Sunday, January 16, 2011

The Mind Spider*

Filed under: General — Tags: — m759 @ 2:29 PM

On a conference at the New School for Social Research on Friday and Saturday, December 3rd and 4th, 2010—

"This conference is part of the early stages in the formation of a lexicon of political concepts. It will be the 5th in a series of conferences started in Tel Aviv University. The project is guided by one formal principle: we pose the Socratic question "what is x?", and by one theatrical principle: the concepts defined should be relevant to political thought…."

[The conference is not unrelated to the New York Times  philosophy series "The Stone." Connoisseurs of coincidence— or, as Pynchon would have it, "chums of chance"— may read the conclusion of this series, titled "Stoned," in the light of the death on December 26th (St. Stephen's Day) of Matthew Lipman, creator of the "philosophy for children" movement. Many New York Times  readers will, of course, be ignorant of the death by stoning of St. Stephen


   Beloit College Nuremberg Chronicle

commemorated on December 26th. They should study Acts of the ApostlesChapter  6 and Chapter 7.]

Meanwhile, in this  journal—

Click to enlarge


For some background on the Dec. 4th link to "Damnation Morning," see "Why Me?"

For some political background, see "Bright Star"+"Dark Lady" in this journal.

* The title refers to a story by Fritz Leiber.

Friday, June 4, 2010

For the Mothers of Invention

Filed under: General — Tags: — m759 @ 10:00 AM

Today is Commencement Day at MIT.

A song by Joni—

Image-- 'You Turn Me On, I'm a Radio' lyrics by Joni Mitchell

"Who needs the static?" Well might you ask, Joni.

"The static boxes were an invention of Grandfather…."

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Language Game

Filed under: General — Tags: — m759 @ 8:00 AM

The above images are from a prequel (March 29, 2013)
to 'Nauts  (March 26, 2006.)

See also Spider Mother,  Gamer Post,  and Spider Tale.

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Alma Maman

Filed under: General — m759 @ 1:16 PM

"Almost 9 meters tall, Maman  is one of the most ambitious
of a series of sculptures by Bourgeois that take as their subject
the spider, a motif that first appeared in several of the artist's
drawings in the 1940s and came to assume a central place in
her work during the 1990s. Intended as a tribute to her mother,
who was a weaver, Bourgeois's spiders are highly contradictory
as emblems of maternity: they suggest both protector and predator—
the silk of a spider is used both to construct cocoons and to bind prey—
and embody both strength and fragility."

A Guggenheim Bilbao page

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Compare and Contrast

Filed under: General,Geometry — Tags: , , , — m759 @ 1:00 PM

From The Atlantic , September 2017 issue, online —
"How America Lost Its Mind," by former Harvard Lampoon  
writer Kurt Andersen

The Atlantic 's embedded Google ad for "Quantum Space Elements"
is, by the way, completely unrelated to similar-sounding work on 
models of space in finite geometry (cf. tsimtsum . . .

Friday, August 11, 2017

Symmetry’s Lifeboat

Filed under: General,Geometry — Tags: , , — m759 @ 9:16 PM

A post suggested by the word tzimtzum  (see Wednesday)
or tsimtsum  (see this morning) —

Lifeboat from the Tsimtsum  in Life of Pi  —

Another sort of tsimtsum, contracting infinite space to a finite space —

IMAGE- Desargues's theorem in light of Galois geometry

Monday, February 29, 2016

Film Philosophy

Filed under: General — Tags: — m759 @ 11:29 AM

"Dreams can easily and unexpectedly turn into nightmares."

Oscar speech by J. J. Abrams last night

Related material —

"The static boxes were an invention of Grandfather Horn. They generated a tiny cloud of meaningless brain waves. Without such individual thought-screens, there was too much danger of complete loss of individual personality— once Grandfather Horn had 'become' his infant daughter as well as himself for several hours and the unfledged mind had come close to being permanently lost in its own subconscious. The static boxes provided a mental wall behind which a mind could safely grow and function, similar to the wall by which ordinary minds are apparently always enclosed."

— "The Mind Spider," by Fritz Leiber

Monday, September 23, 2013

For Danny Boy

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

"… It raced down the gossamer curtain of Its webbing,
a nightmare Spider from beyond time and space,
a Spider from beyond the fevered imaginings of
whatever inmates may live in the deepest depths of hell.
No, Bill thought coldly, not a Spider either, not really,
but this shape isn’t one It picked out of our minds;
it’s just the closest our minds can come to
        (the deadlights)
        whatever It really is.

Stephen King, It  (Sept. 15, 1986)

Related horror by Fritz Leiber—

"The Mind Spider" and "Damnation Morning."

Related fiction by Mark Helprin—

In Sunlight and in Shadow .

As a perceptive reviewer has noted, Helprin's title is
almost  a verse from the song "Danny Boy."

See, too, the Danny Boy of The Shining ,
who returns tomorrow in a sequel, Doctor Sleep .

"The summer's gone and all the roses falling…."

Wednesday, May 8, 2013


Filed under: General — Tags: — m759 @ 3:00 AM

From February 24, 2005:

The image “http://www.log24.com/log/pix05/050224-Symbols.gif” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.

The above three-part image may be viewed as a tribute to
Jerusalem Day (today), to Saul Bass, or to Spider Jerusalem.

(See related posts and Damnation Morning.)

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Literary Symbolism

Filed under: General — Tags: — m759 @ 2:45 AM

From a transcript of the Charlize Theron film
"The Astronaut's Wife"—

Schoolchildren —

"Down came the rain,
and washed the spider out,
out came the sun,
and dried up all the rain,
and the itsy-bitsy spider
climbed up the spout again."

See also The Patterning Windows.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Damnation Morning (continued)

Filed under: General — Tags: — m759 @ 5:24 AM

Background— Why Me? and the Fritz Leiber story "Damnation Morning."

The story, about the afterlife of a dead drunk, contains an intriguing dark lady.

Related material — Search for the Spider Woman.

See also Julie Taymor in an interview published last Dec. 12 —

“I’ve got two Broadway shows, a feature film, and Mozart,’’ she said.
“It’s a very interesting place to be and to be able to move back and forth,
but at a certain point you have to be able to step outside and see,’’
and here she dropped her voice to a tranquil whisper, “it’s just theater.
It’s all theater. It’s all theater. The whole thing is theater.’’

— and search for Taymor + Spider in this journal.

Happy Shakespeare's Birthday.

Friday, January 28, 2011


Filed under: General — m759 @ 8:22 AM

From this morning's New York Times

 "On November 12th and 13th, 2010,
  a meeting of Roman Catholic bishops
  convened to respond to the growing demand
  for exorcism rites."
  — Trailer for the film "The Rite," which opens today


Meanwhile, in this  journal on November 12th and 13th, 2010… Award Show Story.

Related material — God, Time, Hopkins and a Faustian link from November 12th.

Update of 9:57 AM 1/28— The Faustian link suggests readings from
James G. Hart's The Person and the Common Life  (Kluwer Academic, 1992).

See pages 1,  2,  3,  4,  and  5, and note especially the spider metaphor on page 5 —


Friday, June 4, 2010

A Better Story

Filed under: General,Geometry — Tags: , — m759 @ 7:59 AM

Continued from May 8
(Feast of Saint Robert Heinlein)

“Wells and trees were dedicated to saints.  But the offerings at many wells and trees were to something other than the saint; had it not been so they would not have been, as we find they often were, forbidden.  Within this double and intertwined life existed those other capacities, of which we know more now, but of which we still know little– clairvoyance, clairaudience, foresight, telepathy.”

— Charles Williams, Witchcraft, Faber and Faber, London, 1941

Why "Saint" Robert? See his accurate depiction of evil– the Eater of Souls in Glory Road.

For more on Williams's "other capacities," see Heinlein's story "Lost Legacy."

A related story– Fritz Leiber's "The Mind Spider." An excerpt:

The conference—it was much more a hyper-intimate

"My static box bugged out for a few ticks this morning,"
Evelyn remarked in the course of talking over the
trivia of the past twenty-four hours.

The static boxes were an invention of Grandfather
Horn. They generated a tiny cloud of meaningless brain
waves. Without such individual thought-screens, there was
too much danger of complete loss of individual personality

—once Grandfather Horn had "become" his infant daughter
as well as himself for several hours and the unfledged
mind had come close to being permanently lost in its own
subconscious. The static boxes provided a mental wall be-
– hind which a mind could safely grow and function, similar
to the wall by which ordinary minds are apparently
always enclosed.

In spite of the boxes, the Horns shared thoughts and
emotions to an amazing degree. Their mental togetherness
was as real and as mysterious—and as incredible—as
thought itself . . . and thought is the original angel-cloud
dancing on the head of a pin. Their present conference
was as warm and intimate and tart as any actual family
gathering in one actual room around one actual table.
Five minds, joined together in the vast mental darkness
that shrouds all minds. Five minds hugged together for
comfort and safety in the infinite mental loneliness that
pervades the cosmos.

Evelyn continued, "Your boxes were all working, of
course, so I couldn't get your thoughts—just the blurs of
your boxes like little old dark grey stars. But this time
if gave me a funny uncomfortable feeling, like a spider
Crawling down my—Grayl! Don't feel so wildly! What
Is it?”

Then… just as Grayl started to think her answer…
something crept from the vast mental darkness and infinite
cosmic loneliness surrounding the five minds of the

Grayl was the first to notice. Her panicky thought had
ttie curling too-keen edge of hysteria. "There are six of
us now! There should only be five, but there are six.
Count! Count, I tell you! Six!"

To Mort it seemed that a gigantic spider was racing
across the web of their thoughts….

See also this journal on May 30– "720 in the Book"– and on May 31– "Memorial for Galois."

("Obnoxious nerds"— a phrase Martin Gardner recently applied to Galois— will note that 720 (= 6!) is one possible result of obeying Leiber's command "Count! Count, I tell you! Six!")

Monday, May 31, 2010

Memorial for Galois

Filed under: General,Geometry — m759 @ 7:16 PM

… and for Louise Bourgeois

Image-- Louise Bourgeois, sculptor of giant spiders, dies at 98

"The épateurs  were as boring as the bourgeois,
two halves of one dreariness."

— D. H. Lawrence, The Plumed Serpent

Image-- Google 5/31/2010 search for 'eightfold geometry' yields page on mother goddess as spider figure, also pages on some actual geometry

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Thursday October 30, 2008

Filed under: General — m759 @ 5:01 AM
From the Mountaintop

Katherine Neville, author of perhaps the greatest bad novel of the twentieth century, The Eight, has now graced a new century with her sequel, titled The Fire. An excerpt:

“Our family lodge had been built at about this same period in the prior century, by neighboring tribes, for my great-great-grandmother, a pioneering mountain lass. Constructed of hand-hewn rock and massive tree trunks chinked together, it was a huge log cabin that was shaped like an octagon– patterned after a hogan or sweat lodge– with many-paned windows facing in each cardinal direction, like a vast, architectural compass rose.
From here on the mountaintop, fourteen thousand feet atop the Colorado Plateau, I could see the vast, billowing sea of three-mile-high mountain peaks, licked by the rosy morning light. On a clear day like this, I could see all the way to Mount Hesperus– which the Diné call Dibé Nitsaa: Black Mountain. One of the four sacred mountains created by First Man and First Woman.

Together with Sisnaajinii, white mountain (Mt. Blanca) in the east; Tsoodzil, blue mountain (Mt. Taylor) in the south, and Dook’o’osliid, yellow mountain (San Francisco Peaks) in the west, these four marked out the four corners of Dinétah– ‘Home of the Diné,’ as the Navajo call themselves.

And they pointed as well to the high plateau I was standing on: Four Corners, the only place in the U.S. where four states– Colorado, Utah, New Mexico, and Arizona– come together at right angles to form a cross.”

Related material
(Oct. 14, 2004):

The Eight

Lest the reader of the previous entry mistakenly take Katherine Neville’s book The Eight more seriously than Fritz Leiber’s greatly superior writings on eightness, here are two classic interpretations of Leiber’s “spider” or “double cross” symbol:

Greek: The Four Elements

The 4 elements and
the 4 qualities
(On Generation and
Corruption, II, 3

Chinese: The Eight Trigrams

Richard Wilhelm:
The 8 trigrams
the I Ching

The eight-rayed star may be taken
as representing what is known
in philosophy as a “universal.”

See also

The Divine Universals,

Plato, Pegasus, and the Evening Star,

A Little Extra Reading, and

Quine in Purgatory.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Monday October 29, 2007

Filed under: General — m759 @ 7:20 AM
Home from Home

On Anthony Hopkins’s new film:

“At one point during ‘Slipstream,’ Hopkins’s character stumbles upon a Dolly Parton impersonator while Parton’s wonderful song, ‘Coat of Many Colors,’ plays on the soundtrack.  I told Hopkins that I thought he used the tune– which is about a multi-hued coat that little Dolly’s grandmother made for her out of random pieces of cloth when the future superstar’s family was dirt poor– as a sort of commentary on the patchwork structure of ‘Slipstream’ itself.  Hopkins smiled broadly and his eyes lit up.  Yes, he said, that’s exactly what he was doing.  He said he even tried to get Parton to appear in the movie, but she was booked and couldn’t do it.”

—  Paul Tatara, Oct. 22, 2007

Anthony Hopkins:

“Our existence is beyond understanding.  Nobody has an answer.  I sense that life is such a mystery.  To me, God is time.”

Related material:

“Have you ever worried about your memory, because it doesn’t seem to recall exactly the same past from one day to the next? Have you ever thought that the whole universe might be a crazy, mixed-up dream? If you have, then you’ve had hints of the Change War…

Spider and Snake on cover of Fritz Leiber's novel Big Time

It’s been going on for a billion years and it will last another billion or so. Up and down the timeline, the two sides– ‘Spiders’ and ‘Snakes’– battle endlessly to change the future and the past. Our lives, our memories, are their battleground. And in the midst of the war is the Place, outside space and time, where Greta Forzane and the other Entertainers provide solace and r-&-r for tired time warriors.”

— Publisher’s description of Fritz Leiber’s Big Time.

Dialogue from “Slipstream”

“My God, this place must be
a million years old!”

Anthony Hopkins at Dolly's Little Diner in Slipstream

“Dolly’s Little Diner–
Home from Home”


Country Star
Porter Wagoner, 80, Dies

Wallace Stevens,
“Country Words”–

“What is it that my feeling seeks?
I know from all the things it touched
And left beside and left behind.
It wants the diamond pivot bright.”

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Thursday February 24, 2005

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

Religious symbols that might
have been appropriate for
February 20, 21, and 22:

The image “http://www.log24.com/log/pix05/050224-Symbols.gif” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.

Recall that this is Black History Month,
and that the octagon has a special
religious significance (here and here).

The second and third symbols
are derived from the first symbol,
which is itself derived from
a well-known commandment on
the New York Times obituary page:

The image “http://log24.com/log/pix05/050224-Enlarge.gif” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Tuesday February 22, 2005

Filed under: General — Tags: — m759 @ 12:48 PM
A Shot at Redemption

The image “http://www.log24.com/log/pix05/050222-T2.jpg” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.
Hunter S. Thompson, photos
from The New York Times

Excerpt from Fritz Leiber's
"Damnation Morning," 1959:

"Time traveling, which is not quite the good clean boyish fun it's cracked up to be, started for me when this woman with the sigil on her forehead looked in on me from the open doorway of the hotel bedroom where I'd hidden myself and the bottles and asked me, 'Look, Buster, do you want to live?'"

"I need a photo-opportunity,
I want a shot at redemption.
Don't want to end up a cartoon
In a cartoon graveyard."

See also

Monday, February 21, 2005

Monday February 21, 2005

Filed under: General — Tags: — m759 @ 1:09 AM

The image “http://www.log24.com/log/pix05/050221-Spider.jpg” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.


"You are Spider Jerusalem.

Spider is THE journalist of the future. He smokes, he does drugs, and he kicks ass. The drugs are going to eventually kill him but not before he gets his way. And his way is the demise of the failed American dream. Although full of hate, he cares about his city. All he wants to bring the world is truth. Spider Jerusalem, conscience of the City. Frightening thought, but he's the only one we've got."

What Gritty No Nonsense Comic Book Character are You? brought to you by Quizilla

The following references to the Fritz Leiber story "Damnation Morning" seem relevant:

Sunday, February 20, 2005

Sunday February 20, 2005

Filed under: General — Tags: , — m759 @ 11:47 PM

Hunter Thompson
commits suicide

"Fear and Loathing" author dead at 67


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