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Saturday, May 22, 2004

Saturday May 22, 2004

Filed under: Uncategorized — m759 @ 6:14 AM

Star Wars

In memory of Melvin J. Lasky, editor, 1958-1990, of the CIA-funded journal Encounter:

“Once called as lively, and as bitchy, as a literary cocktail party, Encounter published articles of unrivalled authority on politics, history and literature.”

— Obituary in the Telegraph 

Lasky died on Wednesday, May 19, 2004.  From a journal entry of my own on that date:

This newly-digitized diagram is from a
paper journal note of October 21, 1999.

Note that the diagram’s overall form is that of an eight-point star.  Here is an excerpt from a Fritz Leiber story dealing with such a star, the symbol of a fictional organization:

Time traveling, which is not quite the good clean boyish fun it’s cracked up to be, started for me when this woman with the sigil on her forehead looked in on me from the open doorway of the hotel bedroom where I’d hidden myself and the bottles and asked me, “Look, Buster, do you want to live?”
….

Her right arm was raised and bent, the elbow touching the door frame, the hand brushing back the very dark bangs from her forehead to show me the sigil, as if that had a bearing on her question.

The sigil was an eight-limbed asterisk made of fine dark lines and about as big as a silver dollar.  An X superimposed on a plus sign.  It looked permanent.
….

… “Here is how it stacks up:  You’ve bought your way with something other than money into an organization of which I am an agent….”
….

“It’s a very big organization,” she went on, as if warning me.  “Call it an empire or a power if you like.  So far as you are concerned, it has always existed and always will exist.  It has agents everywhere, literally.  Space and time are no barriers to it.  Its purpose, so far as you will ever be able to know it, is to change, for its own aggrandizement, not only the present and the future, but also the past.  It is a ruthlessly competitive organization and is merciless to its employees.”

“I. G. Farben?” I asked grabbing nervously and clumsily at humor.

She didn’t rebuke my flippancy, but said, “And it isn’t the Communist Party or the Ku Klux Klan, or the Avenging Angels or the Black Hand, either, though its enemies give it a nastier name.”

“Which is?” I asked.

“The Spiders,” she said.

That word gave me the shudders, coming so suddenly.  I expected the sigil to step off her forehead and scuttle down her face and leap at me—something like that.

She watched me.  “You might call it the Double Cross,” she suggested, “if that seems better.”

— Fritz Leiber,
   “Damnation Morning,” 1959

From last year’s entry,
Indiana Jones and the Hidden Coffer,
of 6/14:

From Borges’s “The Aleph“:

“The Faithful who gather at the mosque of Amr, in Cairo, are acquainted with the fact that the entire universe lies inside one of the stone pillars that ring its central court…. The mosque dates from the seventh century; the pillars come from other temples of pre-Islamic religions…. Does this Aleph exist in the heart of a stone?”

(“Los fieles que concurren a la mezquita de Amr, en el Cairo, saben muy bien que el universo está en el interior de una de las columnas de piedra que rodean el patio central…. la mezquita data del siglo VII; las columnas proceden de otros templos de religiones anteislámicas…. ¿Existe ese Aleph en lo íntimo de una piedra?”)

From The Hunchback of Notre Dame:

Un cofre de gran riqueza
Hallaron dentro un pilar,
Dentro del, nuevas banderas
Con figuras de espantar.

A coffer of great richness
In a pillar’s heart they found,
Within it lay new banners,
With figures to astound.

See also the figures obtained by coloring and permuting parts of the above religious symbol.

Lena Olin and Harrison Ford
in “Hollywood Homicide

Finally, from an excellent site
on the Knights Templar,
a quotation from Umberto Eco:

When all the archetypes burst out shamelessly, we plumb the depths of Homeric profundity. Two cliches make us laugh but a hundred cliches move us because we sense dimly that the cliches are talking among themselves, celebrating a reunion . . . Just as the extreme of pain meets sensual pleasure, and the extreme of perversion borders on mystical energy, so too the extreme of banality allows us to catch a glimpse of the Sublime.

— “Casablanca: Cult Movies and Intertextual Collage” (1984) from Travels in Hyperreality

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