"See the girl with the diamond ring?
She knows how to shake
-- Jerry Lee "Killer" Lewis on
KHYI 95.3 FM,
at about 5:12 PM EDT
introduced by DJ Allen Peck Sr.
"And on this point I pass the same judgment as those who say that
geometricians give them nothing new by these rules, because they possessed
them in reality, but confounded with a multitude of others, either useless
or false, from which they could not discriminate them, as those who,
seeking a diamond of great price
amidst a number of false ones, but from which they know not how to
distinguish it, should boast, in holding them all together, of possessing
the true one equally with him who without pausing at this mass of rubbish
lays his hand upon the costly stone which they are seeking and for which
they do not throw away the rest."
-- Blaise Pascal, De l'Esprit Géométrique
"When the light came she was sitting on the bed beside an open
suitcase, toying with her diamond rings. She saw the light first in
the depths of the largest stone."
-- Paul Preuss, Broken Symmetries,
Diamond Head, Oahu, Hawaii
Now playing (6:41 PM EDT) on Killer Radio:
"Jack of Diamonds, that's
a hard card to
joke, poor potsherd, patch, matchwood, immortal diamond...."
-- Gerard Manley Hopkins, Society of Jesus
Perhaps Sam Phillips
was twanged by a Hawaiian guitar. (See previous two entries.)
The Big Time
"The place outside the cosmos where I and my
pals do our nursing job I simply call the Place. A lot of my nursing consists of amusing and
humanizing Soldiers fresh back from raids into time. In fact,
my formal title is Entertainer...."
-- The Big Time,
A Story That
See also "Top Ten Most Overheard Comments by new KHYI listeners" at Miss Lana's Anything Page, entry for
Pearl Harbor Day, December 7,
Comments on this post:
Today is said to be the day Toronto was founded, and is the day, they say, of what will be the largest concert in the history of Canada....
The Rolling Stones at
Downsview Park, Toronto.
Comparisons to Woodstock have been made, with attendance expected to be about half a million strong. Thoughts of Woodstock reminded me of Joni Mitchell, and so I sought Joni's advice for an alternative to the spirit of this event, recalling her words
Oh honey you turn me on
I'm a radio
I'm a country station
I'm a little bit corny
I'm a broadcasting tower
Waving for you
And I'm sending you out
This signal here
I hope you can pick it up
Loud and clear
A search for the promised
country station yielded....
The redneck alternative....
Today's culture wars quote:
"God help me, I do love it so."
Canada and Joni Mitchell, how can I not come and say hi? Hi.
7/30/2003 at 1:33 pm
7/30/2003 at 10:29 pm
The bicentennial of Ralph Waldo Emerson was on May 25, 2003. For a commemoration of Emerson on that date, click on the picture below of Harvard University's Room 305, Emerson Hall.
This will lead you to a discussion of the properties of a 5x5 array, or matrix, with a symbol of mystical unity at its center. Although this symbol of mystical unity, the number "1," is not, pace the Shema, a transcendental number, the matrix is, as perhaps a sort of Emersonian compensation, what postmodernists would call phallologocentric. It is possible that Emerson is a saint; if so, his feast day (i.e., date of death), April 27, might reveal to us the sort of miraculous fact hoped for by Fritz Leiber in my previous entry. A check of my April 27 notes shows us, lo and behold, another phallologocentric 5x5 array, this one starring Warren Beatty. This rather peculiar coincidence is, perhaps, the sort of miracle appropriate to a saint who is, as this week's politically correct New Yorker calls him, a Big Dead White Male.
Leiber's fiction furnishes "a behind-the-scenes view of the time change wars."
"It's quarter to three..." -- St. Frank Sinatra
The Big Time
"The place outside the cosmos where I and my pals do our nursing job I simply call the Place. A lot of my nursing consists of amusing and humanizing Soldiers fresh back from raids into time. In fact, my formal title is Entertainer...."
-- The Big Time,
by Fritz Leiber
A Story That Works
Trick of the Light
For Carly Simon
"... on the dance floor she seemed to be the only one completely alive. It was a trick of the light that followed one person around. Joe had seen the quality before; it was rare, but not unknown.
Every time we say good-bye.... Porter had written an intimate ballad.... "
-- Martin Cruz Smith, Stallion Gate, Ch. 2
"At night I heard God
While Daddy next door
whistled whisky tunes
when I wanted,
they would harmonize
There was nothing
those two couldn't do
Then one night Daddy died
and went to Heaven
And God came down to earth
and slipped away
I pretended not to notice
I'd been abandoned
But no-one sang the night
into the day
And later night time songs
came back again
But the singers don't compare
with those I knew
And I never figured out
where God and Daddy went
But there was nothing
those two couldn't do"
-- Carly Simon,
"Embrace Me, You Child"
Comments on this post:
At the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month, 1918, the Great War ended. See
Plato, Pegasus, and the Evening Star.
Concluding Unscientific Postscript:
i will say formaggio any minute of any day... without fail. forever and ever amen i am a cheese-lover for the rest of my days.
hello. thanks for the sub.
7/28/2003 at 11:26 pm
With a Smile
Heaven, Hell, and Hollywood:
On parent knees,
a naked new-born child,
Weeping thou sat'st
while all around thee smiled:
So live, that sinking to
thy life's last sleep,
Calm thou may'st smile,
whilst all around thee weep.
-- Sir William Jones, 1746-1794
Reuters, July 28, 2003 5:56 PM ET:
Bob Hope Dies With a Smile
"... surrounded by family, including his wife of 69 years, the former Dolores Reade, and their children, as well as his personal physician, several nurses and a priest who celebrated mass in Hope's bedroom."
City of God
Today's site music is
Nous Voici Dans La Ville.
The central aim of Western religion --
"Each of us has something to offer the Creator...
the bridging of
masculine and feminine,
life and death.
It's redemption.... nothing else matters."
-- Martha Cooley in The Archivist (1998)
The central aim of Western philosophy --
Dualities of Pythagoras
as reconstructed by Aristotle:
... and so on ....
"Of these dualities, the first is the most important; all the others may be seen as different aspects of this fundamental dichotomy. To establish a rational and consistent relationship between the limited [man, etc.] and the unlimited [the cosmos, etc.] is... the central aim of all Western philosophy."
-- Jamie James in
The Music of the Spheres (1993)
"In the garden of Adding
live Even and Odd...
And the song of love's recision
is the music of the spheres."
-- The Midrash Jazz Quartet in
City of God, by E. L. Doctorow (2000)
Today is the feast of St. Johann Sebastian Bach.
Signified, Part II -
A sequel to my recent entries
The Transcendent Signified and
From a July 28 New York Times story on a controversy over the Latin Mass:
"Granted, most of the people don't understand Latin," he said, "yet they understand its evocation of the transcendent."
-- Father John A. Perricone
From the excellent site
Quotations on Sound,
the Name, and the Word:
Joseph Campbell, The Power of Myth
Part 2: Interviews with Bill Moyers --
Campbell: "We want to think about God. God is a thought. God is a name. God is an idea, but its reference is to something that transcends all thinking. The ultimate mystery of being is beyond all categories of thought. My friend Heinrich Zimmer of years ago used to say, 'The best things can't be told,' because they transcend thought. 'The second best are misunderstood,' because those are the thoughts that are supposed to refer to that which can't be thought about, and one gets stuck in the thoughts. 'The third best are what we talk about.' And myth is that field of reference, metaphors referring to what is absolutely transcendent."
Moyers: "What can't be known or can't be named except in our own feeble attempt to clothe it in language."
Campbell: "And the ultimate word in our language for that which is transcendent is God."
A Last Hurrah for Harold C. Schonberg, New York Times music critic (not to be confused with Arnold Schoenberg, composer):
"His criticism of music he disliked could be harsh, and in a valedictory essay published at the time of his retirement as senior critic, he explained himself unrepentantly.
'I thought the serial-dominated music after the war was a hideously misbegotten creature sired by Caliban out of Hecate, and I had no hesitation in saying so,' he wrote. 'Nor has it been proved that I was all wrong. Certain it is that the decades of serialism did nothing but alienate the public, creating a chasm between composer and audience.'"
The serialist composer Arnold Schoenberg, on the other hand, wrote:
"I believe what I do and do only what I believe; and woe to anybody who lays hands on my faith. Such a man I regard as an enemy, and no quarter given!"
To which the appropriate reply is:
"Here's a quarter, call someone who cares."
-- Travis Tritt, CowboyLyrics.com
Harold C. Schonberg
In memory of New York Times music critic Harold C. Schonberg, who died Saturday, July 26, 2003:
Nous Voici Dans La Ville - A Christmas song from 15th century France (midi by John Philip Dimick).
In memory of my own youth:
Address Paseo del Conquistador # 144 Food Type Italian Dress Casual Tel 777-313-0584
Comment Chef Lorenzo Villagra is formally trained in Italian Cuisine. Great food and views of the valley of Cuernavaca.
In memory of love:
Volverán del amor en tus oídos
Las palabras ardientes a sonor;
Tu corazón de su profundo sueño
Tal vez despertará;
Pero mudo y absorto y de rodillas,
Como se adora a Dios ante su altar,
Como yo te he querido…desengáñate,
¡Así no te querrán!
-- from "Rima LIII"
by Gustavo Adolfo Bécquer
Translation by Young Allison, 1924:
Burning words of love will come
Again full oft within thine ears to sound;
Perchance thy heart will even be aroused
From its sleep profound;
But mute and prostrate and absorbed,
As God is worshipped in His holy fane,
As I have loved thee…undeceive thyself:
Thou wilt not be thus loved again!
The Robert Lowell version of
the complete poem by Bécquer:
Will Not Come Back
Dark swallows will doubtless come back killing
the injudicious nightflies with a clack of the beak:
but these that stopped full flight to see your beauty
and my good fortune... as if they knew our names--
they'll not come back. The thick lemony honeysuckle,
climbing from the earthroot to your window,
will open more beautiful blossoms to the evening;
but these... like dewdrops, trembling, shining, falling,
the tears of day--they'll not come back...
Some other love will sound his fireword for you
and wake your heart, perhaps, from its cool sleep;
but silent, absorbed, and on his knees,
as men adore God at the altar, as I love you--
don't blind yourself, you'll not be loved like that.
See, too, my entry for the feast day of
Saint Gustavo Adolfo Bécquer,
which happens to be December 22.
"God is both the transcendent signifier
and transcendent signified."
— Caryn Broitman,
Deconstruction and the Bible
"Central to deconstructive theory is the notion that there is no 'transcendent signified,' or 'logos,' that ultimately grounds 'meaning' in language...."
— Henry P. Mills,
The Significance of Language,
"It is said that the students of medieval Paris came to blows in the streets over the question of universals. The stakes are high, for at issue is our whole conception of our ability to describe the world truly or falsely, and the objectivity of any opinions we frame to ourselves. It is arguable that this is always the deepest, most profound problem of philosophy. It structures Plato's (realist) reaction to the sophists (nominalists). What is often called 'postmodernism' is really just nominalism, colourfully presented as the doctrine that there is nothing except texts. It is the variety of nominalism represented in many modern humanities, paralysing appeals to reason and truth."
-- Simon Blackburn, Think,
Oxford University Press, 1999, page 268
The question of universals is still being debated in Paris. See my July 25 entry,
A Logocentric Meditation.
That entry discusses an essay on
mathematics and postmodern thought
by Michael Harris,
professor of mathematics
at l’Université Paris 7 - Denis Diderot.
A different essay by Harris has a discussion that gets to the heart of this matter: whether pi exists as a platonic idea apart from any human definitions. Harris notes that "one might recall that the theorem that pi is transcendental can be stated as follows: the homomorphism Q[X] --> R taking X to pi is injective. In other words, pi can be identified algebraically with X, the variable par excellence."
Harris illustrates this with
an X in a rectangle:
For the complete passage, click here.
If we rotate the Harris X by 90 degrees, we get a representation of the Christian Logos that seems closely related to the God-symbol of Arthur C. Clarke and Stanley Kubrick in 2001: A Space Odyssey. On the left below, we have a (1x)4x9 black monolith, representing God, and on the right below, we have the Harris slab, with X representing (as in "Xmas," or the Chi-rho page of the Book of Kells) Christ... who is, in theological terms, also "the variable par excellence."
For a more serious discussion of deconstruction and Christian theology, see
Walker Percy's Semiotic.
Comments on this post:
John Schlesinger dead at 77;
'Midnight Cowboy' director
Jul. 26, 2003 12:00 AM
LOS ANGELES - Oscar-winning director John Schlesinger, who daringly brought gay characters into mainstream cinema with Midnight Cowboy and tapped into nightmares with the teeth-drilling torture of Marathon Man, died Friday at 77.
The British-born filmmaker.... died about 5:30 a.m....
Schlesinger also directed The Day of the Locust, based on a novel by Nathanael West.
See Heaven, Hell, and Hollywood and
Dogma Part II: Amores Perros.
From the latter:
"Then you know your body's sent,
Don't care if you don't pay rent,
Sky is high and so am I,
If you're a viper -- a vi-paah."
— The Day of the Locust,
by Nathanael West (1939),
New Directions paperback,
1969, page 162
This song may be downloaded at
Pot Culture, 1910-1960.
That same site begins with a traditional Mexican song...
"La cucaracha, la cucaracha,
ya no puede caminar,
porque no quiere,
porque le falta
marihuana que fumar."
("The cockroach, the cockroach,
can't walk anymore,
because he doesn't want to,
because he has no
marihuana to smoke.")
This suggests an appropriate funeral march for John Schlesinger:
"Ya murió la cucaracha, ya la llevan a enterrar..." - La Cucaracha
Those attending Schlesinger's wake, as opposed to his funeral, may wish to perform other numbers from the Pot Culture page, which offers a variety of "viper" songs.
Bright Star and Dark Lady
"Mexico is a solar country -- but it is also a black country, a dark country. This duality of Mexico has preoccupied me since I was a child."
-- Octavio Paz,
quoted by Homero Aridjis
For the meaning of the above symbols, see
Kubrick's 1x4x9 monolith in 2001,
the Halmos tombstone in Measure Theory,
and the Fritz Leiber Changewar stories.
No se puede vivir sin amar.
Concluding Unscientific Postscript:
Oh, yes... the question of
Heaven or Hell for John Schlesinger...
Recall that he also directed the delightful
Cold Comfort Farm and see
last year's entry for this date.
Ah yeah ... but Roberto De Angelis was born on this day (July 27) too. How's that for Dogma? (another great ... Kevin Smith, but his birthday is August 2, so we have some time to kill before that one.)
7/27/2003 at 1:53 pm
Realism in Literature:
Under the Volcano
By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
Filed at 11:13 p.m. EDT Friday, July 25, 2003
PUEBLA, Mexico (AP) -- Mexico's Popocatepetl volcano shot glowing rock and ash high into the air Friday night, triggering a thunderous explosion that panicked some residents in nearby communities.
Here are 3 webcam views of the volcano. Nothing to see at the moment.
Malcolm Lowry's Under the Volcano,
Plato, Pegasus, and the Evening Star,
A Mass for Lucero,
and, as background for today's earlier entry on Platonism and Derrida,
The Shining of May 29.
For more on Plato and Christian theology, consult the highly emotional site
Further Into the Depths of Satan:
"...in The Last Battle on page 170 [C. S.] Lewis has Digory saying, 'It's all in Plato, all in Plato.' Now, Lewis calls Plato 'an overwhelming theological genius' (Reflections on the Psalms, p. 80)...."
The title "Further Into the Depths of Satan," along with the volcano readings above, suggests a reading from a related site:
Gollum and the Mystery of Evil:
"Gollum here clearly represents Frodo’s hidden self. It is 'as if we are witnessing the darkest night of the soul and one side attempting to master the other' (Jane Chance 102). Then Frodo, whose finger has been bitten off, cries out, and Gollum holds the Ring aloft, shrieking: 'Precious, precious, precious! My Precious! O my Precious!' (RK, VI, 249). At this point, stepping too near the edge, he falls into the volcano, taking the Ring with him. With this, the mountain shakes.' "
In the above two-step vignette, the part of Gollum is played by the author of "Further Into the Depths of Satan," who called C. S. Lewis a fool† "that was and is extremely useful to his father the devil."
† See Matthew 5:22: "...whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire."
For Jung's 7/26 Birthday:
A Logocentric Meditation
Leftist academics are trying to pull a fast one again. An essay in the most prominent American mathematical publication tries to disguise a leftist attack on Christian theology as harmless philosophical woolgathering.
In a review of Vladimir Tasic's Mathematics and the Roots of Postmodern Thought, the reviewer, Michael Harris, is being less than candid when he discusses Derrida's use of "logocentrism":
"Derrida uses the term 'logocentrism'... as 'the metaphysics of phonetic writing'...."
— Notices of the American Mathematical Society, August 2003, page 792
We find a rather different version of logocentrism in Tasic's own Sept. 24, 2001, lecture "Poststructuralism and Deconstruction: A Mathematical History," which is "an abridged version of some arguments" in Tasic's book on mathematics and postmodernism:
"Derrida apparently also employs certain ideas of formalist mathematics in his critique of idealist metaphysics: for example, he is on record saying that 'the effective progress of mathematical notation goes along with the deconstruction of metaphysics.'
Derrida's position is rather subtle. I think it can be interpreted as a valiant sublation of two completely opposed schools in mathematical philosophy. For this reason it is not possible to reduce it to a readily available philosophy of mathematics. One could perhaps say that Derrida continues and critically reworks Heidegger's attempt to 'deconstruct' traditional metaphysics, and that his method is more 'mathematical' than Heidegger's because he has at his disposal the entire pseudo-mathematical tradition of structuralist thought. He has himself implied in an interview given to Julia Kristeva that mathematics could be used to challenge 'logocentric theology,' and hence it does not seem unreasonable to try looking for the mathematical roots of his philosophy."
The unsuspecting reader would not know from Harris's review that Derrida's main concern is not mathematics, but theology. His 'deconstruction of metaphysics' is actually an attack on Christian theology.
From "Derrida and Deconstruction," by David Arneson, a University of Manitoba professor and writer on literary theory:
"Logocentrism: 'In the beginning was the word.' Logocentrism is the belief that knowledge is rooted in a primeval language (now lost) given by God to humans. God (or some other transcendental signifier: the Idea, the Great Spirit, the Self, etc.) acts a foundation for all our thought, language and action. He is the truth whose manifestation is the world."
Some further background, putting my July 23 entry on Lévi-Strauss and structuralism in the proper context:
Part I. The Roots of Structuralism
"Literary science had to have a firm theoretical basis..."
Part II. Structuralism/Poststructuralism
"Most [structuralists] insist, as Levi-Strauss does, that structures are universal, therefore timeless."
Part III. Structuralism and
Jung's "theories, like those of Cassirer and Lévi-Strauss, command for myth a central cultural position, unassailable by reductive intellectual methods or procedures."
And so we are back to logocentrism, with the Logos — God in the form of story, myth, or archetype — in the "central cultural position."
What does all this have to do with mathematics? See
Rosalind Krauss on Art -
"the Klein group (much beloved of Structuralists)"
Another Michael Harris Essay, Note 47 -
"From Krauss's article I learned that the Klein group is also called the Piaget group."
and Jung on Quaternity:
Beyond the Fringe -
"...there is no denying the fact that [analytical] psychology, like an illegitimate child of the spirit, leads an esoteric, special existence beyond the fringe of what is generally acknowledged to be the academic world."
What attitude should mathematicians have towards all this?
Towards postmodern French
atheist literary/art theorists -
Mathematicians should adopt the attitude toward "the demimonde of chic academic theorizing" expressed in Roger Kimball's essay, Feeling Sorry for Rosalind Krauss.
Towards logocentric German
Christian literary/art theorists -
Mathematicians should, of course, adopt a posture of humble respect, tugging their forelocks and admitting their ignorance of Christian theology. They should then, if sincere in their desire to honestly learn something about logocentric philosophy, begin by consulting the website
The Quest for the Fiction of an Absolute.
For a better known, if similarly disrespected, "illegitimate child of the spirit," see my July 22 entry.