Log24

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Artifice of Eternity Revisited: Bitworld

Filed under: General — Tags: — m759 @ 11:07 AM

June 14 . . .

Later . . .

Earlier . . .

http://cristal.inria.fr/~weis/info/commandline.html

See also Stiff.

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Artifice* of Eternity …

Filed under: General — Tags: , — m759 @ 10:54 AM

… and Schoolgirl Space

"This poem contrasts the prosaic and sensual world of the here and now
with the transcendent and timeless world of beauty in art, and the first line,
'That is no country for old men,' refers to an artless world of impermanence
and sensual pleasure."

— "Yeats' 'Sailing to Byzantium' and McCarthy's No Country for Old Men :
Art and Artifice in the New Novel,"
Steven Frye in The Cormac McCarthy Journal ,
Vol. 5, No. 1 (Spring 2005), pp. 14-20.

See also Schoolgirl Space in this  journal.

* See, for instance, Lewis Hyde on the word "artifice" and . . .

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Real Beyond Artifice

Filed under: General,Geometry — Tags: , , — m759 @ 7:20 PM

A professor at Harvard has written about
"the urge to seize and display something
real beyond artifice."

He reportedly died on January 3, 2015.

An image from this journal on that date:

Another Gitterkrieg  image:

 The 24-set   Ω  of  R. T. Curtis

Click on the images for related material.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Artifice of Eternity

Filed under: General,Geometry — Tags: — m759 @ 7:59 AM

A Medal

In memory of Byzantine scholar Ihor Sevcenko,
who died at 87 on St. Stephen's Day, 2009–

The image “http://www.log24.com/log/pix06A/060915-Roots.gif” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.

William Grimes on Sevcenko in this morning's New York Times:

"Perhaps his most fascinating, if uncharacteristic, literary contribution came shortly after World War II, when he worked with Ukrainians stranded in camps in Germany for displaced persons.

In April 1946 he sent a letter to Orwell, asking his permission to translate 'Animal Farm' into Ukrainian for distribution in the camps. The idea instantly appealed to Orwell, who not only refused to accept any royalties but later agreed to write a preface for the edition. It remains his most detailed, searching discussion of the book."

See also a rather different medal discussed
here in the context of an Orwellian headline from
The New York Times on Christmas morning,
the day before Sevcenko died.
That headline, at the top of the online front page,
was "Arthur Koestler, Man of Darkness."

Leibniz, design for medallion showing binary numbers as an 'imago creationis'

The medal, offered as an example of brightness
to counteract the darkness of the Times, was designed
by Leibniz in honor of his discovery of binary arithmetic.
See Brightness at Noon and Brightness continued.

"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

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

The Batty Farewell

Filed under: General — Tags: — m759 @ 8:40 PM

Adam Rogers today on "Rutger Hauer in Blade Runner , playing
the artificial* person Roy Batty in his death scene." 

* See the word "Artifice" in this  journal,
   as well as Tears in Rain . . .

Game Over

The film "The Matrix," illustrated
Coordinates for generating the Miracle Octad Generator

and Adam Rogers in
    the previous post.

 

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Plato, Republic, 7.527b

Filed under: General — m759 @ 7:11 PM

 τοῦ γὰρ ἀεὶ ὄντος ἡ γεωμετρικὴ γνῶσίς ἐστιν.

for geometry is the knowledge of the eternally existent.

See also the previous post — "Artifice of Eternity" —

and the June 23, 2010, post "Group Theory and Philosophy."

Saturday, October 10, 2015

The Mirror of Understanding

Filed under: General,Geometry — m759 @ 11:00 PM

From The Snow Queen , by Hans Christian Andersen —

SEVENTH STORY. What Took Place in the Palace of the Snow Queen, and What Happened Afterward

The walls of the palace were of driving snow, and the windows and doors of cutting winds. There were more than a hundred halls there, according as the snow was driven by the winds. The largest was many miles in extent; all were lighted up by the powerful Aurora Borealis, and all were so large, so empty, so icy cold, and so resplendent! Mirth never reigned there; there was never even a little bear-ball, with the storm for music, while the polar bears went on their hindlegs and showed off their steps. Never a little tea-party of white young lady foxes; vast, cold, and empty were the halls of the Snow Queen. The northern-lights shone with such precision that one could tell exactly when they were at their highest or lowest degree of brightness. In the middle of the empty, endless hall of snow, was a frozen lake; it was cracked in a thousand pieces, but each piece was so like the other, that it seemed the work of a cunning artificer. In the middle of this lake sat the Snow Queen when she was at home; and then she said she was sitting in the Mirror of Understanding, and that this was the only one and the best thing in the world.

Little Kay was quite blue, yes nearly black with cold; but he did not observe it, for she had kissed away all feeling of cold from his body, and his heart was a lump of ice. He was dragging along some pointed flat pieces of ice, which he laid together in all possible ways, for he wanted to make something with them; just as we have little flat pieces of wood to make geometrical figures with, called the Chinese Puzzle. Kay made all sorts of figures, the most complicated, for it was an ice-puzzle for the understanding. In his eyes the figures were extraordinarily beautiful, and of the utmost importance; for the bit of glass which was in his eye caused this. He found whole figures which represented a written word; but he never could manage to represent just the word he wanted–that word was "eternity"; and the Snow Queen had said, "If you can discover that figure, you shall be your own master, and I will make you a present of the whole world and a pair of new skates." But he could not find it out.

"I am going now to warm lands," said the Snow Queen. "I must have a look down into the black caldrons." It was the volcanoes Vesuvius and Etna that she meant. "I will just give them a coating of white, for that is as it ought to be; besides, it is good for the oranges and the grapes." And then away she flew, and Kay sat quite alone in the empty halls of ice that were miles long, and looked at the blocks of ice, and thought and thought till his skull was almost cracked. There he sat quite benumbed and motionless; one would have imagined he was frozen to death. ….

Related material:

This journal on March 25, 2013:

Images of time and eternity in a 1x4x9 black monolith

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

The Eisenman Chronicles

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

Eisenman I:  DuBois, PA  (Of German descent)

Eisenman II:  Yale  (Apparently related to Eisenman I)

Eisenman III:  Newark, NJ  (Jewish)

"Confusion is nothing new." — Song lyric

Monday, May 2, 2011

The Vine*

Filed under: General — Tags: , — m759 @ 9:00 AM

See "Nine is a Vine" and "Hereafter" in this journal.

IMAGE- Matt Damon and the perception of doors in 'Hereafter'

As quoted here last October 23

Margaret Atwood on Lewis Hyde's Trickster Makes This World: Mischief, Myth, and Art

"Trickster is among other things the gatekeeper who opens the door into the next world; those who mistake him for a psychopath never even know such a door exists." (159)

What is "the next world"? It might be the Underworld….

The pleasures of fabulation, the charming and playful lie– this line of thought leads Hyde to the last link in his subtitle, the connection of the trickster to art. Hyde reminds us that the wall between the artist and that American favourite son, the con-artist, can be a thin one indeed; that craft and crafty rub shoulders; and that the words artifice, artifact, articulation  and art  all come from the same ancient root, a word meaning "to join," "to fit," and "to make." (254)  If it’s a seamless whole you want, pray to Apollo, who sets the limits within which such a work can exist.  Tricksters, however, stand where the door swings open on its hinges and the horizon expands: they operate where things are joined together, and thus can also come apart.

* April 7, 2005

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Paranormal Jackass

Filed under: General — Tags: , — m759 @ 8:28 PM

From MTV.com this afternoon

The follow-up to last year's runaway horror hit, "Paranormal Activity 2," kicked off its first weekend in theaters with a major haul. The creepy tale… pulled in $20.1 million on Friday.

Trailing behind "Paranormal" is last week's box-office busting debut "Jackass 3D. " The prank-fest, which landed about $50 million its first weekend in theaters, slipped to the second-place slot….

The Clint Eastwood-helmed ensemble drama "Hereafter" landed in fourth place. Exploring the lives of three people who are dealing with death and the afterlife in several ways, including the story of a psychic played by Matt Damon, the screen legend's latest turn in the director's chair made approximately $4.1 million on Friday.

Related material—

IMAGE-- Matt Damon stands where a door opens in 'Hereafter'

Margaret Atwood on Lewis Hyde's Trickster Makes This World: Mischief, Myth, and Art

"Trickster is among other things the gatekeeper who opens the door into the next world; those who mistake him for a psychopath never even know such a door exists." (159)

What is "the next world"? It might be the Underworld….

The pleasures of fabulation, the charming and playful lie– this line of thought leads Hyde to the last link in his subtitle, the connection of the trickster to art. Hyde reminds us that the wall between the artist and that American favourite son, the con-artist, can be a thin one indeed; that craft and crafty rub shoulders; and that the words artifice, artifact, articulation  and art  all come from the same ancient root, a word meaning "to join," "to fit," and "to make." (254)  If it’s a seamless whole you want, pray to Apollo, who sets the limits within which such a work can exist.  Tricksters, however, stand where the door swings open on its hinges and the horizon expands: they operate where things are joined together, and thus can also come apart.

The Paranormal Trickster Blog

George P. Hansen on Martin Gardner and the paranormal.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

The Mandelbrot Numbers

Filed under: General — m759 @ 11:36 AM
 

Benoît Mandelbrot died on Oct. 14.
 

NY Lottery Thursday, Oct. 14, 2010-- Midday 109, Evening 060

— New York Lottery on Thursday, Oct. 14, 2010

Related material on 109: See 1/09, 2009.
Related material on 060: See Hexagram 60 of the I Ching  and…

IMAGE-- Matt Damon stands where a door opens in 'Hereafter'

Margaret Atwood on Lewis Hyde's Trickster Makes This World: Mischief, Myth, and Art

"Trickster is among other things the gatekeeper who opens the door into the next world; those who mistake him for a psychopath never even know such a door exists." (159)

What is "the next world"? It might be the Underworld….

The pleasures of fabulation, the charming and playful lie– this line of thought leads Hyde to the last link in his subtitle, the connection of the trickster to art. Hyde reminds us that the wall between the artist and that American favourite son, the con-artist, can be a thin one indeed; that craft and crafty rub shoulders; and that the words artifice, artifact, articulation  and art  all come from the same ancient root, a word meaning "to join," "to fit," and "to make." (254)  If it’s a seamless whole you want, pray to Apollo, who sets the limits within which such a work can exist.  Tricksters, however, stand where the door swings open on its hinges and the horizon expands: they operate where things are joined together, and thus can also come apart.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Mathematics and Narrative, continued

Filed under: General — Tags: — m759 @ 6:29 AM
 

The Story of N

http://www.log24.com/log/pix09/090109-Stories.jpg

Roberta Smith in the New York Times  of July 7, 2006

Art Review

Endgame Art? It's Borrow, Sample and Multiply in an Exhibition at Bard College

"… The show has an endgame, end-time mood, as if we are looking at the end of the end of the end of Pop, hyperrealism and appropriation art. The techniques of replication and copying have become so meticulous that they are beside the point. This is truly magic realism: the kind you can't see, that has to be explained. It is also a time when artists cultivate hybridism and multiplicity and disdain stylistic coherence, in keeping with the fashionable interest in collectivity, lack of ego, the fluidity of individual identity. But too often these avoidance tactics eliminate the thread of a personal sensibility or focus.

I would call all these strategies fear of form, which can be parsed as fear of materials, of working with the hands in an overt way and of originality. Most of all originality. Can we just say it? This far from Andy Warhol and Duchamp, the dismissal of originality is perhaps the oldest ploy in the postmodern playbook. To call yourself an artist at all is by definition to announce a faith, however unacknowledged, in some form of originality, first for yourself, second, perhaps, for the rest of us.

Fear of form above all means fear of compression— of an artistic focus that condenses experiences, ideas and feelings into something whole, committed and visually comprehensible. With a few exceptions, forms of collage and assemblage dominate this show: the putting together (or simply putting side by side) of existing images and objects prevails. The consistency of this technique in two and three dimensions should have been a red flag for the curators. Collage has driven much art since the late 1970's. Lately, and especially in this exhibition, it often seems to have become so distended and pulled apart that its components have become virtually autonomous and unrelated, which brings us back to square one. This is most obvious in the large installations of graphic works whose individual parts gain impact and meaning from juxtaposition but are in fact considered distinct artworks."

Margaret Atwood on art and the trickster

"The pleasures of fabulation, the charming and playful lie— this line of thought leads Hyde* to the last link in his subtitle, the connection of the trickster to art. Hyde reminds us that the wall between the artist and that American favourite son, the con-artist, can be a thin one indeed; that craft and crafty rub shoulders; and that the words artifice, artifact, articulation  and art  all come from the same ancient root, a word meaning 'to join,' 'to fit,' and 'to make.'  If it’s a seamless whole you want, pray to Apollo, who sets the limits within which such a work can exist.  Tricksters, however, stand where the door swings open on its hinges and the horizon expands: they operate where things are joined together, and thus can also come apart."

* Lewis Hyde, Trickster Makes This World: Mischief, Myth, and Art,  Farrar Straus & Giroux, January 1998

Smith mentions "an artistic focus that condenses experiences, ideas and feelings into something whole, committed and visually comprehensible."

Atwood mentions "a seamless whole."

For some related remarks, see "A Study in Art Education" and the central figure pictured above. (There "N" can stand for "number," "nine," or "narrative.")

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Trickster

Filed under: General — Tags: — m759 @ 9:00 AM

Margaret Atwood (pdf) on Lewis Hyde’s
Trickster Makes This World: Mischief, Myth, and Art

“Trickster,” says Hyde, “feels no anxiety when he deceives…. He… can tell his lies with creative abandon, charm, playfulness, and by that affirm the pleasures of fabulation.” (71) As Hyde says, “…  almost everything that can be said about psychopaths can also be said about tricksters,” (158), although the reverse is not the case. “Trickster is among other things the gatekeeper who opens the door into the next world; those who mistake him for a psychopath never even know such a door exists.” (159)

What is “the next world”? It might be the Underworld….

The pleasures of fabulation, the charming and playful lie– this line of thought leads Hyde to the last link in his subtitle, the connection of the trickster to art. Hyde reminds us that the wall between the artist and that American favourite son, the con-artist, can be a thin one indeed; that craft and crafty rub shoulders; and that the words artifice, artifact, articulation and art all come from the same ancient root, a word meaning to join, to fit, and to make. (254) If it’s a seamless whole you want, pray to Apollo, who sets the limits within which such a work can exist. Tricksters, however, stand where the door swings open on its hinges and the horizon expands: they operate where things are joined together, and thus can also come apart.

See also George P. Hansen on Martin Gardner, Trickster.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

In the Details

Filed under: General — Tags: — m759 @ 10:31 AM

Today's New York Times

Byzantine

"…there were fresh questions about whether the intelligence overhaul that created the post of national intelligence director was fatally flawed, and whether Mr. Obama would move gradually to further weaken the authorities granted to the director and give additional power to individual spy agencies like the Central Intelligence Agency. Mr. Blair and each of his predecessors have lamented openly that the intelligence director does not have enough power to deliver the intended shock therapy to America’s byzantine spying apparatus."

Catch-22 in Doonesbury today—

Image-- Chaplain and doctor in Doonesbury

From Log24 on Jan. 5, 2010—
   Artifice of Eternity

A Medal

In memory of Byzantine scholar Ihor Sevcenko,
who died at 87 on St. Stephen's Day, 2009–

Image-- Cross-in-circle design based on figure in Weyl's 'Symmetry'

Thie above image results from a Byzantine
meditation based on a detail in the previous post

Image-- 'Lyche Gate' with asterisk, from Google Books, digitized April 24, 2008

 

Image-- The Case of the Lyche Gate Asterisk

"This might be a good time to
call it a day." –Today's Doonesbury

"TOMORROW ALWAYS BELONGS TO US"
Title of an exhibition by young Nordic artists
in Sweden during the summer of 2008.

The exhibition included, notably, Josefine Lyche.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Sunday November 16, 2008

Filed under: General,Geometry — m759 @ 8:00 PM
Art and Lies

Observations suggested by an article on author Lewis Hyde– “What is Art For?“–  in today’s New York Times Magazine:

Margaret Atwood (pdf) on Lewis Hyde’s
Trickster Makes This World: Mischief, Myth, and Art

“Trickster,” says Hyde, “feels no anxiety when he deceives…. He… can tell his lies with creative abandon, charm, playfulness, and by that affirm the pleasures of fabulation.” (71) As Hyde says, “…  almost everything that can be said about psychopaths can also be said about tricksters,” (158), although the reverse is not the case. “Trickster is among other things the gatekeeper who opens the door into the next world; those who mistake him for a psychopath never even know such a door exists.” (159)

What is “the next world”? It might be the Underworld….

The pleasures of fabulation, the charming and playful lie– this line of thought leads Hyde to the last link in his subtitle, the connection of the trickster to art. Hyde reminds us that the wall between the artist and that American favourite son, the con-artist, can be a thin one indeed; that craft and crafty rub shoulders; and that the words artifice, artifact, articulation and art all come from the same ancient root, a word meaning to join, to fit, and to make. (254) If it’s a seamless whole you want, pray to Apollo, who sets the limits within which such a work can exist. Tricksters, however, stand where the door swings open on its hinges and the horizon expands: they operate where things are joined together, and thus can also come apart.

For more about
“where things are
joined together,” see
 Eight is a Gate and
The Eightfold Cube.
Related material:

The Trickster
and the Paranormal

and
Martin Gardner on
   a disappearing cube —

“What happened to that… cube?”

Apollinax laughed until his eyes teared. “I’ll give you a hint, my dear. Perhaps it slid off into a higher dimension.”

“Are you pulling my leg?”

“I wish I were,” he sighed. “The fourth dimension, as you know, is an extension along a fourth coordinate perpendicular to the three coordinates of three-dimensional space. Now consider a cube. It has four main diagonals, each running from one corner through the cube’s center to the opposite corner. Because of the cube’s symmetry, each diagonal is clearly at right angles to the other three. So why shouldn’t a cube, if it feels like it, slide along a fourth coordinate?”

— “Mr. Apollinax Visits New York,” by Martin Gardner, Scientific American, May 1961, reprinted in The Night is Large

For such a cube, see

Cube with its four internal diagonals

ashevillecreative.com

this illustration in

The Religion of Cubism
(and the four entries
preceding it —
 Log24, May 9, 2003).

Beware of Gardner’s
“clearly” and other lies.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Tuesday March 25, 2008

Filed under: General — Tags: — m759 @ 9:00 AM
Dancers and
the Dance

The previous entry was inspired (see the "In the Details" link) by the philosophical musings of Julie Taymor… specifically, her recollection of Balinese dancers–

"… they were performing for God. Now God can mean whatever you want it to mean. But for me, I understood it so totally. The detail….

They did it from the inside to the outside. And from the outside to the in. And that profoundly moved me then. It was… it was the most important thing that I ever experienced."

— Julie Taymor,
"Skewed Mirrors" interview

Here is some further commentary on the words of that entry–

On the phrase "Within You Without You"– the title of a song by George Harrison:

"Bernard’s understanding of reality connects to this idea of 'flow': he sees reality as a product of consciousness. He rejects the idea of an 'outer' world of unchanging objects and an 'inner' world of the mind and ideas. Rather, our minds are part of the world, and vice versa."

— Adrien Ardoin, SparkNote on
    Virginia Woolf's The Waves

On "Death and the Apple Tree"– the title of the previous entry— in The Waves:

"The apple tree Neville is looking at as he overhears the servants at the school discussing a local murder becomes inextricably linked to his knowledge of death. Neville finds himself unable to pass the tree, seeing it as glimmering and lovely, yet sinister and 'implacable.' When he learns that Percival is dead, he feels he is face to face once again with 'the tree which I cannot pass.' Eventually, Neville turns away from the natural world to art, which exists outside of time and can therefore transcend death. The fruit of the tree appears only in Neville’s room on his embroidered curtain, a symbol itself of nature turned into artifice. The apple tree image also echoes the apple tree from the Book of Genesis in the Bible, the fruit of which led Adam and Eve to knowledge and, therefore, expulsion from Eden."

— Adrien Ardoin, op. cit.

Saturday, August 7, 2004

Saturday August 7, 2004

Filed under: General — m759 @ 3:00 PM

Playing God:

The Color of
Collateral

John Lahr (Log24 on 1/26 2003):

“The play’s narrator and general master of artifice is the Stage Manager, who gives the phrase ‘deus ex machina’ a whole new meaning. He holds the script, he sets the scene, he serves as an interlocutor between the worlds of the living and the dead, calling the characters into life and out of it; he is, it turns out, the Author of Authors, the Big Guy himself. It seems, in every way, apt for Paul Newman to have taken on this role.”

“It’s not easy being green.”
Jill O’Hara    

Monday, February 17, 2003

Monday February 17, 2003

Filed under: General — m759 @ 4:23 AM

Center of Time

Am I….

your fantasy girl
of puzzling parts?

Machine ballerina?

Suzanne Vega

Fermata

From the
Saint Matthew Passion
 (1729), by
 Johann Sebastian Bach

“The old man of ‘Sailing to Byzantium’ imagined the city’s power as being able to ‘gather’ him into ‘the artifice of eternity’— presumably into ‘monuments of unageing intellect,’ immortal and changeless structures representative of or embodying all knowledge, linked like a perfect machine at the center of time.”

— Karl Parker, Yeats’ Two Byzantiums 

“I wrote Fermata listening to Suzanne Vega, particularly her album ‘99.9° F.’  It affected my mood in just the right way. I found a kind of maniacal intensity in her music that helped me as I typed. So if Fermata is attacked, maybe I can say i’m not responsible because I was under the spell of Suzanne Vega.”

— Nicholson Baker, interview

For some real monuments of unageing intellect, see “Geometrie” in the weblog of Andrea for February 10, 2003.

Sunday, February 16, 2003

Sunday February 16, 2003

Filed under: General — m759 @ 3:17 PM

The Recruit, Part Deux

Walter L. Pforzheimer, one of the founding fathers of the Central Intelligence Agency, and its “institutional memory,” died on Monday, February 10, 2003.

From my notes of February 10, 2003:

“… gather me/ Into the artifice of eternity.”

— W. B. Yeats, “Sailing to Byzantium”

This poem has a sequel, titled simply “Byzantium” —

At midnight on the Emperor’s pavement flit
Flames that no faggot feeds….

Dying into a dance,  
An agony of trance,  
An agony of flame….

The Emperor’s Pavement

See also yesterday’s note “The Recruit,”
on the CIA and what Vonnegut called
“A Duty-Dance with Death.”

Tuesday, February 11, 2003

Tuesday February 11, 2003

Filed under: General — m759 @ 5:10 PM

St. John von Neumann’s Song

The mathematician John von Neumann, a heavy drinker and party animal, advocated a nuclear first strike on Moscow.*  Confined to a wheelchair before his death, he was, some say, the inspiration for Kubrick’s Dr. Strangelove.  He was a Jew converted to Catholicism.  His saint’s day was February 8.  Here is an excerpt from a book titled Abstract Harmonic Analysis**, just one of the fields illuminated by von Neumann’s brilliance:

“…von Neumann showed that an intrinsic definition can be given for the mean M(f) of an almost periodic function…. Von Neumann proved the existence and properties of M(f) by completely elementary methods….”

Should W. B. Yeats wander into the Catholic Anticommunists’ section of Paradise, he might encounter, as in “Sailing to Byzantium,” an unexpected set of “singing-masters” there: the Platonic archetypes of the Hollywood Argyles.

The Argyles’ attire is in keeping with Yeats’s desire for gold in his “artifice of eternity”… In this case, gold lamé, but hey, it’s Hollywood.  The Argyles’ lyrics will no doubt be somewhat more explicit in heaven.  For instance, in “Alley Oop,” the line

“He’s a mean motor scooter and a bad go-getter”

will in its purer heavenly version be rendered

“He’s a mean M(f)er and…”

in keeping with von Neumann’s artifice of eternity described above.

This theological meditation was suggested by previous entries on Yeats, music and Catholicism (see Feb. 8, von Neumann’s saint’s day) and by the following recent weblog entries of a Harvard senior majoring in mathematics:

“I changed my profile picture to Oedipus last night because I felt cursed by fate….”

“It’s not rational for me to believe that I am cursed, that the gods are set against me.  Because I don’t even believe in any gods!”

The spiritual benefits of a Harvard education are summarized by this student’s new profile picture:

The image “http://log24.com/log/pix03/030211-oedipus.gif” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.

M(f)

*Source: Von Neumann and the Development of Game Theory

**by Harvard professor Lynn H. Loomis, Van Nostrand, 1953, p. 169.
 

Monday, February 10, 2003

Monday February 10, 2003

Filed under: General — m759 @ 2:03 AM

Rainbow’s End

For Ernst Kitzinger, professor of Byzantine art at Harvard, who died at 90 on January 22, 2003. 

In “Sailing to Byzantium,” the poet W. B. Yeats wrote of Ireland,

That is no country for old men….
….
Caught in that sensual music all neglect
Monuments of unageing intellect.
….
O sages standing in God’s holy fire
As in the gold mosaic of a wall,
Come from the holy fire, perne in a gyre,
And be the singing-masters of my soul.
Consume my heart away; sick with desire
And fastened to a dying animal
It knows not what it is; and gather me
Into the artifice of eternity.

Don’t ever tell me the gods have no sense of humor.  After writing the phrase “rainbow’s-end gold” in yesterday’s entry, “Messe,” I came across an obituary of Professor Kitzinger, which naturally prompted me to look for a good web page on “Sailing to Byzantium.”

The poem concludes with images of “gold mosaic,” “Grecian goldsmiths,” “hammered gold,” “gold enamelling,” and “a golden bough.”  I had forgotten that Yeats’s poem begins to sound rather like the curse of King Midas.  And then the touch of divinity: the perfect deflation of Yeatsian and Byzantine pretentiousness, on the following web page:

http://www.geocities.com/Athens/Atlantis/3260/sailing.html,

at “The Lonesome Surf-In Poetry Cafe.”  With lovely faux-gold borders, this page has as background music a gloriously cheesy rendition of “Moon River.”  (Rainbow’s end… Waitin’ ’round the bend….) So much for the Tiffany’s approach to poetry.

I still admire Yeats’ respect
For monuments of intellect
But even though I’m getting old
Can’t share his appetite for gold.

For a rather different “artifice of eternity,”
see my entry of February 1, 2003,

Time and Eternity.

Friday, January 24, 2003

Friday January 24, 2003

Filed under: General — Tags: — m759 @ 4:30 AM

Steps

John Lahr on a current production of "Our Town":

"The play's narrator and general master of artifice is the Stage Manager, who gives the phrase 'deus ex machina' a whole new meaning. He holds the script, he sets the scene, he serves as an interlocutor between the worlds of the living and the dead, calling the characters into life and out of it; he is, it turns out, the Author of Authors, the Big Guy himself. It seems, in every way, apt for Paul Newman to have taken on this role. God should look like Newman: lean, strong-chinned, white-haired, and authoritative in a calm and unassuming way—if only we had all been made in his image!"

The New Yorker, issue of Dec. 16, 2002

On this date in 1971, Bill Wilson, co-founder of Alcoholics Anonymous, died. 


Newman


Wilson

"Each person is like an actor who wants to run the whole show; is forever trying to arrange the lights, the ballet, the scenery and the rest of the players in his own way. If his arrangements would only stay put, if only people would do as he wished, the show would be great. Everybody, including himself, would be pleased. Life would be wonderful….

First of all, we had to quit playing God. It didn't work. Next, we decided that hereafter in this drama of life, God was going to be our Director….

When we sincerely took such a position, all sorts of remarkable things followed….

We were now at Step Three."

Alcoholics Anonymous, also known as "The Big Book," Chapter 5 

Postscript of 5:15 AM, after reading the following in the New York Times obituaries:

"Must be a tough objective," says Willie to Joe as they huddle on the side of a road, weapons ready. "Th' old man says we're gonna have th' honor of liberatin' it."

"The old men know when an old man dies."

— Ogden Nash
 

Wednesday, January 22, 2003

Wednesday January 22, 2003

Filed under: General — m759 @ 1:44 PM

Through a Soda-Fountain Mirror, Darkly

For Piper Laurie on Her Birthday

“He was part of my dream, of course —
but then I was part of his dream, too!”

— Lewis Carroll, Through the Looking Glass, Chapter XII (“Which Dreamed It?”) quoted as epigraph to a script for the film Pleasantville, which features a soda fountain from the 1950’s.

“Scenes from yesteryear are revisited through the soda-fountain mirror, creating such a fluid pathway between the past and present that one often becomes lost along the way.”

— Caroline Palmer’s review of “Come Back to the Five and Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean” 

The above quotations are related to the 1952 film Has Anybody Seen My Gal?, in which James Dean makes a brief appearance at a 1920’s soda fountain. The film is chiefly notable for displaying the beauty of Piper Laurie, but a subplot is also of iterest.  Charles Coburn, a rich man visiting incognito a timeless town* rather like Pleasantville or Riverdale, takes up painting and is assisted by the young Gigi Perreau, who, as I recall, supplies him with the frame from a Circe Soap ad displayed in a shop window.

For more on a fictional rich character and Circe — indeed, enough for a soap — see my note of January 11, 2003, “The First Days of Disco,” and the sequel of January 12, 2003, “Ask Not.”  In the manner of magic realism, the adventures in the earlier entry of Scrooge McDuck and Circe are mirrored by those in the later entry of C. Douglas Dillon and Monique Wittig.

For a less pleasant trip back in time, see the later work of Gigi Perreau in Journey to the Center of Time (1967).  One viewer’s comment:

This is the worst movie ever made. I don’t want to hear about any of Ed Wood’s pictures. This is it, this is the one. Right here. The bottom of the deepest pit of cinema hell.

Happy birthday, Miss Laurie.

*Rather, in fact, like “Our Town.”  Here is John Lahr on a current production of that classic:

“The play’s narrator and general master of artifice is the Stage Manager, who gives the phrase ‘deus ex machina’ a whole new meaning. He holds the script, he sets the scene, he serves as an interlocutor between the worlds of the living and the dead, calling the characters into life and out of it; he is, it turns out, the Author of Authors, the Big Guy himself. It seems, in every way, apt for Paul Newman to have taken on this role. God should look like Newman: lean, strong-chinned, white-haired, and authoritative in a calm and unassuming way—if only we had all been made in his image!”

The New Yorker, issue of Dec. 16, 2002

If Newman is God, then Miss Laurie played God’s girlfriend.  Nice going, Piper.

 

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