Wednesday, February 15, 2006 11:07 AM
Tuesday, February 14, 2006 7:20 AM
'elite' is a term of opprobrium on both sides of the Atlantic for both
left and right for entirely different reasons-- for the right, an
'elitist' is an unpatriotic, degenerate left-wing fan of the
avant-garde; for the left, he is an undemocratic enemy of the people."
-- Charles Rosen, review
of The Oxford History of Western Music
the Feb. 23, 2006, New York Review of Books
The first person that comes to mind as fitting both left and right
descriptions is T. S. Eliot. Hence the following:
A Jungian on
this six-line figure:
"They are the same six lines that exist in the I Ching.... Now observe
the square more closely:
four of the lines are of equal length, the other two are longer.... For
this reason symmetry cannot be statically produced and a
-- Marie-Louise von Franz,
Number and Time (1970)
Monday, February 13, 2006 8:00 PM
As yesterday's Lincoln's Birthday entry indicated, my own sympathies
are not with the "created equal" crowd. Still, the Catholic
Franco admirer Andrew
seems somewhat over-the-top. A more thoughtful
approach to these matters may be found in a recommendation by Ross Douthat
at The American
Read Eve Tushnet on the virtues of The Man in the
Related material: Log24 on Nov. 14, Nov. 15, and Nov.
Another item of interest from Eve:
[is equivalent but not equal to] art (deceptive accident hides truthful
substance), as vs. Plato's condemnation of the physical & the
fictive? (Geo. Steiner)"
"The End of Endings"
by Father Richard John Neuhaus,
115 (Aug.-Sept. 2001), 47-56:
"In Grammars of Creation
, more than in his 1989 book Real
Steiner acknowledges that his argument rests on inescapably Christian
foundations. In fact, he has in the past sometimes written in a
strongly anti-Christian vein, while the present book reflects the
influence of, among others, Miri Rubin, whose Corpus Christi: The
Eucharist in Late Medieval Culture
is credited in a footnote. Steiner asserts that, after the Platonisms
and Gnosticisms of late antiquity, it is the doctrines of incarnation
and transubstantiation that mark 'the disciplining of Western syntax
and conceptualization' in philosophy and art. 'Every heading met with
in a study of "creation," every nuance of analytic and figural
discourse,' he says, derives from incarnation and transubstantiation,
'concepts utterly alien to either Judaic or Hellenic perspectives--
though they did, in a sense, arise from the collisions and commerce
The incarnation of God in the Son, the transubstantiation of bread
and wine into his body and blood, are 'a mysterium,
an articulated, subtly innervated attempt to reason the irrational at
the very highest levels of intellectual pressure.' 'Uniquely, perhaps,
the hammering out of the teaching of the eucharist compels Western
thought to relate the depth of the unconscious and of pre-history with
speculative abstractions at the boundaries of logic and of linguistic
philosophy.' Later, the 'perhaps' in that claim seems to have
At every significant point, Western
philosophies of art and Western poetics draw their secular idiom from
the substratum of Christological debate. Like no other event in our
mental history, the postulate of God's kenosis through Jesus and of the
never-ending availability of the Savior in the wafer and wine of the
eucharist, conditions not only the development of Western art and
rhetoric itself, but at a much deeper level, that of our understanding
and reception of the truth of art-- a truth antithetical to the
condemnation of the fictive in Plato.
reaches its unrepeated perfection in Dante, says Steiner. In Dante, 'It
rounds in glory the investigation of creativity and creation, of divine
authorship and human poesis, of the concentric spheres of the
aesthetic, the philosophical, and the theological. Now truth and
fiction are made one, now imagination is prayer, and Plato's exile of
the poets refuted.' In the fashionable critical theories of our day, we
witness 'endeavors of the aesthetic to flee from incarnation.' 'It is
the old heresies which revive in the models of absence, of negation or
erasure, of the deferral of meaning in late-twentieth-century
deconstruction. The counter-semantics of the deconstructionist, his
refusal to ascribe a stable significance to the sign, are moves
familiar to [an earlier] negative theology.' Heidegger's poetics of
'pure immanence' are but one more attempt 'to liberate our experience
of sense and of form from the grip of the theophanic.' But, Steiner
suggests, attempted flights from the reality of Corpus Christi
will not carry the day. 'Two millennia are only a brief moment.'
Sunday, February 12, 2006 12:00 PM
"... a new nation, conceived in liberty and dedicated to the
proposition that all men are created equal"
A. Lincoln, Nov. 19, 1863
Some are less equal than others.
Jacques Herbrand, born on this date in 1908.
"Herbrand... worked on field theory, considering abelian
. In the few months on which he worked on this
topic, Herbrand published ten papers. These papers simplify proofs of
results by Kronecker
, Heinrich Weber
Herbrand also generalised some of the results by these workers in class
field theory as well as proving some important new theorems of his
Saturday, February 11, 2006 8:23 PM
For "the great Ojibwe tribe"
(A phrase from the lyrics to
"Broken Feather Blues,"
performed on tonight's
Prairie Home Companion
See also the recent entries
Koan and Blue Dream,
as well as
and We Are the Key.
Saturday, February 11, 2006 2:05 PM
Thought for Today:
"What we respect we always do,
but what we do not respect we ignore.'
-- Associated Press, Feb. 11, 2006
Saturday, February 11, 2006 12:12 PM
From Dogma Part II: Amores Perros:
"Do Catholics believe that when you die your soul goes up in the
sky? To heaven, if they go to heaven?"
-- Hope of Heaven, by John O'Hara (1938), Carroll &
Graf paperback, 1985, page 162
"My blue dream of being in a basket like a kite held by a rope
the wind.... It's fun to stretch and see the blue heavens spreading
once more, spreading azure thighs for adventure."
-- F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Last Tycoon (1941), Collier
paperback, 1986, page 162
The following work of art
illustrates the above remarks.
Friday, February 10, 2006 12:00 PM
From today's Harvard Crimson
Stokes Faculty Anger
"The 18,000-word article, 'How Harvard Lost Russia,'
by investigative journalist David McClintick '62, is a copious narrative
of the activities of the Harvard
Institute for International Development (HIID) in advising the Russian
A case for Joseph Finder
or for Steve Martin
Friday, February 10, 2006 10:08 AM
In memory of Akira Ifukube
(pdf), composer of music for
"Godzilla," who died on Wednesday,
Feb. 8, 2006
... birthday of John "Star Wars" Williams--
Thursday, February 9, 2006 9:00 PM
The Vanishing (?)
Karen E. Fields, translator's introduction to Elementary
Forms of the Religious Life, by Emile Durkheim:
breathed the air of turn-of-the-century Paris, a place that fizzed with
experiments in artistic representation, and a time when philosophy,
science, and art existed in nothing like today's isolation from one
Judith Ryan provides an illuminating account of the links joining
physics, psychology, philosophy, painting, and literature in The
Vanishing Subject: Early Psychology and Literary Modernism,
Chicago, University of Chicago Press, 1991."
And today's Crimson provides an illuminating
account of Judith Ryan and (implicitly) forms of the religious life at
Thursday, February 9, 2006 12:24 PM
Space, Time, and Scarlett
From last night's Grammy awards, lyrics performed by Christina
Aguilera and Herbie Hancock:
"a place where there's no space or time"
Not bad, but as Kat358 noted on May 4, 2005,
For a reference to the place described in Russell's
lyrics, see the riff on the number "265" linked to in last night's "Midnight in the Garden of the Soul."
"Scarlett Johansson does this 'old Hollywood glam'
look much better."
Related material-- Jazz Improvisation:
"Once an appropriate group of people has
been assembled, you must decide what to play."
Thursday, February 9, 2006 12:00 AM
Midnight in the
of the Soul
This time slot, reserved at midnight,
seems to belong to Frank Goodman,
who, according to this morning's
(3 AM) New York Times, was
"one of the last of the old-time
Broadway press agents."
Yesterday afternoon's entry
on a fictional "press agent
for 'The Garden of the Soul,'"
and the entry on death
and gardens from Friday,
Feb. 3, 2006, the day
Frank Goodman died.
Wednesday, February 8, 2006 5:11 PM
For Grammy Night
From A Mass
the two gods of art, Apollo and Dionysus, we owe our recognition
that... there is a tremendous opposition, as regards both origins and
aims, between the Apolline art of the sculptor and the non-visual,
Dionysiac art of music."
-- The Birth of Tragedy, by Friedrich Nietzsche, Penguin, 1993,
"Melody, then, is both primary and universal." (Author's
-- Nietzsche, op. cit., page 33
"...in so far as he interprets music in images, he himself lies amidst
the peaceful waves of Apolline contemplation...."
-- Nietzsche, op. cit., page 35
From The Miracle of the Bells, by Russell
Janney, Prentice-Hall, 1946, page 333--
"He was singing softly:
like a melody---- !'
But that was always
Song of Victory....
Thus thought the...
press agent for
'The Garden of the Soul.'"
Wednesday, February 8, 2006 12:00 PM
Dan Brown is not the first to have suggested that Jesus had a
life-- even Martin Luther said it. So what about the lady, Mary
"In 'The Little Mermaid,' Ariel's true identity is
the 'Lost Bride,' the Magdalene."
-- Joan Acocella on pop religion in this week's New
literature profs of today, Theory is what the Dialectic was to Marxist
intellectuals of the past: the key to almost everything... more
literary theory did not emerge in an intellectual and cultural vacuum.
The subordination of art to argument and ideas has been a long time in
the works. In The Painted Word, a rumination on the state of
American painting in the 1970s, Tom Wolfe described
an epiphany he had one Sunday morning while reading an article in
the New York Times
on an exhibit at Yale University. To appreciate contemporary art-- the
paintings of Jackson Pollack and still more so his followers-- which to
the naked eye appeared indistinguishable from kindergarten splatterings
and which provided little immediate pleasure or illumination, it was 'crucial,'
Wolfe realized, to have a 'persuasive theory,' a prefabricated
conceptual lens to make sense of the work and bring into focus the
artist's point. From there it was just a short step to the belief that
the critic who supplies the theories is the equal, if not the superior,
of the artist who creates the painting."
-- Peter Berkowitz, "Literature in Theory"
idea that anyone, regardless of learning or class, could "come to
Christ" went along with the idea of equal rights in America. William
Jennings Bryan... more
"... evangelical Protestantism has always been an
integral part of American political history."
-- Michael Kazin, Dissent Magazine, Winter 2006
And from non-Protestantism, for the birthday of John "Star Wars" Williams, we have...
from Missa "Veni Sponsa Christi" (pdf), by Manuel Cardoso
Related material: Catholic Tastes and
Tuesday, February 7, 2006 4:00 PM
E. T. Bell and G. H. Hardy.
I added a paragraph today to the diamond theorem page:
"Some of the patterns
resulting from the action of G on D have been known for thousands of
years. (See Jablan, Symmetry and Ornament, Ch. 2.6.)
It is perhaps surprising that the patterns' interrelationships and
symmetries can be explained fully only by using mathematics discovered
just recently (relative to the patterns' age)-- in particular, the
theory of automorphism groups of finite geometries."
blend of mathematical history and mathematics proper seems not
inappropriate for a birth date shared by a mathematical historian
(Bell) and a pure mathematician (Hardy).
Monday, February 6, 2006 10:00 AM
The Diamond Theory
"Legend says that when the stones
are brought together the diamonds
inside of them will glow."
-- Harrison Ford in
"Indiana Jones and the
Temple of Doom"
In today's online New York Times:
(1) A review of pop-archaeology TV,
for the Truth,"
(2) a Sunday news story,
"Looking for the Lie,"
(3) and a profile,
"Storyteller in the Family."
"The season premiere 'Digging for the Truth: The Real Temple of Doom,'
showed Mr. Bernstein in South America, exploring tunnels...."
"... scientists are building a cognitive theory of deception to show
what lying looks like...."
"I did feel one had to get not just the facts, but the emotional
Sunday, February 5, 2006 9:00 PM
The Logic of Apollo
"The icon that I use... is the nine-fold square.... This is the garden
of Apollo, the field of Reason...."
notes on the design of a college campus
"Binary image morphological operations are well suited to a large class
of basic image processing applications. These operations include image
analysis tasks such as shape recognition, image segmentation, noise
reduction, and feature extraction."
-- A Programmable Logic-based Implementation of Ultra-fast
Parallel Binary Image Morphological Operations (pdf), by Kenneth G. Ricks et
al., ISCA 18th International Conference on Computers and Their
Applications (March 2003)
Sunday, February 5, 2006 11:00 AM
Catholic Schools Sermon
those who might be tempted today, following yesterday's conclusion of
Catholic Schools Week, to sing (for whatever reason) "Ding Dong, the
Witch is Dead"--
Here, from his classic Witchcraft (first published by Faber and
Faber, London, 1941, reprinted by Apocryphile Press, Berkeley, CA, Oct. 1, 2005) is
Charles Williams on the strong resemblance between witchcraft and the
rituals of the Church:
Charles Williams on
Witchcraft and the Church
From Witchcraft, 2005 Apocryphile edition, pages 77-80--
... The predisposition towards the idea of magic might be said to begin
with a moment which seems to be of fairly common experience-- the
moment when it seems that anything might turn into anything else.
We have grown used-- and properly used-- to regarding this sensation
invalid because, on the whole, things do not turn into other things
except by processes which we realize, or else at least so frequently
that we appreciate the probability. But the occasional sensation
remains. A room, a street, a field becomes unsure. The edge
of a possibility of utter alteration intrudes. A door, untouched,
might close; a picture might walk; a tree might speak; an animal might
not be an animal; a man might not be a man. One may be with a
friend, and a terror will take one even while his admirable voice is
speaking; one will be with a lover and the hand will become a different
and terrifying thing, moving in one's own like a malicious intruder,
too real for anything but fear. All this may be due to racial
memories or to any other cause; the point is that it exists. It
exists and can be communicated; it can even be shared. There is,
in our human centre, a heart-gripping fear of irrational change, of
perilous and malevolent change.
is the human body, and the movements of the human body. Even now,
when, as a general rule, the human body is not supposed to mean 
anything, there are moments when it seems, in spite of ourselves,
packed with significance. This sensation is almost exactly the
opposite of the last. There, one was aware that any phenomenon
might alter into another and truer self. Here, one is aware that
a phenomenon, being wholly itself, is laden with universal
meaning. A hand lighting a cigarette is the explanation of
everything; a foot stepping from a train is the rock of all
existence. If the first group of sensations are due to racial
fear, I do not know to what the second group are due-- unless indeed to
the Mercy of God, who has not left us without a cloud of
witnesses. But intellectually they are both as valid or invalid
as each other; any distinction must be a matter of choice. And
they justify each other, at least to this extent, that (although the
first suggests irrationality and the second rationality) they both at
first overthrow a simple trust that phenomena are what phenomena seem.
But if the human body is capable of seeming so, so are the controlled
movements of the human body-- ritual movements, or rather movements
that seem like ritual. A finger pointing is quite capable of
seeming not only a significant finger, but a ritual finger; an
evocative finger; not only a finger of meaning, but a finger of
magic. Two light dancing steps by a girl may (if one is in that
state) appear to be what all the Schoolmen were trying to express; they
are (only one cannot quite catch it) an intellectual statement of
beatitude. But two quiet steps by an old man may seem like the
very speech of hell. Or the other way round. Youth and age
have nothing to do with it, nor did the ages that defined and 
denounced witchcraft think so. The youngest witch, it is said,
that was ever burned was a girl of eleven years old.
Ordered movement, ritual, is natural to men.
But some ages are better at it, are more used to it, and more sensitive
to it, than others. The Middle Ages liked great spectacle, and
therefore (if for no other reasons-- but there were many) they liked
ritual. They were nourished by ritual-- the Eucharist exhibited
it. They made love by ritual-- the convention of courtly love
preserved it. Certainly also they did all these things without
ritual-- but ritual (outside the inner experience) was the norm.
And ritual maintains and increases that natural sense of the
significance of movement. And, of course, of formulae, of words.
The value of formulae was asserted to be very
high. The whole religious life 'as generally necessary to
salvation' depended on formulae. The High God had submitted
himself to formulae. He sent his graces. He came Himself,
according to ritual movements and ritual formulae. Words
controlled the God. All generations who have believed in God have
believed that He will come on interior prayer; not all that He
will come, if not visibly yet in visible sacraments, on exterior
incantation. But so it was. Water and a Triune formula
concentrated grace; so did oil and other formulae; so-- supremely-- did
bread and wine and yet other formulae. Invocations of
saints were assumed, if less explicitly guaranteed, to be
effective. The corollaries of the Incarnation had spread, in word
and gesture, very far.
The sense of alteration,
the sense of meaning, the  evocation of power, the expectation of
the God, lay all about the world. The whole movement of the
Church had, in its rituals, a remarkable similarity to the other rites
it denounced. But the other rites had been there first, both in
the Empire and outside the Empire. In many cases the Church
turned them to its own purposes. But also in many cases it
entirely failed to turn them to its own purposes. In many cases
it adopted statues and shrines. But in others it was adopted by,
at least, the less serious spells and incantations. Wells and
trees were dedicated to saints. But the offerings at many wells
and trees were to something other than the saint; had it not been so
they would not have been, as we find they often were, forbidden.
Within this double and intertwined life existed those other capacities,
of which we know more now, but of which we still know little--
clairvoyance, clairaudience, foresight, telepathy.
Sunday, February 5, 2006 10:31 AM
Sunday, February 5, 2006 10:30 AM
for Hogwarts Students on Devil's Night
Saturday, February 4, 2006 10:00 AM
the Lost Matrix
with a Thousand Faces
often humble beginnings, and often with a childhood fascination for
antiquity, the archaeologist leaves familiar surroundings to undergo
exacting professional training under a series of mentors and when
armed, at last, with the intellectual weapons of the profession, sets
off for unfamiliar or exotic realms, braving opposition and danger to
solve an ancient mystery. The lives of... real-life
archaeologists... have lent themselves to this style of retelling... as
have such fictional heroes as John Cullinane (Michener 1965) and
-- From "Promised Lands and Chosen Peoples:
The Politics and Poetics of Archaeological Narrative," by Neil Asher
Silberman, pp. 249-262 in Nationalism, Politics, and the Practice of Archaeology,
edited by Philip L. Kohl and Clare Fawcett, Cambridge University Press,
paperback, published Feb. 8, 1996.
From Today in History,
by the Associated Press:
Thought for Today:
"Character consists of what you do
on the third and fourth tries."
-- James Michener,
American author (1907-1997),
Simpson's Contemporary Quotations
to Chesapeake, Random House, 78.
Friday, February 3, 2006 11:00 AM
the still point..."
Log 24, Sunday, January 29, 2006,
and links in the previous entry--
A Contrapuntal Theme and
Good Will Writing.
Beauty is momentary in the mind--
The fitful tracing of a portal;
But in the flesh it is immortal.
The body dies; the body's beauty lives.
So evenings die, in their green going,
A wave, interminably flowing.
So gardens die, their meek breath scenting
The cowl of winter, done repenting.
So maidens die, to the auroral
Celebration of a maiden's choral.
-- Wallace Stevens,
"Peter Quince at the Clavier"
Thursday, February 2, 2006 7:00 PM
Thursday, February 2, 2006 9:29 AM
Thursday, February 2, 2006 9:00 AM
A Great Fall
From today's New York Times,
"Frey Says Falsehoods Improved His Tale"--
"Overall, his portrayal in A Million Little Pieces
is of a person who 'I created in my mind to help me cope' with drug
addiction and recovery. He said most of the invented material
'portrayed me in ways that made me tougher and more daring and more
aggressive than in reality I was, or I am.'"
A not uncommon strategy.
tootles the flute,
And the music
is somethin' grand;
A credit to old Ireland
is McNamara's band.
Click on picture for details.
Wednesday, February 1, 2006 2:22 PM
The Actor, 2005
Russell Crowe as Santa's helper,
Communion, and the subsequent
God: The Color of Collateral.
FELIX: Do you believe
in Humpty Dumpty?
FELIX: Do you believe
in Santa Claus?
FELIX: Neither do I.
But my children do.
They are still small.
But do you know who they like
even better than Santa Claus?
His helper, Pedro Negro. Black Peter.
There's an old Mexican tale that tells
of how Santa Claus got so very busy
looking out for the good children
that he had to hire some help
to look out for the bad children.
So he hired Pedro.
And Santa Claus gave him a list....
And all that jazz....
Wednesday, February 1, 2006 9:49 AM
"Good Night and Good
-- Morgan Freeman, closing
at the Screen Actors Guild Awards
on January 29, 2006
Review by Stephen Hunter
of "Good Night and Good Luck"--
"The film, therefore, is like
a child's view of these events,
untroubled by complexity,
hungry for myth and simplicity."
"A larger poem for a larger
A mythological form, a festival sphere,
A great bosom, beard and being,
alive with age."
-- Wallace Stevens, quoted in
Log24, January 29, 2006
Stephen Hunter on Senator McCarthy:
He "forever tarnished
by association the reputations
of the security services
charged with keeping us safe
from the actual--
yes, Virginia, there was
such a thing-- Red menace."