Wednesday, November 29, 2017

The Room

Filed under: Uncategorized — m759 @ 11:00 AM

The concluding instance of a search for "the room"
in this journal (from Mike Nichols's birthday, 2002) —

"His visitor sat upright, oppressed by the silence,
acutely conscious that the doors to the room were locked."

— Recreation by Sylvia Nasar of a scene starring
mathematicians George Mackey and John Nash.

The reviews are in!

See also today's previous post, Perhaps Not Strange Enough.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

She Said Carefully

Filed under: Uncategorized — m759 @ 8:24 PM

A passage suggested by the previous post, Box Office:

From the 1959 Fritz Leiber story "Damnation Morning" —

She looked at me and then nodded. She said carefully, “The person you killed or doomed is still in the room.”

An aching impulse twisted me a little. “Maybe I should try to go back––” I began. “Try to go back and unite the selves . . .”

“It’s too late now,” she repeated.

“But I want to,” I persisted. “There’s something pulling at me, like a chain hooked to my chest.”

She smiled unpleasantly. “Of course there is,” she said. “It’s the vampire in you—the same thing that drew me to your room or would draw any Spider or Snake. The blood scent of the person you killed or doomed.”

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

A Riddle for Davos

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: — m759 @ 9:00 PM

Hexagonale Unwesen

Einstein and Thomas Mann, Princeton, 1938

IMAGE- Redefining the cube's symmetry planes: 13 planes, not 9.

See also the life of Diogenes Allen, a professor at Princeton
Theological Seminary, a life that reportedly ended on the date—
January 13, 2013— of the above Log24 post.

January 13 was also the dies natalis  of St. James Joyce.

Some related reflections —

"Praeterit figura huius mundi  " — I Corinthians 7:31 —

Conclusion of of "The Dead," by James Joyce—

The air of the room chilled his shoulders. He stretched himself cautiously along under the sheets and lay down beside his wife. One by one, they were all becoming shades. Better pass boldly into that other world, in the full glory of some passion, than fade and wither dismally with age. He thought of how she who lay beside him had locked in her heart for so many years that image of her lover's eyes when he had told her that he did not wish to live.

Generous tears filled Gabriel's eyes. He had never felt like that himself towards any woman, but he knew that such a feeling must be love. The tears gathered more thickly in his eyes and in the partial darkness he imagined he saw the form of a young man standing under a dripping tree. Other forms were near. His soul had approached that region where dwell the vast hosts of the dead. He was conscious of, but could not apprehend, their wayward and flickering existence. His own identity was fading out into a grey impalpable world: the solid world itself, which these dead had one time reared and lived in, was dissolving and dwindling.

A few light taps upon the pane made him turn to the window. It had begun to snow again. He watched sleepily the flakes, silver and dark, falling obliquely against the lamplight. The time had come for him to set out on his journey westward. Yes, the newspapers were right: snow was general all over Ireland. It was falling on every part of the dark central plain, on the treeless hills, falling softly upon the Bog of Allen and, farther westward, softly falling into the dark mutinous Shannon waves. It was falling, too, upon every part of the lonely churchyard on the hill where Michael Furey lay buried. It lay thickly drifted on the crooked crosses and headstones, on the spears of the little gate, on the barren thorns. His soul swooned slowly as he heard the snow falling faintly through the universe and faintly falling, like the descent of their last end, upon all the living and the dead.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

The Call Girls

Filed under: Uncategorized — m759 @ 3:23 AM

The title, that of a novel by Arthur Koestler,
has appeared before in this journal.

The title was quoted in a Log24 note of
May 29, 2002 (G.K. Chesterton's birthday).

The link in Saturday evening's post to a Chesterton
essay suggested a further search that yielded
the following quotation—

Then silence sank. And slowly
      Arose the sea-land lord
Like some vast beast for mystery,
He filled the room and porch and sky,
And from a cobwebbed nail on high
      Unhooked his heavy sword.

— G. K. Chesterton,
   The Ballad of the White Horse

This, together with some Log24 remarks 
from 2004, suggests two images—

IMAGE- Cover design by Robert Flynn of 'The Armed Vision,' a 1955 Vintage paperback by Stanley Edgar Hyman

Above: A 1955 cover design by Robert Flynn.

The arrow theme also appears in a figure from
John Sealander's Road to Nowhere in the 2004

The remarks quoting the Sealander image, from 
March 5, 2004, were on mathematics and narrative.

Related material from a year later:

See an announcement, saved from March 16, 2005,
of a conference on mathematics and narrative that
was held in July 2005. Some context: Koestler's novel.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Duende for St. Wallace

Filed under: Uncategorized — m759 @ 11:01 AM

IMAGE- Google search on 'Wallace Stevens died'

(The final quote above is bogus. Stevens did write "Death is the mother 
of beauty," but the "perishable" part is from a lesser poet, Billy Collins.)

For the duende  of this post's title, see a dance.

The dance suggests a 1956 passage by Robert Silverberg—

"There was something in the heart of the diamond—
not the familiar brown flaw of the others, but something
of a different color, something moving and flickering.
Before my eyes, it changed and grew.

And I saw what it was. It was the form of a girl—
a woman, rather, a voluptuous, writhing nude form
in the center of the gem. Her hair was a lustrous blue-black,
her eyes a piercing ebony. She was gesturing to me,
holding out her hands, incredibly beckoning from within
the heart of the diamond.

I felt my legs go limp. She was growing larger, coming closer,
holding out her arms, beckoning, calling—

She seemed to fill the room. The diamond grew to gigantic size,
and my brain whirled and bobbed in dizzy circles.
I sensed the overpowering, wordless call."

— "Guardian of the Crystal Gate," August 1956

For similar gestures, see Nicole Kidman's dance in "The Human Stain."

Friday, December 28, 2012

Cube Koan

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , — m759 @ 4:56 AM

From Don DeLillo's novel Point Omega —

I knew what he was, or what he was supposed to be, a defense intellectual, without the usual credentials, and when I used the term it made him tense his jaw with a proud longing for the early weeks and months, before he began to understand that he was occupying an empty seat. "There were times when no map existed to match the reality we were trying to create."

"What reality?"

"This is something we do with every eyeblink. Human perception is a saga of created reality. But we were devising entities beyond the agreed-upon limits of recognition or interpretation. Lying is necessary. The state has to lie. There is no lie in war or in preparation for war that can't be defended. We went beyond this. We tried to create new realities overnight, careful sets of words that resemble advertising slogans in memorability and repeatability. These were words that would yield pictures eventually and then become three-dimensional. The reality stands, it walks, it squats. Except when it doesn't."

He didn't smoke but his voice had a sandlike texture, maybe just raspy with age, sometimes slipping inward, becoming nearly inaudible. We sat for some time. He was slouched in the middle of the sofa, looking off toward some point in a high corner of the room. He had scotch and water in a coffee mug secured to his midsection. Finally he said, "Haiku."

I nodded thoughtfully, idiotically, a slow series of gestures meant to indicate that I understood completely.

"Haiku means nothing beyond what it is. A pond in summer, a leaf in the wind. It's human consciousness located in nature. It's the answer to everything in a set number of lines, a prescribed syllable count. I wanted a haiku war," he said. "I wanted a war in three lines. This was not a matter of force levels or logistics. What I wanted was a set of ideas linked to transient things. This is the soul of haiku. Bare everything to plain sight. See what's there. Things in war are transient. See what's there and then be prepared to watch it disappear."

What's there—

This view of a die's faces 3, 6, and 5, in counter-
clockwise order (see previous post) suggests a way
of labeling the eight corners  of a die (or cube):

123, 135, 142, 154, 246, 263, 365, 456.

Here opposite faces of the die sum to 7, and the
three faces meeting at each corner are listed
in counter-clockwise order. (This corresponds
to a labeling of one of MacMahon's* 30 colored cubes.)
A similar vertex-labeling may be used in describing 
the automorphisms of the order-8 quaternion group.

For a more literary approach to quaternions, see
Pynchon's novel Against the Day .

* From Peter J. Cameron's weblog:

  "The big name associated with this is Major MacMahon,
   an associate of Hardy, Littlewood and Ramanujan,
   of whom Robert Kanigel said,

His expertise lay in combinatorics, a sort of
glorified dice-throwing, and in it he had made
contributions original enough to be named
a Fellow of the Royal Society.

   Glorified dice-throwing, indeed…"

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

State of the Art

Filed under: Uncategorized — m759 @ 9:48 PM

The new June/July issue of the AMS Notices
on a recent Paris exhibit of art and mathematics—

Mathématiques, un dépaysement soudain
Exhibit at the Fondation Cartier, Paris
October 21, 2011–March 18, 2012

                                            … maybe walking
into the room was supposed to evoke the kind of
dépaysement  for which the exhibition is named
(the word dépaysement  refers to the sometimes
disturbing feeling one gets when stepping outside
of one’s usual reference points). I was with
my six-year-old daughter, who quickly gravitated
toward the colorful magnetic tiles on the wall that
visitors could try to fit together. She spent a good
half hour there, eventually joining forces with a
couple of young university students. I would come
and check on her every once in a while and heard
some interesting discussions about whether or not
it was worth looking for patterns to help guide the
placing of the tiles. The fifteen-year age difference
didn’t seem to bother anyone.
     The tiles display was one of the two installations
here that offered the visitor a genuine chance to
engage in mathematical activity, to think about
pattern and structure while satisfying an aesthetic
urge to make things fit and grow….

Nathalie Sinclair

The Notices  included no pictures with this review.
A search to find out what sort of tiles were meant
led, quite indirectly, to the following—

IMAGE- French weblog post on Truchet tiles dated May 1st, 2011

The search indicated it is unlikely that these Truchet  tiles
were the ones on exhibit.

Nevertheless, the date  of the above French weblog post,
1 May 2011, is not without interest in the context of 
today's previous post. (That post was written well before
I had seen the new AMS Notices  issue online.)

Friday, April 20, 2012

Complex Reflection

Filed under: Uncategorized — m759 @ 11:32 AM

Yesterday's post in memory of Octavio Paz

… the free-standing, two-sided “Life-Death Figure,”
carved from stone in Mexico some time between
A.D. 900 and 1250, 
has multiple personalities.

Holland Cotter,  New York Times 

An earlier post yesterday, Fashion Notes, linked to a Sting video—

IMAGE- Sting meets his own reflection in a mirror in 'We'll Be Together' video

From "Loo Ree," by Zenna Henderson

"It's so hard to explain–"

"Oh, foof!" I cried defiantly, taking off my glasses and, smearing the tears across both lenses with a tattered Kleenex. "So I'm a dope, a moron! If I can explain protective coloration to my six-year-olds and the interdependence of man and animals, you can tell me something of what the score is!" I scrubbed the back of my hand across my blurry eyes. "If you have to, start out 'Once upon a time."' I sat down– hard.  

Loo Ree smiled and sat down, too. "Don't cry, teacher. Teachers aren't supposed to have tears."  

"I know it," I sniffed. "A little less than human-that's us."

"A little more than human, sometimes." Loo Ree corrected gently. "Well then, you must understand that I'll have to simplify. You will have to dress the bare bones of the explanation according to your capabilities.  

"Once upon a time there was a classroom. Oh, cosmic in size, but so like yours that you would smile in recognition if you could see it all. And somewhere in the classroom something was wrong. Not the whispering and murmuring– that's usual. Not the pinching and poking and tattling that goes on until you get so you don't even hear it." I nodded. How well I knew.  

"It wasn't even the sudden blow across the aisle or the unexpected wrestling match in the back of the room. That happens often, too. But something else was wrong. It was an undercurrent, a stealthy, sly sort of thing that has to be caught early or it disrupts the whole classroom and tarnishes the children with a darkness that will never quite rub off.  

"The teacher could feel it –as all good teachers can– and she spoke to the principal. He, being a good principal, immediately saw the urgency of the matter and also saw that it was beyond him, so he called in an Expert." "You?" I asked, feeling quite bright because I had followed the analogy so far.  

Loo Ree smiled. "Well, I'm part of the Expert."  

"If you have to, start out 'Once upon a time.'"

Yesterday's Paz post was at 6:48 PM EDT.

For the autistic, here is some related mathematics.

Yesterday's Fashion Notes post was at 1:06 PM  EDT.

A related chronological note from Rolling Stone  yesterday—

"Levon Helm, singer and drummer for the Band,
 died on April 19th in New York of throat cancer.
 He was 71. 

"He passed away peacefully at 1:30 this afternoon…."

Helm and The Band performing "The Weight"—

"I pulled into Nazareth, I was a-feelin' 'bout half past dead…"

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Unique Figure

Filed under: Uncategorized — m759 @ 1:00 AM


National Gallery of Art

In the landscape of minimalism, John McCracken cuts a unique figure. He is often grouped with the "light and space" artists who formed the West Coast branch of the movement. Indeed, he shares interests in vivid color, new materials, and polished surfaces with fellow Californians enamored of the Kustom Kar culture. On the other hand, his signature works, the "planks" that he invented in 1966 and still makes today, have the tough simplicity and aggressive presence of New York minimalism….

"They kind of screw up a space because they lean," McCracken has said of the planks. Their tilting, reflective surfaces activate the room, leaving the viewer uncertain of traditional boundaries. He notes that the planks bridge sculpture (identified with the floor) and painting (identified with the wall)….

His ultimate goal, as with all mystics, is unity— not just of painting and sculpture, but of substance and illusion, of matter and spirit, of art and life. Such ideas recall the utopian aspirations of early modernists like Piet Mondrian and Wassily Kandinsky.

Related Art —



Roman numeral I
 as well as capital I

For a related figure, see a  film review by A. O. Scott at The New York Times  (September 21, 2010)—

“You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger” begins with an unseen narrator— Zak Orth, sounding a lot like Woody Allen— paraphrasing Shakespeare. You may remember the quotation from high school English, about how life is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing. The observation is attributed to the playwright himself (“Shakespeare once said”), rather than to Macbeth, whose grim experience led him to such nihilism, but never mind. In context, it amounts to a perfectly superfluous statement of the obvious.

If life signifies nothing, perhaps the tall dark figure above signifies something . Discuss.

Related Art Criticism —

For more on light and space, see this journal on the date of McCracken's death


Note planks.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010


Filed under: Uncategorized — m759 @ 10:31 AM

David Corfield discusses the philosophy of mathematics (Dec. 14) —

"It’s very tricky choosing a rich and interesting case study which is philosophically salient. To encourage the reader or listener to follow up the mathematics to understand what you’re saying, there must be a decent pay-off. An intricate twentieth century case study had better pack plenty of meta-mathematical punch."

Steve Martin discusses the philosophy of art (Dec. 5) —

http://www.log24.com/log/pix10B/101215-BraverMartin.jpg http://www.log24.com/log/pix10B/101215-WallPower.jpg

CBS News interviews Martin at the Whitney Museum —

"We paused to consider the impact of a George Bellows fight scene. Martin said it has 'wall power.'

What does that phrase mean? 'How it holds the wall. How it feels when you're ten or 20 feet away from it. It really takes hold of the room.'"

See also Halloween 2010

IMAGE- The 2x2 case of the diamond theorem as illustrated by Josefine Lyche, Oct. 2010

Friday, March 12, 2010

Catholic Tastes, continued

Filed under: Uncategorized — m759 @ 2:02 PM

For young Andrew Cusack, should he ever care to read this journal.

Bertrand Russell and T. S. Eliot: their dialogue

"The window of the room in which Eeldrop and Appleplex talk opens to a view which includes a police station. Again Eliot delineates the two men on the basis of thought– the divided mind. Eeldrop is entranced by 'the smoky smell of lilac, the gramophones, the choir of the Baptist chapel, and the sight of three small girls playing cards on the steps of the police station.'"

The story from which this is taken is "Eeldrop and Appleplex," by T.S. Eliot.

The "three small girls playing cards" suggest the three Fates. For a less subtle illustration, see William Blake's "Hecate, or the Three Fates"–


For a more cheerful (and Catholic)
Hecate figure, see the oeuvre  of
Alyssa Milano.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

I thought I heard them say, “Welcome to…”

Filed under: Uncategorized — m759 @ 11:30 AM


The William James Hotel

Charles A.  Hobbs,

paper at William James Studies

"There are at least two well known examples that James employs to illustrate what is meant by this formulation of pragmatism. Returning here to pragmatic method, the second of these, drawn from the Italian thinker Giovanni Papini, is meant to illustrate how this method is compatible with a number of varying results, that is, how this method is one of pluralism.26 With a remarkable illustration of the meaning of pragmatism, we are asked to understand James's pragmatic method as being like a hotel corridor, one whose doors lead to numerous rooms in which there are thinkers involved with numerous types of projects and pursuits. There could, for example, be a metaphysical idealist in one room and a committed anti-metaphysical thinker in another, both in the same hotel. In any case, James holds that his pragmatic method remains neutral with regard to the various types of thought taking place within the rooms.27

The hotel represents a great deal of the world of thinking.28 The various rooms represent individual philosophies. Of course, the corridor represents pragmatism, which is the connection between these, the philosophical method of choice and action. We might also say that pragmatism affords us our one chance at escaping the isolation of the individual rooms. This corridor method allows one to move from one concept or theory to another concept or theory. It does so insofar as it offers a concrete manner in which to comprehend, enter, or 'penetrate' a given theory, and in which to step outside of the theory so to test and contrast it with other theories. That is, to enter or leave their various rooms, the varying occupants must employ the pragmatic method.

Accordingly, we see that, for James, pragmatism is not a set doctrine. Again, it is a method, one that allows for a great many differing views to co-exist under the same umbrella, for pragmatism '…has no dogmas, and no doctrines save its method.'"29

26 The Writings of William James: A Comprehensive Edition, ed. John J. McDermott (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1977), p. 380.

27 Following Papini, James says that pragmatic method "Lies in the midst of our theories, like a corridor in a hotel. Innumerable chambers open out of it. In one you may find a man writing an atheistic volume; in the next some one on his knees praying for faith and strength; in a third a chemist investigating a body's properties. In a fourth a system of idealistic metaphysics is being excogitated; in a fifth the impossibility of metaphysics is being shown. But they all own the corridor, and all must pass through it if they want a practicable way of getting into or out of their respective rooms." Ibid.

28 Not included would be dogmatists such as dictators and/or theocrats, for they are fundamentally closed to inquiry.

29 The Writings of William James, p. 380.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Tuesday August 11, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — m759 @ 11:07 AM
Online NY Times
at 10:10 AM today:
“Founder of
 Special Olympics was 88″

Ask a Stupid Question…

Details, online NY Times front page-- Death of Eunice Kennedy Shriver and 'Oh, Sting, Where Is Thy Death?'

Related material from
this journal, July 30:

'There's a small hotel....'

In the room the women come and go

— Stephen King, The Shining:
The Wasps’ Nest

NY Times today:

NY Times, Aug. 11, 2009-- Wasps' nest illustrating humorous essay 'Oh, Sting, Where Is Thy Death?'

Related material:

Actual Being
(Oct. 25, 2008)

and The Shining
 (reissue, 1977 1st ed.),
page 162:


Thursday, July 30, 2009

Thursday July 30, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — m759 @ 4:23 PM

The Discreet Charm
of Suzanne Vega

We keep coming back
    and coming back
To the real: to the hotel
    instead of the hymns….

— Wallace Stevens  

Suzanne Vega, album cover, 'Beauty and Crime'

'There's a small hotel....'

"In the room the women come and go"

— Stephen King, The Shining:
"The Wasps' Nest"

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Sunday September 21, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — m759 @ 2:56 PM
A Tale

“… told by an idiot,
full of sound and fury,

 signifying nothing”    

— Quoted here Sept. 14

We’ve got to get ourselves
  back to the garden.”         

— Quoted here Sept. 10

Being There, by Jerzy Kosinski

“The woman introduced herself. ‘I am Mrs. Benjamin Rand. I am called EE by my friends, from my Christian names, Elizabeth Eve.’

‘EE,’ Chance repeated gravely.

‘EE,’ said the lady, amused.

Chance recalled that in similar situations men on TV introduced themselves. ‘I am Chance,’ he stuttered and, when this didn’t seem to be enough, added, ‘the gardener.'”

— Jerzy Kosinski, Being There

Related material:

“Heidegger’s philosophy of Dasein, his model of the ego, reminds me of… the ancient temple of Jerusalem…. in the innermost chamber, the holy of holies, the room was completely empty. The essence of Dasein, similarly, is nothingness, a fact that it tries to hide by assuming the trappings of existence.”

— Heinz Pagels,
   The Dreams of Reason

“Nothing is the great mystery. It cannot be described. Words can try to touch it. Zen may be such a word and Tao, Christ, Allah, Buddha, and others. There is a word called ‘God.'”

— Janwillem van de Wetering,
   A Glimpse of Nothingness

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Tuesday March 4, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — m759 @ 1:00 PM
… And for a
    Swiftly Tilting
       Shadowed Planet …

Wm. F. Buckley as Archimedes, moving the world with a giant pen as lever. The pen's point is applied to southern South America.
John Trever, Albuquerque Journal, 2/29/08

The pen’s point:

Log24, Dec. 11, 2006

“Are Children the
Ultimate Literary Critics?”
— Top of the News 29
(Nov. 1972): 32-36.

“Sets forth his own aims in writing for children and laments ‘slice of life’ and chaos in children’s literature. Maintains that children like good plots, logic, and clarity, and that they have a concern for ‘so-called eternal questions.'”

An Annotated Listing
of Criticism
by Linnea Hendrickson

“She returned the smile, then looked across the room to her youngest brother, Charles Wallace, and to their father, who were deep in concentration, bent over the model they were building of a tesseract: the square squared, and squared again: a construction of the dimension of time.”

A Swiftly Tilting Planet,
by Madeleine L’Engle

Cover of 'A Swiftly Tilting Planet' and picture of tesseract

For “the dimension of time,”
see A Fold in Time,
Time Fold, and
Diamond Theory in 1937

A Swiftly Tilting Planet is a fantasy for children set partly in Vespugia, a fictional country bordered by Chile and Argentina.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Tuesday February 26, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — m759 @ 8:00 PM

Eight is a Gate (continued)

Tom Stoppard, Jumpers:
“Heaven, how can I believe in Heaven?” she sings at the finale. “Just a lying rhyme for seven!”
“To begin at the beginning: Is God?…” [very long pause]

From “Space,” by Salomon Bochner

Makom. Our term “space” derives from the Latin, and is thus relatively late. The nearest to it among earlier terms in the West are the Hebrew makom and the Greek topos (τόπος). The literal meaning of these two terms is the same, namely “place,” and even the scope of connotations is virtually the same (Theol. Wörterbuch…, 1966). Either term denotes: area, region, province; the room occupied by a person or an object, or by a community of persons or arrangements of objects. But by first occurrences in extant sources, makom seems to be the earlier term and concept. Apparently, topos is attested for the first time in the early fifth century B.C., in plays of Aeschylus and fragments of Parmenides, and its meaning there is a rather literal one, even in Parmenides. Now, the Hebrew book Job is more or less contemporary with these Greek sources, but in chapter 16:18 occurs in a rather figurative sense:

O earth, cover not thou my blood, and let my cry have no place (makom).

Late antiquity was already debating whether this makom is meant to be a “hiding place” or a “resting place” (Dhorme, p. 217), and there have even been suggestions that it might have the logical meaning of “occasion,” “opportunity.” Long before it appears in Job, makom occurs in the very first chapter of Genesis, in:

And God said, Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place (makom) and the dry land appear, and it was so (Genesis 1:9).

This biblical account is more or less contemporary with Hesiod’s Theogony, but the makom of the biblical account has a cosmological nuance as no corresponding term in Hesiod. Elsewhere in Genesis (for instance, 22:3; 28:11; 28:19), makom usually refers to a place of cultic significance, where God might be worshipped, eventually if not immediately. Similarly, in the Arabic language, which however has been a written one only since the seventh century A.D., the term makām designates the place of a saint or of a holy tomb (Jammer, p. 27). In post-biblical Hebrew and Aramaic, in the first centuries A.D., makom became a theological synonym for God, as expressed in the Talmudic sayings: “He is the place of His world,” and “His world is His place” (Jammer, p. 26). Pagan Hellenism of the same era did not identify God with place, not noticeably so; except that the One (τὸ ἕν) of Plotinus (third century A.D.) was conceived as something very comprehensive (see for instance J. M. Rist, pp. 21-27) and thus may have been intended to subsume God and place, among other concepts. In the much older One of Parmenides (early fifth century B.C.), from which the Plotinian One ultimately descended, the theological aspect was only faintly discernible. But the spatial aspect was clearly visible, even emphasized (Diels, frag. 8, lines 42-49).


Paul Dhorme, Le livre de Job (Paris, 1926).

H. Diels and W. Kranz, Die Fragmente der Vorsokratiker, 6th ed. (Berlin, 1938).

Max Jammer, Concepts of Space (Cambridge, Mass., 1954).

J. M. Rist, Plotinus: The Road to Reality (Cambridge, 1967).

Theologisches Wörterbuch zum Neuen Testament (1966), 8, 187-208, esp. 199ff.


Related material: In the previous entry — “Father Clark seizes at one place (page eight)
upon the fact that….”

Father Clark’s reviewer (previous entry) called a remark by Father Clark “far fetched.”
This use of “place” by the reviewer is, one might say, “near fetched.”

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Tuesday June 19, 2007

Filed under: Uncategorized — m759 @ 12:00 PM
Let Noon Be Fair

— Title of a novel
by Willard Motley

A review of Helene Cixous‘s Three Steps on the Ladder of Writing:

“Cixous explores three distinct ‘schools’ that produce what she envisions as great writing– the Schools of the Dead, of Dreams, and of Roots. Cixous invests much weight in the purposefully ambiguous nature of the word ‘school’; she seems to refer to a motivation, conscious or unconscious, that directs, influences, and shapes writing; at other times she seems to want to speak of actual places from whence we get instruction (again, consciously or unconsciously).”

From Under the Volcano, by Malcolm Lowry, 1947, Chapter I:

Faustus is gone: regard his hellish fall —

“Shaken, M. Laruelle replaced the book on the table… he reached to the floor for a folded sheet of paper that had fluttered out of it. He picked the paper up between two fingers and unfolded it, turning it over. Hotel Bella Vista, he read.”

From The Shining, Chapter 18:
“In 1961 four writers, two of them Pulitzer Prize winners, had leased the Overlook and reopened it as a writers’ school. That had lasted one year…. Every big hotel has got a ghost. Why? Hell, people come and go…. (In the room the women come and go)” –Quoted in Shining Forth

The image “http://www.log24.com/log/pix07/070619-Cixous.jpg” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.
Photo: jewishbookweek.com

Jacques Derrida and Helene Cixous

Time of this entry:


Monday, January 22, 2007

Monday January 22, 2007

Filed under: Uncategorized — m759 @ 11:11 AM
A Brief Alternate Version of

The Diamond Age:
Or, a Young Lady’s
Illustrated Primer

Piper Laurie is 75.

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?”)

He looked at her face.  She was very drunk.  Her eyes were swollen, pink at the corners.  “What’s the book?” he said, trying to make his voice conversational. But it sounded loud in the room, and hard.
      She blinked up at him, smiled sleepily, and said nothing.
      “What’s the book?”  His voice had an edge now.
      “Oh,” she said.  “It’s Kierkegaard.  Soren Kierkegaard.”  She pushed her legs out straight on the couch, stretching her feet.  Her skirt fell back a few inches from her knees.  He looked away.
      “What’s that?” he said.
      “Well, I don’t exactly know, myself.”  Her voice was soft and thick.
      He turned his face away from her again, not knowing what he was angry with.  “What does that mean, you don’t know, yourself?”
      She blinked at him.  “It means, Eddie, that I don’t exactly know what the book is about.  Somebody told me to read it, once, and that’s what I’m doing.  Reading it.”

— Walter Tevis, The Hustler

Monday, December 11, 2006

Monday December 11, 2006

Filed under: Uncategorized — m759 @ 7:20 AM
Geometry and Death

J. G. Ballard on “the architecture of death“:

“… a huge system of German fortifications that included the Siegfried line, submarine pens and huge flak towers that threatened the surrounding land like lines of Teutonic knights. Almost all had survived the war and seemed to be waiting for the next one, left behind by a race of warrior scientists obsessed with geometry and death.”

The Guardian, March 20, 2006

Edward Hirsch on Lorca:

“For him, writing is a struggle both with geometry and death.”

— “The Duende,” American Poetry Review, July/August 1999

“Rosenblum writes with
absolute intellectual honesty,
and the effect is sheer liberation….
The disposition of the material is
a model of logic and clarity.”

Harper’s Magazine review
quoted on back cover of
Cubism and Twentieth-Century Art,
by Robert Rosenblum
(Abrams paperback, 2001)

“Are Children the Ultimate Literary Critics?”
 — Top of the News 29 (Nov. 1972): 32-36.
“Sets forth his own aims in writing for children
 and laments ‘slice of life’ and chaos in
children’s literature. Maintains that children
like good plots, logic, and clarity,
and that they have a concern for
‘so-called eternal questions.'”

An Annotated Listing of Criticism
by Linnea Hendrickson

“She returned the smile, then looked
across the room to her youngest brother,
Charles Wallace, and to their father,
who were deep in concentration, bent
over the model they were building
of a tesseract: the square squared,
and squared again: a construction
of the dimension of time.”

A Swiftly Tilting Planet,
by Madeleine L’Engle

The image “http://www.log24.com/log/pix06B/061211-Swiftly2.gif” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.

For “the dimension of time,”
see A Fold in Time,
Time Fold, and
Diamond Theory in 1937

A Swiftly Tilting Planet is a fantasy for children set partly in Vespugia, a fictional country bordered by Chile and Argentina.

For a more adult audience —

In memory of General Augusto Pinochet, who died yesterday in Santiago, Chile, a quotation from Federico Garcia Lorca‘s lecture on “the Duende” (Buenos Aires, Argentina, 1933):

“… Philip of Austria… longing to discover the Muse and the Angel in theology, found himself imprisoned by the Duende of cold ardors in that masterwork of the Escorial, where geometry abuts with a dream and the Duende wears the mask of the Muse for the eternal chastisement of the great king.”

Perhaps. Or perhaps Philip, “the lonely
hermit of the Escorial,” is less lonely now.

Wednesday, August 9, 2006

Wednesday August 9, 2006

Filed under: Uncategorized — m759 @ 2:02 PM
Two-Bar Hook
Wikipedia on Mel Gibson:

“The arrest was supported by…
an open container… 75% full,
labeled ‘Cazador [sic] tequila
(a strong type of mezcal).”

Today’s New York Times

Refined Tequilas,
Meant to be Savored:

The image “http://www.log24.com/log/pix06A/060809-Bottle.jpg” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.
Photo by Lars Klove for
The New York Times

— Essay by Eric Asimov,
  “Spirits of the Times

“Remember that we deal with
Herb Alpert–

The image “http://www.log24.com/log/pix06A/060809-Alpert.jpg” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.
First album, 1962

cunning, baffling, and powerful.”

(Adapted from Chapter 5
of Alcoholics Anonymous)

Related Material:

by The Champs

The Spirituality of
Addiction and Recovery

Kylie on Tequila:

“Turns out she’s a party girl
who loves Tequila:
‘Time disappears with Tequila.
It goes elastic, then vanishes.'”

Yvonne returns to the Bella Vista
in Under the Volcano:

“… a glass partition
that divided the room
(from yet another bar,
she remembered now,
giving on a side street)”

David Sanborn
(a reply to Alpert’s
Lonely Bull ):

The image “http://www.log24.com/log/pix06A/Closer.jpg” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.

“Just listen to how he attacks the two-bar hook of  ‘Tequila.’ After planting it firmly in our brains, he finds new ending notes for each measure; then he drops half a bar by an octave; then he substitutes a new melodic detour for the first bar, retaining the second; then he inverts that approach. He keeps twisting the phrase into new melodic shapes, but he never obscures the original motif and he never loses the beat.”

Review of Sanborn’s album “Timeagain
    by Geoffrey Himes in Jazz Times,
    June 2003

Update of 3:57 PM:
Robin Williams in Rehab

“It may be that Kylie is,
in her own way, an artist…
with a 357.”

Symmetry and Change

Monday, July 3, 2006

Monday July 3, 2006

Filed under: Uncategorized — m759 @ 11:07 PM

Culture War

The New York Times, August 6, 2003,
on its executive editor Bill Keller:

“‘It is past time for our magnificent coverage of culture and lifestyles, so essential to our present allure and to our future growth, to get the kind of attention we routinely bestow on hard news,’ Mr. Keller wrote in an e-mail message to the staff.”

The New York Times, June 25, 2006,
on art in Mexico:

“At the Hilario Galguera gallery, newly opened in a fortresslike, century-old building, was Damien Hirst’s gory new series ‘The Death of God– Towards a Better Understanding of Life Without God Aboard the Ship of Fools.’  He conceived the work at his part-time home in the Mexican surf town Troncones.”

Raymond Chandler in The Big Sleep:

   “I went over to a floor lamp and pulled the switch, went back to put off the ceiling light, and went across the room again to the chessboard on a card table under the lamp. There was a problem laid out on the board, a six-mover.  I couldn’t solve it, like a lot of my problems.  I reached down and moved a knight, then pulled my hat and coat off and threw them somewhere.  All this time the soft giggling went on from the bed, that sound that made me think of rats behind a wainscoting in an old house.


    I looked down at the chessboard.  The move with the knight was wrong.  I put it back where I had moved it from.  Knights had no meaning in this game.  It wasn’t a game for knights.”

Monday, January 23, 2006

Monday January 23, 2006

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

The Case

An entry suggested by today's New York Times story by Tom Zeller Jr., A Million Little Skeptics:

From The Hustler, by Walter Tevis:

The only light in the room was from the lamp over the couch where she was reading.
    He looked at her face.  She was very drunk.  Her eyes were swollen, pink at the corners.  "What's the book?" he said, trying to make his voice conversational. But it sounded loud in the room, and hard.
    She blinked up at him, smiled sleepily, and said nothing.
    "What's the book?"  His voice had an edge now.
    "Oh," she said.  "It's Kierkegaard.  Soren Kierkegaard."  She pushed her legs out straight on the couch, stretching her feet.  Her skirt fell back a few inches from her knees.  He looked away.
    "What's that?" he said.
    "Well, I don't exactly know, myself."  Her voice was soft and thick.
    He turned his face away from her again, not knowing what he was angry with.  "What does that mean, you don't know, yourself?"
    She blinked at him.  "It means, Eddie, that I don't exactly know what the book is about.  Somebody told me to read it, once, and that's what I'm doing.  Reading it."
    He looked at her, tried to grin at her– the old, meaningless, automatic grin, the grin that made everybody like him– but he could not.  "That's great," he said, and it came out with more irritation than he had intended.
    She closed the book, tucked it beside her on the couch.  "I guess this isn't your night, Eddie.  Why don't we have a drink?"
    "No."  He did not like that, did not want her being nice to him, forgiving.  Nor did he want a drink.
    Her smile, her drunk, amused smile, did not change.  "Then let's talk about something else," she said.  "What about that case you have?  What's in it?"  Her voice was not prying, only friendly.  "Pencils?"
    "That's it," he said.  "Pencils."
    She raised her eyebrows slightly.  Her voice seemed thick.  "What's in it, Eddie?"
    "Figure it out yourself."  He tossed the case on the couch.


Related material:

Soren Kierkegaard on necessity and possibility
in The Sickness Unto Death, Chapter 3,

The Diamond of Possibility,

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

the Baseball Almanac,

The image “http://www.log24.com/log/pix06/060123-BaseballLogo75.gif” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.

and this morning's entry, "Natural Hustler."

Friday, November 11, 2005

Friday November 11, 2005

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: — m759 @ 3:26 PM
720 in the Book

From today's
New York Times:

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

The image “http://www.log24.com/log/pix05B/051111-BeeSeason.jpg” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.

Phil Bray

Transcendence through spelling:
Richard Gere and Flora Cross
as father and daughter
in "Bee Season."

Words Made Flesh: Code, Culture, Imagination

The earliest known foundation of the Kabbalah is the Sefer Yetzirah (Book of Creation) whose origin and history is unknown….

… letters create things by the virtue of an algorithm…

    "From two letters or forms He composed two dwellings; from three, six; from four, twenty-four; from five, one hundred and twenty; from six, seven hundred and twenty…."
Sefer Yetzirah    

Foucault's Pendulum

Mystic logic, letters whirling in infinite change, is the world of bliss, it is the music of thought, but see that you proceed slowly, and with caution, because your machine may bring you delirium instead of ecstasy. Many of Abulafia's disciples were unable to walk the fine line between contemplation of the names of God and the practice of magic.

Bee Season

"The exercises we've been doing are Abulafia's. His methods are primarily a kind of Jewish yoga, a way to relax. For most, what Abulafia describes as shefa, the influx of the Divine, is a historical curiosity to be discussed and interpreted. Because, while anyone can follow Abulafia's instructions for permutation and chanting, very few can use them to achieve transcendence….

Spelling is a sign, Elly. When you win the national bee, we'll know that you are ready to follow in Abulafia's footsteps. Once you're able to let the letters guide you through any word you are given, you will be ready to receive shefa."

In the quiet of the room, the sound of Eliza and her father breathing is everything.

"Do you mean," Eliza whispers, "that I'll be able to talk to God?"

Related material:

Log24, Sept. 3, 2002,

Diamond Theory notes
of Feb. 4, 1986,
of April 26, 1986, and
 of May 26, 1986,

  Sacerdotal Jargon
(Log24, Dec. 5, 2002),

and 720 in the Book
(Log24, Epiphany 2004).

Wednesday, July 14, 2004

Wednesday July 14, 2004

Filed under: Uncategorized — m759 @ 9:00 PM
Welcome to…
Mr. Motley’s

The image “http://www.log24.com/log/pix04A/040714-Motley2.jpg” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.

Will You Be My Friend?
Only On My Own Turf.

By Esther Dyson, Editor at Large 
Special to ZDNet
July 12, 2004, 3:00 AM PT

On social-networking Web services:

Perhaps people will revert to private social networks–ones they manage locally….

Perhaps the law of networks–the strength of a tie degrades by the square of the number of links–would become more apparent, and perhaps that would be a good thing.

I’m not sure how good that is as a business model, but it works as a social model.”

The beautiful, brilliant, and charming Esther Dyson seems to have suffered a temporary lapse in brilliance with the above remark on the strength of ties in social networks….

“the law of networks–the strength of a tie degrades by the square of the number of links….”

Here are some useful references encountered while fact-checking Ms. Dyson’s assertion about the “law of networks” —

Links on Graph Theory and Network Analysis

The Navigability of Strong Ties:
Small Worlds, Tie Strength and Network Topology

Modeling Coleman’s Friendly Association Networks

The Strength of Weak Ties:
A Network Theory Revisited

Scientific Collaboration Networks, II (pdf)
(Deals specifically with tie-strength computation.) 

Dynamic Visualization of Social Networks

and, finally, a diagram of social networks in Shakespeare that conclusively demonstrates that there is no simple relationship between strength of ties and number of ties:

Cleopatra’s Social Ties

Perhaps what Ms. Dyson had in mind was the following (courtesy of The Motley Fool):

“Metcalfe’s Law of Networks states that the value of a network grows by the square of the size of the network. Translated, this means that a network that is twice as large as another network will actually be at least four times as valuable. Why? Because four times as many interconnections are possible between participants in the larger network.

When you add a fourth person to a group of three, you don’t add just one more networked relationship. You add several. The new individual can network with all three of the existing persons, and vice versa. The Internet is no different. It became more and more valuable as the numbers of computers using it grew.”

For another perspective on this alleged law, from science fiction author Orson Scott Card, see The Group, a Log24 entry of Sept. 24, 2002.

Elsewhere, in a discussion of social-networking software:

“Esther Dyson starts with a request that people turn to their left and ask the person next to them, ‘Will you be my friend?’ The room erupts in chatter, but, of course, the problem is we don’t have enough information about one another to make a snap decision about that question.”

Obviously, ties resulting from such a request will be weak, rather than strong.  However, as study of the above network-theory links will reveal, weak ties can sometimes be more useful than strong ties.  An example:

Passing the Peace at Mass.

Compare and contrast with
Ms. Dyson’s request to turn and
ask the Mr. Rogers question,
“Will you be my friend?”

The best response to this question
that I know of was contained in
a good-bye letter from a girl named
Lucero in Cuernavaca
in the early 1960’s:

Si me deveras quieres,
deja me en paz

(See Shining Forth.)

Thursday, April 22, 2004

Thursday April 22, 2004

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: — m759 @ 10:07 PM


"It's become our form of modern classicism."

— Nancy Spector in 
   the New York Times of April 23, 2004

Part I: Aesthetics

In honor of the current Guggenheim exhibition, "Singular Forms" — A quotation from the Guggenheim's own website

"Minimalism refers to painting or sculpture

  1. made with an extreme economy of means
  2. and reduced to the essentials of geometric abstraction….
  3. Minimalist art is generally characterized by precise, hard-edged, unitary geometric forms….
  4. mathematically regular compositions, often based on a grid….
  5. the reduction to pure self-referential form, emptied of all external references….
  6. In Minimal art what is important is the phenomenological basis of the viewer’s experience, how he or she perceives the internal relationships among the parts of the work and of the parts to the whole….
  7. The repetition of forms in Minimalist sculpture serves to emphasize the subtle differences in the perception of those forms in space and time as the spectator’s viewpoint shifts in time and space."

Discuss these seven points
in relation to the following:

by S. H. Cullinane

Logos and Logic

Mark Rothko's reference
to geometry as a "swamp"
and his talk of "the idea" in art

Michael Kimmelman's
remarks on ideas in art 

Notes on ideas and art

of the 4×4 square

The Grid of Time

Judgment Day
(2003, 10/07)

Part II: Theology

Today's previous entry, "Skylark," concluded with an invocation of the Lord.   Of course, the Lord one expects may not be the Lord that appears.

 John Barth on minimalism:

"… the idea that, in art at least, less is more.

It is an idea surely as old, as enduringly attractive and as ubiquitous as its opposite. In the beginning was the Word: only later came the Bible, not to mention the three-decker Victorian novel. The oracle at Delphi did not say, 'Exhaustive analysis and comprehension of one's own psyche may be prerequisite to an understanding of one's behavior and of the world at large'; it said, 'Know thyself.' Such inherently minimalist genres as oracles (from the Delphic shrine of Apollo to the modern fortune cookie), proverbs, maxims, aphorisms, epigrams, pensees, mottoes, slogans and quips are popular in every human century and culture–especially in oral cultures and subcultures, where mnemonic staying power has high priority–and many specimens of them are self-reflexive or self-demonstrative: minimalism about minimalism. 'Brevity is the soul of wit.' "

Another form of the oracle at Delphi, in minimalist prose that might make Hemingway proud:

"He would think about Bert.  Bert was an interesting man.  Bert had said something about the way a gambler wants to lose.  That did not make sense.  Anyway, he did not want to think about it.  It was dark now, but the air was still hot.  He realized that he was sweating, forced himself to slow down the walking.  Some children were playing a game with a ball, in the street, hitting it against the side of a building.  He wanted to see Sarah.

When he came in, she was reading a book, a tumbler of dark whiskey beside her on the end table.  She did not seem to see him and he sat down before he spoke, looking at her and, at first, hardly seeing her.  The room was hot; she had opened the windows, but the air was still.  The street noises from outside seemed almost to be in the room with them, as if the shifting of gears were being done in the closet, the children playing in the bathroom.  The only light in the room was from the lamp over the couch where she was reading.

He looked at her face.  She was very drunk.  Her eyes were swollen, pink at the corners.  'What's the book,' he said, trying to make his voice conversational.  But it sounded loud in the room, and hard.

She blinked up at him, smiled sleepily, and said nothing.

'What's the book?'  His voice had an edge now.

'Oh,' she said.  'It's Kierkegaard.  Soren Kierkegaard.' She pushed her legs out straight on the couch, stretching her feet.  Her skirt fell back a few inches from her knees.  He looked away.

'What's that?' he said.

'Well, I don't exactly know, myself."  Her voice was soft and thick.

He turned his face away from her again, not knowing what he was angry with.  'What does that mean, you don't know, yourself?'

She blinked at him.  'It means, Eddie, that I don't exactly know what the book is about.  Somebody told me to read it once, and that's what I'm doing.  Reading it.'

He looked at her, tried to grin at her — the old, meaningless, automatic grin, the grin that made everbody like him — but he could not.  'That's great,' he said, and it came out with more irritation than he had intended.

She closed the book, tucked it beside her on the couch.  She folded her arms around her, hugging herself, smiling at him.  'I guess this isn't your night, Eddie.  Why don't we have a drink?'

'No.'  He did not like that, did not want her being nice to him, forgiving.  Nor did he want a drink.

Her smile, her drunk, amused smile, did not change.  'Then let's talk about something else,' she said.  'What about that case you have?  What's in it?'  Her voice was not prying, only friendly, 'Pencils?'

'That's it,' he said.  'Pencils.'

She raised her eyebrows slightly.  Her voice seemed thick.  'What's in it, Eddie?'

'Figure it out yourself.'  He tossed the case on the couch."

— Walter Tevis, The Hustler, 1959,
    Chapter 11

See, too, the invocation of Apollo in

A Mass for Lucero, as well as 

Wednesday 15 January 2003

"The invocation of the Lord is relentless…."


Wednesday 15 January 2003

Karl Cullinane —
"I will fear no evil, for I am the
meanest son of a bitch in the valley."

Monday, March 15, 2004

Monday March 15, 2004

Filed under: Uncategorized — m759 @ 12:05 PM

The Fog and the Fury

Headline and opening sentence of a column in the Washington Times:

“Job creation fog . . . and fury

Something must be done [to] restore jobs in U.S. manufacturing….”

So far, so good.  But the columnist goes on to explain the recent loss of manufacturing jobs:

“Let’s be honest. Some of these manufacturing jobs will not be coming back because of structural changes in our economy. Manufacturers have been reducing payrolls, in middle management and on the production line, because they have found ways to produce more goods at far less cost, boosting profits for further expansion and fatter investor and worker pension dividends.”


Here is a different explanation (the “fury,” as opposed to “the fog”), from a March 10 column:

“Last week’s jobs report, with hundreds of thousands giving up the search for work, and manufacturing jobs disappearing for the 43rd straight month, jolted the White House. What is going on?

They’re calling it a jobless recovery. Wrong. Millions of jobs are being created. They’re just not being created here in the United States.

The reasons can be traced to these four acronyms: NAFTA, GATT, WTO, PNTR. These are the trade treaties and global institutions that have permitted the historic substitution of foreign labor for American labor, to the enrichment of the transnational companies that look upon the Congress as a wholly owned subsidiary….

For the Bush Republicans, the chickens are coming home to roost….

At a weekend conference on immigration and jobs hosted by The American Cause, which this writer chairs, one speaker blurted out that while he voted for Bush in 2000, he would never do so again. The room erupted in applause, though virtually all there were conservatives, and all had once been Goldwater-Nixon-Reagan Republicans.”

— Pat Buchanan, author of
A Republic, Not an Empire

Happy Ides, Caesar.

Monday, September 15, 2003

Monday September 15, 2003

Filed under: Uncategorized — m759 @ 4:44 AM

Two More Skewed Mirrors

Background: Previous three entries and
The Crucifixion of John O’Hara.

  1. From The New Yorker,
    issue dated Sept. 22, 2003…

    John Updike on John O’Hara

    And yet the ultimate units of society, the human individuals lost within the crushing agglomeration of hostility, rivalry, snobbery, exclusion, and defeat that O’Hara felt in his bones, have aspirations and hopes and passions, and can be regarded with tenderness by a writer whose bleak and swift style seems at first not to care. A small story from “Files on Parade” (1939) titled “By Way of Yonkers” sticks in my mind as especially moving. Its two principals, the young woman unnamed and the man named only in the last sentence, exist on the lower levels of Depression survival. She, with her gunmetal stockings and Cossack hat and “neat, short nose with jigsaw nostrils,” seems to be a hooker. She arrives at the man’s shabby apartment so late that he tells her she must have come by way of Yonkers, and when he asks “How’d you do?” of the engagement that delayed her she not quite evades the question:

    “Oh—” she said it very high. Then: “All right. Financially. But do we have to talk about it? You and me?”

    She talks instead about her fading appetite for liquor, and the expense of dental care. He, lying inert and fully dressed on his bed, talks of being broke, of not wanting to take money from her, of how he can’t seem “to make a connection in this town.” The town is New York, and he is a minor gangster thrown out of work by the repeal of Prohibition. But he has met a man who offered him a connection in Milwaukee, and he is going to go there for a long time. The concluding words are unspectacular and unexpectedly sweeping:

    [She asks,] “Any chance you being back in town soon?”
    “Well, not right away, honey. First I have to build up my connection again.”
    “Well, I don’t have to tell you, I’m glad for you. It’s about time you got a good break.” She resumed rubbing his ankle. He put his hand on the top of her head.
    “Yeah? You’re as good a break as I ever got.”
    “Ah, Christ, Bill,” she said, and fell face down in tears.

    One is moved not only by their plight of presumably eternal separation but by the dignity that O’Hara, in a literary time of programmatic pro-proletarian advocacy (Odets and Steinbeck and Mike Gold), instinctively brings to his two specimens of lowlife. He does not view them politically, from above; he is there in the room with them, and one is moved by the unspoken presence of an author so knowing, so unjudgmental, so nearly an outcast himself.

  2. Johnny Cash singing “Hurt” —

    The video can be seen here.

Ah, Christ, Johnny.

Wednesday, November 6, 2002

Wednesday November 6, 2002

Filed under: Uncategorized — m759 @ 2:22 PM

Today's birthdays: Mike Nichols and Sally Field.

Who is Sylvia?
What is she? 


From A Beautiful Mind, by Sylvia Nasar:


Where the statue stood
Of Newton with his prism and silent face,
The marble index of a mind for ever
Voyaging through strange seas of Thought, alone.

John Forbes Nash, Jr. — mathematical genius, inventor of a theory of rational behavior, visionary of the thinking machine — had been sitting with his visitor, also a mathematician, for nearly half an hour. It was late on a weekday afternoon in the spring of 1959, and, though it was only May, uncomfortably warm. Nash was slumped in an armchair in one corner of the hospital lounge, carelessly dressed in a nylon shirt that hung limply over his unbelted trousers. His powerful frame was slack as a rag doll's, his finely molded features expressionless. He had been staring dully at a spot immediately in front of the left foot of Harvard professor George Mackey, hardly moving except to brush his long dark hair away from his forehead in a fitful, repetitive motion. His visitor sat upright, oppressed by the silence, acutely conscious that the doors to the room were locked. Mackey finally could contain himself no longer. His voice was slightly querulous, but he strained to be gentle. "How could you," began Mackey, "how could you, a mathematician, a man devoted to reason and logical proof…how could you believe that extraterrestrials are sending you messages? How could you believe that you are being recruited by aliens from outer space to save the world? How could you…?"

Nash looked up at last and fixed Mackey with an unblinking stare as cool and dispassionate as that of any bird or snake. "Because," Nash said slowly in his soft, reasonable southern drawl, as if talking to himself, "the ideas I had about supernatural beings came to me the same way that my mathematical ideas did. So I took them seriously."

What I  take seriously:

Introduction to Topology and Modern Analysis, by George F. Simmons, McGraw-Hill, New York, 1963 

An Introduction to Abstract Harmonic Analysis, by Lynn H. Loomis, Van Nostrand, Princeton, 1953

"Harmonic Analysis as the Exploitation of Symmetry — A Historical Survey," by George W. Mackey, pp. 543-698, Bulletin of the American Mathematical Society, July 1980

Walsh Functions and Their Applications, by K. G. Beauchamp, Academic Press, New York, 1975

Walsh Series: An Introduction to Dyadic Harmonic Analysis, by F. Schipp, P. Simon, W. R. Wade, and J. Pal, Adam Hilger Ltd., 1990

The review, by W. R. Wade, of Walsh Series and Transforms (Golubov, Efimov, and Skvortsov, publ. by Kluwer, Netherlands, 1991) in the Bulletin of the American Mathematical Society, April 1992, pp. 348-359

Music courtesy of Franz Schubert.

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