Log24

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Stories

Filed under: General — m759 @ 7:00 PM

"We tell ourselves stories . . . ." — Joan Didion

New York Times Wire, 6:40 PM ET Thursday, March 8, 2018 

3h ago
GRAY MATTER
How Lies Spread Online

They diffuse farther, faster and more broadly than the truth does.

4h ago
It’s True: False News Spreads Faster and Wider.
And Humans Are to Blame.

False claims posted on Twitter were 70 percent more likely
to be shared than the truth, researchers at M.I.T. found.
And people appear to prefer false news.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Stories

Filed under: General,Geometry — Tags: — m759 @ 12:48 PM

"We tell ourselves stories in order to live." — Joan Didion

The New York Times Magazine  online today —

"As a former believer and now a nonbeliever, Carrère,
seeking answers, sets out, in The Kingdom , to tell
the story of the storytellers. He is trying to understand
what it takes to be able to tell a story, any story.
And what he finds, once again, is that you have to find
your role in it."

Wyatt Mason in The New York Times Magazine ,
     online March 2, 2017 

Like Tom Hanks?

Robert Langdon (played by Tom Hanks) and a corner of Solomon's Cube

Click image for related posts.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Space Program

Filed under: General — m759 @ 5:26 PM

A quote that appeared here on April 14, 2013

"I know what 'nothing' means." — Joan Didion

Dirac on the 4×4 matrices of an underlying nothingness —

"Corresponding to the four rows and columns,
the wave function ψ  must contain a variable
that takes on four values, in order that the matrices
shall be capable of being multiplied into it." 

— P. A. M. Dirac, Principles of Quantum Mechanics,
     Fourth Edition, Oxford University Press, 1958,
     page 257

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Onomastic Humor: Seinfeld to Steinfeld

Filed under: General — m759 @ 1:05 PM

From "Pitch Perfect 2," Hailee Steinfeld as Emily Junk-Hardon —

"I know what nothing means." — Joan Didion

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Lines

Filed under: General,Geometry — Tags: , — m759 @ 11:01 AM

"We tell ourselves stories in order to live." — Joan Didion

A post from St. Augustine's day, 2015, may serve to
illustrate this.

The post started with a look at a painting by Swiss artist
Wolf Barth, "Spielfeld." The painting portrays two
rectangular arrays, of four and of twelve subsquares, 
that sit atop a square array of sixteen subsquares.

To one familiar with Euclid's "bride's chair" proof of the
Pythagorean theorem, "Spielfeld" suggests a right triangle
with squares on its sides of areas 4, 12, and 16.

That image in turn suggests a diagram illustrating the fact
that a triangle suitably inscribed in a half-circle is a right 
triangle… in this case, a right triangle with angles of 30, 60,
and 90 degrees… Thus —

In memory of screenwriter John Gregory Dunne (husband
of Joan Didion and author of, among other things, The Studio
here is a cinematric approach to the above figure.

The half-circle at top suggests the dome of an observatory.
This in turn suggests a scene from the 2014 film "Magic in
the Moonlight."  

As she gazes at the silent universe above
through an opening in the dome, the silent
Emma Stone is perhaps thinking, 
prompted by her work with Spider-Man

"Drop me a line."

As he  gazes at the crack in the dome,
Stone's costar Colin Firth contrasts the vastness 
of the Universe with the smallness of Man, citing 

"the tiny field F2 with two elements."

In conclusion, recall the words of author Norman Mailer
that summarized his Harvard education —

"At times, bullshit can only be countered
with superior bullshit."

Thursday, August 27, 2015

See Saw Seen

Filed under: General — m759 @ 12:00 PM

See

“ [An] ambitious take on a post-apocalyptic world
where some strive to preserve art, culture and kindness …
Think of Cormac McCarthy seesawing with Joan Didion
Mandel spins a satisfying web of coincidence and kismet …
Magnetic … a breakout novel. " — Kirkus (starred)

Saw

Seen

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Art

Filed under: General — Tags: — m759 @ 12:00 PM

"Is Fiction the Art of Lying?" by Mario Vargas Llosa

The above link is to a Google Books Search for references
to a 1984 piece in The New York Times .

To find the Times 's  own version, change "Lying" to "Living."

"We tell ourselves stories in order to live." — Joan Didion

Friday, May 22, 2015

Colorful Tale

Filed under: General — m759 @ 11:01 AM

See a post of Nov. 17, 2011 — Void.

"We tell ourselves stories in order to live."
Joan Didion, The White Album

See also John Gregory Dunne.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Narrative Line

Filed under: General,Geometry — Tags: , , — m759 @ 11:02 PM

"We live entirely, especially if we are writers, by the imposition
of a narrative line upon 
disparate images…." — Joan Didion

Narrative Line:

IMAGE- R. D. Carmichael's 1931 construction of the Steiner system S(5, 8, 24)

IMAGE- Harvard senior Jeremy Booher in 2010 discusses Carmichael's 1931 construction of S(5, 8, 24) without mentioning Carmichael.

Disparate images:

Exercise:

Can the above narrative line be imposed in any sensible way
upon the above disparate images?

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Sermon

Filed under: General — Tags: , , , — m759 @ 11:00 AM

The Ideas

“We tell ourselves stories in order to live….
We interpret what we see, select the most workable
of multiple choices. We live entirely, especially if we
are writers, by the imposition of a narrative line upon
disparate images, by the ‘ideas’  with which we have
learned to freeze the shifting phantasmagoria
which is our actual experience.”
— Joan Didion

See Didion and the I Ching  and posts tagged Plato in China .

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Principles of Aesthetics

Filed under: General,Geometry — m759 @ 2:45 PM

Or:  Phantasmagoria Meets Pandemonium

Part I: Phantasmagoria

Rebecca Goldstein on first encountering Plato —

“I was reading Durant’s section on Plato, struggling to understand
his theory of the ideal Forms that lay in inviolable perfection
out beyond the phantasmagoria. (That was the first, and I think
the last, time that I encountered that word.)”

Screenwriter Joan Didion —

“We tell ourselves stories in order to live….We interpret
what we see, select the most workable of multiple choices.
We live entirely, especially if we are writers, by the imposition
of a narrative line upon disparate images, by the ‘ideas’
with which we have learned to freeze the shifting phantasmagoria
which is our actual experience.”

Part II: Pandemonium

Terry Teachout in Commentary  on Oct. 1, 2014:

“When making art or writing about it, the aesthete
tries never to moralize. Nor will he look with favor
upon artists who do so, no matter whether their
particular brand of moralizing is religious or secular.
But he can and must be fully, intensely alive to the
moral force of art whose creators aspire merely to
make the world around us more beautiful, and in
so doing to pierce the veil of the visible and give us
a glimpse of the permanently true. That is his job:
to help make sense of the pandemonium amid which
we live.”

Rivka Galchen in The New York Times Sunday Book Review
issue of October 5, 2014 (online Sept. 30):

“The story describes honestly something that is,
which is very different from proposing what ought to be.”

See also Pandemonium in this journal.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Ideas

Filed under: General — m759 @ 8:48 PM

We tell ourselves stories in order to live.
The princess is caged in the consulate.
The man with the candy will lead the children into the sea.
The naked woman on the ledge outside the window
on the sixteenth floor is a victim of accidie, or
the naked woman is an exhibitionist, and it would be
‘interesting’ to know which. We tell ourselves that it makes
some difference whether the naked woman is about to
commit a mortal sin or is about to register a political protest
or is about to be, the Aristophanic view, snatched back to the
human condition by the fireman in priest’s clothing just visible
in the window behind her, the one smiling at the telephoto lens.
We look for the sermon in the suicide, for the social or moral
lesson in the murder of five. We interpret what we see, select
the most workable of the multiple choices. We live entirely,
especially if we are writers, by the imposition of a narrative line
upon disparate images, by the ‘ideas’ with which we have learned
to freeze the shifting phantasmagoria which is our actual
experience.”

Joan Didion

This evening’s New York Lottery:  659 and 7326.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Which

Filed under: General — m759 @ 12:00 PM

“… which is our actual experience” — Joan Didion

IMAGE- Wittgenstein on 'the bewitchment of our intelligence'

— Ludwig Wittgenstein, Philosophical Investigations

The Omega Story

Filed under: General — Tags: — m759 @ 1:00 AM
 

"We tell ourselves stories in order to live…. We interpret what we see, select the most workable of multiple choices. We live entirely, especially if we are writers, by the imposition of a narrative line upon disparate images, by the 'ideas' with which we have learned to freeze the shifting phantasmagoria which is our actual experience."

Joan Didion

See also a post from May 4, 2011 (the date, according to a Google
search, of untitled notes regarding a matrix called Omega).

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Recessional

Filed under: General — Tags: — m759 @ 1:06 PM

(Continued from June 9, 2009)

“The craziness is receding but no clarity is taking its place.”
— Joan Didion, The Year of Magical Thinking

A possible source of clarity:

IMAGE- Produktinformation, 3451298759

Monday, July 8, 2013

Bad Dreams at the Pearly Gates

Filed under: General — m759 @ 5:45 PM

" 'So this is heaven!' A line that strikes dread into
a theater reviewer's heart." 

Dan Sullivan in the Los Angeles Times

“The most terrifying verse I know:
merrily merrily merrily life is but a dream.”

Joan DidionThe Last Thing He Wanted

"Audiences never had any difficulty with his work,
which was instantly recognisable as the stuff of dreams…."

Apology for the life of a British playwright
     who died on July 3, 2013.

"I saw 'More Light' twice, for my sins, and wasn't surprised
that half of the second audience left at intermission."

— Dan Sullivan in the Los Angeles Times  (continued)

Some light from this journal on the day of the above
playwright's death, the day before, and the day after—

For a more plausible heaven, see the posts of July first 
and an LA Times  obituary for a man who died on that  date.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Classic Nothing

Filed under: General — Tags: — m759 @ 3:17 PM

Click to enlarge:

IMAGE- Harvard president Drew Faust sums up the work of Joan Didion

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Desert of the Real Numbers

Filed under: General — m759 @ 10:30 PM

New York Lottery today—

Without imagination, these digits are a meaningless jumble.

With  imagination…

608 might refer to June 8, the Saint's Day  of Gerard Manley Hopkins.
        (See the date July 29, 2002, that appeared in an earlier post today
         as the publication date of Geometrical Landscapes . In this
         journal, a post on that date, "At Random," referred to Hopkins.)

8516 might refer to 8/5/1916. A check of a hometown newspaper
         on that date yields…
         "St. Joseph's Garden Party and Bazaar 22, 23, 24.
          Pictures. Everybody Welcome. Admission to Garden Ten Cents"

And in the evening…

937 might refer to a post on the nihilistic philosophy of Joan Didion, and

7609 might refer to an occurrence of these digits in a link 
          to "7/11" in a post from the feast of St. Ignatius of Loyola last year.

For a more cynical view of lottery hermeneutics, see
"High on RAM (overload)," by Jo Lyxe.

Happy birthday to Stevie Nicks.

Monday, December 5, 2011

An Orderly Ending

Filed under: General — m759 @ 7:38 PM

From an obituary in this evening's online Wall Street Journal

"Ms. Dunn spent her childhood in Las Vegas, where her father was a casino entertainment director and her mother was a retired showgirl. She earned a journalism degree from University of California at Berkeley….

She eventually advanced to become chief executive of Barclays Global Investors. As head of the large institutional money manager, she succeeded in the orderly world of index funds, which aim to control risk and take the guesswork out of investing."

As does Las Vegas.

Happy birthday to Joan Didion.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Life Story

Filed under: General — m759 @ 12:00 PM

(Continued from Tuesday's "A Story")

Tuesday's story, a collection of four random posts, was
suggested by Tuesday's NY lottery numbers.

That story leads, by association, to Frame Tale in
a post of 2:02 AM on Sunday, May 23, 2010. For related
material, see Death Story, a post of 9:40 PM that same Sunday.

Wednesday's numbers—

http://www.log24.com/log/pix11B/110914-NYlottery.jpg

—suggest a counter-story…

Escape to Pine Mountain

A website on films about Latter-Day Saints (i.e., Mormons) asks

Was "Escape to Witch Mountain"
based on Zenna Henderson's "People" stories?

The lottery numbers above suggest the names of three women—
none, as far as I know, with any Mormon background—
who might rightly be called, without capital letters,
"latter-day saints"…

  1. Madeleine L'Engle (see 529 as the date 5/29),
  2. June Christy (a singer first recorded on 5/4/45), and
  3. Mary Rockwell Hook, architect of Pine Mountain
    Settlement School, who died on 9/8/78.

These three lives, taken together, may serve as
an antidote to the Death Story mentioned above.

"We tell ourselves stories…" — Joan Didion
"Therefore choose life." —God

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Story Theory (continued)

Filed under: General — m759 @ 9:00 AM

"We tell ourselves stories…." *Joan Didion

President Lindberg**

http://www.log24.com/log/pix11B/110723-PresidentLindberg.jpg

in "The Fifth Element"

Priest Vito Cornelius: I… have… a different theory to offer you, sir.

President Lindberg: You have twenty seconds.

See "Finale."

* See also Friday morning's post.

** Today's New York Times
   "A version of this op-ed appeared in print
   on July 23, 2011, on page A19 of the New York
   edition with the headline: The Great Evil." —

http://www.log24.com/log/pix11B/110723-NYT-OpEd-500w.jpg

Friday, July 22, 2011

The Aristophanic View

Filed under: General — m759 @ 9:00 AM

"Some mathematicians are birds, others are frogs.
Birds fly high in the air and survey broad vistas of
mathematics out to the far horizon. They delight in
concepts that unify our thinking and bring together
diverse problems from different parts of the
landscape. Frogs live in the mud below and see
only the flowers that grow nearby. They delight in
the details of particular objects, and they solve
problems one at a time. I happen to be a frog, but
many of my best friends are birds. The main theme
of my talk tonight is this. Mathematics needs both
birds and frogs. Mathematics is rich and beautiful
because birds give it broad visions and frogs give it
intricate details. Mathematics is both great art and
important science, because it combines generality
of concepts with depth of structures. It is stupid to
claim that birds are better than frogs because they
see farther, or that frogs are better than birds
because they see deeper. The world of mathematics
is both broad and deep, and we need birds and
frogs working together to explore it.

This talk is called the Einstein lecture…."

— Freeman Dyson, Notices of the American
Mathematical Society
, February 2009

IMAGE- Joan Didion on a naked woman, a fireman in priest's clothing, and a window

The Didion reading was suggested by the "6212" in yesterday evening's New York Lottery.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Definitive

Filed under: General — m759 @ 7:28 AM

"A certain vertiginous occlusion of the imagined and the real" —The White Album

ver·tig·i·nous

adjective 1. whirling; spinning; rotary: vertiginous currents of air .

oc·clu·sion

noun 2. the front formed by a cold front overtaking a warm front and lifting the warm air above the earth's surface

http://www.log24.com/log/pix11A/110515-OccludedCyclone.jpg

   Excerpt from Joan Didion's The White Album  (click to enlarge)—

http://www.log24.com/log/pix11A/110515-WhiteAlbum146-148-500w.jpg

"A place belongs forever to whoever claims it hardest…." —Joan Didion

"Then came From Here to Eternity ." —Art Wars

"Someday I'll wish upon a star…." —The Definitive Collection

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Friday the 13th Lottery

Filed under: General — m759 @ 5:40 AM

Yesterday's New York Lottery— Midday 346, Evening 104.

Interpretations:

346 as a page number. See The Storyteller in Chance  (March 22, 2009), with its "spinning wheel" link to a passage by Joan Didion.

104 as a date. See 1/04/11— Didion on "a certain vertiginous occlusion of the imagined and the real" in the post The White Itself.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Unity and Multiplicity

Filed under: General — Tags: — m759 @ 9:00 AM

Continued from Crimson Walpurgisnacht.

EpigraphsTwo quotations from  
Shakespeare's Birthday last year

Rebecca Goldstein
   on first encountering Plato
 

"I was reading Durant's section on Plato, struggling to understand his theory of the ideal Forms that lay in inviolable perfection out beyond the phantasmagoria. (That was the first, and I think the last, time that I encountered that word.)"

Screenwriter Joan Didion

"We tell ourselves stories in order to live….

We interpret what we see, select the most workable of multiple choices. We live entirely, especially if we are writers, by the imposition of a narrative line upon disparate images, by the 'ideas' with which we have learned to freeze the shifting phantasmagoria which is our actual experience."

From Thomas Mann, "Schopenhauer," 1938, in Essays of Three Decades , translated by H. T. Lowe-Porter, Alfred A. Knopf, 1947, pp. 372-410—

Page 372: THE PLEASURE we take in a metaphysical system, the gratification purveyed by the intellectual organization of the world into a closely reasoned, complete, and balanced structure of thought, is always of a pre-eminently aesthetic kind. It flows from the same source as the joy, the high and ever happy satisfaction we get from art, with its power to shape and order its material, to sort out life's manifold confusions so as to give us a clear and general view.

Truth and beauty must always be referred the one to the other. Each by itself, without the support given by the other, remains a very fluctuating value. Beauty that has not truth on its side and cannot have reference to it, does not live in it and through it, would be an empty chimera— and "What is truth?"

….

Page 376: … the life of Plato was a very great event in the history of the human spirit; and first of all it was a scientific and a moral event. Everyone feels that something profoundly moral attaches to this elevation of the ideal as the only actual, above the ephemeralness and multiplicity of the phenomenal, this devaluation  of the senses to the advantage of the spirit, of the temporal to the advantage of the eternal— quite in the spirit of the Christianity that came after it. For in a way the transitory phenomenon, and the sensual attaching to it, are put thereby into a state of sin: he alone finds truth and salvation who turns his face to the eternal. From this point of view Plato's philosophy exhibits the connection between science and ascetic morality.

But it exhibits another relationship: that with the world of art. According to such a philosophy time itself is merely the partial and piecemeal view which an individual holds of ideas— the latter, being outside time, are thus eternal. "Time"— so runs a beautiful phrase of Plato— "is the moving image of eternity." And so this pre-Christian, already Christian doctrine, with all its ascetic wisdom, possesses on the other hand extraordinary charm of a sensuous and creative kind; for a conception of the world as a colourful and moving phantasmagoria of pictures, which are transparencies for the ideal and the spiritual, eminently savours of the world of art, and through it the artist, as it were, first comes into his own.

From last night's online NY Times  obituaries index—

http://www.log24.com/log/pix11A/110503-NYTobits.jpg

"How much story do you want?" — George Balanchine

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Les Mots

Filed under: General — m759 @ 11:07 AM

The White Album – Google Books Result

Joan Didion – 1990 – Fiction – 222 pages
a slippage, a certain vertiginous occlusion  of the imagined and the real, and this slippage was particularly acute the last time I arrived in Honolulu,
books.google.com/books?isbn=0374522219

American Spectator – Ben Stein's Diary: Watch …

A vertiginous occlusion  opened at my feet… …He had so much time to spend with me it was hard to believe… …The food was ghastly, simply horrible,
search.opinionarchives.com/Summary/…/V30I10P52-1.htmCached

"— and such small portions!"

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

The White Itself

Filed under: General — m759 @ 11:02 AM

The Development of Logic 

IMAGE- Kneale and Kneale on Plato's theory of forms and 'the white itself'

A Universal Etymological English Dictionary

http://www.log24.com/log/pix11/110104-AlbumEtymology.jpg

Joan Didion

http://www.log24.com/log/pix11/110104-WhiteAlbum-Sm.jpg

http://www.log24.com/log/pix11/110104-EnlargeThis.jpg

The above readings are related* to All Things Shining , a work of pop philosophy published today.

For a review of the new book, click on the image below.

http://www.log24.com/log/pix11/110104-MobyDick.jpg

* Didion's remarks on James Jones are related to the title  of the new book.
  Jones wrote a novel, The Thin Red Line , on which a film is based that
  contains the phrase "all things shining." The phrase is not in the novel.
  The authors of All Things Shining  credit neither novel nor film.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Phantasmagoria

Filed under: General — m759 @ 9:29 AM

Today's NY Times obituaries —

Image-- John Carl Warnecke, Architect to Kennedy, Dies at 91

Warnecke died April 17, last Saturday.
From an entry linked to on that date

Rebecca Goldstein
   on first encountering Plato

"I was reading Durant's section on Plato, struggling to understand his theory of the ideal Forms that lay in inviolable perfection out beyond the phantasmagoria. (That was the first, and I think the last, time that I encountered that word.)"

Screenwriter Joan Didion

"We tell ourselves stories in order to live….

We interpret what we see, select the most workable of multiple choices. We live entirely, especially if we are writers, by the imposition of a narrative line upon disparate images, by the 'ideas' with which we have learned to freeze the shifting phantasmagoria which is our actual experience."

Happy Shakespeare's birthday.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

A Timely Question

Filed under: General — m759 @ 12:00 PM

We tell ourselves stories in order to live.”
Joan Didion, The White Album,
quoted here on her birthday–
December 5th, 2006

Also on that date, a question
from answerbag.com:

Answerbag logo: 'Every question deserves a great answer'

“Do dyslexic devil worshippers
sell their souls to Santa?”

The Great Answer:

NY Times obituaries, Dec. 23, 2009

Click image to enlarge.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Tuesday June 9, 2009

Filed under: General — m759 @ 2:56 PM
Recessional

"I know what 
nothing means."
Joan Didion
Play It As It Lays

President Faust at Harvard Baccalaureate, June 2, 2009

Faust

President Faust of Harvard on Joan Didion:

"She was referring to life as a kind of improvisation: that magical crossroads of rigor and ease, structure and freedom, reason and intuition. What she calls being prepared to 'go with the change.'"
 

Bippity Boppity Boo.


Didion's own words
:

"I think about swimming with him into the cave at Portuguese Bend, about the swell of clear water, the way it changed, the swiftness and power it gained as it narrowed through the rocks at the base of the point. The tide had to be just right. We had to be in the water at the very moment the tide was right. We could only have done this a half dozen times at most during the two years we lived there but it is what I remember. Each time we did it I was afraid of missing the swell, hanging back, timing it wrong. John never was. You had to feel the swell change. You had to go with the change. He told me that. No eye is on the sparrow but he did tell me that."

From the same book:

"The craziness is receding but no clarity is taking its place."

Joan Didion, The Year of Magical Thinking

For a magical crossroads at another university, see the five Log24 entries ending on November 25, 2005:


The sign of the crossroads at Stanford

This holy icon
appeared at
N37°25.638'
W122°09.574'
on August 22, 2003,
at the Stanford campus.

Also from that date,
an example of clarity
  in another holy icon —

A visual proof of the Pythagorean theorem

— in honor of better days
 at Harvard and of a member
of the Radcliffe Class of 1964.
 

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Tuesday February 24, 2009

Filed under: General,Geometry — Tags: — m759 @ 1:00 PM
 
Hollywood Nihilism
Meets
Pantheistic Solipsism

Tina Fey to Steve Martin
at the Oscars:
"Oh, Steve, no one wants
 to hear about our religion
… that we made up."

Tina Fey and Steve Martin at the 2009 Oscars

From Wallace Stevens: A World of Transforming Shapes, by Alan D. Perlis, Bucknell University Press, 1976, p. 117:

… in 'The Pediment of Appearance,' a slight narrative poem in Transport to Summer

 A group of young men enter some woods 'Hunting for the great ornament, The pediment of appearance.' Though moving through the natural world, the young men seek the artificial, or pure form, believing that in discovering this pediment, this distillation of the real, they will also discover the 'savage transparence,' the rude source of human life. In Stevens's world, such a search is futile, since it is only through observing nature that one reaches beyond it to pure form. As if to demonstrate the degree to which the young men's search is misaligned, Stevens says of them that 'they go crying/The world is myself, life is myself,' believing that what surrounds them is immaterial. Such a proclamation is a cardinal violation of Stevens's principles of the imagination.


Superficially the young men's philosophy seems to resemble what Wikipedia calls "pantheistic solipsism"– noting, however, that "This article has multiple issues."

As, indeed, does pantheistic solipsism– a philosophy (properly called "eschatological pantheistic multiple-ego solipsism") devised, with tongue in cheek, by science-fiction writer Robert A. Heinlein.

Despite their preoccupation with solipsism, Heinlein and Stevens point, each in his own poetic way, to a highly non-solipsistic topic from pure mathematics that is, unlike the religion of Martin and Fey, not made up– namely, the properties of space.

Heinlein:

"Sharpie, we have condensed six dimensions into four, then we either work by analogy into six, or we have to use math that apparently nobody but Jake and my cousin Ed understands. Unless you can think of some way to project six dimensions into three– you seem to be smart at such projections."
    I closed my eyes and thought hard. "Zebbie, I don't think it can be done. Maybe Escher could have done it."

Stevens:

A discussion of Stevens's late poem "The Rock" (1954) in Wallace Stevens: A World of Transforming Shapes, by Alan D. Perlis, Bucknell University Press, 1976, p. 120:

For Stevens, the poem "makes meanings of the rock." In the mind, "its barrenness becomes a thousand things/And so exists no more." In fact, in a peculiar irony that only a poet with Stevens's particular notion of the imagination's function could develop, the rock becomes the mind itself, shattered into such diamond-faceted brilliance that it encompasses all possibilities for human thought:

The rock is the gray particular of man's life,
The stone from which he rises, up—and—ho,
The step to the bleaker depths of his descents ...

The rock is the stern particular of the air,
The mirror of the planets, one by one,
But through man's eye, their silent rhapsodist,

Turquoise the rock, at odious evening bright
With redness that sticks fast to evil dreams;
The difficult rightness of half-risen day.

The rock is the habitation of the whole,
Its strength and measure, that which is near,
     point A
In a perspective that begins again

At B: the origin of the mango's rind.

                    (Collected Poems, 528)

Stevens's rock is associated with empty space, a concept that suggests "nothingness" to one literary critic:

B. J. Leggett, "Stevens's Late Poetry" in The Cambridge Companion to Wallace Stevens— On the poem "The Rock":

"… the barren rock of the title is Stevens's symbol for the nothingness that underlies all existence, 'That in which space itself is contained'….  Its subject is its speaker's sense of nothingness and his need to be cured of it."

This interpretation might appeal to Joan Didion, who, as author of the classic novel Play It As It Lays, is perhaps the world's leading expert on Hollywood nihilism.

More positively…

Space is, of course, also a topic
in pure mathematics…
For instance, the 6-dimensional
affine space
(or the corresponding
5-dimensional projective space)

The 4x4x4 cube

over the two-element Galois field
can be viewed as an illustration of
Stevens's metaphor in "The Rock."

Heinlein should perhaps have had in mind the Klein correspondence when he discussed "some way to project six dimensions into three." While such a projection is of course trivial for anyone who has taken an undergraduate course in linear algebra, the following remarks by Philippe Cara present a much more meaningful mapping, using the Klein correspondence, of structures in six (affine) dimensions to structures in three.

Cara:

Philippe Cara on the Klein correspondence
Here the 6-dimensional affine
space contains the 63 points
of PG(5, 2), plus the origin, and
the 3-dimensional affine
space contains as its 8 points
Conwell's eight "heptads," as in
Generating the Octad Generator.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Tuesday February 3, 2009

Filed under: General — m759 @ 7:59 AM

Everything and Nothing

"I know what 'nothing' means…."

Joan Didion, Play It As It Lays, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1990 paperback, page 214

"In 1935, near the end of a long affectionate letter to his son George in America, James Joyce wrote: 'Here I conclude. My eyes are tired. For over half a century they have gazed into nullity, where they have found a lovely nothing.'"

— Lionel Trilling, "James Joyce in His Letters," Commentary, 45, no. 2 (Feb. 1968), abstract

"The quotation is from The Letters of James Joyce, Volume III, ed. Richard Ellman (New York, 1966), p. 359. The original Italian reads 'Adesso termino. Ho gli occhi stanchi. Da più di mezzo secolo scrutano nel nulla dove hanno trovato un bellissimo niente.'"

— Lionel Trilling: Criticism and Politics, by William M. Chace, Stanford U. Press, 1980, page 198, Note 4 to Chapter 9

"Space: what you damn well have to see."

— James Joyce, Ulysses

"What happens to the concepts of space and direction if all the matter in the universe is removed save a small finite number of particles?"

— "On the Origins of Twistor Theory," by Roger Penrose

"… we can look to the prairie, the darkening sky, the birthing of a funnel-cloud to see in its vortex the fundamental structure of everything…"

Against the Day, by Thomas Pynchon (See previous entry.)

"A strange thing then happened."

L. Frank Baum

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Thursday September 18, 2008

Filed under: General — m759 @ 7:25 AM
Journalism

jour·nal·ist

  1. One whose occupation is journalism.
  2. One who keeps a journal.
 — The American Heritage Dictionary
of the English Language,
Fourth Edition,
according to
Dictionary.com

Doonesbury Sept. 18, 2008: From the Washington Post to blogging

Related material:

“We seem to be caught in a squirrel cage, running as hard as possible and getting nowhere. At times like this, almost anyone will find real help in writing the feelings and thoughts down in a journal or notebook…. Later on we shall look at other ways in which a journal record is important.”

— Fr. Morton Kelsey,
   The Other Side of Silence

See also Tuesday’s Church of the Forbidden Planet and the journal entry of October 9, 2005, which contains both the thoughts of Joan Didion on Hoover Dam and the following meditation:

The image “http://www.log24.com/log/pix04A/040715-Pit2.jpg” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.

A quotation that somehow
seems relevant:

O the mind, mind has mountains,
   cliffs of fall
Frightful, sheer, no-man fathomed.
   Hold them cheap
May who ne’er hung there.

Gerard Manley Hopkins

Monday, May 5, 2008

Monday May 5, 2008

Filed under: General — Tags: , — m759 @ 11:07 AM
Lottery Sermon

"And take upon's
the mystery of things
 as if we were God's spies"
King Lear  

PA Lottery Sunday, May 4, 2008: mid-day 170, evening 144

From Log24 on Aug. 19, 2003
and on Ash Wednesday, 2004:
a reviewer on
An Instance of the Fingerpost::

"Perhaps we are meant to
see the story as a cubist
   retelling of the crucifixion."

From Log24 on
Michaelmas 2007:

Kate Beckinsale (in 'Pearl Harbor') pointing to an instance of the number 144

Google searches suggested by
Sunday's PA lottery numbers
(mid-day 170, evening 144)
and by the above
figure of Kate Beckinsale
pointing to an instance of
the number 144 —

Click to enlarge:

Search for the meaning of 170 and 144, the PA lottery numbers of Sunday, May 4, 2008

Related material:

Beckinsale in another film
(See At the Crossroads,
Log24, Dec. 8, 2006):

"For every kind of vampire,
there is a kind of cross."
Gravity's Rainbow  
 
Kate Beckinsale in Underworld: Evolution

 

Kate Beckinsale, adapted from
poster for Underworld: Evolution
(DVD release date 6/6/6)
 
There is such a thing
as a tesseract.

"It was only in retrospect
that the silliness
became profound."

— Review of  
Faust in Copenhagen

From the conclusion of
Joan Didion's 1970 novel
  Play It As It Lays

Cover of 'Play It As It Lays'

"I know what 'nothing' means,
and keep on playing."

From Play It As It Lays,
the paperback edition of 1990
  (Farrar, Straus and Giroux) —

Page 170:

"By the end of a week she was thinking constantly
about where her body stopped and the air began,
about the exact point in space and time that was the
difference between Maria and other. She had the sense
that if she could get that in her mind and hold it for

170  

even one micro-second she would have what she had
come to get."

"The page numbers
are generally reliable."

Michaelmas 2007   

Friday, December 21, 2007

Friday December 21, 2007

Filed under: General — m759 @ 9:29 AM
Soft-Rock Jesus

An entry in memory of…

Dan Folgelberg, Super Hits album

Reflections of a screenwriter:

“I began to doubt the premises
of all the stories I had ever
told myself, a common condition
but one I found troubling.”

Joan Didion in
The White Album

On Fogelberg’s “Leader of the Band”
tribute to his father
:

“Dan included his father’s arrangement
of ‘The Washington Post March’….
Dan even showed up during the band’s
recording session to play cymbals….”

“Gosh, does this movie
have it all or what?”

The Washington Post,
Dec. 21, 2007

NY Times: Caspian Sea Pipeline Deal (starring Denise Richards)

Such, Denise, is the language of love.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Monday December 3, 2007

Filed under: General — Tags: — m759 @ 9:00 AM

The image “http://www.log24.com/log/pix07A/071203-IChingResources.gif” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.

The above logo is from
the I Ching Resources website.

http://www.log24.com/images/IChing/hexagram10.gif

Hexagram 10
Treading (Conduct)

Two Commentaries:

1.
The standard
Princeton University Press
Wilhelm/Baynes text

2.
An idiosyncratic interpretation
from one “Rhett Butler”
at I Ching Resources

Rhett describes his experience
with Hexagram 10 at the South Pole.
This pole, like the abode of Santa,
may serve to illustrate T. S. Eliot’s
remarks on “the still point of
the turning world.”

Related material:

Hitler’s Still Point,

The Still Point of
the Turning World:
Joan Didion and the
Opposite of Meaning

(Harper’s, Nov. 2005),

and
Chorus from the Rock
(Log24, Dec. 5, 2004).

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Wednesday October 24, 2007

Filed under: General — Tags: , — m759 @ 9:26 AM
Adieu:
A Story for Dobbs

Internet Movie Database on screenwriter Lem Dobbs:

"Trivia:
Son of painter R.B. (Ron) Kitaj.

Took his pseudonym from the character Humphrey Bogart played
in 'The Treasure of the Sierra Madre.'"

Bogart and Robert Blake in The Treasure of the Sierra Madre

Click for details.

NY Lottery Oct. 21, 2007: Mid-day 512, Evening 430

October 21 was the day
that R. B. Kitaj died.
For what Kitaj called
"midrashic glosses"
on the numbers and
the lucky sums, see
4/30, 5/12, and
Eight is a Gate.

Screenwriter Joan Didion:

"We tell ourselves stories in order to live….

We interpret what we see, select the most workable of multiple choices. We live entirely, especially if we are writers, by the imposition of a narrative line upon disparate images, by the 'ideas' with which we have learned to freeze the shifting phantasmagoria which is our actual experience.

Or at least we do for a while. I am talking here about a time when I began to doubt the premises of all the stories I had ever told myself, a common condition but one I found troubling."

David Cohen on R. B. Kitaj:

"He has come to be fascinated… by the kabbalah, finding in it parallels to the world of art and ideas. Every morning, after a long walk, he winds up at a Westwood café surrounded by pretty UCLA students where he studies the writings of Emmanuel Levinas, before working for an hour on his memoirs."

Levinas Adieu:

Levinas, and Derrida, on the Adieu

Click for source.

"There is no teacher
but the enemy.
"

— Orson Scott Card,  
Ender's Game

Friday, August 10, 2007

Friday August 10, 2007

Filed under: General,Geometry — Tags: , — m759 @ 10:31 AM

The Ring of Gyges

10:31:32 AM ET

Commentary by Richard Wilhelm
on I Ching Hexagram 32:

"Duration is… not a state of rest, for mere standstill is regression.
Duration is rather the self-contained and therefore self-renewing
movement of an organized, firmly integrated whole, taking place in
accordance with immutable laws and beginning anew at every ending."

Related material

The Ring of the Diamond Theorem

Jung and the Imago Dei

Log24 on June 10, 2007:

 

WHAT MAKES IAGO EVIL? some people ask. I never ask. —Joan Didion

Iago states that he is not who he is. —Mark F. Frisch


"Not Being There,"
by Christopher Caldwell
,
from next Sunday's
New York Times Magazine:

"The chance to try on fresh identities was the great boon that life online was supposed to afford us. Multiuser role-playing games and discussion groups would be venues for living out fantasies. Shielded by anonymity, everyone could now pass a 'second life' online as Thor the Motorcycle Sex God or the Sage of Wherever. Some warned, though, that there were other possibilities. The Stanford Internet expert Lawrence Lessig likened online anonymity to the ring of invisibility that surrounds the shepherd Gyges in one of Plato's dialogues. Under such circumstances, Plato feared, no one is 'of such an iron nature that he would stand fast in justice.'Time, along with a string of sock-puppet scandals, has proved Lessig and Plato right."


"The Boy Who Lived,"
by Christopher Hitchens
,
from next Sunday's
New York Times Book Review:

On the conclusion of the Harry Potter series:"The toys have been put firmly back in the box, the wand has been folded up, and the conjuror is discreetly accepting payment while the children clamor for fresh entertainments. (I recommend that they graduate to Philip Pullman, whose daemon scheme is finer than any patronus.)"

I, on the other hand,
recommend Tolkien…
or, for those who are
already familiar with
Tolkien, Plato– to whom
"The Ring of Gyges" may
serve as an introduction.

"It's all in Plato, all in Plato:
bless me, what do they
teach them at these schools!"
C. S. Lewis

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Tuesday July 31, 2007

Filed under: General — m759 @ 6:00 AM

Italian Director Antonioni
Dies at 94

By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
Published: July 31, 2007

Filed with The New York Times at 5:14 a.m. ET

“ROME (AP) — Italian director Michelangelo Antonioni, best known for his movies ‘Blow-Up’ and ‘L’Avventura,’ has died, officials and news reports said Tuesday. He was 94.

The ANSA news agency said that Antonioni died at his home on Monday evening.

‘With Antonioni dies not only one of the greatest directors but also a master of modernity,’ Rome Mayor Walter Veltroni said in a statement.

In 1995, Hollywood honored Antonioni’s career work– 25 films and several screenplays– with a special Oscar for lifetime achievement.”

Related material:

  1. “Zabriskie Point” (1970), a film by Antonioni.

    “The name refers to Zabriskie Point in Death Valley, the location of the film’s famous desert love scene, in which members of the Open Theatre simulate an orgy.” —Wikipedia

  2. Play It As It Lays (1970), a novel by Joan Didion

       Play It As It Lays

    Play It As It Lays, page 204

  3. Log24: The Word in the Desert

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Sunday June 10, 2007

Filed under: General — m759 @ 12:00 PM
Torbellino
 
The image “http://www.log24.com/log/pix07/070610-Torbellino.jpg” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.

Tornado and Rainbow over Kansas
,
NASA Picture of the Day for
June 13, 2005

WHAT MAKES IAGO EVIL? some people ask. I never ask. —Joan Didion

Iago states that he is not who he is. —Mark F. Frisch

La historia agrega que, antes o después de morir, se supo frente a Dios y le dijo: «Yo, que tantos hombres he sido en vano, quiero ser uno y yo». La voz de Dios le contestó desde un torbellino: «Yo tampoco soy; yo soñé el mundo como tú soñaste tu obra, mi Shakespeare, y entre las formas de mi sueño estabas tú, que como yo eres muchos y nadie». —Jorge Luis Borges

Tuesday, December 5, 2006

Tuesday December 5, 2006

Filed under: General — m759 @ 5:01 AM

Today in History
(via The Associated Press)

On this date (Dec. 5):

In 1776, the first scholastic fraternity in America, Phi Beta Kappa, was organized at the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Va.

In 1791, composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart died in Vienna, Austria, at age 35.

In 2006, author Joan Didion is 72.

Joan Didion, The White Album:

“We tell ourselves stories in order to live….

We interpret what we see, select the most workable of multiple choices. We live entirely, especially if we are writers, by the imposition of a narrative line upon disparate images, by the ‘ideas’ with which we have learned to freeze the shifting phantasmagoria which is our actual experience.

Or at least we do for a while. I am talking here about a time when I began to doubt the premises of all the stories I had ever told myself, a common condition but one I found troubling.”

An Alternate History

(based on entries of
the past three days):

“A FAMOUS HISTORIAN:

England, 932 A.D. —
A kingdom divided….”

Introduction to “Spamalot”

A Story That Works

  • “There is the dark, eternally silent, unknown universe;
  • there are the friend-enemy minds shouting and whispering their tales and always seeking the three miracles —
    • that minds should really touch, or
    • that the silent universe should speak, tell minds a story, or (perhaps the same thing)
    • that there should be a story that works, that is all hard facts, all reality, with no illusions and no fantasy;
  • and lastly, there is lonely, story-telling, wonder-questing, mortal me.”

    Fritz Leiber in “The Button Molder

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Tuesday October 31, 2006

Filed under: General,Geometry — Tags: , , — m759 @ 11:00 PM
To Announce a Faith

From 7/07, an art review from The New York Times:

Endgame Art?
It's Borrow, Sample and Multiply
in an Exhibition at Bard College

"The show has an endgame, end-time mood….

I would call all these strategies fear of form…. the dismissal of originality is perhaps the oldest ploy in the postmodern playbook. To call yourself an artist at all is by definition to announce a faith, however unacknowledged, in some form of originality, first for yourself, second, perhaps, for the rest of us.

Fear of form above all means fear of compression– of an artistic focus that condenses experiences, ideas and feelings into something whole, committed and visually comprehensible."

— Roberta Smith

It is doubtful that Smith
 would consider the
following "found" art an
example of originality.

It nevertheless does
"announce a faith."


The image “http://www.log24.com/log/pix06A/061031-PAlottery2.jpg” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.


"First for yourself"

Today's mid-day
Pennsylvania number:
707

See Log24 on 7/07
and the above review.
 

"Second, perhaps,
for the rest of us"

Today's evening
Pennsylvania number:
384

This number is an
example of what the
reviewer calls "compression"–

"an artistic focus that condenses
 experiences, ideas and feelings
into something
whole, committed
 and visually comprehensible."

"Experiences"

See (for instance)

Joan Didion's writings
(1160 pages, 2.35 pounds)
on "the shifting phantasmagoria
which is our actual experience."

"Ideas"

See Plato.

"Feelings"

See A Wrinkle in Time.

"Whole"

The automorphisms
of the tesseract
form a group
of order 384.

"Committed"

See the discussions of
groups of degree 16 in
R. D. Carmichael's classic
Introduction to the Theory
of Groups of Finite Order
.

"Visually comprehensible"

See "Diamond Theory in 1937,"
an excerpt from which
is shown below.

The image “http://www.log24.com/theory/images/Carmichael440abbrev.gif” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.

The "faith" announced by
the above lottery numbers
on All Hallows' Eve is
perhaps that of the artist
Madeleine L'Engle:

"There is such a thing
as a tesseract.
"

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Saturday September 23, 2006

Filed under: General — m759 @ 9:00 AM

“A corpse will be
transported by express!”

Under the Volcano,
by Malcolm Lowry (1947)


Dietrich


Minogue

“It has a ghastly familiarity,
like a half-forgotten dream.”

 — Poppy (Gene Tierney) in
The Shanghai Gesture.”

Temptation


Locomotive

The Star
of Venus


Locomotion

Joan Didion, The White Album:

“We tell ourselves stories in order to live….

We interpret what we see, select the most workable of multiple choices. We live entirely, especially if we are writers, by the imposition of a narrative line upon disparate images, by the ‘ideas‘ with which we have learned to freeze the shifting phantasmagoria which is our actual experience.

Or at least we do for a while. I am talking here about a time when I began to doubt the premises of all the stories I had ever told myself, a common condition but one I found troubling.”

From Patrick Vert,
The Narrative of Acceleration:

“There are plenty of anecdotes to highlight the personal, phenomenological experience of railway passage…

… a unique study on phantasmagoria and the history of imagination. The word originates [in] light-projection, the so-called ghost-shows of the early 19th century….

… thought becomes a phantasmagorical process, a spectral, representative location for the personal imagination that had been marginalized by scientific rationalism….

This phantasmagoria became more mediated over time…. Perception became increasingly visually oriented…. As this occurred, a narrative formed to encapsulate the phenomenology of it all….”

For such a narrative, see
the Log24.net entries of

From a Christian fairy tale:

Aslan’s last words come at the end of The Last Battle: ‘There was a real railway accident […] Your father and mother and all of you are–as you used to call it in the Shadow-Lands–dead. The term is over: the holidays have begun. The dream is ended: this is the morning.’….

Aslan is given the last word in these quiet but emphatic lines. He is the ultimate arbiter of reality: “‘There was a real railway accident.'” Plato, in addition to the Christian tradition, lies behind the closing chapters of The Last Battle. The references here to the Shadowlands and to the dream refer back to an earlier explanation by Digory, now the Lord Digory:

“[…] that was not the real Narnia. That had a beginning and an end. It was only a shadow or a copy of the real Narnia, which has always been here and always will be here: just as our world, England and all, is only a shadow or copy of something in Aslan’s real world. [….] Of course it is different; as different as a real thing is from a shadow or as waking life is from a dream. […] It’s all in Plato, all in Plato: bless me, what do they teach them at these schools!”

Joy Alexander, Aslan’s Speech

“I was reading Durant’s section on Plato, struggling to understand his theory of the ideal Forms that lay in inviolable perfection out beyond the phantasmagoria. (That was the first, and I think the last, time that I encountered that word.)”

Whether any of the above will be of use in comforting the families of those killed in yesterday morning’s train wreck in Germany is not clear.  Pope Benedict XVI, like C. S. Lewis, seems to think Greek philosophy may be of some use to those dealing with train wrecks:

“Modifying the first verse of the Book of Genesis, the first verse of the whole Bible, John began the prologue of his Gospel with the words: ‘In the beginning was the logos.‘ This is the very word used by the emperor: God acts, syn logo, with logos. Logos means both reason and word– a reason which is creative and capable of self-communication, precisely as reason. John thus spoke the final word on the biblical concept of God, and in this word all the often toilsome and tortuous threads of biblical faith find their culmination and synthesis. In the beginning was the logos, and the logos is God, says the Evangelist.”

Remarks of the Pope at the University of Regensburg on Sept. 12, 2006

Thursday, June 8, 2006

Thursday June 8, 2006

Filed under: General — m759 @ 7:11 AM
For the Clowns of Harvard
on Commencement Day,
a Reading from 2003’s


The Word in the Desert
:

Ground Zero 

Today’s birthday: Harrison Ford is 61.

             From The Gag

Seven – Eleven Dice 

Throw a seven or eleven every time. Set consists of a pair of regular dice and another set that can’t miss. A product of the S. S. Adams Company. Make your friends and family laugh with this great prank!

 New York State Lottery:

7-11 Evening Number: 000.

From the conclusion of
Joan Didion’s 1970 novel
Play It As It Lays: 

“I know what ‘nothing’ means,
and keep on playing.”

Monday, May 22, 2006

Monday May 22, 2006

Filed under: General — m759 @ 1:06 PM
A Kind of Cross

Google Maps image
of the isle of Delos,
birthplace of Apollo:

The image “http://www.log24.com/log/pix06A/060522-Delos.jpg” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.

“I faced myself that day with
the nonplused apprehension
of someone who has
come across a vampire
and has no crucifix in hand.”

Joan Didion, “On Self-Respect,”
in Slouching Towards Bethlehem

“For every kind of vampire,
there is a kind of cross.”

— Thomas Pynchon,
  Gravity’s Rainbow

The image “http://www.log24.com/log/pix06A/060522-DelosCross1.jpg” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.

Related material:

Mathematics and Narrative,

Secret Passages

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Wednesday April 26, 2006

Filed under: General — Tags: — m759 @ 3:09 PM
Charm
At Decision Time,
Colleges Lay On Charm
– Today’s New York Times

Also in today’s Times:

“‘Lestat,’ the maiden Broadway production of Warner Brothers Theater Ventures, is the third vampire musical to open in the last few years, and it seems unlikely to break the solemn curse that has plagued the genre. Directed by Robert Jess Roth from a book by Linda Woolverton, the show admittedly has higher aspirations and (marginally) higher production values than the kitschy ‘Dance of the Vampires’ (2002) and the leaden ‘Dracula: The Musical’ (2004), both major-league flops.” — Ben Brantley

Related material:

See Log24,
St. Patrick’s Day 2004:

“I faced myself that day with
the nonplused apprehension
of someone who has
come across a vampire
and has no crucifix in hand.”

Joan Didion, “On Self-Respect,”
in Slouching Towards Bethlehem

“For every kind of vampire,
there is a kind of cross.”

— Thomas Pynchon,
  Gravity’s Rainbow

Hexagram 61: Inner Truth

Inner Truth,
Hexagram 61

See also

  Transylvania Bible School.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Monday April 10, 2006

Filed under: General — m759 @ 12:00 PM

Backstory
for the previous entry,
Once Upon a Time

  • Ernest Hemingway,
    “A Clean, Well-Lighted Place”
  • Ernest Hemingway,
    “The Killers”
  • Joan Didion,
    Play It As It Lays
  • The Devil’s Bible

Friday, March 31, 2006

Friday March 31, 2006

Filed under: General,Geometry — Tags: , — m759 @ 12:00 PM

Women's History Month continues…
 
Ontology Alignment

"He had with him a small red book of Mao's poems, and as he talked he squared it on the table, aligned it with the table edge first vertically and then horizontally.  To understand who Michael Laski is you must have a feeling for that kind of compulsion."

Joan Didion in the
Saturday Evening Post,
Nov. 18, 1967 (reprinted in
Slouching Towards Bethlehem)

"Or were you," I said.
He said nothing.
"Raised a Catholic," I said.
He aligned a square crystal paperweight with the edge of his desk blotter.

Joan Didion in
The Last Thing He Wanted,
Knopf, 1996

"It was Plato who best expressed– who veritably embodied– the tension between the narrative arts and mathematics….

Plato clearly loved them both, both mathematics and poetry.  But he approved of mathematics, and heartily, if conflictedly, disapproved of poetry.  Engraved above the entrance to his Academy, the first European university, was the admonition: Oudeis ageometretos eiseto.  Let none ignorant of geometry enter.  This is an expression of high approval indeed, and the symbolism could not have been more perfect, since mathematics was, for Plato, the very gateway for all future knowledge.  Mathematics ushers one into the realm of abstraction and universality, grasped only through pure reason.  Mathematics is the threshold we cross to pass into the ideal, the truly real."

— Rebecca Goldstein,
Mathematics and
the Character of Tragedy

Wednesday, March 1, 2006

Wednesday March 1, 2006

Filed under: General — m759 @ 6:29 PM
Deaconess

“Teach us to care and not to care.”
— T. S. Eliot, “Ash Wednesday

The image “http://www.log24.com/log/pix06/060301-Hospital2.jpg” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.

Related material:

Beth Israel Deaconess,

The image “http://www.log24.com/log/pix06/060301-GetDir.jpg” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.


The House of God
,

and, from Is Nothing Sacred?,
the following quotations–

“I know what ‘nothing’ means.”
Joan Didion in
Play It As It Lays

“Nothing is random.”
— Mark Helprin in
Winter’s Tale

“692” — Pennsylvania lottery,
Ash Wednesday, 2000;
“hole” — Page 692,
Webster’s New World Dictionary,
College Edition, 1960

“This hospital, like every other,
is a hole in the universe
through which holiness
issues in blasts.
It blows both ways,
in and out of time.”
— Annie Dillard in
For the Time Being
(1999)

Tuesday, December 6, 2005

Tuesday December 6, 2005

Filed under: General — m759 @ 1:00 PM
Headline in today’s New York Times:

‘Year of Magical Thinking’
Headed for Broadway

which suggests…

Heaven, Hell,
and Hollywood

 
(continued)

“This could be Heaven
or this could be Hell.”

The Eagles, Hotel California

There are no facts,
there is no truth–
just data to be manipulated
.”

Don Henley, The Garden of Allah

Data:

The New York Lottery numbers
on Joan Didion’s birthday,
Monday, Dec. 5, 2005, were

Mid-day 729,
Evening 439.

Since that day’s Log24 entry,
Magical Thinking, interpreted
the previous day’s (Sunday’s)
NY lottery numbers as a date
and a page number, it seems
appropriate to do a follow-up.

Date 7/29:

See Log24, 7/29/05,
Anatomy of a Death:

The image “http://www.log24.com/log/pix05A/050729-Bass5.jpg” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.


Page 439:

See Bartlett’s Familiar
Quotations
, 1919, p. 439
:

A man’s ingress into the world
is naked and bare,
His progress through the world
is trouble and care;
And lastly,
his egress out of the world,
is nobody knows where.

— John Edwin (1749-1790)

Related material:

The Log24 version of
“This Way to the Egress,”
Directions Out,
linked to in yesterday’s
  Magical Thinking.

Monday, December 5, 2005

Monday December 5, 2005

Filed under: General — Tags: — m759 @ 1:00 PM
Magical Thinking
 
for Joan Didion
on Her Birthday

The Associated Press on the Kennedy Center honors yesterday:

"Dancer Suzanne Farrell was feted by her former colleague at the New York City Ballet, Jacques d'Amboise. The company, led by George Balanchine, 'was the center of American ballet and she was the diamond in its crown,' d'Amboise said."

Log24 on Balanchine

As Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch, paraphrasing Horace, remarks in his Whitsun, 1939, preface to the new edition of the Oxford Book of English Verse, "tamen usque recurret Apollo."
 

The New York Lottery yesterday:

The mid-day number was 926;
the evening number was 373.

For the significance of 926,
see 9/26 2002 and
Balanchine's Birthday.

For the significance of 373, see

  Art Wars,
May 2, 2003,

 White, Geometric, and Eternal,
Dec. 20, 2003,

 Directions Out,
April 26, 2004,

 Outside the World,
April 26, 2004,

 The Last Minute,
Sept. 15, 2004,

and

Diamonds Are Forever,
Jan. 25, 2005.

See also the link
at the end of
  yesterday's entry.

For related material that is
more personally linked to
Joan Didion, see
Log24, June 1-16, 2004.
 

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Saturday September 24, 2005

Filed under: General — m759 @ 11:02 PM
Parable

From this week’s New Yorker
and from Eight is a Gate:

The image “http://www.log24.com/log/pix05B/050924-NYer.jpg” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.

May 20, 2004, 7 AM:

Parable: “A comparison or analogy. The word is simply a transliteration of the Greek word: parabolé (literally: ‘what is thrown beside’ or ‘juxtaposed’)….”

A Synoptic
   Gospels Primer

A thought dated (mistakenly)
May 20, 2004,
11:11 PM:

Life changes fast.

Joan Didion,
  After Life

Related material:

Key,
Number 61,
Chorus from “The Rock”.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Saturday July 23, 2005

Filed under: General — m759 @ 2:28 AM
Go Ask Alice

From the weblog of Alice:

The image “http://www.log24.com/log/pix05A/050723-Moonfl2.jpg” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.

Click to enlarge

“This is a
Datura Moonflower.”

From Dec. 20, 2002:

See… my Sermon for St. Patrick’s Day

This contains the following metaphysical observation from Mark Helprin’s novel Winter’s Tale:

“Nothing is random.”

For those who, like the protagonist of Joan Didion’s

Play It As It Lays,

feel that they “know what nothing means,” I recommend the following readings:

From Peter Goldman’s essay

“Christian Mystery and Responsibility:
Gnosticism in Derrida’s The Gift of Death” —

“Derrida’s description of Christian mystery implies this hidden demonic and violent dimension:

The gift made to me by God as he holds me in his gaze and in his hand while remaining inaccessible to me, the terribly dissymmetrical gift of the mysterium tremendum only allows me to respond and only rouses me to the responsibility it gives me by making a gift of death, giving the secret of death, a new experience of death. (33)”

The above-mentioned sermon is a meditation on randomness and page numbers, focusing on page 265 in particular.

On page 265 of Finnegans Wake, by James Joyce,  we find the following remark:

“Googlaa pluplu.” 

Following Joyce’s instructions, and entering “pluplu” in the Google search engine, we find the following:

“Datura is a delusional drug rather than a hallucinatory one. You don’t see patterns, trails, or any cool visual effects; you just actually believe in things that aren’t there….  I remember holding a glass for a while–but when I raised it to my mouth to take a drink, my fingers closed around nothingness because there was no glass there….

Using datura is the closest I’ve ever come to death…. Of all the drugs I’ve taken, this is the one that I’d be too scared to ever take again.”

PluPlu, August 4, 2000

For those who don’t need AA, perhaps the offer of Ed Harris in the classic study of gangs of New York, “State of Grace,” is an offer of somewhat safer holiday cheer that should not be refused.


© Orion Pictures

Ed Harris in
State of Grace

  
  Xmas Special

Sunday, December 12, 2004

Sunday December 12, 2004

Filed under: General — Tags: — m759 @ 7:59 PM

Ideas, Stories, Values:
Literati in Deep Confusion

Joan Didion, The White Album:

“We tell ourselves stories in order to live….

We interpret what we see, select the most workable of multiple choices. We live entirely, especially if we are writers, by the imposition of a narrative line upon disparate images, by the ‘ideas‘ with which we have learned to freeze the shifting phantasmagoria which is our actual experience.

Or at least we do for a while. I am talking here about a time when I began to doubt the premises of all the stories I had ever told myself, a common condition but one I found troubling.”

Interview with Joseph Epstein:

“You can do in stories things that are above those in essays,” says Epstein.  “In essays and piecework, you are trying to make a point, whereas in stories you are not quite sure what the point is. T.S. Eliot once said of Henry James, ‘He had a mind so fine no idea could violate it,’ which, I think, is the ultimate compliment for an author. Stories are above ideas.”

Harvard President Lawrence H. Summers, Sept. 12, 2004:

“You are entering a remarkable community, the Harvard community. It is a community built on the idea of searching for truth… on the idea of respect for others….

… we practice the values we venerate. The values of seeking truth, the values of respecting others….”

Paul Redding on Hegel:

“… Hegel discusses ‘culture’ as the ‘world of self-alienated spirit.’ The idea seems to be that humans in society not only interact, but that they collectively create relatively enduring cultural products (stories, dramas, and so forth) within which they can recognise their own patterns of life reflected.”

The “phantasmagoria” of Didion seems related to the “phenomenology” of Hegel…

From Michael N. Forster,  Hegel’s Idea of a Phenomenology of Spirit:

“This whole system is conceived, on one level at least, as a defense or rational reworking of the Christian conception of God.  In particular, its three parts are an attempt to make sense of the Christian idea of a God who is three in one — the Logic depicting God as he is in himself, the Philosophy of Nature God the Son, and the Philosophy of Spirit God the Holy Spirit.”

and, indeed, to the phenomenology of narrative itself….

From Patrick Vert,
The Narrative of Acceleration:

“There are plenty of anecdotes to highlight the personal, phenomenological experience of railway passage…

… a unique study on phantasmagoria and the history of imagination. The word originates [in] light-projection, the so-called ghost-shows of the early 19th century….

… thought becomes a phantasmagorical process, a spectral, representative location for the personal imagination that had been marginalized by scientific rationalism….

Truly, ‘immediate experience is [or becomes] the phantasmagoria of the idler’ [Walter Benjamin, The Arcades Project.  Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1999.  Page 801.]….

Thought as phantasm is a consequence of the Cartesian split, and… a further consequence to this is the broad take-over of perceptual faculty…. What better example than that of the American railway?  As a case-study it offers explanation to the ‘phantasmagoria of the idler’….

This phantasmagoria became more mediated over time…. Perception became increasingly visually oriented…. As this occurred, a narrative formed to encapsulate the phenomenology of it all….”

For such a narrative, see
the Log24.net entries of

November 5, 2002, 2:56 AM,
November 5, 2002, 6:29 AM,
January 3, 2003, 11:59 PM,
August 17, 2004, 7:29 PM,
August 18, 2004, 2:18 AM,
August 18, 2004, 3:00 AM, and
November 24, 2004, 10:00 AM.

Tuesday, December 7, 2004

Tuesday December 7, 2004

Filed under: General — m759 @ 1:00 PM

White Christmas

Starring W. V. Quine as
the Ghost of Christmas Past

“Birthday, death-day —
   what day is not both?”
   — John Updike

“We tell ourselves stories in order to live….

We interpret what we see, select the most workable of multiple choices. We live entirely, especially if we are writers, by the imposition of a narrative line upon disparate images, by the ‘ideas’ with which we have learned to freeze the shifting phantasmagoria which is our actual experience.

Or at least we do for a while. I am talking here about a time when I began to doubt the premises of all the stories I had ever told myself, a common condition but one I found troubling.”

Joan Didion, The White Album

The image “http://www.log24.com/log/pix04B/041207-Quine.gif” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.

0! = 1

Quine’s Shema

Sunday, December 5, 2004

Sunday December 5, 2004

Filed under: General — Tags: , , — m759 @ 3:00 PM

Chorus from
The Rock

Author Joan Didion is 70 today.

On Didion’s late husband, John Gregory Dunne:

“His 1989 memoir Harp includes Dunne’s early years in Hartford and his Irish-Catholic family’s resentment of WASP social superiority: ‘Don’t stand out so that the Yanks can see you,’ he wrote, ‘don’t let your pretensions become a focus of Yank merriment and mockery.'”

The Hartford Courant, August 4, 2002

From a Hartford Protestant:

The American Sublime

How does one stand
To behold the sublime,
To confront the mockers,
The mickey mockers
And plated pairs?

When General Jackson
Posed for his statue
He knew how one feels.
Shall a man go barefoot
Blinking and blank?

But how does one feel?
One grows used to the weather,
The landscape and that;
And the sublime comes down
To the spirit itself,

The spirit and space,
The empty spirit
In vacant space.
What wine does one drink?
What bread does one eat?

— Wallace Stevens

A search of the Internet for “Wallace Stevens”  + “The Rock” + “Seventy Years Later” yields only one quotation…

Log24 entries of Aug. 2, 2002:

From “Seventy Years Later,” Section I of “The Rock,” a poem by Wallace Stevens:

A theorem proposed
between the two —
Two figures in a nature
of the sun….

From page 63 of The New Yorker issue dated August 5, 2002:

“Birthday, death-day —
what day is not both?”
— John Updike

From Didion’s Play It As It Lays:

Everything goes.  I am working very hard at not thinking about how everything goes.  I watch a hummingbird, throw the I Ching but never read the coins, keep my mind in the now.
— Page 8

From Play It As It Lays:

I lie here in the sunlight, watch the hummingbird.  This morning I threw the coins in the swimming pool, and they gleamed and turned in the water in such a way that I was almost moved to read them.  I refrained.
— Page 214

And the sublime comes down
To the spirit itself,
The spirit and space,
The empty spirit
In vacant space.

One heart will wear a Valentine.
— Sinatra, 1954

Tuesday, June 15, 2004

Tuesday June 15, 2004

Filed under: General — m759 @ 4:00 PM

Kierkegaard on death:

“I have thought too much about death not to know that he cannot speak earnestly about death who does not know how to employ (for awakening, please note) the subtlety and all the profound waggery which lies in death.  Death is not earnest in the same way the eternal is.  To the earnestness of death belongs precisely that capacity for awakening, that resonance of a profound mockery which, detached from the thought of the eternal, is an empty and often brash jest, but together with the thought of the eternal is just what it should be, utterly different from the insipid solemness which least of all captures and holds a thought with tension like that of death.”

Works of Love,
  
Harper Torchbooks, 1964, p. 324

For more on “the thought of the eternal,”  see the discussion of the number 373 in Directions Out and Outside the World, both of 4/26/04.

“… as an inscription over the graveyard gate one could place ‘No compulsion here’ or ‘With us there is no compulsion.’ “

Works of Love,
  
Harper Torchbooks, 1964, p. 324

“In the summer of 1943 I was eight, and my father and mother and small brother and I were in Peterson Field in Colorado Springs.  A hot wind blew through that summer…. There was not much to do…. There was an Officers’ Club, but no swimming pool; all the Officers’ Club had of interest was artificial blue rain behind the bar.  The rain interested me a good deal, but I could not spend the summer watching it, and so we went, my brother and I, to the movies.

We went three and four afternoons a week, sat on folding chairs in the darkened Quonset hut which served as a theater, and it was there, that summer of 1943 while the hot wind blew outside, that I first saw John Wayne. Saw the walk, heard the voice.  Heard him tell a girl in a picture called War of the Wildcats that he would build her a house, ‘at the bend in the river where the cottonwoods grow.’  As it happened I did not grow up to be the kind of woman who is the heroine in a Western, and although the men I have known have had many virtues and have taken me to live in many places I have come to love, they have never been John Wayne, and they have never taken me to that bend in the river where the cottonwoods grow.  Deep in that part of my heart where the artificial rain forever falls, that is still the line I wait to hear.

… When John Wayne spoke, there was no mistaking his intentions; he had a sexual authority so strong that even a child could perceive it.  And in a world we understood early to be characterized by venality and doubt and paralyzing ambiguities, he suggested another world, one which may or may not have existed ever but in any case existed no more: a place where a man could move free. could make his own code and live by it; a world in which, if a man did what he had to do, he could one day take the girl and go riding through the draw and find himself home free, not in a hospital with something wrong inside, not in a high bed with the flowers and the drugs and the forced smiles, but there at the bend in the bright river, the cottonwoods shimmering in the early morning sun.”

Joan Didion,
   “John Wayne: A Love Song,” 1965

“He is home now. He is free.”

— Ron Reagan, Friday, June 11, 2004

“Beware, therefore, of the dead!  Beware of his kindness; beware of his definiteness, beware of his strength; beware of his pride!  But if you love him, then remember him lovingly, and learn from him, precisely as one who is dead, learn the kindness in thought, the definiteness in expression, the strength in unchangeableness, the pride in life which you would not be able to learn as well from any human being, even the most highly gifted.”

Works of Love,
   Harper Torchbooks, 1964, p. 328

Wednesday, March 17, 2004

Wednesday March 17, 2004

Filed under: General — Tags: — m759 @ 4:31 PM

Readings for
St. Patrick's Day

Books:

Finnegans Wake (1939)

Gravity's Rainbow (1978)

Masks of the Illuminati (1981)

Quotations:

"Nature does not know extinction;
all it knows is transformation.
Everything science has taught me,
and continues to teach me,
strengthens my belief in
the continuity of our
spiritual existence
after death."

Wernher von Braun

"I faced myself that day
with the nonplused apprehension
of someone who has
come across a vampire
and has no crucifix in hand."

Joan Didion, "On Self-Respect,"
in Slouching Towards Bethlehem

 

"For every kind of vampire,
there is a kind of cross.
"

— Thomas Pynchon,
Gravity's Rainbow

Inscribed
Carpenter's Square:

In Latin, NORMA

Multa renascentur quae iam cecidere, cadentque
quae nunc sunt in honore uocabula, si uolet usus,
quem penes arbitrium est et ius et norma loquendi.

Horace, Ars Poetica

Many terms will be born again
that by now have sunk into oblivion,
and many that are now held in respect
will die out if that is what use should dictate
in whose power is the judgment and the law
and the rule of speech.

All, all must perish — but, surviving last,
The love of Letters half preserves the past;
True — some decay, yet not a few revive,
Though those shall sink, which now
     appear to thrive,
As Custom arbitrates, whose shifting sway
Our life and language must alike obey.

Hints from Horace

"Norma was the latin word for what we now call a carpenter's square. It was used to construct lines which were at right angles to another line, so the created line was said to be 'normal.'  The norma was also used as a standard to compare if objects, like a wall, might be erect (perpendicular to the ground) and so those that met the standard were called 'normal' and this use extended to the 'typical' element of any type of set. Eventually normal came to mean anything that 'met the standard.' "

Pat Ballew on mathematical usage

 

"317 is a prime,
not because we think so,
or because our minds are shaped
in one way rather than another,
but
because it is so,
because mathematical reality
is built that way."

— G. H. Hardy,
A Mathematician's Apology

Saturday, February 28, 2004

Saturday February 28, 2004

Filed under: General — Tags: — m759 @ 7:00 PM

Inner Truth
and Outer Style

Inner Truth:

Hexagram 61: Inner Truth

Outer Style:


Joan Didion

“Everything I learned,
I learned at Vogue.”

Joan Didion, Nov. 2001 interview
with Amy Spindler.

Spindler died on Friday, Feb. 27, 2004.

For related material, see

Truth and Style: ART WARS at Harvard

and

blogs.law.harvard.edu/m759/.

Friday, December 5, 2003

Friday December 5, 2003

Filed under: General — Tags: — m759 @ 1:06 PM
Number 61    Hexagram 61: Inner Truth

For Joan Didion on her birthday

From “On Keeping a Notebook” (1966)
in Slouching Towards Bethlehem:

How it felt to me: that is getting closer to the truth about a notebook. I sometimes delude myself about why I keep a notebook, imagine that some thrifty virtue derives from preserving everything observed.  See enough and write it down, I tell myself, and then some morning when the world seems drained of wonder, some day when I am only going through the motions of doing what I am supposed to do, which is write- on that bankrupt morning I will simply open my notebook and there it will all be, a forgotten account with accumulated interest, paid passage back to the world out there: dialogue overheard in hotels and elevators and at the hatcheck counter in Pavillon (one middle-aged man shows his hat check to another and says, “That’s my old football number”)….

I imagine, in other words, that the notebook is about other people. But of course it is not. I have no real business with what one stranger said to another at the hat-check counter in Pavillon; in fact I suspect that the line “That’s my old football number” touched not my own imagination at all, but merely some memory of something once read, probably “The Eighty-Yard Run.”

From a 1994 interview with Tommy Lee Jones by Bryant Gumbel:

Gumbel: While majoring in English, Jones was also an offensive guard on the Harvard football team. Number 61 in your program, his last game, against Yale, proved to be one of the most famous games every played. Harvard scored 16 points in the last 42 seconds to gain a 29-all tie. (Photo of Jones in football uniform, footage of 1968 football game.)

Mr. J: It couldn’t have been a more spectacular way to leave the game that had been so important to me all my life. The grass had never looked that green, nor the sky that blue.

Gumbel: That lucky game was for Jones a precursor of good fortune to come. It seems Harvard´s team doctor, Thomas Quigley, had caught some of Tommy Lee’s off the field plays and come away impressed. (Photo of Jones at rehearsal)

Mr. J: And when I was about to graduate, he asked if I had thought about going to New York, and I said I didn’t know. He said, “Well, if you do, take this letter and give it to my daughter, she’s doing a play.”

Ms. Jane Alexander (Actress): And I opened it. It was from my father, and it said: “This young man excels at Harvard. He is a good football player, but he wants to be an actor. Take care of him.” So I introduced him to a few agents, and right away he got a job.

Mr. J: And I had one line…. The line was five words long.

Gumbel: Were this a fairy tale, it would be….

Joan Didion: “That’s my old football number.”

Monday, November 17, 2003

Monday November 17, 2003

Filed under: General — m759 @ 10:49 AM

Total Recall:

in which Philip K. Dick
meets Joan Didion yet again

From Joan Didion’s new work on California history, Where I Was From:

“There was never just the golden dream of riches and bountiful nature, but always a scene of exploitation and false promises, indifference and ruthlessness, a kind of hollow core.”

Hollow no more.      

Monday November 17, 2003

Filed under: General — m759 @ 9:25 AM

Inaugural Poem for California:

Archaischer Torso Apollos

by Rainer Maria Rilke

Wir kannten nicht sein unerhörtes Haupt,
darin die Augenäpfel reiften. Aber
sein Torso glüht noch wie ein Kandelaber,
in dem sein Schauen, nur zurückgeschraubt,

sich hält und glänzt. Sonst könnte nicht der Bug
der Brust dich blenden, und im leisen Drehen
der Lenden könnte nicht ein Lächeln gehen
zu jener Mitte, die die Zeugung trug.

Sonst stünde dieser Stein entstellt und kurz
unter der Schultern durchsichtigem Sturz
und flimmerte nicht so wie Raubtierfelle;

und bräche nicht aus allen seinen Rändern
aus wie ein Stern: denn da ist keine Stelle,
die dich nicht sieht. Du musst dein Leben ändern.

Illustration:

See also

Philip K. Dick Meets Joan Didion,

Aes Triplex,

From the Empty Center,

The Empty Center, and

Translation of Rilke by Stephen Mitchell:

Archaic Torso of Apollo

We cannot know his legendary head
with eyes like ripening fruit. And yet his torso
is still suffused with brilliance from inside,
like a lamp, in which his gaze, now turned to low,

gleams in all its power. Otherwise
the curved breast could not dazzle you so, nor could
a smile run through the placid hips and thighs
to that dark center where procreation flared.

Otherwise this stone would seem defaced
beneath the translucent cascade of the shoulders
and would not glisten like a wild beast’s fur:

would not, from all the borders of itself,
burst like a star: for here there is no place
that does not see you. You must change your life.

Saturday, November 15, 2003

Saturday November 15, 2003

Filed under: General — Tags: , — m759 @ 12:00 PM

Aes Triplex

The title, from a Robert Louis Stevenson essay, means “triple brass” (or triple bronze):

From the admirable site of J. Nathan Matias:

Aes Triplex means Triple Bronze, from a line in Horace’s Odes that reads ‘Oak and triple bronze encompassed the breast of him who first entrusted his frail craft to the wild sea.’ ”

From Philip K. Dick’s The Man in the High Castle:

Juliana said, “Oracle, why did you write The Grasshopper Lies Heavy? What are we supposed to learn?”

“You have a disconcertingly superstitious way of phrasing your question,” Hawthorne said. But he had squatted down to witness the coin throwing. “Go ahead,” he said; he handed her three Chinese brass coins with holes in the center. “I generally use these.”

This passage, included in my earlier entry of Friday, combined with the opening of yet another major motion picture starring Russell Crowe, suggests three readings for that young man, who is perhaps the true successor to Marlon Brando.

Oracle, for Crowe as John Nash (A Beautiful Mind):

Understanding the I Ching

Mutiny, for Crowe as Jack Aubrey (Master and Commander):

Bartleby, the Scrivener

Storm, for Crowe as Maximus (Gladiator):

Pharsalia, Book V:
The Oracle, the Mutiny, the Storm

As background listening, one possibility is Sinatra’s classic “Three Coins”:

“Three hearts in the fountain,
Each heart longing for its home.
There they lie in the fountain
Somewhere in the heart of Rome.*” 

Personally, though, I prefer, as a tribute to author Joan Didion (who also wrote of coins and the Book of Transformations), the even more classic Sinatra ballad

Angel Eyes.”

 * Horace leads to “Acroceraunian shoals,” which leads to Palaeste, which leads to Pharsalia and to the heart of Rome.  (With a nod to my high school Latin teacher, the late great John Stachowiak.)

Friday, November 14, 2003

Friday November 14, 2003

Filed under: General — Tags: — m759 @ 2:56 AM

Philip K. Dick Meets Joan Didion

From the ending of
The Man in the High Castle:

Juliana said, “I wonder why the oracle would write a novel. Did you ever think of asking it that?” ….

“You may say the question aloud,” Hawthorne said. “We have no secrets here.”

Juliana said, “Oracle, why did you write The Grasshopper Lies Heavy? What are we supposed to learn?”

“You have a disconcertingly superstitious way of phrasing your question,” Hawthorne said. But he had squatted down to witness the coin throwing. “Go ahead,” he said; he handed her three Chinese brass coins with holes in the center. “I generally use these.”

She began throwing the coins; she felt calm and very much herself. Hawthorne wrote down her lines for her. When she had thrown the coins six times, he gazed down and said:

“Sun at the top. Tui at the bottom. Empty in the center.”

IMAGE- Hexagram 61

“Do you know what hexagram that is?” she said. “Without using the chart?”

“Yes,” Hawthorne said.

“It’s Chung Fu,” Juliana said. “Inner Truth. I know without using the chart, too. And I know what it means.”

From the ending of
Play It As It Lays:

I lie here in the sunlight, watch the hummingbird.  This morning I threw the coins in the swimming pool, and they gleamed and turned in the water in such a way that I was almost moved to read them.  I refrained.

One thing in my defense, not that it matters.  I know something Carter never knew, or Helene, or maybe you.  I know what “nothing” means, and keep on playing.

Why, BZ would say.

Why not, I say.

Sunday, July 13, 2003

Sunday July 13, 2003

Filed under: General — m759 @ 6:13 AM

Ground Zero

Today’s birthday: Harrison Ford is 61.

             From The Gag

Seven – Eleven Dice 

Throw a seven or eleven every time. Set consists of a pair of regular dice and another set that can’t miss. A product of the S. S. Adams Company. Make your friends and family laugh with this great prank!

 New York State Lottery:

7-11 Evening Number: 000.

From the conclusion of
Joan Didion’s 1970 novel
Play It As It Lays: 

“I know what ‘nothing’ means,
and keep on playing.”

From a review of the 1970 film Zabriskie Point:

“The real star of Zabriskie Point… is the desolate, parched-white landscape of Death Valley….”

For Harrison Ford and Zabriskie Point, see

Harrison Ford – Le Site En Français

The Harrison Ford of the 1970 film Zabriskie Point and the “Harrison Porter” of the 1970 novel Play It As It Lays may not be completely unrelated.

For the religious significance of the names “Porter” and “BZ” in Play It As It Lays, see both the devilish site

A Wake-Macbeth Intertext:

“Both ‘porter’ and ‘belzey babble’ operate as textual ‘grafts’ and ‘hinges’ …”

and the Princeton site

Macbeth, Act II, Scene 3

{Enter a Porter. Knocking within}

PORTER:
1. Here’s a knocking indeed!
    If a man were porter
2. of hell-gate he should have old
    turning the key.{Knock within}
3. Knock, knock, knock. Who’s there,
    i’ th’ name of
4. Beelzebub?

Friday, June 13, 2003

Friday June 13, 2003

Filed under: General,Geometry — m759 @ 3:17 PM

Born on this date:
William Butler Yeats.

“Surely some revelation
  is at hand” — W. B. Yeats

Behold a Pale Horse:
A link in memory of Gregory Peck.

In Slouching Towards Bethlehem, Joan Didion wrote that

“The oral history of Los Angeles
is written in piano bars.”

Today’s site music, a piano rendition of “Speak Low,” from “One Touch of Venus,” was suggested by

  • the “black triangle” theme of Wednesday’s entry and by
  • the name “Amy Hollywood.” 

Ms. Hollywood has an essay in the April 2003 Princeton journal Theology Today.

My own theological interests (besides those expressed in the “black triangle” link above) are much closer to those in a 2001 First Things essay, The End of Endings

 Washington Square Press paperback, 1981, page 222

Wednesday, January 8, 2003

Wednesday January 8, 2003

Filed under: General — m759 @ 11:59 PM

Work in Progress

From the website “Conrad Hall Looks Back and Forward to a Work in Progress” on a cinematographer who died on Jan. 4, 2003 (see today’s earlier entry):

“Hall concentrated on writing an original script and another based on Wild Palms, a William Faulkner novel.  He was determined to direct his own films based on those scripts.  Hall explained that just once in his life he wanted to control the process of making a film from beginning to end.  It’s still a work in progress….

If he discovered Aladdin’s magic lantern, and had only one wish which could be granted, Hall says he would use it to bring Wild Palms to the screen.”

Crazy Protestant Drunk 

An Amazon.com review of Faulkner’s novella Wild Palms:

***** “A Great Introduction to Faulkner”

Reviewer: Stephen M. Bauer from Hazlet, N.J., July 7, 2002 —

I love this guy Faulkner. I read another half chapter of The Wild Palms on the train. Never read anything by him before.

Faulkner’s characters don’t sit around and examine their navel. They just Do. Yes act on their passions they Do. His characters are not beautiful people. They have scars, injuries, poverty, depraved morals, injustices, suffering upon suffering. What makes The Wild Palms beautiful is the passion of people living life right on the bone.

A married woman is planning on abandoning her husband and two kids and running away with another man. The other man asks her what about her two kids. On page 41, she answers, “I know the answer to that and I know that I cant change that answer and I dont think I can change me because the second time I ever saw you I learned what I had read in books but I never had actually believed: that love and suffering are the same thing and that the value of love is the sum of what you have to pay for it and anytime you get it cheap you have cheated yourself.” No Catholic saint-mystic ever said it better. Pretty good for a crazy Protestant drunk.


“The oral history of Los Angeles
is written in piano bars.” 
Joan Didion in Slouching Towards Bethlehem

Tonight’s site music, “Long Ago and Far Away,” by Jerome Kern (with lyrics, including “Aladdin’s lamp,” by Ira Gershwin) is from the 1944 Rita Hayworth film “Cover Girl.”  It was featured in the 1987 film “Someone to Love,” the final performance (on film) of Orson Welles.

 See also “For the Green Lady of Perelandra,
from the City of Angels,” my entry of December 21, 2002.

Saturday, December 21, 2002

Saturday December 21, 2002

Filed under: General — m759 @ 11:59 PM

For the Green Lady
of
Perelandra,
from the City of Angels

“The oral history of Los Angeles
is written in piano bars.” 
Joan Didion in Slouching Towards Bethlehem

Tonight’s midnight music in the garden of good and evil is a shamelessly romantic classic from a site titled simply Piano Bar.

De Rêve En Rêverie
(Lyrics by Eddy Marnay)

Tu es le pianiste
Et moi je suis ton encore.
Un feu de joie pour deux
Tombe sur nous d’un ciel amoureux.
Toi, toi qui m’as tout appris
Moi, dans l’ombre de ta vie
Je vis,
Je vis de rêve
En rêverie. 

 Washington Square Press paperback, 1981, page 222 

Friday, December 20, 2002

Friday December 20, 2002

Filed under: General — m759 @ 6:06 PM

Last-Minute Shopping

In celebration of today’s nationwide opening of Martin Scorsese’s “Gangs of New York” —


© Orion Pictures

Ed Harris in
State of Grace

  
  Xmas Special

See also my Sermon for St. Patrick’s Day

This contains the following metaphysical observation from Mark Helprin’s novel Winter’s Tale:

“Nothing is random.”

For those who, like the protagonist of Joan Didion’s

Play It As It Lays,

feel that they “know what nothing means,” I recommend the following readings:

From Peter Goldman’s essay

Christian Mystery and Responsibility:
Gnosticism in Derrida’s The Gift of Death

“Derrida’s description of Christian mystery implies this hidden demonic and violent dimension:

The gift made to me by God as he holds me in his gaze and in his hand while remaining inaccessible to me, the terribly dissymmetrical gift of the mysterium tremendum only allows me to respond and only rouses me to the responsibility it gives me by making a gift of death, giving the secret of death, a new experience of death. (33)”

The above-mentioned sermon is a meditation on randomness and page numbers, focusing on page 265 in particular.

On page 265 of Finnegans Wake, by James Joyce,  we find the following remark:

“Googlaa pluplu.” 

Following Joyce’s instructions, and entering “pluplu” in the Google search engine, we find the following:

“Datura is a delusional drug rather than a hallucinatory one. You don’t see patterns, trails, or any cool visual effects; you just actually believe in things that aren’t there….  I remember holding a glass for a while–but when I raised it to my mouth to take a drink, my fingers closed around nothingness because there was no glass there….

Using datura is the closest I’ve ever come to death…. Of all the drugs I’ve taken, this is the one that I’d be too scared to ever take again.”

PluPlu, August 4, 2000

 
For those who don’t need AA, perhaps the offer of Ed Harris in the classic study of gangs of New York, “State of Grace,” is an offer of somewhat safer holiday cheer that should not be refused.

Thursday, December 19, 2002

Thursday December 19, 2002

Filed under: General — Tags: — m759 @ 4:07 AM

ART WARS:

Bach at Heaven’s Gate

From a weblog entry of Friday, December 13, 2002:

Divine Comedy

Joan Didion and her husband
John Gregory Dunne
(author of
The Studio and Monster
wrote the screenplays for
the 1976 version of “A Star is Born”
and the similarly plotted 1996 film
Up Close and Personal.”

If the incomparable Max Bialystock 
were to remake the latter, he might retitle it
Distant and Impersonal.”
A Google search on this phrase suggests
a plot outline for Mel Brooks & Co.

From The Hollywood Reporter:

Producer Sidney Glazier dies
Dec. 18, 2002

Academy Award-winning producer
Sidney Glazier died early Saturday morning
[Dec. 14, 2002] of natural causes
at his home in Bennington, Vt. He was 86.
Glazier… is best known for producing
the 1968 film “The Producers.”
That film, which has since become a
Tony Award-winning Broadway play,
also marked comedian Mel Brooks’
directing debut.

In addition to “The Producers,”
Glazier produced…
the 1973 television drama “Catholics.”
[Based on a novel by Brian Moore]

His nephew is “Scrooged” screenwriter
Mitch Glazer.

(Josh Spector)

Recommended reading —

FINAL CUT:

Art, Money, and Ego in the Making of
“Heaven’s Gate,”
the Film that Sank United Artists,

Second Edition,
by Steven Bach

From Newmarket Press:

Steven Bach was the senior vice-president and head of worldwide production for United Artists at the time of the filming of Heaven’s Gate…. Apart from the director and the producer, Bach was the only person to witness the evolution of Heaven’s Gate from beginning to end.”

See also my journal entry
“Back to Bach”
of 1:44 a.m. EST
Saturday, December 14, 2002.

Friday, December 13, 2002

Friday December 13, 2002

Filed under: General — m759 @ 5:24 PM

ART WARS:
Shall we read? — The sequel

Two stories related to my recent entries on the death of Stan Rice (Sequel, 12/11/02) and the career of Jodie Foster (Rhyme Scheme, 12/13/02)  —

From BBC News World Edition,
Thursday, 12 December, 2002, 15:34 GMT
 

Entertainment Section

  • Poet Stan Rice dies

    Stan Rice, the poet, painter and husband of author Anne Rice, has died of brain cancer at the age of 60….

    He met his wife, the author of the Vampire Chronicles, when the pair studied journalism together.

  • Abba hit tops dance music poll

    Dancing Queen by Abba has been voted the top dancefloor tune of all time, according to viewers of cable music channel VH1.

That’s Entertainment!

See also my entry of December 5, 2002,
Key (for Joan Didion’s birthday):

I faced myself that day
with the nonplused apprehension
of someone who has come across a vampire
and has no crucifix in hand.

Joan Didion, “On Self-Respect,”
in Slouching Towards Bethlehem

Divine Comedy

Didion and her husand John Gregory Dunne
(author of The Studio and Monster
wrote the screenplays for
the 1976 version of “A Star is Born”
and the similarly plotted 1996 film
Up Close and Personal.”

If the incomparable Max Bialystock 
were to remake the latter, he might retitle it
Distant and Impersonal.”
A Google search on this phrase suggests
a plot outline for Mel Brooks & Co. 

Thursday, December 12, 2002

Thursday December 12, 2002

Filed under: General — m759 @ 2:14 PM

Play It

From a Kol Nidre sermon:

“…in every generation 36 righteous
greet the Shechinah,
   the Divine Presence…” 

A scene at the Sands in Las Vegas,
from Play It As It Lays,
by Joan Didion:

“What do you think,”
Maria could hear
one of the men saying….

“Thirty-six,” the girl said. 
“But a good thirty-six.”

For the rest of the time
Maria was in Las Vegas
she wore dark glasses.
She did not decide to
stay in Vegas: she only
failed to leave.

Today’s site music, in honor of
Sinatra’s birthday, is “Angel Eyes.”

Thursday, December 5, 2002

Thursday December 5, 2002

Filed under: General — m759 @ 12:00 PM

Key

Today is Joan Didion’s birthday.  It is also the date that the first Phi Beta Kappa chapter was formed, at the College of William and Mary.

A reading for today, from a web page called Respect:

“In her book Slouching Toward Bethlehem Didion writes about being a student in college. She says she expected to be voted into Phi Beta Kappa but discovered she didn’t have the grades for it. She says: ‘I had somehow thought myself [as being] exempt from the cause-effect relationships which hampered others.’ But, Didion continues:

Although even the humorless nineteen-year-old that I was must have recognized that the situation lacked tragic stature, the day that I did not make Phi Beta Kappa nonetheless marked the end of something, and innocence may well be the word for it. I lost the conviction that lights would always turn green for me, the pleasant certainty that those rather passive virtues which had won me approval as a child automatically guaranteed me not only Phi Beta Kappa keys but happiness, honor, and the love of a good man. I lost a certain touching faith in the totem power of good manners, clean hair, and proven competence on the Stanford-Binet scale. To such doubtful amulets had my self-respect been pinned, and I faced myself that day with the nonplused apprehension of someone who has come across a vampire and has no crucifix in hand.

What Joan Didion discovered in the wake of this incident was that self-respect, although it was of importance, had to come from something inside her, rather than from the approval of others. She says she learned that self-respect has to do with ‘a separate peace, a private reconciliation,’ and at the heart of it is a willingness to accept responsibility for one’s own life, whatever its rewards or lack of them. Didion says:

… people with self-respect have the courage of their mistakes. They know the price of things…. People with self-respect exhibit a certain toughness, a kind of moral nerve; they display what was once called character, a quality which, although approved in the abstract, sometimes loses ground to other, more instantly negotiable virtues.

— Comments by David Sammons

For more of Didion’s essay, click here.

Saturday, October 12, 2002

Saturday October 12, 2002

Filed under: General — Tags: — m759 @ 3:26 PM

She's a…
Twentieth Century Fox

Columbus Day
Dinner Dance

Date: Sat Oct 12, 2002
Time: 6:30pm-???
Italian American Club
of Southern Nevada

2333 East Sahara Ave.,
Las Vegas, NV 89104
Live music by Boyd Culter's 5-Piece band, prime rib dinner, and dancing at the Italian-American Club of Southern Nevada. All are welcome to attend. Tickets are only $25 and must be purchased in advance.
Cost: $25.00
For More information
Call 457-3866  or visit  
Web Site

In honor of this dance, of Columbus, and of Joan Didion, this site's music for the weekend is "Spinning Wheel."  For the relevance of this music, see Chapter 65 (set in Las Vegas) of Didion's 1970 novel Play It As It Lays, which, taken by itself, is one of the greatest short stories of the twentieth century.

The photograph of Didion on the back cover of Play It (taken when she was about 36) is one of the most striking combinations of beauty and intelligence that I have ever seen.

She's the queen of cool
And she's the lady who waits.
The Doors, "Twentieth Century Fox," Jan. 1967

Play It As It Lays is of philosophical as well as socio-literary interest; it tells of a young actress's struggles with Hollywood nihilism.  For related material, see The Studio by Didion's husband, John Gregory Dunne.  A review of Dunne's book:

"Not since F. Scott Fitzgerald and Nathanael West has anyone done Hollywood better."

High praise indeed.

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