Wednesday, August 10, 2022

Try, try, try

In yesterday's post, "Many sparrows, again, and various other sync links," I noted how Debbie's comment about the etymology and meanings of knock made me think of the expression "Don't knock it till you've tried it," and how a version of "(Don't Fear) The Reaper" I had recently listened to had included instrumentals taken from the P!nk song "Try," featuring the refrain, "You've gotta get up and try, try, try."

That post also dealt in passing with Jesus' childhood (the legend of his bringing clay sparrows to life). I've also been working on a post (not very long, but constantly delayed by sync interruptions) about forgiveness and how Heaven will be populated by former sinners. These two thoughts made me ask the question of whether Jesus had always been "perfect," even as a child, and whether my reluctance even to ask such a question was a sign that on some level I was uncomfortable with the idea that anyone could ever become divine who had not always been so.

This, in turn, made me think of a Mormon children's song I had learned about Jesus as a child, which contained the lines, "He never got vexed if the game went wrong / and he always spoke the truth." The fanciful idea of those lines being chosen as someone's epitaph (perhaps that of J. W. Dunne, whose otherworldly visitants described life as a "game") crossed my mind, which served to keep the song in my mind long enough to remember that the chorus is:

So, little children
Let’s you and I
Try to be like him
Try, try, try

That triple-try is a clear sync with the P!nk song. Then I remembered that on July 31 I had had a sync involving a T-shirt that said "TRY YOUR BEST," with different parts of that text being successively covered and revealed to form different messages. At the end of the post about that, "U R best," I had quoted the First Epistle of Peter: "Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you" (4:12). This message, that a "fiery trial" is only to be expected, and perhaps inevitable, syncs with the P!nk song as well: "Where there is desire, there is gonna be a flame / Where there is a flame, someone's bound to get burned" -- in other words, don't think it strange if you "get burned," as though some strange thing happened to you. Keep it in perspective: "Just because it burns doesn't mean you're gonna die."

Another song that came to mind in this context was "Can't Run But" by Paul Simon. It doesn't actually use the word try, but the idea of trying one's best despite limitations is implied in the refrain:

I can't run but
I can walk much faster than this
Can't run but
I can't run but
I can walk much faster than this
Can't run but

Then I noticed the relevance of this verse:

I had a dream about us
In the bottles and the bones of the night
I felt a pain in my shoulder blade
Like a pencil point? A love bite?
A couple was rubbing against us
Rubbing and doing that new dance
The man was wearing a jacket and jeans
The woman was laughing in advance

This syncs with "My dream on the eve of September 11, 2001" -- a long-forgotten dream that was suddenly brought back to my attention last night by inexplicable means.

There was a sharp report, and I felt the bullet bite into my back, just to the left of my spine. . . . The bullet entered my heart, and a dark, warm, paralyzing feeling swept over me. I felt myself lose consciousness, lose identity, and everything was black and silent and timeless. The last thing I heard before I disappeared was my friends' laughter.

The bullet entered my heart through my back, just to the left of my spine -- pretty anatomically close to "a pain in my shoulder blade" -- and of course "pencil point" means lead, which means a bullet. And after the bullet, laughter.

Today I checked the Babylon Bee after several days of not doing so, and one of the stories was "Kim Kardashian Breaks Up With Pete Davidson After She Finally Gets Around To Watching SNL." The photo showed Davidson wearing a jacket and T-shirt; it didn't show his legwear, but the casual nature of his get-up makes jeans a strong possibility. This passage from the article syncs with "The woman was laughing in advance."

"Of course, everyone assumes I dated him because he's so funny," said a rueful Ms. Kardashian. "What it takes everyone a while to realize is that Pete has just perfected the smile and half-giggle of someone who just cracked a hysterical inside joke. You end up laughing because you want to be in on the joke, or think you must have missed something, and your brain somehow starts to believe Pete is actually hilarious. But if you just listen to the words coming out of his mouth, nothing remotely funny ever happens."

Going back the idea of pencil-as-bullet, it made me think of the They Might Be Giants song "Pencil Rain," in which that is used as an extended metaphor. The song begins: "The possible dream / Finale of seem" -- two lines alluding respectively to Man of La Mancha and a Wallace Stevens poem.

Relevant to my recent FBI dream, the news is all about the totally normal FBI raid on Donald Trump's private residence, the purpose of which was to "find" that he had misappropriated classified documents, making it illegal for him to run for president again and putting an end to "the possible dream" that the God-Emperor will rise again. How did that Wallace Stevens poem go?

Let be be finale of seem.
The only emperor is the emperor of ice-cream.

The only emperor is the emperor of ice-cream. How is a line from a 1954 poem so precisely apropos to the current political situation in the U.S.?

Related to the classified-document allegations is the bizarre claim that Trump flushed so many torn-up documents down the toilet that the toilet clogged, allowing  NYT White House correspondent Maggie Haberman to photograph them. Trump's response to this?

He declared the story 'categorically untrue and simply made up by a reporter in order to get publicity for a mostly fictitious book.'

He also referred to Haberman as 'Maggot' as a play on her name Maggie.

The Poetry Foundation website says that "The only emperor is the emperor of ice-cream" is an allusion to Hamlet.

Your worm is your only emperor for diet: we fat all creatures else to fat us, and we fat ourselves for maggots.

My dream on the eve of September 11, 2001

This is really weird, and I'm still not exactly sure how it happened, but last night I was trying to type a web address into my browser, and some combination of typing errors and an autocomplete function with a really long memory caused the browser to bring up a Wayback Machine archive of something I had published on a long-defunct GeoCities website on September 12, 2001. I still have no idea how that happened. I have no memory of ever visiting the archive of that site, or if I have it can't have been at all recently, and my browsing history backs me up on that: no record of ever having visited it before last night, and yet somehow the autocomplete function on that same browser served it up.

This obviously indicates the hand of the sync fairies, or of other unseen agencies, so I'm posting it here.

This, unmodified, is what I wrote in my personal journal the day after the attack. As you can tell by reading it, I wasn't planning on posting it on the Internet -- but, for some reason, I now feel like I ought to.

9:30 a.m. Wednesday 12 September 2001

I've been working on my alife insects -- I can't call them ants now, since they're all able to reproduce -- and yesterday morning I was putting some finishing touches on the program when Dad came in the door in a great hurry and told me the news: Hijacked airliners had been crashed into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. It took a second to register. At first it was just another news item, just another terrorist attack. Dad's breathlessness over it all helped me realize (academically, anyway) just what a monumental event had just occurred. "It's not going to be the same America after this," he kept saying. He may be right. I don't know. Who can say at this point just what the fallout will be?

Everything was canceled. João came home early because LCC was closed for the day. Institute was canceled. Mom and Dad's meetings were canceled. Everything stood still. The ambient attitude was that to go about one's daily activities after what had just happened would be in very poor taste. Everyone should stop everything, watch the news, and spend the day thinking about the disaster. I didn't. I went about my day. I didn't feel a need to dwell on the incident -- but that evening, when I went on the Internet, my attitude began to change. Every site I went to had some acknowledgment of the disaster. Every blog had an entry -- or several entries -- about it. Arts and Letters Daily had "Jesus Wept" written in place of their usual "Veritas odit moras" motto. Even Google had an attack-related addition to its bare-bones page. Jorn Barger (of Robot Wisdom), pro-Palestinian in his opinions, had a link to pictures of the attack, with the linktext "If you want peace, work for justice." After reading all that, I felt that my blog, too, should acknowledge the disaster -- unless I wanted to look completely heartless. But I had nothing to say about it. I linked to the BBC story, using the date as the linktext and making no commentary. Then I deleted the post, thinking it artificial. That was the idea behind my new blogging style, right? I'm not linking or writing out of a sense of duty -- I'm linking when there's something to link, writing when there's something to write. A link to news about the attack would be pointless: who hasn't read it already? So now my blog doesn't acknowledge the attack at all, and probably won't -- unless I end up writing an article with some substance, which I most likely won't. Why should I let a terrorist leave footprints in my blog?

I feel no sadness, no anger, no hatred -- only a sense of unreality and occasionally a black, empty feeling. It still doesn't feel real. The pictures don't look real; they look like something from a movie. The stories seem to be straight out of a novel. The feeling of emptiness was with me on and off all day yesterday. It was with me from the time I woke up -- before I knew anything about the disaster. It was a new kind of feeling, and as I tried to clothe it in words all my ridiculous brain could come up with was a cheesy line from Star Wars: "I feel a great disturbance in the force...."

Part of me wants to call it precognition or some such, but I think it more likely that the dark feeling was a leftover from the disturbing dreams I had had that night. I dreamed I was shot. An unshaven, black-haired man was putting a new magazine in his machine gun, and we were laughing at him -- laughing because he was a bad shot, and could never get us. The people who were with me -- my friends -- told me to lay down on the ground and demand to be shot, and I did. It seemed like a good idea at the time. I threw myself on the ground and said, "Just shoot me! Now!" And he did -- that's not what was supposed to happen. There was a sharp report, and I felt the bullet bite into my back, just to the left of my spine. My thoughts were running at a frantic pace: "He just shot me! Am I going to die? Am I ready? Of course I am going to die... and of course I am ready... it's over... it's finally over...." The bullet entered my heart, and a dark, warm, paralyzing feeling swept over me. I felt myself lose consciousness, lose identity, and everything was black and silent and timeless. The last thing I heard before I disappeared was my friends' laughter.

This syncs to some extent with the recent dream I recounted in "Many sparrows, again, and various other sync links." In that dream, an FBI agent I had known as a child came to my house, and I thought, "That's Mr. Graff from the FBI. I'd better go with him," and got in the backseat of his car -- effectively "arresting myself" instead of being arrested by force. Reacting to an FBI visit that way is somewhat akin to reacting to a gunman by lying on the ground and demanding to be shot.

The link that really got my attention, though, was that in the 2001 dream "we were laughing at him -- laughing because he was a bad shot, and could never get us." The reason I posted my recent FBI dream was that a sync related to clay sparrows had made me think of clay pigeons, which made me think of skeet shooting -- the one form of shooting at which the otherwise omnicompetent, Chuck Norris-like Mr. Graff was a spectacularly bad shot.

BÖC is actually pretty good

I only knew them for "(Don't Fear) The Reaper" and had kind of assumed they were one-hit wonders. Actually, they've done quite a lot of stuff that's good -- and synchronistically relevant.

About Godzilla:

About spontaneous human combustion:

About how just because it burns doesn't mean you're gonna die:

Tuesday, August 9, 2022

Many sparrows, again, and various other sync links

In my August 7 post "Standing in the Hall of Fame, and Christ at the door," I recount how, looking for Greg Olsen's painting of Jesus knocking at a green door, I ran across his painting of Jesus with sparrows.

The painting is called Even a Sparrow and refers to Jesus' saying about God taking note even of the fall of a sparrow. It made me think of two things, though: first, the apocryphal story (Gospel of James; also alluded to twice in the Quran) of the child Jesus making 12 sparrows of clay and making them come to life; and second, a childhood dream in which I had written a book (the second in a trilogy) called Many Sparrows.

By "coincidence," hours after seeing the painting and thinking of the legend of the clay sparrows, I read an allegorical interpretation of that same legend in a book I have been reading, Histoire de la magie by Éliphas Lévi.

Today, wanting to look up a Bible reference for another post, I opened the BibleGateway website. Guess what their "verse of the day" is.

The book I dreamed of having written was called Many Sparrows; Olsen's painting is called Even a Sparrow. Luke 12:7 is one of two verses in the Bible that include the phrase many sparrows (the other is the parallel passage in Matt. 10:31), and it is the only one that also includes the word even. I know this because I searched for even sparrow to see if Olsen's title was in the Bible. Besides Luke 12:7, the only other hit was this:

Yea, the sparrow hath found an house, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young, even thine altars, O Lord of hosts, my King, and my God (Ps. 84:3).

This is synchronistically relevant because of my recent visit to Guashan Shaolin temple (related in "When that gorilla beats his chest"), in which I entered through a green door into a room that was supposed to be closed. (This same room also has a circular doorway.) Just outside this room, baskets had been hung from the eaves for swallows to nest in, and several of the birds were doing so. Note also the expression "my King, and my God," which ties into the the "God vs. King" movie poster referenced in "When that gorilla beats his chest."

On August 6, I posted "The Wizard at the green door," and Debbie left a comment in which she discussed the etymology of knock and particularly mentioned its figurative meaning of "deprecate, put down." This made me think of the common expression, "Don't knock it till you've tried it" and how it takes on a different meaning if "it" is assumed to be a door. Both at the temple and at the abandoned restaurant, I had entered a green door without permission -- just "trying" the door instead of knocking on it.

Yesterday, August 8, I posted "Now, O now, in this brown land," a train of thought initiated by listening to a version of "(Dont' Fear) The Reaper" set to an instrumental track by P!nk. It turns out that the instrumentals come from "Try" (a song I'd never heard). This is the chorus:

Where there is desire, there is gonna be a flame
Where there is a flame, someone's bound to get burned
But just because it burns doesn't mean you're gonna die
You've gotta get up and try, try, try

On one of my don't-knock-it-till-you've-tried-it visits to the abandoned restaurant, I found the wall covered with figs, and I picked one as a souvenir. I have no experience with fig trees, and thus I was caught by surprise when I broke the stem and a gout of sticky white latex spurted out onto my hand. I wiped it off as best I could and washed my hands later.

This morning, I had an English tutoring session with a businessman. He subscribes to a magazine for students of English and often asks me questions about it. Today he had some questions about an article on, of all things, figs. The fact that fig latex is a skin irritant was mentioned.

"A liquid that is found inside the fig tree can cause burning when it touches our skin." Well, so what? Just because it burns doesn't mean you're gonna die.

The fig article also mentioned that "Adam and Eve wore fig leaves in the Garden of Eden, and some believe Eve's forbidden fruit was a fig, not an apple." Adam has been part of the recent sync stream because of his connection with Hercules and Michael. The fig/apple connection is also reinforced by Fig Newtons (also featured in the magazine article), the name Newton being more commonly associated with the apple.

About a week ago, I had a dream about the businessman who showed me the fig article today. In the dream, he was at my house and I was hoping he would leave soon because I was expecting someone else. Finally, he did leave, and immediately the person I had been waiting for arrived. It was the man who had been my best friend's father and my Scoutmaster when I was young. He also happened to be an FBI agent, and in the dream I thought of him only in that latter capacity. He drove up to my house in a shiny purplish-silver sports car, and I though, "It's Mr. Graff from the FBI. I'd better go with him." I got in the backseat, which was very cramped, and asked the person sitting in front of me (one of my fellow Scouts from those days and a personal enemy) to move his seat forward and give me some leg-room. He said it was already as far forward as it would go, and that he didn't have any leg-room, either.

I mention this dream because I almost never think about Mr. Graff these days -- or Brother Graff as we called him as a fellow Mormon -- but I thought about him today because clay sparrows made me think of clay pigeons. Despite being an FBI agent, a colonel in the Marine Corps, and an excellent marksman in general, Brother Graff was just terrible at skeet shooting, and so that quickly became the Scouts' favorite activity because it was so entertaining to outshoot the master. One of Brother Graff's children (my friend's younger brother) was so little that if he held a shotgun properly, the kick would knock him flat, so he always shot "from the hip" -- holding the gun off to his side so that when it kicked it would swing back without hitting him. And he still nailed more pigeons than his father!

Monday, August 8, 2022

Playing with AI image generators again

This software is getting better very quickly. These are from MidJourney.

Melons from an alien land

Mr. Owl ate my metal worm.

Kolob, nigh unto the throne of God

The 400 divine rabbits of drunkenness

From the narrow desert, O man of pride, come into the house so high and wide

The enigmatic presence of the human mind winks back from the dark

We dare not go a-hunting for fear of little men

Now, O now, in this brown land

Last night I happened to listen to this haunting version of the Blue Öyster Cult classic "(Don't Fear) The Reaper," set to an instrumental track by P!nk.

The original version of this song is famously featured in the 2000 Christopher Walken "More Cowbell" sketch, but this mashup version has no cowbell at all. This, in the context of recent Wizard of Oz syncs, made me think, "Cowbell out of order. Please knock." But it's not like any "knocking" has been added to replace the cowbell, so I dismissed the thought.

The line "Seasons don't fear the Reaper" always makes me think of some lines from James Joyce, one of the poems from Chamber Music: "The leaves -- they do not sigh at all / When the year takes them in the fall." In fact, I guess I've always sort of assumed the song was inspired by that poem, directly or indirectly. Today, I looked up the whole poem and was surprised to find that it features knocking!

Now, O now, in this brown land
Where Love did so sweet music make
We two shall wander, hand in hand,
Forbearing for old friendship’ sake,
Nor grieve because our love was gay
Which now is ended in this way.

A rogue in red and yellow dress
Is knocking, knocking at the tree;
And all around our loneliness
The wind is whistling merrily.
The leaves -- they do not sigh at all
When the year takes them in the fall.

Now, O now, we hear no more
The villanelle and roundelay!
Yet will we kiss, sweetheart, before
We take sad leave at close of day.
Grieve not, sweetheart, for anything --
The year, the year is gathering.

A few days ago I had the thought that a tree could be the equivalent of the Green Door, but I can no longer retrace the train of thought that led me there. All that comes to mind now (though it was not my original thought) is Yggdrasil, the tree that is the "gate" between the worlds. Today I saw a roadkilled squirrel on the road and thought, "Ah, poor Ratatoskr!"

Another poem from Chamber Music also came to mind.

Gentle lady, do not sing
Sad songs about the end of love;
Lay aside sadness and sing
How love that passes is enough.

Sing about the long deep sleep
Of lovers that are dead, and how
In the grave all love shall sleep:
Love is aweary now.

The Reaper's sickle, and the end of love, then made me think of Sonnet 116:

Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments. Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove.
O no! it is an ever-fixed mark
That looks on tempests and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wand'ring bark,
Whose worth's unknown, although his height be taken.
Love's not Time's fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle's compass come;
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
If this be error and upon me prov'd,
I never writ, nor no man ever lov'd.

Joyce's embrace of the Reaper comes from a deep intuition which he himself did not understand and thus explained wrongly. The reason for not fearing the Reaper is not that "Love that passes is enough" -- how could it be? -- but that death and resurrection are the gateway to the realm of that which does not pass, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal. "Romeo and Juliet / Are together in eternity."

Human love, as experienced in mortality, is as mortal as every other human thing. It alters, it changes, it bends with the remover to remove. But resurrection is coming, and the restoration of all things. "Whatever principle of intelligence we attain unto in this life," wrote the Prophet Joseph Smith, "it will rise with us in the resurrection" (D&C 130:18). He did not say that we will keep it, but that it will rise in resurrection -- for we forget so very much of what we learn, and many of us end mortality in a state of dementia. What the Prophet said of intelligence is true also of love. Whatever broken, imperfect, changeable principle of love we attain unto in this life, it will rise with us in the resurrection. "For all things must fail -- but charity is the pure love of Christ, and it endureth forever" (Moro. 7:46-47).

So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption: it is sown in dishonour; it is raised in glory: it is sown in weakness; it is raised in power: it is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body (1 Cor. 15:42-44). 

And a little wink from the synchronicity fairies: I had known Blue Öyster Cult only for "The Reaper," but Wikipedia informs me that they are best known for three singles, the other two being "Burnin' for You" and -- "Godzilla."

Sunday, August 7, 2022

Standing in the Hall of Fame, and Christ at the door

I published "The Wizard at the green door" yesterday (August 6) at 4:14 p.m. Taiwan time. The post included  Let Him In, a painting by Mormon artist Greg Olsen illustrating Revelation 3:20 ("Behold, I stand at the door, and knock . . ."), and it references the Script song "Hall of Fame" (featuring, incidentally, my black doppelgänger, a song which had come to my attention a few days previous, as documented in "When that gorilla beats his chest."

That evening, I received two emails 27 minutes apart, from two different people named Andrew.

The first, received at 11:09 Taiwan time, had the subject line "Romans 13" and was just a link, with no comment but the two words "spot on," to this YouTube video:

Notice that the thumbnail features the word GOD with a green circle around it, a link to the circular green door imagery of my post.

The video cites various Bible verses in support of the argument that Christians have no absolute obligation to obey secular (or church) authority. At one point there is a pretty in-your-face synchronistic reference to "Hall of Fame" by The Script.

That this was sent in direct response to my posts about that song seems vanishingly unlikely. It was sent to five other people (mostly public figures not known to me personally) in addition to myself, and the video itself is a year old.

The second email, sent by a different Andrew and received at 11:36 p.m. Taiwan time, obviously was a direct response to my post. It had the subject line "Wizard at the door?" and had no text, only this image:

This was, as I have said, very clearly sent in response to my post, which featured a different image of Jesus knocking on a door, so it can't be considered a "meaningful coincidence," right?


On August 1, I posted "The most important teaching of the Book of Mormon" -- also about a Christian's lack of absolute obligation to obey any external authority -- and wanted to illustrate it with an appropriate picture. My first thought was Blake's Glad Day, but I decided its meaning was too obscure. I wanted to show that the ultimate authority is simultaneously God and each individual's God-given intuition or discernment. This made me think of how Jesus said both "I am the light of the world" and "Ye are the light of the world" (I thought of this again when I posted "The Wizard at the green door," which mentions that Jesus said both "Knock and it shall be opened unto you" and "Behold, I stand at the door and knock.") This led me to run an image search for i am the light of the world painting -- and the first result was the very painting, by William Holman Hunt, that the second Andrew would later send me by email. In the end I decided against using it, opting instead of Vrubel's painting of the descent of the Holy Spirit, but I did take note of the painting, which I had not seen before and which captures a powerful aspect of who Jesus Christ is.

I had not noticed, though, that it depicts Jesus knocking on a door. (The door is overgrown with vegetation and not immediately recognizable as such.) The search results showed only the painting itself, but the image Andrew sent included the frame, which features the text of Revelation 3:20.

While I was writing "The Wizard at the green door," I had the thought that the Statue of Liberty is green and is associated with the Emma Lazarus poem ending "I lift my lamp beside the golden door," but I dismissed the connection to the Green Door theme as too tenuous to be worthy of note. Now, though, it occurs to me that Liberty Enlightening the World -- finished about 30 years after Hunt's The Light of the World -- almost appears as a parody of that painting. Hunt's Christ wears a greenish robe and a crown, holds a lamp, and stands beside a golden door. Bartholdi's statue replaces Christ with Mithras, and the Light of Christ with the "light" of revolution.

It is interesting that I considered Hunt's painting as an illustration for a post about the Book of Mormon, and then in my "Wizard at the green door" post I used a Mormon artist's rendition of the same verse from Revelation.

Looking for Greg Olsen's painting of Christ knocking, I ran across this picture, Even a Sparrow, by the same artist.

This is clearly a reference to Jesus' saying about God taking note even of the fall of a sparrow, but what it first made me think of was the apocryphal legend about the child Jesus breathing life into sparrows made of clay. Today I happened to read a reference to this same legend in Éliphas Lévi's Histoire de la magie:

There is a beautiful allegorical exposition in the apocryphal gospels of this criterion of certitude in respect of Christianity: its evidence is that of realisation. Some children were amusing themselves by fashioning birds of clay, and among them was the child Jesus. Each little artist praised his own work, and only Jesus said nothing; but when He had moulded His birds, He clapped His hands, telling them to fly, and they flew. So did Christian institutions shew their superiority over those of the ancient world; the latter are dead, but Christianity is alive.

The painting also reminded me of a vivid dream I had as a child, in which I had written a trilogy with the evocative titles Like Sheep, Many Sparrows, and The Sign of the Dove. From time to time it occurs to me that I should try to write those three books, but I have never known what should be in them. I suppose their time has not yet come.

One last thing to note: My post featured Gandalf knocking at the green door. The Hunt painting features Christ at the door, with a lamp. Some time ago (I can't seem to find the original post), Bruce Charlton posted about a Tolkien-themed Tarot deck which portrayed the Magician as Gandalf. I left a comment saying that this was wrong, that the Magician should be Fëanor, while Mithrandir was clearly the Hermit. The Hermit of the Tarot holds a lamp much like that of Hunt's Christ.

Saturday, August 6, 2022

The Wizard at the green door

In "The Locust Grove crop circle," I describe how I spontaneously visualized a vesica piscis while contemplating the Eight of Cups, and how Debbie then drew my attention to the titular crop formation, the structure of which includes both a vesica piscis and a shape like the anomalous "moon" on the Eight of Cups.

Yesterday (August 5), the homework for one of the English classes I teach happened to include this exercise:

Venn diagrams are fairly commonplace, but this one is uniquely relevant. As you can see, the two circles are for singular and plural nouns, with nouns that do not change form going in the middle section. One of the words that needs to be written there is fish -- as in vesica piscis. Also notice that what is printed on the other side of the page is faintly visible, and that right in the vesica is a picture of a baby, tying in with the vesica as a yonic image and a symbol of birth.

The vesica piscis is obviously closely related to the ichthys, or "Jesus fish," and Jesus (the baby in the picture above?) can also be thought of in terms of the Venn diagram -- the intersection of human nature and divine nature. Does that mean that Jesus had "two natures," as classical theology has it, or does it mean that there is only one nature? "One or two?" asks the Venn diagram with the baby.

Whitley Strieber used a Venn diagram on the cover of his book Jesus: A New Vision. As in the Locust Grove formation, there is a smaller circle inscribed in the vesica piscis.

I have discussed this vesica piscis sync first to get it out of the way, but it was actually the second one of August 5. Earlier that day, one of my young students (from a different class) drew this on the whiteboard during a break between classes: a vesica piscis inscribed in a circle, with the remainder of the circle colored green. I didn't get a chance to snap a photo, but this is a schematic reconstruction. It looked very close to being a mathematically precise vesica piscis, one by the square root of three.

The Locust Grove formation features a circle inscribed in a vesica piscis, with a narrower lens (too narrow to be a true mathematical vesica) inscribed in the circle.

"What's that?" asked one of the other students.

"It's a watermelon!"

"Why is it empty in the middle?"

Why indeed? It's a very strange way of drawing a watermelon, and it made me think of "Cucurbits from an alien land" and the melon or gourd as a gateway to the dream realm. As Debbie has pointed out, the "yoni" shape of the vesica piscis is closely associated with the symbolism of the door -- and in this case it's a green door -- a circular green door, like the one Gandalf knocks on.

The "watermelon" drawing also resembles a green letter O, as seen on the original cover of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.

And how could I have forgotten that The Wizard of Oz (the 1939 film version) also has a scene in which someone knocks on a green door?

And this green door includes a smaller, circular green door.

In the book, the Guardian of the Gates, who lets Dorothy and company into the Emerald City is described as being "about the same size as the Munchkins" -- that is, very short, like a hobbit. In the movie, Dorothy and her friends first ring the doorbell, but the doorman insists that they knock instead, drawing their attention to a notice that says, "Bell out of order. Please knock."

In The Hobbit, Bilbo is first disturbed by one group of dwarves after another showing up and ringing his doorbell, and then:

[T]here came a loud knock. Not a ring, but a hard rat-tat on the hobbit's beautiful green door. Somebody was banging with a stick!

Bilbo . . . pulled open the door with a jerk, and they all fell in, one on top of the other. More dwarves, four more! And there was Gandalf behind, leaning on his staff and laughing. He had made quite a dent on the beautiful door . . . .

It is Gandalf, a Wizard, who knocks on the green door. When Dorothy knocks on the green door and is asked to state her business, she says, "We want to see the Wizard."

The Wizard is a representative of the supernatural or divine world, so this ties in with the Script line, "You can talk to God, go bangin' on his door." (Banging is the very word used by Tolkien.) Sometimes you knock on God's door, and sometimes he knocks on yours. Jesus said both, "Knock, and it shall be opened unto you" (Matt. 7:7, Luke 11:9) and "Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him" (Rev. 3:20).

When Mormon artist Greg Olsen decided to illustrate that last verse, guess what color he chose to make the door?

Greg Olsen, Let Him In (2005)

Note added: In this post, I talk about Gandalf knocking on a door just after I refer to "the melon or gourd as a gateway to the dream realm." How could I have forgotten that in The Lord of the Rings, Gandalf opens another door by uttering the word mellon?

J. W. Dunne's dream of the shadow of God

As described in my last post, "God vs. King," the name Godzilla made me think of this dream of Dunne's, because the Hebrew name Zillah probably means "shadow." I've decided to quote the whole thing, from Dunne's posthumously published book Intrusions? This is a book almost nobody reads -- Dunne is known almost exclusively for An Experiment with Time -- and I think the dream is worth sharing with a wider audience.

The intelligent part of me 'awoke', alert and curious from a duller, forgotten dream, to a vivid scene which appeared to be of a purely allegorical nature.

I was sitting in bright sunlight on a rock half-way up a gently sloping, sandy hillside. At the bottom of this declivity there ran a brook. I was dressed, somewhat to my annoyance, in the attire of one of Mr. H. G. Wells's 'Samurai' as these are pictured in his book, A New Utopia. Two lines of Longfellow's hymn, beloved in spiritualistic circles, were ringing in my head: the ones about great men leaving footprints in the sands of time. I saw that my own tracks were leading up from the brook's edge to the place where I sat. Obviously, I was dead, and the brook was the allegorical Jordan. I experienced a mild thrill, succeeded by a flame of anger, for I knew quite well that I was not a great man and suspected that I was being fooled. The other side of the brook represented evidently the world I had left, and I looked at it to see where my footmarks entered the water; for I had a horrifying idea that I might discern (vide the poem) a string of idiots following them. But the whole of that world lay in shadow, and, although I could perceive numbers of people moving about therein, none of them was clearly distinguishable, and any footprints there might be were quite invisible.

The deep shadow was contrasted so strongly with the brilliant sunshine in which I sat, and ended so abruptly at the water's edge, that I became puzzled as to what might be the cause thereof. Then it dawned on me that, about a hundred yards to my left and slightly behind me God was sitting working with bent head at something of which I was ignorant. I did not see Him because I could not turn my head: I merely knew that He was there. The whole scene was as silent as a picture. And the shadow which lay upon the world was the shadow of God.

I must emphasize that I was, from first to last, fully aware that the entire vision was purely allegorical, and that all the images therein were merely conventional symbols. Had there been the slightest attempt to suggest to me that any of the figures were veridical -- e.g. that God was a Male Worker -- I should, probably, have shied away from the whole.

I was deeply puzzled about one thing. God's shadow was lying over the whole world. Then why did not those blind fools see it? As I asked myself this, I became aware, abruptly, that two yards to my left and just behind the limit of my field of sight, there was standing -- an allegorical Angel. Do not ask me what he looked like; for that is quite unimportant. He symbolized something which could be questioned. And I fitted him with an allegorical make-up which would be in keeping with the rest of the vision. I made him a conventional Angel, tall, dark, beardless and attired in a long white garment. But I was not interested in him. Wild curiosity held me in its grip. I called to him and pointed. 'Look! look!; I cried, 'God's shadow! It's everywhere! It's all around them! Why, why don't they see it?'

I had expected that the reply would be something conventional about their being too much absorbed in their own, worldly affairs; and if that answer had come I should have discredited it; for my sympathies were with these people, and I knew that many of them were searching everywhere for evidence of God's existence. But the answer which came -- came immediately in five short decisive words -- was completely unexpected.

'Because it has no edges,' said the Angel.

And I found myself wide awake -- really awake -- and memorizing carefully every detail of the dream. Of course, I saw at once that what the 'Angel' had said was true. It is psychologically impossible to be aware of anything which 'has no edges'. To realize the existence of this or that there must be a 'not-this' or 'not-that' with which to make comparison. As for the dream, it meant obviously that there was no place in the whole world where God was absent. Consequently, it would be useless to search anywhere for evidence of God.

There is, however, something else about that allegory which is important. It did not preach Pantheism. God and the world were not one and the same thing. But His shadow covered the world; which means that His Spirit or Mind pervades the physical world which is neither Him nor that Spirit.

Friday, August 5, 2022

God vs. King

My last post, "When that gorilla beats his chest," featured this poster for the movie Godzilla vs. Kong, which was originally going to be released in 2020 but was delayed for the usual reason.

This synched with, among other things, these lyrics from The Script:

Yeah, you can be the greatest, you can be the best
You can be the King Kong bangin' on your chest
You can beat the world, you can beat the war
You can talk to God, go bangin' on his door

Besides the explicit mention of King Kong, it also says "You can talk to God," a link to the "God vs. King" tagline. Doing a little research online, I find that Godzilla vs. Kong features a deaf character played by a deaf half-Asian actress (Kaylee Hottle, Korean-Caucasian). The music video for the Script song, "Hall of Fame" (2012), also features a deaf character played by a half-Asian actress (Ariana Emnace, Filipino-Mexican).

Godzilla is a giant reptile from the sea, but (a commenter informs me), his name comes partly from the English word gorilla. The original Japanese name, Gojira, apparently created before the monster's reptilian nature had been decided on, is a portmanteau of gorira ("gorilla," from English) and kujira ("whale").

Kong, of course, is a giant gorilla. Where did his name come from? According to Wikipedia:

[King Kong creator Merian C.] Cooper was fascinated by [his friend Douglas] Burden's adventures as chronicled in his book Dragon Lizards of Komodo where he referred to the animal as the "King of Komodo". It was this phrase . . . that gave him the idea to name the giant ape "Kong."

So Godzilla, the giant lizard, has a name partly inspired by gorilla; and Kong, the gorilla, has a name partly inspired by a giant lizard.

The land-monster Kong and the sea-monster Godzilla made me think of Behemoth and Leviathan. In my post "Mr. Owl ate my metal worm," I noted that the giant fish Bahamut, the Arabic equivalent of Leviathan, has a name that comes from Behemoth; while Behemoth-equivalent Kuyutha, the giant bull, has a name that is likely a corruption of Leviathan. There is an obvious parallel here to the way in which Godzilla and Kong got their respective names.

Bahamut is also the name, in D&D, of the king of all metallic dragons, so I connected the name with the Metal Worm in the palindrome. Bahamut -- the sea monster whose name comes from a land monster -- corresponds to Godzilla, so Godzilla is the Metal Worm. The Metal Worm's antagonist is Mr. Owl. As it happens, there is an extremely popular YouTube video (nearly 30 million views) that takes the Godzilla vs. Kong trailer and digitally replaces Kong with a cat -- a cat named, of all things, OwlKitty.

Cat vs. Godzilla also ties in with "Immediate confirmation that Michael is Mr. Owl," in which -- besides referencing the Metal Worm palindrome yet again -- I mention seeing a gecko and thinking "Hey, it's a dragon!" and then later having to rescue a different gecko from my cats. "When that gorilla beats his chest" also included a gecko anecdote, pairing the gecko not with a cat but with a moth -- Godzilla vs. Mothra?

To the Japanese, Gojira suggests "gorilla-whale." To my own ear, Godzilla is God + Zillah. Adah and Zillah are the two wives of Lamech in Genesis and were a source of deep fascination to me as a child. The contrast of A and Z, together with the fact that Zillah probably means "shadow" in Hebrew, led me to envision them as opposites -- Adah as a very pale white woman, and Zillah as a very dark-skinned Indian woman.

Much later, in college, I knew two women, roommates, who exactly resembled my childhood image of Adah and Zillah; I always thought of them by those names, and now I find I can only remember the real name of one of them! For some reason, the 2002 Steve Earle song "Ashes to Ashes" is also closely associated in my mind with these two women. (I think it's just that I started listening to the song about the same time I met them, and its overall vibe fit "Adah's" personality.) The lyrics do have a bit of Godzilla-vs.-Kong type imagery.

A long time ago
Before the ice and the snow
Giants walked this land
Each step they took
The mighty mountains shook
And the trees took a knee
And the seas rolled in

Searching my own blog for godzilla just now, I found a dream I had forgotten about, recounted in the post "On the threshold of lucidity," in which I watched a sea serpent (Leviathan) transform first into "a bipedal Godzilla-type creature" and then into a woman "who reminded me a bit of the actress Sarita Choudhury." As you may have gathered from the name, Sarita Choudhury is of Indian extraction, and she has dark skin. Looking her up, I find that, like the other two actresses mentioned in this post, she is only half-Asian -- though as far as I know, she has never played a deaf character. That dream ends with me being bitten by a poisonous snake, though, and adders are proverbially deaf.

Anyway, God-zillah means "God's shadow." In one of J. W. Dunne's books (I'll have to look it up later), he relates a dream in which he became aware that God's shadow was cast over the entire world, and he asked his angel guide how it was possible that people could not see something so obvious as that enormous shadow. "Because it has no edges" was the angel's reply.

(I am working on a theological post that keeps being delayed by these syncs. In it, I happen to quote Dunne: "Oh, God! Allow us to reach the open sea!")

When that gorilla beats his chest

Yesterday evening (August 4) I taught a children's English class. They had read an article about the eating utensils used in different cultures -- forks, spoons, chopsticks, etc. -- and a sidebar mentioned that some chimpanzees used sticks to eat ants.

I asked if everyone knew what chimpanzee meant, and one of the kids responded by beating his chest. I said, "No, that's a gorilla. A chimpanzee is a bit like a gorilla, but it's a lot smaller."

"King Kong!" said one of the kids.

"King Kong is a giant gorilla," I said. "A chimpanzee is a big ape with black fur, like a gorilla, but it's a lot smaller than a gorilla, and certainly a lot smaller than King Kong."

"Oh, I know!" said another student, finally getting it right. "A chimpanzee is a 'black star'!"

They're not allowed to use Chinese in class without permission, so they often take advantage of the pun-translation loophole. The Chinese for "chimpanzee" is 黑猩猩, literally "black ape," and the word for "ape" is a homophone of the word for "star" (星星).

One of the other kids asked if the ants the chimpanzees ate were honey ants. I said, "No, because honey ants live in Australia, but chimpanzees live in Africa. I think the 'ants' they eat are actually white ants, or termites."

The day before that (August 3), in the comments on "Good riddance, Big Ben!" I had left a link to the 2020 Black Dog Star post "The Cronus Virus - It's Time!" without actually rereading the post myself. After the class, though, I checked my blog comments and saw one from Debbie that began thus:

I clicked on the Black Dog Star link and I'm very impressed with a lot of the information that mirrors my own. . . .

Her wording put the They Might Be Giants song "I'm Impressed" in my head:

I'm impressed, I'm impressed
When that gorilla beats his chest
Fall to bits, I confess, I admit, I'm impressed . . .

With this playing in my head, I clicked my own link and reread the Black Dog Star post.  I had linked to it because it connected Saturn and clocks with the birdemic and was thus relevant to my own post giving "Taiwan's Dr. Fauci" (whose Chinese name sounds like the Chinese for "clock," just as Fauci means "sickle") the nickname Big Ben. I had forgotten that it also included this image:

King Kong and the Black (Dog) Star!

That night, I listened to music on YouTube while doing the dishes, as usual. One of the songs it played was a Kill_mR_DJ mashup of Toto's "Africa" and Enigma's "Return to Innocence." 

Looking at the screen, I saw that, in addition to Toto and Enigma, a band called "The Script" was credited, as the source of the instrumentals. I'd never heard of them.

Today (August 5), I had lunch at a restaurant, where a TV was playing music videos. I wasn't really paying attention until a live video from a concert came on. Before the song actually started, the singer was giving a little speech on the stage, in which he kept repeating that their band was The Script. Something like, "Whether you've been a Script fan since our first song, or whether this is your first Script concert, we want to say welcome to the Script family!" Then the music started, and I instantly recognized it as the track Kill_mR_DJ had sampled. My attention was now fully engaged, and then the lyrics started:

Yeah, you can be the greatest, you can be the best
You can be the King Kong bangin' on your chest
You can beat the world, you can beat the war
You can talk to God, go bangin' on his door

King Kong beating his chest again! No black stars in this song, but Kill_mR_DJ had put it together with a song by Toto (the name of a famous black dog) -- called "Africa" (home of the "black stars," a.k.a. chimpanzees).

The reference to banging on God's door also caught my attention. Just before lunch I had, on a sudden whim, paid a visit to the Guashan Shaolin Temple, which I hadn't been to in years. It was the middle of a weekday, and the temple was virtually empty. On the ground floor is an emormous statue of Bodhidharma which has a very powerful presence, but I was there for the meditation room on the second floor. There's framed Chinese calligraphy on the walls -- 18 channeled poems dedicated to each of the 18 Arhats. When I first visited this temple, 12 years ago or so, one of these 18 poems attracted me as if by magnetism (it really feels pretty literally like magnetism!) even though I was basically illiterate in Chinese at that time, and when I touched the paper, I felt a powerful stream of energy flowing through me. (I hate to use "energy" in a New-Agey way like that, but I'm afraid it's the mot juste.) Today I immediately recognized the poem again, felt the same magnetic attraction, and felt the same rush of energy when I touched it. I'm much better at reading Chinese now, and it is the poem dedicated to Cudapanthaka -- called in Chinese 看門羅漢, literally "the Arhat who watches the door."

As I exited the meditation room, I looked back and realized that I had not entered by the main doorway -- a large circular opening with no door -- but by a side door.. This was a green door which, though it was propped open with a chair, had a sign saying "Arhat Energy Room Temporarily Closed."

Way to watch the door, Cudapanthaka! It's not the first time in recent weeks I've passed through a green door into a place that was supposed to be closed.

In the temple stairwell, I passed a window where a moth had become trapped between the glass and the screen. After some coaxing and a lot of sliding the glass and the screen back and forth, I finally got it to fly outside. The exact moment the moth flew out the window, a gecko jumped in the window and onto my arm.

Update: Immediately after posting this, I taught a different children's English class. Their assignment for today included this:

Two references to Toto the dog. Also Oz, a nickname for Australia. (I had had to explain that chimps can't eat honey ants because they don't live in Australia.) See also the references to Dorothy and the Cowardly Lion in this recent comment by WanderingGondola.

Tuesday, August 2, 2022

Good riddance, Big Ben!

Taiwan's mask mandate, which is still in force, allows masks to be removed in special situations -- including (last I checked) eating, drinking, walking, riding a motorcycle, taking a photo, and lecturing -- so I'm pretty much good. My students, who have to sit at their desks without doing any of those things, not so much.

A few days ago, one of my private students said, "It's not fair that I have to wear a mask but you don't!"

"It certainly isn't," I said. "Feel free to take it off if you like."

"I can't!" she said. "Big Ben says I have to wear it."

Big Ben! I wish I had thought of that.

The Minister of Health and Welfare -- "Taiwan's Dr. Fauci" and the world's most powerful dentist -- was called Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), and his given name is a perfect homophone of 時鐘, the Chinese word for "clock." The Chinese for "stupid" is 笨, pronounced ben, and so Big Ben in London is called 大笨鐘 -- literally, "Big Stupid Clock."

It's just a perfect nickname -- a very clever Chinese-English pun, and (much like "Let's go Brandon") indirect enough to make it playfully irreverent rather than just rude. Forget the old "Tooth Fairy" nickname; I'm never calling him anything but Big Ben from now on.

So imagine my mixed feelings when I discovered, just days later, that Big Ben had resigned! Not in disgrace, mind you, but to focus on his run for Mayor of Taipei -- a position which is generally recognized as a stepping-stone to the presidency. The good news is that Big Ben will likely be in the public eye for many years to come, giving me ample opportunity to talk about him. The bad news is that he hasn't really stepped down but stepped up, and the new guy will probably be just as bad but without the awesome nickname.

Mr. Q 2310, and the Heavenly Trump omen

Today I was on the road at a time when I would not normally have been; I had just come home and then had to go back out because I had forgotten something. While I was out, my eyes were drawn to a license plate that said MRQ 2310.

It was "Mr. Q" that first got my attention. There's been a lot of talk about "Mr. Owl" on this blog recently, particularly as a reference to Michael the Archangel. On July 29 (also, coincidentally, the day known as "Ghost Door Opens" on the Chinese calendar), I received an email from a woman using a pseudonym that begins with the letter Q, in which she said, "There is no real 'Mr. Q[...]' at this time, so with some of the things I've been reading about guardian angels, I'm beginning to wonder if Michael himself might be my guardian, or at least have an eye out for me."

So apparently Mr. Q is yet another name for Michael. In "More Mr. Owl," I noted that the Mr. Owl title does not identify Michael with the owl but with the owl's male counterpart, the hawk. In "If 6 turned out to be 9," I connected the owl with 6 and the hawk with 9. Note that a lowercase 'q' looks like 9, and that the Japanese word for "nine" is kyu -- a pun used, for example, in the title of Haruki Murakami's book 1Q84.

So what about the rest of the license plate? Well, it's my initials, for starters: 23 = W, and 10 = J. I thought there must be more to it than that, though (these things are always overdetermined), so I thought, "Well, what are its factors? It looks like it's divisible by 77, which is the S:E:G: value of Christ . . ." and, still on my motorcycle, I started doing the math in my head. Sure enough, 2310 is 77 times 30. At that moment, I passed a 7-Eleven convenience store, and I thought, "And 77 is 7 times 11, and -- holy shit!"

Why have I associated the owl with the number 6? Because of a restaurant called Six Owl Door, and accompanying syncs featuring six owls, an owl and six doors, etc. On July 28, Ben left a comment in which he linked to a photo of three doors marked with numbers.

The doors are numbered 11, 7, and 15 -- the product of which is 1155. If 1155 means three doors, then six doors would be twice 1155, which is, yes, 2310.

In other news, here's what's going on in the world of horse racing:

LSP in Grand Prairie, Texas, hosted a horse race for three-year-olds and up, and for most of the maiden race a four-year-old gelding named Moro Flyboy had a clear lead ahead of the rest of the competition, including a horse named “Heavenly Trump.”

As Flyboy, led by apprentice jockey Simon Camacho-Benitez, approached the final stretch of the race, the horse began to veer toward the track’s inside rail.

After flying too close to the sun, Moro Flyboy made contact with the rail and bucked Camacho-Benitez yards from the finish line, which gave way for Heavenly Trump to step up and steal the race (not like that).

The indisputable, Balaam-inspired act of God propelled Heavenly Trump to victory. Camacho-Benitez and Flyboy were reportedly unscathed after the incident.

From the accompanying video, it appears that Heavenly Trump is a white or light-gray horse, ridden by a jockey with a yellow cap.

"Heavenly Trump" is presumably a reference to the biblical "last trump" which calls the dead to rise from their graves, as illustrated on the 20th trump of the Tarot. The article, though, is obviously playing on the similarity of the name to that of Trump, the politician. Well, I made that connection long ago.

I also connected Trump with "The other Trump trump," the Sun. This card, which is associated with Gemini and Flag Day (Trump's sign and birthday), shows a yellow-haired child riding a white or light-gray horse next to a wall. Notice that when Moro Flyboy hits the "wall," bucking the jockey, the article refers to it as "flying too close to the sun."

Moro Flyboy -- Heavenly Trump's rival -- is connected in the article with the biblical story of Balaam, whose mount "thrust herself unto the wall, and crushed Balaam's foot against the wall." Balaam wasn't riding a horse, though, but a donkey -- symbol of the Democratic Party. I suppose this all syncs with Biden's foot fractures shortly after the election, and his recent fall from his bicycle.

Monday, August 1, 2022

If 6 turned out to be 9

In a recent comment, Debbie wrote:

So, regarding the interchangeability of the Owl and the Hawk, maybe Hendrix said it best; "What if 6 turns out to be 9"?

This was in the context of the Hawk being the solar (yang) counterpart to the lunar (yin) Owl. This reminded me that in the I Ching, 6 and 9 represent the transitions between yin and yang. The number 6 is "old yin" (yin changing to yang), and 9 is "old yang" (yang changing to yin).

The yin-yang symbol even looks like a 6 and a 9, even though it long predates the use of Arabic numerals in China.

If 6 and 9 are yin and yang, then the owl corresponds to 6, and the hawk to 9. I've already posted syncs relating to six owls and the Six Owl Door. Debbie points out that the hawk is linked to the Egyptian god Ra. The Wikipedia article on Ra says: "As Atum or Atum-Ra, he was reckoned the first being and the originator of the Ennead ('The Nine')."

They have a fight, Triangle wins, Triangle Man

A monster made of hundreds of tiny triangles