Wednesday, December 31, 2003 8:00 PM
In memory of
John Gregory Dunne,
who died on
Dec. 30, 2003:
See, too, last year's entries
for Dec. 30 and 31:
"... he might add under his breath,
like the professor in The Last Battle
who has passed on to the next life,
'It's all in Plato, all in Plato:
bless me, what do they teach them
at these schools!' "
Wednesday, December 31, 2003 3:07 PM
Columnist Cal Thomas
What exactly does Dean believe about Jesus, and how is it relevant to his presidential candidacy? "Christ was someone who sought out people who were disenfranchised," he told the Globe, "people who were left behind." Dean makes it sound as if He might have been a Democrat. "He fought against self-righteousness of people who had everything," the candidate continued. "He was a person who set an extraordinary example that has lasted 2,000 years, which is pretty inspiring when you think about it."
Not really. If that is all Jesus was (or is), then he is just another entry in Bartlett's Familiar Quotations, to be read or not, according to one's inspirational need.
C.S. Lewis brilliantly dealt with this watered-down view of Jesus and what He did in the book "Mere Christianity." Said Lewis, who thought about such things at a far deeper level than Howard Dean, "I'm trying here to prevent anyone from saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: 'I'm ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I can't accept His claim to be God.' That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic - on a level with the man who says he is a poached egg - or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God - or else a madman or something worse."
For an excellent dramatic portrayal of C. S. Lewis, see the film "Shadowlands," starring Sir Anthony Hopkins.
For Sir Anthony Hopkins
on his birthday --
Your Own Personal Jesus:
British Columbia, 1970
The Jesus figure above is,
if not the Son of God,
the son of novelist Kurt Vonnegut --
not a bad alternative.
As for "the sort of things Jesus said," consider this from a
the younger Vonnegut's
The Eden Express: A Memoir of Insanity --
"At one point, he decides that
his thoughts are responsible for
an earthquake in California...."
See the rather similar remarks of Jesus
in Mark 11:23.
For further notes on
theology, lunacy, and earthquakes,
see the previous entries, starting with
The Longest Night, Dec. 21, 2003,
and ending with the two Dec. 28 entries
below, both related to the recent Iran
earthquake (and, by implication, to the
quote from Robert Stone in the entries
Stone, not Wood, and Riddle).
Sunday, December 28, 2003 7:29 PM
Season's Greetings from
Institute for Advanced Study,
in keeping with the theme of
the previous entry.
"Warren Ellis' Die Puny
Worth looking at."
DPH leads to Sohma G. Dawling
in turn leads,
via r. sakamoto, to
For the aria, after you click on
the above link, click on the
picture at the resulting site
Sunday, December 28, 2003 2:00 PM
The Associated Press,
December 28, 2003, 11:46 AM EST
TEHRAN, Iran -- Three European hostages seized in southeastern
Iran earlier this month have been released, Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi said
The $6 million ransom demand was not paid, another Iranian official said.
Drug smugglers seized the hostages -- two from Germany and one from Ireland -- Dec. 2... as they bicycled to the city of Zahedan from
Thank you, Ma'am.
(See The Magdalene Code, 12/26.
For the "Wham," see Rosebud, 12/22,
and later entries.)
Another entry not without relevance
is that of 3/07.
Saturday, December 27, 2003 10:21 PM
"If little else, the brain is an educational toy. While it may be a frustrating plaything -- one whose finer points recede just when you think you are mastering them -- it is nonetheless perpetually fascinating, frequently surprising, occasionally rewarding, and it comes already assembled; you don't have to put it together on Christmas morning.
The problem with possessing such an engaging toy is that other people want to play with it, too. Sometimes they'd rather play with yours than theirs. Or they object if you play with yours in a different manner from the way they play with theirs. The result is, a few games out of a toy department of possibilities are universally and endlessly repeated. If you don't play some people's game, they say that you have 'lost your marbles,' not recognizing that,
while Chinese checkers is indeed a fine pastime, a person may also play dominoes, chess, strip poker, tiddlywinks, drop-the-soap or Russian roulette with his brain.
One brain game that is widely, if poorly, played is a gimmick called
June 12, 1969:
"I took the number twenty-four and there's twenty-four ways of expressing the numbers one, two, three, four. And I assigned one kind of line to one, one to two, one to three, and one to four. One was a vertical line, two was a horizontal line, three was diagonal left to right, and four was diagonal right to left. These are the basic kind of directions that lines can take.... the absolute ways that lines can be drawn. And I drew these things as parallel lines very close to one another in boxes. And then there was a system of changing them so that within twenty-four pages there were different arrangements of actually sixteen squares, four sets of four. Everything was based on four. So this was kind of a... more of a... less of a rational... I mean, it gets into the whole idea of methodology."
Yes, it does.
See Art Wars, Poetry's Bones, and Time Fold.
Friday, December 26, 2003 7:59 PM
ART WARS, St. Stephen's Day:
The Magdalene Code
Got The Da Vinci Code for Xmas.
From page 262:
When Langdon had first seen The Little Mermaid, he had actually gasped aloud when he noticed that the painting in Ariel's underwater home was none other than seventeenth-century artist Georges de la Tour's The Penitent Magdalene -- a famous homage to the banished Mary Magdalene -- fitting decor considering the movie turned out to be a ninety-minute collage of blatant symbolic references to the lost sanctity of Isis, Eve, Pisces the fish goddess, and, repeatedly, Mary Magdalene.
Related Log24 material --
December 21, 2002:
A Maiden's Prayer
The Da Vinci Code, pages 445-446:
"The blade and chalice?" Marie asked. "What exactly do they look like?"
Langdon sensed she was toying with him, but he played along, quickly describing the symbols.
A look of vague recollection crossed her face. "Ah, yes, of course. The blade represents all that is masculine. I believe it is drawn like this, no?" Using her index finger, she traced a shape on her palm.
"Yes," Langdon said. Marie had drawn the less common "closed" form of the blade, although Langdon had seen the symbol portrayed both ways.
"And the inverse," she said, drawing again upon her palm, "is the chalice, which represents the feminine."
"Correct," Langdon said....
... Marie turned on the lights and pointed....
"There you are, Mr. Langdon. The blade and chalice."....
"But that's the Star of Dav--"
Langdon stopped short, mute with amazement as it dawned on him.
The blade and chalice.
Fused as one.
The Star of David... the perfect union of male and female... Solomon's Seal... marking the Holy of Holies, where the male and female deities -- Yahweh and Shekinah -- were thought to dwell.
Related Log24 material --
May 25, 2003:
Monday, December 22, 2003 8:00 PM
Sequel to previous 4 entries:
by Dylan Thomas
Current phase of the moon,
from the U.S. Naval Observatory:
And I remember that we went singing carols once, a night or two before Christmas Eve, when there wasn’t the shaving of a moon to light the secret, white-flying streets. At the end of a long road was a drive that led to a large house, and we stumbled up the darkness of the drive that night, each one of us afraid, each one holding a stone in his hand in case, and all of us too brave to say a word. The wind made through the drive-trees noises as of old and unpleasant and maybe web-footed men wheezing in caves. We reached the black bulk of the house.
‘What shall we give them?’ Dan whispered.
‘"Hark the Herald"? ‘‘Christmas comes but Once a Year"?’
‘No,’ Jack said: ‘We’ll sing "Good King Wenceslas." I’ll count three.’
One, two, three, and we began to sing, our voices high and seemingly distant in the snow-felted darkness round the house that was occupied by nobody we knew. We stood close together, near the dark door.
Good King Wenceslas looked out
On the Feast of Stephen.
And then a small, dry voice, like the voice of someone who has not spoken for a long time, suddenly joined our singing: a small, dry voice from the other side of the door: a small, dry voice through the keyhole. And when we stopped running we were outside our house; the front room was lovely and bright; the gramophone was playing; we saw the red and white balloons hanging from the gas-bracket; uncles and aunts sat by the fire; I thought I smelt our supper being fried in the kitchen. Everything was good again, and Christmas shone through all the familiar town.
‘Perhaps it was a ghost,’ Jim said.
'Perhaps it was trolls,’ Dan said, who was always reading.
‘Let’s go in and see if there’s any jelly left,’ Jack said. And we did that.
Monday, December 22, 2003 7:59 PM
Rang Planet 'Like a Bell'
By Peter Henderson
December 22, 2003 07:06 PM ET
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - California's largest earthquake in four years struck on Monday, causing Planet Earth to ring "like a bell" and mountains to grow a foot (30 cm) taller, geologists said on Monday.
The magnitude 6.5 quake hit near the coastal city of San Simeon....
Monday, December 22, 2003 4:16 PM
Cambria, California (AP) --
An earthquake with a preliminary magnitude of 6.5 rocked the California coast from Los Angeles to San Francisco on Monday.
"Would you like something to read?"
-- Dylan Thomas,
A Child's Christmas in Wales
Monday, December 22, 2003 2:14 PM
After the Long Night
Sunday, December 21, 2003 1:00 PM
The Longest Night
Tonight will be
the longest night
current issue --
"My God, it's full of
Saturday, December 20, 2003 5:00 PM
White, Geometric, and Eternal
This afternoon's surfing:
Prompted by Edward Rothstein's own Fides et Ratio encyclical in today's NY Times, I googled him.
At the New York Review of Books, I came across the following by Rothstein:
"... statements about TNT can be represented within TNT: the formal system can, in a precise way, 'talk' about itself."
This naturally prompted me to check what is on TNT on this, the feast day of St. Emil Artin. At 5 PM this afternoon, we have Al Pacino in "The Devil's Advocate" -- a perfect choice for the festival of an alleged saint.
Preparing for Al, I meditated on the mystical significance of the number 373, as explained in Zen and Language Games: the page number 373 in Robert Stone's theological classic A Flag for Sunrise conveys the metaphysical significance of the phrase "diamonds are forever" -- "the eternal in the temporal," according to Stone's Catholic priest. This suggests a check of another theological classic, Pynchon's Gravity's Rainbow. Page 373 there begins with the following description of prewar Berlin:
"white and geometric."
This suggests the following illustration of a white and geometric object
related to yesterday's entry on Helmut Wielandt:
(This object, which illustrates the phrase "makin' the changes," also occurs in this morning's entry on the death of a jazz musician.)
A further search for books containing "white" and "geometric" at Amazon.com yields the following:
From Mosaics, by
Fassett, Bahouth, and Patterson:
"A risco fountain in Mexico city, begun circa 1740 and made up of Mexican pottery and Chinese porcelain, including Ming.
The delicate oriental patterns on so many different-sized plates and saucers [are] underlined by the bold blue and white geometric tiles at the base."
Note that the tiles are those of Diamond Theory; the geometric object in figure 1 above illustrates a group that plays a central role in that theory.
Finally, the word "risco" (from Casa del Risco) associated with figure 2 above leads us to a rather significant theological site associated with the holy city of Santiago de Compostela:
Dedalus in Compostela.
Figure 3 shows James Joyce (alias Dedalus), whose daughter Lucia inspired the recent entry Jazz on St. Lucia's Day -- which in turn is related, by last night's 2:45 entry and by Figure 1, to the mathematics of group theory so well expounded by the putative saint Emil Artin.
"His lectures are best described as
-- Fine Hall in its Golden Age,
by Gian-Carlo Rota
If Pynchon plays the role of devil's advocate suggested by his creation, in Gravity's Rainbow, of the character Emil Bummer, we may
hope that Rota, no longer in time but now in eternity, can be persuaded to play
the important role of saint's advocate for his Emil.
Update of 6:30 PM 12/20/03:
The Absolutist Faith
of The New York Times
White and Geometric, but not
Saturday, December 20, 2003 2:45 AM
Quarter to Three
"You've got to be true to your code."
-- Frank Sinatra
In memory of Webster Young,
who died on Saint Lucia's day,
December 13, 2003 --
From my entry of 12/16/03,
Jazz on St. Lucia's Day:
"Now you has jazz."
- High Society, 1956
Webster Young was a jazz trumpeter.
In 1957, Young was featured on
saxophonist Jackie McLean's albums
"A Long Drink of the Blues" and
"Makin' the Changes."
-- Adam Bernstein,
Washington Post, Dec. 18
"One for my baby,
and one more for the road."
-- Frank Sinatra
Saturday, December 20, 2003 1:09 AM
For St. Emil's Day
On this date in 1962, Emil Artin died.
He was, in his way, a priest of Apollo, god of music, light, and reason.
The previous entry dealt with permutation groups, in the context of a Jan. 2004 AMS Notices review of a book on the mathematics of juggling.
It turns out that juggling is, in fact, related to Artin's theory of "braid groups." For details, see Juggling Braids.
For more on Apollo, see my entry of 1/09.
Friday, December 19, 2003 10:00 PM
Happy Birthday, Helmut Wielandt
(wherever you may be)
AMS Notices, January 2004
In light of my entry on change-ringing of this date last year, the above AMS Notices cover may serve to illustrate what Heidegger so memorably dubbed the
"Geheimnis des Glockenturms."
For details on the illustration,
click here and scroll down.
(Wielandt was an expert
on permutation groups.)
Thursday, December 18, 2003 6:29 PM
"And now what you've all
been waiting for... Wagner!"
-- Conclusion of the film "Cosi"
The Ring and the Rings: Wagner vs. Tolkien, by Alex Ross, in The New Yorker, current (Dec. 22-29) issue.
Tolkien, Wagner, Nationalism, and Modernity, from a 2001
Seattle Opera House conference.
Thursday, December 18, 2003 1:00 AM
Today is the feast day of Saint Louis Untermeyer, who died on December 18, 1977. Here are some links in his memory:
His anthology, Modern British Poetry,
his anthology, Modern American Poetry,
a brief biography at http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/.
I grew up with a paperback Untermeyer anthology that I loved. He may have been middlebrow, but he taught me more than many more refined authors.
Any religion that says Untermeyer is not a saint can go, as far as I am
concerned, straight to Hell.
Wednesday, December 17, 2003 3:00 PM
"Give faith a fighting chance."
-- Lee Ann Womack
On this date in 1959, the film "On the Beach" opened worldwide.
From a site on Nevil Shute, author of the book on which the film was based:
The New York Daily News (December 18, 1959) condemned the film:
"This is a would-be shocker which plays right up the alley of a) the Kremlin and b) the Western defeatists and/or traitors who yelp for the scrapping of the H-bomb. ... See this picture if you must (it seems bound to be much talked about), but keep in mind that the thinking it represents points the way toward eventual Communist enslavement of the entire human race."
Another film, based on an author who certainly opposed Communist enslavement, opens worldwide today: the final installment of Tolkien's "Lord of the Rings."
To give, as Lee Ann Womack recommends, this author's theological views a fighting chance, see a Christianity Today article, Saint J. R. R. the Evangelist.
Personally, I have come to believe that Tolkien's religion, Roman Catholicism, is more like Grima Wormtongue's than like Gandalf's.
Material related to this view may be found in my journal archive for March 2003.
For some philosophical remarks that avoid the lunacy of Christianity, see Faith.
Another admirable work by the author of these eminently sensible remarks, Richard Robinson of Oriel College, Oxford, is one of the best books I have ever encountered:
Tuesday, December 16, 2003 2:24 PM
within unalterable structure...
-- Roger Zelazny, Eye of Cat
See, too, Blue Matrices, and
a link for Beethoven's birthday:
Song for the
Unification of Europe
Tuesday, December 16, 2003 1:08 AM
Jazz on St. Lucia's Day
December 13, Saturday, was
the feast day of St. Lucia.
at St. Lucia
Log24 entry for December 13:
within unalterable structure...
Was it a mistake?
There is pain with the power...
Time's friction at the edges...
Center loosens, forms again elsewhere...
-- Roger Zelazny, Eye of Cat
Washington Post, Names and Faces,
Tuesday, Dec. 16, 2003
"A Christmas concert at the Vatican may not be the best place to criticize the Catholic Church for the sexual abuse scandals that have plagued it for the past few years. Or maybe it's the perfect place.
Musician Lauryn Hill did just that while performing there Saturday night. The Grammy winner read a statement during the concert that scolded the church and its leaders....
La Repubblica newspaper quoted her as saying, 'I realize some of you may be offended by what I'm saying, but what do you say to the families who were betrayed by the people in whom they believed?'...
The Vatican said Sunday it had no comment."
"Now you has jazz."
- High Society, 1956