Saturday, November 12, 2011

The Boys from Uruguay

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

(Continued from September 7th, 2002)

Happy Birthday, Wallace Shawn!


Shawn in "The Speed of Thought,"
a 2011 film by Evan Oppenheimer.

Uruguay is featured in that film.

See also Lichtung!.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014


Filed under: General — m759 @ 7:28 AM

Some background for a recent photo
by Josefine Lyche:

The Boys from Uruguay and Witch Ball.

The photo:

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Saturday October 14, 2006

Filed under: General — Tags: — m759 @ 7:00 PM
The Line
from Aug. 15, 2004:

Robert M. Pirsig, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, Part III:

“The wave of crystallization rolled ahead. He was seeing two worlds, simultaneously. On the intellectual side, the square side, he saw now that Quality was a cleavage term. What every intellectual analyst looks for. You take your analytic knife, put the point directly on the term Quality and just tap, not hard, gently, and the whole world splits, cleaves, right in two…

The Line,
by S. H. Cullinane

hip and square, classic and romantic, technological and humanistic…and the split is clean. There’s no mess. No slop. No little items that could be one way or the other. Not just a skilled break but a very lucky break. Sometimes the best analysts, working with the most obvious lines of cleavage, can tap and get nothing but a pile of trash. And yet here was Quality; a tiny, almost unnoticeable fault line; a line of illogic in our concept of the universe; and you tapped it, and the whole universe came apart, so neatly it was almost unbelievable. He wished Kant were alive. Kant would have appreciated it. That master diamond cutter. He would see. Hold Quality undefined. That was the secret.”

The image “http://www.log24.com/log/pix06A/061014-Kant.gif” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.

See also the discussion of
subjective and objective
by Robert M. Pirsig in
Zen and the Art of
Motorcycle Maintenance
Part III,
followed by this dialogue:

Are We There Yet?

Chris shouts, “When are we
going to get to the top?”

“Probably quite a way yet,”
I reply.

“Will we see a lot?”

“I think so. Look for blue sky
between the trees. As long as we
can’t see sky we know it’s a way yet.
The light will come through the trees
when we round the top.”

Related material:

The Boys from Uruguay,
The Shining of May 29,
A Guiding Philosophy,
Ticket Home.

The philosophy of Heidegger
discussed and illustrated
in the above entries may
be regarded as honoring
today’s 100th anniversary
of the birth of Heidegger’s
girlfriend, Hannah Arendt.

See also

 Hannah and Martin

Sunday, January 4, 2004

Sunday January 4, 2004

Filed under: General — Tags: — m759 @ 2:17 PM


“… both a new world
And the old made explicit, understood
In the completion of its partial ecstasy,
The resolution of its partial horror.”

— T. S. Eliot, Four Quartets 

Speaking of horror, today’s noon entry has a link to a page that references Stephen King’s The Shining.

On a 1970’s edition of
Stephen King’s The Shining

“The page where Danny actually enters room 217 for the first time (King builds to this moment for a long time, it’s one of the more frightening passages in the book), is precisely on page 217. Scared the crap out of me the first time I read it.”

In honor of St. Thomas Stearns Eliot, whose feast day is today, of St. Emil Artin (see entries for St. Emil’s day, 12/20/03), and of Room 217, a check of last year’s 2/17 entries leads to St. Andrea’s weblog, which today, recalling the “white and geometric” prewar Berlin of the 12/20/03 entries, has Andrea looking, with Euclid, on beauty bare.

See also my entry “The Boys from Uruguay” and the later entry “Lichtung!” on the Deutsche Schule Montevideo in Uruguay.

Thursday, March 13, 2003

Thursday March 13, 2003

Filed under: General — Tags: — m759 @ 4:44 PM


From The New Yorker, issue of March 17, 2003, Clive James on Aldous Huxley:

The Perennial Philosophy, his 1945 book compounding all the positive thoughts of West and East into a tutti-frutti of moral uplift, was the equivalent, in its day, of It Takes a Village: there was nothing in it to object to, and that, of course, was the objection.”

For a cultural artifact that is less questionably perennial, see Huxley’s story “Young Archimedes.”

Plato, Pythagoras, and
the diamond figure

Plato’s Diamond in the Meno
Plato as a precursor of Gerard Manley Hopkins’s “immortal diamond.” An illustration shows the ur-diamond figure.

Plato’s Diamond Revisited
Ivars Peterson’s Nov. 27, 2000 column “Square of the Hypotenuse” which discusses the diamond figure as used by Pythagoras (perhaps) and Plato. Other references to the use of Plato’s diamond in the proof of the Pythagorean theorem:


“… and he proceeded to prove the theorem of Pythagoras — not in Euclid’s way, but by the simpler and more satisfying method which was, in all probability, employed by Pythagoras himself….
‘You see,’ he said, ‘it seemed to me so beautiful….’
I nodded. ‘Yes, it’s very beautiful,’ I said — ‘it’s very beautiful indeed.'”
— Aldous Huxley, “Young Archimedes,” in Collected Short Stories, Harper, 1957, pp. 246 – 247


Sir Thomas L. Heath, in his commentary on Euclid I.47, asks how Pythagoreans discovered the Pythagorean theorem and the irrationality of the diagonal of a unit square. His answer? Plato’s diamond.
(See Heath, Sir Thomas Little (1861-1940),
The thirteen books of Euclid’s Elements translated from the text of Heiberg with introduction and commentary. Three volumes. University Press, Cambridge, 1908. Second edition: University Press, Cambridge, 1925. Reprint: Dover Publications, New York, 1956.

Other sites on the alleged
“diamond” proof of Pythagoras

Colorful diagrams at Cut-the-Knot

Illustrated legend of the diamond proof

Babylonian version of the diamond proof

For further details of Huxley’s story, see

The Practice of Mathematics,

Part I, by Robert P. Langlands, from a lecture series at the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton.

From the New Yorker Contributors page for St. Patrick’s Day, 2003:

Clive James (Books, p. 143) has a new collection, As of This Writing: The Essential Essays, 1968-2002, which will be published in June.”

See also my entry “The Boys from Uruguay” and the later entry “Lichtung!” on the Deutsche Schule Montevideo in Uruguay.

Thursday, December 5, 2002

Thursday December 5, 2002

Filed under: General — Tags: — m759 @ 3:00 PM

For Otto Preminger’s birthday:


Today’s symbol-mongering (see my Sept. 7, 2002, note The Boys from Uruguay) involves two illustrations from the website of the Deutsche Schule Montevideo, in Uruguay.  The first, a follow-up to Wallace Stevens’s remarks on poetry and painting in my note “Sacerdotal Jargon” of earlier today, is a poem, “Lichtung,” by Ernst Jandl, with an illustration by Lucia Spangenberg.


manche meinen
lechts und rinks
kann man nicht
werch ein illtum!

by Ernst Jandl

Lucia Spangenberg, 2002.

The second, from the same school, illustrates the meaning of “Lichtung” explained in my note The Shining of May 29:  

“We acknowledge a theorem’s beauty when we see how the theorem ‘fits’ in its place, how it sheds light around itself, like a Lichtung, a clearing in the woods.”
— Gian-Carlo Rota, page 132 of Indiscrete Thoughts, Birkhauser Boston, 1997

From the Deutsche Schule Montevideo mathematics page, an illustration of the Pythagorean theorem:

Braucht´s noch Text?

Friday, September 13, 2002

Friday September 13, 2002

Filed under: General — m759 @ 2:24 PM

Meditation for Friday the 13th

The 1946 British film below (released as “Stairway to Heaven” in the U.S.) is one of my favorites.  I saw it as a child. Since costar Kim Hunter died this week (on 9/11), and since today is Friday the 13th, the following material seems relevant.

Kim Hunter in 1946

R.A.F pilot
and psychiatrist 

Alan McGlashan

Alan McGlashan has practiced as a psychiatrist in London for more than forty years.  He also served as a pilot for the R.A.F. (with MC and Croix de Guerre decorations). 

The doctor in “A Matter of Life and Death” addresses a heavenly court on behalf of his patient, R.A.F pilot David Niven:

In the film, David Niven is saved by mistake from a fated death and his doctor must argue to a heavenly court that he be allowed to live. 

In a similar situation, I would want Dr. Alan McGlashan, a real-life psychiatrist, on my side.  For an excerpt from one of my favorite books, McGlashan’s The Savage and Beautiful Country,

click here.

As Walker Percy has observed (see my Sept. 7 note, “The Boys from Uruguay”), a characteristic activity of human beings is what Percy called “symbol-mongering.”  In honor of today’s anniversary of the births of two R.A.F. fighter pilots,

Sir Peter Guy Wykeham-Barnes (b. 1915) and author

Roald Dahl (b. 1916),

here is one of the better symbols of the past century:

The circle is of course a universal symbol, and can be made to mean just about whatever one wants it to mean.  In keeping with Clint Eastwood’s advice, in the soundtrack album for “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil,” to “accentuate the positive,” here are some positive observations on a circle from the poet (and perhaps saint) Dante, who died on the night of September 13-14:

In the sun, Dante and Beatrice find themselves surrounded by a circle of souls famous for their wisdom on earth. They appear as splendid lights and precious jewels who dance and sing as they lovingly welcome two more into their company. Their love for God is kindled even more and grows as they find more individuals to love. Among the blessed souls are St. Thomas Aquinas and one of his intellectual “enemies”, Siger of Brabant, a brilliant philosopher at the University of Paris, some of whose teachings were condemned as heretical. Conflicts and divisions on earth are now forgotten and absorbed into a communal love song and dance “whose sweetness and harmony are unknown on earth and whose joy becomes one with eternity.”

Dante compares their dance and song to God’s bride on earth, the Church, when she answers the morning bells to rise from bed and “woo with matins song her Bridegroom’s love.” Some critics consider this passage the most “spiritually erotic” of all the one hundred cantos of the Comedy. It is the ending of Canto 10, verses 139-148.

— Fr. James J. Collins, “The Spiritual Journey with Dante V,” Priestly People October 1997

The above material on Dante is from the Servants of the Paraclete website.

For more on the Paraclete, see

The Left Hand of God.

See also the illustration in the note below.

Wednesday, September 11, 2002

Wednesday September 11, 2002

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

Double Cross

From the New York Times obituaries of 9/11, 2002:

"Henri Rol-Tanguy, one of France's most decorated Resistance heroes, who organized the popular uprising against the German occupation of Paris… died Sunday [Sept. 8, 2002]. He was 94."

Sunday was V-day in Malta.  See my log24.net notes below:

The Maltese Cross,
The Maltese V,
A Birthday Song, and
The Boys from Uruguay.

For another sort of victory, see my log24.net note of August 24,

Cruciatus in Crucem.

The Cruciatus note describes what might be called the "Red" cross, or Croix de Guerre.  The Maltese Cross note describes a cross more properly associated with intelligence than with courage.  (Both qualities are, of course, needed… courage and a brain, as well as a heart.)  More from the Rol-Tanguy obituary:

"From 1964 to 1987, he was a member of the central committee of the French Communist Party… Mr. Rol-Tanguy received most of France's medals of valor, including the Croix de Guerre and the Grand-Croix de la Légion de l'Honneur."

The following quotations are not without relevance.

Ernest Hemingway:

There is never any ending to Paris and the memory of each person who has lived in it differs from that of any other. We always returned to it no matter who we were or how it was changed or with what difficulties, or ease, it could be reached. Paris was always worth it and you received return for whatever you brought to it. But this is how Paris was in the early days when we were very poor and very happy.

Rick Blaine:

We'll always have Paris.

Here's looking at you, kid.

Sunday, September 8, 2002

Sunday September 8, 2002

Filed under: General — m759 @ 6:21 AM

The Maltese Cross

In my journal note for Rosh Hashanah (The Boys from Uruguay, Sept. 7) below, I noted that the cross as a symbol of intelligence may be offensive to some readers.

Such readers may contemplate the Maltese cross shown on page 150 of The New Yorker magazine of March 21, 1994, in an article by Nichoison Baker, “The Projector.” On page 152 is an explanation of how the cross functions within a motion picture projector, and a statement that “Without this little thing, there’d be no film industry!”

Development of the Web since 1994 allows us to view the Maltese cross in action at the excellent site

Cabaret Mechanical Theatre

The following diagram is from that site:

© Cabaret Mechanical Theatre 1996-01

Saturday, September 7, 2002

Saturday September 7, 2002

Filed under: General — m759 @ 4:44 PM

The Boys from Uruguay

If one were to write a “secret history” of the twentieth century, one possible organizing theme might be the religious struggle between worshippers of the Semitic deity (variously known as Yahweh, God, and Allah) and worshippers of the Aryan deities… notably, the Aryan god of music, light, and reason, Apollo.

(See my jounal notes of Monday, Sept. 2, 2002, below.)

In perhaps the best academic website I have ever seen, Karey L. Perkins quotes Walker Percy:

“The truth is that man’s capacity for symbol-mongering in general and language in particular is…intimately part and parcel of his being human, of his perceiving and knowing, of his very consciousness…”

The greatest symbol-monger of the twentieth century was, of course, Adolf Hitler. His use of the Aryan sun-wheel symbol rose to the level of genius. Of course, it ultimately failed to win the approval of the sun god himself, Apollo, who is also the god of reason.

Since symbol-mongering cannot be avoided, let us hope that it can be done in a somewhat more reasonable way than that of the National Socialist movement. Two examples suggest themselves.

  1. From Peggy Noonan’s column of Friday, Sept. 6:

    The cross, the heart, and the flag.

  2. From Karey Perkins’s website:

    A brain, a heart, and courage

On this Rosh Hashanah, the cross as a symbol of intelligence may be offensive to some worshippers of Yahweh. Let them read The Archivist, a novel by Martha Cooley, and then my journal note The Matthias Defense.

They might also contemplate the biblical quotation in the musical “Contact” broadcast from Lincoln Center on September 1, 2002: “Let there be light!”

Three Jews named Paul have been associated with light…

  1. Saul of Tarsus, who later assumed an alias.

  2. Paul Newman, whose performance in “The Verdict” continues, indirectly, to trouble Cardinal Law of Boston.

  3. Paul R. Halmos, a personal hero of mine ever since I saw his Finite Dimensional Vector Spaces and Measure Theory as an ignorant young undergraduate browsing the bookstores of Harvard Square.

In accordance with the “secret history” theme mentioned above, the struggle between Aryan and Semitic religions may also be viewed in the light of the struggle between Christianity and Communism. Hitler exploited this viewpoint very successfully, pretending to be the champion of the Christians against the godless Reds. Peggy Noonan also successfully uses this strategy. Both Hitler and Noonan manage to ignore the fact that Christianity is itself one of the Semitic religions, and that at least two of its three deities are Jewish.

As for me, I rather identify with the young Hitler clone at the end of the film “The Boys from Brazil.” Forced to decide between Gregory Peck and Sir Laurence Olivier, he sides with Olivier. His reason? Peck lied.

In a similar situation, forced to decide between Peggy Noonan and the Jew Halmos, I would probably side with Halmos. Halmos, who should, if not a saint, be at least dubbed a knight, does not, unlike the great majority of the damned human race, lie.

See Halmos’s memoir, I Want to Be a Mathematician. In particular, see the single index entry “communist by allegation” and the 29 entries under “Uruguay.”

Happy birthday to Elia Kazan and Peggy Noonan, and a happy and prosperous New Year to should-be-Sir Paul R. Halmos. 

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