Monday, September 15, 2003 4:15 PM
All the King's Horses
Johnny Cash's funeral was today.
Today is also the feast day of the Protestant saint Robert Penn Warren.
Here is how Stanley Kubrick might
make a memorial stone for Cash.
The title of this entry, "All the King's Horses," is of course a slightly altered version of the title of Robert Penn Warren's famous novel. For the connection with horses, see my entries of
September 12, 2003, and of
September 5, 2002.
The Journey Westward and
Into the West,
as well as the beginning of Mark Helprin's novel
"There was a white horse, on a quiet winter morning when snow covered the streets gently...."
Monday, September 15, 2003 4:44 AM
Two More Skewed Mirrors
Background: Previous three entries and
The Crucifixion of John O'Hara.
And yet the ultimate units of society, the human individuals lost within the crushing agglomeration of hostility, rivalry, snobbery, exclusion, and defeat that O’Hara felt in his bones, have aspirations and hopes and passions, and can be regarded with tenderness by a writer whose bleak and swift style seems at first not to care. A small story from “Files on Parade” (1939) titled “By Way of Yonkers” sticks in my mind as especially moving. Its two principals, the young woman unnamed and the man named only in the last sentence, exist on the lower levels of Depression survival. She, with her gunmetal stockings and Cossack hat and “neat, short nose with jigsaw nostrils,” seems to be a hooker. She arrives at the man’s shabby apartment so late that he tells her she must have come by way of Yonkers, and when he asks “How’d you do?” of the engagement that delayed her she not quite evades the question:
“Oh—” she said it very high. Then: “All right. Financially. But do we have to talk about it? You and me?”
She talks instead about her fading appetite for liquor, and the expense of dental care. He, lying inert and fully dressed on his bed, talks of being broke, of not wanting to take money from her, of how he can’t seem “to make a connection in this town.” The town is New York, and he is a minor gangster thrown out of work by the repeal of Prohibition. But he has met a man who offered him a connection in Milwaukee, and he is going to go there for a long time. The concluding words are unspectacular and unexpectedly sweeping:
[She asks,] “Any chance you being back in town soon?”
“Well, not right away, honey. First I have to build up my connection again.”
“Well, I don’t have to tell you, I’m glad for you. It’s about time you got a good break.” She resumed rubbing his ankle. He put his hand on the top of her head.
“Yeah? You’re as good a break as I ever got.”
“Ah, Christ, Bill,” she said, and fell face down in tears.
One is moved not only by their plight of presumably eternal separation but by the dignity that O’Hara, in a literary time of programmatic pro-proletarian advocacy (Odets and Steinbeck and Mike Gold), instinctively brings to his two specimens of lowlife. He does not view them politically, from above; he is there in the room with them, and one is moved by the unspoken presence of an author so knowing, so unjudgmental, so nearly an outcast himself.
Johnny Cash singing "Hurt" —
The video can be seen here.
Ah, Christ, Johnny.
Sunday, September 14, 2003 9:12 PM
Readings on Aesthetics for the
Feast of the Triumph of the Cross
Part I —
Bill Moyers and Julie Taymor
Director Taymor on her own passion play (see previous entry), "Frida":
"We always write stories of tragedies because that's how we reach our human depth. How we get to the other side of it. We look at the cruelty, the darkness and horrific events that happened in our life whether it be a miscarriage or a husband who is not faithful. Then you find this ability to transcend. And that is called the passion, like the passion of Christ. You could call this the passion of Frida Kahlo, in a way."
— 10/25/02 interview with Bill Moyers
MOYERS: What happened to you in Indonesia.
TAYMOR: This is probably it for me. This is the story that moves me the most....
I went to Bali to a remote village by a volcanic mountain on the lake. They were having a ceremony that only happens only every 10 years for the young men. I wanted to be alone.
I was listening to this music and all of a sudden out of the darkness I could see glints of mirrors and 30 or 40 old men in full warrior costume-- there was nobody in this village square. I was alone. They couldn't see me in the shadows. They came out with these spears and they started to dance. They did, I don't know, it felt like an eternity but probably a half hour dance. With these voices coming out of them. And they danced to nobody. Right after that, they and I went oh, my God. The first man came out and they were performing for God. Now God can mean whatever you want it to mean. But for me, I understood it so totally. The detail on the costumes. They didn't care if someone was paying tickets, writing reviews. They didn't care if an audience was watching. They did it from the inside to the outside. And from the outside to the in. And that profoundly moved me then.
MOYERS: How did you see the world differently after you were in Indonesia?
....They did it from the inside to the outside. And from the outside to the in. And that profoundly moved me then. It was...it was the most important thing that I ever experienced. ...
MOYERS: Now that you are so popular, now that your work is...
MOYERS: No, I'm serious.
Now that you're popular, now that your work is celebrated and people are seeking you, do you feel your creativity is threatened by that popularity or liberated by it?
TAYMOR: No, I think it's neither one. I don't do things any differently now than I would before.
And you think that sometimes perhaps if I get a bigger budget for a movie, then it will just be the same thing...
MOYERS: Ruination. Ruination.
TAYMOR: No, because LION KING is a combination of high tech and low tech.
There are things up on that stage that cost 30 cents, like a little shadow puppet and a lamp, and it couldn't be any better than that. It just couldn't.
Sometimes you are forced to become more creative because you have limitations. ....
TAYMOR: Well I understood really the power of art to transform.
I think transformation become the main word in my life.
Transformation because you don't want to just put a mirror in front of people and say, here, look at yourself. What do you see?
You want to have a skewed mirror. You want a mirror that says you didn't know you could see the back of your head. You didn't know that you could amount cubistic see almost all the same aspects at the same time.
It allows human beings to step out of their lives and to revisit it and maybe find something different about it.
It's not about the technology. It's about the power of art to transform.
I think transformation becomes the main word in my life, transformation.
Because you don't want to just put a mirror in front of people and say, here, look at yourself. What do you see?
You want to have a skewed mirror. You want a mirror that says, you didn't know you could see the back of your head. You didn't know that you could...almost cubistic, see all aspects at the same time.
And what that does for human beings is it allows them to step out of their lives and to revisit it and maybe find something different about it.
Part II —
Inside and Outside: Transformation
(Research note, July 11, 1986)
Click on the above typewritten note to enlarge.
Parts I and II:
Geometry for Jews.
"We're not here to stick a mirror on you. Anybody can do that, We're here to give you a more cubist or skewed mirror, where you get to see yourself with fresh eyes. That's what an artist does. When you paint the Crucifixion, you're not painting an exact reproduction."
— Julie Taymor on "Frida" (AP, 10/22/02)
"She made 'real' an oxymoron,
she made mirrors, she made smoke.
She had a curve ball
that wouldn't quit,
a girlfriend for a joke."
— "Arizona Star," Guy Clark / Rich Alves
Sunday, September 14, 2003 2:56 PM
The Graces of Paranoia
The New Yorker on Mel Gibson's filmed passion play:
How did he know that God wanted him to make "The Passion"?
Gibson in "Signs"
"There are signals," he said. "You get signals. Signs. 'Signal graces,' they're called. It's like traffic lights. It's as clear as a traffic light. Bing! I mean, it just grabs you and you know you have to listen to that and you have to follow it...."
— "The Jesus War: Mel Gibson's Obsession," by Peter J. Boyer, The New Yorker, September 15, 2003, p. 70
On the later plays of August Strindberg:
In some plays, when the central character notices things in the everyday world that start to take on unearthly significance (the masts of a half-sunken ship begin to resemble the three crosses on Calvary; someone takes sick just when one wishes the person dead), it usually indicates that the character is starting to experience a life-changing paranoid-schizophrenic episode, not unlike the one Strindberg himself experienced in his so-called "inferno" crisis in the 1890s.
— Cary M. Mazer, "A Strindberg Christmas"
For the Grace that I prefer to Gibson's looney ravings, see my entries for this date last year.
Saturday, September 13, 2003 1:44 AM
For the Man in Black
Lyrics: Arizona Star
"Shinin' like a diamond
she had tombstones in her eyes."
A picture: Salma Hayek and Julie Taymor
A book: Dark Ladies, by Fritz Leiber
This offers a gentler form of the alcoholic experience than Malcolm Lowry's classic Under the Volcano:
"I've had hallucinations from alcohol, too.... But only during withdrawal oddly, the first three days. In closets and dark corners and under tables — never in very bright light — I'd see these black and sometimes red wires, about the thickness of telephone cords, vibrating, whipping around. Made me think of giant spiders' legs and such. I'd know they were hallucinations — they were manageable, thank God. Bright light would always wipe them out."
-- Fritz Leiber, "Our Lady of Darkness," in Dark Ladies
The Feast of Kali, the Dark Lady, and
Architecture of Eternity,
my own "Once Upon a Time in Mexico."
For a more serious Dark Lady portrait, see the site of artist John de la Vega.
Friday, September 12, 2003 3:33 PM
Into the Sunset
I just learned of Johnny's Cash's death. On Google News, the headline was Johnny Cash rides into sunset. The source was the Bangkok Post.
"Don't you know that
when you play at this level
there's no ordinary venue."
-- One Night in Bangkok (midi)
No Ordinary Venue
"They are the horses of a dream.
They are not what they seem."
-- The Hex Witch of Seldom, page 16
The Magnificent Seven:
CLICK HERE for
"the adventures of filming this epic
on location in Cuernavaca, Mexico."
"He is the outlaw the people love,
-- The Hex Witch of Seldom,
"Words are events."
-- Walter J. Ong, Society of Jesus
"...search for thirty-three and three..."
-- The Black Queen in The Eight
Friday, September 12, 2003 3:06 PM
on the two previous entries
"Je ne connais que deux sortes d’êtres immuables sur la terre: les géomètres et les animaux; ils sont conduits par deux règles invariables la démonstration et l’instinct; et encore les géomètres ont-ils eu quelques disputes, mais les animaux n’ont jamais varié."
-- Voltaire, Dictionnaire Philosophique, "Des Contradictions dans les Affaires et dans les Hommes"
"El pan que se come no es pan."
-- Voltaire quoting Montesquieu
on the Pope's declarations,
Thursday, September 11, 2003 6:25 PM
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)
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
Wednesday, September 10, 2003 4:04 PM
The title refers to my entry of last April 4,
and to the time of this entry.
From D. H. Lawrence and the Dialogical Principle:
"Plato's Dialogues...are queer little novels....[I]t was the greatest pity in the world, when philosophy and fiction got split. They used to be one, right from the days of myth. Then they went and parted, like a nagging married couple, with Aristotle and Thomas Aquinas and that beastly Kant. So the novel went sloppy, and philosophy went abstract-dry. The two should come together again, in the novel."
-- pp. 154-5 in D. H. Lawrence, "The Future of the Novel," in Study of Thomas Hardy and Other Essays. Ed. Bruce Steele. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press,1983. 149-55.
"The wild, brilliant, alert head of St. Mawr seemed to look at her out of another world... the large, brilliant eyes of that horse looked at her with demonish question.... 'Meet him half way,' Lewis [the groom] said. But halfway across from our human world to that terrific equine twilight was not a small step."
-- pp. 30, 35 in D. H. Lawrence, "St. Mawr." 1925. St. Mawr and Other Stories. Ed. Brian Finney. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1983.
Plato, Pegasus, and the Evening Star.
Katherine Neville's novel The Eight, referred to in my note of April 4, is an excellent example of how not to combine philosophy with fiction. Lest this be thought too harsh, let me say that the New Testament offers a similarly ludicrous mixture.
On the other hand, there do exist successful combinations of philosophy with fiction... For example, The Glass Bead Game, Zen and The Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, Under the Volcano, the novels of Charles Williams, and the C. S. Lewis classic That Hideous Strength.
This entry was prompted by the appearance of the god Pan in my entry on this date last year, by Hugh Grant's comedic encounters with Pan in "Sirens," by Lawrence's remarks on Pan in "St. Mawr," and by the classic film "Picnic at Hanging Rock."
Wednesday, September 10, 2003 4:00 AM
Edward Teller Is Dead at 95;
Fierce Architect of H-Bomb
at Shane Ross's Caltech site
at S. H. Cullinane's Harvard site
...and a quote from Ross's home page:
The truth shall make you free.
— The Caltech motto and John 8:32
Wednesday, September 10, 2003 1:09 AM
"Dr. Jose Barchilon, a psychoanalyst and educator who studied the unconscious roots of creativity and mental illness, died on
at his home in New Rochelle, N.Y. He was 90.
In addition to training and teaching in New York and Denver, Dr. Barchilon wrote extensively, including early studies of psychosomatic illness and psychoanalytic studies of novels by Jane Austen, Albert Camus, Mark Twain and others.
He also trained a generation of psychiatrists and psychoanalysts...."
— The New York Times, Sept. 9, 2003
Tuesday, September 9, 2003 11:19 PM
"Words are Events"
— Walter J. Ong, S. J.
Gisele Marie Louise Marguerite La Fleche,
better known as Gisele MacKenzie, star of "Your Hit Parade," died on
Friday, September 5, 2003.
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition, 2000:
NOUN: A slender spire, especially one on a church above the intersection of the nave and transepts
ETYMOLOGY: French, arrow, flèche, from Old French, arrow, of Germanic origin.
NOUN: The hub of a wheel
ETYMOLOGY: Middle English, from Old English nafu.
From my entry of Saturday, Sept. 6, 2003:
'That person who is to be known,
he in whom these parts rest,
like spokes in the nave of a wheel,
you know him,
lest death should hurt you.'
— Prasna Upanishad
Cover illustration for
The Spirit of Zen
The Spirit is Willing...
Tuesday, September 9, 2003 9:37 PM
For Dr. Mary McClintock Dusenbury,
Radcliffe College Class of 1964,
who shares an August 22 birthday with
the late Leni Riefenstahl —
Three occurrences of the same
sangaku (temple tablet):
August 19, 2003,
August 22, 2003,
September 6, 2003.
Tuesday, September 9, 2003 6:23 PM
Reply to Lucifer
The New York State Lottery evening number for Saturday, September 6, 2003, was
See last year's entries for Mary Shelley's birthday,
The Number of the Beast and
A Chain of Links.
These were written partly in response to the New York State Lottery midday number for Monday, August 26, 2002, which was also:
In reply to that occurrence, I commented on the website
In reply to last Saturday's return of the beastly lottery number, I recommend the following links on software guru Bill Joy:
Sept. 9 - Sun Co-founder Joy Steps Down:
"Joy co-founded Sun, originally an acronym for Stanford University Network, with McNealy in 1982. Before that, Joy was the designer of the Berkeley version of the Unix operating system and helped pioneer the concept of open source.
More recently, Joy found himself at the center of controversy after he wrote a Wired magazine article on the challenges posed to mankind by new technologies such as nanotechnology, robotics and genetic engineering."
Joy's April 2000 Wired article, titled
Why the future doesn't need us:
Our most powerful 21st-century technologies - robotics, genetic engineering, and nanotech - are threatening to make humans an endangered species.
"I can date the onset of my unease to the day I met Ray Kurzweil...."
I, too, can date, at least approximately, an encounter with the philosophy of
transhumanism (a Lucifer Media link)
that Kurzweil embraces... It was sometime in the first half of January, 1989... I know this because January 9, 1989, is the date of The New Yorker's review of Hans Moravec's Mind Children: The Future of Robot and Human Intelligence (Harvard University Press).
Brad Leithauser, reviewing Mind Children, says that if Moravec "is correct in supposing that human minds will be transferred into or otherwise fused with machines, it seems likely that traditional religious questions -- and traditional religions themselves -- will either melt away or suffer wholesale metamorphosis. Debates about Heaven or Hell -- to take but one example -- would hold little relevance for an immortal creature."
Au contraire. Immortal creatures-- such as, according to Christianity, human beings-- are the only creatures for whom such debates hold relevance.
For an example of such a debate, see
The Contrasting Worldviews of
Sigmund Freud and C.S. Lewis,
by Harvard psychiatrist Armand Nicholi.
For more on Nicholi, see my entry of August 19, 2003,
For the temple tablet associated with Nicholi in that entry, see my entry of September 6, 2003 (the NY Lottery "666" date),
Pictures for Kurosawa.
To sum up this entry, a phrase of C. S. Lewis seems appropriate:
Surprised by Joy.
Tuesday, September 9, 2003 4:04 PM
The conflict between the Euclidean, or "diamond" theory of truth, and the Trudeau, or "story" theory of truth, continues.
On this, Hugh Grant's birthday, let us recall last year's log24 entry for this date. On Roger Ebert's review of the Hugh Grant film "Sirens" about the artist Norman Lindsay:
Ebert gets Pan wrong in this film; he says, "the bearded Lindsay is a Pan of sorts." No. The "Pan of sorts" is in fact the girl who romps joyfully with the local boys and who later, with great amusement, uses her divine x-ray vision to view Tara Fitzgerald naked in church.
This year's offering for Grant's birthday is an illustrated prayer by a great defender of the religious, or "story," theory of truth, Madeleine L'Engle:
For an uncensored view, see my Harvard weblog.
Monday, September 8, 2003 4:07 PM
Goodbye and Hello
The Arizona Republic
Aug. 24, 2003 12:00 AM:
"If any musician can look death in the eye and smile, it's California-based songwriter extraordinaire Warren Zevon."
From April 7, 2003:
April is Math Awareness Month.
This year's theme is "mathematics and art."
From an entry yesterday on looking death in the eye and smiling:
Such serenity "is indestructible and only increases with age and nearness to death. It is the secret of beauty and the real substance of all art."
Warren Zevon died yesterday.
From an entry earlier today on a circle of souls in the sun:
"they lovingly welcome two more into their company."
Frost died on September 1.
The above picture by Frost is from
Modern British Artists.
Monday, September 8, 2003 1:25 PM
Pre- and Post-Cognition
A Matter of Life and Death,
an entry from Sept. 13, 2002, linked to in last night's ART WARS notes:
"In the sun, Dante and Beatrice find themselves surrounded by a circle of souls famous for their wisdom on earth. They appear as splendid lights and precious jewels who dance and sing as they lovingly welcome two more into their company."
Doonesbury, Monday morning, Sept. 8, 2003:
©2003 G.B. Trudeau
For more chanting,
Monday, September 8, 2003 4:24 AM
ART WARS Sept. 1, 2003:
Sir Terry Frost Dies
A noted English abstract painter died at 87 on Monday, September 1. From a memorial essay on Sir Terry Frost, born in 1915, in The Daily Telegraph:
"He was educated at Leamington Spa Central School where he edited the art magazine, but left at 15 to work...." His first jobs included, the Telegraph says, painting "the red, white and blue targets on to fighter planes."
The "target" the Telegraph refers to
is known as the Royal Air Force Roundel.
It may indeed have functioned as a target, but it was originally intended only as a distinctive identifying mark.
Some of Frost's later work may be viewed at the British Government Art Collection. For some of Frost's work more closely related to his early "target" theme, see the Badcock's Gallery site.
For related religious
and cinematic material, see
Pilate, Truth, and Friday the Thirteenth,
a meditation for Good Friday of 2001,
A Matter of Life and Death,
a meditation for Friday the Thirteenth
of September, 2002,
The Unity of Mathematics,
from the day Frost died, which concludes
with links related to the religious symbol of
Sunday, September 7, 2003 11:11 PM
Mathematicians are familiar with the emblem of Springer Verlag, the principal publisher of higher mathematics.
Ferdinand Springer, son of Julius Springer, founder of Springer Verlag, "was a passionate chess player and published a number of books on the subject. In 1881 this personal hobby and the name Springer led the company to adopt the knight in chess (in German, Springer) as its colophon."
Hermann Hesse on a certain sort of serenity:
"I would like to say something more to you about cheerful serenity, the serenity of the stars and of the mind.... neither frivolity nor complacency; it is supreme insight and love, affirmation of all reality, alertness on the brink of all depths and abysses; it is a virtue of saints and of knights; it is indestructible and only increases with age and nearness to death. It is the secret of beauty and the real substance of all art."
-- From The Glass Bead Game
A saint and a knight, Jeanne d'Arc, was memorably portrayed by Milla Jovovich in The Messenger.
(Jovovich seems fated to play more-than-human characters in religious epics; see The Fifth Element.)
Another Springer, related to horses and to the accusation of witchcraft faced by Jeanne d'Arc, is Nancy Springer, the author of
The Hex Witch of Seldom.
Springer has written a number of books about horses, as well as other topics.
All of the above.... especially the parts having to do with mathematics and horses... was prompted by my redrawing today of a horse-shape within mathematics. See my entry The Eight of April 4, 2003, and the horse-figure redrawn at right below.
Believers in the story theory of truth may wish to relate the gifts of Jeanne d'Arc and of the girl in The Hex Witch of Seldom to the legend of Pegasus. See, for instance,
Plato, Pegasus, and the Evening Star.
For another connection between mathematics and horses, see Sangaku.
Saturday, September 6, 2003 2:56 PM
Pictures for Kurosawa
Five years ago on this day, director Akira Kurosawa died.
The above pictures are offered as a remembrance of Kurosawa and also of Charlotte Selver, who died on August 22, 2003.
The picture at right is from an entry of August 22. As one obituary of Selver says, "She was very sharp and very precise."
The picture at left is the cover of Alan Watts's book The Spirit of Zen (a religion that is also very sharp and very precise).
The connection with Alan Watts was a fateful one. As Charlotte recalls it, "My aunt wrote me from San Francisco, 'last night I heard a man lecture about what you do.' And she sent me Alan Watts's first little book, The Spirit of Zen. I had never heard of Zen, was amazed and fascinated, and decided to visit the author." She did so in August of 1953, and that was the beginning of a long relationship with Zen Buddhism - and also the beginning of a long series of joint seminars with Alan Watts, first in New York, and later, on Watts's ferryboat in Sausalito, California. Some of the titles of their seminars were "Moving Stillness," "The Unity of Opposites," "Our Instantaneous Life," "The Mystery of Perception," "The Tao in Rest and Motion." (Watts always said that Charlotte Selver taught a Western equivalent of Taoism.)
The picture at right above is intended as a sangaku, or Japanese temple tablet.
The picture at left above on the cover of Watts's book may be regarded as illustrating the following:
"As these flowing rivers that go towards the ocean, when they have reached the ocean, sink into it, their name and form are broken, and people speak of the ocean only, exactly thus these sixteen parts of the spectator that go towards the person (purusha), when they have reached the person, sink into him, their name and form are broken, and people speak of the person only, and he becomes without parts and immortal. On this there is this verse:
'That person who is to be known, he in whom these parts rest, like spokes in the nave of a wheel, you know him, lest death should hurt you.' "
— Prasna Upanishad
Saturday, September 6, 2003 12:00 AM
A tropical storm over Florida (lower left)
and a hurricane at Bermuda (upper right)
at 3:15 p.m. EDT on Friday, Sept. 5, 2003:
"Wind over Water"
as described by William Shakespeare in 1611.
"Wind over Water" in the I Ching,
the Classic of Transformations,
signifies huan, "dissolving."
Our revels now are ended. These our actors, as I foretold you, were all spirits and are melted into air, into thin air: and, like the baseless fabric of this vision, the cloud-capp'd towers, the gorgeous palaces, the solemn temples, the great globe itself, yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve and, like this insubstantial pageant faded, leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff as dreams are made on, and our little life is rounded with a sleep. (Prospero, IV.i)
Friday, September 5, 2003 11:59 PM
For Grace Paley:
An Enormous Change
at the Last Minute
(of September 5)
Hexagram 59 of the I Ching comprises the trigrams for wind and water (as in the environmental art of Feng Shui).
The name of the hexagram, Huan, means dispersion or dissolution.
The character Huan may be written as shown at right above. The picture of the character Huan is taken from
The LiSe Heyboer I Ching.
Essentially the same picture is shown at
The Dan Stackhouse I Ching,
where it is explained as follows:
"At the top is a person or people , a flattened version of the more familiar . In the center an eye looks out from a cave or cavern. At the bottom a hand holds a stick or club as though ready to strike something. represents flowing water."
The creature in the cave holding a club is reminiscent of my previous entry for today, on the "bone people," or ancestors, of mankind.
For a transition, in the Kubrick 2001 style, to a more modern scene, see my next entry.
Friday, September 5, 2003 8:23 PM
"The story bent and climbed and went into weird areas. For instance, at one time Simon Peter was a cave-dweller; at another, he only appeared in other characters' dreams...."
— Keri Hulme on The Bone People
"Words are events."
— The Walter J. Ong Project
In East Asian traditions, "Rocks are seen as events--rather slow moving events--but as events...."
— Graham Parkes, professor of philosophy at the University of Hawaii
Parkes is working on a translation of Nietzsche's Thus Spake Zarathustra and is the author of "The Overflowing Soul: Images of Transformation in Nietzsche's Zarathustra."
He is also the translator, with David Pellauer, of Nietzsche and Music, by Georges Liébert (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2003).
Friday, September 5, 2003 3:28 PM
for Cullinane College:
"The Talented form their own society and that's as it should be: birds of a feather. No, not birds. Winged horses! Ha! Yes, indeed. Pegasus... the poetic winged horse of flights of fancy. A bloody good symbol for us. You'd see a lot from the back of a winged horse..."
— To Ride Pegasus, by Anne McCaffrey.
"Born in Cambridge, MA, on April Fool's Day 1926 ('I've tried very hard to live up to being an April-firster,' she quips), McCaffrey graduated from Radcliffe College in 1947."
— School Library Journal
Born on March 9, 1947, in Christchurch, Keri Hulme won the Pegasus Prize for her Maori novel, The Bone People.
Thursday, September 4, 2003 4:23 PM
The late philosopher Donald Davidson (see previous entry) had a gift for titles. For example:
"The Folly of Trying to Define Truth"
(Journal of Philosophy June 1996, pp. 263-278) and
"A Nice Derangement of Epitaphs"
(In R. Grandy and R. Warner (eds.), Philosophical Grounds of Rationality, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1986).
For my thoughts on the former, see
Pilate, Truth, and Friday the Thirteenth,
The Diamond Theory of Truth, and
Sept. 2, 2002 (Laurindo Almeida's Birthday).
For my thoughts on the latter, see
Happy Birthday, Mary Shelley (2003),
For Mary Shelley's Birthday (2002),
and, in honor of J. R. R. Tolkien, who died on the date September 2,
The Article on Epitaphs
at Wikipedia Encyclopedia, which contains the following:
"J. R. R. Tolkien is buried next to his wife, and on their tombstone the names 'Beren' and 'Luthien' are engraved, a fact that sheds light on the love story of Beren and Luthien which is recorded in several versions in his works."
A nice derangement, indeed.
Thursday, September 4, 2003 2:42 AM
"Music can name the unnameable
and communicate the unknowable."
— Quotation attributed to Leonard Bernstein
"Finally we get to Kubrick's ultimate trick.... His secret is in plain sight.... The film is the monolith. In a secret that seems to never have been seen by anyone: the monolith in the film has the same exact dimensions as the movie screen on which 2001 was projected."
— Alchemical Kubrick 2001, by Jay Weidner
My entry of Saturday, August 30,
included the following illustration:
My entry of Monday, September 1,
concluded with the black monolith.
"There is little doubt that the black monolith
in 2001 is the Philosopher's Stone."
— Alchemical Kubrick 2001, by Jay Weidner
The philosopher Donald Davidson
died on Saturday, August 30.
The New York Times says that as an undergraduate, Davidson "persuaded Harvard to let him put on 'The Birds' by Aristophanes and played the lead, Peisthetairos, which meant memorizing 700 lines of Greek. His friend and classmate Leonard Bernstein, with whom he played four-handed piano, wrote an original score for the production."
Perhaps they are still making music together.
Wednesday, September 3, 2003 3:00 PM
From my entry of Sept. 1, 2003:
"...the principle of taking and giving, of learning and teaching, of listening and storytelling, in a word: of reciprocity....
... E. M. Forster famously advised his readers, 'Only connect.' 'Reciprocity' would be Michael Kruger's succinct philosophy, with all that the word implies."
-- William Boyd, review of Himmelfarb, New York Times Book Review, October 30, 1994
Last year's entry on this date:
"Mathematics is the music of reason."
Sylvester, a nineteenth-century mathematician, coined the phrase "synthematic totals" to describe some structures based on 6-element sets that R. T. Curtis has called "rather unwieldy objects." See Curtis's abstract, Symmetric Generation of Finite Groups, John Baez's essay, Some Thoughts on the Number 6, and my website, Diamond Theory.
The picture above is of the complete graph
Diamond theory describes how the 15 two-element subsets of a six-element set (represented by edges in the picture above) may be arranged as 15 of the 16 parts of a 4x4 array, and how such an array relates to group-theoretic concepts, including Sylvester's synthematic totals as they relate to constructions of the Mathieu group M24.
If diamond theory illustrates any general philosophical principle, it is probably the interplay of opposites.... "Reciprocity" in the sense of Lao Tzu. See
Reciprocity and Reversal in Lao Tzu.
For a sense of "reciprocity" more closely related to Michael Kruger's alleged philosophy, see the Confucian concept of Shu (Analects 15:23 or 24) described in
Kruger's novel is in part about a Jew: the quintessential Jewish symbol, the star of David, embedded in the
Click on the design for details.
Those who prefer a Jewish approach to physics can find the star of David, in the form of
A Graphical Representation
of the Dirac Algebra.
The star of David also appears, if only as a heuristic arrangement, in a note that shows generating partitions of the affine group on 64 points arranged in two opposing triplets.
Having thus, as the New York Times advises, paid tribute to a Jewish symbol, we may note, in closing, a much more sophisticated and subtle concept of reciprocity due to Euler, Legendre, and Gauss. See
The Jewel of Arithmetic and
The Golden Theorem.
Tuesday, September 2, 2003 1:11 PM
One Ring to Rule Them All
In memory of J. R. R. Tolkien, who died on this date, and in honor of Israel Gelfand, who was born on this date.
Leonard Gillman on his collaboration with Meyer Jerison and Melvin Henriksen in studying rings of continuous functions:
"The triple papers that Mel and I wrote deserve comment. Jerry had conjectured a characterization of beta X (the Stone-Cech compactification of X) and the three of us had proved that it was true. Then he dug up a 1939 paper by Gelfand and Kolmogoroff that Hewitt, in his big paper, had referred to but apparently not appreciated, and there we found Jerry's characterization. The three of us sat around to decide what to do; we called it the 'wake.' Since the authors had not furnished a proof, we decided to publish ours. When the referee expressed himself strongly that a title should be informative, we came up with On a theorem of Gelfand and Kolmogoroff concerning maximal ideals in rings of continuous functions. (This proved to be my second-longest title, and a nuisance to refer to.) Kolmogoroff died many years ago, but Gelfand is still living, a vigorous octogenarian now at Rutgers. A year or so ago, I met him at a dinner party in Austin and mentioned the 1939 paper. He remembered it very well and proceeded to complain that the only contribution Kolmogoroff had made was to point out that a certain result was valid for the complex case as well. I was intrigued to see how the giants grouse about each other just as we do."
-- Leonard Gillman: An Interview
This clears up a question I asked earlier in this journal....
Wednesday, May 14, 2003
On the mathematician Kolmogorov:
"It turns out that he DID prove one basic theorem that I take for granted, that a compact hausdorff space is determined by its ring of continuous functions (this ring being considered without any topology) -- basic discoveries like this are the ones most likely to have their origins obscured, for they eventually come to be seen as mere common sense, and not even a theorem."
That this theorem is Kolmogorov's is news to me.
The above references establish that Gelfand is usually cited as the source of the theorem Cudney discusses. Gelfand was a student of Kolmogorov's in the 1930's, so who discovered what when may be a touchy question in this case. A reference that seems relevant: I. M. Gelfand and A. Kolmogoroff, "On rings of continuous functions on topological spaces," Doklady Akad. Nauk SSSR 22 (1939), 11-15. This is cited by Gillman and Jerison in the classic Rings of Continuous Functions.
There ARE some references that indicate Kolmogorov may have done some work of his own in this area. See here ("quite a few duality theorems... including those of Banaschewski, Morita, Gel'fand-Kolmogorov and Gel'fand-Naimark") and here ("the classical theorems of M. H. Stone, Gelfand & Kolmogorov").
Any other references to Kolmogorov's work in this area would be of interest.
Naturally, any discussion of this area should include a reference to the pioneering work of M. H. Stone. I recommend the autobiographical article on Stone in McGraw-Hill Modern Men of Science, Volume II, 1968.
A response by Richard Cudney:
"In regard to your entry, it is largely correct. The paper by Kolmogorov and Gelfand that you refer to is the one that I just read in his collected works. So, I suppose my entry was unfair to Gelfand. You're right, the issue of credit is a bit touchy since Gelfand was his student. In a somewhat recent essay, Arnol'd makes the claim that this whole thread of early work by Gelfand may have been properly due to Kolmogorov, however he has no concrete proof, having been but a child at the time, and makes this inference based only on his own later experience as Kolmogorov's student. At any rate, I had known about Gelfand's representation theorem, but had not known that Kolmogorov had done any work of this sort, or that this theorem in particular was due to either of them.
And to clarify-where I speak of the credit for this theorem being obscured, I speak of my own experience as an algebraic geometer and not a functional analyst. In the textbooks on algebraic geometry, one sees no explanation of why we use Spec A to denote the scheme corresponding to a ring A. That question was answered when I took functional analysis and learned about Gelfand's theorem, but even there, Kolmogorov's name did not come up.
This result is different from the Gelfand representation theorem that you mention-this result concerns algebras considered without any topology(or norm)-whereas his representation theorem is a result on Banach algebras. In historical terms, this result precedes Gelfand's theorem and is the foundation for it-he starts with a general commutative Banach algebra and reconstructs a space from it-thus establishing in what sense that the space to algebra correspondence is surjective, and hence by the aforementioned theorem, bi-unique. That is to say, this whole vein of Gelfand's work started in this joint paper.
Of course, to be even more fair, I should say that Stone was the very first to prove a theorem like this, a debt which Kolmogorov and Gelfand acknowledge. Stone's paper is the true starting point of these ideas, but this paper of Kolmogorov and Gelfand is the second landmark on the path that led to Grothendieck's concept of a scheme(with Gelfand's representation theorem probably as the third).
As an aside, this paper was not Kolmogorov's first foray into topological algebra-earlier he conjectured the possibility of a classification of locally compact fields, a problem which was solved by Pontryagin. The point of all this is that I had been making use of ideas due to Kolmogorov for many years without having had any inkling of it."
Monday, September 1, 2003 3:33 PM
The Unity of Mathematics,
or "Shema, Israel"
A conference to honor the 90th birthday (Sept. 2) of Israel Gelfand is currently underway in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
The following note from 2001 gives one view of the conference's title topic, "The Unity of Mathematics."
Reciprocity in 2001
by Steven H. Cullinane
For four different proofs of Euler's result, see the inexpensive paperback classic by Konrad Knopp, Theory and Application of Infinite Series (Dover Publications).
Evaluating Zeta(2), by Robin Chapman (PDF article) Fourteen proofs!
Zeta Functions for Undergraduates
The Riemann Zeta Function
Reciprocity Laws II
The Langlands Program
Recent Progress on the Langlands Conjectures
For more on
the theme of unity,
Saturday, August 30, 2003 12:00 AM
"Frank and Stein quickly realized
they needed the big three things
that every programming language has:
and something cool."
Sounds to me more like a religion.
See Union of American Hebrew Congregations.
Modern (A.D.) religion...
See my note
of July 27, 2003.
See my note
The Transcendent Signified
of July 26, 2003.