Friday, March 31, 2006

Friday March 31, 2006

Filed under: General — Tags: — m759 @ 9:00 PM
Reason and Rhyme

"Philosophers ponder the idea of identity: what it is to give something a name on Monday and have it respond to that name on Friday…."

— Bernard Holland in
   The New York Times
Monday, May 20, 1996

Related material:
Philadelphia Stories

The image “http://www.log24.com/log/pix05B/051016-Mont.jpg” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.

and, from Monday,
March 27, 2006–

 A Living Church,

Today's Pennsylvania lottery:

Mid-Day: 888

See today's noon entry
and Eight is a Gate.

Evening: 557

 Dogma in the State of Grace,
Is Nothing Sacred?,
and, from page 557 of
New World Dictionary
College Edition, 1960:


The image “http://www.log24.com/log/pix06/BirdsBeastsAndFlowers.jpg” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.

Birds, Beasts & Flowers

As performed by
Princess Grace of Monaco

Presented at
St James's Palace, London,

on 22nd November 1978
in the presence of Her Majesty,
Queen Elizabeth
The Queen Mother

Friday March 31, 2006

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

Women's History Month continues…
Ontology Alignment

"He had with him a small red book of Mao's poems, and as he talked he squared it on the table, aligned it with the table edge first vertically and then horizontally.  To understand who Michael Laski is you must have a feeling for that kind of compulsion."

— Joan Didion in the
Saturday Evening Post,
Nov. 18, 1967 (reprinted in
Slouching Towards Bethlehem)

"Or were you," I said.
He said nothing.
"Raised a Catholic," I said.
He aligned a square crystal paperweight with the edge of his desk blotter.

— Joan Didion in
The Last Thing He Wanted,
Knopf, 1996

"It was Plato who best expressed– who veritably embodied– the tension between the narrative arts and mathematics….

Plato clearly loved them both, both mathematics and poetry.  But he approved of mathematics, and heartily, if conflictedly, disapproved of poetry.  Engraved above the entrance to his Academy, the first European university, was the admonition: Oudeis ageometretos eiseto.  Let none ignorant of geometry enter.  This is an expression of high approval indeed, and the symbolism could not have been more perfect, since mathematics was, for Plato, the very gateway for all future knowledge.  Mathematics ushers one into the realm of abstraction and universality, grasped only through pure reason.  Mathematics is the threshold we cross to pass into the ideal, the truly real."

— Rebecca Goldstein,
Mathematics and
the Character of Tragedy

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Thursday March 30, 2006

Filed under: General — m759 @ 8:24 PM
Last Words
(continued from
  St. Luke’s Day, 2004)
 Galatians 4:4

 But when the fulness
 of the time was come…

The image “http://www.log24.com/log/pix06/060330-Pleroma1.jpg” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.

 Luke 2:13

 And suddenly
 there was
 with the angel
 a multitude….

The image “http://www.log24.com/log/pix06/060330-Plethos1.jpg” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.

Related material:

Satan’s Rhetoric, 8/24/05,

A Prince of Darkness, 3/28/06,


Inscape: The Christology and
Poetry of Gerard Manley Hopkins
by James Finn Cotter,
University of Pittsburgh Press,

See esp. the references to pleroma
on, according to the index, pages

40-48, 51, 65, 70, 81, 85, 92, 93,
106, 119, 122, 132, 135,  149,
159, 162-63, 168, 169, 171,
 176, 186, 193, 199, 200,
203, 207, 220, 230,
278, 285,

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Wednesday March 29, 2006

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

The image “http://www.log24.com/theory/images/Carmichael440.gif” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.
Note: Carmichael's reference is to
A. Emch, "Triple and multiple systems, their geometric configurations and groups," Trans. Amer. Math. Soc. 31 (1929), 25–42.

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

Wednesday March 29, 2006

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

It turns out that Medawar (see previous entry) also wrote a deeply hostile review of Koestler’s The Act of Creation.  (See Pluto’s Republic.)

There are plenty more like Medawar, so it may be that a further effort at documentation of Diamond Theory is needed.  See this evening’s entry, to follow.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Tuesday March 28, 2006

Filed under: General — Tags: — m759 @ 4:00 PM
A Prince of Darkness

“What did he fear? It was not a fear or dread, It was a nothing that he knew too well. It was all a nothing and a man was a nothing too. It was only that and light was all it needed and a certain cleanness and order. Some lived in it and never felt it but he knew it all was nada y pues nada y nada y pues nada. Our nada who art in nada, nada be thy name thy kingdom nada thy will be nada in nada as it is in nada. Give us this nada our daily nada and nada us our nada as we nada our nadas and nada us not into nada but deliver us from nada; pues nada. Hail nothing full of nothing, nothing is with thee.”

— From Ernest Hemingway,
A Clean, Well-Lighted Place

“By groping toward the light
 we are made to realize
 how deep the darkness
 is around us.”
— Arthur Koestler,
   The Call Girls: A Tragi-Comedy,
   Random House, 1973,
   page 118

From a review of
Teilhard de Chardin’s
The Phenomenon of Man:

“It would have been
 a great disappointment
 to me if Vibration did not
 somewhere make itself felt,
 for all scientific mystics
 either vibrate in person
 or find themselves
 resonant with cosmic

Sir Peter Brian Medawar

“He’s good.”
“Good? He’s the fucking
Prince of Darkness!”

— Paul Newman
and Jack Warden
in “The Verdict

Sanskrit (transliterated) —

  the universal sound, vibration.

“So Nada Brahma means not only:
 God the Creator is sound; but also
 (and above all), Creation,
 the cosmos, the world, is sound.
 And: Sound is the world.”

Joachim-Ernst Berendt,  
   author of Nada Brahma

“This book is the outcome of
a course given at Harvard
first by G. W. Mackey….”

— Lynn H. Loomis, 1953, preface to
An Introduction to
Abstract Harmonic Analysis

For more on Mackey and Harvard, see
the Log24 entries of March 14-17.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Monday March 27, 2006

Filed under: General — Tags: — m759 @ 11:17 AM

A Living Church

A skeptic’s remark:

“…the mind is an amazing thing and it can create patterns and interconnections among things all day if you let it, regardless of whether they are real connections.”

— Xanga blogger “sejanus”

A reply from G. K. Chesterton
(Log24, Jan. 18, 2004):

“Plato has told you a truth; but Plato is dead. Shakespeare has startled you with an image; but Shakespeare will not startle you with any more. But imagine what it would be to live with such men still living. To know that Plato might break out with an original lecture to-morrow, or that at any moment Shakespeare might shatter everything with a single song. The man who lives in contact with what he believes to be a living Church is a man always expecting to meet Plato and Shakespeare to-morrow at breakfast. He is always expecting to see some truth that he has never seen before.”

For Reba McEntire:

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Sunday’s lottery in the
State of Grace
(Kelly, of Philadelphia):

Mid-day: 024
Evening: 672

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A meditation on  
Sunday’s numbers —

From Log24, Jan. 8, 2005:


The Star
of Venus

“He looked at the fading light
in the western sky and saw Mercury,
or perhaps it was Venus,
gleaming at him as the evening star.
Darkness and light,
the old man thought.
It is what every hero legend is about.
The darkness which is more than death,
the light which is love, like our friend
Venus here….”

Roderick MacLeish, Prince Ombra

From Log24, Oct. 23, 2002:

An excerpt from
Robert A. Heinlein‘s
classic novel Glory Road

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

    “Is one of them ‘Helen’?”

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

    “Is that one of your names?”

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

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

Related material:

672 Astarte and
The Venerable Bede
(born in 672).

672 illustrated:

The image “http://www.log24.com/log/pix06/060327-BedeStar.jpg” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.
The Venerable Bede
and the Star of Venus

The 672 connection is, of course,
not a real connection
(in the sense of “sejanus” above)
but it is nevertheless
not without interest.

Postscript of 6 PM

A further note on the above
illustration of the 672 connection:

The late Buck Owens
(see previous entry for
Owens, Reba, and the
star of Venus)
once described
his TV series as
“a show of fat old men
and pretty young girls”
(today’s Washington Post).

A further note on
lottery hermeneutics:

Those who prefer to interpret
random numbers with the aid
of a dictionary
(as in Is Nothing Sacred?)
may be pleased to note that
“heehaw” occurs in Webster’s
New World Dictionary,
College Edition
, 1960,
on page 672.

In today’s Washington Post,
Richard Harrington informs us that
“As a child, Owens worked cotton and
  maize fields, taking the name Buck
from a well-liked mule….”

Hee. Haw.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Sunday March 26, 2006

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

Rhinestone Cowboy

Associated Press Writer

LOS ANGELES — Singer Buck Owens, the flashy rhinestone cowboy who shaped the sound of country music… died Saturday. He was 76.

From Log24, Feb. 2, 2003:

Head White House speechwriter Michael Gerson:

“In the last two weeks, I’ve been returning to Hopkins.  Even in the ‘world’s wildfire,’ he asserts that ‘this Jack, joke, poor potsherd, patch, matchwood, immortal diamond,/Is immortal diamond.’ A comfort.”

— Vanity Fair, May 2002, page 162

Related material:

See the five Log24 entries ending with The Diamond as Big as the Monster (Dec. 21, 2005).

Note particularly the following:

From Fitzgerald’s
The Diamond as Big as the Ritz:

    “Now,” said John eagerly, “turn out your pocket and let’s see what jewels you brought along. If you made a good selection we three ought to live comfortably all the rest of our lives.”
     Obediently Kismine put her hand in her pocket and tossed two handfuls of glittering stones before him.
    “Not so bad,” cried John, enthusiastically. “They aren’t very big, but– Hello!” His expression changed as he held one of them up to the declining sun. “Why, these aren’t diamonds! There’s something the matter!”
    “By golly!” exclaimed Kismine, with a startled look. “What an idiot I am!”
    “Why, these are rhinestones!” cried John.

The image “http://www.log24.com/log/pix05B/051123-Star.jpg” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.

The image “http://www.log24.com/log/pix05B/051221-Reba1.jpg” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.

Sunday March 26, 2006

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

(continued from
Life of the Party, March 24)

Exhibit A —

From (presumably) a Princeton student
(see Activity, March 24):

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Exhibit B —

From today’s Sunday comics:

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Exhibit C —

From a Smith student with the
same name as the Princeton student
(i.e., Dagwood’s “Twisterooni” twin):

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Related illustrations
(“Visual Stimuli“) from
the Smith student’s game —

The image “http://www.log24.com/log/pix06/060326-Psychonauts1.jpg” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.

Literary Exercise:

Continuing the Smith student’s
Psychonauts theme,
compare and contrast
two novels dealing with
similar topics:

A Wrinkle in Time,
by the Christian author
Madeleine L’Engle,
by the secular authors
Alfred Bester and
Roger Zelazny.

Presumably the Princeton student
would prefer the Christian fantasy,
the Smith student the secular.

Those who prefer reality to fantasy —
not as numerous as one might think —
may examine what both 4×4 arrays
illustrated above have in common:
their structure.

Both Princeton and Smith might benefit
from an application of Plato’s dictum:

The image “http://www.log24.com/theory/images/motto2.jpg” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.

Sunday March 26, 2006

Filed under: General,Geometry — Tags: — m759 @ 12:00 AM
Midnight in the Garden

Questions posed by
Roberta Smith in the
New York Times
of Jan. 13, 2006:

“‘What is art?’ may be the
art world’s most relentlessly asked
question. But a more pertinent one
right now is,  ‘What is an art gallery?'”

—  from “Who Needs a
White Cube These Days?

The image “http://www.log24.com/log/pix06/060320-Masks.jpg” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.

An example that may help:
London’s White Cube gallery
and its current Liza Lou exhibit,
which is said to convey
a palpable sense of use,
damage, lost time, lost lives

See the previous entry for details.

On the brighter side, we have

Clint Eastwood on the
“Midnight in the Garden
of Good and Evil”
soundtrack CD

“Accentuate the positive”–

and an entry from last Christmas:

Compare and contrast:

(Click on pictures
for details.)

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The image “http://www.log24.com/theory/images/EightfoldWayCover.jpg” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.

“Recollect what I have said to you,
that this world is a comedy
to those who think,
a tragedy to those who feel.
This is the quint-essence of all
I have learnt in fifty years!”

Horace Walpole,
  letter to Horace Mann,
5 March, 1772

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Saturday March 25, 2006

Filed under: General — m759 @ 4:23 PM

In memory of Rolf Myller,
who died on Thursday,
March 23, 2006, at
Mount Sinai Hospital
in Manhattan:

Myller was,
according to the
New York Times,
an architect
whose eclectic pursuits
included writing
children’s books,
The Bible Puzzle Book, and
Fantasex: A Book of Erotic Games.

He also wrote, the Times says,
Symbols and Their Meaning
(1978), a graphic overview of
children’s nonverbal communication.”
This is of interest in view of the
Log24 reference to “symbol-mongers”
on the date of Myller’s death.

In honor of Women’s History Month
and of Myller’s interests in the erotic
and in architecture, we present
the following work from a British gallery.

The image “http://www.log24.com/log/pix06/060325-WhiteCube.jpg” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.

This work might aptly be
  retitled “Brick Shithouse.”

Related material:

(1) the artist’s self-portrait

The image “http://www.log24.com/log/pix06/060325-LizaLouSelfPortrait.jpg” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.

and, in view of the cover
illustration for Myller’s
The Bible Puzzle Book,

The image “http://www.log24.com/log/pix06/060325-Tower.jpg” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.

(2) the monumental treatise
by Leonard Shlain

The Alphabet Versus
the Goddess: The Conflict
Between Word and Image

For devotees of women’s history
and of the Goddess,
here are further details from
the White Cube gallery:

Liza Lou

03.03.06 – 08.04.06

White Cube is pleased to present the first UK solo exhibition by Los Angeles-based artist Liza Lou.

Combining visionary, conceptual and craft approaches, Lou makes mixed-media sculptures and room-size installations that are suggestive of a transcendental reality. Lou’s work often employs familiar, domestic forms, crafted from a variety of materials such as steel, wood, papier-mâché and fibreglass, which is then covered with tiny glass beads that are painstakingly applied, one at a time, with tweezers. Dazzling and opulent and constantly glistening with refracted light, her sculptures bristle with what Peter Schjeldahl has aptly described as ‘surreal excrescence’.

This exhibition, a meditation on the vulnerability of the human body and the architecture of confinement, will include several new figurative sculptures as well as two major sculptural installations. Security Fence (2005) is a large scale cage made up of four steel, chain link walls, topped by rings of barbed wire and Cell (2004-2006), as its name suggests, is a room based on the approximate dimensions of a death row prison cell, a kind of externalized map of the prisoner’s mind. Both Security Fence and Cell, like Lou’s immense earlier installations Kitchen (1991-1995) and Back Yard (1995-1999) are characterized by the absence of their real human subject. But whereas the absent subject in Kitchen and Back Yard could be imagined through the details and accessories carefully laid out to view, in Lou’s two new installations the human body is implied simply through the empty volume created by the surrounding architecture. Both Cell and Security Fence are monochromatic and employ iconic forms that make direct reference to Minimalist art in its use of repetition, formal perfection and materiality. In contrast to this, the organic form of a gnarled tree trunk, Scaffold (2005-2006), its surface covered with shimmering golden beads, juts directly out from the wall.

Lou’s work has an immediate ‘shock’ content that works on different levels: first, an acknowledgement of the work’s sheer aesthetic impact and secondly the slower comprehension of the labour that underlies its construction. But whereas in Lou’s earlier works the startling clarity of the image is often a counterpoint to the lengthy process of its realization, for the execution of Cell, Lou further slowed down the process by using beads of the smallest variety with their holes all facing up in an exacting hour-by-hour approach in order to ‘use time as an art material’.

Concluding this body of work are three male figures in states of anguish. In The Seer (2005-2006), a man becomes the means of turning his body back in on himself. Bent over double, his body becomes an instrument of impending self-mutilation, the surface of his body covered with silver-lined beads, placed with the exactitude and precision of a surgeon. In Homeostasis (2005-2006) a naked man stands prostrate with his hands up against the wall in an act of surrender. In this work, the dissolution between inside and outside is explored as the ornate surface of Lou’s cell-like material ‘covers’ the form while exposing the systems of the body, both corporeal and esoteric. In The Vessel (2005-2006), Christ, the universal symbol of torture and agony holds up a broken log over his shoulders. This figure is beheaded, and bejewelled, with its neck carved out, becoming a vessel into which the world deposits its pain and suffering.

Lou has had numerous solo exhibitions internationally, including Museum Kunst Palast, Düsseldorf, Henie Onstad Kunstsenter, Oslo and Fondació Joan Miró, Barcelona. She was a 2002 recipient of the MacArthur Foundation Fellowship.

Liza Lou’s film Born Again (2004), in which the artist tells the compelling and traumatic story* of her Pentecostal upbringing in Minnesota, will be screened at 52 Hoxton Square from 3 – 25 March courtesy of Penny Govett and Mick Kerr.

Liza Lou will be discussing her work following a screening of her film at the ICA, The Mall, London on Friday 3 March at 7pm. Tickets are available from the ICA box office (+ 44 (0) 20 7930 3647).

A fully illustrated catalogue, with a text by Jeanette Winterson and an interview with Tim Marlow, will accompany the exhibition.

White Cube is open Tuesday to Saturday, 10.00 am to 6.00 pm.

For further information please contact Honey Luard or Susannah Hyman on + 44 (0) 20 7930 5373

* Warning note from Adrian Searle
    in The Guardian of March 21:
   “How much of her story is
    gospel truth we’ll never know.”

For deeper background on
art, patriarchal religion,
and feminism, see
The Agony and the Ya-Ya.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Friday March 24, 2006

Filed under: General — m759 @ 4:30 PM

Women’s History Month continues…


From the New York Times
 on the First of May, 1999:

Combinatorics in higher mathematics is the study of permutations and combinations of elements in finite sets.  In an interview with M.I.T. News last year, [Gian-Carlo Rota (pdf)] gave this definition of his field of study:

“Combinatorics is putting different-colored marbles in different-colored boxes, seeing how many ways you can divide them. I could rephrase it in Wall Street terms, but it’s really just about marbles and boxes, putting things in sets.”

Indeed, Dr. Rota added, some of his best students go to Wall Street. “It turns out that the best financial analysts are either mathematicians or theoretical physicists,” he said.

Rota graduated from
Princeton University in 1953.

Some may prefer the following
marbles and boxes:

The image “http://www.log24.com/log/pix06/060324-Activity.jpg” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.

Related material:
Oct. 21, 2002,
April 30, 2005.

Friday March 24, 2006

Filed under: General — m759 @ 2:22 PM
Life of the Party

From Stephen King’s Dreamcatcher:

The image “http://www.log24.com/log/pix06/060324-Dreamcatcher.gif” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.

From Alfred Bester’s The Demolished Man:

The image “http://www.log24.com/log/pix06/060324-Party.gif” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.

Related material:

“… it’s going to be
accomplished in steps,
this establishment
of the Talented in
  the scheme of things.”

— Anne McCaffrey, 
Radcliffe ’47,
To Ride Pegasus

Friday March 24, 2006

Filed under: General — m759 @ 2:45 AM

Dreaming Game

A phrase from yesterday’s entry:

Lust und Freud.

This phrase, together with the concluding song from the recent film “Good Night and Good Luck,” suggests the following links (the first two from Sinatra’s birthday, 2004):

One For His Baby,
One More for the Road,
and LIFE in Camelot: The Kennedy Years.

The image “http://www.log24.com/log/pix06/060324-LIFEinCamelot1.jpg” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.

In this morning’s New York Times obituaries: 

Philip B.Kunhardt Jr., editor of “LIFE in Camelot: The Kennedy Years.”  Kunhardt was also the author of memoirs about his parents, My Father’s House and The Dreaming Game— the latter about his mother, herself the author of the classic Pat the Bunny.  Kunhardt died on Tuesday.

Related material:

Tuesday’s Log24 entry The Kennedy School and yesterday’s entry Welcome to the Hotel Hassler.

“There were voices down the corridor,
I thought I heard them say…”

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Thursday March 23, 2006

Filed under: General — m759 @ 3:03 PM
Welcome to the
Hotel Hassler

The image “http://www.log24.com/log/pix06/060323-HotelHassler.jpg” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.

Related material:

Thursday March 23, 2006

Filed under: General,Geometry — Tags: — m759 @ 5:55 AM

Happy Birthday, Hassler Whitney

In honor of the late Hassler Whitney, mathematician and mountaineer, here is a link to the five Log24 entries ending with White, Geometric, and Eternal (Dec. 20, 2003).

Related material: the five Log24 entries ending with The Meadow (Dec. 18, 2005) and the five Log24 entries ending with Strange Attractor (Jan. 7, 2006).

The cross and the epiphany star in this last group of entries may interest the symbol-mongers among us.

Those more interested in substance than in symbols may prefer the following (click to enlarge):

The image “http://www.log24.com/theory/images/permutahedron-matroid497.gif” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.

This is apparently the original source for
the figure I cited on Dec. 20, 2003, as
from antiquark.com.

The connection with Whitney is
through the theory of matroids,
which Whitney founded in 1935.

See Hassler Whitney,
 "On the abstract properties
of linear dependence,"
American Journal of Mathematics,
vol. 57 (1935), 509-533,
Collected Papers, vol. I, 147-171.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Wednesday March 22, 2006

Filed under: General — m759 @ 4:30 AM

Former President
of Dartmouth Dies

From today’s New York Times:

“In one widely publicized episode, in 1988, he condemned The Dartmouth Review, a conservative student newspaper, for ridiculing blacks, gay men and lesbians, women and Jews.”

Related material:

The Harvard Jesus


The Crimson Passion

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Tuesday March 21, 2006

Filed under: General — m759 @ 6:25 PM
The Kennedy School
The image “http://www.log24.com/log/pix06/060321-JFK.jpg” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.

Lead article in today’s Harvard Crimson:

“In a scathing attack on what they termed the ‘Israel Lobby,’ the Kennedy School’s Stephen M. Walt and the University of Chicago’s John J. Mearsheimer argued in a recent article that supporters of Israel have seized control of U.S. foreign policy, making it reflect Israel’s interests more than those of the U.S.”

Monday, March 20, 2006

Monday March 20, 2006

Filed under: General — m759 @ 3:33 PM

The image “http://www.log24.com/log/pix06/060320-Masks.jpg” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.

From last year’s
Guy Fawkes Day entries:

“Contrapuntal Themes
in a Shadowland” and

“Area Catholics Receive
St. Thomas Aquinas Awards.”

From last year’s
Halloween season:

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The Judeo part:

“It was like a 1930s comic book
set in the future,”
[producer Joel] Silver says.
“I can’t say what it was, but
there was something about it
that made me think
it would work as a movie.”

USA Today 

The Christian part:

“Joseph Goebbels was brought up
in a devoutly Catholic home.
His parents hoped he
would be a priest….”

Catholic Nazi Leaders   

Flashback to March 18, 2003:

“It’s Springtime for Esther and Israel!”

and to Grammy night, 2006:

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 Happy vernal equinox.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Sunday March 19, 2006

Filed under: General — m759 @ 6:09 PM
Readings for
St. Joseph’s Day

Cut Numbers and
In the Hand of Dante,
both by Nick Tosches,

The image “http://www.log24.com/log/pix06/060319-Dante3.jpg” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.

and Symmetry,
by Hermann Weyl:

The image “http://www.log24.com/log/pix06/060319-Weyl.jpg” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.

Related material:
Kernel of Eternity
(a Log24 entry of June 9, 2005)
and the comment on that entry
by ItAlIaNoBoI.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Saturday March 18, 2006

Filed under: General — m759 @ 4:07 PM

The Crimson Passion continues…

How to Grow
a Crimson Clover

Published in the Harvard Crimson
on Thursday, March 16, 2006, 6:24 PM
by Patrick R. Chesnut,
Crimson staff writer

Stephen Dedalus, James Joyce’s literary alter ego, once described the trappings of Irish culture as nets that hold a soul back from flight. By his standards, Harvard has soared.

Irish culture has been an indelible part of Boston, but the names on our red-brick buildings tell a different story: Adams, Lowell, Winthrop. It would be easy to assume that for Harvard students, Irish culture consists of little more than guzzling alcohol in Tommy Doyle’s Irish Pub or at St. Patrick’s Day Stein Club.

Recently, however, a small but lively Irish subculture, centered on Celtic music and language, has been developing at Harvard. But despite its vivacity, it remains largely unnoticed by the broader student body.

Efforts by groups like the Harvard College Celtic Club and by the producers of the upcoming Loeb mainstage of J.M. Synge’s “The Playboy of the Western World” may be just the sort of first step needed to finally make Harvard a place where Irish artistic culture lives….


“The Playboy”– which will run from April 28 through May 6– revolves around the disruption of life in a provincial Irish village when an outsider arrives with an extravagant story. All points converge at this play’s production: members of the Celtic Club coordinated and will perform the play’s music, the producers hope to draw Boston’s Irish community, and the production will present Harvard’s students with a script deeply entrenched in Irish history, but that boasts a universal appeal.

As Kelly points out, the Irish roots of “The Playboy” are clearer than in the plays of the nominally Irish, but Francophone, absurdist writer Samuel Beckett. And unlike the plays of Sean O’Casey, which are extremely rooted in Irish culture, “The Playboy” boasts a visceral appeal that will be accessible to Harvard students.

From a site linked to in yesterday’s St. Patrick’s Day sermon as the keys to the kingdom:

“In the western world, we tend to take for granted our musical scale, formed of whole tone and half tone steps. These steps are arranged in two ways: the major scale and the minor.”

From the obituary in today’s online New York Times of fashion designer Oleg Cassini, who died at 92 on St. Patrick’s Day, Friday, March 17, 2006:

“… he was always seen in the company of heiresses, debutantes, showgirls, ingenues. Between, before or after [his first] two marriages, he dated young starlets like Betty Grable and Lana Turner and actresses like Ursula Andress and Grace Kelly, to whom he was briefly engaged.

‘He was a true playboy, in the Hollywood sense,’ said Diane von Furstenberg, the fashion designer and a friend of Mr. Cassini’s. ‘Well into his 90’s, he was a flirt.'”

“How strange the change from major to minor…
      Ev’ry time we say goodbye.”
   — Cole Porter

Friday, March 17, 2006

Friday March 17, 2006

Filed under: General,Geometry — m759 @ 5:00 PM
Dogma in the
State of Grace

“Words and numbers are of equal value,
for, in the cloak of knowledge,
one is warp and the other woof.”

— The princesses Rhyme and Reason
in The Phantom Tollbooth,
by Norton Juster, 1961

(From a Sermon for
St. Patrick’s Day, 2001

The Pennsylvania midday lottery
on St. Patrick’s Day, 2006:


Comparing, as in Philadelphia Stories,  the Catholic style of Grace Kelly with the Protestant style of Katharine Hepburn, we conclude that Princess Rhyme might best be played by the former, Princess Reason by the latter.

Reason informs us that the lottery result “618” may be regarded as naming ” – 0.618,” the approximate value of the negative solution to the equation

x2 – x – 1 = 0

The image “http://www.log24.com/log/pix05/050208-Crowe.jpg” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.

Following the advice of Clint Eastwood (on the “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil” soundtrack CD) to “accentuate the positive,” Reason notes that the other, positive, solution to this equation, approximately 1.618, a number symbolized by the Greek letter “phi,” occurs in the following geometric diagram illustrating a construction of the pentagon:

The image “http://www.log24.com/log/pix05/050208-pentagon2.gif” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.

For further enlightenment, we turn to Rhyme, who informs us that “618” may also be regarded as naming the date “6/18.” Consulting our notes, we find on 6/18, 2003, a reference to “claves,” Latin for “keys,” as in “claves regni caelorum.”

We may tarry at this date, pleased to find that the keys to the kingdom involve rational numbers, rather than the irrational ratios suggested, paradoxically, by Reason.

Or we may, with Miles Davis, prefer a more sensuous incarnation of the keys:

The image �http://www.log24.com/log/pix06/060125-ZenerKeys.jpg� cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.

Alicia Keys

“… it’s going to be
accomplished in steps,
this establishment
of the Talented in
  the scheme of things.”

— Anne McCaffrey, 
Radcliffe ’47,
To Ride Pegasus

Friday March 17, 2006

Filed under: General,Geometry — m759 @ 2:28 AM
George W. Mackey,
Harvard mathematician,
is dead at 90.

Mackey was born, according to Wikipedia, on Feb. 1, 1916.  He died, according to Harvard University, on the night of March 14-15, 2006.  He was the author of, notably, “Harmonic Analysis as the Exploitation of Symmetry — A Historical Survey,” pp. 543-698 in Bulletin of the American Mathematical Society (New Series), Vol. 3, No. 1, July 1980.  This is available in a hardcover book published in 1992 by the A.M.S., The Scope and History of Commutative and Noncommutative Harmonic Analysis. (370 pages, ISBN 0-8218-9903-1).  A paperback edition of this book will apparently be published this month by Oxford University Press (ISBN 978-0-8218-3790-7). 

From Oxford U.P.–


  • Introduction
  • Harmonic analysis as the exploitation of symmetry: A historical survey
  • Herman Weyl and the application of group theory to quantum mechanics
  • The significance of invariant measures for harmonic analysis
  • Weyl’s program and modern physics
  • Induced representations and the applications of harmonic analysis
  • Von Neumann and the early days of ergodic theory
  • Final remarks

Related material:
Log24, Oct. 22, 2002.
Women’s history month continues.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Wednesday March 15, 2006

Filed under: General — Tags: — m759 @ 3:00 PM
Women's History Month

The image “http://www.log24.com/log/pix06/060315-LifeX3sm.jpg” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.

Gallia est omnis divisa in partes tres,
quarum unam incolunt Belgae,
aliam Aquitani, tertiam qui ipsorum
lingua Celtae, nostra Galli appellantur.

Julius Caesar, De Bello Gallico

Wednesday March 15, 2006

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

 From today's Harvard Crimson:

Harvard Math Department Pi Day event

Two members of the Harvard Class of 2007 "scarf down pie at the Math Department's 'pi'-eating contest at 3:14 p.m. yesterday in celebration of Pi Day. Participants had three minutes and 14 seconds to eat as much pie as posssible."

Log24, Feb. 24, 2006:

"What other colleges call fraternities,
Princeton calls Eating Clubs."

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Tuesday March 14, 2006

Filed under: General — m759 @ 7:00 PM

The image “http://www.log24.com/log/pix06/060314-Frame.jpg” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.

Tuesday March 14, 2006

Filed under: General — m759 @ 12:00 PM
Fearful Symmetry
and Minkowski Space-Time

(For the tigers of Princeton,
a selection suggested by
the work of Richard Parker
 on Lorentzian lattices)

The image “http://www.log24.com/log/pix06/060314-Lorentzian.jpg” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.

Tuesday March 14, 2006

Filed under: General — m759 @ 12:00 AM
Burning Bright
The image “http://www.log24.com/log/pix06/060314-LifeOfPi2.jpg” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.
The image “http://www.log24.com/log/pix06/060314-CC2.jpg” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.

Click on pictures
for details.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Monday March 13, 2006

Filed under: General — Tags: — m759 @ 1:01 PM
Christ at the
Lapin Agile

The image “http://www.log24.com/log/pix06/060313-WasleyChrist1.jpg” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.

The Christ by Wasley,
on wall under his right arm
the Picasso painting.”

Le Républicain Lorrain du 14 janvier 2001

Le Lapin Agile veille sur la Butte (par Michel Genson)

24 décembre 1900. Dans son atelier glacial du Bateau Lavoir, à  flanc de la colline de Montmartre, Picasso se frotte les yeux. C’est bien Wasley, son ami Wasley, qu’il aperçoit traversant la place Ravignan, courbé sous le poids d’un grand Christ en croix. Le sculpteur titube et s’en va gravissant un à un les escaliers qui mènent au sommet de la Butte, direction la rue des Saules. Car l’œuvre est destinée aux murs du petit estaminet où la bande a trouvé asile, pour y échanger chaque soir des refrains, bocks et vaticinations les plus folles. La bande, c’est à dire Utrillo, Max Jacob, Modigliani et les autres… Un siècle et un souffle de légende plus tard, le même Christ blanc occupe toujours la même place, sous les lumières tamisées du Lapin Agile. À l’abri sous son aisselle droite, l’autoportrait de Picasso en Arlequin a été authentique en son temps. Jusqu’au jour où le grand Frédé, tenancier mythique du lieu, s’est gratté la barbe avant de le céder à un amateur suédois de passage. Depuis l’original a fait le voyage du MAM (Modern Art Museum) de New-York, et la Butte se contente d’une copie.

Pour le reste, rien a changé ou presque pour le doyen des cabarets parisiens. Ni le décor, ni l’esprit. L’incroyable patine noire des murs, posée là par des lustres de tabagies rigolardes ou inspirées, rappelle au générique les voix des habituées de jadis, Apollinaire, Carco, Dullin, Couté, puis Pierre Brasseur, et plus proches de nous encore d’autres débutants, Caussimon, Brassens, François Billetdoux… La liste exhaustive serait impossible à dresser de tous ceux qui ont émargé au livre d’or du Lapin Agile.
« En haut de la rue Saint-Vincent… » La goualante roule sa rime chaotique sur le pavé de la Butte. Au carrefour de la rue des Saules, la façade est avenante, sans apprêts, avec son acacia dans la cour, et cette étrange dénomination, née des amours burlesques entre l’imagination d’un dessinateur et les facéties des usagers. En 1875, André Gill, caricaturiste ami de Rimbaud, croque en effet, pour l’enseigne de l’ancien Cabaret des Assassins, un lapin facétieux sautant d’une marmite. Le temps d’un jeu de mots et le Lapin à Gill gagne son brevet d’agilité. L’épopée commence, que perpétue Yves Mathieu, aujourd’hui propriétaire, mémoire et continuateur d’une histoire somme toute unique. Histoire, qui, pour l’anecdote, faillit se terminer prématurément, sous la pioche des démolisseurs. Vers 1900, les bicoques du maquis montmartrois doivent laisser place à un grand projet immobilier. C’est Aristide Bruant qui sauvera in extremis le cabaret. Il achète l’établissement, laisse Frédé dans les murs qu’il revendra pour « un prix amical » à Paulo, le fils du même Frédé. Lequel Paulo n’est autre que le beau-père de l’actuel patron : « C’est un truc de famille. J’ai commencé à chanter ici en 48, égrène Yves Mathieu. Ensuite j’ai fait de l’opérette à la Gaîté Lyrique, de la revue aux Folies Bergères, je suis parti en Amérique… En revenant j’ai repris le cabaret, ma femme y chante, mes fils sont là, ils apprennent le métier… C’est comme le cirque, c’est le même esprit. »

Malgré les tempêtes et les modes, le Lapin Agile dure et perdure donc. Et sa silhouette pour carte postale inspire toujours les peintres venus de partout. Comme si la halte faisait partie d’un parcours initiatique immuable. Deux pièces pour un minuscule rez-de-chaussée, dans la première, mi-loge, mi-vestiaire, une guitare attend son tour de projecteur. En l’occurrence un faisceau unique clouant le chanteur (l’humoriste ou le diseur) au rideau rouge de la seconde salle. Là où le spectacle se déroule depuis toujours, là où l’on s’accoude sans vergogne à la table d’Apollinaire, sous les lampes toujours drapées de rouge, pour écouter Ferré, Aragon, Mac Orlan ou les rengaines du Folklore populaire montmartrois. Yves Mathieu reste ferme, « ici, pas de sonorisation, pas de haut-parleur. Les gens découvrent la voix humaine. » Un refrain de Piaf glisse jusqu’au « laboratoire », le réduit où les autres artistes du programme dissertent sur l’état du monde. Les meubles de Bruant sont encore là, au hasard d’un coffre breton, un autre de marine, la façade d’un lit clos… « Des trucs d’origine » pour Yves Mathieu, qui malgré les vicissitudes du temps – il s’ingénie toute l’année durant à entretenir un établissement qui ne bénéficie d’aucun classement officiel, ni d’aucun subside – prêche haut et fort sa confiance, « parce qu’on aura plus que jamais besoin de racines, de repères, et qu’ici, c’est tout un pan de patrimoine qu’on défend à travers la chanson française, celle qu’on chante tous ensemble… » Le même secoue sa longue carcasse et se fend d’un sourire entendu : « Quand je descends à Paris, c’est pas pareil. Ici, le jour, c’est comme dans une église. Il y a le silence, et l’impression de ressentir les ondes laissées pare les cerveaux de ces types, là… » Aux murs, dessins ou tableaux laissés par Mac Orlan, Maclet ou Suzanne Valadon jouent avec l’ombre amicale.

Le Lapin Agile, 22 rue des Saules, 75018 Paris. Tel : 01 46 06 85 87


Note the above description
of Christmas Eve 1900,
and the remark that
“Ici, le jour, c’est comme
dans une église.”

A search for more material on
the Wasley Christ leads to
Princeton’s Nassau Church:

The fullness of time. I don’t have to call on the physicists among us to conclude that this fullness was not meant to be the end of the time line. That Paul must not have been talking about time in a linear way. Fullness. Complete. Almost perfect. Overflowing with grace. Just right. Fullness. As in “the earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof.” Fullness. As in “I pray that you may have the power to comprehend with all of the saints, what is the breadth, and length, and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses all knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.” Fullness. As in “For in Christ, all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell.” “When the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son, born of a woman.”

I can remember Christmas Eve as a child….

— Christmas Eve, 2004,
    Sermon at Nassau Church by
    The Rev. Dr. David A. Davis

Related material from Log24:

Religious Symbolism at Princeton,
on the Nassau Church,

Counting Crows on
the Feast of St. Luke
(“Fullness… Multitude”),

The Quality of Diamond,
in memory of
Saint Hans-Georg Gadamer,
who died at 102
four years ago on this date,


Diamonds Are Forever.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Sunday March 12, 2006

Filed under: General,Geometry — m759 @ 1:00 PM

A Circle of Quiet

From the Harvard Math Table page:

“No Math table this week. We will reconvene next week on March 14 for a special Pi Day talk by Paul Bamberg.”

The image “http://www.log24.com/log/pix06/060312-PaulBamberg21.jpg” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.

Paul Bamberg

Transcript of the movie “Proof”–

Some friends of mine are in this band.
They’re playing in a bar on Diversey,
way down the bill, around…

I said I’d be there.

They’re all in the math department.
They’re good.
They have this song called “i.”
You’d like it. Lowercase i.
They just stand there.
They don’t play anything for three minutes.

Imaginary number?

It’s a math joke.
You see why they’re way down the bill.

From the April 2006 Notices of the American Mathematical Society, a footnote in a review by Juliette Kennedy (pdf) of Rebecca Goldstein’s Incompleteness:

4 There is a growing literature in the area of postmodern commentaries of [sic] Gödel’s theorems. For example, Régis Debray has used Gödel’s theorems to demonstrate the logical inconsistency of self-government. For a critical view of this and related developments, see Bricmont and Sokal’s Fashionable Nonsense [13]. For a more positive view see Michael Harris’s review of the latter, “I know what you mean!” [9]….

[9] MICHAEL HARRIS, “I know what you mean!,” http://www.math.jussieu.fr/~harris/Iknow.pdf.
[13] ALAN SOKAL and JEAN BRICMONT, Fashionable Nonsense, Picador, 1999.

Following the trail marked by Ms. Kennedy, we find the following in Harris’s paper:

“Their [Sokal’s and Bricmont’s] philosophy of mathematics, for instance, is summarized in the sentence ‘A mathematical constant like The image “http://www.log24.com/log/pix06/060312-Char-pi.jpg” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors. doesn’t change, even if the idea one has about it may change.’ ( p. 263). This claim, referring to a ‘crescendo of absurdity’ in Sokal’s original hoax in Social Text, is criticized by anthropologist Joan Fujimura, in an article translated for IS*. Most of Fujimura’s article consists of an astonishingly bland account of the history of non-euclidean geometry, in which she points out that the ratio of the circumference to the diameter depends on the metric. Sokal and Bricmont know this, and Fujimura’s remarks are about as helpful as FN’s** referral of Quine’s readers to Hume (p. 70). Anyway, Sokal explicitly referred to “Euclid’s pi”, presumably to avoid trivial objections like Fujimura’s — wasted effort on both sides.32 If one insists on making trivial objections, one might recall that the theorem
that p is transcendental can be stated as follows: the homomorphism Q[X] –> R taking X to The image “http://www.log24.com/log/pix06/060312-Char-pi.jpg” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors. is injective.  In other words, The image “http://www.log24.com/log/pix06/060312-Char-pi.jpg” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors. can be identified algebraically with X, the variable par excellence.33

The image “http://www.log24.com/log/pix06/060312-X.jpg” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.

More interestingly, one can ask what kind of object The image “http://www.log24.com/log/pix06/060312-Char-pi.jpg” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors. was before the formal definition of real numbers. To assume the real numbers were there all along, waiting to be defined, is to adhere to a form of Platonism.34  Dedekind wouldn’t have agreed.35  In a debate marked by the accusation that postmodern writers deny the reality of the external world, it is a peculiar move, to say the least, to make mathematical Platonism a litmus test for rationality.36 Not that it makes any more sense simply to declare Platonism out of bounds, like Lévy-Leblond, who calls Stephen Weinberg’s gloss on Sokal’s comment ‘une absurdité, tant il est clair que la signification d’un concept quelconque est évidemment affectée par sa mise en oeuvre dans un contexte nouveau!’37 Now I find it hard to defend Platonism with a straight face, and I prefer to regard the formula

The image “http://www.log24.com/log/pix06/060312-pi.jpg” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.

as a creation rather than a discovery. But Platonism does correspond to the familiar experience that there is something about mathematics, and not just about other mathematicians, that precisely doesn’t let us get away with saying ‘évidemment’!38

32 There are many circles in Euclid, but no pi, so I can’t think of any other reason for Sokal to have written ‘Euclid’s pi,’ unless this anachronism was an intentional part of the hoax.  Sokal’s full quotation was ‘the The image “http://www.log24.com/log/pix06/060312-Char-pi.jpg” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors. of Euclid and the G of Newton, formerly thought to be constant and universal, are now perceived in their ineluctable historicity.’  But there is no need to invoke non-Euclidean geometry to perceive the historicity of the circle, or of pi: see Catherine Goldstein’s ‘L’un est l’autre: pour une histoire du cercle,’ in M. Serres, Elements d’histoire des sciences, Bordas, 1989, pp. 129-149.
33 This is not mere sophistry: the construction of models over number fields actually uses arguments of this kind. A careless construction of the equations defining modular curves may make it appear that pi is included in their field of scalars.
34 Unless you claim, like the present French Minister of Education [at the time of writing, i.e. 1999], that real numbers exist in nature, while imaginary numbers were invented by mathematicians. Thus The image “http://www.log24.com/log/pix06/060312-Char-pi.jpg” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors. would be a physical constant, like the mass of the electron, that can be determined experimentally with increasing accuracy, say by measuring physical circles with ever more sensitive rulers. This sort of position has not been welcomed by most French mathematicians.
35 Cf. M. Kline, Mathematics The Loss of Certainty, p. 324.
36 Compare Morris Hirsch’s remarks in BAMS April 94.
37 IS*, p. 38, footnote 26. Weinberg’s remarks are contained in his article “Sokal’s Hoax,” in the New York Review of Books, August 8, 1996.
38 Metaphors from virtual reality may help here.”

* Earlier defined by Harris as “Impostures Scientifiques (IS), a collection of articles compiled or commissioned by Baudouin Jurdant and published simultaneously as an issue of the journal Alliage and as a book by La Découverte press.”
** Earlier defined by Harris as “Fashionable Nonsense (FN), the North American translation of Impostures Intellectuelles.”

What is the moral of all this French noise?

Perhaps that, in spite of the contemptible nonsense at last summer’s Mykonos conference on mathematics and narrative, stories do have an important role to play in mathematics — specifically, in the history of mathematics.

Despite his disdain for Platonism, exemplified in his remarks on the noteworthy connection of pi with the zeta function in the formula given above, Harris has performed a valuable service to mathematics by pointing out the excellent historical work of Catherine Goldstein.   Ms. Goldstein has demonstrated that even a French nominalist can be a first-rate scholar.  Her essay on circles that Harris cites in a French version is also available in English, and will repay the study of those who, like Barry Mazur and other Harvard savants, are much too careless with the facts of history.  They should consult her “Stories of the Circle,” pp. 160-190 in A History of Scientific Thought, edited by Michel Serres, Blackwell Publishers (December 1995).

For the historically-challenged mathematicians of Harvard, this essay would provide a valuable supplement to the upcoming “Pi Day” talk by Bamberg.

For those who insist on limiting their attention to mathematics proper, and ignoring its history, a suitable Pi Day observance might include becoming familiar with various proofs of the formula, pictured above, that connects pi with the zeta function of 2.  For a survey, see Robin Chapman, Evaluating Zeta(2) (pdf).  Zeta functions in a much wider context will be discussed at next May’s politically correct “Women in Mathematics” program at Princeton, “Zeta Functions All the Way” (pdf).

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Saturday March 11, 2006

Filed under: General,Geometry — Tags: — m759 @ 9:00 PM

"This outer automorphism [of S6] can be regarded as the seed
from which grow about half of the sporadic simple groups,
starting with the Mathieu groups M12 and M24."

Noam Elkies, Harvard Math Table,  
Feb. 28 (Mardi Gras), 2006.
Related material:

Log24, Jan. 1-15, 2006.

The image “http://www.log24.com/log/pix06/060101-SixOfOne.jpg” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.

The image “http://www.log24.com/theory/images/060311-Arabic.jpg” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.

For details, click on the Six of One.

Saturday March 11, 2006

Filed under: General — m759 @ 12:00 PM
Holy the Firm
by Annie Dillard

    Esoteric Christianity, I read, posits a substance.  It is a created substance, lower than metals and minerals on a “spiritual scale” and lower than salts and earths, occurring beneath salts and earths in the waxy deepness of planets, but never on the surface of planets where men could discern it; and it is in touch with the Absolute, at base.  In touch with the Absolute!  At base.  The name of this substance is Holy the Firm.
    Holy the Firm: and is Holy the Firm in touch with metals and minerals?  With salts and earths?  Of course, and straight on up, till “up” ends by curving back.  Does something that touched something that touched Holy the Firm in touch with the Absolute at base seep into ground water, into grain; are islands rooted in it, and trees?  Of course.
    Scholarship has long distinguished between two strains of thought which proceed in the West from human knowledge of God.  In one, the ascetic’s metaphysic, the world is far from God.  Emanating from God, and linked to him by Christ, the world is yet infinitely other than God, furled away from him like the end of a long banner falling.  This notion makes, to my mind, a vertical line of the world, a great chain of burning.  The more accessible and universal view, held by Eckhart and by many peoples in various forms, is scarcely different from pantheism: that the world is immanation, that God is in the thing, and eternally present here, if nowhere else.  By these lights the world is flattened on a horizontal plane, singular, all here, crammed with heaven, and alone.  But I know that it is not alone, nor singular, nor all.  The notion of immanence needs a handle, and the two ideas themselves need a link, so that life can mean aught to the one, and Christ to the other.
    For to immanence, to the heart, Christ is redundant and all things are one.  To emanance, to the mind, Christ touches only the top, skims off only the top, as it were, the souls of men, the wheat grains whole, and lets the chaff fall where?  To the world flat and patently unredeemed; to the entire rest of the universe, which is irrelevant and nonparticipant; to time and matter unreal, and so unknowable, an illusory, absurd, accidental, and overelaborate stage.
    But if Holy the Firm is “underneath salts,” if Holy the Firm is matter at its dullest, Aristotle’s materia prima, absolute zero, and since Holy the Firm is in touch with the Absolute at base, then the circle is unbroken.  And it is.  Thought advances, and the world creates itself, by the gradual positing of, and belief in, a series of bright ideas.  Time and space are in touch with the Absolute at base.  Eternity sockets twice into time and space curves, bound and bound by idea.  Matter and spirit are of a piece but distinguishable; God has a stake guaranteed in all the world.  And the universe is real and not a dream, not a manufacture of the senses; subject may know object, knowedge may proceed, and Holy the Firm is in short the philosopher’s stone.

    These are only ideas, by the single handful.  Lines, lines, and their infinite points!  Hold hands and crack the whip, and yank the Absolute out of there and into the light, God pale and astounded, spraying a spiral of salts and earths, God footloose and flung.  And cry down the line to his passing white ear, “Old Sir!  Do you hold space from buckling by a finger in its hole?  O Old!  Where is your other hand?”  His right hand is clenching, calm, round the exploding left hand of Holy the Firm.

— Annie Dillard, Holy the Firm, Harper & Row 1977, reissued by Harper Perennial Library in 1988 as a paperback, pp. 68-71.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Friday March 10, 2006

Filed under: General — m759 @ 7:59 PM

Women’s History Month continues…

Raiders of the Lost


The image “http://www.log24.com/log/pix06/060310-Stone.jpg” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.

In honor of the upcoming program
on Women and Mathematics
at the Institute for Advanced Study
and of Sharon Stone’s 2005 lecture
at Harvard’s Memorial Church,

here are links to reviews of
two Sharon Stone classics:

“King Solomon’s Mines” (1985),
said to be inspired by the
1981 box-office success
“Raiders of the Lost Ark,” and

“Diabolique” (1996), starring
Stone as
a teacher of mathematics
at St. Anselm’s School for Boys.

For related material on St. Anselm
and mathematics at Princeton, see
Modal Theology and the
April 2006 AMS Notices
on Kurt Gödel.

See also yesterday’s entry
Log24, Jan. 1-15, 2006.

Today’s birthdays:
Sharon Stone and
Gregory La Cava.

Friday March 10, 2006

Filed under: General — m759 @ 12:00 AM


Thursday, March 9, 2006

Thursday March 9, 2006

Filed under: General,Geometry — Tags: — m759 @ 2:56 PM

Finitegeometry.org Update

(Revised May 21, 2006)

Finitegeometry.org now has permutable JavaScript views of the 2x2x2 and 4x4x4 design cubes.  Solomon’s Cube presented a claim that the 4x4x4 design cube retains symmetry under a group of about 1.3 trillion transformations.  The JavaScript version at finitegeometry.org/sc/64/view/ lets the reader visually verify this claim.  The reader should first try the Diamond 16 Puzzle.  The simpler 2x2x2 design cube, with its 1,344 transformations, was described in Diamonds and Whirls; the permutable JavaScript version is at finitegeometry.org/sc/8/view/.

Saturday, March 4, 2006

Saturday March 4, 2006

Filed under: General — m759 @ 10:34 AM

Women’s History Month continues.


Miss O’Hara
on the Oscars:
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“Cinderella Man: To me, this is the best film of 2005 (qualifier: I have not yet seen Walk the Line). Cinderella Man is a terrific film – maybe even a great one. It isn’t flashy, it isn’t brimming with special effects, porn stars, or snappy one-liners. But it is a terrific story, one that you feel good after watching. It’s a slice of the true Golden Age of Hollywood – a solid story about good people that is well-acted by a superb cast. It’s a very family-friendly film – although some of the boxing scenes may be too intense for little ones. I can’t recommend this film highly enough, and am still furious that it was snubbed for the Oscars – then again, perhaps I shouldn’t be. It would be an insult to the movie, the actors, and the writers to nominate this fine film with the dreck they are glorifying this year. Watch this movie. I guarantee you’ll enjoy it.”

Friday, March 3, 2006

Friday March 3, 2006

Filed under: General — m759 @ 9:26 PM
Found in Translation

From “Space, Time, and Scarlett”
 (Log24, Feb. 9):

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“Her hair is Harlow gold….”

For Scarlett on James Merrill’s birthday
(which he shares with Jean Harlow)–
 the Log24 links of Palm Sunday, 2004:

Google’s “sunlit paradigm” and

my own “Lost in Translation.”

Friday March 3, 2006

Filed under: General — m759 @ 3:00 PM

3 pm

Friday March 3, 2006

Filed under: General — m759 @ 2:56 PM


Friday March 3, 2006

Filed under: General — m759 @ 1:00 PM

Women's History Month continues.

Global and Local:
One Small Step

Audrey Terras, University of Maryland '64:

We cannot discuss the proof here as it requires some knowledge of zeta functions of curves over finite fields.

Charles Small, Harvard '64:

The moral is that the zeta function exhibits a subtle connection between the "global" (topological, characteristic 0) nature of the curve and its "local" (diophantine, characteristic p for all but finitely many "bad" primes p)  behaviour.  The full extent of this connection only becomes apparent in the context of varieties more general than curves….

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"Some friends of mine
 are in this band….

— David Auburn, "Proof"

"Women and Mathematics
is a joint program of
the Institute for Advanced Study
and Princeton University."

— School of Mathematics,  
1 Einstein Drive,
Princeton, New Jersey

Thursday, March 2, 2006

Thursday March 2, 2006

Filed under: General — m759 @ 4:30 PM
In and Out

John Updike in
The New Yorker:

“Birthday, death-day —
  what day is not both?”

Annie Dillard in
For the Time Being

“in and out of time”

Born on this date:

Tom Wolfe

Died on this date:

Philip K. Dick

Thursday March 2, 2006

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

Women’s History Month

“My father is, of course,
as mad as a hatter.”

— Diana Rigg in “The Hospital,”
as transcribed at

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“A vesicle pisces* is the name that author Philip K. Dick gave to a symbol he saw (on February 2**, 1974) on the necklace of a delivery woman.

PKD was probably conflating the names of two related symbols, the ichthys consisting of two intersecting arcs resembling the profile of a fish… used by the early Christians as a secret symbol, and the vesica piscis, from the centre of which the ichthys symbol can be drawn.”


Related material at Wikipedia:

Related material at Log24:

Related material elsewhere:

* Wikipedia’s earliest online history for this incorrect phrase is from 25 November, 2003, when the phrase was attributed to Dick by an anonymous Wikipedia user,, who at that time apparently did not know the correct phrase, “vesica piscis,” which was later supplied (16 February, 2004) by an anonymous user (perhaps the same as the first user, perhaps not) at a different IP address, authors have never supplied a source for the alleged use of the phrase by Dick. This comedy of errors would be of little interest were it not for its strong resemblance to the writing process that resulted in what we now call the Bible.

** Other accounts (for instance, Divine Invasions: A Life of Philip K. Dick, by Lawrence Sutin,  Carroll & Graf paperback (copyright 1989, republished on August 9, 2005), page 210) say Dick’s encounter was not on Groundhog Day (also known as Candlemas), but rather on February 20, 1974.

Wednesday, March 1, 2006

Wednesday March 1, 2006

Filed under: General — m759 @ 6:29 PM

“Teach us to care and not to care.”
— T. S. Eliot, “Ash Wednesday

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Related material:

Beth Israel Deaconess,

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The House of God

and, from Is Nothing Sacred?,
the following quotations–

“I know what ‘nothing’ means.”
— Joan Didion in
Play It As It Lays

“Nothing is random.”
— Mark Helprin in
Winter’s Tale

“692” — Pennsylvania lottery,
Ash Wednesday, 2000;
“hole” — Page 692,
Webster’s New World Dictionary,
College Edition, 1960

“This hospital, like every other,
is a hole in the universe
through which holiness
issues in blasts.
It blows both ways,
in and out of time.”
— Annie Dillard in
For the Time Being

Wednesday March 1, 2006

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

Women's History Month continues:

Raiders of the Lost…
(cont. from Feb. 17)
For Harrison Ford
and Meg Ryan,
a quotation from
Sir Walter Raleigh,
via Susanna Moore
and Elizabeth Tallent:
"Give me my scallop shell of quiet"
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Author Susanna Moore,
photo by Paresh Gandhi

Related material:

An article in The Telegraph
on the late Sybille Bedford
(see also the previous entry), and

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On Glory Roads:
A Pilgrim's Book
About Pilgrimage
by Eleanor Munro

Wednesday March 1, 2006

Filed under: General — m759 @ 12:00 AM
Women’s History Month:
March First

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