Wednesday, March 31, 2004

Wednesday March 31, 2004

Filed under: General — Tags: — m759 @ 3:33 PM

Presbyterian Poets Society

The Wrinkle in Time link in my previous entry led to a sermon for St. Andrew’s day, 2003, at the Riviera Presbyterian Church in Miami.

I belong to no church, but have a vague recollection of being confirmed in the Presbyterian church in early adolescence.  That ceremony meant nothing to me then, and means nothing to me now.  It was the culmination of fitful attendance at Presbyterian Sunday School, which I recall, reluctantly, only as a course of training in ugliness, lies, and stupidity.

There seems, however, to be a paradox here.  The same religion I so detested seems to have inspired in others works of beauty, truth, and intelligence.

To wit, three poets, each with a Presbyterian background:

Robinson Jeffers

Wallace Stevens

Marianne Moore.

It may be that I am becoming reconciled to the religion that was urged upon me in my youth… becoming, at last, a Riviera Presbyterian.

For more details,
click on the above picture.

Wednesday March 31, 2004

Filed under: General — Tags: — m759 @ 2:18 AM

Literary Archaeology

“Mrs. Who’s spectacles shone out
at them triumphantly,
‘And the light shineth in darkness;
and the darkness
comprehended it not.’ ”
A Wrinkle in Time

See, too,

Shining Forth and

 The Shining of May 29.

Wednesday March 31, 2004

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

To Be

A Jesuit cites Quine:

"To be is to be the value of a variable."

— Willard Van Orman Quine, cited by Joseph T. Clark, S. J., in Conventional Logic and Modern Logic: A Prelude to Transition,  Woodstock, MD: Woodstock College Press, 1952, to which Quine contributed a preface.

Quine died in 2000 on Xmas Day.

From a July 26, 2003, entry,
The Transcendent Signified,
on an essay by mathematician
Michael Harris:



From a December 10, 2003, entry:

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.

The above material may be regarded as commemorating the March 31 birth of René Descartes and death of H. S. M. Coxeter.

For further details, see

Plato, Pegasus, and the Evening Star.

Tuesday, March 30, 2004

Tuesday March 30, 2004

Filed under: General — Tags: — m759 @ 3:11 PM

The Horn at Midnight

(See the two previous entries.)

Hamlet, Act 1, Scene 4:


I think it lacks of twelve.


No, it is struck.


Indeed? I heard it not:
then it draws near the season
Wherein the spirit held
his wont to walk.

A flourish of trumpets,
and ordnance shot off, within

What does this mean, my lord?



Look, my lord, it comes!

Enter Ghost


Angels and ministers of grace
defend us!

In memory of
Peter Ustinov and Alistair Cooke


From today’s New York Times:

Mr. Cooke’s daughter contacted Mr. Cooke’s biographer to inform him of her father’s death at midnight [on the night of March 29-March 30, 2004].


On Peter Ustinov, also from the New York Times:

“He received [an Emmy for his role] as Socrates in ‘Barefoot in Athens’ in 1966.”

The Times on “Barefoot in Athens”:

“Socrates falls from grace, and becomes the lone voice of democracy amongst the corruption of his fellow Athenians in this television adaptation of Maxwell Anderson’s play.”


On Alistair Cooke in today’s Times:

“At Jesus College, Cambridge, Mr. Cooke edited a literary magazine, put on plays and acted in them as a co-founder of the Cambridge Mummers, and pursued a rigorous social life….

Quiller-Couch taught him about writing.”


For more on Jesus College, Quiller-Couch, Socrates, and grace, see

The Circle is Unbroken.


Tuesday March 30, 2004

Filed under: General — Tags: — m759 @ 1:45 AM

Something is Rotten

See Hamlet, Act 1, Scene 4.

“… the administration’s reaction to Richard Clarke’s Against All Enemies provides more evidence of something rotten in the state of our government.”

Paul Krugman as Marcellus
in today’s New York Times

Krugman is among those now using the ominous phrase “abuse of power.”  He closes with a Nixon-related thought:

“Where will it end?  In his new book, Worse Than Watergate, John Dean, of Watergate fame, says, ‘I’ve been watching all the elements fall into place for two possible political catastrophes, one that will take the air out of the Bush-Cheney balloon and the other, far more disquieting, that will take the air out of democracy.’ “

Tuesday March 30, 2004

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

Banach’s Birthday

“A mathematician is a person who can find analogies between theorems; a better mathematician is one who can see analogies between proofs and the best mathematician can notice analogies between theories. One can imagine that the ultimate mathematician is one who can see analogies between analogies.”

— Stefan Banach, according to MacTutor.

The quotation is perhaps taken from Through a Reporter’s Eyes: The Life of Stefan Banach, by Roman Kauza (a.k.a. Roman Kaluza).

“What we today call ‘Banach spaces’
are called
‘spaces of type (B)’
in Banach’s book.”
Sheldon Axler

Sunday, March 28, 2004

Sunday March 28, 2004

Filed under: General — m759 @ 12:12 PM

American Heaven

Headlines from today’s Google News:

Singer Jan Berry, 62; Half of Surf Music Duo

Screeching for heaven at Mach 7

March 25 news story:

“The promise of 70 virgins in paradise and the equivalent of about $20 was all it took to convince a Palestinian teenager to turn himself into a suicide bomber…”

A more modest paradise, from a Jan Berry obituary today:

With Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys, William Jan Berry co-wrote the lyrics for “Surf City” with its lines about taking the station wagon to a place where there are “two girls for every boy.”*

* Theological footnote for feminists:
In some other regions of American Heaven, there may be two boys for every girl.

Sunday March 28, 2004

Filed under: General — m759 @ 12:00 PM

Real Enemies, Part II

“Even paranoids have real enemies.”
— Saying attributed to Delmore Schwartz

Hamas leader says Bush
is the ‘enemy’ of God and Islam

— Headline, USA Today, March 28, 2004

Saturday, March 27, 2004

Saturday March 27, 2004

Filed under: General — m759 @ 4:24 PM

Real Enemies, Part I

“Even paranoids have real enemies.”
— Saying attributed to Delmore Schwartz

According to the Washington Post and Newsday today, the President’s persecutors now include

Paul O’Neill,
   formerly Bush’s Treasury Secretary

Richard A. Clarke,
   formerly Bush’s counterterrorism chief

Rand Beers,
   Bush’s counterterrorism chief after Clarke

Flynt Leverett,
   former member of the Bush national security staff

Richard Foster,
   Bush Medicare accountant

John DiIulio,
   former director of Bush’s faith-based initiatives

“Others who have fallen out of favor over Iraq include former economic adviser Lawrence Lindsey, retired Marine Gen. Anthony Zinni and former Army chief of staff Gen. Eric Shinseki. All voiced concerns about either the expense or number of troops needed to occupy Iraq. All were treated dismissively by the White House. All are gone, but their estimates proved accurate….

Not every White House attempt at damage-control works. Last summer, White House officials tried to pin the blame on CIA Director George Tenet for not waving Bush off his State of the Union claim that Saddam was seeking uranium in Africa for nuclear weapons.

Political analysts rushed to proclaim Tenet a goner, but those obituaries proved premature.”

— Tom Raum in Newsday today

Tuesday, March 23, 2004

Tuesday March 23, 2004

Filed under: General — m759 @ 2:00 AM

President Queeg

“Over the weekend, Richard A. Clarke, Bush’s former counterterrorism coordinator, said Bush focused too little attention on al Qaeda before the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks and too much on Iraq afterward.

Clarke detailed his allegations in a book released yesterday. In it, he echoes criticism of Bush’s judgment and fixation on Iraq that were leveled by former Treasury secretary Paul H. O’Neill in his book, which was published in January.”

Jim VandeHei, Washington Post,
    March 23, 2004

“Pity poor George Bush. For some reason, he has been beset by delusional aides who, once they leave the White House, write books containing lies and exaggerations and — this is the lowest blow of all — do not take into account the president’s genius and all-around wisdom.”

— “Bush, Clarke and A Shred of Doubt,”
    Richard Cohen, Washington Post,
    March 23, 2004


“He was no different than any officer in the wardroom — they were all disloyal. I tried to run the ship properly, by the book, but they fought me at every turn.

… Naturally, I can only cover these things from memory…  If I’ve left anything out, why, just ask me specific questions and I’ll be glad to answer them… one-by-one…”

The Caine Mutiny

(With apologies to Paul Krugman… See Krugman’s column on President Queeg from March 14 last year — abstract or full text.)

Monday, March 22, 2004

Monday March 22, 2004

Filed under: General — m759 @ 10:00 PM

The Hairy Palm Academy

The previous two entries were prompted by a picture in the Washington Post of Spain’s Interior Minister, a member of the secular arm of the Legion of Christ.

Both entries mentioned a school run by the Legion of Christ, the Royal Palm Academy.  As the following excerpt from my March 20 entry indicates, a different sort of palm might also be honored by the Legion — the hairy palm.

“Los Legionarios de Cristo…  es una organización fundada en 1941 en Méjico por el padre Marcel [Marcial] Maciel (rehabilitado por el Vaticano en 1958 tras ser acusado de ayudarse en sus visiones con ampollas de morfina; también fue acusado de pederastia, le gustaba masturbar a jovencitos y que ellos le masturbaran a él).”


Related readings from The New York Review of Books, issue dated April 8, 2004:

God in the Hands of Angry Sinners, by Garry Wills, on the Legion of Christ and on Mel Gibson flogging his God,

and a related article, a review of

Solitary Sex: A Cultural History of Masturbation.

It seems the founder of the Legion of Christ, like many other Catholic priests, may have regarded masturbation as a group sport rather than solitary recreation.

For further details, see an ABC News 20/20 story dated April 26, 2002:

Priestly Sin, Cover-Up

When approached by ABC News’s Brian Ross in Rome with questions of allegations against Father Marcial Maciel, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger became visibly upset and actually slapped Ross’s hand. — ABCNEWS.com

Sunday, March 21, 2004

Sunday March 21, 2004

Filed under: General — m759 @ 1:20 AM

Quid Pro Quack

(Headline of today’s
Maureen Dowd column)


The essence, nature, or distinctive peculiarity, of a thing; that which answers the question, Quid est? or, What is it?

-Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary (1913)


Cross Window


Royal Palm Student


Dream of Heaven

The above rather cryptic sequence of pictures may be regarded as a memorial to Queen Juliana of the Netherlands, who died at about the time I found the central picture, “Royal Palm Student.”  For further details, click on the individual pictures, each of which is taken from a past log24 entry.  Also of some relevance: the palm at the end of A Mass for Lucero and the Stevens poem on The Palm at the End of the Mind.

Saturday, March 20, 2004

Saturday March 20, 2004

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

Christendom Today

From PP Nunca Mas!

20M: contra la guerra
20 de marzo:
Todas contra la guerra

From today’s Washington Post:

EU Taking Up Terrorism Issues

Security Officials Try to Forge
‘Europe-Wide Response’ After Attacks

By John Burgess
Washington Post Foreign Service
Saturday, March 20, 2004

European Union officials acknowledged Friday that mistrust between intelligence agencies posed a serious challenge.

“We have to build trust.”

— Michael McDowell, Ireland’s justice minister


Reasons for distrust, from a page on Ángel Acebes, Spain’s Interior Minister, at PP Nunca Mas! —

(today’s Washington Post)

En cuanto a su faceta espiritual, Acebes es miembro de la inquietante organización religiosa Legionarios de Cristo (de su brazo seglar, Regnum Christi).

Los Legionarios de Cristo…  es una organización fundada en 1941 en Méjico por el padre Marcel [Marcial] Maciel (rehabilitado por el Vaticano en 1958 tras ser acusado de ayudarse en sus visiones con ampollas de morfina; también fue acusado de pederastia, le gustaba masturbar a jovencitos y que ellos le masturbaran a él).

Those who distrust members of Opus Dei (so memorably described in the recent bestseller The Da Vinci Code) may also distrust members, like Acebes, of the secular arm of the Legion of Christ.

If, on the other hand, one applies the “by their fruits ye shall know them” test to the Legion of Christ, one finds, for example,

The Royal Palm Academy in Naples, Florida. 

This school seems to excel both academically and spiritually.

Royal Palm Student

Friday, March 19, 2004

Friday March 19, 2004

Filed under: General,Geometry — m759 @ 2:35 PM

Geometry of the 4×4 Square:


“There is such a thing as a tesseract.”
A Wrinkle in Time

Thursday, March 18, 2004

Thursday March 18, 2004

Filed under: General — m759 @ 4:23 PM

Rainbow’s End

From the
Norma Ballistics Calculator:

See also
Readings for St. Patrick’s Day.

Wednesday, March 17, 2004

Wednesday March 17, 2004

Filed under: General — m759 @ 11:59 PM

State of Grace

Saint Mercedes McCambridge, who won an Oscar for “All the King’s Men,” died on March 2, 2004.

From an entry for that date:

O the days of the Kerry dancing….
When the boys began to gather,
    in the glen of a summer’s night.
And the Kerry piper’s tuning 
    made us long with wild delight.

For further details,
see April 16, 2003.

From today’s New York Times:

Charlotte Mercedes Agnes McCambridge was born on March 16, 1916, in Joliet, Ill. … She began giving her birth date, though, as St. Patrick’s Day 1918. In explaining the discrepancy, a spokeswoman said, “She’s an actress,” adding: “She was a little bit Irish. And she decided she wanted to be two years younger.”

What the hell, she’s younger now.

Wednesday March 17, 2004

Filed under: General — m759 @ 8:00 PM

William H. Pickering,

Dec. 24, 1910 – March 15, 2004

For details,
click on the
black monolith.


Wednesday March 17, 2004

Filed under: General — Tags: — m759 @ 4:31 PM

Readings for
St. Patrick's Day


Finnegans Wake (1939)

Gravity's Rainbow (1978)

Masks of the Illuminati (1981)


"Nature does not know extinction;
all it knows is transformation.
Everything science has taught me,
and continues to teach me,
strengthens my belief in
the continuity of our
spiritual existence
after death."

Wernher von Braun

"I faced myself that day
with the nonplused apprehension
of someone who has
come across a vampire
and has no crucifix in hand."

— Joan Didion, "On Self-Respect,"
in Slouching Towards Bethlehem


"For every kind of vampire,
there is a kind of cross.

— Thomas Pynchon,
Gravity's Rainbow

Carpenter's Square:

In Latin, NORMA

Multa renascentur quae iam cecidere, cadentque
quae nunc sunt in honore uocabula, si uolet usus,
quem penes arbitrium est et ius et norma loquendi.

Horace, Ars Poetica

Many terms will be born again
that by now have sunk into oblivion,
and many that are now held in respect
will die out if that is what use should dictate
in whose power is the judgment and the law
and the rule of speech.

All, all must perish — but, surviving last,
The love of Letters half preserves the past;
True — some decay, yet not a few revive,
Though those shall sink, which now
     appear to thrive,
As Custom arbitrates, whose shifting sway
Our life and language must alike obey.

Hints from Horace

"Norma was the latin word for what we now call a carpenter's square. It was used to construct lines which were at right angles to another line, so the created line was said to be 'normal.'  The norma was also used as a standard to compare if objects, like a wall, might be erect (perpendicular to the ground) and so those that met the standard were called 'normal' and this use extended to the 'typical' element of any type of set. Eventually normal came to mean anything that 'met the standard.' "

Pat Ballew on mathematical usage


"317 is a prime,
not because we think so,
or because our minds are shaped
in one way rather than another,
because it is so,
because mathematical reality
is built that way."

— G. H. Hardy,
A Mathematician's Apology

Tuesday, March 16, 2004

Tuesday March 16, 2004

Filed under: General,Geometry — m759 @ 1:06 PM


In memory of John W. Seybold, who died at 88 on Sunday, March 14, 2004….

Seybold is said to have originated the application of the phrase “what you see is what you get” (WYSIWYG) to computerized typesetting.

The date of Seybold’s death was also the date of Einstein’s birth.

The entry “Clarity and Certainty” for that day contains a discussion by Einstein of the fact that the altitudes of a triangle have a point in common.

A March 14 search for a clear diagram of that fact yielded the above illustration, to which I returned today after reading of Seybold’s WYSIWYG philosophy.  The illustration is taken from an article by a British teacher of geometry that contains the following:

“Dick Tahta wrote… of geometry as involving the direct apprehension of imagery, gazing as into the eyes of a beloved and a certain intuition-seeing (Anschauung)…..

His sentences have tremendous power, and yet the terms he uses are slippery and seem unexplainable. What is, or what might be, ‘direct apprehension of imagery’? What is evoked by the powerfully metaphorical ‘gazing as into the eyes of a beloved’? ‘Intuition’ is a tremendously difficult term…. The combination ‘intuition-seeing’ seems to represent an attempt to convey a meaning for the German ‘Anschauung,’ and echoes the original title of the text Anschauliche Geometrie by Hilbert and Cohn-Vossen which was published in English as Geometry and the Imagination.”

From the same article:

“… for Lacan ‘mathematics … is constantly in touch with the unconscious’….

Commentators on Lacan frequently write that… he argued that the human being is captivated by an image….

The object, in a sense, gazes back.”

From a discussion group:

“Anschaulichkeit” is in my Cassell’s German-English dictionary, with the meanings “visual or graphic quality, clearness, vividness, perspicuity.”

For “anschaulich,” this dictionary gives “visual, clear, vivid, graphic, concrete; (Phil.) intuitive, perceptual.”

For “Anschauung” it has

  1. visual perception…..
  2. mode of viewing, way of looking at or seeing, idea, conception, notion, opinion, (point of) view, outlook
  3. (Phil.) perception…..
  4. (Theol.) contemplation.

The final meaning above, theological contemplation, suggests that the altitude-intersection diagram above may be used for a meditation on the Trinity.  This is, of course, silly, but no sillier than the third-rate lucubrations of the damned charlatan Lacan.

And so let us pray that Einstein on his birthday was joined by Seybold in rapturous contemplation of the Trinity as revealed in the physicist’s “holy geometry book.”

For a less silly geometrico-theological metaphor, see “Scalene Trinities” from The Mind of the Maker, by Dorothy Sayers.

For a related revelation, see A Contrapuntal Theme.

Monday, March 15, 2004

Monday March 15, 2004

Filed under: General — m759 @ 11:45 PM

The Spaniard

Madrid Bombs
Shook Voters
Anger at U.S. Fueled Upset
In Wake of Terror Attacks

By Glenn Frankel
Washington Post Foreign Service
Tuesday, March 16, 2004

MADRID, March 15 — The hand-lettered sign at the sidewalk memorial for the 200 victims of last week’s deadly train bombings starkly summed up a sentiment of many who came to pay respects Monday afternoon. It read: “They Died to Support Bush.”

Sunday’s stunning electoral defeat for the ruling party of Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar, one of President Bush’s closest European allies, reflected a late surge of public anger over the government’s support for the U.S.-led war in Iraq triggered both by the attacks and by the sense the government had sought to exploit the bombings for political gain, according to political analysts and voters.

Several added that it also reflected a sense of alarm and despair that seems to cut across the political spectrum over the way the United States is wielding power in the world.

“We love America — Faulkner, Hemingway, Coca-Cola and Marilyn Monroe — but we have something against your government,” said Luis Gonzales, 56, a high school Spanish literature teacher, as he stopped to view the rows of candles, flowers and makeshift signs at the central Puerta del Sol. “Aznar took us into a war that wasn’t our war but only for the benefit of the extreme right and the American companies.”

On Opus Dei in Spain:

“Two of Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar‘s children went to Opus-run schools.

Notable Opus members include Defense Minister Federico Trillio, Justice Minister Jose Maria Michavila, Attorney General Jesus Cardenal and former National Police Chief Juan Cotino.”

— AP report, Oct. 3, 2002, according to a web page at rickross.com

Those who prefer their religion in fictional form may enjoy the following related reading:

The Da Vinci Code.

Monday March 15, 2004

Filed under: General — m759 @ 10:12 PM

More Bush Crookedness

Who is “reporter Karen Ryan“?

Monday March 15, 2004

Filed under: General — m759 @ 7:00 PM

Lenten Meditations:

The Logos Trilogy

  1. Logos and Logic
  2. The Word in the Desert
  3. The Line

Monday March 15, 2004

Filed under: General — m759 @ 12:05 PM

The Fog and the Fury

Headline and opening sentence of a column in the Washington Times:

“Job creation fog . . . and fury

Something must be done [to] restore jobs in U.S. manufacturing….”

So far, so good.  But the columnist goes on to explain the recent loss of manufacturing jobs:

“Let’s be honest. Some of these manufacturing jobs will not be coming back because of structural changes in our economy. Manufacturers have been reducing payrolls, in middle management and on the production line, because they have found ways to produce more goods at far less cost, boosting profits for further expansion and fatter investor and worker pension dividends.”


Here is a different explanation (the “fury,” as opposed to “the fog”), from a March 10 column:

“Last week’s jobs report, with hundreds of thousands giving up the search for work, and manufacturing jobs disappearing for the 43rd straight month, jolted the White House. What is going on?

They’re calling it a jobless recovery. Wrong. Millions of jobs are being created. They’re just not being created here in the United States.

The reasons can be traced to these four acronyms: NAFTA, GATT, WTO, PNTR. These are the trade treaties and global institutions that have permitted the historic substitution of foreign labor for American labor, to the enrichment of the transnational companies that look upon the Congress as a wholly owned subsidiary….

For the Bush Republicans, the chickens are coming home to roost….

At a weekend conference on immigration and jobs hosted by The American Cause, which this writer chairs, one speaker blurted out that while he voted for Bush in 2000, he would never do so again. The room erupted in applause, though virtually all there were conservatives, and all had once been Goldwater-Nixon-Reagan Republicans.”

— Pat Buchanan, author of
A Republic, Not an Empire

Happy Ides, Caesar.

Sunday, March 14, 2004

Sunday March 14, 2004

Filed under: General,Geometry — m759 @ 3:28 PM

Clarity and Certainty

“At the age of 12 I experienced a second wonder of a totally different nature: in a little book* dealing with Euclidean plane geometry, which came into my hands at the beginning of a schoolyear. Here were assertions, as for example the intersection of the three altitudes of a triangle in one point, which — though by no means evident — could nevertheless be proved with such certainty that any doubt appeared to be out of the question. This lucidity and certainty [Klarheit und Sicherheit] made an indescribable impression upon me….  For example I remember that an uncle told me the Pythagorean theorem before the holy geometry booklet* had come into my hands. After much effort I succeeded in ‘proving’ this theorem on the basis of the similarity of triangles … for anyone who experiences [these feelings] for the first time, it is marvellous enough that man is capable at all to reach such a degree of certainty and purity [Sicherheit und Reinheit] in pure thinking as the Greeks showed us for the first time to be possible in geometry.”

— from “Autobiographical Notes” in Albert Einstein: Philosopher-Scientist, edited by Paul Arthur Schilpp

“Although our intellect always longs for clarity and certainty, our nature often finds uncertainty fascinating.”

— Carl von Clausewitz at Quotes by Clausewitz

For clarity and certainty, consult All About Altitudes (and be sure to click the “pop it up” button).

For murkiness and uncertainty, consult The Fog of War.

Happy birthday, Albert.

* Einstein’s “holy geometry booklet” was, according to Banesh Hoffman, Lehrbuch der Geometrie zum Gebrauch an höheren Lehranstalten, by Eduard Heis (Catholic astronomer and textbook writer) and Thomas Joseph Eschweiler.

Saturday, March 13, 2004

Saturday March 13, 2004

Filed under: General — m759 @ 12:00 PM

The Line

From a March 10, 2004, entry:

“Language was no more than a collection of meaningless conventional signs, and life could absurdly end at any moment.  [Mallarmé] became aware, in Millan’s* words, ‘of the extremely fine line

separating absence and presence, being and nothingness, life and death, which later … he could place at the very centre of his work and make the cornerstone of his personal philosophy and his mature poetics.’ “

— John Simon, Squaring the Circle

* A Throw of the Dice: The Life of Stéphane Mallarmé, by Gordon Millan

The illustration of the “fine line” is not by Mallarmé but by myself.  (See Songs for Shakespeare, March 5, where the line separates being from nothingness, and Ridgepole, March 7, where the line represents the “great primal beginning” of Chinese philosophy (or, equivalently, Stevens’s “first idea” or Mallarmé’s line “separating absence and presence, being and nothingness, life and death.”)

By the Associated Press,
Saturday, March 13, 2004:

“Dave Schulthise, known as Dave Blood during his career as a bassist with the 1980’s Philadelphia punk-rock band the Dead Milkmen, died on Wednesday [March 10, 2004] at the home of friends in North Salem, N.Y. He was 47.

‘David chose to end his life,’ Mr. Schulthise’s sister, Kathy, wrote on the band’s Web site.”

I walk the thinnest line
I walk the thinnest line
I walk the thinnest line
Between the light and dark sides of my mind

The Dead Milkmen, Beelzebubba album

Related material: The Word in the Desert.

Saturday March 13, 2004

Filed under: General — m759 @ 12:27 AM

A Game of
Texas Hold’em

From Lou Dobbs Tonight, March 12, 2004:

DOBBS: A New Jersey company is suing President Bush and U.S. trade representative Robert Zoellick for failing to protect American manufacturers. The company Motion Systems is challenging the White House to provide safeguards from a flood of Chinese imports. Lisa Sylvester reports.


LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Motion Systems makes that little device used to make a dentist chair tilt up or down. It’s also used in scooters for senior citizens. Business was great before 2001, before a Chinese company developed a nearly identical unit.

BILL WOLF, MOTION SYSTEMS CORP.: The Chinese manufacturer produces the unit and sells it for less than one-third of what we sell it for. In fact, it’s sold for less than we can buy the materials for.

SYLVESTER: As sales dropped off, Motion Systems filed what is called a 421 petition at the International Trade Commission. That’s a safeguard provision written into the law when China joined the World Trade Organization. It’s supposed to protect American manufacturers from a surge of Chinese imports. The International Trade Commission agreed with Motion Systems that imports were causing market disruption and recommended quotas be put in place. But that never happened. Despite the ITC’s ruling the Bush administration concluded that restricted imports would hurt the U.S. economy.

JIM WOLF, MOTION SYSTEMS CORP.: We are being told by — to follow these set of rules. And then you follow those set of rules and then it’s OK to change the rules.

It’s like playing in a
crooked card game.

 No one wants to play.

SYLVESTER: This is not the only time this has happened. The International Trade Commission has reviewed five 421 China safeguard petitions. The ITC determined Chinese imports were disrupting the U.S. market in three cases but in each case the White House refused the ITC’s recommendation for quotas.

TOM PUTNAM, MOTION SYSTEMS CORP.: This is the largest decline in manufacturing since the great depression. If everybody doesn’t stand up and take notice of that, we are doomed.

SYLVESTER: Motion Systems is not done fighting. It has filed a lawsuit against President Bush and U.S. trade representative Robert Zoellick to reverse the decision. That case is pending.

SYLVESTER: We asked the U.S. trade representative’s office and the White House counsel for an interview, but they declined to comment. Lisa Sylvester, CNN, Washington.


Friday, March 12, 2004

Friday March 12, 2004

Filed under: General — m759 @ 5:00 PM

St. Howard’s Day

In memory of Howard Fast,
author of Spartacus, who died
one year ago today:

George W. Bush (left) and
John Kerry (right) discuss the
upcoming presidential campaign.

Friday March 12, 2004

Filed under: General — m759 @ 2:56 PM

Bush’s Stalinist Justice

From Ashcroft the Nihilist:

“… victims had no idea just how rigged the federal court system really has become until they actually were in the dock, protesting their innocence (which federal law also has deemed a crime – see the Martha Stewart case). They had no idea that federal prosecutors can legally suborn perjury (called “statements of interest”) and that judges are sickeningly pro-government to the point where they are simply another arm of the prosecution. And they had no idea that their trial would differ only in name but not in substance from the famed Stalinist show trials of the late 1930s.”

This note commemorates Communist author Howard Fast (Spartacus), who died one year ago today. 

“In the memoir Being Red, published in 1990, Fast wrote: ‘In the party I found ambition, narrowness and hatred; I also found love and dedication and high courage and integrity — and some of the noblest human beings I have ever known.’ “CBS News

“Fast wrote critically about Soviet leader Josef Stalin and left the party after the Soviet Union’s crushing of an uprising in Hungary.” — CBS News

Howard Fast was twice the man George W. Bush is, since Bush’s Stalinist justice department makes him, at best, half-Fast.

(See, too, yesterday’s entry A Half-Right Leader.)

Thursday, March 11, 2004

Thursday March 11, 2004

Filed under: General — m759 @ 11:46 PM

A Half-Right Leader

For the Record
President Overstates Kerry’s Record on Intelligence Budget

By Walter Pincus and Dana Milbank
Washington Post Staff Writers
Friday, March 12, 2004

President Bush, in his first major assault on Sen. John F. Kerry’s legislative record, said this week that his Democratic opponent proposed a $1.5 billion cut in the intelligence budget, a proposal that would “gut the intelligence services,” and one that had no co-sponsors because it was “deeply irresponsible.”

In terms of accuracy, the parry by the president is about half right…..

For more details, click here.

Thursday March 11, 2004

Filed under: General — m759 @ 4:28 PM


From an entry of July 27, 2003…

Catholic Tastes, Part I:

“…my despair with words as instruments of communion is often near total.”

— Charles Small, Harvard ’64 25th Anniversary Report, 1989 (See 11/21/02).

Perhaps dinner and a movie?
The dinner — 
at Formaggio in Cuernavaca.
The movie —

(Bright Star),
portrayed by
Megan Follows

Hoc est enim
corpus meum…

See also
A Mass for Lucero.

Catholic Tastes, Part II:

A Catholic priest on “The Passion of the Christ”:

“By the time it’s over, the make-up artists give his skin the texture of spaghetti marinara.”

— The Rev. Richard A. Blake, S.J., professor of fine arts and co-director of the film studies program at Boston College, in America magazine, issue dated March 15, 2004.

Related material:

“I’m waiting for Mel’s sequel:

‘He’s back. Christ Almighty!
The Resurrection.
This time, it’s personal.’ “

Bruce Feirstein in The New York Observer

Thursday March 11, 2004

Filed under: General — m759 @ 3:19 PM

Men of Respect



“I caught Alan Dershowitz defending Martha Stewart on ABC TV this morning. Most Americans who pay any attention at all to the news of her trial think she is being charged with insider trading. She is not. She is accused of asserting her innocence to federal prosecutors who accused her of insider trading. She is on trial for allegedly lying about her innocence.

Think about that. The Constitution supposedly gives us the presumption of innocence. A federal bureaucrat shows up and says, in effect, ‘We haven’t defined insider trading yet, Mrs. Stewart, but we think you’re guilty of it and should go to prison for it.’ Martha says ‘I’m innocent’ and for that she’s prosecuted.

Dershowitz was right on the money when he announced on ABC, ‘This is like the Soviet Union!’ “

Thomas DiLorenzo, February 4, 2004

DiLorenzo is a professor of economics
at Loyola College in Maryland.

Dershowitz is a professor of law
at Harvard.

Wednesday, March 10, 2004

Wednesday March 10, 2004

Filed under: General — m759 @ 6:01 PM


The first idea was not our own. Adam
in Eden was the father of Descartes.

— Wallace Stevens,
Notes Toward a Supreme Fiction

A very interesting web site at
Middle Tennessee State University
relates the Stevens quote
to two others:

“The sundering we sense, between nature and culture, lies not like a canyon outside us but splits our being at its most intimate depths the way mind breaks off from body. It is still another version of that bitter bifurcation long ago decreed: our expulsion from Eden. It differs from the apparently similar Cartesian crease across things in the fact that the two halves of us once were one; that we did not always stand askance like molasses and madness–logically at odds–but grew apart over the years like those husbands and wives who draw themselves into different corners of contemplation.”

— William Gass,
“The Polemical Philosopher”

“The experiment [to make rationality primary] reached the reductio ad absurdum following the attempt by Descartes to solve problems of human knowledge by giving ontological status to the dichotomy of thinking substance and extended substance, that is subject and object. Not only were God and man, sacred and secular, being and becoming, play and seriousness severed, but now also the subject which wished to unite these fragmented dichotomies was itself severed from that which it would attempt to reconcile.”

— David Miller, God and Games

“Which is it then? For Gass, the Cartesian schism is a post- lapsarian divorce-in progress, only apparently similar to the expulsion from paradise. For Stevens the fault is primordial and Descartes only its latter-day avatar. For Miller, Descartes is the historical culprit, the patriarch of the split.”

The Evil Genius Notebook,
David Lavery

Wednesday March 10, 2004

Filed under: General,Geometry — m759 @ 4:07 AM

Ennui of the First Idea

The ennui of apartments described by Stevens in “Notes Toward a Supreme Fiction” (see previous entry) did not, of course, refer to the “apartments” of incidence geometry.  A more likely connection is with the apartments — the “ever fancier apartments and furnishings” — of Stéphane Mallarmé, described by John Simon as the setting for what might plausibly be called, in Stevens’s words, “an ennui of the first idea”:

“Language was no more than a collection of meaningless conventional signs, and life could absurdly end at any moment. He [Mallarmé] became aware, in Millan’s* words, ‘of the extremely fine line

separating absence and presence, being and nothingness, life and death, which later … he could place at the very centre of his work and make the cornerstone of his personal philosophy and his mature poetics.’ “

— John Simon, Squaring the Circle

* A Throw of the Dice: The Life of Stéphane Mallarmé, by Gordon Millan

The illustration of the “fine line” is not by Mallarmé but by myself.  (See Songs for Shakespeare, March 5, where the line separates being from nothingness, and Ridgepole, March 7, where the line represents the “great primal beginning” of Chinese philosophy (or, equivalently, Stevens’s “first idea” or Mallarmé’s line “separating absence and presence, being and nothingness, life and death.”)

Sunday, March 7, 2004

Sunday March 7, 2004

Filed under: General — m759 @ 6:00 PM


From Wallace Stevens,
Notes Toward a Supreme Fiction“:

It is the celestial ennui of apartments
That sends us back to the first idea, the quick
Of this invention; and yet so poisonous

Are the ravishments of truth, so fatal to
The truth itself, the first idea becomes
The hermit in a poet’s metaphors,

Who comes and goes and comes and goes all day.
May there be an ennui of the first idea?
What else, prodigious scholar, should there be?….

From Guyan Robertson,
Groups Acting on Affine Buildings
and their Boundaries

From Plato’s Meno:

They will get it straight one day at the Sorbonne.
We shall return at twilight from the lecture         
Pleased that the irrational is rational….              

See Logos and Logic
and the previous entry.

Sunday March 7, 2004

Filed under: General — m759 @ 12:00 PM


CBS News Sunday Morning today had a ridgepole ceremony for a house that was moved from China to Salem, Massachusetts.

From the web page

Introduction to the I Ching–
By Richard Wilhelm

“He who has perceived the meaning of change fixes his attention no longer on transitory individual things but on the immutable, eternal law at work in all change. This law is the tao of Lao-tse, the course of things, the principle of the one in the many. That it may become manifest, a decision, a postulate, is necessary. This fundamental postulate is the ‘great primal beginning’ of all that exists, t’ai chi — in its original meaning, the ‘ridgepole.’ Later Chinese philosophers devoted much thought to this idea of a primal beginning. A still earlier beginning, wu chi, was represented by the symbol of a circle. Under this conception, t’ai chi was represented by the circle divided into the light and the dark, yang and yin, .

This symbol has also played a significant part in India and Europe. However, speculations of a gnostic-dualistic character are foreign to the original thought of the I Ching; what it posits is simply the ridgepole, the line. With this line, which in itself represents oneness, duality comes into the world, for the line at the same time posits an above and a below, a right and left, front and back-in a word, the world of the opposites.”

The t’ai chi symbol is also illustrated on the web page Cognitive Iconology, which says that 

“W.J.T. Mitchell calls ‘iconology’ a study of the ‘logos’ (the words, ideas, discourse, or ‘science’) of ‘icons’ (images, pictures, or likenesses). It is thus a ‘rhetoric of images’ (Iconology: Image, Text, Ideology, p. 1).”

A variation on the t’ai chi symbol appears in a log24.net entry for March 5:

The Line,
by S. H. Cullinane

See too my web page Logos and Logic, which has the following:

“The beautiful in mathematics resides in contradiction. Incommensurability, logoi alogoi, was the first splendor in mathematics.”

— Simone Weil, Oeuvres Choisies, éd. Quarto, Gallimard, 1999, p. 100

Logos Alogos,
 by S. H. Cullinane 

In the conclusion of Section 3, Canto X, of “Notes,” Stevens says

“They will get it straight one day
     at the Sorbonne.
 We shall return at twilight
     from the lecture
 Pleased that
     the irrational is rational….”

This is the logoi alogoi of Simone Weil.

Saturday, March 6, 2004

Saturday March 6, 2004

Filed under: General — m759 @ 2:18 AM

Cognitive Blending

It seems that much of my effort here at Xanga can be described by these two words.

Specifically, for an application of the “conceptual blending” of Fauconnier and Turner to my journal entries of Feb. 29-March 5, 2004, click here.

Friday, March 5, 2004

Friday March 5, 2004

Filed under: General — m759 @ 3:31 AM

Signifying Nothing

Fred Benninger, the former chairman of MGM Grand and the MGM studio, died at 86 at his home in Las Vegas on Sunday, Feb. 29, 2004.

“Mr. Benninger was well known in the business world for decades, but he made his biggest mark in the gambling industry.”

Today’s New York Times

For Benninger, who died on Oscar Day, a two-part story.

Part One

From an entry for
Oscar Day:

Types of Ambiguity

1.  Oscar: military phonetic
     for the letter ‘O’


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

7.  Enter a Messenger.

Part Two

From an entry for
 Columbus Day, 2003:

Spinnin’ Wheel,
Spinnin’ True

Friday March 5, 2004

Filed under: General — Tags: — m759 @ 1:20 AM

Songs for Shakespeare

from Willie and Waylon

From today’s New York Times

by Ben Brantley

….”Dost thou know me, fellow?” thunders Christopher Plummer, who is giving the performance of a lifetime in the title role of “King Lear”….

Throughout Jonathan Miller’s engrossing production of Shakespeare’s bleakest tragedy, which opened last night, Mr. Plummer bestrides the boundary between being and nothingness….

The Line,
by S.H. Cullinane


Now you better do some thinkin’
then you’ll find
You got the only daddy
that’ll walk the line


I’ve always been different
with one foot over the line….
I’ve always been crazy
    but it’s kept me from going insane.


174. …. Now thou art an 0 without
175. a figure. I am better than thou art, now. I am a fool;
176. thou art nothing….

“…. in the last mystery of all the single figure of what is called the World goes joyously dancing in a state beyond moon and sun, and the number of the Trumps is done.  Save only for that which has no number and is called the Fool, because mankind finds it folly till it is known.  It is sovereign or it is nothing, and if it is nothing then man was born dead.”

The Greater Trumps,
by Charles Williams, Ch. 14

Follow-up of Friday, March 5

From Arts & Letters Daily,
Weekend Edition, March 6-7, 2004 —

Some readers crave awe more than understanding, and lurid pop science is always there to feed their addiction to junk ideas… more»

Does Shakespeare’s Lear have a spiritual dimension? “No,” insists Jonathan Miller. “That’s modern, New Age drivel….” more»

The “more” link of the item at left above leads to an American Scientist article titled

The Importance of
Being Nothingness

The appearance of these two items side-by-side at Arts & Letters Daily, together with Brantley’s remark above, is an example of Jungian synchronicity — a concept that the American Scientist author and Jonathan Miller probably both sneer at.  Sneer away.

Thursday, March 4, 2004

Thursday March 4, 2004

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


Mit Zeichen und Zahlen
vermessen wir Himmel und Erde
auf weiss
schaffen wir neue Welten
oder gar Universen
With numbers and names
we measure heaven and earth
on white
we create new worlds
and universes
— from “Zahlen und Zeichen,
  Wörter und Worte”

“Numbers and Names,
Wording and Words”

by Eugen Jost

English translation by Catherine Schelbert


From time to time we take our pen in hand
And scribble symbols on a blank white sheet
Their meaning is at everyone’s command;
It is a game whose rules are nice and neat.

But if a savage or a moon-man came
And found a page, a furrowed runic field,
And curiously studied lines and frame:
How strange would be the world that they revealed.
A magic gallery of oddities.
He would see A and B as man and beast,
As moving tongues or arms or legs or eyes,
Now slow, now rushing, all constraint released,
Like prints of ravens’ feet upon the snow.
He’d hop about with them, fly to and fro,
And see a thousand worlds of might-have-been
Hidden within the black and frozen symbols,
Beneath the ornate strokes, the thick and thin.
He’d see the way love burns and anguish trembles,
He’d wonder, laugh, shake with fear and weep
Because beyond this cipher’s cross-barred keep
He’d see the world in all its aimless passion,
Diminished, dwarfed, and spellbound in the symbols,
And rigorously marching prisoner-fashion.
He’d think: each sign all others so resembles
That love of life and death, or lust and anguish,
Are simply twins whom no one can distinguish …
Until at last the savage with a sound
Of mortal terror lights and stirs a fire,
Chants and beats his brow against the ground
And consecrates the writing to his pyre.
Perhaps before his consciousness is drowned
In slumber there will come to him some sense
Of how this world of magic fraudulence,
This horror utterly behind endurance,
Has vanished as if it had never been.
He’ll sigh, and smile, and feel all right again.

— Hermann Hesse (1943),
Buchstaben” from Das Glasperlenspiel,
translated by Richard and Clara Winston

See also the previous entry,
on the dream
of El Pato-lógico.

Wednesday, March 3, 2004

Wednesday March 3, 2004

Filed under: General — Tags: — m759 @ 8:00 PM

Deep Play

In the previous entry, there was a reference to Carl Kaysen, former director of the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton and father of Susanna Kaysen, author of Girl, Interrupted.

A search for further information on Carl Kaysen led to

Mark Turner, Cognitive Dimensions of Social Science: The Way We Think About Politics, Economics, Law, and Society, Oxford University Press, 2001.  For a draft of this work, click here.

Turner’s book describes thought and culture in terms of what he calls “blends.”  It includes a meditation on

Clifford Geertz, “Deep Play: Notes on the Balinese Cockfight,” in Dædalus, Journal of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, issue entitled, “Myth, Symbol, and Culture,” Winter 1972, volume 101, number 1

That Turner bases weighty ruminations of what he is pleased to call “social science” on the properties of cockfights suggests that the academic world is, in some respects, even more bizarre than the mental hospital described by Kaysen’s daughter.

Still, Turner’s concept of “blends” is not without interest.

Here is a blend based on a diagram of the fields in which Turner and Kaysen père labor:

“politics, economics,
law, and society” (Turner)

and “economics, sociology,
politics and law” (Kaysen).

In the previous entry we abstracted from the nature of these academic pursuits, representing them simply as sets in a Venn diagram.  This led to the following religious icon, an example of a Turner “blend” —

The Jewel
in Venn’s Lotus.

Here is another “blend,” related both to the religious material in the previous entry and to Geertz’s influential essay.

From my entry for
St. Patrick’s Day, 2003

Summa Theologica

How can you tell there’s an Irishman
present at a cockfight?
He enters a duck.
How can you tell a Pole is present?
He bets on the duck.
How can you tell an Italian is present?
The duck wins.

(Source: Blanche Knott,
Truly Tasteless Jokes)

Illustration for the entries
of Oct. 27, 2003:

El Pato-lógico and a

“dream of heaven.”


Wednesday March 3, 2004

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

An Association of Ideas

“The association is the idea.” — Ian Lee

“One of my teachers told me I was a nihilist… I took it as a compliment.”
— Susanna Kaysen in Girl, Interrupted

MIT biography of Carl Kaysen, Susanna Kaysen’s father:

“His scholarly work has ranged widely in the areas where economics, sociology, politics and law overlap.”

Venn diagram using four sets

From Venn Diagram
by Alejandro Fuentes Penna and
Oscar de la Paz Arroyo,
ITESM Campus Cuernavaca,
Lomas de Cuernavaca,
Cuernavaca, Morelos, Mexico

“Ahí construyó Félix Candela la Capilla abierta (1959, junto con Guillermo Rosell y Manuel Larrosa)

que iba a ser un templo para todas las religiones, pero que no fue autorizada por las autoridades. Más adelante la Capilla habría de convertirse en restaurante, como el de Xochimilco construido en 1957, discoteca, bar y teatro. En el Casino de la Selva vivieron personajes famosos. Uno de ellos fue el escritor inglés Malcolm Lowry….”

El Casino de la Selva,
Octavio Rodríguez Araujo

“No se puede vivir sin amar.”

— Malcolm Lowry, Under the Volcano

Photo by Gerry Gantt

Tuesday, March 2, 2004

Tuesday March 2, 2004

Filed under: General — m759 @ 4:16 PM

Super Tuesday

O the days of the Kerry dancing….
When the boys began to gather,
    in the glen of a summer’s night.
And the Kerry piper’s tuning 
    made us long with wild delight.

For further details, see April 16, 2003.

Tuesday March 2, 2004

Filed under: General — m759 @ 3:01 PM


From the previous entry:

military phonetic
for the letter

From an entry of Dec. 21, 2002, some background in literary theory:

“I know what ‘nothing’ means….”
— Maria Wyeth in Play It As It Lays

“How do you solve a problem like Maria?”
— Oscar Hammerstein II

“…problems can be solved by manipulating just two symbols, 1 and 0….” 
— George Johnson, obituary of Claude Shannon

“The female and the male continue this charming dance, populating the world with all living beings.” 
— Leonard Shlain, The Alphabet Versus the Goddess, Penguin Arkana paperback, 1999, Chapter 17, “Lingam/Yoni” 

“According to Showalter’s essay*, ‘In Elizabethan slang, ‘nothing’ was a term for the female genitalia . . . what lies between maids’ legs, for, in the male visual system of representation and desire…. Ophelia’s story becomes

the Story of O — the zero, the empty circle or mystery of feminine difference, the cipher of female sexuality to be deciphered by feminist interpretation.’ (222)* Ophelia is a highly sexual being…”

— Leigh DiAngelo,
   Ophelia as a Sexual Being

*Showalter, Elaine. “Representing Ophelia: Women, Madness, and the Responsibilities of Feminist Criticism.” Hamlet. Ed. Susanne L. Wofford. Boston: Bedford Books of St.Martin’s Press, 1994. 220-238.

At the Oscars Sunday night, a thought attributed by Billy Crystal to Sean Connery:

“Pussy Galore! I just got it! That’s vulgar.”

For further background, see

Passing the Crown (Aug. 24, 2003) and

The Agony and the Ya-Ya (Oct. 4, 2002).

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