Monday, February 22, 2010

Annals of Philosophy

Filed under: General,Geometry — Tags: , — m759 @ 1:00 PM

The Medium is the Message

Marshall McLuhan

From the Wikipedia article
on Marshall McLuhan–

McLuhan 'tetrad' figure with four diamonds surrounding a fifth, the medium

From yesterday

(Click images for some background.)

Ian McKellen at 'Neverwas' diamond windows

Related material:

Feast of St. Louis, 2003,

a web page on McLuhan's
student Walter J. Ong, S. J.,

and Jung and the Imago Dei

Monday, August 25, 2008

Monday August 25, 2008

Filed under: General — Tags: — m759 @ 3:23 AM
For the Feast of
St. Louis

The concluding paragraph of Erich Heller's 1953 essay, "The Hazard of Modern Poetry"–

"'The poetry does not matter.' These words from Mr. T.S. Eliot's Four Quartets acquire an all but revolutionary significance if we understand them not only in their particular context but also in the context of a period of poetry in which nothing mattered except poetry. Against this background the Four Quartets themselves appear, in all their complexity, as the poetry of simple civic virtue– the poetry of a poet trying to read the writing of the law that has become all but illegible. This, you may say, has nothing to do with poetry. On the contrary, it is one of the few truly hopeful signs that this civic virtue could once more be realized poetically. For in speaking to the hazard of modern poetry I did not wish to suggest that the end had come for singers and skylarks. There will always be skylarks; perhaps even a few nightingales. But poetry is not only the human equivalent of the song of singing birds. It is also Virgil, Dante, and Hölderlin. It is also, in its own terms, the definition of the state of man."

Monday, September 6, 2004

Monday September 6, 2004

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

An Invariant Feast

In memory of philosopher Robert D. Cumming, who took part in the liberation of Paris on the Feast of St. Louis, 1944, and who died on that same feast day, August 25, in 2004:

"We'll always have Paris."

Saturday, August 7, 2004

Saturday August 7, 2004

Filed under: General — Tags: — m759 @ 4:07 AM


Ian Lee on the communion of saints and the association of ideas (in The Third Word War, 1978) 

"The association is the idea"

Herman Melville on the association of ideas:

"In me, many worthies recline, and converse."

Stephen Hunter yesterday on the protagonist of the new film Collateral:

"He dresses Italian, shoots German (suits by Versace, pistol by Heckler & Koch), talks like Norman Mailer's White Negro and improvises brilliantly."  

Anagram by Dante (Filipponi, that is) on the name of Gianni Versace:

Can Give a Siren

Sirens, true sirens verily be,
Sirens, waylayers in the sea.

— Herman Melville, quoted
early yesterday by stephenhoy

Siren and White Negro:

See Gates's essay on
Anatole Broyard and
the log24 Bastille Day
on Mr. Motley's

"… there are many associations of ideas which do not correspond to any actual connection of cause and effect in the world of phenomena…."

— John Fiske, "The Primeval Ghost-World," quoted in the Heckler & Coch weblog

And, finally, brilliance:

Fark News yesterday:

"Disrespectful look causes shootout in Houston. Gang telepathy classes enrolling soon."

Log24 entry of Sept. 28, 2003: 

Spirit of East St. Louis

Sunday, September 28, 2003

Sunday September 28, 2003

Filed under: General — Tags: — m759 @ 4:13 PM

Spirit of East St. Louis

On Miles Davis and Philly Joe Jones:

Miles said to Jones, "I think this is it." Jones agreed having said of the group, "The first time we played together…we just looked around at each other and said, ‘hum here it is right here. We’ve got musical telepathy here. We have five people who always know what’s going to happen next.’" And those five people became legendary as the classic Miles Davis Quintet was baptized for its first time.

From The American Art Form:

While singing work songs, a leader would call out a phrase, and the rest of the people would answer. This is known as call and response. In Cindy Blackman's "Telepathy" , the lead saxophone who is playing the melody calls out a phrase, and another horn responds. In some jazz music, there is what is known as "trading 4's". This is when one instrument plays 4 measures, and then another plays 4 measures off what the first person played, and so on. This is a modern rendition of call and response.


Trading Fours

See also

Miles Davis, E. S. P.,

Bill Stewart, Telepathy,

Desmond and Mulligan, Two of a Mind,

Google search, "musical telepathy,"

and a novel dealing with East St. Louis (where Miles Davis grew up) and telepathy,

The Hollow Man, by Dan Simmons.

From the jacket of The Hollow Man:

Jeremy Bremen has a secret. All his life he has been cursed with the unwanted ability to read minds. He can hear the secret thoughts behind the placid expressions of strangers, colleagues, and friends. Their dreams, their fears, their most secret desires are as intimate to him as his own. For years his wife, Gail, has served as a shield between Jeremy and the intrusive thoughts of those around him. Her presence has protected him from the outside world and allowed him to continue his work as one of the world's leading mathematicians. But now Gail is dying, her mind slipping slowly away, and Jeremy comes face-to-face with the horror of his own omniscience. Vulnerable and alone, he is suddenly exposed to a chaotic flood of others' thoughts, threatening to fill him with the world's pain and longing, to sweep away his very sanity. His mathematical studies have taken him to the threshold of knowledge and enabled him to map uncharted regions of the mind, to recognize the mind itself as a mirror of the universe…and to see in that mirror the fleeting reflection of the creator himself. But his studies taught him nothing at all about the death of the mind, about the loss of love and trust, and about the terrible loneliness of mortality. Now Jeremy is on the run – from his mind, from his past, from himself – hoping to find peace in isolation. Instead he witnesses an act of brutality that sends him on a treacherous odyssey across America, from a fantasy theme park to the mean streets of an uncaring city, from the lair of a killer to the gaudy casinos of Las Vegas, and at last to a sterile hospital room in St. Louis in search of the voice that is calling him to the secret of existence itself.

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.

Monday, August 25, 2003

Monday August 25, 2003

Filed under: General — Tags: , — m759 @ 4:24 AM

Words Are Events

August 12 was the date of death of Joseph Patrick Kennedy, Jr., and the date I entered some theological remarks in a new Harvard weblog.  It turns out that August 12 was also the feast day of a new saint… Walter Jackson Ong, of St. Louis University, St. Louis, Missouri, a Jesuit institution.

Today, August 25, is the feast day of St. Louis himself, for whom the aforementioned city and university are named.

The New York Times states that Ong was "considered an outstanding postmodern theorist, whose ideas spawned college courses…."

There is, of course, no such thing as a postmodern Jesuit, although James Joyce came close.

From The Walter J. Ong Project:

"Ong's work is often presented alongside the postmodern and deconstruction theories of Claude Levi-Strauss, Jacques Derrida, Michel Foucault, Hélène Cixous, and others. His own work in orality and literacy shows deconstruction to be unnecessary: if you consider language to be fundamentally spoken, as language originally is, it does not consist of signs, but of events. Sound, including the spoken word, is an event. It takes time. The concept of 'sign,' by contrast, derives primarily not from the world of events, but from the world of vision. A sign can be physically carried around, an event cannot: it simply happens. Words are events."


From a commonplace book
on the number 911:

"We keep coming back and coming back
To the real: to the hotel
    instead of the hymns
That fall upon it out of the wind.
    We seek

The poem of pure reality, untouched
By trope or deviation,
    straight to the word,
Straight to the transfixing object,
    to the object

At the exactest point at which
    it is itself,
Transfixing by being purely
    what it is,
A view of New Haven, say,
    through the certain eye,

The eye made clear of uncertainty,
    with the sight
Of simple seeing, without reflection.
    We seek
Nothing beyond reality. Within it,

Everything, the spirit's alchemicana
Included, the spirit that goes
And through included,
    not merely the visible,

The solid, but the movable,
    the moment,
The coming on of feasts
     and the habits of saints,
The pattern of the heavens
     and high, night air."

Wallace Stevens (1879-1955)
An Ordinary Evening in New Haven
IX.1-18, from The Auroras of Autumn,
Knopf, NY (1950)
(Collected Poems, pp. 465-489)
NY Times Obituary (8-3-1955)


The web page where I found the Stevens quote also has the following:


Case 9 of Hekiganroku:
Joshu's Four Gates

A monk asked Joshu,
"What is Joshu?" (Chinese: Chao Chou)

Joshu said,
"East Gate, West Gate,
 North Gate, South Gate."

Setcho's Verse:

Its intention concealed,
    the question came;
The Diamond King's eye was
    as clear as a jewel.
There stood the gates,
    north, south, east, and west,
But the heaviest hammer blow
    could not open them.

Setcho (980-1052),
Hekiganroku, 9 (Blue Cliff Records)
(translated by Katsuki Sekida,
Two Zen Classics, 1977, p. 172)


See also my previous entry for today,
"Gates to the City."

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