Log24

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

The Matrix Hypothesis

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: — m759 @ 9:20 AM

"And so both of these bizarre events put one in mind of
a simple but arresting thesis: that we are  living in the Matrix,
and something has gone wrong with the controllers. . . .
The people or machines or aliens who are supposed to be
running our lives are having some kind of breakdown.
There’s a glitch, and we are in it.

Once this insight is offered, it must be said, everything  else
begins to fall in order."

Adam Gopnik in The New Yorker , Feb. 27, 2017 

More recently

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Sermon

Filed under: Uncategorized — m759 @ 10:15 AM

Monday, February 27, 2017

Logic for Jews

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: — m759 @ 9:07 PM

(Continued)

Adam Gopnik in The New Yorker  today reacts to the startling
outcomes of three recent contests: the presidential election,
the Super Bowl, and the Oscar for Best Picture —

"The implicit dread logic is plain."

Related material —

Transformers in this journal and

“Lord Arglay had a suspicion that the Stone would be
purely logical.  Yes, he thought, but what, in that sense,
were the rules of its pure logic?”

Many Dimensions  (1931), by Charles Williams

See also

The above figure is from Ian Stewart's 1996 revision of a 1941 classic, 
What Is Mathematics? , by Richard Courant and Herbert Robbins.

One wonders how the confused slave boy of Plato's Meno  would react
to Stewart's remark that

"The number of copies required to double an
 object's size depends on its dimension."

Friday, February 17, 2017

Fear and Loathing at The New Yorker

Filed under: Uncategorized — m759 @ 9:45 AM

See also Gopnik in this journal.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Charm School

Filed under: Uncategorized — m759 @ 1:28 AM

"When the first Harry Potter book appeared, in 1997,
it was just a year before the universal search engine
Google was launched. And so Hermione Granger,
that charming grind, still goes to the Hogwarts library
and spends hours and hours working her way through
the stacks, finding out what a basilisk is or how to
make a love potion."

— Adam Gopnik in The New Yorker  issue dated
     St. Valentine's Day, 2011

More recently, Gopnik writes that

"Arguing about non-locality went out of fashion, in this
account, almost the way 'Rock Around the Clock' 
displaced Sinatra from the top of the charts."

— Adam Gopnik in The New Yorker  issue dated
     St. Andrew's Day, 2015

This  journal on Valentine's Day, 2011 —

"One heart will wear a valentine." — Sinatra

" she has written a love letter to Plato, whom 
she regards as having given us philosophy.
He is, in her view, as relevant today as he ever 
was — which is to say, very."

New York Times  review of a book by 
Rebecca Newberger Goldstein, April 18, 2014

Thursday, November 12, 2015

The Unbaked, the Baked, and the Half-Baked

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: — m759 @ 5:07 PM

Consider the trichotomy of the title as applied to the paragraph
by Adam Gopnik in the previous post (The Raw, the Cooked,
and the Spoiled
).

The following quotation seems to place Gopnik's words
among the half -baked.

"L'axe qui relie le cru et le cuit est caractéristique du passage
à la culture; celui qui relie le cru et le pourri, du retour à la nature,
puisque la cuisson accomplit la transformation culturelle du cru
comme la putréfaction en achève la transformation naturelle."

— Claude Lévi-Strauss, Paroles données, p.54, Plon, 1984,
     as quoted in a weblog

See also Lévi-Strauss's bizarre triangle culinaire  (French Wikipedia) —

The source of this structuralist nonsense —
Lévi-Strauss, Claude. 1969. “Le triangle culinaire.”
L’Arc  no. 26: 19-29.

The Raw, the Cooked, and the Spoiled

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

On the late French philosopher André Glucksmann,
a paragraph from The New Yorker

The style could be overwhelming at times, and was
often a more effective instrument of intellectual
pleasure than political persuasion. But, in return,
it produced a thousand small epiphanies—
for instance, his lovely mordant point, made at length
in one of his books, that between the “raw” and the
“cooked”—the simple binary beloved of structuralism—
there was always the “pourri,” the rotting, the rotten.
Our refusal to take in the rotting as a category of its own
was, he suggested, with a delighted literary grimace,
a kind of moral blindness, part of a fake dialectic that
blinded us to the muddled, rotting truth of the world.
The real world was not composed of oscillating
dialectical forces; it was composed of actual suffering
people crushed between those forces. — Adam Gopnik

See also

Click the above image for some backstory.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Epiphany in Paris

Filed under: Uncategorized — m759 @ 10:00 PM

It's 10 PM …

    

Related material: Adam Gopnik, The King in the Window.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Block That Metaphor:

Filed under: Uncategorized — m759 @ 11:09 PM

The Cube Model and Peano Arithmetic

The eightfold cube  model of the Fano plane may or may not have influenced a new paper (with the date Feb. 10, 2011, in its URL) on an attempted consistency proof of Peano arithmetic—

The Consistency of Arithmetic, by Storrs McCall

"Is Peano arithmetic (PA) consistent?  This paper contains a proof that it is. …

Axiomatic proofs we may categorize as 'syntactic', meaning that they concern only symbols and the derivation of one string of symbols from another, according to set rules.  'Semantic' proofs, on the other hand, differ from syntactic proofs in being based not only on symbols but on a non-symbolic, non-linguistic component, a domain of objects.    If the sole paradigm of 'proof ' in mathematics is 'axiomatic proof ', in which to prove a formula means to deduce it from axioms using specified rules of inference, then Gödel indeed appears to have had the last word on the question of PA-consistency.  But in addition to axiomatic proofs there is another kind of proof.   In this paper I give a proof of PA's consistency based on a formal semantics for PA.   To my knowledge, no semantic consistency proof of Peano arithmetic has yet been constructed.

The difference between 'semantic' and 'syntactic' theories is described by van Fraassen in his book The Scientific Image :

"The syntactic picture of a theory identifies it with a body of theorems, stated in one particular language chosen for the expression of that theory.  This should be contrasted with the alternative of presenting a theory in the first instance by identifying a class of structures as its models.  In this second, semantic, approach the language used to express the theory is neither basic nor unique; the same class of structures could well be described in radically different ways, each with its own limitations.  The models occupy centre stage." (1980, p. 44)

Van Fraassen gives the example on p. 42 of a consistency proof in formal geometry that is based on a non-linguistic model.  Suppose we wish to prove the consistency of the following geometric axioms:

A1.  For any two lines, there is at most one point that lies on both.
A2.  For any two points, there is exactly one line that lies on both.
A3.  On every line there lie at least two points.

The following diagram shows the axioms to be consistent:

Figure 1
 

The consistency proof is not a 'syntactic' one, in which the consistency of A1-A3 is derived as a theorem of a deductive system, but is based on a non-linguistic structure.  It is a semantic as opposed to a syntactic proof.  The proof constructed in this paper, like van Fraassen's, is based on a non-linguistic component, not a diagram in this case but a physical domain of three-dimensional cube-shaped blocks. ….

… The semantics presented in this paper I call 'block semantics', for reasons that will become clear….  Block semantics is based on domains consisting of cube-shaped objects of the same size, e.g. children's wooden building blocks.  These can be arranged either in a linear array or in a rectangular array, i.e. either in a row with no space between the blocks, or in a rectangle composed of rows and columns.  A linear array can consist of a single block, and the order of individual blocks in a linear or rectangular array is irrelevant. Given three blocks A, B and C, the linear arrays ABC and BCA are indistinguishable.  Two linear arrays can be joined together or concatenated into a single linear array, and a rectangle can be re-arranged or transformed into a linear array by successive concatenation of its rows.  The result is called the 'linear transformation' of the rectangle.  An essential characteristic of block semantics is that every domain of every block model is finite.  In this respect it differs from Tarski’s semantics for first-order logic, which permits infinite domains.  But although every block model is finite, there is no upper limit to the number of such models, nor to the size of their domains.

It should be emphasized that block models are physical models, the elements of which can be physically manipulated.  Their manipulation differs in obvious and fundamental ways from the manipulation of symbols in formal axiomatic systems and in mathematics.  For example the transformations described above, in which two linear arrays are joined together to form one array, or a rectangle of blocks is re-assembled into a linear array, are physical transformations not symbolic transformations. …" 

Storrs McCall, Department of Philosophy, McGill University

See also…

Salvation for Gopnik

Filed under: Uncategorized — m759 @ 1:06 AM

Yesterday afternoon's post Universals Revisited linked
(indirectly) to an article in the current New Yorker  on
the Book of Revelation —

"The Big Reveal: Why Does the Bible End That Way?"

The connection in that post between universals and Revelation
may have eluded readers unfamiliar with a novel by
Charles Williams, The Place of the Lion  (London, Gollancz, 1931).

The article's author, Adam Gopnik, appears in the following
Google Book Search, which may or may not help such readers.

Should Gopnik desire further information on Williams and salvation,
he may consult Steps Toward Salvation: An Examination of Coinherence
and Substitution in the Seven Novels of Charles Williams
 ,
by Dennis L. Weeks (American University Studies: Series 4, English
Language and Literature. Vol. 125), XV + 117 pp., Peter Lang Publishing, 1991.

The ninth item in the above search refers to a boxed set
of the seven novels themselves—

.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Annals of Religion

Filed under: Uncategorized — m759 @ 11:00 AM

"Allegorical pictures of contemporary events
 have a way of weaving in and out
 between the symbolic and the semi-psychotic."

 — Adam Gopnik in The New Yorker , issue dated March 5, 2012

See also Venue and Weaveworld .

Friday, November 25, 2011

Windows Programming

Filed under: Uncategorized — m759 @ 9:29 PM

This afternoon's post Window Actions suggests the following.

Synchronistic Reviewing

From a review at bibliphage.blogspot.com on March 24, 2009—

http://www.log24.com/log/pix11C/111125-KingInTheWindowReview.jpg

The weblog containing the review is named "Outside of a Dog." Its motto—

"Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend.
Inside of a dog it's too dark to read." —Groucho Marx

See also the dog in the update of today's noon entry.

For a synchronistic review, see this  weblog on March 24, 2009.

http://www.log24.com/log/pix11C/111125-SallyForth-Window.jpg

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Through the Blackboard

Filed under: Uncategorized — m759 @ 12:07 PM

Or: "Gopnik Meets Oppenheimer in Heaven"

(Or, for those less philosophically minded, "Raiders of the Lost Pussy")

Midrash on "A Serious Man"
by Steven Menashi at
The American Scene

"A Serious Man kicks off with a Yiddish-language frame story that takes place in a 19th-century Eastern European shtetl, where a married couple has an enigmatic encounter with an old acquaintance who may be a dybbuk," recounts Dana Stevens . "The import of this parable is cryptic to the point of inscrutability."

It seems to me that the Coen Brothers’ dybbuk is the Jewish folkloric equivalent of Schrodinger’s Cat .

When we first meet the main character, a physics professor named Larry Gopnik, he’s writing equations on the board: "So if that’s that, then we can do this, right? Is that right? Isn’t that right? And that’s Schrodinger’s paradox, right? Is the cat dead or is the cat not dead?" Likewise, we can’t know whether Fyvush Finkel [the aforementioned old acquaintance] is alive or a dybbuk. We can only evaluate probabilities. When a Korean student named Clive Park complains to Larry that he shouldn’t have failed the Physics midterm because "I understand the physics. I understand the dead cat," Larry says:

You can’t really understand the physics without understanding the math. The math tells how it really works. That’s the real thing; the stories I give you in class are just illustrative; they’re like, fables, say, to help give you a picture. An imperfect model. I mean— even I don’t understand the dead cat. The math is how it really works.

But the fable actually tells us that the math doesn’t capture reality.

The story in images below summarizes a meditation suggested by this parable and by

  1. Tuesday's post "Fish Story"
     
  2. Today's AP thought:
    "Open-mindedness is not the same as empty-mindedness." –John Dewey
     
  3. "Zen mind, empty mind."
     
  4. Today's NY Times obituary for Selma G. Hirsh,
    author of The Fears Men Live By (Harper, 1955).
    Hirsh died on St. Bridget's Day.
     
  5. A search for the Hirsh book that led to a web page
    with a 1955 review of J. Robert Oppenheimer's book The Open Mind
     
  6. A search for the Oppenheimer book that led to
    LIFE magazine's issue of Oct. 10, 1949
     
  7. "Satori means 'awakening.'" — TIME magazine, Nov. 21, 1960

 

Blackboard in "A Serious Man"–

Physicist accelerated against his blackboard in 'A Serious Man'

 

Blackboard at the Institute for Advanced Study–


J. Robert Oppenheimer at his blackboard

"Daddy's home! Daddy's home!"

(Click to enlarge.)

Oppenheimer homecoming, with ad for 'Pussy-Footer' alarm clock

 

Related material–

A Zen meditation from Robert Pirsig
is suggested by the time on the above
alarm clock– 8:20– interpreted,
surrealistically, as a date — 8/20.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Monday July 6, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — m759 @ 3:09 AM
Art and Faith

Virginia Woolf, The Waves, Harvest Books paperback, 1950, pp. 248-249:

“On the outskirts of every agony sits some observant fellow who points; who whispers as he whispered to me that summer morning in the house where the corn comes up to the window, ‘The willow grows on the turf by the river. The gardeners sweep with great brooms and the lady sits writing.’ Thus he directed me to that which is beyond and outside our own predicament; to that which is symbolic, and thus perhaps permanent, if there is any permanence in our sleeping, eating, breathing, so animal, so spiritual and tumultuous lives.”

Up to the first semicolon, this is the Associated Press thought for today.

Related aesthetic philosophy from The Washington Post:

“Varnedoe’s lectures were ultimately about faith, about his faith in the power of abstraction, and abstraction as a kind of anti-religious faith in itself, a church of American pragmatism that deals with the material stuff of experience in the history of art. To understand these lectures, which began promising an argument about how abstraction works and ended with an almost medieval allegory of how man confronts the void, one has to understand that Varnedoe views the history of abstraction as a pastor surveys the flock.”

Some Observant Fellow:

“He pointed at the football
 on his desk. ‘There it is.'”
 — The Eater of Souls 

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Thursday July 3, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — m759 @ 7:59 AM
Blasphemous Thoughts
about Thor

Commonweal on Gopnik on Chesterton:

"Gopnik thinks Chesterton’s aphorisms are better than any but Oscar Wilde’s, and he describes some of them as 'genuine Catholic koans, pregnant and profound.' For example: 'Blasphemy depends on belief, and is fading with it. If anyone doubts this, let him sit down seriously and try to think blasphemous thoughts about Thor.'"
 

Pregnant and Profound:
Douglas Adams on Thor

Kate felt quite dizzy. She didn't know exactly what it was that had just happened, but she felt pretty damn certain that it was the sort of experience that her mother would not have approved of on a first date.

"Is this all part of what we have to do to go to Asgard?" she said. "Or are you just fooling around?"

"We will go to Asgard… now," he said.

At that moment he raised his hand as if to pluck an apple, but instead of plucking he made a tiny, sharp turning movement.The effect was as if he had twisted the entire world through a billionth part of a billionth part of a degree. Everything shifted, was for a moment minutely out of focus, and then snapped back again as a suddenly different world.

The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul

See also
The Turning:

"A theorem proposed betwen the two–"

— Wallace Stevens, "The Rock"

The Turning: An Approach to the Theorem of Pythagoras

From The History of Mathematics,
by Roger Cooke

"… point A
In a perspective that begins again
At B…."

— Wallace Stevens, "The Rock"

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Wednesday December 12, 2007

Filed under: Uncategorized — m759 @ 9:00 AM
Found in Translation:
Words and Images

NY Times obituaries, Dec. 12, 2007: Whitney and Mailer

From today’s New York Times:

“Thomas P. Whitney, a former diplomat and writer on Russian affairs who was best known for translating the work of the dissident writer Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn into English, died on [Sunday] Dec. 2 in Manhattan. He was 90….

During World War II, he was an analyst in Washington with the Office of Strategic Services, a forerunner of the Central Intelligence Agency….

In the late 1960s and afterward, he bred thoroughbred horses….

On one occasion, Mr. Whitney took Mr. Solzhenitsyn to Saratoga Racetrack….”

Margalit Fox

Related material:

Words

Adam Gopnik on C. S. Lewis
in The New Yorker, issue
dated Nov. 21, 2005:

Prisoner of Narnia

“Lewis began with
a number of haunted images….”

“The best of the books are the ones…
where the allegory is at a minimum
and the images just flow.”

“‘Everything began with images,’
Lewis wrote….”


Images

Yesterday’s entry on
Solzhenitsyn and The Golden Compass
and the following illustrations…

from Sunday in the Park with Death,
a Log24 entry commemorating
Trotsky’s birthday–

By Diego Rivera: Frida Kahlo holding yin-yang symbol

–and from Log24 on the date
of Whitney’s death,
Sunday, Dec. 2, 2007

Dark and light horses, personal emblem of Harry Stack Sullivan

Personal Emblem
of psychiatrist
Harry Stack Sullivan

The horses may refer to
 the Phaedrus of Plato.

See also Art Wars.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Tuesday August 14, 2007

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: — m759 @ 12:00 PM
Philip K. Dick,
1928 – 1982

 
on the cover of
a 1987 edition of
his 1959 novel
Time Out of Joint:

The image “http://www.log24.com/log/pix07A/070814-timejoin15.jpg” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.

Cover art by Barclay Shaw reprinted
from an earlier (1984) edition

Philip K. Dick as a
window wraith (see below)

The above illustration was suggested by yesterday's quoted New Yorker characterization by Adam Gopnik of Philip K. Dick–

"… the kind of guy who can't drink one cup of coffee without drinking six, and then stays up all night to tell you what Schopenhauer really said and how it affects your understanding of Hitchcock and what that had to do with Christopher Marlowe."

— as well as by the illustrations of Gopnik's characterization in Kernel of Eternity, and by the following passage from Gopnik's 2005 novel The King in the Window:

"What's a window wraith?"

"It's someone who once lived in the ordinary world who lives now in a window, and makes reflections of the people who pass by and look in."

"You mean you are a ghost?!" Oliver asked, suddenly feeling a little terrified.

"Just the opposite, actually. You see, ghosts come from another world and haunt you, but window wraiths are the world. We're the memory of the world. We're here for good. You're the ones who come and go like ghosts. You haunt us."

Related material: As noted, Kernel of Eternity, and also John Tierney's piece on simulated reality in last night's online New York Times. Whether our everyday reality is merely a simulation has long been a theme (as in Dick's novel above) of speculative fiction. Interest in this theme is widespread, perhaps partly because we do exist as simulations– in the minds of other people. These simulations may be accurate or may be– as is perhaps Gopnik's characterization of Philip K. Dick– inaccurate. The accuracy of the simulations is seldom of interest to the simulator, but often of considerable interest to the simulatee.

The cover of the Aug. 20 New Yorker in which the Adam Gopnik essay appears may also be of interest, in view of the material on diagonals in the Log24 entries of Aug. 1 linked to in yesterday's entry:

IMAGE- New Yorker cover echoing Hexagram 14 in the box-style I Ching

"Summer Reading,"
by Joost Swarte

Monday, August 13, 2007

Monday August 13, 2007

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

Adam Gopnik in
The New Yorker of
August 20, 2007–

On Philip K. Dick:

"… the kind of guy who can't drink one cup of coffee without drinking six, and then stays up all night to tell you what Schopenhauer really said and how it affects your understanding of Hitchcock and what that had to do with Christopher Marlowe."

Modernity: A Film by
Alfred Hitchcock
:

"… the most thoroughgoing modernist design element in Hitchcock's films arises out of geometry, as Francois Regnault has argued, identifying 'a global movement for each one, or a "principal geometric or dynamic form," which can appear in the pure state in the credits….'" –Peter J. Hutchings (my italics)

More >>

Epilogue:

Adam Gopnik is also the author
of The King in the Window, a tale
of the Christian feast of Epiphany
and a sinister quantum computer.

For more on Epiphany, see
the Log24 entries of August 1.

For more on quantum computing,
see What is Quantum Computation?.

See also
the previous entry.

Wednesday, January 4, 2006

Wednesday January 4, 2006

Filed under: Uncategorized — m759 @ 4:04 AM
Dragon School

In memory of Humphrey Carpenter, author of The Inklings, who attended The Dragon School.  Carpenter died a year ago today.

From Log24 on Nov. 16, 2005:

Images


Adam Gopnik on C. S. Lewis in the New Yorker:

“Lewis began with a number of haunted images….”

“The best of the books are the ones… where the allegory is at a minimum and the images just flow.”

“‘Everything began with images,’ Lewis wrote….”

The image “http://www.log24.com/log/pix05B/051116-Time.jpg” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.

From Paul Preuss,
Broken Symmetries
(see previous entry):

“Mathematical relationships were enough to satisfy him, mere formal relationships which existed at all times, everywhere, at once.  It was a thin nectar, but he was convinced it was the nectar of the gods….”


From
Verbum Sat Sapienti?

The image “http://www.log24.com/theory/images/EscherVerbum2.jpg” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.

Escher’s Verbum

The image “http://www.log24.com/theory/images/DTinvar246.jpg” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.

Solomon’s Cube

The image “http://www.log24.com/theory/images/HexagramsTable.jpg” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.

Geometry of the I Ching

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Tuesday December 13, 2005

Filed under: Uncategorized — m759 @ 3:15 AM
Christmas Reflections
for Julie Taymor
  (creator of
 Broadway’s “Lion King
and of the film “Frida“)

Adam Gopnik on Narnia in The New Yorker:

“Everything began with images,” Lewis wrote.

Julie Taymor on “Frida”:

“We’re not here to stick a mirror on you. Anybody can do that, We’re here to give you a more cubist or skewed mirror, where you get to see yourself with fresh eyes. That’s what an artist does. When you paint the Crucifixion, you’re not painting an exact reproduction.”

Images for Julie Taymor:

The image “http://www.log24.com/log/pix05B/051213-Quartet.jpg” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.

Today’s New York Times on Debora Arango, an artist who died at 98 on Dec. 4 at her home near Medellin, Colombia:

“She made dramatic paintings of prostitutes, which shocked midcentury sensibilities….”

“Ms. Arango always pushed boundaries, even as a young girl. In a favorite story, she talked about how she wore pants to ride horses….”

Related material: Yesterday’s entry “Modestly Yours” and entries on Johnny Cash, horses, and Julie Taymor of September 12-14, 2003.

“Words are events.”

Walter J. Ong, Society of Jesus
 
Concluding Unscientific Postscript
at noon on St. Lucy’s Day:

The image “http://www.log24.com/log/pix05B/051213-Nutcracker.jpg” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.

“They are the horses of a dream.
 They are not what they seem.”

The Hex Witch of Seldom, page 16

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Wednesday November 16, 2005

Filed under: Uncategorized — m759 @ 4:04 PM
Images

Adam Gopnik on C. S. Lewis in this week’s New Yorker:

“Lewis began with a number of haunted images….”

“The best of the books are the ones… where the allegory is at a minimum and the images just flow.”

“‘Everything began with images,’ Lewis wrote….”

“We go to the writing of the marvellous, and to children’s books, for stories, certainly, and for the epic possibilities of good and evil in confrontation, not yet so mixed as they are in life. But we go, above all, for imagery: it is the force of imagery that carries us forward. We have a longing for inexplicable sublime imagery….”

“The religious believer finds consolation, and relief, too, in the world of magic exactly because it is at odds with the necessarily straitened and punitive morality of organized worship, even if the believer is, like Lewis, reluctant to admit it. The irrational images– the street lamp in the snow and the silver chair and the speaking horse– are as much an escape for the Christian imagination as for the rationalist, and we sense a deeper joy in Lewis’s prose as it escapes from the demands of Christian belief into the darker realm of magic. As for faith, well, a handful of images is as good as an armful of arguments, as the old apostles always knew.”

Related material:

The image “http://www.log24.com/log/pix05B/051116-Time.jpg” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.

Click on pictures for details.

See also Windmills and
Verbum sat sapienti?
as well as

an essay

 at Calvin College
on Simone Weil,
Charles Williams,
Dante, and
the way of images.”

Sunday, September 12, 2004

Sunday September 12, 2004

Filed under: Uncategorized — m759 @ 12:00 PM

Dark Lady

“Each time we come closer to Shakespeare’s life, we escape from the aridity of formal criticism or the cheap generalities of social history into a recognizable world of real experience.  When A. L. Rowse insists that Emilia Bassano Lanier, the tempestuous, adulterous, musical, poetic wife of a court musician, was the original ‘Dark Lady’ of the Sonnets, we can buy it or not, as we please. But the very existence of a woman like Emilia demonstrates that the clichéd images of Elizabethan women, as subservient wives or unruly whores, are too grossly tuned to capture the reality of Shakespeare’s world. Whether she is the Dark Lady or not, Emilia is a dark lady. Good biographical criticism dissolves determinisms, and replaces them not with gossipy puzzle-solution certainties but with glimpses of life as it is lived, and art as it is made.”

— Adam Gopnik, The New Yorker, issue dated Sept. 13, 2004

 

“En librairie depuis le 12 septembre 2003, ce livre correspond au désir du mouvement ‘ni putes ni soumises’ de briser l’omerta et de poursuivre les débats engagés depuis la marche des femmes. À travers ce récit, ce sont les voix de milliers de jeunes femmes qui se font entendre, exprimant leurs interrogations et leur révolte.”

niputesnisoumises.com

On Samira Bellil, who died on Sept. 3:

“Bellil was considered the ‘godmother’ of the womens’ rights group ‘Ni Putes Ni Soumises’ (Neither Whores Nor Submissive.)”

Hendersonville (NC) Times-News

Saturday, August 23, 2003

Saturday August 23, 2003

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: — m759 @ 3:07 AM

Pictures of Nothing

‘”The artist delights to go back to the first chaos of the world… All is without forms and void. Some one said of his landscapes that they were pictures of nothing, and very like.”

William Hazlitt, 1816, on J. M. W. Turner

“William Hazlett [sic] once described Turner’s painting as ‘pictures of the elements of air, earth, and water. The artist delights to go back to the first chaos of the world…All is without form and void. Some one said of his landscapes that they were pictures of nothing and very like.   This description could equally well be applied to a Pollock, Newman, or Rothko.”

— Sonja J. Klein, thesis, The Nature of the Sublime, September 2000

The fifty-second A. W. Mellon series of Lectures in the Fine Arts was given last spring at the National Gallery in Washington, D.C., by Kirk Varnedoe, art historian at the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, New Jersey.

The lecture series was titled

Pictures of Nothing:
Abstract Art since Pollock.

 

The lectures, 2003:

Why Abstract Art? … March 30

Survivals and Fresh Starts … April 6

Minimalism … April 13

After Minimalism … April 27

Satire, Irony, and Abstract Art … May 4

Abstract Art Now … May 11

Varnedoe died on Thursday, August 14, 2003,
the day of the Great Blackout.

Pictures of Nothing:

“Record-breaking crowds turned up at the National Gallery for Kirk’s Mellon Lectures….

… the content of Kirk’s talk was miraculously subtle, as he insisted that there could be no single explanation for how abstraction works, that each piece had to be understood on its own terms — how it came to be made, what it meant then and what it has gone on to mean to viewers since.

Dour works like

Frank Stella’s early
gray-on-black canvases

Die Fahne Hoch,”
Frank Stella,
1959

“Gray on Black,”
or “Date of Death”

seemed to open up under Kirk’s touch to reveal a delicacy and complexity lost in less textured explanations.”

Blake Gopnik in the Washington Post,
Aug. 15, 2003

For another memorial to Varnedoe, see

Fahne Hoch.

A May 18 Washington Post article skillfully summarized Varnedoe’s Mellon Lectures at the National Gallery:

Closing the Circle on Abstract Art.

For more on art and nihilism, see

The Word in the Desert.

Monday, August 18, 2003

Monday August 18, 2003

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: — m759 @ 3:09 PM

Entries since Xanga’s
August 10 Failure:


Sunday, August 17, 2003  2:00 PM

A Thorny Crown of…

West Wing's Toby Ziegler

From the first episode of
the television series
The West Wing“:

 

Original airdate: Sept. 22, 1999
Written by Aaron Sorkin

MARY MARSH
That New York sense of humor. It always–

CALDWELL
Mary, there’s absolutely no need…

MARY MARSH
Please, Reverend, they think they’re so much smarter. They think it’s smart talk. But nobody else does.

JOSH
I’m actually from Connecticut, but that’s neither here nor there. The point is that I hope…

TOBY
She meant Jewish.

[A stunned silence. Everyone stares at Toby.]

TOBY (CONT.)
When she said “New York sense of humor,” she was talking about you and me.

JOSH
You know what, Toby, let’s just not even go there.

 

Going There, Part I

 

Crown of Ideas

Kirk Varnedoe, 57, art historian and former curator of the Museum of Modern Art, died Thursday, August 14, 2003.

From his New York Times obituary:

” ‘He loved life in its most tangible forms, and so for him art was as physical and pleasurable as being knocked down by a wave,’ said Adam Gopnik, the writer and a former student of his who collaborated on Mr. Varnedoe’s first big show at the Modern, ‘High & Low.’ ‘Art was always material first — it was never, ever bound by a thorny crown of ideas.’ ”

For a mini-exhibit of ideas in honor of Varnedoe, see

Fahne Hoch.

Verlyn Klinkenborg on Varnedoe:

“I was always struck by the tangibility of the words he used….  It was as if he were laying words down on the table one by one as he used them, like brushes in an artist’s studio. That was why students crowded into his classes and why the National Gallery of Art had overflow audiences for his Mellon Lectures earlier this year. Something synaptic happened when you listened to Kirk Varnedoe, and, remarkably, something synaptic happened when he listened to you. You never knew what you might discover together.”

Perhaps even a “thorny crown of ideas“?

“Crown of Thorns”
Cathedral, Brasilia

Varnedoe’s death coincided with
the Great Blackout of 2003.

“To what extent does this idea of a civic life produced by sense of adversity correspond to actual life in Brasília? I wonder if it is something which the city actually cultivates. Consider, for example the cathedral, on the monumental axis, a circular, concrete framed building whose sixteen ribs are both structural and symbolic, making a structure that reads unambiguously as a crown of thorns; other symbolic elements include the subterranean entrance, the visitor passing through a subterranean passage before emerging in the light of the body of the cathedral. And it is light, shockingly so….”

Modernist Civic Space: The Case of Brasilia, by Richard J. Williams, Department of History of Art, University of Edinburgh, Scotland

 

Going There, Part II

Simple, Bold, Clear

Art historian Kirk Varnedoe was, of course, not the only one to die on the day of the Great Blackout.

Claude Martel, 34, a senior art director of The New York Times Magazine, also died on Thursday, August 14, 2003.

Janet Froelich, the magazine’s art director, describes below a sample of work that she and Martel did together:

“A new world of ideas”

Froelich notes that “the elements are simple, bold, and clear.”

For another example of elements with these qualities, see my journal entry

Fahne Hoch.

The flag design in that entry
might appeal to Aaron Sorkin’s
Christian antisemite:

 

Fahne,
S. H. Cullinane,
Aug. 15, 2003

Dr. Mengele,
according to
Hollywood

 

Note that the elements of the flag design have the qualities described so aptly by Froelich– simplicity, boldness, clarity:

They share these qualities with the Elements of Euclid, a treatise on geometrical ideas.

For the manner in which such concepts might serve as, in Gopnik’s memorable phrase, a “thorny crown of ideas,” see

“Geometry for Jews” in

ART WARS: Geometry as Conceptual Art.

See also the discussion of ideas in my journal entry on theology and art titled

Understanding: On Death and Truth

and the discussion of the wordidea” (as well as the word, and the concept, “Aryan”) in the following classic (introduced by poet W. H. Auden):

 

 

Saturday, August 16, 2003  6:00 AM

Varnedoe’s Crown

Kirk Varnedoe, 57, art historian and former curator of the Museum of Modern Art, died Thursday, August 14, 2003.

From his New York Times obituary:

” ‘He loved life in its most tangible forms, and so for him art was as physical and pleasurable as being knocked down by a wave,’ said Adam Gopnik, the writer and a former student of his who collaborated on Mr. Varnedoe’s first big show at the Modern, ‘High & Low.’ ‘Art was always material first — it was never, ever bound by a thorny crown of ideas.’ “

For a mini-exhibit of ideas in honor of Varnedoe, see

Fahne Hoch. 

Verlyn Klinkenborg on Varnedoe:

“I was always struck by the tangibility of the words he used….  It was as if he were laying words down on the table one by one as he used them, like brushes in an artist’s studio. That was why students crowded into his classes and why the National Gallery of Art had overflow audiences for his Mellon Lectures earlier this year. Something synaptic happened when you listened to Kirk Varnedoe, and, remarkably, something synaptic happened when he listened to you. You never knew what you might discover together.”

Perhaps even a “thorny crown of ideas”?

“Crown of Thorns”
Cathedral, Brasilia

Varnedoe’s death coincided with
the Great Blackout of 2003.

“To what extent does this idea of a civic life produced by sense of adversity correspond to actual life in Brasília? I wonder if it is something which the city actually cultivates. Consider, for example the cathedral, on the monumental axis, a circular, concrete framed building whose sixteen ribs are both structural and symbolic, making a structure that reads unambiguously as a crown of thorns; other symbolic elements include the subterranean entrance, the visitor passing through a subterranean passage before emerging in the light of the body of the cathedral. And it is light, shockingly so….”

Modernist Civic Space: The Case of Brasilia, by Richard J. Williams, Department of History of Art, University of Edinburgh, Scotland


Friday, August 15, 2003  3:30 PM

ART WARS:

The Boys from Brazil

It turns out that the elementary half-square designs used in Diamond Theory

 

also appear in the work of artist Nicole Sigaud.

Sigaud’s website The ANACOM Project  has a page that leads to the artist Athos Bulcão, famous for his work in Brasilia.

From the document

Conceptual Art in an
Authoritarian Political Context:
Brasilia, Brazil
,

by Angélica Madeira:

“Athos created unique visual plans, tiles of high poetic significance, icons inseparable from the city.”

As Sigaud notes, two-color diagonally-divided squares play a large part in the art of Bulcão.

The title of Madeira’s article, and the remarks of Anna Chave on the relationship of conceptual/minimalist art to fascist rhetoric (see my May 9, 2003, entries), suggest possible illustrations for a more politicized version of Diamond Theory:

 

Fahne,
S. H. Cullinane,
Aug. 15, 2003

Dr. Mengele,
according to
Hollywood

 

Is it safe?

These illustrations were suggested in part by the fact that today is the anniversary of the death of Macbeth, King of Scotland, and in part by the following illustrations from my journal entries of July 13, 2003 comparing a MOMA curator to Lady Macbeth:

 

Die Fahne Hoch,
Frank Stella,
1959


Dorothy Miller,
MOMA curator,
died at 99 on
July 11, 2003
.

 


Thursday, August 14, 2003  3:45 AM

Famous Last Words

The ending of an Aug. 14 Salon.com article on Mel Gibson’s new film, “The Passion”:

” ‘The Passion’ will most likely offer up the familiar puerile, stereotypical view of the evil Jew calling for Jesus’ blood and the clueless Pilate begging him to reconsider. It is a view guaranteed to stir anew the passions of the rabid Christian, and one that will send the Jews scurrying back to the dark corners of history.”

— Christopher Orlet

“Scurrying”?!  The ghost of Joseph Goebbels, who famously portrayed Jews as sewer rats doing just that, must be laughing — perhaps along with the ghost of Lady Diana Mosley (née Mitford), who died Monday.

This goes well with a story that Orlet tells at his website:

“… to me, the most genuine last words are those that arise naturally from the moment, such as

 

Joseph Goebbels

 

Voltaire’s response to a request that he foreswear Satan: ‘This is no time to make new enemies.’ ”

For a view of Satan as an old, familiar, acquaintance, see the link to Prince Ombra in my entry last October 29 for Goebbels’s birthday.


Wednesday, August 13, 2003  3:00 PM

Best Picture

For some reflections inspired in part by

click here.


Tuesday, August 12, 2003  4:44 PM

Atonement:

A sequel to my entry “Catholic Tastes” of July 27, 2003.

Some remarks of Wallace Stevens that seem appropriate on this date:

“It may be that one life is a punishment
For another, as the son’s life for the father’s.”

—  Esthétique du Mal, Wallace Stevens

Joseph Patrick Kennedy, Jr.

“Unless we believe in the hero, what is there
To believe? ….
Devise, devise, and make him of winter’s
Iciest core, a north star, central
In our oblivion, of summer’s
Imagination, the golden rescue:
The bread and wine of the mind….”

Examination of the Hero in a Time of War, Wallace Stevens

Etymology of “Atonement”:

Middle English atonen, to be reconciled, from at one, in agreement

At One

“… We found,
If we found the central evil, the central good….
… we and the diamond globe at last were one.”

Asides on the Oboe, Wallace Stevens


Tuesday, August 12, 2003  1:52 PM

Franken & ‘Stein,
Attorneys at Law

Tue August 12, 2003 04:10 AM ET
NEW YORK (Reuters) – Fox News Network is suing humor writer Al Franken for trademark infringement over the phrase ‘fair and balanced’ on the cover of his upcoming book, saying it has been ‘a signature slogan’ of the network since 1996.”

Franken:
Fair?

‘Stein:
Balanced?

For answers, click on the pictures
of Franken and ‘Stein.


Saturday, August 16, 2003

Saturday August 16, 2003

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: — m759 @ 2:16 AM

My Personal Thorny Crown

Kirk Varnedoe, 57, art historian and former curator of the Museum of Modern Art, died Thursday, August 14, 2003.

From his New York Times obituary:

" 'He loved life in its most tangible forms, and so for him art was as physical and pleasurable as being knocked down by a wave,' said Adam Gopnik, the writer and a former student of his who collaborated on Mr. Varnedoe's first big show at the Modern, 'High & Low.' 'Art was always material first — it was never, ever bound by a thorny crown of ideas.' "

For some background on the phrase "thorny crown of ideas," see the web page

Understanding.   

The phrase "thorny crown of ideas" is also of interest in the light of recent controversy over Mel Gibson's new film, "The Passion."

For details of the controversy, see Christopher Orlet's Aug. 14 essay at Salon.com,

Mel Gibson vs. "The Jews"

For a real "thorny crown of ideas," consider the following remarks by another art historian:

"Whether or not we can follow the theorist in his demonstrations, there is one misunderstanding we must avoid at all cost.  We must not confuse the analyses of geometrical symmetries with the mathematics of combination and permutation….

The earliest (and perhaps the rarest) treatise on the theory of design drives home this insight with marvellous precision."

— E. H. Gombrich, 1979, in
   The Sense of Order

This is perhaps the most stupid remark I have ever read.  The "treatise on the theory of design" that Gombrich refers to is

  • Dominique Douat, Methode pour faire une infinité de desseins differents avec des carreaux mipartis de deux couleurs par une ligne diagonale : ou observations du Pere Dominique Douat Religieux Carmes de la Province de Toulouse sur un memoire inséré dans l'Histoire de l'Académie Royale des Sciences de Paris l'année 1704, présenté par le Reverend Sebastien Truchet religieux du même ordre, Academicien honoraire, imprimé chez Jacques Quillau, Imprimeur Juré de l'Université, Paris 1722.

This is the title given at the web page

Truchet & Types:
Tiling Systems and Ornaments
,

which gives some background. 

Certain of the Truchet/Douat patterns have rather intriguing mathematical properties, sketched in my website Diamond Theory.  These properties become clear if and only we we do what Gombrich moronically declares that we must not do:  "confuse the analyses of geometrical symmetries with the mathematics of combination and permutation."  (The verb "confuse" should, of course, be replaced by the verb "combine.") 

What does all this have to do with

Mel Gibson vs. "The Jews" ?

As jesting Pilate seems to have realized, whenever Jews (or, for that matter, Christians) tell stories, issues of truth may arise.  Such issues, as shown by current events in that damned Semitic Hell-on-Earth that used to be referred to as "the Holy Land," can be of life-and-death importance.


Scene from
The Passion

The Roman soldiers may have fashioned a physical crown of thorns, but the Jews are quite capable of fashioning a very uncomfortable crown of, as Gopnik says, "ideas."

Here is an example.

"Ernst Hans Josef Gombrich, who as an author went by the name E. H. Gombrich, was born in Vienna in 1909….

The Gombrich family was Jewish, but his parents felt this had no particular relevance. In later years Mr. Gombrich said that whether someone was Jewish or not was a preoccupation for the Gestapo."

— Michael Kimmelman's obituary for Gombrich in the New York Times. Kimmelman is chief art critic for the New York Times and author of the Times's Aug. 15 Varnedoe obituary.

The web page Understanding cited above contains a link to

Pilate, Truth, and Friday the Thirteenth,

a page combining some religious remarks with a quotation of an extremely patronizing and superficial reference to my own work (and, in passing, to Truchet/Douat patterns).

This reference, and the above-quoted remark by Gombrich, constitute my own modest claim to what the Jew Gopnik jokingly calls a "thorny crown of ideas."

To me it is no joke.

This partly accounts for the rather strained quality of the attempt at humor in a web page I put together yesterday in response to Varnedoe's obituary:

Fahne Hoch, Macbeth!

Another reason for the strained quality is my being struck by the synchronicity of reading Varnedoe's obituary shortly after I had done a journal entry related to the death in July of an earlier Museum of Modern Art curator.  Like Robert A. Heinlein, I think the God of the Jews is a lousy deity and an even worse father figure.  I do, however, believe in synchronicity.
 

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