Saturday, January 31, 2009

Saturday January 31, 2009

Filed under: General — m759 @ 11:07 AM
Catholic Schools Week

Today is the conclusion of
 Catholic Schools Week.

From one such school,
Cullinane College:

Cullinane College school spirit

Cullinane students
display school spirit

Related material:

James Joyce, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man:


He turned to the flyleaf of the geography and read what he had written there: himself, his name and where he was.

Stephen Dedalus
Class of Elements
Clongowes Wood College
County Kildare
The World
The Universe

That was in his writing: and Fleming one night for a cod had written on the opposite page:

Stephen Dedalus is my name,
Ireland is my nation.
Clongowes is my dwellingplace
And heaven my expectation.

He read the verses backwards but then they were not poetry. Then he read the flyleaf from the bottom to the top till he came to his own name. That was he: and he read down the page again. What was after the universe?

Nothing. But was there anything round the universe to show where it stopped before the nothing place began?


Alfred Bester, Tiger! Tiger!:


Gully Foyle is my name
And Terra is my nation
Deep space is my dwelling place
The stars my destination

"Guilty! Read the Charge!"
— Quoted here on
January 29, 2003

The Prisoner,
Episode One, 1967:
"I… I meant a larger map."
— Quoted here on
January 27, 2009


Friday, January 30, 2009

Friday January 30, 2009

Filed under: General,Geometry — m759 @ 11:07 AM
Two-Part Invention

This journal on
October 8, 2008,
at noon:

“There is a pleasantly discursive treatment of Pontius Pilate’s unanswered question ‘What is truth?'”

— H. S. M. Coxeter, introduction to Richard J. Trudeau’s remarks on the “story theory” of truth as opposed to the “diamond theory” of truth in The Non-Euclidean Revolution

Trudeau’s 1987 book uses the phrase “diamond theory” to denote the philosophical theory, common since Plato and Euclid, that there exist truths (which Trudeau calls “diamonds”) that are certain and eternal– for instance, the truth in Euclidean geometry that the sum of a triangle’s angles is 180 degrees.

Insidehighered.com on
the same day, October 8, 2008,
at 12:45 PM EDT

“Future readers may consider Updike our era’s Mozart; Mozart was once written off as a too-prolific composer of ‘charming nothings,’ and some speak of Updike that way.”

— Comment by BPJ

“Birthday, death-day–
 what day is not both?”
John Updike

Updike died on January 27.
On the same date,
Mozart was born.


Mr. Best entered,
tall, young, mild, light.
He bore in his hand
with grace a notebook,
new, large, clean, bright.

— James Joyce, Ulysses,
Shakespeare and Company,
Paris, 1922, page 178

Related material:

Dec. 5, 2004 and

Inscribed carpenter's square

Jan. 27-29, 2009

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Thursday January 29, 2009

Filed under: General — m759 @ 10:23 AM
Dagger Definitions

From 'Ulysses,' 1922 first edition, page 178-- 'dagger definitions'
Midrash by a post-bac:

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

“Horseness is
the whatness of allhorse”:
Thingism vs. Thisness

By Amy Peterson

Jacques Derrida once asked the surly and self-revealing question, “Why is it the philosopher who is expected to be easier and not some scientist who is even more inaccessible?” As with philosophers generally, literary critics come with their own inaccessible argot, some terms of which are useful, but most of which are not and only add more loops to literary criticism’s spiraling abstraction. Take for example, James Wood’s neologism thisness (h/t: 3 Quarks Daily):

The project of modernity in Wood’s eyes is largely in revealing the contour and shape, the specific ‘feel’ of that essential mystery. He even borrows a concept from the medieval philosopher Duns Scotus, haecceitas or ‘thisness,’ to explain what he means: ‘By thisness, I mean any detail that draws abstraction toward itself and seems to kill that abstraction with a puff of palpability, any detail that centers our attention with its concretion.’ (my emphasis)

Wood is clearly taking his cue here from the new trend in literary criticism of referring to realism by its etymological meaning, thingism. Where thingism is meant to capture the materialism of late nineteenth and early 20th century Realist literature, thisness, it seems, is meant to capture the basic immaterialism of Modern realist literature. In this, it succeeds. Realism is no longer grounded in the thingism, or material aspect, of reality as it was during the Victorian era. In contemporary literature, it is a “puff of palpability” that hints at reality’s contours but does not disturb our essential understanding of existence as an impalpable mystery. So now we have this term that seems to encompass the Modern approach to reality, but is it useful as an accurate conception of reality (i.e. truth, human existence, and the like), and how are we to judge its accuracy?

I think that, as far as literature is concerned, the test of the term’s accuracy lies in the interpretation of the Modernist texts that Wood champions as truthful but largely abstract depictions of human experience:

‘Kafka’s ‘”Metamorphosis” and Hamsun’s “Hunger” and Beckett’s “Endgame” are not representations of likely or typical human activity but are nevertheless harrowingly truthful texts.’

For brevity’s sake, I’ll pick a passage from a different Modernist text that I think exemplifies the issues involved in the question of thingism and thisness’ reality. In James Joyce’s Ulysses, a pub discussionhttp://www.log24.com/images/asterisk8.gif of art’s purpose arises in which the writer Geoffrey Russell asserts that “Art has to reveal to us ideas, formless spiritual essences”; in his thoughts, Stephen Dedalus prepares to counter this:

Unsheathe your dagger definitions. Horseness is the whatness of allhorse. Streams of tendency and eons they worship. God: noise in the street: very peripatetic. Space: what you damn well have to see. Through spaces smaller than red globules of man’s blood they creepy crawl after [William] Blake’s buttocks into eternity of which this vegetable world is but a shadow. Hold to the now, the here, through which all future plunges to the past.

To give my best translation of Stephen-think: The physical being of the horse (“horseness”) grounds the over-arching, abstract idea of the horse (“allhorse”) in reality (“whatness”). God—the ultimate abstraction—is elusive and rarely manifests himself as a material reality (when listening to children playing earlier in the book, Stephen asserts that God is a “shout in the street”). Space—the material world—must be observed to make sense of abstract ideas (like God). Stephen’s opponents who believe that art must depict the abstract and the essential make claims about existence that have very little basis in material reality so that they can grasp at the divine through the work of such famously fantastic artists as William Blake, whose unrealistic poetry and paintings Stephen evidently holds in little esteem here, though he’s kinder to Blake elsewhere. Finally, the present makes concrete the abstract possibilities of the future by turning them into the realities of the past.

Ulysses elucidates the distinction between abstractly based and materially based realism because, while abstract to be sure, Joyce’s writing is deeply rooted in material existence, and it is this material existence which has given it its lasting meaning and influence. The larger point that I’m trying to make here is that material reality gives meaning to the abstract. (As a corollary, the abstract helps us to make sense of material reality.) There can be no truth without meaning, and there can be no meaning without a material form of existence against which to judge abstract ideas. To argue, as Wood does, that the abstract can produce concrete truths with little reference to material reality is to ignore the mutual nature of the relationship between material reality and truth. The more carefully we observe material reality, the more truth we gain from our abstractions of its phenomena, or, to state it in the vocabulary—though not the style—of literary criticism: thisness is a diluted form of thingism, which means that thisness is productive of fewer (and lesser) truths.

http://www.log24.com/images/asterisk8.gif “Space: what you
  damn well
     have to see.”

Amy Peterson
has failed to see
that the unsheathing
of dagger definitions
takes place not in
a pub, but in
The National Library
of Ireland

The Russell here is not
Geoffrey but rather
George William Russell,
also known as AE.

Related material:

Yesterday’s Log24 entry
for the Feast of
St. Thomas Aquinas,
Actual Being,”
and the four entries
that preceded it.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Wednesday January 28, 2009

Filed under: General — Tags: , , — m759 @ 7:59 AM
continued from
October 25, 2008

John Updike at Boston Public Library, 2006, photo by Robert Spencer for The New York Times

"The only wealth he bestowed on his subjects lay in the richness of his descriptive language, the detailed fineness of which won him comparisons with painters like Vermeer and Andrew Wyeth."

Christopher Lehmann-Haupt in today's International Herald Tribune  


"These people have discovered how to turn dreams into reality. They know how to enter their dream realities. They can stay there, live there, perhaps forever."

— Alfred Bester on the inmates of Ward T in his 1953 short story, "Disappearing Act"

Related material:
"Is Nothing Sacred?"


Going to dark bed there was a square round Sinbad the Sailor roc's auk's egg in the night of the bed of all the auks of the rocs of Darkinbad the Brightdayler.


Black disc from end of Ch. 17 in Ulysses

Ulysses, conclusion of Episode 17


Cover of 'Through the Vanishing Point,' by Marshall McLuhan and Harley Parker

Happy Feast of
St. Thomas Aquinas.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Tuesday January 27, 2009

Filed under: General — m759 @ 3:00 PM
NY Times: Updike is dead.


Cover of 'Problems,' by John Updike

Carpenter’s Square

Inscribed carpenter's square

Tuesday January 27, 2009

Filed under: General — m759 @ 12:00 PM
A Kind of Cross

“For every kind of vampire,
there is a kind of cross.”
Gravity’s Rainbow  

Page 16 of the New Directions 'Stephen Hero,' 1963

The above text on Joyce’s theory of epiphanies:

“It emphasizes the radiance, the effulgence, of the thing itself revealed in a special moment, an unmoving moment, of time. The moment, as in the macrocosmic lyric of Finnegans Wake, may involve all other moments, but it still remains essentially static, and though it may have all time for its subject matter it is essentially timeless.”

— Page 17 of Stephen Hero, by James Joyce, Theodore Spencer, John J. Slocum, and Herbert Cahoon, Edition: 16, New Directions Publishing, 1963

Related epiphanies —

Detail from
the above text:
The word 'epiphanies' followed by a footnote dagger
Cover of
a paperback novel
well worth reading:

Dagger on the cover of 'Fraternity of the Stone,' by David Morrell

Related material:

“Joyce knew no Greek.”
— Statement by the prototype
of Buck Mulligan in Ulysses,
Oliver St. John Gogarty,
quoted in the above
New Directions Stephen Hero

— Statement in Ulysses
by the prototype
of Stephen Dedalus,
James Augustine Aloysius Joyce

See also the link to
Mardi Gras, 2008,
in yesterday’s entry,
with its text from
the opening of Ulysses:

“He faced about and
blessed gravely thrice
the tower,
the surrounding country
 and the awaking mountains.”

Some context:

(Click on images for details.)

'The Prisoner,' Episode One, frame at 7:59, map of The Village


Escher's 'Metamorphose III,' chessboard endgame

“In the process of absorbing
the rules of the institutions
we inhabit, we become
who we are.”

David Brooks, Jewish columnist,
in today’s New York Times

The Prisoner,
Episode One, 1967:
I… I meant a larger map.”

Monday, January 26, 2009

Monday January 26, 2009

Filed under: General — m759 @ 4:23 PM
Harvard, Magic,
and The New York Times,
continued from Jan. 15:

The New York Times Jan. 15:

Magic and Realism,
by Roger Cohen —

“… what I want from the
 Obama administration is
 something more than
 smarts. I want
   magical realism.”

Google News, 4:19 PM ET today:

Obama to reverse Bush climate policies; 93-year-old man freezes to death in home

“My shavin’ razor’s cold
and it stings.”
— Song quoted here on  
Mardi Gras, 2008

Monday January 26, 2009

Filed under: General — m759 @ 6:00 AM
Episode One

For the Hole in the Wall Gang:


Shopkeeper: Good morning, sir. And what can I do for you then?
Prisoner: I’d like a map of this area.
Shopkeeper: Map? Colour or black and white?
Prisoner: Just a map.
Shopkeeper: Map…

He pauses to remember where he keeps such a thing.

Shopkeeper: Ah. Black and white…

He produces a map from a cupboard.

Shopkeeper: There we are, sir. I think you’ll find that shows everything.

The map is labelled “map of your village.” The Prisoner opens it; it shows the village bordered by “the mountains”: there are no external geographical names.

Prisoner: I… I meant a larger map.
Shopkeeper: Only in colour, sir. Much more expensive.
Prisoner: That’s fine.

The shopkeeper fetches him a colour map as inadequate as the last. It folds out as a larger sheet of paper, but still mentions only “the mountains,” “the sea,” and “the beach,” together with the title “your village.”

Prisoner: Er, that’s not what I meant. I meant a… a larger area.
Shopkeeper: No, we only have local maps, sir. There’s no demand for any others. You’re new here, aren’t you?

— Comment at 
The Word magazine,
January 16, 2009

Comment by m759,
January 16, 2009:

“In the pictures of the old masters, Max Picard wrote in The World of Silence, people seem as though they had just come out of the opening in a wall… “

— Annie Dillard in
For the Time Being

Only in colour, sir.
Much more expensive.

That’s fine.”

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Sunday January 25, 2009

Filed under: General — m759 @ 11:00 AM
The Maker’s Gift

The Maker's Gift -- Sayers, 'The Mind of the Maker,' and Nabokov, 'The Gift'

Click on image for details.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Saturday January 24, 2009

Filed under: General — m759 @ 11:32 AM
In Memory of
Composer George Perle

(See previous entry.)


1. 12-tone temperament
2. 34-tone temperament
3. First-class temperament

For related material
on the word “gift” in
the previous entry, see
Midnight Cowboy
(Log24, July 28, 2003)

Saturday January 24, 2009

Filed under: General — m759 @ 4:12 AM
(Click on image for details.)

Academic composer George Perle in 1999

"George Perle, a composer, author, theorist and teacher who won the Pulitzer Prize for music in 1986 and was widely considered the poetic voice of atonal composition, died on Friday [Jan. 23, 2009] at his home in Manhattan. He was 93."

The New York Times this morning

From this journal on June 15, 2004:


Bergman, Totentanz from 'The Seventh Seal'

Kierkegaard on death:

"I have thought too much about death not to know that he cannot speak earnestly about death who does not know how to employ (for awakening, please note) the subtlety and all the profound waggery which lies in death.  Death is not earnest in the same way the eternal is.  To the earnestness of death belongs precisely that capacity for awakening, that resonance of a profound mockery which, detached from the thought of the eternal, is an empty and often brash jest, but together with the thought of the eternal is just what it should be, utterly different from the insipid solemness which least of all captures and holds a thought with tension like that of death."

Works of Love,
Harper Torchbooks,
   1964, p. 324

For more on "the thought of the eternal," see the  discussion of the number 373 in Directions Out and Outside the World, both of 4/26/04.

See also
"That old Jew gave me this here."

Friday, January 23, 2009

Friday January 23, 2009

Filed under: General — m759 @ 12:12 PM
Hilbert vs. Pascal


Happy Hilbert’s Birthday.

Today is the birthday
of mathematician
David Hilbert (1862-1943).


See a different Hilbert– namely Jules, a fictional professor of literary theory at the University of Illinois at Chicago played by Dustin Hoffman in “Stranger than Fiction” (cf. yesterday’s entry). See also, in today’s previous entry, Stanley Fish– a non-fictional literary theorist and former dean at the same institution.

Related material:

The Gift in ‘Stranger than Fiction’,” by Eric Austin Lee (June 1, 2007).

Lee’s essay might please another mathematician whose name appears in the film. The clever but heartless Professor Hilbert is opposed, indirectly, in “Stranger than Fiction” by a Harvard Law dropout, Ana, who dispenses eucharistic blessings, in the form of cookies, at her Chicago bakery/café– filmed at a real Chicago location, Catedral Café. Her last name is Pascal.

Friday January 23, 2009

Filed under: General — m759 @ 9:07 AM
The Beadsman
Archbishop Jean Jadot, who died at 99 on Jan. 21, 2009

Archbishop Jadot,
former papal envoy
to the United States
died at 99 on
St. Agnes’s Day,
January 21, 2009.

Stanley Fish in today’s
New York Times —
Barack Obama’s Prose Style:

“… he carries us
from meditative bead
 to meditative bead….”

“Numb were the Beadsman’s fingers,
    while he told
  His rosary, and while
    his frosted breath,
  Like pious incense
    from a censer old,
  Seem’d taking flight for heaven,
    without a death….”

John Keats

“The word not only brings the things out of silence; it also produces the silence in which they can disappear again.”

— Max Picard, The World of Silence,
    quoted here on January 15

“Let the word go forth….”

— John Fitzgerald Kennedy, quoted here
    on January 20The Eve of St. Agnes

Related material:

Fish contrasts President Obama’s prose style with one that “asks the reader or hearer to hold in suspension the components of an argument that will not fully emerge until the final word.”

See also the final word of this journal’s entry on January 21, which was “Keats.”

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Thursday January 22, 2009

Filed under: General — m759 @ 7:00 AM

Eye of Cather

(Click on pictures for details.)

Archbishop Jean Jadot, who died on Jan. 21, 2009 Willa Cather in 1936
Willa Cather in 1936

Emma Thompson as a writer in 'Stranger than Fiction'

Emma Thompson in
"Stranger than Fiction"

See also
Halloween Meditations
and yesterday's entry.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Wednesday January 21, 2009

Filed under: General — m759 @ 12:00 PM

Harvard Divinity School logo

“… while some are elected,
others not elect are
passed by….”

A commentary on the
Calvinist doctrine of preterition

Gravity’s Rainbow, Penguin Classics, 1995, page 742:

“… knowing his Tarot, we would expect to look among the Humility, among the gray and preterite souls, to look for him adrift in the hostile light of the sky, the darkness of the sea….

Now there’s only a long cat’s-eye of bleak sunset left over the plain tonight, bright gray against a purple ceiling of clouds, with an iris of


“God is the original
conspiracy theory.”

Pynchon’s Paranoid History

“We remain a young nation, but in the words of Scripture, the time has come to set aside childish things.”

— President Obama yesterday

It is not entirely clear what these “childish things” are. Perhaps the young nation’s “childish things” that the new President refers to are part of what Robert Stone memorably called “our secret culture.” Stone was referring to Puritanism, which some advocates of the new religion of Scientism might call “childish.” I do not. Lunatic, perhaps, but not childish.

Related meditations:

A year ago yesterday, on Sunday, Jan. 20, 2008, the mid-day lottery for New York State was 605.

A midrash in the Judeo-Christian tradition of paranoia a year ago today suggested that 605 might be a veiled reference to “God, the Devil, and a Bridge,” a weblog entry on mathematician André Weil.

Continuing in this vein a year later, we are confronted with the mid-day New York lottery for yesterday:


Taking a hint from another
entry on Weil, this may be
regarded as a reference to
The Oxford Book of
English Verse
(1919 edition):

Selection 742 in that book
comports well with this
jounal’s recent meditations
on death and Brooklyn:

742: The Imprisoned Soul

“Let me glide noiselessly forth;  
With the key of softness
     unlock the locks….”

— Walt Whitman

Applying this method of
exegesis to last year’s
lottery, we have

605: Hymn of Pan

“And all that did then
    attend and follow,
Were silent with love,
    as you now, Apollo,
With envy of
    my sweet pipings.”

“In time, his carefree lifestyle began to upset the early Christians, who saw his earthy temptations as a manifestation of the Devil. Who would’ve thought that the horny old goat would become the blueprint for popular conceptions of Satan– cloven hooves, horns and all?”

Pan: God of Shepherds, Flocks, and Fornication

Hymn 605 thus supplies a reference to the devil mentioned by Weil in the entry of 6/05.

It, together with Hymn 742 of a year later, may be regarded as a divine response to a weblog entry yesterday from the Greater Wasilla Area on listening to the inauguration:

“… thus far, I have not heard any priests of Apollo, nor of any other God, issuing any auguries.”

Neither have I, but hearing is only one of the senses.

“Heard melodies are sweet,
    but those unheard
Are sweeter.”

— John Keats

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Tuesday January 20, 2009

Filed under: General — m759 @ 8:00 AM
Let the Word Go Forth
to a New Generation

NYT obituaries Jan. 20, 2009:  Boxing Hall of Famer and official Jose Torres died Jan. 19 at 72

Related material:
yesterday’s entry

Monday, January 19, 2009

Monday January 19, 2009

Filed under: General — m759 @ 8:48 AM
The Return of
The Purloined Letter

“The letter acts like a signifier precisely to the extent that its function in the story does not require that its meaning be revealed.”

— Barbara Johnson, “The Frame of Reference,” an essay on a story by Poe

Sarge in Beetle Bailey 1/19/09: 'They say a picture is worth a thousand words.'

E is for Everlast:

Hilary Swank in 'Million Dollar Baby'

As for Johnson’s title,
“The Frame of Reference,”
see the window above,
Epiphany 2007, and
Church of the
Forbidden Planet.

Happy birthday,
Edgar Allan Poe.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Sunday January 18, 2009

Filed under: General — m759 @ 8:00 AM

Part I: The Pagan View

From The Fire, Katherine Neville’s sequel to her novel The Eight:

“‘Cat…. realized that we all need some kind of a chariot driver to pull our forces together, like those horses of Socrates, one pulling toward heaven, one toward the earth….’

… I asked, ‘Is that why you said my mother’s and my birthdays are important? Because April 4 and October 4 are opposite in the calendar?’

Rodo beamed a smile…. He said, ‘That’s how the process takes place….'”

Part II: The Christian View

“The Calendar of saints is a traditional Christian method of organizing a liturgical year by associating each day with one or more saints and referring to the day as that saint’s feast day. The system arose from the very early Christian custom of annual commemoration of martyrs on the dates of their deaths, or birth into heaven, and is thus referred to in Latin as dies natalis (‘day of birth’).” –Wikipedia

The October 4 date above, the birthday of Cat’s daughter, Xie, in The Fire, is also the liturgical Feast of St. Francis of Assisi (said by some to be also the date of his death).

The April 4 date above is Neville’s birthday and that of her alter ego Cat in The Eight and The Fire. Neville states that this is also the birth date of Charlemagne. It is, as well, the dies natalis (in the “birth into heaven” sense), of Dr. Martin Luther King.

For more about April 4, see Art Wars and 4/4/07.

For more about October 4, see “Revelation Game Continued: Short Story.”


King's Moves

et lux in tenebris lucet
et tenebrae eam
non comprehenderunt

Friday, January 16, 2009

Friday January 16, 2009

Filed under: General — m759 @ 1:00 PM
the Picture

“Oftentimes people will like a picture I paint because it’s maybe the sun hitting on the side of a window and they can enjoy it purely for itself,” Wyeth once said. “It reminds them of some afternoon. But for me, behind that picture could be a night of moonlight when I’ve been in some house in Maine, a night of some terrible tension, or I had this strange mood. Maybe it was Halloween. It’s all there, hiding behind the realistic side.”

Andrew Wyeth, who died today

Related material:

“In the pictures of the old masters, Max Picard wrote in The World of Silence, people seem as though they had just come out of the opening in a wall… ”

— Annie Dillard in For the Time Being

“And the wall is made of light– that entirely credible yet unreal Vermeer light. Light like this does not exist, but we wish it did.”

— Susanna Kaysen in Girl, Interrupted

Friday January 16, 2009

Filed under: General — m759 @ 10:31 AM
Academy Award

“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

“I feel very happy to be a part of Mind Champions Academy.”

— A winner at a chess awards ceremony in India on Monday

John Mortimer, who wrote the TV version of Brideshead Revisited, died today. In his memory:

Todo lo sé
 por el lucero puro
que brilla en
 la diadema de la Muerte.

Rubén Darío    

King's Moves

King’s Moves,
adapted from
a figure by
F. Lanier Graham

Related material:
Will this be  
  on the test?

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Thursday January 15, 2009

Filed under: General — Tags: — m759 @ 6:00 PM
Harvard, Magic,
and The New York Times

The New York Times Magazine for next Sunday:

The Edge of the Mystery, by Matt Bai–

“Weeks before the election of 1960, Norman Mailer, already an accomplished novelist, sat down to write his first major work of political journalism, an essay for Esquire in which he argued that only John F. Kennedy could save America… the only kind of leader who could rescue it, who could sweep in an era of what Mailer called ‘existential’ politics, was a ‘hipster’ hero– someone who welcomed risk and adventure, someone who sought out new experience, both for himself and for the country….

… Mailer essentially created a new genre for a generation of would-be literary philosophers covering politics….  By 1963, Mailer and other idealists were crushed to discover that Kennedy was in fact a fairly conventional and pragmatic politician, more Harvard Yard than Fortress of Solitude.”

The New York Times today:

Magic and Realism, by Roger Cohen–

“… what I want from the Obama administration is something more than Harvard-to-the-Beltway smarts. I want magical realism.”

Mailer and Cohen, taken together, suggest I should review two authors– Picard and Hesse– I encountered as a Harvard freshman in 1960.

Max Picard:

“In the ‘Prologue in Heaven’ in Goethe’s Faust a powerful silence is produced by the powerful word after each verse. There is an active, audible silence after every verse. The things that were moved into position by the word stand motionless in the silence, as if they were waiting to be called back into the silence and to disappear therein. The word not only brings the things out of silence; it also produces the silence in which they can disappear again.”


Kennst du den Faust?

Den Doktor?

Meinen Knecht!

Online Etymology Dictionary:

O.E. cniht “boy, youth, servant,” common W.Gmc. (cf. O.Fris. kniucht, Du. knecht, kneht “boy, youth, lad,” Ger. Knecht “servant, bondsman, vassal”), of unknown origin. Meaning “military follower of a king or other superior” is from c.1100. Began to be used in a specific military sense in Hundred Years War, and gradually rose in importance through M.E. period until it became a rank in the nobility 16c. The verb meaning “to make a knight of (someone)” is from c.1300. Knighthood is O.E. cnihthad M.H.G. “the period between childhood and manhood;” sense of “rank or dignity of a knight” is from c.1300. The chess piece so called from c.1440.

Further background on the word “Knecht”–

'Magister Ludi,' or 'The Glass Bead Game,' by Hermann Hesse

Epigraph to Magister Ludi
(Joseph Knecht’s translation):

“… For although in a certain sense and for light-minded persons non-existent things can be more easily and irresponsibly represented in words than existing things, for the serious and conscientious historian it is just the reverse. Nothing is harder, yet nothing is more necessary, than to speak of certain things whose existence is neither demonstrable nor probable. The very fact that serious and conscientious men treat them as existing things brings them a step closer to existence and to the possibility of being born.”

Thursday January 15, 2009

Filed under: General,Geometry — Tags: — m759 @ 2:45 AM
 or, Everybody
Comes to Rick’s
(abstract version)

For Mary Gaitskill,
continued from
June 21, 2008:
Designer's grid-- 6x4 array of squares, each with 4 symmetry axes

This minimal art
is the basis of the
chess set image
from Tuesday:

 Chess set design by F. Lanier Graham, 1967

Related images:

Doors of Rick's Cafe Americain in 'Casablanca'

Bogart and Lorre in 'Casablanca' with chessboard and cocktail

The key is the
cocktail that begins
the proceedings.”

— Brian Harley,
Mate in Two Moves

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Wednesday January 14, 2009

Filed under: General — m759 @ 7:00 PM
A Fight for
Love and Glory

The 8-point star
of Venus:

Eight-point star of Venus

This star is suggested by
the Spanish name “Lucero”
and by the following
passage from 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!”

Ricardo Montalban, d. Jan. 14, 2009-- NY Times
Que descanse en paz.

Little Mermaid bed

Later the same evening…
an update in memory
of Patrick McGoohan:

NYT obituaries 1/14/09 for both Ricardo Montalban and Patrick McGoohan

“There is one story and one story only
That will prove worth your telling….
…of the undying snake from chaos hatched,
Whose coils contain the ocean,
Into whose chops with naked sword he springs,
Then in black water, tangled by the reeds,
Battles three days and nights,
To be spewed up beside her scalloped shore….”
— Robert Graves,
   “To Juan at the Winter Solstice”

Wednesday January 14, 2009

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

Eight is a Gate

'The Eight,' by Katherine Neville

Customer reviews of Neville's 'The Eight'

From the most highly
rated negative review:

“I never did figure out
what ‘The Eight’ was.”

Various approaches
to this concept
(click images for details):

The Fritz Leiber 'Spider' symbol in a square

A Singer 7-cycle in the Galois field with eight elements

The Eightfold (2x2x2) Cube

The Jewel in Venn's Lotus (photo by Gerry Gantt)

Tom O'Horgan in his loft. O'Horgan died Sunday, Jan. 11, 2009.

Bach, Canon 14, BWV 1087

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Tuesday January 13, 2009

Filed under: General — m759 @ 1:00 PM

Something Traditional —

“German Chancellor Dr. Angela Merkel is the Charlemagne Prize laureate of 2008…. The prize will be awarded on 1 May, Ascension Day.”

The City of Aachen

Something Modern —

Previously undescribed in this journal:

A chess set
by F. Lanier Graham
of modular design:

Interlocking chess pieces by F. Lanier Graham, 1967


“The traditional chess set, with its naturalistic images of medieval armies, suggests a game between combatants who enjoy the winning of battles. This chess set, with its articulated images of abstract force, suggests a game between contestants who enjoy the process of thinking.
The primary principle of this design… is that the operating reality or function of each piece– both its value and how it moves– is embodied in a simple self-expressive form….

Chess pieces by F. Lanier Graham, 1967

Design Copyright F. Lanier Graham 1967

These pieces are designed to have the look and feel of little packages of power. The hardwoods (walnut and korina) are left unfinished, not only because of tactile values, but also to emphasize the simplicity of the design. The interlocking blocks are packaged to reflect the essential nature of the game– rational recreation, played with basic units whose fields of force continuously interact in subtle, complex patterns.”

— F. Lanier Graham, 1967

For those whose tastes in recreation are less rational, there is also the legendary chess set of Charlemagne described in novels by Katherine Neville. (See ART WARS.)

Related material: this journal on the First of May, 2008, the date of last year’s Charlemagne award.

Tuesday January 13, 2009

Filed under: General — m759 @ 4:30 AM
The Mists of

Carol Kino
in today’s New York Times:

“Typically, each piece depicts a monumentally sized object that often comments archly on its surroundings….”

Architectural vesica piscis

Vesica Piscis

Arch at Glastonbury Tor

Arch at
Glastonbury Tor

For some context, see

NY Times front page, Sunday morning, Jan. 11, 2009: Brooklyn Bridge and Sinatra

The ashes of Bradley,
who wrote about Camelot
in The Mists of Avalon,
 are said to have been
scattered at Glastonbury Tor.

For material on the afterlife
and Brooklyn, see
Only the Dead.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Sunday January 11, 2009

Filed under: General — m759 @ 7:59 AM
A Major Metaphor

NY Times front page, Sunday morning, Jan. 11, 2009: Brooklyn Bridge and Sinatra

See also
Today’s Sermon.

Sunday January 11, 2009

Filed under: General — m759 @ 6:24 AM
A Minor Metaphor

                     … we know that we use
Only the eye as faculty, that the mind
Is the eye, and that this landscape of the mind

Is a landscape only of the eye; and that
We are ignorant men incapable
Of the least, minor, vital metaphor….

— Wallace Stevens, “Crude Foyer”

                                               … So, so,
O son of man, the ignorant night, the travail
Of early morning, the mystery of the beginning
Again and again,
                         while History is unforgiven.

— Delmore Schwartz,
  “In the Naked Bed, in Plato’s Cave

For those who prefer
stories to truth,
I recommend the
blue matrices of
Marion Zimmer Bradley’s
Darkover stories.
Bradley also wrote
The Mists of Avalon.

Happy birthday to
David Wolper,
who produced the
TV version of Mists.

Related material:
Diamonds Are Forever

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Saturday January 10, 2009

Filed under: General — Tags: — m759 @ 10:10 AM
A Russian Doll


The 3x3 square

For details of the story,
click on the images.

Chapter I:

'The Power Of The Center: A Study of Composition in the Visual Arts,' by Rudolf Arnheim

Chapter II:

Cover of 'Nine Stories' with 'Dinghy' at center

Chapter III:

Natasha's Dance

Orson Welles with chessboard

and the following quotation:

"There is no landing fee in Avalon,
 or anywhere else in Catalina."

Friday, January 9, 2009

Friday January 9, 2009

Filed under: General — Tags: , , — m759 @ 5:01 PM
for Mary Karr

"In reality, my prose books
probably sit between
I Was a Teenage Sex Slave
and some other contemporary
memoir written in five minutes…."

Mary Karr in the NY Times
of July 6, 2007

Story of M, Story of N, Story of O

See also
Ballet Blanc
and the true story
0, 1, 2, 3, ….

"In a dream scenario, my memoirs…
would find another shelf.
They’d sit between St. Augustine
  and Nabokov’s Speak, Memory…."

— Mary Karr, loc. cit.

Recall the
mnemonic rhyme
"Nine is a Vine."

Friday January 9, 2009

Filed under: General — m759 @ 5:01 AM
Teaser head from the
online NY Times
this morning:

NY Times teaser head for a Susan Cheever column on Drink and the Divine

Another teaser:

Girl in bar from 'El Cazador de la Bruja'

Is the Pope Catholic?

Related material:

The Craft and
On the Cross

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Thursday January 8, 2009

Filed under: General,Geometry — Tags: — m759 @ 11:07 PM
Report of Arrival

A PBS broadcast of Cyrano de Bergerac was shown yesterday nationally and this evening, a day late, by WNED TV, Buffalo.

From the translation by Anthony Burgess:

Cyrano speaks of falling leaves–

They fall well. With a sort of panache.
They plume down in their last
Loveliness, disguising their fear
Of being dried and pounded to ash
To mix with the common dust.
They go in grace, making their fall appear
Like flying.
ROXANE  You’re melancholy today.
CYRANO  Never. I’m not the melancholy sort.
ROXANE  Very well, then. We’ll let
The leaves of the fall fall while you
Turn the leaves of my gazette.
What’s new at court?
CYRANO … There have been some scandals
To do with witches. A bishop went to heaven,
Or so it’s believed: there’s been as yet no report
Of his arrival….”


CYRANO … See it there, a white plume
Over the battle– A diamond in the ash
Of the ultimate combustion–
My panache.”

Related material:

Today’s previous entry
and the Epiphany
link to the
four-diamond symbol
in Jung’s Aion
with an epigraph by
Gerard Manley Hopkins:

That Nature is a Heraclitean Fire…

Thursday January 8, 2009

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

A Public Square

In memory of
Richard John Neuhaus,
who died today at 72:

“It seems, as one becomes older,
That the past has another pattern,
and ceases to be a mere sequence….”

— T. S. Eliot, Four Quartets

A Walsh function and a corresponding finite-geometry hyperplane

See also The Folding.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Tuesday January 6, 2009

Filed under: General,Geometry — Tags: — m759 @ 12:00 AM
Archetypes, Synchronicity,
and Dyson on Jung

The current (Feb. 2009) Notices of the American Mathematical Society has a written version of Freeman Dyson’s 2008 Einstein Lecture, which was to have been given in October but had to be canceled. Dyson paraphrases a mathematician on Carl Jung’s theory of archetypes:

“… we do not need to accept Jung’s theory as true in order to find it illuminating.”

The same is true of Jung’s remarks on synchronicity.

For example —

Yesterday’s entry, “A Wealth of Algebraic Structure,” lists two articles– each, as it happens, related to Jung’s four-diamond figure from Aion as well as to my own Notes on Finite Geometry. The articles were placed online recently by Cambridge University Press on the following dates:

R. T. Curtis’s 1974 article defining his Miracle Octad Generator (MOG) was published online on Oct. 24, 2008.

Curtis’s 1987 article on geometry and algebraic structure in the MOG was published online on Dec. 19, 2008.

On these dates, the entries in this journal discussed…

Oct. 24:
Cube Space, 1984-2003

Material related to that entry:

Dec. 19:
Art and Religion: Inside the White Cube

That entry discusses a book by Mark C. Taylor:

The Picture in Question: Mark Tansey and the Ends of Representation (U. of Chicago Press, 1999).

In Chapter 3, “Sutures of Structures,” Taylor asks —

“What, then, is a frame, and what is frame work?”

One possible answer —

Hermann Weyl on the relativity problem in the context of the 4×4 “frame of reference” found in the above Cambridge University Press articles.

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

Monday, January 5, 2009

Monday January 5, 2009

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

A Wealth of
Algebraic Structure

A 4x4 array (part of chessboard)

A 1987 article by R. T. Curtis on the geometry of his Miracle Octad Generator (MOG) as it relates to the geometry of the 4×4 square is now available online ($20):

Further elementary techniques using the miracle octad generator
, by R. T. Curtis. Abstract:

“In this paper we describe various techniques, some of which are already used by devotees of the art, which relate certain maximal subgroups of the Mathieu group M24, as seen in the MOG, to matrix groups over finite fields. We hope to bring out the wealth of algebraic structure* underlying the device and to enable the reader to move freely between these matrices and permutations. Perhaps the MOG was mis-named as simply an ‘octad generator’; in this paper we intend to show that it is in reality a natural diagram of the binary Golay code.”


(Received July 20 1987)

Proceedings of the Edinburgh Mathematical Society (Series 2) (1989), 32: 345-353, doi:10.1017/S0013091500004600.

(Published online by Cambridge University Press 19 Dec 2008.)

In the above article, Curtis explains how two-thirds of his 4×6 MOG array may be viewed as the 4×4 model of the four-dimensional affine space over GF(2).  (His earlier 1974 paper (below) defining the MOG discussed the 4×4 structure in a purely combinatorial, not geometric, way.)

For further details, see The Miracle Octad Generator as well as Geometry of the 4×4 Square and Curtis’s original 1974 article, which is now also available online ($20):

A new combinatorial approach to M24, by R. T. Curtis. Abstract:

“In this paper, we define M24 from scratch as the subgroup of S24 preserving a Steiner system S(5, 8, 24). The Steiner system is produced and proved to be unique and the group emerges naturally with many of its properties apparent.”


(Received June 15 1974)

Mathematical Proceedings of the Cambridge Philosophical Society (1976), 79: 25-42, doi:10.1017/S0305004100052075.

(Published online by Cambridge University Press 24 Oct 2008.)

* For instance:

Algebraic structure in the 4x4 square, by Cullinane (1985) and Curtis (1987)

Click for details.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Saturday January 3, 2009

Filed under: General — m759 @ 7:20 PM

“The entire sequence of moves in these… chapters reminds one– or should remind one– of a certain type of chess problem where the point is not merely the finding of a mate in so many moves, but what is termed ‘retrograde analysis‘….”

— Vladimir Nabokov, foreword to “The Defense

Friday, January 2, 2009

Friday January 2, 2009

Filed under: General — m759 @ 5:48 AM
Signs and Symbols

from the five entries
ending on June 3, 2008
and from yesterday,
New Year’s Day

The end of a story by Vladimir Nabokov in The New Yorker of May 15, 1948:

Rotary telephone dial

“You have the incorrect number. I will tell you what you are doing: you are turning the letter O instead of the zero.”

They sat down to their unexpected festive midnight tea. The birthday present stood on the table. He sipped noisily; his face was flushed; every now and then he imparted a circular motion to his raised glass so as to make the sugar dissolve more thoroughly. The vein on the side of his bald head where there was a large birthmark stood out conspicuously and, although he had shaved that morning, a silvery bristle showed on his chin. While she poured him another glass of tea, he put on his spectacles and re-examined with pleasure the luminous yellow, green, red little jars. His clumsy moist lips spelled out their eloquent labels: apricot, grape, beech plum, quince. He had got to crab apple, when the telephone rang again.

Art based on a cover of Salinger's 'Nine Stories'

Click for details.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Thursday January 1, 2009

Filed under: General — m759 @ 8:28 PM
Out with
   the Old Year

Donald E. Westlake, who died New Year's Eve, 2008, in Mexico

Click to enlarge.

In with
   the New


Click to enlarge.

Sept. 15, 2008

A Stitch in Time…

(See previous entry.)

Thursday January 1, 2009

Filed under: General — m759 @ 6:11 PM
Feliz Cumpleaños

'Con Frambuesas'-- birthday picture from Buenos Aires uploaded Nov. 16, 2008

See also Log24 on the date
this picture was uploaded:
 November 16, 2008.

Thursday January 1, 2009

Filed under: General — m759 @ 3:00 AM
The Becket List

Monday, Dec. 29, 2008, was St. Thomas Becket’s Day.

On that day in this journal there was a note from the New York Times on the screenwriter of the 1969 film  “A Walk With Love and Death”–

“He feuded with… John Huston, who gave the lead female role in ‘Walk’ to his teenage daughter… against Mr. Wasserman’s wishes.”

Legacy.com this morning:

Liz Evett

WEST RICHLAND, Wash. (AP) – Liz Evett, a teen who inspired people across the nation by creating a “bucket list” of things she wanted to do before she died, has died. She was 18.

Her mother, Angie Ivey, said Evett died Monday [Dec. 29, 2008] of leukemia. The West Richland teen was diagnosed with cancer nearly three years ago and relapsed in April.

When she stopped responding to treatment in June, Evett created a “bucket list” of things she wanted to do before dying and spent the last six months crossing them off.

Her list included feeding giraffes, meeting Seattle Mariner Ichiro Suzuki and graduating from high school.

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