Wednesday, June 6, 2012

The Patterning Windows

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

Suggested by the previous posts "Venus Winks" and "Ray Bradbury, 1920-2012"—

And then, of course, the biggest crime of all was that she had come here only five years ago from Earth, and she remembered the sun and the way the sun was and the sky was when she was four in Ohio.  And they, they had been on Venus all their lives, and they had been only two years old when last the sun came out and had long since forgotten the color and heat of it and the way it really was.  But Margot remembered.

"It's like a penny," she said once, eyes closed.

"No it's not!" the children cried.

"It's like a fire," she said, "in the stove."

"You're lying, you don't remember!" cried the children.

But she remembered and stood quietly apart from all of them and watched the patterning windows.

— From the 1954 Ray Bradbury story "All Summer in a Day"

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

The Screwing

Filed under: General,Geometry — Tags: , — m759 @ 7:59 AM

"Debates about canonicity have been raging in my field
(literary studies) for as long as the field has been
around. Who's in? Who's out? How do we decide?"

— Stephen Ramsay, "The Hermeneutics of Screwing Around"

An example of canonicity in geometry—

"There are eight heptads of 7 mutually azygetic screws, each consisting of the screws having a fixed subscript (from 0 to 7) in common. The transformations of LF(4,2) correspond in a one-to-one manner with the even permutations on these heptads, and this establishes the isomorphism of LF(4,2) and A8. The 35 lines in S3 correspond uniquely to the separations of the eight heptads into two complementary sets of 4…."

 — J.S. Frame, 1955 review of a 1954 paper by W.L. Edge,
"The Geometry of the Linear Fractional Group LF(4,2)"

Thanks for the Ramsay link are due to Stanley Fish
(last evening's online New York Times ).

For further details, see The Galois Tesseract.

Sunday, July 17, 2011


Filed under: General — Tags: — m759 @ 2:29 PM

A Sunday meditation continued from Burning Patrick

IMAGE- Phallic post at Stonehenge with dancing girls, 'The Black Knight,' 1954

For posts of a different sort, see O'Hara's Fingerpost and Cross-Purposes.

(The numbers  of these posts were indicated by today's midday NY Lottery.)

See also "Ready when you are, C.B."

Monday, July 11, 2011

And/Or Problem

Filed under: General,Geometry — Tags: — m759 @ 11:59 PM

"It was the simultaneous emergence
and mutual determination
of probability and logic
that von Neumann found intriguing
and not at all well understood."

Miklós Rédei


Update of 7 AM ET July 12, 2011—

Freeman Dyson on John von Neumann's
Sept. 2, 1954, address to the International
Congress of Mathematicians on
"Unsolved Problems in Mathematics"—

                                     …."The hall was packed with
mathematicians, all expecting to hear a brilliant
lecture worthy of such a historic occasion. The
lecture was a huge disappointment. Von Neumann
had probably agreed several years earlier to give
a lecture about unsolved problems and had then
forgotten about it. Being busy with many other
things, he had neglected to prepare the lecture.
Then, at the last moment, when he remembered
that he had to travel to Amsterdam and say something
about mathematics, he pulled an old lecture
from the 1930s out of a drawer and dusted it off.
The lecture was about rings of operators, a subject
that was new and fashionable in the 1930s. Nothing
about unsolved problems.
Nothing about the

Notices of the American Mathematical Society ,
February 2009, page 220

For a different account, see Giovanni Valente's
2009 PhD thesis from the University of Maryland,
Chapter 2, "John von Neumann's Mathematical
'Utopia' in Quantum Theory"—

"During his lecture von Neumann discussed operator theory and its con-
nections with quantum mechanics and noncommutative probability theory,
pinpointing a number of unsolved problems. In his view geometry was so tied
to logic that he ultimately outlined a logical interpretation of quantum prob-
abilities. The core idea of his program is that probability is invariant under
the symmetries of the logical structure of the theory. This is tantamount to
a formal calculus in which logic and probability arise simultaneously. The
problem that exercised von Neumann then was to construct a geometrical
characterization of the whole theory of logic, probability and quantum me-
chanics, which could be derived from a suitable set of axioms…. As he
himself finally admitted, he never managed to set down the sought-after
axiomatic formulation in a way that he felt satisfactory."

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Where Credit Is Due…

Filed under: General — Tags: , — m759 @ 9:00 PM

The Dick Medal

Review of the film "Knowing" from 2009—

Nicolas Cage's character, an astrophysicist, looks at a chart (written 50 years earlier by a child) with a colleague and points out a chronologically correct prediction of the date and number of dead in world wide tragedies over the last fifty years, and his colleague's response is "Systems that find meaning in numbers are a dime a dozen. Why? Because people see what they want to see." Well that would be a pretty neat trick. You could build a career on that in a Vegas showroom.

Summary of the film "Next"

Film Title:  Next
Based on the 1954 short story
"The Golden Man" by Philip K. Dick

Release Date:
April 27, 2007

About the Film:
Nicolas Cage stars as Cris Johnson, a Las Vegas magician with a secret gift that is both a blessing and a curse: He has the uncanny ability to tell you what happens next.

Related material from this journal on the release date of "Next"— April 27, 2007

Production Credits:

Thanks to the
Pennsylvania Lottery for
  today’s suggestion of links 
to the dates 9/15 and 6/06–

PA lottery April 27, 2007: Midday 915, Evening 606

– and to
Hermann Weyl
for the illustration
from 6/06 (D-Day)
underlying the
following “gold medal”
from 9/15, 2006:

Medal of 9/15/06

"It’s almost enough to make you think that time present and time past might both be present in time future. As someone may have said."

— David Orr, "The Age of Citation"

Monday, August 16, 2010

Utopia 14

Filed under: General — Tags: , — m759 @ 4:16 AM

The following, from Wikipedia, is an image of Utopia 14, the 1954 paperback reissue of Kurt Vonnegut’s 1952 novel Player Piano.


Commentary from Wikipedia

“A player piano is a modified piano that ‘plays itself.’ The piano keys move according to a pattern of holes punched in an unwinding scroll…. Like its counterpart, a player piano can be played by hand as well. When a scroll is run through the ghost-operated instrument, the movement of its keys produce the illusion that an invisible performer is playing the instrument.”

See also last night’s “The Game“—

“One would call out, in the standardized abbreviations of their science, motifs or initial bars of classical compositions, whereupon the other had to respond with the continuation of the piece, or better still with a higher or lower voice, a contrasting theme, and so forth. It was an exercise in memory and improvisation….”

— as well as Vonnegut in this journal yesterday and the following from the August 14 post Iconic Notation

A question from Ivan Illich
(founder of CIDOC, the Center for Intercultural Documentation,
in Cuernavaca, Mexico)—

Who can be served by bridges to nowhere?

For more about nowhere, see Utopia.

For more about Cuernavaca and ghosts, see a recurring motif in this journal.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Tuesday February 17, 2009

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

of the Rock

A discussion of Stevens's late poem "The Rock" (1954) in Wallace Stevens: A World of Transforming Shapes, by Alan D. Perlis, Bucknell University Press, 1976, p. 120:

For Stevens, the poem "makes meanings of the rock." In the mind, "its barrenness becomes a thousand things/And so exists no more." In fact, in a peculiar irony that only a poet with Stevens's particular notion of the imagination's function could develop, the rock becomes the mind itself, shattered into such diamond-faceted brilliance that it encompasses all possibilities for human thought:

The rock is the gray particular of man's life,
The stone from which he rises, up—and—ho,
The step to the bleaker depths of his descents ...

The rock is the stern particular of the air,
The mirror of the planets, one by one,
But through man's eye, their silent rhapsodist,

Turquoise the rock, at odious evening bright
With redness that sticks fast to evil dreams;
The difficult rightness of half-risen day.

The rock is the habitation of the whole,
Its strength and measure, that which is near,
     point A
In a perspective that begins again

At B: the origin of the mango's rind.

                    (Collected Poems, 528)

A mathematical version of
this poetic concept appears
in a rather cryptic note
from 1981 written with
Stevens's poem in mind:


For some explanation of the
groups of 8 and 24
motions referred to in the note,
see an earlier note from 1981.

For the Perlis "diamond facets,"
see the Diamond 16 Puzzle.

For a much larger group
of motions, see
Solomon's Cube.

As for "the mind itself"
and "possibilities for
human thought," see
Geometry of the I Ching.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Saturday February 14, 2009

Filed under: General — Tags: — m759 @ 9:29 PM
The Devil
in the Details


Here are clearer pictures of
the Einstein-Gutkind letter
discussed here February 7.

The pictures are from
the Bloomsbury Auctions site.



The Bloomsbury Auctions caption for these images is as follows:

303. Einstein (Albert, theoretical physicist, 1879-1955) Autograph Letter signed to Eric B. Gutkind, in German, 1½pp. & envelope, 4to, Princeton, 3rd January 1954, thanking him for a copy of his book and expressing his view of God and Judaism, [The word God is for me nothing more than the expression and product of human weaknesses, the Bible a collection of honorable, but still primitive legends which are nevertheless pretty childish… . For me the Jewish religion like all other religions is an incarnation of the most childish superstitions. And the Jewish people to whom I gladly belong and with whose mentality I have a deep affinity have no different quality for me than all other people…], folds, slightly browned ; and a photograph of Gutkind, v.s., v.d.

est. £6000 – £8000

Einstein’s view of God and Judaism.
Eric B. Gutkind (1877-1965), philosopher; author of Choose Life: The Biblical Call to Revolt, 1952.
Albert Einstein – see also lot 497

Sold for £170000
Sale 649, 15th May 2008

Here is a close reading of the part of the letter itself that Bloomsbury gives in English, transcribed from the above images.

Line-by-line transcription of paragraph 2, starting at line 4 of that paragraph:                        

                   ... Das Wort Gott ist für mich nichts als Ausdruck
und Produkt menschlicher Schwächen, die Bibel eine Sammlung
ehrwürdiger, aber doch reichlich primitiver Legenden. Keine noch
so feinsinnige Auslegung kann (für mich) etwas daran ändern.
Diese verfeinerten Auslegungen sind naturgemäß höchst mannigfaltig
und haben so gut wie nichts mit dem Urtext zu schaffen. Für
mich ist die unverfälschte jüdische Religion, wie alle anderen
Religionen, eine Inkarnation des primitiven Aberglaubens. Und das
jüdische Volk, zu dem ich gern gehöre und mit dessen Mentalität ich
tief verwachsen bin, hat für mich doch keine andersartige
Qualität als alle anderen Völker. So weit meine Erfahrung reicht,
ist es auch um nichts besser als andere menschliche Gruppierungen,
wenn es auch durch Mangel an Macht gegen die schlimmsten
Auswüchse gesichert ist. Ansonsten kann ich nichts "Auserwähltes"
an ihm wahrnehmen.

The Guardian of May 13, 2008 stated that the following was "translated from German by Joan Stambaugh"–

... The word God is for me nothing more than the expression
and product of human weaknesses, the Bible a collection
of honourable, but still primitive legends which are nevertheless pretty childish. No
interpretation no matter how subtle can (for me) change this.
These subtilised interpretations are highly manifold
according to their nature and have almost nothing to do with the original text. For
me the Jewish religion like all other
religions is an incarnation of the most childish [German: primitiven] superstitions. And the
Jewish people to whom I gladly belong and with whose mentality I
have a deep affinity have no different
quality for me than all other people. As far as my experience goes,
they are also no better than other human groups,
although they are protected from the worst
cancers by a lack of power. Otherwise I cannot see anything 'chosen'
about them.

Phrases by Stambaugh that do not appear in the German text are highlighted.

Stambaugh, a philosophy professor, is the author of a work on Buddhism, The Formless Self. For some related material on young men who "go crying 'The world is myself, life is myself'" in May, see Wallace Stevens's "The Pediment of Appearance."

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Thursday March 27, 2008

Filed under: General,Geometry — Tags: — m759 @ 3:29 PM

Back to the Garden

Film star Richard Widmark
died on Monday, March 24.

From Log24 on that date:

"Hanging from the highest limb
of the apple tree are
     the three God's Eyes…"

    — Ken Kesey  

Related material:

The Beauty Test, 5/23/07–
H.S.M. Coxeter's classic
Introduction to Geometry (2nd ed.):

The image “http://www.log24.com/log/pix07/070523-Coxeter62.jpg” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.

Note the resemblance of
the central part to
a magical counterpart–
the Ojo de Dios
of Mexico's Sierra Madre.

From a Richard Widmark film festival:

Henry Hathaway, 1954

"A severely underrated Scope western, shot in breathtaking mountain locations near Cuernavaca. Widmark, Gary Cooper and Cameron Mitchell are a trio of fortune hunters stranded in Mexico, when they are approached by Susan Hayward to rescue her husband (Hugh Marlowe) from a caved-in gold mine in Indian country. When they arrive at the 'Garden of Evil,' they must first battle with one another before they have to stave off their bloodthirsty Indian attackers. Widmark gives a tough, moving performance as Fiske, the one who sacrifices himself to save his friends. 'Every day it goes, and somebody goes with it,' he says as he watches the setting sun. 'Today it's me.' This was one of the best of Hollywood veteran Henry Hathaway's later films. With a brilliant score by Bernard Herrmann."

See also
the apple-tree
entries from Monday
(the date of Widmark's death)
and Tuesday, as well as
today's previous entry and
previous Log24
entries on Cuernavaca

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Saturday May 19, 2007

Filed under: General — Tags: , , — m759 @ 9:29 AM
Point of View

"In a sense, too, Wallace Stevens has spent a lifetime writing a single poem. What gives his best work its astonishing power and vitality is the way in which a fixed point of view, maturing naturally, eventually takes in more than a constantly shifting point of view could get at.

The point of view is romantic, 'almost the color of comedy'; but 'the strength at the center is serious.'  Behind Wallace Stevens stand Wordsworth and Coleridge as well as Rimbaud and Mallarmé, and, surprisingly enough, La Fontaine and Pope. This poetic lineage is important only in so far as it proves that a master can claim the world as ancestor. Knowing where he stands, the poet can move as a free man in the company of free men."

Samuel French Morse, review 
of The Collected Poems
of Wallace Stevens, in
The New York Times
(October 3, 1954)
Related material

The point of view
expressed in Log24 on
  today's date in 2004:

For a related gloss on Stevens's remark
"the strength at the center is serious,"
see "Serious" (also on an October 3).

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Wednesday January 11, 2006

Filed under: General,Geometry — Tags: , — m759 @ 10:30 PM

Time in the Rock

"a world of selves trying to remember the self
before the idea of self is lost–

Walk with me world, upon my right hand walk,
speak to me Babel, that I may strive to assemble
of all these syllables a single word
before the purpose of speech is gone."

— Conrad Aiken, "Prelude" (1932),
    later part of "Time in the Rock,
    or Preludes to Definition, XIX" (1936),
    in Selected Poems, Oxford U. Press
    paperback, 2003, page 156

"The rock is the habitation of the whole,
Its strength and measure, that which is near, point A
In a perspective that begins again

At B: the origin of the mango's rind.
It is the rock where tranquil must adduce
Its tranquil self, the main of things, the mind,

The starting point of the human and the end,
That in which space itself is contained, the gate
To the enclosure, day, the things illumined

By day, night and that which night illumines,
Night and its midnight-minting fragrances,
Night's hymn of the rock, as in a vivid sleep."

— Wallace Stevens in The Rock (1954)

"Poetry is an illumination of a surface,
  the movement of a self in the rock."
— Wallace Stevens, introduction to
    The Necessary Angel, 1951

Related material:
Jung's Imago and Solomon's Cube.


The following may help illuminate the previous entry:

"I want, as a man of the imagination, to write poetry with all the power of a monster equal in strength to that of the monster about whom I write.  I want man's imagination to be completely adequate in the face of reality."

— Wallace Stevens, 1953 (Letters 790)

The "monster" of the previous entry is of course not Reese Witherspoon, but rather Vox Populi itself.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Wednesday December 14, 2005

Filed under: General — Tags: — m759 @ 1:00 AM
From Here
to Eternity

For Loomis Dean

The image “http://www.log24.com/log/pix05B/051214-MorenoCover.jpg” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.

See also
For Rita Moreno
on Her Birthday

(Dec. 11, 2005)

Los Angeles Times
Tuesday, Dec. 13, 2005


The image “http://www.log24.com/log/pix05B/051214-LoomisDean.jpg” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.

After many years at Life magazine,
he continued to find steady work
as a freelancer and as a still
photographer on film sets.
(Dean Family)

Loomis Dean, 88;
Life Magazine Photographer
Known for Pictures of
Celebrities and Royalty

By Jon Thurber, Times Staff Writer

Loomis Dean, a Life magazine photographer who made memorable pictures of the royalty of both Europe and Hollywood, has died. He was 88.

Dean died Wednesday [December 7, 2005] at Sonoma Valley Hospital in Sonoma, Calif., of complications from a stroke, according to his son, Christopher.

In a photographic career spanning six decades, Dean's leading images included shirtless Hollywood mogul Darryl F. Zanuck trying a one-handed chin-up on a trapeze bar, the ocean liner Andrea Doria listing in the Atlantic and writer Ernest Hemingway in Spain the year before he committed suicide. One of his most memorable photographs for Life was of cosmopolitan British playwright and composer Noel Coward in the unlikely setting of the Nevada desert.

Dean shot 52 covers for Life, either as a freelance photographer or during his two stretches as a staffer with the magazine, 1947-61 and 1966-69. After leaving the magazine, Dean found steady freelance work in magazines and as a still photographer on film sets, including several of the early James Bond movies starring Sean Connery.

Born in Monticello, Fla., Dean was the son of a grocer and a schoolteacher.

When the Dean family's business failed during the Depression, they moved to Sarasota, Fla., where Dean's father worked as a curator and guide at the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art.

Dean studied engineering at the University of Florida but became fascinated with photography after watching a friend develop film in a darkroom. He went off to what is now the Rochester Institute of Technology, which was known for its photography school.

After earning his degree, Dean went to work for the Ringling circus as a junior press agent and, according to his son, cultivated a side job photographing Ringling's vast array of performers and workers.

He worked briefly as one of Parade magazine's first photographers but left after receiving an Army Air Forces commission during World War II. During the war, he worked in aerial reconnaissance in the Pacific and was along on a number of air raids over Japan.

His first assignment for Life in 1946 took him back to the circus: His photograph of clown Lou Jacobs with a giraffe looking over his shoulder made the magazine's cover and earned Dean a staff job.

In the era before television, Life magazine photographers had some of the most glamorous work in journalism. Life assigned him to cover Hollywood. In 1954, the magazine published one of his most memorable photos, the shot of Coward dressed for a night on the town in New York but standing alone in the stark Nevada desert.

Dean had the idea of asking Coward, who was then doing a summer engagement at the Desert Inn in Las Vegas, to pose in the desert to illustrate his song "Mad Dogs and Englishmen Go Out in the Midday Sun."

As Dean recalled in an interview with John Loengard for the book "Life Photographers: What They Saw," Coward wasn't about to partake of the midday sun. "Oh, dear boy, I don't get up until 4 o'clock in the afternoon," Dean recalled him saying.

But Dean pressed on anyway. As he related to Loengard, he rented a Cadillac limousine and filled the back seat with a tub loaded with liquor, tonic and ice cubes — and Coward.

The temperature that day reached 119 as Coward relaxed in his underwear during the drive to a spot about 15 miles from Las Vegas. According to Dean, Coward's dresser helped him into his tuxedo, resulting in the image of the elegant Coward with a cigarette holder in his mouth against his shadow on the dry lake bed.

"Splendid! Splendid! What an idea! If we only had a piano," Coward said of the shoot before hopping back in the car and stripping down to his underwear for the ride back to Las Vegas.

In 1956, Life assigned Dean to Paris. While sailing to Europe on the Ile de France, he was awakened with the news that the Andrea Doria had collided with another liner, the Stockholm.

The accident occurred close enough to Dean's liner that survivors were being brought aboard.

His photographs of the shaken voyagers and the sinking Andrea Doria were some of the first on the accident published in a U.S. magazine.

During his years in Europe, Dean photographed communist riots and fashion shows in Paris, royal weddings throughout Europe and noted authors including James Jones and William S. Burroughs.

He spent three weeks with Hemingway in Spain in 1960 for an assignment on bullfighting. In 1989, Dean published "Hemingway's Spain," about his experiences with the great writer.

In 1965, Dean won first prize in a Vatican photography contest for a picture of Pope Paul VI. The prize included an audience with the pope and $750. According to his son, it was Dean's favorite honor.

In addition to his son, he is survived by a daughter, Deborah, and two grandsons.

Instead of flowers, donations may be made to the American Child Photographer's Charity Guild (www.acpcg.com) or the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

Related material:
The Big Time

(Log 24, July 29, 2003):

A Story That Works

  • "There is the dark, eternally silent, unknown universe;
  • there are the friend-enemy minds shouting and whispering their tales and always seeking the three miracles —

    • that minds should really touch, or
    • that the silent universe should speak, tell minds a story, or (perhaps the same thing)
    • that there should be a story that works, that is all hard facts, all reality, with no illusions and no fantasy;
  • and lastly, there is lonely, story-telling, wonder-questing, mortal me."

    Fritz Leiber in "The Button Molder"


Sunday, December 5, 2004

Sunday December 5, 2004

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

Chorus from
The Rock

Author Joan Didion is 70 today.

On Didion’s late husband, John Gregory Dunne:

“His 1989 memoir Harp includes Dunne’s early years in Hartford and his Irish-Catholic family’s resentment of WASP social superiority: ‘Don’t stand out so that the Yanks can see you,’ he wrote, ‘don’t let your pretensions become a focus of Yank merriment and mockery.'”

The Hartford Courant, August 4, 2002

From a Hartford Protestant:

The American Sublime

How does one stand
To behold the sublime,
To confront the mockers,
The mickey mockers
And plated pairs?

When General Jackson
Posed for his statue
He knew how one feels.
Shall a man go barefoot
Blinking and blank?

But how does one feel?
One grows used to the weather,
The landscape and that;
And the sublime comes down
To the spirit itself,

The spirit and space,
The empty spirit
In vacant space.
What wine does one drink?
What bread does one eat?

— Wallace Stevens

A search of the Internet for “Wallace Stevens”  + “The Rock” + “Seventy Years Later” yields only one quotation…

Log24 entries of Aug. 2, 2002:

From “Seventy Years Later,” Section I of “The Rock,” a poem by Wallace Stevens:

A theorem proposed
between the two —
Two figures in a nature
of the sun….

From page 63 of The New Yorker issue dated August 5, 2002:

“Birthday, death-day —
what day is not both?”
— John Updike

From Didion’s Play It As It Lays:

Everything goes.  I am working very hard at not thinking about how everything goes.  I watch a hummingbird, throw the I Ching but never read the coins, keep my mind in the now.
— Page 8

From Play It As It Lays:

I lie here in the sunlight, watch the hummingbird.  This morning I threw the coins in the swimming pool, and they gleamed and turned in the water in such a way that I was almost moved to read them.  I refrained.
— Page 214

And the sublime comes down
To the spirit itself,
The spirit and space,
The empty spirit
In vacant space.

One heart will wear a Valentine.
— Sinatra, 1954

Tuesday, September 30, 2003

Tuesday September 30, 2003

Filed under: General — Tags: — m759 @ 3:16 AM

On the Beach

On this date in 1954, the first nuclear submarine, the USS Nautilus, was commissioned.

Related reading in today’s New York Times:

  1. Obituary of Marshall N. Rosenbluth, physicist who helped develop the H-bomb.  He died Sunday in San Diego, California.
  2. Quotation from a Fermilab physicist:
    “There are a bunch of things that nothing can turn them around. Death is one.”

Related reading from yesterday’s entries:

Related reading from the Song of Songs:

“Love is strong as death.”

Related viewing:

From Here to Eternity

 Today’s birthday: Deborah Kerr.

Thursday, September 11, 2003

Thursday September 11, 2003

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


Walter J. Ong


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 —

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.

Thursday, August 28, 2003

Thursday August 28, 2003

Filed under: General — Tags: , , — m759 @ 6:35 PM


In memory of
 Walter J. Ong, S. J.,
professor emeritus
at St. Louis University,
St. Louis, Missouri

"The Garden of Eden is behind us
and there is no road back to innocence;
we can only go forward."

— Anne Morrow Lindbergh,
Earth Shine, p. xii

  Earth Shine, p. xiii: 

We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.

— T. S. Eliot, Four Quartets.

Eliot was a native of St. Louis.

"Every city has its gates, which need not be of stone. Nor need soldiers be upon them or watchers before them. At first, when cities were jewels in a dark and mysterious world, they tended to be round and they had protective walls. To enter, one had to pass through gates, the reward for which was shelter from the overwhelming forests and seas, the merciless and taxing expanse of greens, whites, and blues–wild and free–that stopped at the city walls.

In time the ramparts became higher and the gates more massive, until they simply disappeared and were replaced by barriers, subtler than stone, that girded every city like a crown and held in its spirit."

Mark Helprin, Winter's Tale

Book Cover,

"The pattern of the heavens
     and high, night air"
Wallace Stevens,
An Ordinary Evening in New Haven

See also my notes of
Monday, August 25, 2003
(the feast day of Saint Louis,
for whom the city is named).

For a more Eden-like city,
see my note of
October 23, 2002,
on Cuernavaca, Mexico,
where Charles Lindbergh
courted Anne Morrow.

Tuesday, December 10, 2002

Tuesday December 10, 2002

Filed under: General — Tags: — m759 @ 1:06 AM

Three Coins in the Fountain



Sol Invictus

The reverse of three bronze coins
minted during Constantine’s early years

"Constantine like many of his predecessors had worshipped the Greek and Roman gods, particularly Apollo, Mars and Victory. This fact is evident in the portrayal of these gods on the earliest of Constantine’s coins. Yet surprisingly, even after his dream experience, and subsequent victory over Maxentius, it is recorded that he continued to worship these gods. Although the images of Apollo, Mars and Victory quickly disappeared from his coinage, later coins minted under Constantine shows that he likely continued to worship the sol invicta [sic] or ‘Unconquered Sun’ for 10 years or more after his dream experience. Yet, over a period of years, the experience of the sign, and the victory at the Milvian bridge, eventually led Constantine to favour and later to convert to the Christian faith."

— Ross Nightingale, "The 'Sign' that Changed the Course of History," in Ancient Coin Forum

"Three coins in the fountain,
Each one seeking happiness.
Thrown by three hopeful lovers,
Which one will the fountain bless?

Three hearts in the fountain,
Each heart longing for its home.
There they lie in the fountain
Somewhere in the heart of Rome."

Sinatra's version of the 1954 song
(Lyrics by Sammy Cahn,
 music by Jule Styne)

Which one will the fountain bless?

In order to answer this theological conundrum, we need to know more about the unfamiliar god Sol Invictus.

A quick web search reveals that some fanatical Protestants believe that the Roman deities Sol Invictus and Mithra were virtually the same.  Of course, it is unwise to take the paranoid ravings of Protestants too seriously, but in this case they may be on to something.

The Catholic Church itself seems to identify Sol Invictus with Mithra:

"Sunday was kept holy in honour of Mithra…. The 25 December was observed as his birthday, the natalis invicti, the rebirth of the winter-sun, unconquered by the rigours of the season. A Mithraic community was not merely a religious congregation…"

The Catholic Encyclopedia, 1911 edition.

Nihil Obstat, October 1, 1911. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor
Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York

It would seem, therefore, that as December 25 approaches we are preparing to celebrate the festival of Sol Invictus. This perhaps answers the theological riddle posed by Sammy Cahn.

From "Things Change," starring Don Ameche:
"A big man knows the value of a small coin."

Today's site music celebrates
Cahn, Styne, Sinatra, and the spirit of the 1950's.
Many thanks to
Loyd's Piano Music Page
for this excellent rendition of a Styne classic

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