Saturday, March 10, 2018


Filed under: General — m759 @ 12:25 PM

See also the undefined phrase "projective model" in a 2012 MIT thesis,
and the following book —

Friday, April 5, 2019

A Definite Field

Filed under: General — m759 @ 10:45 AM

"We render the compulsion harmless, and indeed useful,
by giving it the right to assert itself in a definite field.
We admit it into the transference as a playground…."

— Sigmund Freud, 1914, "Remembering, Repeating,
and Working-Through" (See "Expanding the Spielraum,"
Oct. 26, 2015, in this  journal.)

An indefinite field —

A definite field —

A circular I Ching

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Poster Boys

Filed under: General — m759 @ 7:42 PM

See also a search in this journal for Compulsion.

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Devil’s Gate Revisited

Filed under: General — Tags: — m759 @ 10:27 AM

The revisiting, below, of an image shown here in part
on Spy Wednesday, 2016, was suggested in part by
a New York Times  obituary today for a Nobel-prize
winning Hungarian novelist. 

Note the references on the map to 
"Devil's Gate" and "Pathfinder."

See also the following from a review of The Pathseeker , a novel 
by the Nobel laureate (Imre Kertész), who reportedly died today —

The commissioner is in fact not in search of a path, but rather of traces of the past (more literally the Hungarian title means ‘trace seeker’). His first shock comes at his realization that the site of his sufferings has been converted into a museum, complete with tourists “diligently carrying off the significance of things, crumb by crumb, wearing away a bit of the unspoken importance” (59). He meets not only tourists, however. He also comes across paradoxically “unknown acquaintances who were just as much haunted by a compulsion to revisit,” including a veiled woman who slowly repeats to him the inventory of those she lost: “my father, my younger brother, my fiancé” (79). The commissioner informs her that he has come “to try to redress that injustice” (80). When she asks how, he suddenly finds the words he had sought, “as if he could see them written down: ‘So that I should bear witness to everything I have seen’” (80).

The act of bearing witness, however, proves elusive. In the museum he is compelled to wonder, “What could this collection of junk, so cleverly, indeed all too cleverly disguised as dusty museum material, prove to him, or to anyone else for that matter,” and adds the chilling observation, “Its objects could be brought to life only by being utilized” (71). As he touches the rust-eaten barbed wire fence he thinks, “A person might almost feel in the mood to stop and dutifully muse on this image of decay – were he not aware, of course, that this was precisely the goal; that the play of ephemerality was merely a bait for things” (66). It is this play of ephemerality, the possibility that the past will be consigned to the past, against which the commissioner struggles, yet his struggle is frustrated precisely by the lack of resistance, the indifference of the objects he has come to confront. “What should he cling on to for proof?” he wonders. “What was he to fight with, if they were depriving him of every object of the struggle? Against what was he to try and resist, if nothing was resisting?” (68) He had come with the purpose of “advertis[ing] his superiority, celebrat[ing] the triumph of his existence in front of these mute and powerless things. His groundless disappointment was fed merely by the fact that this festive invitation had received no response. The objects were holding their peace” (109). 

In point of fact The Pathseeker  makes no specific mention either of the Holocaust or of the concentration camps, yet the admittedly cryptic references to places leave no doubt that this is its subject. Above the gate at the camp the commissioner’s wife reads the phrase, “Jedem das Seine,” to each his due, and one recalls the sign above the entrance to the camp at Buchenwald. Further references to Goethe as well as the Brabag factory, where Kertész himself worked as a prisoner, confirm this. Why this subterfuge on the part of the author? Why a third-person narrative with an unnamed protagonist when so many biographical links tie the author to the story? One cannot help but wonder if Kertész sought specifically to avoid binding his story to particulars in order to maintain the ultimately metaphysical nature of the quest. Like many of Kertész’s works,The Pathseeker  is not about the trauma of the Holocaust itself so much as the trauma of survival. The self may survive but the triumph of that survival is chimerical.

Translator Tim Wilkinson made the bold decision, in translating the title of the work, not to resort to the obvious. Rather than simply translate Nyomkereső , an allusion to the Hungarian translation of James Fenimore Cooper’s The Pathfinder , back into English, he preserves an element of the unfamiliar in his title. This tendency marks many of the passages of the English translation, in which Wilkinson has opted to preserve the winding and often frustratingly serpentine nature of many of the sentences of the original instead of rewriting them in sleek, familiar English.  . . .

— Thomas Cooper

"Sleek, familiar English" —

"Those were the good old days!" — Applegate in "Damn Yankees"
(See previous post.)

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

“The Stone” Today Suggests…

Filed under: General,Geometry — m759 @ 12:31 PM

A girl's best friend?

The Philosopher's Gaze , by David Michael Levin,
U. of California Press, 1999, in III.5, "The Field of Vision," pp. 174-175—

The post-metaphysical question—question for a post-metaphysical phenomenology—is therefore: Can the perceptual field, the ground of perception, be released  from our historical compulsion to represent it in a way that accommodates our will to power and its need to totalize and reify the presencing of being? In other words: Can the ground be experienced as  ground? Can its hermeneutical way of presencing, i.e., as a dynamic interplay of concealment and unconcealment, be given appropriate  respect in the receptivity of a perception that lets itself  be appropriated by  the ground and accordingly lets  the phenomenon of the ground be  what and how it is? Can the coming-to-pass of the ontological difference that is constitutive of all the local figure-ground differences taking place in our perceptual field be made visible hermeneutically, and thus without violence to its withdrawal into concealment? But the question concerning the constellation of figure and ground cannot be separated from the question concerning the structure of subject and object. Hence the possibility of a movement beyond metaphysics must also think the historical possibility of breaking out of this structure into the spacing of the ontological difference: différance , the primordial, sensuous, ekstatic écart . As Heidegger states it in his Parmenides lectures, it is a question of "the way historical man belongs within the bestowal of being (Zufügung des Seins ), i.e., the way this order entitles him to acknowledge being and to be the only being among all beings to see  the open" (PE* 150, PG** 223. Italics added). We might also say that it is a question of our response-ability, our capacity as beings gifted with vision, to measure up to the responsibility for perceptual responsiveness laid down for us in the "primordial de-cision" (Entscheid ) of the ontological difference (ibid.). To recognize the operation of the ontological difference taking place in the figure-ground difference of the perceptual Gestalt  is to recognize the ontological difference as the primordial Riß , the primordial Ur-teil  underlying all our perceptual syntheses and judgments—and recognize, moreover, that this rift, this  division, decision, and scission, an ekstatic écart  underlying and gathering all our so-called acts of perception, is also the only "norm" (ἀρχή ) by which our condition, our essential deciding and becoming as the ones who are gifted with sight, can ultimately be judged.

* PE: Parmenides  of Heidegger in English— Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1992

** PG: Parmenides  of Heidegger in German— Gesamtausgabe , vol. 54— Frankfurt am Main: Vittorio Klostermann, 1992

Examples of "the primordial Riß " as ἀρχή  —

For an explanation in terms of mathematics rather than philosophy,
see the diamond theorem. For more on the Riß  as ἀρχή , see
Function Decomposition Over a Finite Field.

Friday, March 31, 2006

Friday March 31, 2006

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

Women's History Month continues…
Ontology Alignment

"He had with him a small red book of Mao's poems, and as he talked he squared it on the table, aligned it with the table edge first vertically and then horizontally.  To understand who Michael Laski is you must have a feeling for that kind of compulsion."

— Joan Didion in the
Saturday Evening Post,
Nov. 18, 1967 (reprinted in
Slouching Towards Bethlehem)

"Or were you," I said.
He said nothing.
"Raised a Catholic," I said.
He aligned a square crystal paperweight with the edge of his desk blotter.

— Joan Didion in
The Last Thing He Wanted,
Knopf, 1996

"It was Plato who best expressed– who veritably embodied– the tension between the narrative arts and mathematics….

Plato clearly loved them both, both mathematics and poetry.  But he approved of mathematics, and heartily, if conflictedly, disapproved of poetry.  Engraved above the entrance to his Academy, the first European university, was the admonition: Oudeis ageometretos eiseto.  Let none ignorant of geometry enter.  This is an expression of high approval indeed, and the symbolism could not have been more perfect, since mathematics was, for Plato, the very gateway for all future knowledge.  Mathematics ushers one into the realm of abstraction and universality, grasped only through pure reason.  Mathematics is the threshold we cross to pass into the ideal, the truly real."

— Rebecca Goldstein,
Mathematics and
the Character of Tragedy

Monday, October 31, 2005

Monday October 31, 2005

Filed under: General — Tags: , , , — m759 @ 2:00 AM


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“An asymmetrical balance is sought since it possesses more movement. This is achieved by the imaginary plotting of the character upon a nine-fold square, invented by some ingenious writer of the Tang dynasty. If the square were divided in half or in four, the result would be symmetrical, but the nine-fold square permits balanced asymmetry.”– Chiang Yee, Chinese Calligraphy,
quoted in Aspen no. 10, item 8“‘Burnt Norton’ opens as a meditation on time. Many comparable and contrasting views are introduced. The lines are drenched with reminiscences of Heraclitus’ fragments on flux and movement….  the chief contrast around which Eliot constructs this poem is that between the view of time as a mere continuum, and the difficult paradoxical Christian view of how man lives both ‘in and out of time,’ how he is immersed in the flux and yet can penetrate to the eternal by apprehending timeless existence within time and above it. But even for the Christian the moments of release from the pressures of the flux are rare, though they alone redeem the sad wastage of otherwise unillumined existence. Eliot recalls one such moment of peculiar poignance, a childhood moment in the rose-garden– a symbol he has previously used, in many variants, for the birth of desire. Its implications are intricate and even ambiguous, since they raise the whole problem of how to discriminate between supernatural vision and mere illusion. Other variations here on the theme of how time is conquered are more directly apprehensible. In dwelling on the extension of time into movement, Eliot takes up an image he had used in ‘Triumphal March’: ‘at the still point of the turning world.’ This notion of ‘a mathematically pure point’ (as Philip Wheelwright has called it) seems to be Eliot’s poetic equivalent in our cosmology for Dante’s ‘unmoved Mover,’ another way of symbolising a timeless release from the ‘outer compulsions’ of the world. Still another variation is the passage on the Chinese jar in the final section. Here Eliot, in a conception comparable to Wallace Stevens’ ‘Anecdote of the Jar,’ has suggested how art conquers time:

       Only by the form, the pattern,
Can words or music reach
The stillness, as a Chinese jar still
Moves perpetually in its stillness.”

— F. O. Matthiessen,
The Achievement of T.S. Eliot,
Oxford University Press, 1958,
as quoted in On “Burnt Norton”

Tuesday, June 15, 2004

Tuesday June 15, 2004

Filed under: General — m759 @ 4:00 PM

Kierkegaard on death:

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

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

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

“… as an inscription over the graveyard gate one could place ‘No compulsion here’ or ‘With us there is no compulsion.’ “

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

“In the summer of 1943 I was eight, and my father and mother and small brother and I were in Peterson Field in Colorado Springs.  A hot wind blew through that summer…. There was not much to do…. There was an Officers’ Club, but no swimming pool; all the Officers’ Club had of interest was artificial blue rain behind the bar.  The rain interested me a good deal, but I could not spend the summer watching it, and so we went, my brother and I, to the movies.

We went three and four afternoons a week, sat on folding chairs in the darkened Quonset hut which served as a theater, and it was there, that summer of 1943 while the hot wind blew outside, that I first saw John Wayne. Saw the walk, heard the voice.  Heard him tell a girl in a picture called War of the Wildcats that he would build her a house, ‘at the bend in the river where the cottonwoods grow.’  As it happened I did not grow up to be the kind of woman who is the heroine in a Western, and although the men I have known have had many virtues and have taken me to live in many places I have come to love, they have never been John Wayne, and they have never taken me to that bend in the river where the cottonwoods grow.  Deep in that part of my heart where the artificial rain forever falls, that is still the line I wait to hear.

… When John Wayne spoke, there was no mistaking his intentions; he had a sexual authority so strong that even a child could perceive it.  And in a world we understood early to be characterized by venality and doubt and paralyzing ambiguities, he suggested another world, one which may or may not have existed ever but in any case existed no more: a place where a man could move free. could make his own code and live by it; a world in which, if a man did what he had to do, he could one day take the girl and go riding through the draw and find himself home free, not in a hospital with something wrong inside, not in a high bed with the flowers and the drugs and the forced smiles, but there at the bend in the bright river, the cottonwoods shimmering in the early morning sun.”

— Joan Didion,
   “John Wayne: A Love Song,” 1965

“He is home now. He is free.”

— Ron Reagan, Friday, June 11, 2004

“Beware, therefore, of the dead!  Beware of his kindness; beware of his definiteness, beware of his strength; beware of his pride!  But if you love him, then remember him lovingly, and learn from him, precisely as one who is dead, learn the kindness in thought, the definiteness in expression, the strength in unchangeableness, the pride in life which you would not be able to learn as well from any human being, even the most highly gifted.”

Works of Love,
   Harper Torchbooks, 1964, p. 328

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