From the journal of Steven H. Cullinane...
2009 March 16-31
Tuesday, March 31, 2009 3:33 AM
For Goodness' Sake:
Monday, March 30, 2009 6:06 PM
The Rest of the Picture
Smolny, c. 1925,
by Isaak Israilevich Brodsky --
A copy of this picture, with
left and right reversed, appears
on the front and back covers
of the Feb. 2006 MIT Press
book The Parallax View
Monday, March 30, 2009 12:12 PM
The Parallax View
Table of Contents and Sample Chapters
The Parallax View is Slavoj Zizek's
most substantial theoretical work to appear in many years; Zizek
himself describes it as his magnum opus. Parallax can be defined as the
apparent displacement of an object, caused by a change in observational
position. Zizek is interested in the "parallax gap" separating two
points between which no synthesis or mediation is possible, linked by
an "impossible short circuit" of levels that can never meet. From this
consideration of parallax, Zizek begins a rehabilitation of dialectical
"If you liked Badiou,
you'll love 'Zizek!'."
-- February 2009 entries
Sunday, March 29, 2009 7:48 PM
the Meaning In
Webpage heading for the
2009 meeting of the
The mysterious symbols on
Cure of the Mind: The Poetics of Wallace Stevens, by Theodore
Sampson, published by Black Rose Books Ltd., 2000--
"... if what he calls 'the spirit's alchemicana' (CP [Collected
Poems] 471) addresses itself to the irrational element in poetry,
to what extent is such an element dominant in his theory and practice
of poetry, and therefore in what way is Stevens' intricate verbal music
dependent on his irrational use of language-- a 'pure rhetoric of a
language without words?' (CP 374)?"
Novelists Become Cubists:' The Prose Ideograms of Guy Davenport,"
by Andre Furlani:
Laurence Zachar argues that Davenport's writing is situated "aux
frontieres intergeneriques" where manifold modes are brought into
concord: "L'etonnant chez Davenport est la facon don't ce materiau
qui parait l'incarnation meme du chaos-- hermetique, enigmatique,
obscur, avec son tropplein de references-- se revele en fait etre
construit, ordonne, structure. Plus l'on s'y plonge, et plus l'on
distingue de cohesion dans le texte." 'What astonishes in Davenport
is the way in which material that seems the very incarnation of chaos--
hermetic, enigmatic, obscure, with its proliferation of allusions-- in
fact reveals itself to be constructed, organized, structured. The more
one immerses oneself in them the more one discerns the texts'
Davenport also works along the intergeneric border between
text and graphic, for he illustrates many of his texts. (1) "The prime
use of words is for imagery: my writing is drawing," he states in an
interview (Hoeppfner 123). Visual imagery is not subordinated to
writing in Davenport, who draws on the assemblage practice of
superimposing image and writing. "I trust the image; my business is to
get it onto the page," he writes in the essay "Ernst Machs Max Ernst."
"A page, which I think of as a picture, is essentially a texture of
images. [...] The text of a story is therefore a continuous graph, kin
to the imagist poem, to a collage (Ernst, Willi Baumeister, El
Lissitzky), a page of Pound, a Brakhage film" (Geography 374-75).
(1.) Davenport is an illustrator of books (such as Hugh
Kenner's The Stoic Comedians and The Counterfeiters)
and journals (such as The Kenyon Review, Parnassus, and
Paideuma). His art is the subject of Erik Anderson Reece's
monograph, A Balance of Quinces, which reveals the inseparable
relationship between Davenport's literary and pictorial work.
Davenport, Guy. The Geography of the Imagination. San
Francisco: North Point Press, 1981. Rpt. New York: Pantheon, 1992.
Hoepffner, Bernard. "Pleasant Hill: An Interview with Guy
Davenport." Conjunctions 24 (1995): 118-24.
Reece, Erik Anderson. A Balance of Quinces: The Paintings
and Drawings of Guy Davenport. New York: New Directions, 1996.
Zachar, Laurence. "Guy Davenport: Une Mosaique du genres."
Recherches Anglaises et Nord-Americaines 21 (1994): 51-63.
"... when novelists become Cubists; that is, when they see the
possibilities of making a hieroglyph, a coherent symbol, an ideogram of
the total work. A symbol comes into being when an artist sees that it
is the only way to get all the meaning in."
-- Guy Davenport, The Geography
of the Imagination
See also last night's
Sunday, March 29, 2009 11:00 AM
The 4-day annual
of the American Comparative
This year the the meeting
is held at Harvard University.
"But the spirit of rhetoric-- a spirit which
classified subjects in genera
and invested every subject with a
specific form of style as one garment becoming it in virtue of its
nature [i.e. lower classes with the farcical low-style, upper classes
with the tragic, the historic and the sublime elevated-style]-- could
not extend its dominion to them [the Bible writers] for the simple
reason that their subject would not fit into any of the known genres."
-- Erich Auerbach, Mimesis: The
Representation of Reality in Western Literature
(Princeton edition of 1953, p. 45, as quoted at
Washington Post on its literary columnist Michael Dirda:
"... he holds a PhD in comparative literature from Cornell...."
Dirda on author James Purdy (April
QUESTION: "What do you make of Purdy and his place in 20th century
"A small sidetrack in American literature-- a camp novelist, something
of a cult figure. Will probably be forgotten in a generation. Malcolm
is probably his best bet for survival, but a lot will depend on his
readers and whether they can keep his name and fiction before the
public. So far they haven't been doing much of a job. Personally, I
think Purdy is a funny, brilliant writer, but that doesn't assure
Saturday, March 28, 2009 11:07 PM
Lottery Hermeneutics, continued:
of the Story
previous entry discussed the hermeneutics of the midday NY and PA
of the story:
Interpretations of the evening numbers--
The PA evening number, 006, may be viewed as a followup to the PA
midday 726 (or 7/26, the birthday of Kate Beckinsale and Carl Jung).
Here 006 is the prestigious "00" number assigned to Beckinsale.
: Do you like
: Well, I got her number.
How do you like them apples?
-- "Good Will
The NY evening number, 091, may be viewed as a followup to the NY
midday 378 (the number of pages in The Innermost
Kernel by Suzanne Gieser, published by Springer, 2005)--
Page 91: The entire page is devoted to the title of the book's Part 3--
"The Copenhagen School and Psychology"--
The next page begins: "With the crisis of physics, interest in epistemological
and psychological questions grew among many theoretical physicists.
This interest was particularly marked in the circle around Niels Bohr."
The circle above is
marked with a version of
the classic Chinese symbol
adopted as a personal emblem
by Danish physicist Niels Bohr,
leader of the Copenhagen School.
"Two things of opposite natures seem to depend
On one another, as a man depends
On a woman, day on night, the imagined
On the real. This is the origin of change.
Winter and spring, cold copulars, embrace
And forth the particulars of rapture come."
-- Wallace Stevens,
"Notes Toward a Supreme Fiction,"
Canto IV of "It Must Change"
The square above is marked
with a graphic design
related to the four-diamond
figure of Jung's Aion.
Saturday, March 28, 2009 3:28 PM
Annals of Philosophy --
Saturday, March 28, 2009 1:00 PM
Annals of Religion --
Tuesday, March 24, 2009 9:00 AM
Annals of Art History, Part II:
The Child Trap
See E! Online, March 18 -- Lindsay
Lohan Remembers Parent Trap Mum
For those who like such things, an excellent Marxist analysis of Watchmen
from another fan:
Whitson, Roger. "Panelling
Parallax: The Fearful Symmetry of Alan Moore and William Blake." ImageTexT:
Interdisciplinary Comics Studies Vol. 3 No. 2 (2007). Dept. of
English, University of Florida.
Whitson's subject, Alan
Moore, is the author of the Watchmen
graphic novel. Moore's style seems less suited to the Forth family
pictured above than to Lindsay Lohan fans-- who may also enjoy another
graphic novel by Moore, Lost Girls.
More Lohan material related to her role in "Georgia Rule"--
"The film realizes that if people actually fought crime, they’d most
likely be crazy. Take The Comedian for an example. He fights crime,
sure. He’s also a raging alcoholic." --"'Watchmen'
a flawed masterpiece," by Ryan
See also the following expanded version of a link from Sunday
morning, March 22:
Monday, March 23, 2009 1:00 PM
Annals of Art History, Part I:
Thanks to PicoCool
for the link
The "art history conversation"
there is fatuous, but the site
logo (above) is an excellent
example of graphic design.
Sunday, March 22, 2009 7:00 PM
The Rest of the Story:
Funeral Services Held
for Natasha Richardson
Online today, 1 PM PDT
"Family and friends of Natasha Richardson said their
final farewells to the late actress Sunday afternoon during a small,
private funeral held near her Millbrook home in upstate New York....
Richardson died on Wednesday [March 18, 2009] at the
age of 45 from a head injury she suffered [on Monday, March 16, 2009]
while skiing in Canada.
The funeral began after the family arrived in a
police-escorted motorcade at St. Peter's Episcopal Church in Lithgow,
where Neeson and her sons are members...."
For what it's worth...
Related images --
for the E! story:
in the Garden of
Good and Evil.
of the Lithgow church,
Sunday, March 22, 2009 10:31 AM
Sunday, March 22, 2009 9:00 AM
Annals of Literary Theory:
March 21, 2009:
PA midday 411
NY midday 049
"... we tell ourselves that
the old-fashioned question
'Who is the protagonist?'
is a meaningless one."
"I argue that Sophocles did not intend to present either Antigone
or Creon as the hero/heroine for his tragic play, as Hegel,
Kierkegaard, and others stipulate. Rather, Sophocles presents the
Chorus and the Watchman
as the true heroic figures."
Reading of the Antigone: Comical and Choral Transcendence," by
Rebecca McCarthy, Kaplan University
Sunday, March 22, 2009 12:30 AM
Annals of Religion:
Saturday, March 21, 2009 11:30 PM
Annals of Rhetoric:
Tonight's online New York Times:
Click to enlarge.
Poetry and Prayer"--
"There is a body
on the cross
in my church."
Sean Penn and Nicole Kidman
in "The Interpreter."
Click to enlarge.
"Is Heart of Darkness the story of
Kurtz or the story of Marlow’s experience of Kurtz? Was Marlow
invented as a rhetorical device for heightening the meaning of Kurtz’s
moral collapse, or was Kurtz invented in order to provide Marlow with
the centre of his experience in the Congo? Again a seamless web,
and we tell ourselves that the old-fashioned question 'Who is the
protagonist?' is a meaningless one."
Saturday, March 21, 2009 12:25 AM
For Bach's Birthday:
Counters in Rows
"Music, mathematics, and chess are in vital respects dynamic acts of
location. Symbolic counters are arranged in significant rows.
Solutions, be they of a discord, of an algebraic equation, or of a
positional impasse, are achieved by a regrouping, by a sequential
reordering of individual units and unit-clusters (notes, integers,
rooks or pawns)."
-- George Steiner
(See March 10, "Language
Friday, March 20, 2009 11:07 AM
For the first day of Spring:
Epigraph to The Glass
Non entia enim licet quodammodo levibusque hominibus facilius atque
incuriosius verbis reddere quam entia, veruntamen pio diligentique
rerum scriptori plane aliter res se habet: nihil tantum repugnat ne
verbis illustretur, at nihil adeo necesse est ante hominum oculos
proponere ut certas quasdam res, quas esse neque demonstrari neque
probari potest, quae contra eo ipso, quod pii diligentesque viri illas
quasi ut entia tractant, enti nascendique facultati paululum
-- ALBERTUS SECUNDUS
tract. de cristall. spirit.
ed. Clangor et Collof.
lib. I, cap. 28.
In Joseph Knecht's holograph translation:.
For although in a certain sense and for light-minded persons
non-existent things can be more easily and irresponsibly represented in
words than existing things, for the serious and conscientious historian
it is just the reverse. Nothing is harder, yet nothing is more
necessary, than to speak of certain things whose existence is neither
demonstrable nor probable. The very fact that serious and conscientious
men treat them as existing things brings them a step closer to
existence and to the possibility of being born
Thursday, March 19, 2009 11:07 AM
Mathematics and Narrative:
[Note: Janus is Roman, not Greek, and
the photo is from one "Fubar Obfusco"]
Click on image
on Mathematics and Narrative
Religion and Narrative, continued:
|A Public Square
In memory of
who died today at 72:
"It seems, as one becomes older,
That the past has another pattern,
and ceases to be a mere sequence...."
-- T. S. Eliot, Four Quartets
See also The
Click on image for details.
Posted 1/8/2009 7:00 PM
(entries in chronological order,
March 13 through 19)
Thursday, March 19, 2009 4:00 AM
Wednesday, March 18, 2009 8:28 PM
From a place where
entertainment is God:
Click to enlarge.
Click logo for a story.
"... a kind of cross."
-- Gravity's Rainbow
Wednesday, March 18, 2009 9:00 AM
Mathematics and Narrative, continued:
Yesterday's entry Deep
Structures discussed the "semiotic square," a device that
exemplifies the saying "If you can't dazzle 'em with brilliance, then
baffle 'em with bullshit."
A search today for what the Marxist critic Fredric Jameson might have
meant by saying that the square "is capable of generating at least ten
conceivable positions out of a rudimentary binary opposition" leads to
two documents of interest.
1. "Theory Pictures as Trails: Diagrams and the Navigation of
Theoretical Narratives" (pdf), by J.R.
Osborn, Department of Communication, University of California, San
Diego (Cognitive Science Online, Vol.3.2, pp.15-44, 2005)
2. "The Semiotic Square" (html),
by Louis Hébert (2006), professor, Université du
Québec à Rimouski, in Signo (http://www.signosemio.com).
Shown below is Osborn's picture of the semiotic square:
Osborn's discussion of the square, though more clear than, say, that of
Rosalind Krauss (who reverses the bottom two parts of the square-- see Deep
), fails. His Appendix A is miserably obscure.
On the brighter side, we have, as a sign that Gallic clarity still
exists, the work of Hébert.
Here is how he
approaches Jameson's oft-quoted, but seemingly
confused, remark about "ten conceivable positions"--
The semiotic square, developed by Greimas and Rastier, is a
means of refining oppositional analyses by increasing the number of
analytical classes stemming from a given opposition from two
(life/death, for instance) to four (for example, life, death, life and
death (the living dead), and neither life nor death (angels)) to eight
or even ten.
The actantial model, isotopy and the semiotic square are
undoubtedly the best-known theoretical propositions that have emerged
from the Paris School of semiotics, with Greimas as its central figure.
Like the actantial model and the veridictory square, the semiotic
square is designed to be both a conceptual network and a visual
representation of this network, usually depicted in the form of a
"square" (which actually looks like a rectangle!). Courtés
defines it as the visual representation of the logical structure of an
opposition (cf. Courtés, 1991, 152). The semiotic square is a
means of refining oppositional analyses by increasing the number of
analytical classes stemming from a given opposition from two (for
instance, life/death) to four (for example, life, death, life and death
(the living dead), and neither life nor death (angels)) to eight or
even ten. Here is an empty semiotic square.
Structure of the semiotic square
5. (=1+2) COMPLEX TERM
|1. TERM A
2. TERM B
|3. TERM NOT-B
4. TERM NOT-A
8. (=2+4) NEGATIVE DEIXIS
6. (=3+4) NEUTRAL TERM
The + sign links the terms that are combined to make up a metaterm (a
compound term); for example, 5 is the result of combining 1 and 2.
2.1 CONSTITUENT ELEMENTS
The semiotic square entails primarily the following elements
(we are steering clear of the constituent relationships of the square:
contrariety, contradiction, and complementarity or implication):
2. metaterms (compound terms)
3. object(s) (classified on the square)
4. observing subject(s) (who do the classifying)
5. time (of the observation)
The semiotic square is composed of four terms:
Position 1 (term A)
Position 2 (term B)
Position 3 (term not-B)
Position 4 (term not-A)
The first two terms form the opposition (the contrary
relationship) that is the basis of the square, and the other two are
obtained by negating each term of the opposition.
The semiotic square includes six metaterms. The metaterms are
terms created from the four simple terms. Some of the metaterms have
been named. (The complex term and the neutral term, despite their
names, are indeed metaterms).
Position 5 (term 1 + term 2): complex term
Position 6 (term 3 + term 4): neutral term
Position 7 (term 1 + term 3): positive deixis
Position 8 (term 2 + term 4): negative deixis
Position 9 = term 1 + term 4: unnamed
Position 10 = term 2 + term 3: unnamed
These ten "positions" are apparently meant to explain Jameson's remark.
Hébert's treatment has considerably greater entertainment value
than Osborn's. Besides "the living dead" and angels, Hébert's
examples and exercises include vampires, transvestites, the Passion of
Christ, and the following very relevant quotation:
"Simply let your 'Yes' be 'Yes,' and your 'No,' 'No';
anything beyond this comes from the evil one." (Matthew 5:37)
Tuesday, March 17, 2009 11:07 AM
For St. Patrick's Day:
"The diagram above is from a ninth century manuscript of Apuleius'
commentary on Aristotle's Perihermaneias, probably one of the
oldest surviving pictures of the square."
Buckner at The
From the webpage "Semiotics
for Beginners: Paradigmatic Analysis," by Daniel Chandler:
The Semiotic Square
"The structuralist semiotician Algirdas Greimas introduced the semiotic
square (which he adapted from the 'logical square' of scholastic
philosophy) as a means of analysing paired concepts more fully (Greimas
1987,* xiv, 49). The semiotic square is intended to map the logical
conjunctions and disjunctions relating key semantic features in a text.
Fredric Jameson notes that 'the entire mechanism... is capable of
generating at least ten conceivable positions out of a rudimentary
binary opposition' (in Greimas 1987,* xiv). Whilst this suggests that
the possibilities for signification in a semiotic system are richer
than the either/or of binary logic, but that [sic] they
are nevertheless subject to 'semiotic constraints' - 'deep structures'
providing basic axes of signification."
* Greimas, Algirdas (1987): On Meaning: Selected Writings in
Semiotic Theory (trans. Paul J Perron & Frank H Collins).
London: Frances Pinter
of the semiotic square:
Krauss says that her figure "is, of course, a Klein Group."
Here is a more explicit figure representing the Klein group
There is also the logical
(as opposed to logical)
diamond has been used to illustrate
remarks by Fredric Jameson, a
to Algirdas Greimas, Module on the Semiotic Square," by Dino
Felluga at Purdue University--
The semiotic square has proven to be an influential concept not only in
narrative theory but in the ideological criticism of Fredric
Jameson, who uses the square as "a virtual map of conceptual
closure, or better still, of the closure of ideology itself"
("Foreword"* xv). (For more on Jameson, see the [Purdue University] Jameson module on ideology.)
Greimas' schema is useful since it
illustrates the full complexity of any given semantic term (seme).
Greimas points out that any given seme entails its opposite or
"contrary." "Life" (s1) for example is understood in
relation to its contrary, "death" (s2). Rather than rest at
this simple binary opposition (S), however, Greimas points out that the
opposition, "life" and "death," suggests what Greimas terms a
contradictory pair (-S), i.e., "not-life" (-s1) and
"not-death" (-s2). We would therefore be left with the
following semiotic square (Fig. 1):
As Jameson explains in the Foreword to Greimas'
On Meaning, "-s1 and -s2"—which in
this example are taken up by "not-death" and "not-life"—"are the simple
negatives of the two dominant terms, but include far more than either:
thus 'nonwhite' includes more than 'black,' 'nonmale' more than
'female'" (xiv); in our example, not-life would include more than
merely death and not-death more than life.
* Jameson, Fredric. "Foreword." On Meaning:
Selected Writings in Semiotic Theory. By Algirdas Greimas. Trans.
Paul J. Perron and Frank H. Collins. Minneapolis: U of Minnesota P,
"The Game in the Ship cannot be approached as
a job, a vocation, a career, or a recreation. To the contrary, it is
Life and Death itself at work there. In the Inner Game, we call the
Game Dhum Welur, the Mind of God."
Gameplayers of Zan, by M.A. Foster
"For every kind of vampire,
there is a kind of cross."
-- Thomas Pynchon,
Crosses used by semioticians
to baffle their opponents
are illustrated above.
Some other kinds of crosses,
and another kind of opponent:
July 11, 2005
Sunday, July 10, 2005
for St. Benedict's Day
Click on either of the logos below for religious
meditations-- on the left, a Jewish meditation from the Conference of
Catholic Bishops; on the right, an Aryan meditation from Stormfront.org.
Both logos represent different embodiments of the
"story theory" of truth,
as opposed to the "diamond
theory" of truth. Both logos claim, in their own ways, to
represent the eternal Logos
of the Christian religion. I personally prefer the "diamond
theory" of truth, represented by the logo below.
See also the previous entry
(below) and the entries
|From Artemiadis's website:
||Elected Regular Member
of the Academy of Athens
of the Academy of Athens
of the Academy of Athens
"First of all, I'd like to
thank the Academy..."
-- Remark attributed to Plato
Monday, March 16, 2009 8:00 PM
Happy Birthday, Jerry Lewis:
Annals of Prose Style
"No offense to either of them, but 'Georgia Rule' suggests an Ingmar
Bergman script as directed by Jerry Lewis. The subject matter is grim,
the relationships are gnarled, the worldview is bleak, and, at any
given moment, you suspect someone’s going to be hit with a pie." --John
Anderson at Variety.com, May 8, 2007
Sounds perfect to me.
a Glass Darkly"
"Preserving a strict unity of time and place, this stark tale of a
young woman's decline into insanity is set in a summer home on a
holiday island. It is the first part of the
that comprises Winter
Light and The Silence,
films which are generally seen as addressing Bergman's increasing
disillusionment with the emotional coldness of his inherited Lutheran
religion. In particular here, Bergman focuses on the absence of
familial love which might perhaps have pulled Karin (Andersson)
back from the brink; while Karin's mental disintegration manifests
itself in the belief that God is a spider. As she slips inexorably into
madness, she is observed with terrifying objectivity by her emotionally
paralyzed father (Björnstrand)
and seemingly helpless husband (von Sydow)."
-- Nigel Floyd, Time Out, quoted at Bergmanorama
1. The "spider" symbol of Fritz Leiber's short story "Damnation
2. The Illuminati Diamond
of Hollywood's "Angels
& Demons" (to open May 15), and
3. The following diagram by one "John
Monday, March 16, 2009 12:00 PM
In a Nutshell:
Monday, March 16, 2009 2:45 AM
The Particulars of Rapture:
(Cf. Sinatra's birthday,
This is, in turn, related to
Harvard's Barry Mazur
essay on time in mathematics
and literature (pdf)