A Few Notes

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God is a creative god, he does not destroy directly. But as creative beings ourselves, like the angels, it is given to us to destroy. In generating the letter sets for a piece of fiction, if we use a set making use of a block such as is used in 12-tone serialism, you essentially end up with nothing more sliding from letter to letter to generate the text than if you simply used the first line of the set:

C R E A T I O N I S T
R E A T I O N I S T C
E A T I O N I S T C R
A T I O N I S T C R E
T I O N I S T C R E A
I O N I S T C R E A T
O N I S T C R E A T I
N I S T C R E A T I O
I S T C R E A T I O N
S T C R E A T I O N I
T C R E A T I O N I S

which in the letter set method is functionally the same as:

C R E A T I O N I S T

and nothing more.
So how do you get the letters to skip?
The answer is you destroy. You remove every other line of the regular block:

C R E A T I O N I S T
E A T I O N I S T C R
T I O N I S T C R E A
O N I S T C R E A T I
I S T C R E A T I O N
T C R E A T I O N I S

I might also mention you could just as well remove two or three rows at a time, but then you would end up with fewer final rows to work with.

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Anything and Everything

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“Oh judgement! thou art fled to brutish beasts,

And men have lost their reason.”

(Shakespeare, Julius Ceasar, III.2)

 

Back in the 70s, at Indiana University, I took a class in symbolic logic. The professor I had for the class — let’s call him “Dr. C” for the simple reason that I can’t remember how to spell his long Italian surname — was an odd sort. An ex-Navy man, he sported a 17th century goatee and mustache, had his hair permed in an afro, and carried a good number of tattoos. He also had a bit of a reputation. Something to do with dating one of his graduate students, a no-no back in those days, there was a bit of a scandal — well let’s just leave it at that.

He also had a brain like a steel trap that I very much admired. And he didn’t try to hide it with false modesty. He was what I would later call a “confrontational” instructor. “Think!” he would yell at us across the classroom. We would kind of fidget at our desks, embarrassed. As well we should be. Thinking — thinking correctly — is never easy. Not happy with my grade at the end of the semester, not happy with having not learned enough in the class, I was to take the very same class with Dr. C  two years later. I only did slightly better. Yes, not easy to learn to think.

Perhaps the chief lesson I learned from him is something that he would drill into our heads the entire semester: “Never forget” he would shout, “anything and everything follows from a false proposition!” If proposition A is false, then conclusion B or C that follows from it may be false or may be true — the problem is that there was no real way of knowing.

No real way of knowing. And for a logician, that is like a deep dark well. It is darkness and death. It is not rational.

Having to deal with chronic free-floating anxiety since my 20s, how well and how many times have I gone back to Dr. C and his much stated sentence. Medication is certainly available to fight anxiety. But it is usually partially effective and almost always a double-edged sword that causes a flip-side reaction that creates depression. Logic and rationality, for me at least, has been more beneficial. No, don’t get me wrong, I am not saying that people that suffer from anxiety should simply pull themselves up by their bootstraps. I’m just saying that as a therapeutic adjunct that in my case logic has been very beneficial.

Perhaps that is one reason why the state of our current culture bothers me so much. And why I have to spend so much of my time hiding from it. Looking outward, I see accusations, ill-defined terms, lies and deceits, gossip and imagined states of affairs posing as truth. I see that deep dark well, I am saddened by it and I want to yell “Just stop!”

So much talking, and talking about talking — including this post unfortunately. And I fear that also. Jesus of Nazareth said not to throw stones — but only he was qualified to say it. And so I reach out to words here, words that open up into the Universe, very carefully. As much as I respect Jacques Derrida, as much as I am prone to my own anxiety-launched deconstructions, I know that they can only be personal, and that the interpreter, as Umberto Eco said, is “a free detonator of what he himself produces.”  

But what I do feel safe in saying is that I fear that besides a return to the Nihilism of the 1930s, that we have entered into what Eco called the Kabbalistic Drift (one might as well say the Godless Kabbalistic Drift):

“Mallarme’s idea of a context made up by empty and white spaces can recall the rabbinical idea of a scroll where even the white spaces are to be read as letters, but this time there is no God to warrant (and to be named by) the combinatory game: The Book is not conceived by God to speak of Himself. On the contrary, the Book…only speaks of its infinite combinatorial possibilities.”

Interestingly, there is another area which deals in infinite possibilities — metaphysics. But if our current deconstruction of meaning — all the words, all the talking —  is tied to the metaphysics of Nihilism, then we are, essentially, saying nothing. I leave it to each of you to decide whether or not that is the current case. 

All I can say is that in the practice of charity, in mercy, compassion, and love, words are not really necessary. And it was not me that said that, of course. A being far greater than any said those things.

I read an interesting quote the other day by Jorge Luis Borges: “I am not sure that I exist, actually. I am all the writers that I have ever read, all the people that I have met, all the women that I have loved.” How certainly I have felt that over the past years. I am barely solid, so much of me is insubstantial, like a spirit on Prospero’s Island. Both sinner and saint, I flutter around in the storm as best I can.

And so this Christmas I would like to thank all those friends and family who have given me laughter, who have taught me, who have given me their hand when needed. And to you all I wish you this Holiday a peace that the world cannot give; I wish you Anything not dark; and Everything excellent that God may ordain.

 

Post-Election Results

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Post-election results: The war will continue.

Which was pretty much an accomplished fact before even a single vote was counted in the 2016 National election. Hillary Clinton had said that she would continue the war against ISIS and, by extension, the entire war in the Middle East (difficult to have one without the rest). As for President-elect Donald Trump, if his comments on the matter are to be believed, he will escalate the war on ISIS, and even proposed “taking out their families.”

I can only repeat what I wrote back in September:

“I don’t think people understand quite what the war is doing to us. Where reason dismisses death, death destroys reason. It is driving our nation insane. Just look around you.”

Perhaps, at least to some, it is a little more clear now? Did we think that we could open the door to darkness and death, and not have it fall back upon us?

You have to be careful about calling down the Dark Angels; because they do not always stop at doing your bidding.

I pray for the people of this country, my family, my friends. Please note that you can all always find a safe coenaculum — Upper Room — here on my blog. We will pat each other on the shoulder and say “It’s going to be okay.” And, “Have faith.” We will hold each other’s hand.

 

 

 

Your Voice, Your Eyes

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In Jean-Luc Godard’s futuristic detective movie Alphaville (1965) there is a famous scene in which Natacha (Anna Karina) recites some lines of poetry. She is holding a copy of Paul Eluard’s Capital of Pain. The full text of the quote is as follows:

“Your voice, your eyes, your hands, your lips

Our silence, our words

Light that goes, light that returns

A single smile between us

In quest of knowledge I watched night create day

Oh beloved of all, beloved of one alone

Your mouth silently promised to be happy

Away, away, says hate

Closer, closer, says love

A caress leads us from our infancy

Increasingly I see the human form as a lovers’ dialog

The heart has but one mouth

Everything by chance

All words without thought

Sentiments adrift

A glance, a word, because I love you

Everything moves

We must advance to live

Aim straight ahead towards those you love

I went toward you, endlessly toward the light

If you smile, it enfolds me all the better

The rays of your arms pierce the mist”

 

A beautiful passage. Because of the book, it has always been said that the poetry she reads is by Eluard, specifically from Capital of Pain.

There’s just one problem: I have yet to find any evidence that the lines are by Paul Eluard.

I have read through Capital of Pain twice now, a bilingual translation, and have opened the book now and then and quickly read through a few poems (as one tends to do). But the “Your voice, your eyes” nevertheless sent me back to the book. I wanted to read it in context, as it were. But I couldn’t find it. Page by page search. Nothing.

Maybe I am just blind. Or not methodical enough. Someone, somebody tell me, please, where the lines above can be found in Capital of Pain. Do that I can simply delete this post and all will be well.

Now it could be that the lines are from some other book by Eluard, some poem found elsewhere. But I did a Google search on various lines from the above  — “your voice, your eyes” — “we must advance to live” — “I went toward you endlessly toward the light” — and all I managed to discover was a return path back to the movie Alphaville. Which seems strange. If they are lines by Eluard, and given the fact that they are rather wonderful lines (and lines even quoted in a movie), it seems that there would be some other reference to them, somewhere, the lines quoted on some poetry forum perhaps. But all I get is Alphaville.

Paul Eluard is not listed as being one of the authors/screenwriters of the movie. The only writer listed is Godard himself. In fact, Eluard died in 1952. So he could not have actively worked on the movie as co-writer or consultant. If the lines are by Eluard, they are earlier.

Until such time as more scholarship can be devoted to this question, I suggest we stop stating that the poetry is from Capital of Pain. In fact, I would recommend that we stop even stating that the lines are by Eluard.

But — somebody show me that I am wrong. Please.

One strange thing did happen in all of this, this morning, going through all of the searches and exploring this question — I was reminded of a poem that I damn well know is by Eluard and from Capital.

“It’s here that you see the creator of words

Who self-destructs in the sons he engenders

And names the forgetting of all the world’s names.”

— (from “Drink”)

 

Perhaps we should leave it at that for now.

.

__________

NOTE: Please see the Comments to this post to read continuing updates on this investigation. 

 

Full Circle

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monteverdims

The only surviving manuscript of Claudio Monteverdi’s Il Ritorno di Ulisse in Patria  (1640).  From the Austrian National Library.

Contemporaries of this opera saw a parallel between Ulysses and Monteverdi, as the composer was “returning home” to opera (at an advanced age in fact) after being away from it for thirty years.

The first classical music I ever listened to were the selections on the album The-Well Tempered Synthesizer by Wendy Carlos. There was no doubt that her wonderful arrangement of the suite from Monteverdi’s Orfeo was the work that of all of them drew me in to that world of music.

And here I am, like Monteverdi, older and back again. It is a very special thing in life when things come full circle like that. It is as if the universe is shouting to you. 

Much more on all of this later. Because I am just getting started.

 

   

Back To the Future

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difergie

Back in the day when even future princesses of Britain dressed cool.

 

Well here I am. Back to the blog. Again. Seriously. But before I hear a lot of moaning about past statements not kept, I would just like to say that the reasons that have brought me back to doing the blogging thing again are a bit different than they have been in the past. In the past few years, I have made the attempt to return simply because I thought I should. But now, I feel that I must.

Yes, there are reasons. No, I don’t feel like going into them really. I will say this though: I am so sick of our culture making such a big frigging deal out of everything. A big deal, that is, except for the one thing they should be talking about constantly but never do: This frigging, awful, senseless, and seemingly endless war that we have been waging. Nobody is talking about that. It is pretty much accepted, it seems. Are we bombing civilians in the Middle East? Are our troops dying for no good reason whatsoever? Ah, unfortunate. Carry on, carry on. We yell, we scream, we make a big deal out of everything — except that.

I don’t think people understand quite what the war is doing to us. Where reason dismisses death, death destroys reason. It is driving our nation insane. Just look around you.  

Back in the 80s, we didn’t make such a big deal out of things all the time. Or at least not the Waver contingent of the 80s that I hung with. It wasn’t as if there weren’t problems back then. But we also knew that if a large segment of the population was going around acting in a certain unethical or illogical or bat-shit crazy way that there was very little we could do about it. Our feelings on the matter couldn’t change things. Yes, if maybe we could only blink or twitch then certainly we would change things. But problems like racism aren’t eliminated by talking about it. And unless we are talking about very young people, education doesn’t work either. There’s no way you are going to sit down and have a good heart-to-heart with a racist and convince them otherwise. They are going to have to see the error of their ways themselves, by some means, god only knows…but let’s face it probably not. But for us, we went to the clubs with all sorts of people, ethnicity or race was not an issue. We didn’t care what color somebody was on the album cover or up on stage or standing next to us in the slam pit. Whatever. “NO — BIG — DEAL.” Gay or lesbian? It wasn’t as much talked about as it is these days, and maybe some of us didn’t quite understand it totally, but almost all of us had gay or lesbian or trans friends, and we accepted it. “NO — BIG — DEAL.”

And as far as politics, we had Regan. Pretty much end of story. A bunch of morons elect these type of people. And they kept electing them. And even when one gets elected who claims to be different, they really aren’t all that much different. And nothing really changes.

blinktwitchsmall   

Neither blinking or twitching works, truth be told.

Anyway. So here I am. Back in my own little insubstantial mind-palace. You will probably be getting the occasional post about the continuing war. I am not going to let that one go. But for the rest, I am going to concentrate on the following:

A) Music — maybe a few other things but mostly music.

B) NO — BIG — DEAL.

 

What I Will Not Stand For…

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O! say can you see, by the dawn’s early light,

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What so proudly we hailed at the twilight’s last gleaming,

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Whose broad stripes and bright stars through the perilous fight,

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O’er the ramparts we watched, were so gallantly streaming?

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And the rockets’ red glare, the bombs bursting in air,

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Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there;

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O! say does that star-spangled banner yet wave

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O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?

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END THE WAR

ALL TROOPS OUT OF THE MIDDLE EAST

LIFE, not DEATH

 

A Scattering Of Bones

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On the part of the God of life, a stupefied horror. Could such perpetrators of infamy be considered the summit and crown of creation? Could the tribe called human conceive such crimes, then contrive the weaponry to carry them out? “I did not command them to do such things, nor did it even enter my mind.“*

Daniel Berrigan, SJ — Jeremiah: The World, The Wound of God 

_______

*Paraphrase of Jeremiah 7:31

On the Difficulty of Conjuring Up a Dryad

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The Dryad, Evelyn de Morgan (1884-1885)

“On The Difficulty Of Conjuring Up A Dryad”

by Sylvia Plath

    Ravening through the persistent bric-a-brac

    Of blunt pencils, rose-sprigged coffee cup,

    Postage stamps, stacked books’ clamor and yawp

    Neighborhood cockcrow — all nature’s prodigal backtalk,

    The vaunting mind

    Snubs impromptu spiels of wind

    And wrestles to impose

    Its own order on what is.


    ‘With my fantasy alone,’ brags the importunate head,

    Arrogant among rook-tongued spaces,

    Sharp greens, finned falls, ‘I shall compose a crisis

    To stun sky black out, drive gibbering mad

    Trout, cock, ram,

    That bulk so calm

    On my jealous stare,

    Self-sufficient as they are.’


    But no hocus-pocus of green angels

    Damasks with dazzle the threadbare eye;

    ‘My trouble, doctor, is: I see a tree,

    And that damn scrupulous tree won’t practice wiles

    To beguile sight:

    E.g., by cant of light

    Concoct a Daphne;

    My tree stays tree.


    ‘However I wrench obstinate bark and trunk

    To my sweet will, no luminous shape

    Steps out radiant in limb, eye, lip,

    To hoodwink the honest earth which pointblank

    Spurns such fiction

    As nymphs; cold vision

    Will have no counterfeit

    Palmed off on it.

    ‘No doubt now in dream-propertied fall some moon-eyed,

    Star-lucky sleight-of-hand man watches

    My jilting lady squander coin, gold leaf stock ditches,

    And the opulent air go studded with seed,

    While this beggared brain

    Hatches no fortune,

    But from leaf, from grass,

    Thieves what it has.’

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