

Tuesday February 3, 2004

Filed under: General — Tags: — m759 @ 7:11 PM

Retiring Faculty

The following is related to
today's previous four log24 entries.

From my paper journal, a Xeroxed note, composed entirely of cut copies
of various documents,
from July 11, 1990….


Harvard Alumni Gazette June 1990

Retiring Faculty Continue their Love of Learning, Creativity

Thought for today: "He who tells the truth must have one foot in the stirrup." — Armenian Proverb

Preserve me from the enemy
     who has something to gain: and
     from the friend who has something to lose.
Remembering the words of
     Nehemiah the Prophet:
"The trowel in hand, and the gun
     rather loose in the holster."

— T. S. Eliot, Choruses from the Rock — 1934

Pattern in Islamic Art is the most thorough study yet published of the structure of the art.

Oleg Grabar, Aga Khan Professor of Islamic Art, will join the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton, where he will devote himself to pure research.  He has three books planned — which he estimates will take him about four years to finish — including books on the theory of ornament, and studies of early medieval Jerusalem and Islamic Sicily.  "I'm also planning to brush up on my Persian, which I had kind of forgotten," he said.

Clint Eastwood is the nameless stranger who mysteriously appears in the Warner Brothers film 'Pale Rider.'

Closing the cylinder, he holstered the gun, pivoted, and strode across the now silent street toward his horse.
   An ashen-faced Lahood stared out the second-story window, following the tall man's movements.  In his right hand he held a long-barreled blue-black derringer.  He raised the muzzle purposefully.
   The Preacher put a foot in the stirrup and hesitated.  Turning, he lifted his eyes to a particular window.  The curtains behind it moved slightly.  The report of the single shot was muffled by distance and glass.  From his position the Preacher could not hear the thump of the body as it struck the thick Persian rug.  He did not have to hear it.
   Lahood had begun this day's work, and Lahood had finished it.

Sources: Harvard Alumni Gazette, local newspaper, a volume of the poems of T. S. Eliot, David Wade's Pattern in Islamic Art, and a paperback novelization of Pale Rider

Tuesday February 3, 2004

Filed under: General — m759 @ 6:16 PM

Theory of Design

For an introduction, see

Pattern in Islamic Art, by David Wade.

For a deeper look that is related to the previous three log24 entries, see Goppold‘s

Prolegomena to an Art Theory.

Tuesday February 3, 2004

Filed under: General — m759 @ 1:44 PM


Robert M. Pirsig, Lila, 1991 Bantam hardcover, p. 111:

“… Quality ‘is’ morality. Make no mistake about it. They’re ‘identical.’  And if Quality is the primary reality of the world then that means morality is also the primary reality of the world.”

— Quoted at
   The Alexander-Pirsig Connection.

“This creative activity of the Divine is called lila, the play of God, and the world is seen as the stage of the divine play.”

— Fritjof Capra, The Tao of Physics, Third Edition, Updated, 1991, Shambhala paperback, pp. 87-88, quoted here

“All the world’s a stage.”

William Shakespeare

Tuesday February 3, 2004

Filed under: General — m759 @ 1:35 PM

Speaking Globally

On Janet Jackson at the Super Bowl:

“I don’t expect much but I am hoping that the whole episode rekindles a discussion in the country about the incredible double standard there is in the popular culture. Adults complain about the prevalence of teen sex, teen pregnancy, drug abuse, and lack of respect for appropriate authority but then place those very behaviors in front of children in the form of talented, attractive and highly paid role models. This is not a sensible approach. Speaking globally, this culture is asking for its own demise.”

Warren Throckmorton, 2/3/04

Tuesday February 3, 2004

Filed under: General — m759 @ 11:11 AM

The Quality with No Name

And what is good, Phædrus,
and what is not good…
Need we ask anyone to tell us these things?

— Epigraph to
   Zen and the Art of Motorcyle Maintenance

Brad Appleton discusses a phrase of Christopher Alexander:

“The ‘Quality Without A Name‘ (abbreviated as the acronym QWAN) is the quality that imparts incommunicable beauty and immeasurable value to a structure….

Alexander proposes the existence of an objective quality of aesthetic beauty that is universally recognizable. He claims there are certain timeless attributes and properties which are considered beautiful and aesthetically pleasing to all people in all cultures (not just ‘in the eye of the beholder’). It is these fundamental properties which combine to generate the QWAN….”

See, too, The Alexander-Pirsig Connection.

Monday, February 2, 2004

Monday February 2, 2004

Filed under: General — m759 @ 11:30 AM

From Re Joyce,
by Anthony Burgess:

Sunday, February 1, 2004

Sunday February 1, 2004

Filed under: General — m759 @ 8:37 PM

New web page:

Block Designs.

Sunday February 1, 2004

Filed under: General — m759 @ 11:07 AM

Note for St. Bridget's Day

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