Log24

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Wednesday August 24, 2005

Filed under: General — m759 @ 12:00 AM

High Concept, continued:

“In the beginning there was nothing.
 And God said, ‘Let there be light!’
 And there was still nothing,
 but now you could see it.

— Jim Holt, Big-Bang Theology,
    Slate‘s “High Concept” department

Related material:

  1. On the phrase “verbum mentis”
  2. From Satan’s Rhetoric, by Armando Maggi
    (University of Chicago Press, 2001):
Page 110:

“In chapter I I explained that devils first and foremost exist as semioticians of the world’s signs.  Devils solely live in their interpretations, in their destructive syllogisms.  As Visconti puts it, devils speak the idiom of the mind.37  …. The exorcist’s healing voice states that Satan has always been absent from the world, that his disturbing and unclear manifestations in the possessed person’s physicality are really nonexistent occurrences, nothing but disturbances of the mind, since evil itself is a lack of being.”   

Footnote 37, page 110:

“It is necessary to distinguish the devils’ ‘language of the mind’ and Augustine’s verbum mentis (word of the mind), as he theorizes it first of all in On the Trinity (book 15).  The devils’ language of the mind disturbs the subject’s internal and preverbal discourse.”

Sunday, July 3, 2005

Sunday July 3, 2005

Filed under: General — m759 @ 2:28 PM

Intersections

1. Blue Ridge meets Black Mountain,

2. Vertical meets horizontal in music,

3. The timeless meets time in religion.

Details:

1. Blue Ridge, Black Mountain

Montreat College is located in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains of Western North Carolina…. The Black Mountain Campus is… three miles from the main campus in the historic town of Black Mountain.”

Black Mountain College was “established on the Blue Ridge Assembly grounds outside the town of Black Mountain in North Carolina in the fall of 1933.”

USA Today, May 15, 2005, on Billy Graham
:

“MONTREAT, N.C. — … It’s here at his… homestead, where the Blue Ridge meets the Black Mountain range east of Asheville, that Graham gave a rare personal interview.”

See also the following from June 24:


The image “http://www.log24.com/log/pix05A/050624-Cross.jpg” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.

“No bridge reaches God, except one…
God’s Bridge: The Cross.”

— Billy Graham Evangelistic Association,
according to messiahpage.com

For some remarks more in the spirit of Black Mountain than of the Blue Ridge, see today’s earlier entry on pianist Grete Sultan and composer Tui St. George Tucker.

2. Vertical, Horizontal in Music

Richard Neuhaus on George Steiner’s
Grammars of Creation
:

 “… the facts of the world are not and will never be ‘the end of the matter.’ Music joins grammar in pointing to the possibility, the reality, of more. He thinks Schopenhauer was on to something when he said music will continue after the world ends.

‘The capacity of music to operate simultaneously along horizontal and vertical axes, to proceed simultaneously in opposite directions (as in inverse canons), may well constitute the nearest that men and women can come to absolute freedom.  Music does “keep time” for itself and for us.'”

3. Timeless, Time

A Trinity Sunday sermon quotes T. S. Eliot:

“… to apprehend
The point of intersection of the timeless
With time, is an occupation for the saint.”

See also The Diamond Project.

Update of July 8, 2005, 3 AM:

A Bridge for Private Ryan

The image “http://www.log24.com/log/pix05A/050708-RyansBridge.jpg” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.

In memory of actor
Harrison Richard Young, 75,
who died on Sunday, July 3, 2005

Sunday, May 8, 2005

Sunday May 8, 2005

Filed under: General,Geometry — m759 @ 12:00 AM

Geometry and Theology

See

the science fiction writer mentioned in a Friday entry.

Mark Olson’s article is at the website of the New England Science Fiction Association, publisher of Ingathering: The Complete People Stories of Zenna Henderson.  This book, by one of my favorite science-fiction authors, was apparently edited by the same Mark Olson.

The following remarks seem relevant to the recurring telepathy theme in Henderson:

From the first article cited above,
David L. Neuhouser,
Higher Dimensions in the Writings of C. S. Lewis (pdf):

“If we are three-dimensional cross-sections of four-dimensional reality, perhaps we are parts of the same body. In fact, we know we are parts of the same body in some way, this four-dimensional idea just may help us to see it more clearly. Remember the preceding comments are mine, not Lewis’s. He puts it this way, ‘That we can die “in” Adam and live “in” Christ seems to me to imply that man as he really is differs a good deal from man as our categories of thought and our three-dimensional imaginations represent him; that the separateness… which we discern between individuals, is balanced, in absolute reality, by some kind of inter-inanimation of which we have no conception at all. It may be that the acts and sufferings of great archetypal individuals such as Adam and Christ are ours, not by legal fiction, metaphor, or causality, but in some much deeper fashion. There is no question, of course, of individuals melting down into a kind of spiritual continuum such as Pantheistic systems believe in; that is excluded by the whole tenor of our faith.'”

From Webster’s Unabridged, 1913 edition:

inanimate
, v. t.

[Pref. in- in (or intensively) + animate.]
 To animate. [Obs.] — Donne.

inanimation, n.

Infusion of life or vigor;
animation; inspiration.
[Obs.]
The inanimation of Christ
living and breathing within us.
Bp. Hall.

Related words…

Also from the 1913 Webster’s:

circumincession, n.

[Pref. circum- + L. incedere, incessum, to walk.]
(Theol.) The reciprocal existence in each other
of the three persons of the Trinity.

From an online essay:

perichoresis
, n.

“The term means mutual indwelling or, better, mutual interpenetration and refers to the understanding of both the Trinity and Christology. In the divine perichoresis, each person has ‘being in each other without coalescence’ (John of Damascus ca. 650). The roots of this doctrine are long and deep.”

—  Bert Waggoner

coinherence, n.

“In our human experience of personhood, at any rate in a fallen world, there is in each person an inevitable element of exclusiveness, of opaqueness and impenetrability.  But with the three divine persons it is not so.  Each is entirely ‘open’ to the others, totally transparent and receptive.  This transparency and receptivity is summed up in the Greek notion of perichoresis, which Gibbon once called ‘the deepest and darkest corner of the whole theological abyss.’  Rendered in Latin as circumincessio and in English usually as ‘coinherence,’ the Greek term means literally, cyclical movement, and so reciprocity, interchange, mutual indwelling.  The prefix peri bears the sense ‘around,’ while choresis is linked with chora, ‘room,’ space,’ ‘place’ or ‘container,’ and with chorein, to ‘go,’ ‘advance,’ ‘make room for’ or ‘contain.’  Some also see a connection with choros, ‘dance,’ and so they take perichoresis to mean ’round dance.’  Applied to Christ, the term signifies that his two natures, the divine and the human, interpenetrate one another without separation and without confusion.  Applied to the Trinity, it signifies that each person ‘contains’ the other two and ‘moves’ within them.  In the words of St Gregory of Nyssa, ‘All that is the Father’s is seen in the Son, and all that is the Son’s belongs also the Father. For the whole Son abides in the Father, and he has in his turn the whole Father abiding in himself.’ 

By virtue of this perichoresis, Father, Son and Holy Spirit ‘coinhere‘ in one another, each dwelling in the other two through an unceasing movement of mutual love – the ’round dance’ of the Trinity.”

— Timothy Ware, Bishop Kallistos of Diokleia,
    The Human Person as an Icon of the Trinity

Friday, May 6, 2005

Friday May 6, 2005

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

Trinity symbol
(See Sequel.)

The image “http://www.log24.com/theory/images/KleinDualInsideOut200.gif” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.
Trinity symbol
by Greg Egan
(via John Baez)

Involved:

 

"Difficult to understand because of intricacy: byzantine, complex, complicated, convoluted, daedal, Daedalian, elaborate, intricate, involute, knotty, labyrinthine, tangled."

— Roget's II: The New Thesaurus, Third Edition

See also the previous three entries,
as well as Symmetries.

Tuesday, February 8, 2005

Tuesday February 8, 2005

Filed under: General — m759 @ 11:32 PM
The Crimson Passion

(last year’s Mardi Gras drama)
continues with…

The Usual Suspects

(See previous entry.)

The image “http://www.log24.com/log/pix05/050208-Trinity.jpg” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.

The theme of last year’s drama
is still valid:

“The teenagers aren’t all bad.
I love ’em if nobody else does.
There ain’t nothing wrong
with young people.
Jus’ quit lyin’ to ’em.”

Jackie “Moms” Mabley   

Friday, December 10, 2004

Friday December 10, 2004

Filed under: General — m759 @ 2:14 PM
Review

“Philosophers ponder the idea of identity:
what it is to give something a name
on Monday and have it respond
to that name on Friday….”

— Bernard Holland
in the New York Times
of Monday, May 20, 1996

Log24.net on Monday:

Zen and the Trinity

(See entries of
December 6, 2002.)

Zen:
The time is now
3:00:00 PM.

The Trinity:
Three illustrations will suffice.”

New York Times on Friday:

 The image “http://www.log24.com/log/pix04B/041210-Illustrations.jpg” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.

Monday, December 6, 2004

Monday December 6, 2004

Filed under: General — m759 @ 3:00 PM

Zen and the Trinity

(See entries of December 6, 2002.)

Zen: The time is now 3:00:00 PM.

The Trinity: “Three illustrations will suffice.”

Sunday, November 21, 2004

Sunday November 21, 2004

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

Trinity and Counterpoint

Today's Roman Catholic meditation is from Gerry Adams, leader of Sinn Fein, the political arm of the Irish Republican Army:

"I certainly regret what happened and I make no bones about that," Adams said on the 30th anniversary of pub bombings that killed 21 on Nov. 21, 1974, in Birmingham, England.

Those who care what Roman Catholics think of the Trinity may read the remarks of St. Bonaventure at math16.com.

That site also offers a less holy but more intelligible trinity based on the irrefutable fact that 3 x 8 = 24 and on a remarkable counterpoint between group actions on a 4×2 array and group actions on a 4×4 array.

For a Protestant view of this trinity, see a website at the University of Birmingham in England.

That site's home page links to Birmingham's City Evangelical Church.
 

Friday, November 19, 2004

Friday November 19, 2004

Filed under: General — m759 @ 11:30 AM

Goin’ to Carolina
in My Mind

From today’s New York Times:

“Bobby Frank Cherry, the former Klansman whose conviction two years ago for the church bombing that killed four black girls in Birmingham, Ala., in 1963 resolved one of the most shocking cases of the civil rights era, died yesterday at the Kilby Correctional Facility near Montgomery, Ala., a prison spokesman said. He was 74.”

From

The Footprints of God

(Log24.net, July 31, 2004):

“If Trinity is everything you say it is,” she said, “then why in God’s name would it be based in North Carolina?”

This I hadn’t expected.  “Aren’t you the top Jungian analyst in the world?”

“Well… one of them.”

“Why are you based in North Carolina?”

From

The Fiery Cross —
A Call to Arms
:

“The western portions of Virginia and the Carolinas, the northern portions of Georgia and Alabama, and most of Tennessee, were settled by the hardy race of Scotch-Irish, in whose veins the Scotch blood was warm.”

From the LA Times story
cited in yesterday’s entry:

“Born in Charlotte, N.C., Graham grew up in a family of Scottish Presbyterians…. Since 1950,  [he has] lived in an Appalachian log home… near Asheville, N.C.”

The image “http://www.log24.com/log/pix04B/041119-Graham72.jpg” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors. The image “http://www.log24.com/log/pix04B/041119-MethFlag.gif” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.
Graham
in 1972
Methodist
Flag

 

“The Cross and Flame is a registered trademark and the use is supervised by the General Council on Finance and Administration of The United Methodist Church. Permission to use the Cross and Flame must be obtained from the General Council on Finance and Administration of The United Methodist Church – Legal Department, 1200 Davis Street, Evanston, IL 60201.”  — www.bobmay.info

Today’s birthday:
Poet Allen Tate

“In the riven troughs the splayed leaves
Pile up, of nature the casual sacrament
To the seasonal eternity of death.”

Ode to the Confederate Dead

Friday, August 6, 2004

Friday August 6, 2004

Filed under: General — m759 @ 6:29 PM

Epistle and Hymns

In the spirit of Dave Barry’s Book of Bad Songs, we conclude our Hiroshima Day service with a link to The Epistle of Jeremiah and a deadly trinity of singers:

A Landmark

Neil Diamond–
I Am … I Said

Hoyt Axton–
Jeremiah Was a Bullfrog

Jill O’Hara–
It’s Not Easy Being Green

Saturday, July 31, 2004

Saturday July 31, 2004

Filed under: General — m759 @ 3:00 AM

For the Feast of St. Ignatius Loyola:

In God’s Name

“If Trinity is everything you say it is,” she said, “then why in God’s name would it be based in North Carolina?”

This I hadn’t expected.  “Aren’t you the top Jungian analyst in the world?”

“Well… one of them.”

“Why are you based in North Carolina?”

The Footprints of God



Nell

“Remembering speechlessly we seek the great forgotten language, the lost lane-end into heaven, a stone, a leaf, an unfound door. Where? When?”

Thomas Wolfe

Friday, July 9, 2004

Friday July 9, 2004

Filed under: General — m759 @ 7:11 PM

Scoop

This afternoon I came across, in a briefcase I seldom use, two books I had not looked at since I bought them last month:

  • The Footprints of God, a recently published paperback by Greg Iles, a writer who graduated from Trinity High School, Natchez, Mississippi, in 1979, and from the University of Mississippi in Oxford in 1983.
  • Sanctuary, by the better-known Mississippi writer William Faulkner.

At the time I purchased the books, indeed until I looked up Iles on the Web today, I was not aware of the Mississippi connection.  Their physical connection, lying together today in my briefcase, is, of course, purely coincidental.  My view of coincidence is close to that of Arthur Koestler, who wrote The Challenge of Chance and The Roots of Coincidence, and to that of Loren Eiseley, who wrote of a dice game and of "the Other Player" in his autobiography, All the Strange Hours.

A Log24 entry yesterday referred to a comedic novel on the role of chance in physics, Cosmic Banditos.  Today's New York Times quotes an entertainer who referred to President Bush yesterday, at a political fund-raiser, as a bandito.  Another coincidence… this one related directly to the philosophy of coincidences expounded jokingly in Cosmic Banditos.

I draw no conclusions from such coincidences, but they do inspire me to look a little deeper into life's details — where, some say, God is.  Free association on these details, together with a passage in Sanctuary, inspired the following collage:

The image “http://www.log24.com/log/pix04A/040709-FritoReba.jpg” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.


Related Texts

Faulkner on a trinity of women
in Sanctuary (Ch. 25):

"Miss Reba emerged from behind the screen with three glasses of gin. 'This'll put some heart into us,' she said. 'We're setting here like three old sick cats.'  They bowed formally and drank, patting their lips.  Then they began to talk.  They were all talking at once,* again in half-completed sentences, but without pauses for agreement or affirmation."


"In Defense of the Brand":

"When I was helping Frito corn chips expand its core user group in the mid-'90s, we didn't ask Frito-Lay to just wave the Fritos banner. The brand was elevated to a place where it could address its core users in a way that was relevant to their lifestyle. We took the profile of the audience and created a campaign starring Reba McEntire. It captured the brand's essence, and set Frito eaters amidst good music, good people, and good fun."

Song lyric, Reba McEntire:
 
"I might have been born
just plain white trash,
but Fancy was my name."

Loren Eiseley, 
Notes of an Alchemist:

I never found
the hole in the wall;
I never found
Pancho Villa country
where you see the enemy first.
— "The Invisible Horseman"

Sunday, May 2, 2004

Sunday May 2, 2004

Filed under: General — m759 @ 2:00 AM

Trinity Test

Some background on the previous entry, Honorable Bird….

A note on the Michael Douglas film in that previous entry:

“This film is not to be confused with Japanese director Shohei Imamura’s BLACK RAIN, which was produced around the same time. Imamura’s film deals with the lives of a Japanese family who survived the nuclear-bombing of Hiroshima. The phrase ‘black rain,’ used in both films, refers to the deadly fallout caused by the detonation of an atomic weapon.”

For related material on the religion of Trinity, see Hiroshima Mayor Says US Worships Nukes, a news story quoted in Death of a Holy Man (8/10/03).  The phrase “holy man” there is from John Steinbeck, who once wrote a sentence saying that sons of bitches, viewed from another perspective, are holy men.

Here is the death of another holy man, Clayton S. White, a medical researcher who developed the field of blast biology — the study of how nuclear explosions affect people immediately and over time.  This holy man died on April 26, 2004.  A log24 entry of that date supplies an appropriate epitaph for the holy man, dead at 91, who has now joined his younger brother, the late Supreme Court Justice Byron R. White, in some region of the afterworld.

Friday, April 30, 2004

Friday April 30, 2004

Filed under: General — Tags: — m759 @ 6:24 AM

Library

These are the folios of April,
All the library of spring

Christopher Morley

The above quotation is dedicated to Quay A. McCune, M.D., whose copy of Bartlett's Familiar Quotations I purchased for two dollars at a Friends of the Library sale on July 2, 1999.  Dr. McCune's copy of Bartlett was the twelfth edition, of November 1948, in a February 1952 reprint.  It was edited by Christopher Morley.

Incidentally, Morley's father Frank, a professor of mathematics, is the discoverer of Morley's theorem, which says that the angle trisectors of any triangle, of whatever shape, determine an equilateral "Morley triangle" hidden within the original triangle.

    

Those familiar with Dorothy Sayers's explication of the Trinity, The Mind of the Maker, will recognize that this figure represents a triumph over the heresies she so skillfully describes in the chapter "Scalene Trinities."  From another chapter:

"… this is the Idea that is put forward for our response. There is nothing mythological about Christian Trinitarian doctrine: it is analogical. It offers itself freely for meditation and discussion; but it is desirable that we should avoid the bewildered frame of mind of the apocryphal Japanese gentleman who complained:

'Honourable Father, very good;
 Honourable Son, very good; but
 Honourable Bird
     I do not understand at all.'

'Honourable Bird,' however, has certain advantages as a pictorial symbol, since, besides reminding us of those realities which it does symbolise, it also reminds us that the whole picture is a symbol and no more."

In the Morley family trinity, if Frank is the Father and Christopher is the Son, we must conclude that the Holy Spirit is Christopher's mother — whose maiden name was, appropriately, Bird.

Saturday, April 10, 2004

Saturday April 10, 2004

Filed under: General — m759 @ 1:23 AM

Harrowing

“The Ferris wheel came into view again, just the top, silently burning high on the hill, almost directly in front of him, then the trees rose up over it.  The road, which was terrible and full of potholes, went steeply downhill here; he was approaching the little bridge over the barranca, the deep ravine.  Halfway across the bridge he stopped; he lit a new cigarette from the one he’d been smoking, and leaned over the parapet, looking down.  It was too dark to see the bottom, but: here was finality indeed, and cleavage!  Quauhnahuac was like the times in this respect, wherever you turned the abyss was waiting for you round the corner. Dormitory for vultures and city of Moloch! When Christ was being crucified, so ran the sea-borne, hieratic legend, the earth had opened all through this country …”

— Malcolm Lowry, Under the Volcano, 1947. (Harper & Row reissue, 1984, p. 15)

Comment by Stephen Spender:

“There is a suggestion of Christ descending into the abyss for the harrowing of Hell.  But it is the Consul whom we think of here, rather than of Christ.  The Consul is hurled into this abyss at the end of the novel.”

— Introduction to Under the Volcano


 Edward Gibbon, Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Chapter XXI

Gibbon, discussing the theology of the Trinity, defines perichoresis as

“… the internal connection and spiritual penetration which indissolubly unites the divine persons59 ….

59 … The perichoresis  or ‘circumincessio,’ is perhaps the deepest and darkest corner of the whole theological abyss.”


 “Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster.  And when you look long into an abyss, the abyss also looks into you.”

— Friedrich Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil, section 146, translated by Walter Kaufmann


William Golding:

 “Simon’s head was tilted slightly up.  His eyes could not break away and the Lord of the Flies hung in space before him. 

‘What are you doing out here all alone?  Aren’t you afraid of me?’

Simon shook.

‘There isn’t anyone to help you.  Only me.  And I’m the Beast.’

Simon’s mouth labored, brought forth audible words.

‘Pig’s head on a stick.’

‘Fancy thinking the Beast was something you could hunt and kill!’ said the head.  For a moment or two the forest and all the other dimly appreciated places echoed with the parody of laughter.  ‘You knew, didn’t you?  I’m part of you?  Close, close, close!’ “


“Thought of the day:
You can catch more flies with honey than vinegar… if you’re into catchin’ flies.”

Alice Woodrome, Good Friday, 2004

Anne Francis,
also known as
Honey West:

“Here was finality indeed,
and cleavage!”

Under the Volcano

From the official
     Anne Francis Web Site:   

   Come into my parlor….

For some background,
see the use of the word
“spider” in Under the Volcano:

WRIDER/ESPIDER:
THE CONSUL AS ARTIST IN
UNDER THE VOLCANO,

by Patrick A. McCarthy.

See, too, Why Me?

Tuesday, March 16, 2004

Tuesday March 16, 2004

Filed under: General,Geometry — m759 @ 1:06 PM

Anschaulichkeit

In memory of John W. Seybold, who died at 88 on Sunday, March 14, 2004….

Seybold is said to have originated the application of the phrase “what you see is what you get” (WYSIWYG) to computerized typesetting.

The date of Seybold’s death was also the date of Einstein’s birth.

The entry “Clarity and Certainty” for that day contains a discussion by Einstein of the fact that the altitudes of a triangle have a point in common.

A March 14 search for a clear diagram of that fact yielded the above illustration, to which I returned today after reading of Seybold’s WYSIWYG philosophy.  The illustration is taken from an article by a British teacher of geometry that contains the following:

“Dick Tahta wrote… of geometry as involving the direct apprehension of imagery, gazing as into the eyes of a beloved and a certain intuition-seeing (Anschauung)…..

His sentences have tremendous power, and yet the terms he uses are slippery and seem unexplainable. What is, or what might be, ‘direct apprehension of imagery’? What is evoked by the powerfully metaphorical ‘gazing as into the eyes of a beloved’? ‘Intuition’ is a tremendously difficult term…. The combination ‘intuition-seeing’ seems to represent an attempt to convey a meaning for the German ‘Anschauung,’ and echoes the original title of the text Anschauliche Geometrie by Hilbert and Cohn-Vossen which was published in English as Geometry and the Imagination.”

From the same article:

“… for Lacan ‘mathematics … is constantly in touch with the unconscious’….

Commentators on Lacan frequently write that… he argued that the human being is captivated by an image….

The object, in a sense, gazes back.”

From a discussion group:

“Anschaulichkeit” is in my Cassell’s German-English dictionary, with the meanings “visual or graphic quality, clearness, vividness, perspicuity.”

For “anschaulich,” this dictionary gives “visual, clear, vivid, graphic, concrete; (Phil.) intuitive, perceptual.”

For “Anschauung” it has

  1. visual perception…..
  2. mode of viewing, way of looking at or seeing, idea, conception, notion, opinion, (point of) view, outlook
  3. (Phil.) perception…..
  4. (Theol.) contemplation.

The final meaning above, theological contemplation, suggests that the altitude-intersection diagram above may be used for a meditation on the Trinity.  This is, of course, silly, but no sillier than the third-rate lucubrations of the damned charlatan Lacan.

And so let us pray that Einstein on his birthday was joined by Seybold in rapturous contemplation of the Trinity as revealed in the physicist’s “holy geometry book.”

For a less silly geometrico-theological metaphor, see “Scalene Trinities” from The Mind of the Maker, by Dorothy Sayers.

For a related revelation, see A Contrapuntal Theme.

Thursday, February 5, 2004

Thursday February 5, 2004

Filed under: General — m759 @ 12:00 PM

Affirmation of Place and Time:
East Coker and Grand Rapids

This morning’s meditation:

“Let us talk together with the courage, humor, and ardor of Socrates.

In that long conversation, we may find ourselves considering something Plato’s follower Plotinus said long ago about ‘a principle which transcends being,’ in whose domain one can ‘assert identity without the affirmation of being.’  There, ‘everything has taken its stand forever, an identity well pleased, we might say, to be as it is…. Its entire content is simultaneously present in that identity: this is pure being in eternal actuality; nowhere is there any future, for every then is a now; nor is there any past, for nothing there has ever ceased to be.’  Individuality and existence in space and time may be masks that our sensibilities impose on the far different face of quantum reality.”

— Peter Pesic, Seeing Double: Shared Identities in Physics, Philosophy, and Literature, MIT Press paperback, 2003, p. 145

A search for more on Plotinus led to sites on the Trinity, which in turn led to the excellent archives at Calvin College in Grand Rapids.

A search for the theological underpinnings of Calvin College led to the Christian Reformed church:

“Our emblem is
the cross in a triangle.”

The triangle, as a symbol of “the delta factor,” also plays an important role in the semiotic theory of Walker Percy.  A search for current material on Percy led back to one of my favorite websites, that of Percy expert Karey Perkins, and thus to the following paper:

The “East Coker” Dance
in T. S. Eliot’s Four Quartets:
An Affirmation of Place and Time

by Karey Perkins

For a rather different, but excellent, literary affirmation of place and time — in Grand Rapids, rather than East Coker — see, for instance, Michigan Roll, a novel by Tom Kakonis.

We may, for the purposes of this trinitarian meditation, regard Percy and Kakonis as speaking for the Son and Karey Perkins as a spokesperson for the Holy Spirit.  As often in my meditations, I choose to regard the poet Wallace Stevens as speaking perceptively about (if not for, or as) the Father.  A search for related material leads to a 1948 comment by Thomas McGreevy, who

“… wrote of Stevens’ ‘Credences of Summer’ (Collected Poems 376),

On every page I find things that content me, as ‘The trumpet of the morning blows in the clouds and through / The sky.’

A devout Roman Catholic, he added, ‘And I think my delight in it is of the Holy Spirit.’ (26 May 1948).”

An ensuing search for material on “Credences of Summer” led back, surprisingly, to an essay — not very scholarly, but interesting — on Stevens, Plotinus, and neoplatonism.

Thus the circle closed.

As previous entries have indicated, I have little respect for Christianity as a religion, since Christians are, in my experience, for the most part, damned liars.  The Trinity as philosophical poetry, is, however, another matter.  I respect Pesic’s speculations on identity, but wish he had a firmer grasp of his subject’s roots in trinitarian thought.  For Stevens, Percy, and Perkins, I have more than respect.

Monday, January 26, 2004

Monday January 26, 2004

Filed under: General — Tags: — m759 @ 7:00 PM

The Subject Par Excellence

The previous entry connected the mad Marxist Althusser with Mount Sinai; this connection is not as whimsical as it may seem.

From Althusser's "Ideology and Ideological State Apparatuses" (La Pensée, 1970):

" 'And the Lord spoke to Moses and said to him, "I am that I am".'

God thus defines himself as the Subject par excellence, he who is through himself and for himself ('I am that I am'), and he who interpellates [Althusser's jargon for "hails"] his subject, the individual subjected to him by his very interpellation, i.e. the individual named Moses."

This is from page 179 of Lenin and Philosophy and Other Essays.

The connection of the Althusser disciple Sprinker with the Trinity in Taking Lucifer Seriously is also not as whimsical as it may seem.

See Althusser's note (p. 180, op. cit.) stating that

"The dogma of the Trinity is precisely the theory of the duplication of the Subject (the Father) into a subject (the Son) and of their mirror-connexion (the Holy Spirit)."

Saturday, January 24, 2004

Saturday January 24, 2004

Filed under: General — m759 @ 9:09 AM

Taking Lucifer Seriously:

Michael Sprinker
versus
The Society of Jesus

As the previous entry indicates, I do not take Christian poetry too seriously.  The Prince of Darkness is another matter.  I encountered him this morning in a book on the Christian poet Hopkins by the late Michael Sprinker.

“You were never on the debating team when you were in high school, were you, ace? When you’re in a debate, you don’t try to convince the other side; they’re never going to agree with you. You try to convince the judges and the audience.”

— Michael Sprinker, quoted in The Minnesota Review, 2003

“For Hopkins, poetry was the act of producing the self, one version of that selving which he associated not only with Christ but with Lucifer.”

— Michael Sprinker, “A Counterpoint of Dissonance” — The Aesthetics and Poetry of Gerard Manley Hopkins, Johns Hopkins University Press, 1980, p. 95

A counterbalance to Sprinker on Hopkins and Lucifer is Hopkins, the Self, and God, by Walter J. Ong, S. J. (University of Toronto Press, 1986).  From p. 119:

“The interior dynamism of the Three Persons in One God was not for Hopkins some sort of formula for theological juggling acts but was rather the centre of his personal devotional life and thus of his own ‘selving.’ ….  He writes to Bridges 24 October 1883…

‘For if the Trinity… is to be explained by grammar and by tropes… where wd. be the mystery? the true mystery, the incomprehensible one.’ “

For the dynamics of the Trinity, see the Jan. 22 entry, Perichoresis, or Coinherence.  Another word for coinherence is “indwelling,” as expressed in what might be called the

Song of Lucifer:

Me into you, 
You into me, 
 Me into you…

Atlanta Rhythm Section

For a Christian version of this “indwelling,” see

Coinherence,
Interpenetration,
Mutual Indwelling

See also last year’s entries of 9/09.

Thursday, January 22, 2004

Thursday January 22, 2004

Filed under: General — m759 @ 8:19 AM

Perichoresis, or Coinherence

Edward Gibbon, Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Chapter XXI

Gibbon, discussing the theology of the Trinity, defines perichoresis as

“… the internal connection and spiritual penetration which indissolubly unites the divine persons59 ….

59 … The perichoresis or ‘circumincessio,’ is perhaps the deepest and darkest corner of the whole theological abyss.”

“Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster.  And when you look long into an abyss, the abyss also looks into you.”

— Friedrich Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil, section 146, translated by Walter Kaufmann

Perichoresis does NOT mean “dancing around” ….

From a mailing list message:

If [a correspondent] will but open a lexicon, she will see that perichoresis (with a long o, omega) has nothing to do with “the Greek word for dance,” which is spelt with a short o (omicron).  As a technical term in trinitarian theology, perichoresis means “interpenetration.”

Perichoresis in Theology

Interpenetration in Arthur Machen

Interpenetration in T. S. Eliot:

“Between two worlds
     become much like each other….”

On the Novels of Charles Williams

Coinherence in Charles Williams

Readings on Perichoresis

Saint Athanasius

Per Speculum in Aenigmate

The Per Speculum link is to a discussion of coinherence and the four last films of Kieslowski

La Double Vie de Veronique (1991),

Trois Couleurs: Bleu (1993),

Trois Couleurs: Blanc (1993), and

Trois Couleurs: Rouge (1994).

See, too, previous log24 entries related to Kieslowski’s work and to coinherence:

Moulin Bleu (12/16/03),

Quarter to Three (12/20/03), and

White, Geometric, and Eternal (12/20/03).

Sunday, December 14, 2003

Sunday December 14, 2003

Filed under: General — Tags: — m759 @ 2:01 AM

Riddle

From Robert Stone's Damascus Gate:

"God… that Great F—ing Thing, the Lord of Sacrifices, the setter of riddles."

(See the Web site "Stone, not Wood.")

Christianity may be a religion of lies, but it sometimes has a certain charm.  If in fact there is a heaven, part of it must strongly resemble Paris in the 1890's, as suggested by the picture below.

From today's New York Times:

"The Very Rev. Sturgis Lee Riddle, dean emeritus of the American Episcopal Cathedral in Paris, died on Tuesday at his home on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. He was 94.

His death was reported on the cathedral's Web site."

From the cathedral's Web site,
a Christmas card:

Après l'Office à l'Église de la Sainte-Trinité, Noël 1890
(After the Service at Holy Trinity Church,
Christmas 1890) Jean Béraud

"Madame, all stories, if continued far enough, end in death, and he is no true-story teller who would keep that from you."
— Ernest Hemingway,
   Death in the Afternoon, Ch. 11

"There is never any ending to Paris…."
— Ernest Hemingway, A Moveable Feast

 

See, too, my Paris-related entry for December 9, the date of Riddle's death, and recall that in Wild Palms, "the much sought-after Go chip [is] the missing link in the Senator's bid to be immortal, 'like Jesus.' "

Scene from Wild Palms

 

Friday, November 7, 2003

Friday November 7, 2003

Filed under: General — m759 @ 1:28 PM

Today in History:
The Comeback Kid

(Courtesy of Dr. Mac’s Cultural Calendar)

On this date:

In 1962, having lost the California governor’s race, Richard Nixon said to the press, “You won’t have Nixon to kick around any more.”

In 1972, Republican incumbent President Richard Nixon was re-elected, defeating Democratic candidate George McGovern, 520 electoral votes to 17.

From the archives of singer/songwriter Shannon Campbell (“voice of an angel, mouth of a truckdriver”)–

Feb. 6, 2002: The Essential Matrix

NEO: (whines) Who am I?

TRINITY: You are The One.

EVERYONE ELSE: Eh, he might be The One.

TRINITY: He is The One.

NEO: I am not The One.

TRINITY: You are The One.

THE ORACLE: You are not The One, but you can’t tell anybody.

NEO: (whines) But I wanted to be The One. I want to go home….

TRINITY: Fuck. He’s not The One.

EVERYONE ELSE: Told you so.

MORPHEUS: Sure wish someone was The One. I’m in deep shit.

Thursday, November 6, 2003

Thursday November 6, 2003

Filed under: General,Geometry — Tags: — m759 @ 2:00 PM

Legacy Codes:

The Most Violent Poem

Lore of the Manhattan Project:

From The Trinity Site

“I imagined Oppenheimer saying aloud,
‘Batter my heart, three person’d God,”
unexpectedly recalling John Donne’s ‘Holy Sonnet [14],’
and then he knew, ‘ “Trinity” will do.’
Memory has its reasons.

‘Batter my heart’ — I remember these words.
I first heard them on a fall day at Duke University in 1963.
Inside a classroom twelve of us were
seated around a long seminar table
listening to Reynolds Price recite this holy sonnet….

I remember Reynolds saying, slowly, carefully,
‘This is the most violent poem in the English language.’ ”

Related Entertainment

Today’s birthday:
director Mike Nichols

From a dead Righteous Brother:

“If you believe in forever
Then life is just a one-night stand.”

Bobby Hatfield, found dead
in his hotel room at
7 PM EST Wednesday, Nov. 5, 2003,
before a concert scheduled at
Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo
.

From a review of The Matrix Revolutions:

“You’d have to be totally blind at the end
to miss the Christian symbolism….
Trinity gets a glimpse of heaven…. And in the end…
God Put A Rainbow In The Clouds.”

Moral of the
Entertainment:

According to Chu Hsi [Zhu Xi],

“Li” is
“the principle or coherence
or order or pattern
underlying the cosmos.”

— Smith, Bol, Adler, and Wyatt,
Sung Dynasty Uses of the I Ching,
Princeton University Press, 1990

Related Non-Entertainment

Symmetry and a Trinity
(for the dotting-the-eye symbol above)

Introduction to Harmonic Analysis
(for musical and historical background)

Mathematical Proofs
(for the spirit of Western Michigan
University, Kalamazoo)

Moral of the
Non-Entertainment:

“Many kinds of entity
become easier to handle
by decomposing them into
components belonging to spaces
invariant under specified symmetries.”

The importance of
mathematical conceptualisation

by David Corfield,
Department of History and
Philosophy of Science,
University of Cambridge

See, too,
Symmetry of Walsh Functions and
Geometry of the I Ching.

Thursday, September 11, 2003

Thursday September 11, 2003

Filed under: General — Tags: , — m759 @ 6:25 PM

Particularity

Walter J. Ong

Particularity

Upon learning of the recent death of Walter J. Ong, S. J., philosopher of language, I ordered a copy of his book

Hopkins, the Self, and God
University of Toronto Press, 1986.

As the reader of my previous entry will discover, I have a very low opinion of the literary skills of the first Christians.   This sect’s writing has, however, improved in the past two millennia.

Despite my low opinion of the early Christians, I am still not convinced their religion is totally unfounded.  Hence my ordering of the Ong book.  Since then, I have also ordered two other books, reflecting my interests in philosophical fiction (see previous entry) and in philosophy itself:

Philosophical fiction —

The Hex Witch of Seldom,
by Nancy Springer,
Penguin Putnam Inc., 2002
(See 1 Corinthians 1:26-29)

Philosophy —

Definition,
by Richard Robinson,
Fellow of Oriel College, Oxford,
Oxford U. Press, 1954, reprinted 1962.

Following the scientific advice of Niels Bohr and Freeman Dyson, I articulated on April 25, 2003, a mad theory of the mystical significance of the number 162.

Here is that theory applied to the three works named above, all three of which I received, synchronistically, today.

Page 162 of Hopkins, the Self, and God is part of the long list of references at the back of the book.  Undiscouraged by the seeming insignificance (vide my note Dogma) of this page, I looked more closely.  Behold, there was Christ…  Carol T. Christ, that is, author of The Finer Optic: The Aesthetic of Particularity in Victorian Poetry, Yale University Press, 1975. “Particularity” seemed an apt description of my “162” approach to literature, so I consulted Christ’s remarks as described in the main body of Ong’s book.

Particularity according to Christ —

“Victorian particularist aesthetics has prospered to the present time, and not only in novels.  The isolated, particularized, unique ‘good moment’ [Christ, 105], the flash of awareness at one particular instant in just the right setting, which Hopkins celebrates….”

— Ong, Hopkins, the Self, and God, p. 14

I highly recommend the rest of Ong’s remarks on particularity.

Turning to the other two of the literary trinity of books I received today….

Page 162 of The Hex Witch of Seldom has the following:

“There was a loaf of Stroehmann’s Sunbeam Bread in the grocery sack also; she and Witchie each had several slices.  Bobbi folded and compressed hers into little squares and popped each slice into her mouth all at once.”

The religious significance of this passage seems, in Ong’s Jesuit context, quite clear.

Page 162 of Definition has the following:

“Real Definition as the Search for a Key.  Mr. Santayana, in his book on The Sense of Beauty, made the following extremely large demands on real definition:

‘A definition <of beauty> that should really define must be nothing less than the exposition of the origin, place, and elements of beauty as an object of human experience.  We must learn from it, as far as possible, why, when, and how beauty appears, what conditions an object must fulfil to be beautiful, what elements of our nature make us sensible of beauty, and what the relation is between the constitution of the object and the excitement of our sensibility.  Nothing less will really define beauty or make us understand what aesthetic appreciation is.  The definition of beauty in this sense will be the task of this whole book, a task that can be only very imperfectly accomplished within its limits.’ ”

Here is a rhetorical exercise for Jesuits that James Joyce might appreciate:

Discuss Bobbi’s “little squares” of bread as the Body of Christ.  Formulate, using Santayana’s criteria, a definition of beauty that includes this sacrament.

Refer, if necessary, to
the log24.net entries
Mr. Holland’s Week and Elegance.

Refrain from using the phrase
“scandal of particularity”
unless you can use it as well as
Annie Dillard.

Monday, August 18, 2003

Monday August 18, 2003

Filed under: General,Geometry — 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.


Sunday, August 10, 2003

Sunday August 10, 2003

Filed under: General — m759 @ 8:35 AM

Death of a Holy Man

Part I:  An American Religion

Hiroshima Mayor Says
US Worships Nukes

“HIROSHIMA — Hiroshima Mayor Tadatoshi Akiba warned that the world is moving toward war and accused Washington of ‘worshipping’ nuclear weapons during Wednesday’s ceremony marking the 58th anniversary of the atomic bombing of the city….

… the Hiroshima mayor blamed the United States for making the world a more uncertain place through its policy of undermining the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons.

‘A world without nuclear weapons and war that the victims of the atomic bomb have long sought for is slipping into the shadows of growing black clouds that could turn into mushroom clouds at any moment,’ Akiba said. ‘The chief cause of this is the United States’ nuclear policy which, by openly declaring the possibility of a pre-emptive nuclear strike and by starting research into small ‘useable’ nuclear weapons, appears to worship nuclear weapons as God.’ “

Mainichi Shimbun, Aug. 6, 2003

Part II: Holy Men and
             Sons of Bitches

“I am become Death, the Destroyer of Worlds.”

Dr. J. Robert Oppenheimer,
    Director of Los Alamos

John Steinbeck describing Cannery Row in Monterey:

“Its inhabitants are, as the man once said, ‘whores, pimps, gamblers, and sons of bitches,’ by which he meant Everybody. Had the man looked through another peephole he might have said, ‘Saints and angels and martyrs and holy men,’ and he would have meant the same thing.”  

“Now we are all sons of bitches.”

Dr. Kenneth Bainbridge,
    Director of Trinity Test

Part III: Death of a Holy Man

The New York Times, Aug. 10, 2003:

Atom-Bomb Physicist Dies at 98

“Henry A. Boorse, a physicist who was one of the original scientists who worked on the Manhattan Project in the development of the atomic bomb, died on July 28 in Houston, where he lived….

Dr. Boorse was a consultant to the United States Atomic Energy Commission from 1946 to 1958 and to the Brookhaven National Laboratory from 1951 to 1955.

He and Lloyd Motz wrote a two-volume work, The World of the Atom (1966), and — with Jefferson Hane Weaver — a one-volume book, The Atomic Scientists (1989).”

From a review of The Atomic Scientists:

“… the authors try to add a personal element that can excite the reader about science.”

For more excitement, see Timequake, by Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.

Saturday, August 9, 2003

Saturday August 9, 2003

Filed under: General — m759 @ 12:07 PM

Beware of…
Jews Peddling Stories:

An episode in the ongoing saga of the conflict between the "story theory of truth" and the "diamond theory of truth."

The following set of pictures summarizes some reflections on truth and reality suggested by the August 9, 2003, New York Times obituary of writer William Woolfolk, who died on July 20, 2003.

Woolfolk was the author of The Sex Goddess and was involved in the production of the comic book series The Spirit (see below).

The central strategy of the three Semitic religions — Judaism, Christianity, and Islam — is to pretend that we are all characters in a story whose author is God.  This strategy suggests the following Trinity, based on the work of William Woolfolk (The Sex Goddess and The Spirit) and Steven Spielberg ("Catch Me If You Can").  Like other Semitic tales, the story of this Trinity should not be taken too seriously.

 

William Woolfolk
Woolfolk as
a Jewish God

The Sex Goddess
Woolfolk's Story

 

Martin Sheen in Catch Me If You Can
The Father as
a Lutheran God

 

Amy Adams in Catch Me If You Can
The Father's
Story

DiCaprio as a doctor
The Son

DiCaprio and Adams
The Son's Story

Amy Adams, star of Catch Me If You Can
The Holy
Spirit

The Spirit, 1942
The Holy
Spirit's Story

 

A Confession of Faith:

Theology Based On the Film
"Catch Me If You Can":

The Son to God the Lutheran Father:

"I'm nothing really, just a kid in love with your daughter."

This is taken from a review of "Catch Me If You Can" by Thomas S. Hibbs.

For some philosophical background to this confession, see Hibbs's book

Shows About Nothing:
Nihilism in Popular Culture
from The Exorcist to Seinfeld
.

By the way, today is the anniversary of the dropping on Nagasaki
of a made-in-USA Weapon of Mass Destruction, a plutonium bomb
affectionately named Fat Man.

Fat Man was a sequel to an earlier Jewish story,

Trinity.

Monday, August 4, 2003

Monday August 4, 2003

Filed under: General — m759 @ 1:00 PM

Venn’s Trinity

Today is the birthday of logician John Venn.

From the St. Andrews History of Mathematics site:

“Venn considered three discs R, S, and T as typical subsets of a set U. The intersections of these discs and their complements divide U into 8 non-overlapping regions, the unions of which give 256 different Boolean combinations of the original sets R, S, T.” 

Last night’s entry, “A Queer Religion,” gave a Catholic view of the Trinity.  Here are some less interesting but more fruitful thoughts inspired by Venn’s diagram of the Trinity (or, indeed, of any three entities):

“To really know a subject you’ve got to learn a bit of its history….”
John Baez, August 4, 2002

“We both know what memories can bring;
They bring diamonds and rust.”
Joan Baez, April 1975

For the “diamonds” brought by memories of the 28 combinations described above, consider how the symmetric group S8 is related to the symmetries of the finite projective space PG(3,2).  (See Diamond Theory.) 

For the “rust,” consider the following:

“Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt….”
— Matthew 6:19

The letters R, U, S, T in the Venn diagram above are perhaps relevant here, symbolizing, if you will, the earthly confusion of language, as opposed to the heavenly clarity of mathematics.

As for MOTH, see the article Hometown Zeroes (which brings us yet again to the Viper Room, scene of River Phoenix’s death) and the very skillfully designed website MOTHEMATICS.

Monday August 4, 2003

Filed under: General — m759 @ 2:00 AM

A Queer Religion

August 4 headline:

Gay bishop on way to win

This suggests the following theological meditation by a gay Christian:

“I can’t resist but end by pointing out the irony of the doctrine of the Trinity as seen by gay eyes. Please don’t take what I say next too seriously. I don’t believe that gender is very important or that it is any more present in God than is ‘green-ness,’ however, I simply can’t resist.

The Trinity seems to be founded on the ecstatic love union of two male persons; the Father and the Son. If one takes this seriously it is incestuous pedophilia. There is no doubt that this union is generative (and so in the origin of the meaning ‘sexual’) in character, because from it bursts forth a third person: Holy Spirit; neuter in Greek, feminine in Hebrew! Whereas Islam detests the Catholic idea that the Blessed Virgin was ‘impregnated’ by God, as demeaning to the transcendence of God, the internal incestuous homosexuality that the doctrine of the Trinity amounts to should really offend more!

Any orthodox  account of the inner life of God is at best highly uncongenial to the paradigm of the heterosexual nuclear family. Amusingly, the contemporary Magisterium fails to notice this and even attempts to use the doctrine of the procession of the Spirit from the Father and the Son to bolster its conventional championing of ‘male-female complementarity’ and the centrality of procreation to all authentically ‘self-giving’ relationships. Absurdities will never cease!”

Amen to the conclusion, at least.

The author of this meditation, “Pharsea,” is a “traditional Catholic” and advocate of the Latin Mass — just like Mel Gibson.  One wonders how Gibson might react to Pharsea’s theology.

As for me… I always thought there was something queer about that religion.

Thursday, July 3, 2003

Thursday July 3, 2003

Filed under: General — m759 @ 2:14 PM

Yesterday

On July 2, in various years, authors

  • Ernest Hemingway,
  • Mario Puzo, and
  • Vladimir Nabokov

died.  They may serve as a sort of Trinity for those who admire excellence in style, character, and art.

Quotations from Papa Hemingway that seem relevant to yesterday’s entry:

“Madame, all stories, if continued far enough, end in death, and he is no true-story teller who would keep that from you.”
— Ernest Hemingway,
   Death in the Afternoon, Ch. 11

“There is never any ending to Paris….”
— Ernest Hemingway, A Moveable Feast

 

See also entries of Sept. 27, 2002.

Tuesday, June 24, 2003

Tuesday June 24, 2003

Filed under: General — m759 @ 7:59 PM

In memory of Leon Uris:

Mate Change Problem

White to mate in 2 moves

H.W.Grant, 1st Prize,
Australian Column 1924

The concept of “mate change,” appropriate on this, the coronation date of Henry VIII, is explained at Chathurangam.com, my source for the above problem.

For the connection with Leon Uris, find the “key” to the above chess problem… i.e., the notation for White’s first move.

From the New York Times, June 24:

“Reviewing Mr. Uris’s 1976 novel Trinity in The New York Times Book Review, Pete Hamill wrote: ‘Leon Uris is a storyteller, in a direct line from those men who sat around fires in the days before history and made the tribe more human.'”

Uris, 78, died at the summer solstice… Saturday, June 21, 2003. 

See also Force Field of Dreams.

Sunday, June 15, 2003

Sunday June 15, 2003

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

Readings for Trinity Sunday

  1. Triune knot:
    Problems in Combinatorial Group Theory, 7 and 8, in light of the remark in Section 8.3 of Lattice Polygons and the Number 12 
  2. Cardinal Newman:
    Sermon 24
  3. Simon Nickerson:
    24=8×3.

For more on the structure
discussed by Nickerson, see

Raiders of the Lost Matrix:

For theology in general, see

Jews Telling Stories.

Friday, May 23, 2003

Friday May 23, 2003

Filed under: General — m759 @ 7:23 PM

Mental Health Month, Day 23:

The Prime Cut Gospel

On Christmas Day, 1949,
Mary Elizabeth Spacek was born in Texas.

Lee Marvin, Sissy Spacek in “Prime Cut”

Exercises for Mental Health Month:

Read this discussion of the phrase, suggested by Spacek’s date of birth, “God’s gift to men.”

Read this discussion of the phrase “the same yesterday, today, and forever,” suggested by the previous reading.

Read the more interesting of these discussions of the phrase “the eternal in the temporal.”

Read this discussion of eternal, or “necessary,” truths versus other sorts of alleged “truths.”

Read this discussion of unimportant mathematical properties of the prime number 23.

Read these discussions of important properties of 23:

  • R. D. Carmichael’s 1937 discussion of the linear fractional group modulo 23 in 

Introduction to the Theory of Groups of Finite Order, Ginn, Boston, 1937 (reprinted by Dover in 1956), final chapter, “Tactical Configurations,” and

  • Conway’s 1969 discussion of the same group in    

J. H. Conway, “Three Lectures on Exceptional Groups,” pp. 215-247 in Finite Simple Groups (Oxford, 1969), edited by M. B. Powell and G. Higman, Academic Press, London, 1971….. Reprinted as Ch. 10 in Sphere Packings, Lattices, and Groups 

Read this discussion of what might be called “contingent,” or “literary,” properties of the number 23. 

Read also the more interesting of  these discussions of the phrase “the 23 enigma.”

Having thus acquired some familiarity with both contingent and necessary properties of 23…

Read this discussion of Aquinas’s third proof of the existence of God.

Note that the classic Spacek film “Prime Cut” was released in 1972, the year that Spacek turned 23:

1949
+ 23


1972
 
Essay question:  
 
If Jesus was God’s gift to man, and (as many men would agree) so was the young Sissy Spacek (also born on Christmas Day), was young Sissy’s existence in her 23rd year contingent or necessary?  If the latter, should she be recognized as a Person of the Trinity? Quaternity? N-ity?
 
Talk amongst yourselves.

Sunday, May 11, 2003

Sunday May 11, 2003

Filed under: General — m759 @ 4:15 PM

Day of the Mother Ship:

A Close Encounter of the Third Level

Today is also the feast day of Saint Zenna Henderson, who was born on All Saints’ Day, 1917.   The Adherents.com website says she was a Mormon, but the printed reference work Contemporary Authors (written when she was still alive and could defend herself against any accusation of Mormonism) says she was a Methodist.  Maybe she was just one of The People — i.e., a Person.

“The concept of a person, which we find so familiar in its application to human beings, cannot be clearly and sharply expressed by any word in the vocabulary of Plato and Aristotle; it was wrought with the hammer and anvil* of theological disputes about the Trinity and the Person of Christ.”

Peter Geach, The Virtues, Cambridge U. Press, 1977, p. 75

See also Terpsichore and the Trinity.


* For a use of this phrase suited to Mental Health Month, see The Prisoner, Episode Ten.  See, too, Inaugural Address.

Wednesday, April 23, 2003

Wednesday April 23, 2003

Filed under: General — m759 @ 12:00 AM

Midnight in the Garden
of Good and Evil
on Shakespeare’s Birthday

Tony Scherman on an April 7, 1968, recording by Nina Simone:

“…nobody could telescope more emotion into a single, idiosyncratically turned syllable (listen to the way she says the word “Savannah” in her spoken intro to “Sunday in Savannah.” It breaks your heart — and she ain’t even singin’ yet!).”

See also the following entries on midnight in the garden:

Trinity, Oct. 25, 2002

Midnight in the Garden, Oct. 26, 2002

Point of No Return, Dec. 10, 2002

Culture Clash at Midnight, Dec. 11, 2002

Dead Poets Society, Dec. 13, 2002

For the Dark Lady, Dec. 18, 2002

Nightmare Alley, Dec. 21, 2002

For the Green Lady, Dec. 21, 2002

“With a little effort, anything can be shown to connect with anything else: existence is infinitely cross-referenced.”

Opening sentence of Martha Cooley’s The Archivist

Woe unto
them that
call evil
good, and
good evil;
that put
darkness
for light,
and light
for darkness

Isaiah 5:20

 

 

As she spoke about the Trees of Life and Death, I watched her…. 
The Archivist

The world
has gone
mad today
And good’s
bad today,

And black’s
white today,
And day’s
night today

Cole Porter

 

 

Tuesday, December 10, 2002

Tuesday December 10, 2002

Filed under: General — m759 @ 9:00 PM

Point of No Return

From Dr. Mac’s Cultural Calendar for December 10:

  • On this day in 1864, General William T. Sherman’s Union army reached Savannah and the 12-day siege began.  Sherman was able to present the city to President Lincoln as a “Christmas present.”

An album recorded in September 1961:

Songs in the above list:

September Song * When the World was Young
I’ll Be Seeing You * I’ll See You Again
Memories of You * There Will Never Be Another You
Somewhere Along the Way * A Million Dreams Ago
It’s a Blue World * I’ll Remember April
These Foolish Things

Not in the list, but in the album:

As Time Goes By

The Savannah Connection:

Augustus Saint-Gaudens
William Tecumseh Sherman,
1892-1903 (installed 1903)
Central Park, New York City

From

The Necessary Angel,

by Wallace Stevens
(New York: Knopf, 1951)
 (New York: Vintage Books, 1966):

“The theory of poetry, that is to say, the total of the theories of poetry, often seems to become in time a mystical theology or, more simply, a mystique. The reason for this must by now be clear. The reason is the same reason why the pictures in a museum of modern art often seem to become in time a mystical aesthetic, a prodigious search of appearance, as if to find a way of saying and of establishing that all things, whether below or above appearance, are one and that it is only through reality, in which they are reflected or, it may be, joined together, that we can reach them. Under such stress, reality changes from substance to subtlety….”

Part of a journal entry for
October 25, 2002:

Trinity

See… Bonaventure’s
Itinerarium Mentis in Deum
and

a graves list for Bonaventure Cemetery in Savannah,
final resting place for Johnny Mercer and plot key
to Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil.

Point of No Return was Sinatra’s
last album for Capitol.

Note the strategic placement
of the Capitol Records logo
on the album cover.

Friday, December 6, 2002

Friday December 6, 2002

Filed under: General — m759 @ 1:06 PM

Great Simplicity

Frank Tall

Iaido

 

Daisetsu

 

 

Today

is the day that Daisetsu Suzuki attained satori,
according to the Zen Calendar.  “Daisetsu” is
said to mean “Great Simplicity.”

For those who prefer Harry Potter and
Diagon Alley, here is another calendar:


To Have and Have Not

Those who prefer traditional Western religions may like a site on the Trinity that contains this:

“Zen metaphysics is perhaps most succinctly set forth in the words ‘not-two.”  But even when he uses this expression, Suzuki is quick to assert that it implies no monism.  Not-two, it is claimed, is not the same as one.*  But when Suzuki discusses the relationship of Zen with Western mysticism, it is more difficult to escape the obvious monistic implications of his thinking.  Consider the following:

We are possessed of the habit of looking at Reality by dividing it into two… It is all due to the human habit of splitting one solid Reality into two, and the result is that my ‘have’ is no ‘have’ and my ‘have not’ is no ‘have not.’  While we are actually passing, we insist that the gap is impassable.**”

*See: Daisetz T. Suzuki, ‘Basic Thoughts Underlying  Eastern Ethical and Social Practice’ in Philosophy and Culture  East and West: East-West Philosophy in Practical Perspective, ed. Charles A. Moore (Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1968), p. 429

** Daisetsu Teitaro Suzuki, Mysticism Christian and Buddhist (London: George Allen & Unwin, 1957, Unwin paperback, 1979), p. 57.


Personally, I am reminded by Suzuki’s satori on this date that today is the eve of the anniversary of Pearl Harbor.  I am also reminded by the rather intolerant tract on the Trinity quoted above that the first atomic bomb was exploded in the New Mexico desert at a test site named Trinity.  Of course, sometimes intolerance is justified.

Concluding unscientific postscript:

On the same day in 1896 that D. T. Suzuki attained satori,
lyricist Ira Gershwin was born.

Dies irae, dies illa.

Wednesday, December 4, 2002

Wednesday December 4, 2002

Filed under: General,Geometry — m759 @ 11:22 PM

Symmetry and a Trinity

From a web page titled Spectra:

"What we learn from our whole discussion and what has indeed become a guiding principle in modern mathematics is this lesson:

Whenever you have to do with a structure-endowed entity  S try to determine its group of automorphisms, the group of those element-wise transformations which leave all structural relations undisturbed. You can expect to gain a deep insight into the constitution of S in this way. After that you may start to investigate symmetric configurations of elements, i.e., configurations which are invariant under a certain subgroup of the group of all automorphisms . . ."

— Hermann Weyl in Symmetry, Princeton University Press, 1952, page 144

 


 

"… any color at all can be made from three different colors, in our case, red, green, and blue lights. By suitably mixing the three together we can make anything at all, as we demonstrated . . .

Further, these laws are very interesting mathematically. For those who are interested in the mathematics of the thing, it turns out as follows. Suppose that we take our three colors, which were red, green, and blue, but label them A, B, and C, and call them our primary colors. Then any color could be made by certain amounts of these three: say an amount a of color A, an amount b of color B, and an amount c of color C makes X:

X = aA + bB + cC.

Now suppose another color Y is made from the same three colors:

Y = a'A + b'B + c'C.

Then it turns out that the mixture of the two lights (it is one of the consequences of the laws that we have already mentioned) is obtained by taking the sum of the components of X and Y:

Z = X + Y = (a + a')A + (b + b')B + (c + c')C.

It is just like the mathematics of the addition of vectors, where (a, b, c ) are the components of one vector, and (a', b', c' ) are those of another vector, and the new light Z is then the "sum" of the vectors. This subject has always appealed to physicists and mathematicians."

— According to the author of the Spectra site, this is Richard Feynman in Elementary Particles and the Laws of Physics, The 1986 Dirac Memorial Lectures, by Feynman and Steven Weinberg, Cambridge University Press, 1989.


These two concepts — symmetry as invariance under a group of transformations, and complicated things as linear combinations (the technical name for Feynman's sums) of simpler things — underlie much of modern mathematics, both pure and applied.      

Friday, November 22, 2002

Friday November 22, 2002

Filed under: General — m759 @ 11:30 PM

Trinity

On this date in 1963…

  1. Father:  C. S. Lewis (The Abolition of Man), 
  2. Son:  John F. Kennedy (“Grace under Pressure” — displayed, not written), and 
  3. Holy Spirit:  Aldous Huxley (The Perennial Philosophy)

all died.

On the bright side:

On this date, Tarzan (John Clayton III, the future Lord Greystoke) was born and Ravel’s “Bolero” was first performed.

Friday, October 25, 2002

Friday October 25, 2002

Filed under: General — m759 @ 1:11 AM

Trinity

The last two days were eventful on the obituary front.  See below for a reasonably holy trinity of lives: 

  • Richard Helms as the Father,
  • Derek Bell as the Son, and
  • Adolph Green as the Holy Spirit. 

See also Bonaventure’s
Itinerarium Mentis in Deum and

the graves list for Bonaventure Cemetery in Savannah,
final resting place for Johnny Mercer and plot key
to Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil.

Thursday, October 17, 2002

Thursday October 17, 2002

Filed under: General — m759 @ 5:04 AM

To the Green Lady
 of Perelandra

View from the slopes of Slieve na mBan

In honor of the relationship between theology and literature, of the Green Lady of C. S. Lewis, and of… 

John Flood BA, MA (NUI), Ph.D. (Dublin)
Senior Lecturer. Formerly a tutor at the National University of Ireland, Maynooth, and Trinity College, Dublin, his Ph.D. was on the influence of the interpretation of the figure of Eve in Early Modern writing. His research interests include the Renaissance, George Orwell, J. R. R. Tolkien and the relationship between theology and literature.

… this site’s music is now Caoine Cill Chais, The Lament for Kilcash.

Saturday, September 14, 2002

Saturday September 14, 2002

Filed under: General — m759 @ 3:03 AM

God Is Her Co-Pilot

On the soundtrack album of "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil,"  Clint Eastwood advised us to "eliminate the negative."  As a sequel to the extremely negative note below, written at midnight on the night of September 13-14, 2002, the following is my best attempt, on this very dark night of the soul, to eliminate the negative.  

Some of us are old enough to recall that the beloved Grace Kelly, Princess of Monaco, died on September 14, 1982 — exactly 20 years ago —  from injuries she suffered in a car accident the day before.  The following photo recalls happier days of driving the Riviera, in the 1955 film "To Catch a Thief."

This note's title, combined with the photo, suggests that I have a mystical vision of Cary Grant as God.  I can think of worse people to play God.  The best I can do tonight to eliminate the negative is transcribe  the remarks I made in a (paper) journal entry in 1997.  (By the way, I realize that ordinary people are just as important as movie stars, but the latter are more suitable for public discussion.)

In memoriam: Robert Mitchum and James Stewart 

Eternal Triangles (July 3, 1997)

Every civilization tells its own story about the relations between heaven and earth.  Some of the best stories — those of Lao Tsu, the Greek poets, and Buddha — are now almost 26 centuries old.  Some even older stories — those told by the Jews — have enabled our current civilization, led by Charlton Heston as God, to outlast Hitler, Stalin, and Mao.  However, recent claims of Absolute Truth for these stories (The Bible Code) are disturbing.  Perhaps it is time — at least for Robert Mitchum and James Stewart — to meet a kinder, gentler God.

I propose Cary Grant — specifically, as seen in "The Grass is Greener" (1960) with Mitchum and Deborah Kerr, and in "The Philadelphia Story" (1940) with Stewart and Katharine Hepburn.  If we imagine Grant as God, then these films reveal a very old, always entertaining, and sometimes enlightening version of the Trinity:  God and Man as rivals for the Holy Spirit — as played by Deborah, by Kate, and (in heaven) by Grace.  Such a spirit, at work in the real world, may have influenced two of this century's better Bibles:

  1. The Oxford Book of English Prose (1925, reprinted through 1958), and

  2. "LIFE — The 60th Anniversary Issue" (October 1996)

From (1), for Mitchum's memorial, Deborah might pick "The Basket of Roses" (pp. 1057-1060).  From (2), for Stewart's memorial, Kate might select the page of LIFE's covers for 1941 — and all that page implies.

Finally, Grace, in the Highest society (beyond Bibles) might recall the following telegraphic catechism:

Q. — How old Cary Grant?
A. — Old Cary Grant fine.  How you?

Monday, August 5, 2002

Monday August 5, 2002

Filed under: General,Geometry — Tags: — m759 @ 12:12 AM

History, Stephen said….

The Modern Word

— To really know a subject you've got to learn a bit of its history….

John Baez, August 4, 2002

We both know what memories can bring;
They bring diamonds and rust.

—  Joan Baez, April 1975 

All sorts of structures that can be defined for finite sets have analogues for the projective geometry of finite fields….

Clearly this pattern is trying to tell us something; the question is what. As always, it pays to focus on the simplest case, since that's where everything starts.

John Baez, August 4, 2002

In the beginning was the word….

The Gospel according to Saint John

The anonymous author of John makes liberal use of allegory and double-entendre to illustrate this theme.

The Gospel of John

Born yesterday: Logician John Venn

Venn considered three discs R, S, and T as typical subsets of a set U. The intersections of these discs and their complements divide U into 8 nonoverlapping regions….

History of Mathematics at St. Andrews

Who would not be rapt by the thought of such marvels?….

Saint Bonaventure on the Trinity

Saturday, August 3, 2002

Saturday August 3, 2002

Filed under: General — m759 @ 10:42 PM

Miss Sauvé

Homily on Flannery O’Connor

for the Sunday following Corpus Christi Day, 2002:

The part of her fiction that most fascinates me, then and now, is what many critics referred to as “the grotesque,” but what she herself called “the reasonable use of the unreasonable.” [Flannery O’Connor, Mystery and Manners: Occasional Prose, Robert and Sally Fitzgerald, eds. (New York: Farrar, Straus, 1969)] 

 A modest example comes to mind. In a short story  ….  the setting sun appears like a great red ball, but she sees it as “an elevated Host drenched in blood” leaving a “line like a red clay road in the sky.” [Flannery O’Connor, “A Temple of the Holy Ghost” from A Good Man is Hard to Find (New York: Harcourt, Brace & World, 1971)] 

In a letter to a friend of hers, O’Connor would later write, “…like the child, I believe the Host is actually the body and blood of Christ, not just a symbol. If the story grows for you it is because of the mystery of the Eucharist in it.” In that same correspondence, O’Connor relates this awkward experience:

I was once, five or six years ago, taken by [Robert Lowell and Elizabeth Hardwick] to have dinner with Mary McCarthy…. She departed the Church at the age of 15 and is a Big Intellectual. We went and eight and at one, I hadn’t opened my mouth once, there being nothing for me in such company to say…. Having me there was like having a dog present who had been trained to say a few words but overcome with inadequacy had forgotten them. Well, toward morning the conversation turned on the Eucharist, which I, being the Catholic, was obviously supposed to defend. [McCarthy] said that when she was a child and received the Host, she thought of it as the Holy Ghost, He being the “most portable” person of the Trinity; now she thought of it as a symbol and implied that it was a pretty good one. I then said, in a very shaky voice, “Well, if it’s a symbol, to hell with it.” That was all the defense I was capable of but I realize now that this is all I will ever be able to say about it, outside of a story, except that it is the center of existence for me; all the rest of life is expendable. [Sally Fitzgerald, ed., The Habit of Being: The Letters of Flannery O’Connor (Vintage: New York, 1979) 124-125] 

….There is, of course, something entirely preposterous and, well, unreasonable, almost grotesque, about the Catholic doctrine of the Real Presence. We claim, with a perfectly straight face, to eat the body and drink the blood of the Eternal Word of God, the second person of the Most Holy Trinity who, according to some, shouldn’t even have a body to begin with. But therein lies precisely the most outlandish feature of the Eucharist: namely, that it embodies the essential scandal of the Incarnation itself.  

             — Friar Francisco Nahoe, OFM Conv.

From James Joyce

A Portrait Of The Artist As A Young Man

Chapter 3 :

Why was the sacrament of the eucharist instituted under the two species of bread and wine if Jesus Christ be present body and blood, soul and divinity, in the bread alone and in the wine alone? Does a tiny particle of the consecrated bread contain all the body and blood of Jesus Christ or a part only of the body and blood? If the wine change into vinegar and the host crumble into corruption after they have been consecrated, is Jesus Christ still present under their species as God and as man?

— Here he is! Here he is!

From The Gazette, Montreal,

of Sunday, August 20, 1995, page C4:

“Summer of ’69,” a memoir by Judy Lapalme on the death by accidental drowning of her 15-year-old younger brother:

“I had never tasted pizza until Jeff died.  Our family, of staunch Irish Catholic stock with more offspring than money, couldn’t cope with the luxury or the spice.

The Hallidays, neighbors from across the street, sent it over to us the day after the funeral, from Miss Sauvé’s Pizzeria, on Sauvé St., just east of Lajeunesse St. in Ahuntsic.  An all-dressed pizza with the hard hat in the centre….

I was 17 that summer and had just completed Grade 12 at Holy Names High School in Rosemont….

…. Jeff was almost 16, a handsome football star, a rebellious, headstrong, sturdy young man who was forever locking horns with my father…. On Friday, Aug. 1, Jeff went out on the boat… and never came back….    

The day after the funeral, a white Volkswagen from Miss Sauvé’s Pizzeria delivered a jumbo, all-dressed pizza to us. The Hallidays’ daughter,  Diane, had been smitten with Jeff and wanted to do something special.

My father assured us that we wouldn’t like it, too spicy and probably too garlicky. There could not be a worse indictment of a person to my father than to declare them reeking of garlic. 

The rest of us tore into the cardboard and began tasting this exotic offering — melted strands of creamy, rubbery, burn-your-palate mozzarrella that wasn’t Velveeta, crisp, dry, and earthy mushrooms, spicy and salty pepperoni sliding off the crust with each bite, green peppers…. Bread crust both crisp and soggy with tomato sauce laden with garlic and oregano. 

It was an all-dressed pizza, tasted for the first time, the day after we buried Jeff….

The fall of 1969, I went to McGill…. I never had another pizza from Miss Sauvé’s.  It’s gone now — like so many things.”

     Ten thousand places

AS kingfishers catch fire, dragonflies dráw fláme;
As tumbled over rim in roundy wells
Stones ring; like each tucked string tells, each hung bell’s
Bow swung finds tongue to fling out broad its name;
Each mortal thing does one thing and the same:         
Deals out that being indoors each one dwells;
Selves—goes itself; myself it speaks and spells,
Crying Whát I do is me: for that I came.
 
Í say móre: the just man justices;
Kéeps gráce: thát keeps all his goings graces;         
Acts in God’s eye what in God’s eye he is—
Chríst—for Christ plays in ten thousand places,
Lovely in limbs, and lovely in eyes not his
To the Father through the features of men’s faces.

   — Gerard Manley Hopkins, 1844-1889

American Literature Web Resources:

Flannery O’Connor

She died on August 3, 1964 at the age of 39.

In almost all of her works the characters were led to a place where they had to deal with God’s presence in the world.

She once said “in the long run, a people is known, not by its statements or statistics, but by the stories it tells. Fiction is the most impure and the most modest and the most human of the arts.”

Encounter – 02/17/2002:

Flannery OConnor – Southern Prophet:

When a woman wrote to Flannery O’Connor saying that one of her stories “left a bad taste in my mouth,” Flannery wrote back: “You weren’t supposed to eat it.”

Etes-vous sauvé? 

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