Saturday, August 18, 2012

Nightmare Alley

Filed under: General — m759 @ 11:00 PM

"History instructs. History also has
a very dark sense of humor.
Irish history, especially."

John Kelly in The Daily Beast  this morning

See also Joyce's Nightmare and
Nightmare Alley in this journal.

Monday, February 10, 2020

Carney Art

Filed under: General — Tags: — m759 @ 1:56 PM

"Address the ball." — Art Carney in
"The Honeymooners," 1955.

See as well "Nightmare Alley."

Saturday, March 31, 2018


Filed under: General,Geometry — Tags: — m759 @ 2:56 PM

“The greatest obstacle to discovery
is not ignorance —
it is the illusion of knowledge.”

— Daniel J. Boorstin,
Librarian of Congress,
quoted here in 2006.

Related material —

Remarks on Rubik’s Cube from June 13, 2014 and . . .

See as well a different Gresham, author of Nightmare Alley ,
and Log24 posts on that book and the film of the same name .

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Bad Dreams

Filed under: General — m759 @ 12:00 PM

"… were it not that I have bad dreams" — Hamlet

See references in this journal to
"Nightmare Alley" and "Damnation Morning."

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Drinking Class

Filed under: General — Tags: — m759 @ 9:34 PM

A scene from "Nightmare Alley" (1947)

in memory of Coleen Gray, who reportedly died yesterday at 92.

"Everybody put your lights up!" 

Brett Eldredge on TV tonight (tape of CMA Music Festival)

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Colorful Song

Filed under: General,Geometry — Tags: — m759 @ 8:40 PM

For geeks* —

Domain, Domain on the Range , "

where Domain = the Galois tesseract  and
Range = the four-element Galois field.

This post was suggested by the previous post,
by a Log24 search for Knight + Move, and by
the phrase "discouraging words" found in that search.

* A term from the 1947 film "Nightmare Alley."

Saturday, October 22, 2011


Filed under: General — m759 @ 8:48 AM

An excerpt from "Araby," a short story by James Joyce—

At nine o'clock I heard my uncle's latchkey in the hall door. I heard him talking to himself and heard the hallstand rocking when it had received the weight of his overcoat. I could interpret these signs. When he was midway through his dinner I asked him to give me the money to go to the bazaar. He had forgotten.

'The people are in bed and after their first sleep now,' he said.

I did not smile. My aunt said to him energetically:

'Can't you give him the money and let him go? You've kept him late enough as it is.'

My uncle said he was very sorry he had forgotten. He said he believed in the old saying: 'All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.' He asked me where I was going and, when I told him a second time, he asked me did I know The Arab's Farewell to his Steed . When I left the kitchen he was about to recite the opening lines of the piece to my aunt.

For a rather viciously anti-Catholic commentary, see Wallace Gray's Notes.

Update of 9:26 AM Oct. 22—

This is the same Wallace Gray who was an authority on Joyce at Columbia University and died on December 21, 2001. I prefer a different Columbia University Joyce scholar— William York Tindall (scroll down after clicking), who died on Sept. 8, 1981.

See also, from midnight a year after the date of Gray's death, Nightmare Alley.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Tuesday June 17, 2008

Filed under: General — m759 @ 7:01 AM
Nightmare Alley

“History, Stephen said,
is a nightmare from which
I am trying to awake.”


Going to dark bed there was a square round Sinbad the Sailor roc’s auk’s egg in the night of the bed of all the auks of the rocs of Darkinbad the Brightdayler.


Black disc from end of Ch. 17 in Ulysses

Ulysses, conclusion of Chapter 17

When in Rome

His manner was all charm
and grace; pure cafe society….

He purred a chuckle.
“My place. If you want to come,
I’ll show you.”

“Love to. The Luogo Nero?
The Black Place?”

“That’s what the locals call it.
It’s really Buoco Nero,
the Black Hole.”

Psychoshop, by
Alfred Bester and Roger Zelazny

In memory of
special effects wizard
Stan Winston,
who died Sunday at 62:


“The energetic Winston
was always looking
 to the next project.”

— Today’s LA Times,
story by
Dennis McLellan

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Wednesday December 26, 2007

Filed under: General — m759 @ 12:00 PM
A Wonderful Life

Part I:
Language Games

on December 19:


See also the noir entry on
Nightmare Alley” for
Winter Solstice 2002,
as well as a solstice-related
commentary on I Ching
Hexagram 41, Decrease.

Part II:

Language Game
on Christmas Day

Pennsylvania Lottery
December 25, 2007:

PA Lottery Christmas Day: Mid-day 041 and 2911, Evening 173 and 0666

Part III:
A Wonderful Life

The Pennsylvania Lottery on Christmas at mid-day paired the number of the I Ching Hexagram 41, “Decrease,” with the number 2911, which may be interpreted as a reference to I Chronicles 29:11

“Thine, O LORD is the greatness, and the power, and the glory, and the victory, and the majesty: for all that is in the heaven and in the earth is thine; thine is the kingdom, O LORD, and thou art exalted as head above all.”

This verse is sometimes cited as influencing the Protestant conclusion of the Lord’s Prayer:

“Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever” (Mt 6.13b; compare 1 Chr 29.11-13)….

This traditional epilogue to the Lord’s prayer protects the petition for the coming of the kingdom from being understood as an exorcism, which we derive from the Jewish prayer, the Kaddish, which belonged at the time to the synagogical liturgy.

World Alliance of Reformed Churches

The Pennsylvania Lottery on Christmas evening paired 173 with the beastly number 0666.  The latter number suggests that perhaps being “understood as an exorcism” might not, in this case, be such a bad thing. What, therefore, might “173” have to do with exorcism?  A search in the context of the phrase “language games” yields a reference to Wittgenstein’s Zettel, section 173:


From Charles L. Creegan, Wittgenstein and Kierkegaard:

Language-games give general guidelines of the application of language. Wittgenstein suggests that there are innumerably many language-games: innumerably many kinds of use of the components of language.24 The grammar of the language-game influences the possible relations of words, and things, within that game. But the players may modify the rules gradually. Some utterances within a given language-game are applications; others are ‘grammatical remarks’ or definitions of what is or should be possible. (Hence Wittgenstein’s remark, ‘Theology as grammar’25 – the grammar of religion.)

The idea of the ‘form of life’ is a reminder about even more basic phenomena. It is clearly bound up with the idea of language. (Language and ‘form of life’ are explicitly connected in four of the five passages from the Investigations in which the term ‘form of life’ appears.) Just as grammar is subject to change through language-uses, so ‘form of life’ is subject to change through changes in language. (The Copernican revolution is a paradigm case of this.) Nevertheless, ‘form of life’ expresses a deeper level of ‘agreement.’ It is the level of ‘what has to be accepted, the given.’26 This is an agreement prior to agreement in opinions and decisions. Not everything can be doubted or judged at once.

This suggests that ‘form of life’ does not denote static phenomena of fixed scope. Rather, it serves to remind us of the general need for context in our activity of meaning. But the context of our meaning is a constantly changing mosaic involving both broad strokes and fine-grained distinctions.

The more commonly understood point of the ‘Private Language Argument’ – concerning the root of meaning in something public – comes into play here. But it is important to show just what public phenomenon Wittgenstein has in mind. He remarks: ‘Only in the stream of thought and life do words have meaning.’27

Investigations, sec. 23.
Investigations, sec. 373; compare Zettel, sec. 717.
Investigations, p. 226e.


Zettel, sec. 173. The thought is expressed many times in similar words.

And from an earlier chapter of Creegan:

The ‘possibility of religion’ manifested itself in considerable reading of religious works, and this in a person who chose his reading matter very carefully. Drury’s recollections include conversations about Thomas à Kempis, Samuel Johnson’s Prayers, Karl Barth, and, many times, the New Testament, which Wittgenstein had clearly read often and thought about.25 Wittgenstein had also thought about what it would mean to be a Christian. Some time during the 1930s, he remarked to Drury: ‘There is a sense in which you and I are both Christians.’26 In this context it is certainly worth noting that he had for a time said the Lord’s Prayer each day.27

Wittgenstein’s last words were: ‘Tell them I’ve had a wonderful life!’28

Drury (1981) ‘Conversations with Wittgenstein,’ in Ludwig Wittgenstein: Personal Recollections, pp. 112ff.
Drury, ‘Conversations,’ p. 130.
Drury, ‘Some notes,’ p. 109.
Reported by Mrs. Bevan, the wife of the doctor in whose house Wittgenstein was staying. Malcolm, Memoir, p. 81.

Part IV:

For more on the Christmas evening
number of the beast, see Dec. 3:
  “Santa’s Polar Opposite?” —

Did he who made the Lamb
make thee?

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Wednesday December 19, 2007

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

An entry in memory of
Dr. Joseph L. Henderson,
Jungian analyst, who died
on Nov. 17 at 104

(An obituary appears in
today’s New York Times.)

Some remarks by Dr. Henderson

The myth of the hero is the most common and the best known myth in the world… classical mythology… Greece and Rome… Middle Ages… Far East… contemporary primitive tribes. It also appears in dreams… obvious dramatic… profound… importance. P. 101

… structurally very similar… universal pattern… over and over again… a tale of… miraculous… humble birth… early proof of superhuman strength… rapid rise to prominence… triumphant struggle with the forces of evil… fallibility to the sin of pride (hybris)… and his fall through betrayal or a “heroic” sacrifice that ends in his death. P. 101

… another important characteristic… provides a clue… the early weakness… is balanced by… strong “tutelary” figures… who enable him to perform the superhuman tasks that he cannot accomplish unaided. Theseus had Poseidon… Perseus had Athena… Achilles had Cheiron… the wise centaur, as his tutor. P. 101 

And Stan Carlisle had
Dr. Lilith Ritter


See also the noir entry on
Nightmare Alley” for
Winter Solstice 2002,
as well as a solstice-related
commentary on I Ching
Hexagram 41, Decrease.

Related material:


Dr. Dyane N. Sherwood and
Dr. Joseph L. Henderson, authors
of Transformation of the Psyche
(Routledge, Nov. 7, 2003)

Dr. Henderson is said to
have been, in his youth,
a student of Thornton Wilder
as well as of Dr. Jung.

Wednesday, April 23, 2003

Wednesday April 23, 2003

Filed under: General — m759 @ 12:00 AM

Midnight in the Garden
of Good and Evil
on Shakespeare’s Birthday

Tony Scherman on an April 7, 1968, recording by Nina Simone:

“…nobody could telescope more emotion into a single, idiosyncratically turned syllable (listen to the way she says the word “Savannah” in her spoken intro to “Sunday in Savannah.” It breaks your heart — and she ain’t even singin’ yet!).”

See also the following entries on midnight in the garden:

Trinity, Oct. 25, 2002

Midnight in the Garden, Oct. 26, 2002

Point of No Return, Dec. 10, 2002

Culture Clash at Midnight, Dec. 11, 2002

Dead Poets Society, Dec. 13, 2002

For the Dark Lady, Dec. 18, 2002

Nightmare Alley, Dec. 21, 2002

For the Green Lady, Dec. 21, 2002

“With a little effort, anything can be shown to connect with anything else: existence is infinitely cross-referenced.”

Opening sentence of Martha Cooley’s The Archivist

Woe unto
them that
call evil
good, and
good evil;
that put
for light,
and light
for darkness

Isaiah 5:20



As she spoke about the Trees of Life and Death, I watched her…. 
The Archivist

The world
has gone
mad today
And good’s
bad today,

And black’s
white today,
And day’s
night today

Cole Porter



Saturday, December 21, 2002

Saturday December 21, 2002

Filed under: General — m759 @ 12:00 AM

Nightmare Alley

Tonight’s site music in the garden of good and evil is “Hooray for Hollywood,” with lyrics by Johnny Mercer:

Hooray for Hollywood.
You may be homely in your neighborhood,
But if you think you can be an actor,
see Mr. Factor,
he’d make a monkey look good.
Within a half an hour,
you look like Tyrone Power!
Hooray for Hollywood!


From Pif magazine:

Nightmare Alley (1947)
Directed by Edmund Goulding
Reviewed by Nick Burton

“Edmund Goulding’s film of William Lindsay Gresham’s 1946 novel Nightmare Alley may just be the great forgotten American film; it is certainly the darkest film that came from the Hollywood studio system in the ’40s….

A never better Tyrone Power stars as Stan Carlisle, a small-time carny shill….  Stan shills for mind reader Zeena…. The… pretty ‘electric girl’…   tells Stan that Zeena… had a ‘code’ for the mind-reading act… Stan… decides to seduce… Zeena in hopes of luring the code from her.”

The rest of this review is well worth reading, though less relevant to my present theme — that of my 

Sermon for St. Patrick’s Day,

which points out that the article on “nothing” is on page 265 of The Oxford Dictionary of Philosophy. (This is also the theme of yesterday’s journal entry “Last-Minute Shopping.”) Here is another work that prominently features “nothing” on page 265… As it happens, this is a web page describing a mind-reading act, titled simply

Page 265

“Imagine this: A spectator is invited to take a readable and 100% examinable, 400 page, 160,000 word novel, open it to any page and think of any word on that page. Without touching the book or approaching the spectator, you reveal the word in the simplest, most startlingly direct manner ever! It truly must be seen to be believed.

The ultimate any-word-on-any-page method that makes all other book tests obsolete….

All pages are different.

Nothing is written down.

There are no stooges of any kind. Everything may be examined….

 ‘Throw away your Key. This is direct mindreading at its best.'”

From Finnegans Wake, page 265:

“…the winnerful wonnerful wanders off, with hedges of ivy and

and bower of mistletoe….”


Mercer’s lyrics are from the 1937 film Hollywood Hotel.”  For a somewhat more in-depth look at Hollywood, hotels of this period, and mind-reading, see

Shining Forth.

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