Sunday, February 28, 2021
Saturday, February 27, 2021
According to Suetonius, Caligula had plans to make his favorite horse, Incitatus, a consul.
Why? Because he was insane and thought a horse was a man? Or because he was drunk on power and would enjoy seeing everyone else assiduously “not noticing” that the consul was a horse?
Something similar could be asked about the naked emperor in H. C. Andersen’s famous fable. Was he the most gullible man that ever lived — or was he just on a power trip?
And — but no, I’d better just stop here.
Friday, February 26, 2021
Give me my scallop shell of quiet,
My staff of faith to walk upon,
My scrip of joy, immortal diet,
My bottle of salvation
-- Sir Walter Raleigh, The Passionate Man's Pilgrimage
|Bring forth the mollusk, cast unto me|
Hey, little boy, whatcha got there?Kind sir, it's a mollusk I've found.Did you find it in the sandy ground?Does it emulate the ocean's sound?Yes, I found it on the groundEmulating the ocean's sound.Bring forth the mollusk, cast unto me.Let's be forever, let forever be free.Hey, little boy, come walk with me,And bring your newfound mollusk along.Does it speaketh of the Trinity?Can it gaze at the Sun with its wandering eye?Yes, it speaks of the Trinity,Casting light at the Sun with its wandering eye.Bring forth the mollusk, cast unto me.Let's be forever, let forever be free.You see, there are three things that spur the mollusk from the sand:The waking of all creatures that live on the land.And with just one faint glance back into the sea,The mollusk lingers with its wandering eye.
Saint Augustine of Hippo spent over 30 years working on his treatise De Trinitate, endeavoring to conceive an intelligible explanation for the mystery of the Trinity.He was walking by the seashore one day, contemplating and trying to understand the mystery of the Holy Trinity, when he saw a small boy running back and forth from the water to a spot on the seashore. The boy was using a seashell to carry the water from the ocean and place it into a small hole in the sand.The Bishop of Hippo approached him and asked, "Hey, little boy, whatcha got there?""I am trying to bring all the sea into this hole," the boy replied with a sweet smile."But that is impossible, my dear child. The hole cannot contain all that water," said Augustine.The boy paused in his work, stood up, looked into the eyes of the Saint, and replied, "It is no more impossible than what you are trying to do -- comprehend the immensity of the mystery of the Holy Trinity with your small intelligence."The Saint, taken aback by such a keen response from the child, turned his eyes from him for a short while. When he glanced down to ask him something else, the boy had vanished.
Thursday, February 25, 2021
Tuesday, February 23, 2021
Monday, February 22, 2021
- "1.8" -- the date of the Battle of New Orleans
- "foxes put the flowers on their feet to hide the sound of their footsteps" -- which makes them fox socks, not gloves
- "it is very easy to get the amount wrong" -- proper dosage = temperance
Sunday, February 21, 2021
O Britons! O my brethren! I have toldMost bitter truth, but without bitterness.Nor deem my zeal or factious or mis-timed;For never can true courage dwell with them,Who, playing tricks with conscience, dare not lookAt their own vices. We have been too longDupes of a deep delusion! Some, belike,Groaning with restless enmity, expectAll change from change of constituted power;As if a Government had been a robe,On which our vice and wretchedness were taggedLike fancy-points and fringes, with the robePulled off at pleasure. Fondly these attachA radical causation to a fewPoor drudges of chastising Providence,Who borrow all their hues and qualitiesFrom our own folly and rank wickedness,Which gave them birth and nursed them.
Saturday, February 20, 2021
Email me if you are. Moderation is only turned on in exceptional circumstances (when, through some momentary lapse of judgment, a high-traffic site happens to link to me), so any comments you post should be immediately visible. If they’re not, something’s agley.
Friday, February 19, 2021
A BILLTo prohibit the use of Federal funds for the commemoration of certain former Presidents [sic, plural in original], and for other purposes.Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.This Act may be cited as the "No Glory for Hate Act".SEC. 2. FEDERAL FUNDS RESTRICTION ON COMMEMORATING CERTAIN FORMER PRESIDENTS [sic].Notwithstanding section 3102 of title 40, United States Code, no Federal funds may be used to—
(1) create or display any symbol, monument, or statue commemorating any former President that has been twice impeached by the House of Representatives on or before the date of enactment of this Act or has been convicted of a State or Federal crime relating to actions taken in an official capacity as President of the United States on Federal public land, including any highway, park, subway, Federal building, military installation, street, or other Federal property; . . .
- No federal building or land may be named after him -- uh, I mean "them."
- No federal funds can be spent on state buildings or lands named after CFPs.
- No Former Presidents Act benefits for CFPs, except Secret Service protection.
- No CFPs -- not a single one of them! -- may be buried in Arlington National Cemetery. If a CFP absolutely must be buried, it is recommended that this be done at a crossroads at midnight, and a stake driven through his -- or her! -- heart. (Okay, sorry, a bit of satire did creep in there.)
Mary had three links of chain,and on every link was Jesus' name
- 8 links: abca dced fegf hgbh
- 7 links: abca dced fegf bg
- 6 links: abca dced febf
- 5 links: abca dced be
- 4 links: abca dcbd
- 3 links: abca bc
- 2 links: abba
- 1 link: aa
Unconquer'd Joan, O maiden brave,To thee be this petition pray'd,That we may see, through mist and dark,Thy lily-spangl'd banner wave,And, rising from the dust, be men!That from thy flaming soul a sparkIgnite our hearts. O blessed MaidOf Heaven, pray for us! Amen.
Bruce Charlton recently posted about Tolkien's unfinished poem "O! Wanderers in the shadowed land" and his own attempts at composing a suitable final line for it. (Did I resist the temptation to take a stab at it myself? Reader, I did not.)
The content of Tolkien's poem made me think of the beginning of Dante's Comedy, where Dante emerges from a dark wood and begins to climb a sunlit hill, only to be confronted by the three beasts, retreat, and take a minor detour through hell, purgatory, and the heavens.
Back in 2014, I "translated" some of this material (so loosely as to require the use of scare quotes) as an experiment. I was trying to duplicate some of the features of Dante's terza rima without the hard work of making each line rhyme with two others. I called the scheme I used "snake rhyme."
Both terza rima and my own rima serpentina have a chain-like structure which makes the poem as a whole indivisible. Each tercet in Dante or quatrain in my translation is linked by rhyme to the one before it and the one after it.
The trouble is that, as the diagram above makes clear, the first and last "links" in the chain are defective, smaller than the others. For example, the rima serpentina example above has the following rhyme structure:
aba cbdc edfe gfhg h
This defect can be solved by linking the A and H links, so that the chain becomes a circular one, the serpent an ouroboros, like so:
ahba cbdc edfe gfhg
Now it has a perfectly regular structure of quatrain "links" and is now, as I have said, circular. Once you reach the end, you go back to the beginning and recite it again; you can do this indefinitely, for as many repetitions as you like, and the whole thing will still be seamless.
So, I thought, what kind of poem would people want to repeat again and again indefinitely? Well, a mantra or prayer, obviously. Namo Amitabha, Hail Mary, that sort of thing. People who pray that way use a rosary, and a rosary is a circular "chain" of beads. In other words this sort of verse, which lends itself most naturally to writing repetitive prayers, also has the same structure as a rosary!
The Buddhist/Hindu/Sikh rosary has 108 beads -- a number which is conveniently divisible by four. So a perfectly "rosariform" poem would have 108 lines, constituting 27 quatrains of the form given above. The Catholic rosary has 59, a less convenient number.
Wednesday, February 17, 2021
I've updated my blogroll (right sidebar, scroll down) to include (I think) all those blogs and only those blogs which I check at least a few times a month. I haven't deleted any for political reasons, and I haven't added any for reasons of reciprocity or general chumminess.
If your blog's not listed, it doesn't mean I don't like you. If your blog is listed, it doesn't mean I do like you, let alone agree with you most of the time. I think this kind of thing has to be honest -- rather than polite or politic -- if it's going to be of any use to anyone else.
I encourage others to make similar updates. And if you delete a link to my own blog, because after all you don't really read it all that often, no hard feelings!
Monday, February 15, 2021
Sunday, February 14, 2021
Friday, February 12, 2021
And now it came to pass that all this was done in Mormon, yea, by the waters of Mormon, in the forest that was near the waters of Mormon; yea, the place of Mormon, the waters of Mormon, the forest of Mormon, how beautiful are they to the eyes of them who there came to the knowledge of their Redeemer; yea, and how blessed are they, for they shall sing to his praise forever. And these things were done in the borders of the land, that they might not come to the knowledge of the king (Mosiah 18:30-31).
And Moroni was a strong and a mighty man; he was a man of a perfect understanding; yea, a man that did not delight in bloodshed; a man whose soul did joy in the liberty and the freedom of his country, and his brethren from bondage and slavery;Yea, a man whose heart did swell with thanksgiving to his God, for the many privileges and blessings which he bestowed upon his people; a man who did labor exceedingly for the welfare and safety of his people.Yea, and he was a man who was firm in the faith of Christ, and he had sworn with an oath to defend his people, his rights, and his country, and his religion, even to the loss of his blood.. . . and this was the faith of Moroni, and his heart did glory in it; not in the shedding of blood but in doing good, in preserving his people, yea, in keeping the commandments of God, yea, and resisting iniquity.Yea, verily, verily I say unto you, if all men had been, and were, and ever would be, like unto Moroni, behold, the very powers of hell would have been shaken forever; yea, the devil would never have power over the hearts of the children of men (Alma 48:11-17).
And now it came to pass that when Moroni, who was the chief commander of the armies of the Nephites, had heard of these dissensions, he was angry with Amalickiah.And it came to pass that he rent his coat; and he took a piece thereof, and wrote upon it—In memory of our God, our religion, and freedom, and our peace, our wives, and our children—and he fastened it upon the end of a pole.And he fastened on his head-plate, and his breastplate, and his shields, and girded on his armor about his loins; and he took the pole, which had on the end thereof his rent coat, (and he called it the title of liberty) and he bowed himself to the earth, and he prayed mightily unto his God for the blessings of liberty to rest upon his brethren, so long as there should a band of Christians remain to possess the land . . .And it came to pass that when he had poured out his soul to God, he named all the land which was south of the land Desolation, yea, and in fine, all the land, both on the north and on the south—A chosen land, and the land of liberty.And he said: "Surely God shall not suffer that we, who are despised because we take upon us the name of Christ, shall be trodden down and destroyed, until we bring it upon us by our own transgressions."And when Moroni had said these words, he went forth among the people, waving the rent part of his garment in the air, that all might see the writing which he had written upon the rent part, and crying with a loud voice, saying: "Behold, whosoever will maintain this title upon the land, let them come forth in the strength of the Lord, and enter into a covenant that they will maintain their rights, and their religion, that the Lord God may bless them."And it came to pass that when Moroni had proclaimed these words, behold, the people came running together with their armor girded about their loins, rending their garments in token, or as a covenant, that they would not forsake the Lord their God; or, in other words, if they should transgress the commandments of God, or fall into transgression, and be ashamed to take upon them the name of Christ, the Lord should rend them even as they had rent their garments (Alma 46:11-21).
Red Hot Chili Peppers, 1999
Psychic spies from China try to steal your mind's elation
And little girls from Sweden dream of silver screen quotation
And if you want these kind of dreams it's Californication
Chinese spies? Little girls from Sweden? Sounds very 2020s, doesn't it?
Born and raised by those who praise control of population
Well, everybody's been there and I don't mean on vacation
No comment needed.
Destruction leads to a very rough road but it also breeds creation
And earthquakes are to a girl's guitar, they're just another good vibration
And tidal waves couldn't save the world from Californication
No act of God can save those who don't want to be saved.
Sicker than the rest, there is no test, but this is what you're craving
No act of God can save those who don't want to be saved.
Thursday, February 11, 2021
Reports of my death are greatly exaggerated.
Wednesday, February 10, 2021
Joan's banner and sword
Regular readers will know I have been experiencing a fairly constant stream of synchronicities relating to Joan of Arc.
Many of the early syncs focused on her banner:
- The first rainbow flag: Joan's banner discussed in detail
- In the cards: Illustrations in a Guardian article unwittingly allude to Joan's banner.
- That flag again! I run into Joan's banner by chance.
- Joan and the ark: Old Testament "arks" are associated with Joan's banner.
Later, the emphasis shifted to her sword, and this sword was associated with Donald Trump:
- In hoc signo vinces? Joan's sword as an answer to the question "What's going on in Washington?"
- Darkest hour: The dream-phrase épée d'Arc is associated with a Babylon Bee article in which Trump has "the Darksaber."
- Small hands, you say? Much is made of Joan's sword being held by someone with small hands, a stereotypical attribute of Trump.
- Trump with a sword again: The sync fairies lead me to a random op-ed in which the author randomly says "for some reason I picture Trump carrying a sword."
On February 8, I received an email from a regular correspondent, subject line "The Archangel Michael," soliciting thoughts on "whether Michael means anything special (perhaps vital?) for modern Christians, here-and-now."
I replied that I had no particular beliefs or feelings about that specific archangel, but that a Latin prayer to St. Michael, recommended to me by another online friend, had once proved effective in a specific unusual situation I found myself in back in the summer of 2019.
Hundred years' wars
This morning, yet another online friend, knowing and sharing my particular interest in Joan of Arc, sent me a link to a January 3 sermon by an anonymous Catholic priest on Regina Prophetarum, called "Ending the Hundred Years War Using Saint Joan's Holy Banner of War" (mp3). After a Hail Mary and some other preliminaries, it begins thus:
Saint Joan of Arc led her army to some of the greatest military victories in the history of the world. To make these victories possible, she was instructed by Heaven to make a banner with the holy names of Jesus and Mary painted upon it. She herself held this banner and led the way to victory, saying later, "I loved my banner 40 times better than my sword."
Joan struck the decisive blow in the Hundred Years' War with England, and the priest then refers to "a new Hundred Years' War . . . declared by the Devil himself in the hearing of Pope Leo XIII." In this war, "we have the names of Jesus and Mary, the holy names, but they need to be brought back and placed on the standard of war." The priest later says, "We need another Joan to lead the way. Come back, dear Joan! We need you again, to put a death blow to this new Hundred Years' War."
Joan has come back. I am not her only witness.
Not being familiar with this "new Hundred Years' War" declared by the Devil, I looked it up and found an article called "Leo XIII & the one hundred years."
It is said that after he had celebrated Mass in the presence of some Cardinals and members of the Vatican staff on October 13th, 1884, Pope Leo experienced a vision of the future concerning the Church in which the power of Satan would be unleashed for a period of 100 years. He was so shaken by the spectre of the destruction of moral and spiritual values both inside and outside the Church that he composed a prayer to St Michael the Archangel which he ordered to be said at the end of each Mass throughout the Catholic Church. This is the prayer--
St Michael the Archangel defend us in the day of battle. Be our safeguard against the wickedness and snares of the Devil. May God restrain him, we humbly pray, and do thou, the prince of the heavenly host, by the power of God, thrust into hell Satan and all the other evil spirits who wander through the world for the ruin of souls. Amen.
This got my attention because I immediately recognized it as an English translation of the Latin prayer to St. Michael that had just been brought back to my memory by a random email query.
Here is another extract from the sermon on Joan's banner.
In her great work The Mystical City of God, Venerable Mother Mary of Ágreda speaks of when the time had come to name the Holy Child on the octave day of Christmas. She writes, "When the great mistress of heaven -- Our Lady -- and St Joseph conversed with each other about the holy name of Jesus, innumerable angels descended in human form from on high, clothed in shining white garments . . . and emitted a greater splendor than many suns.
I had been listening to this sermon alone in my car. When I arrived home, I found that my wife had put some music on. She's been on a Chester Bennington kick lately, and I was greeted by the Linkin Park song "The Catalyst."
God save us, every one.
Will we burn inside the fires of a thousand suns?
For the sins of our hand,
The sins of our tongue,
The sins of our father,
The sins of our young? -- No!
I recognized "a thousand suns" as an allusion to the Bhagavad Gita -- the lines made famous by Oppenheimer when he quoted them with reference to the atomic bomb: "If the radiance of a thousand suns were to burst at once in the sky, that would be the splendor of the Mighty One."
Bigger than Trump
Near the end of the sermon I listened to, the priest says that, while he certainly hopes Trump will be restored to the presidency, we need to realize that our problems will not be solved by having a crooked election set right, that we must set our sights higher.
I have associated Trump with Joan's sword. But Joan loved her banner -- bearing angels and the holy names of Jesus and Mary -- 40 times better than her sword.
I have associated Trump with the Sun. But the angels associated with the holy names of Jesus and Mary emitted a greater splendor than many Suns.
I feel that a very coherent message has, in the language of synchronicity, been communicated to me.
Tuesday, February 9, 2021
The image seems to be in the air. (See also the trump/sword link here.) On a whim I got on Google News (something I haven't done in a good long time) and clicked the third link it served up -- a goofy op-ed piece about Impeachment Two by someone called Matthew Walther (the name sounds familiar but I can't quite place him).
From a legal perspective Trump's refusal to testify is a no-brainer. But for the American people it's nothing short of a tragedy. Why not turn the Senate phase of impeachment into a massive O.J. Simpson trial-like spectacle, complete with celebrity lawyers and some kind of instantly memorable and hilarious prop (for some reason I picture Trump carrying a sword, or perhaps an eagle)? Instead of something that journalists will tweet about, a Senate trial in which Trump answered questions from Wacky Jacky and Pat "No Tariffs" Toomey and Corrupt Kaine would be a genuine cultural and political event drawing hundreds of millions of viewers to cable television, which is almost certainly on the edge of a massive ratings cliff.
Note: The verdict of "goofy" may be premature. Having found what the sync fairies sent me there for, I didn't read any further than the quoted paragraph. I mean, really, who reads this stuff?
Monday, February 8, 2021
I mentioned in my post "Year of the Ox" that this Chinese New Year -- 2/12 -- is "the 212th birthday of both Abe Lincoln and ape-linkin' Charles Darwin." A bit more on that pun/coincidence.
The connection between Lincoln and Linkin' is well established. The rock band Linkin Park, for example, is named after a Lincoln Park in Santa Monica, California; they changed the spelling because the domain name lincolnpark.com was already taken.
The name Abraham means "father of multitudes"; the first element, whence the short form Abe, means "father." It is this element that corresponds to ape in the pun, and Darwin's ape-linkin' took the specific form of claiming that apes were our fathers. Abraham is metaphorically seen as the father of everyone ("Father Abraham had many sons / Many sons had Father Abraham / And I am one of them / And so are you . . ."); after Darwin, the apes have taken over this role.
Abraham Lincoln was famously ugly, like an ape. (When a political opponent called him "two-faced," he quipped, "If I had another face, do you think I'd wear this one?") He was the first American president to wear a beard -- and specifically the mustache-less "Shenandoah" style, similar to the facial hair of a gorilla or chimpanzee. (The mustache is one of the things that distinguishes us from the apes.)
The final scene in the 1963 French novel La Planète des Singes prominently features the Eiffel Tower, but when the story was adapted for Hollywood, this was replaced with a similarly iconic American landmark. The 1968 Planet of the Apes with Charlton Heston went with that old Hollywood standby, the ruins of the Statue of Liberty. ("Why does Hollywood hate that statue so much?" one of my students once asked me.) The 2001 remake with Mark Wahlberg, on the other hand, takes advantage of Lincoln's ape-like features and ends with a Lincoln Memorial that memorializes not Lincoln but the ape character General Thade.
(By the way, trying to find a picture of that scene led me to an Euler diagram showing the relationship between "things that appear to be the Lincoln Memorial" and "things that are the Lincoln Memorial." The Internet is a very strange place.)
Update: Just minutes after posting this, I check Vox Popoli and find a comment saying the Super Bowl halftime show “looked like a scene from Planet of the Apes.”
Sunday, February 7, 2021
Thursday, February 4, 2021
ATTENTION. DUE TO A SCALE BACK IN COVERAGE, THE MORAL ARC OF THE UNIVERSE NO LONGER BENDS TOWARD JUSTICE. WE APOLOGIZE FOR THE INCONVENIENCE.
Behold, the hour cometh, yea, is now come, that ye shall be scattered, every man to his own, and shall leave me alone: and yet I am not alone, because the Father is with me. These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.
Tuesday, February 2, 2021
I think this guy all of a sudden
could see time.
He can actually look into space and see
his movements from yesterday
When he tries to drink his coffee,
he picks up the one
from a couple of hours ago.
When he moves, time is shifted
in spontaneous ways so that there is no way to tell
the actual time.
His body and clothes are also
shifted throughout time, so his face
and pajamas are different when
he gets out of bed.
|Blackboard art by one of my employees|
Monday, February 1, 2021
It occurred to me last night—and I'm sure you're aware of this already, but I haven't seen you explicitly mention it in your writing—that Joan of Arc saved France from a false (or disputed) claimant to the French throne. Indeed, the English king Henry V and his heir Henry VI (in his minority) possessed the French throne for nine years after the treaty of Troyes in 1420.The connections to our present difficulties, our disputed "throne," are even more pronounced.Forgive me if this is obvious to everyone. It wasn't immediately obvious to me.
When God fights it is but small matter whether the hand that bears His sword is big or little.
how a country-girl, ignorant of war, can take a sword in her small hand and win victories where the trained generals of France have looked for defeats only, for fifty years -- and always found them.
Still, small hands -- who does that remind me of?
I make no predictions. I just want to let people know that the sync fairies are still at it -- and, despite everything, I still kind of trust the little guys.
Just when you thought Google couldn't get any faker or gayer . . . None of this has been photoshopped. I have no idea what's going o...
Following up on the idea that the pecked are no longer alone in their bodies , reader Ben Pratt has brought to my attention these remarks by...
In a recent comment , Debbie linked to the essay Aliens Among Us: A Brief History of the Owl by Carey McHugh. The second section of the ess...
I will never understand how the YouTube algorithm works, but last night it decided (correctly, as it turns out) that I wanted to watch this:...