Sunday, December 31, 2023

Temple clothing in reverse, green shooting star, green figs

It's been 22 years since I last set foot in a Mormon temple, and the distinctive clothing worn there isn't something I think about very often. Basically, it's all white, with the exception of a small apron, which is green. The outfit for men includes what looks like a baker's hat.

I like to have some idea of the physiognomy of the authors I read, and so I've been trying, without success so far, to find a photo of Daymon Smith. One correspondent suggested that if I couldn't see his face I could at least hear his voice by looking up an interview he did some time back on the Mormon Stories podcast. I found a four-part series of such interviews, recorded in 2010, and listened to some of them. The third episode dealt with the corporate side of the CJCLDS and ended with a story about how economically motivated decisions had led first to a glut and then to a shortage of temple clothing.

The interviews were very well conducted and interesting, and I realized I'd never listened to anything else from Mormon Stories before, so I decided to give them a try. I started with what YouTube told me was their most popular episode: a two-part interview with Brinley Jensen, who served as a missionary during the birdemic hysteria and was sent home early due to mental health issues. The interview was quite engaging in human-interest terms, and I listened to the whole thing. A few minutes into the second part they mention temple clothing, and specifically that it's all white with a green apron:

John: So you're in white, you're dressed in white.

Brinley: With the green, yeah.

Margi: Apron.

I was listening to this as I washed the dishes, and just then I noticed the logo on my dish detergent:

All green, including a baker's hat, with a white apron -- the Mormon temple color scheme in reverse. The brand is 小綠人, "Little Green Man," and they don't make any food products, so I'm not sure why their mascot is dressed as a baker. Because they use baking soda, I guess?

The Mormon apron is green because it represents the fig-leaf aprons worn by Adam and Eve. Here the whole man is green, so I thought, "I guess he's a fig-man."

Then I noticed the green shooting star that is also part of the logo. Last year I saw a green fireball in the sky, so later, after I'd finished the dishes, I looked up my post about it, called "Once in a red moon?" because my green fireball had been on the same day as a "Blood Moon" eclipse in the U.S. Ben left a comment connecting the red moon and shooting star with figs:

After the blood moon of Rev 6:12


And the stars of heaven fell unto the earth, even as a fig tree casteth her untimely figs, when she is shaken of a mighty wind

Untimely figs would of course be green figs, which have come up many times on this blog.

Saturday, December 30, 2023

A tower sufficiently high that they might get to Olympus

A couple of months ago, I posted a bit about this meme. See, for example, "Taking inventory of Reality Temple syncs."

The running man in the meme is Arnold Schwarzenegger in his acting debut, as the title character in Hercules in New York. In the movie, the Greek demigod Hercules spends some time in, you guessed it, New York, where he befriends a Jewish pretzel vendor called Pretzie. Near the end of the movie, Herc and Pretzie are together on a viewing platform near the top of the Empire State Building when Herc disappears, having returned to Olympus. Later he gives Pretzie a farewell message by speaking to him through his radio.

A few days ago, on Christmas Day, an extremely obscure schizo YouTube channel I follow for complex psychological reasons posted a new video, with this as the thumbnail:

Of course I had to click. The video itself is very short (less than a minute) and doesn't include the thumbnail image. Instead it shows Pepe the Frog driving a tractor cab through space and then crash-landing on a shooting star. I looked up the song played at the end of the clip and found that it's the theme from Super Smash Bros., a Nintendo game featuring such characters as Mario and Donkey Kong.

On December 29, William Wright posted "Another Mushroom Planet, monkeys and bananas, and a deadly head in the Empire State Building." The "planet" of his title is the Mushroom Kingdom in a movie featuring Mario and Donkey Kong. One of the clips he posts from the movie has A-ha's "Take On Me" as a soundtrack, and he discusses that song and its original music video:

[W]e have a handshake between the 'drawing' man, and the 'real' woman, where she is then pulled into drawing-land (which strangely brought to my mind the LDS temple endowment, where people are literally pulled through the veil by the hand). 

This juxtaposition of the temple with the idea of escaping reality by entering a drawing obviously syncs with the Schwarzenegger meme.

(Side note: As a teacher of English as a foreign language, I don't approve of "Take On Me." One of the things I have to teach students is that the object of a phrasal verb such as take on can normally go either after the two elements or between them -- take on an assignment or take an assignment on -- but that if the object is a pronoun, it can only go in the latter position -- take it on. Inevitably, someone raises his hand and says, "But what about that one song?" And don't even get me started on the McDonald's slogan! Grammatical reservations aside, though, one line from "Take On Me" has been a longtime personal motto: "Say after me: It's no better to be safe than sorry.")

William goes on to write about the Percy Jackson books, in which "the way to get to Olympus is through the Empire State Building." He mentions that the ESB has come up in my recent writing as well as his own, but I think he missed the fact that I had specifically written about someone ascending to Olympus from the Empire State Building.

In the same post, he mentions a sync regarding hamsters and the name Herbie. This got my attention because in my December 5 post "Still 'From the Narrow Desert'" I had also mentioned the name Herbie in connection with a rodent:

Back when I lived in Maryland, . . . we had a big tree house which was the site of some strange goings-on. We had a big antique radio in there, with which we picked up transmissions we imagined were from outer space, dealing with a sort of bomb called "the Big Herbie," which they regularly threatened to drop on us. . . . A persistent mental image or fantasy I used to have while in that tree house was that somewhere deep in the woods but not far away was a "mouse" that wanted to eat the tree house.

The "outer space" messages we picked up on the old radio sync with Hercules talking to Pretzie from Olympus through his radio. In the same post I also mention "a tower sufficiently high that they might get to heaven" (a phrase from the Book of Mormon), which obviously syncs with the idea of using the Empire State Building to get to Olympus.

The "Big Herbie" bomb, in case you were wondering, was about the size and shape of a coffee can and appeared to be made of balsa. At least, that's how it appeared in the visual images that sometimes accompanied the radio transmissions. I had serious doubts as to whether it was really explosive.

I suppose Herbert and Hercules are related names, each consisting of Her- followed by an element meaning "fame."

Wednesday, December 27, 2023

William, meet Nile

Notes on a dream I had on August 3, 2011:

I'm in a car, driving down the road very fast. The scenery is so covered with clouds that it looks like the view from a plane, except that the clouds are occasionally broken by wooded hills and crags.

Two voices -- apparently of people in the car with me, but I don't see them. In these notes I'll call them A and B.

A says, "In Chinese we say 'foothills' -- is it the same?"

I say, "Yeah, for the small ones." (We just passed an enormous crag with a couple of very, very tall trees.)

A says, "The small ones?"

B, referring to me, says, "Yeah, he believes in much bigger things, like that tree." (When he says "much bigger things," I understand him to be insinuating that I believe in God.)

After a pause, I say, as if making a difficult but necessary confession, "I once saw a bear as tall as that tree." (The bear I picture when I say this is black.)

They say, "What? No way! Come on…"

"I saw it," I insist.

"Are you sure?"

"I saw it. I was there. And it was standing right by the tree."

They still don't believe me, but I still insist: "Come on, why is it so hard to believe? Why can't a bear be that tall? Dinosaurs were that tall!" (Actually, dinosaurs were not that tall. The tree in question is a good 30 meters high.)

Later, in a hypnopompic state, I discovered the name of one of my interlocutors:

After I woke up (or so I thought), I did as Dunne recommends and, with my eyes still closed, reviewed the details of my dreams so as to establish them more firmly in my memory before they disappeared. Realizing that I didn't know who I had been talking to in the car, I thought to myself, "I don't know his name."

In response, another mental voice immediately said, "I don't know his name. Hey, what's your name?"

A third mental voice answered. What he said was originally garbled and hard to understand, but after a second it became clear: "My name is -- Nile."

Why am I thinking of a dream I had more than 12 years ago? Because I just read this little exchange in The Tower, Colin Wilson's second Spider World book:

Niall asked: "What are you called?"


"That is a strange name."

"No, it's not. Where I come from it's a perfectly normal name. What's yours?"


"That's not a name, that's a river!"

This appearance of a character named Bill who knows of the River Nile is the first clear indication of a connection between Spider World and the world we know.

Incidentally, a slightly earlier dream, on July 7, 2011, had also featured the name Nile in the context of driving a car with two unknown speakers:

I'm driving my car down a broad, slowly winding road in a slightly hilly, grassy rural area. The different areas I drive through are physical spaces but are also different schools of philosophy and perhaps also literary or artistic movements. (My general impression was clearly that I was driving through schools of philosophy, not literature, but when I try to remember any of the specific areas I drove through, the first thing that comes to mind is "Romanticism.")

Someone asks, "Did you find the solution of the Nile?"

Someone else answers, "No, I didn’t get that far yet." (It's not at all clear who is speaking or even whether or not I am one of the speakers.)

I think to myself, "That's appropriate, because the Nile is a geographic place, but a solution is something you find in philosophy."

 Actually, the Nile itself might be termed a "liquid solution":

Note added (1:50 p.m.): One of the first comments under that King Friday video is "Mr. Rogers, I presume" -- a reference to Dr. Livingstone and his quest to find the source of the Nile. When I wrote my "Milkommen" post a few days ago, I looked up references to the "milk of the word" in the New Testament and found this:

As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby: if so be ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious. To whom coming, as unto a living stone, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God, and precious, ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ (1 Pet. 2:1-5).

Tuesday, December 26, 2023

A helmet for Tolkien

Today I carelessly set a key down on top of a stack of books. Later I noticed that I had just happened to put it in the perfect position:

Monday, December 25, 2023

Merry Christmas

William Blake, The Descent of Peace

And it came to pass that I saw the heavens open; and an angel came down and stood before me; and he said unto me: Nephi, what beholdest thou?

And I said unto him: A virgin, most beautiful and fair above all other virgins.

And he said unto me: Knowest thou the condescension of God?

And I said unto him: I know that he loveth his children; nevertheless, I do not know the meaning of all things.

And he said unto me: Behold, the virgin whom thou seest is the mother of the God, after the manner of the flesh.

And it came to pass that I beheld that she was carried away in the Spirit; and after she had been carried away in the Spirit for the space of a time the angel spake unto me, saying: Look!

And I looked and beheld the virgin again, bearing a child in her arms.

And the angel said unto me: Behold the Lamb of God, yea, even the Eternal Father! Knowest thou the meaning of the tree which thy father saw?

And I answered him, saying: Yea, it is the love of God, which sheddeth itself abroad in the hearts of the children of men; wherefore, it is the most desirable above all things.

And he spake unto me, saying: Yea, and the most joyous to the soul.

-- 1 Nephi 11:14-23

Sunday, December 24, 2023


One of the main sources of William Wright's unusual ideas is what he calls "words" -- strings of text which he receives in what I guess is something of a dream-like manner, and which appear to be strange multilingual concoctions incorporating English, the fictional languages created by Tolkien, and sometimes other languages such as Spanish and German. He tries to decipher these and extract a story from them. Although I sometimes enjoy this kind of sleuthing (I was a big Finnegans Wake reader in my early twenties), and although I find William's ideas stimulating, I haven't been able to muster much interest in his "words" themselves. On December 22, he posted "Jan-Feb 2022 Words Part 1" -- the type of post that typically makes my eyes glaze over -- but in this case one of his "words" (literally just one word) captured my imagination:

Feb. 5



It was just this one word, kind of just hanging there, and I took it to be perhaps a play on words of the German "Wilkommen" (Welcome), but now with Milk, since the German language had been part of my 2019 words.  The Promised Land is associated with Milk and Honey, and so that is where my mind went, whether that accurate or not.

This is a pretty solid reading, obviously. The reference to the well-known German word Willkommen seems undeniable. Besides the "milk and honey" angle, I note that Wilkommen is transformed into Milkommen by turning the first letter upside down, inviting the reading "Welcome to upside-down world" or "Welcome to the looking-glass world." (The word milk is already associated with such inversions in my mind, since Klim is a popular brand of powdered milk here in Taiwan.)

My first thought on seeing Milkommen, though, was that it could also be read as Milkom-men -- meaning the Ammonites of the Old Testament, whose national god was called Milcom or Milkom. Since William's "words" seem to be more oriented to the Book of Mormon, it could be a very indirect way of referencing an unrelated people in that book who are also called Ammonites -- Lamanites converted by the preaching of Ammon, son of Mosiah.

Of course, Milkommen would be a rather inefficient way of saying "Ammonites" if that was all you wanted to convey, so I figured there must be more to it. On a hunch, I looked up kommen on Wiktionary. It's German for "come," of course, but I scrolled down and found this at the very end of the entry.

The very last line in the entry for kommen is a partial quotation of Isaiah 55:1, where it is Swedish for "come ye." Here's the whole verse:

Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye [kommen] to the waters, and he that hath no money; come ye, buy, and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price.

So looking up kommen led me directly back to milk!

It was quite late at night that I was making these connections. I went to bed and had a strange dream in which I was praying the Rosary but my prayers were being "blocked" by an enormous black spherical spaceship hovering above me, an effect caused by some obscure correspondence between the physical structure of my rosary and that of the ship. The dream seemed to go on for an extremely long time. I kept saying "Pater noster," only to be aware of the words being absorbed by the blackness of the ship, prevented from rising to Heaven. In the dream, I began to think that this was because of the words themselves. Pater noster, my dreaming mind reasoned, must mean something like, "homecoming father" in Greek, which means Odysseus, who captained a black ship, and therefore this black ship has the right to "claim" my prayer. Nevertheless, I kept on using those same words, never thinking to switch to a different language or a different prayer.

I was awakened suddenly by what I thought was the sound of something exploding in my study. I got up and went into the study without bothering to turn on the light, and satisfied myself that nothing had happened and that the noise must have been part of the dream. I was just about to go back to bed when I noticed a particular book, dimly visible behind the glass door of one of my cabinets, and thought, "What's that funny-looking book? I don't remember owning a book like that!" I turned on the light and opened the cabinet, and the book in question fell out and landed face-up on the desk below. I photographed it exactly as it landed, without touching it:

The Milk of Paradise: The Effect of Opium Visions on the Works of DeQuincey, Crabbe, Francis Thompson, and Coleridge. That is, the effect of the milky juice of the poppy on four men. The effect of milk on men. In rapid speech, the final consonant of on would be assimilated to the m that follows it, yielding milk-om-men.

The title of the book is of course a reference to the famous closing lines of Coleridge's Kubla Khan:

For he on honey-dew hath fed,
And drunk the milk of Paradise.

That's a major sync with what I was reading last night: The Desert, the first installment in Colin Wilson's Spider World series. The main characters have just been welcomed to Dira, a vast underground city (cf. "caverns measureless to man") ruled by Kazak, a king said to have about 180 wives. (A pen friend of mine recently wrote a great deal of imaginative, possibly schizophrenic, material about Kubla Khan, much of it dealing with his practice of polygamy on a vast scale.) The people of Dira keep domestic ants, which in turn keep aphids. (All insects in this book are much larger than their real-world counterparts.)

[The aphids] were farmed like cattle, and milked of their honeydew several times a day; the honeydew was one of the most important food sources in the "palace."

Milk and honeydew juxtaposed, with the latter referenced as a food rather than a drink.

In my friend's writings about Kubla Khan, paintings of the Khan show him accompanied by two kittens, one white and one black:

To complete Kubla as a Proper Man, perched precariously on the folds of Kubla’s dark cloak are two mysterious Entirely Separate Beings depicted as two tiny cute small kittens, one white and one black, that he has taken in and sheltered in his cloak from the bitter cold. The two harmless-looking kittens make quite a contrast with the stern and barbaric and pitiless visage of Kubla himself. When Kubla returns to a mortal world and sees the two kittens in portraits of himself and realizes who they represent, he also snorts, but somewhat fondly, as if the portraits reminds him of a great Cosmic Joke that the painter is not fully aware of.

I referenced Through the Looking-Glass above without remembering how it begins. This is the first sentence:

One thing was certain, that the white kitten had had nothing to do with it: -- it was the black kitten's fault entirely.

The looking-glass world, you will recall, is laid out in the form of a chessboard:

This same chessboard imagery appears in the Ava Max music video "Kings & Queens," on which I have recently posted:

Lest the Masonic connotations of the black-and-white tiling be lost on the audience, we have a couple of pillars thrown in for good measure. Later, Ava demonstrates a Masonic penal sign while singing "Off with your head" -- a phrase with Lewis Carroll resonances.

The "Kings & Queens" video begins with a shot of white doves in flight and later shows champagne being poured into overflowing glasses:

What made me think of the looking-glass world in the first place was the way the W in Wilkommen is turned upside down (or reflected) to create Milkommen. Back in 2018, I wrote about W/M reversals in "The Rider-Waite Magician." The Rider-Waite Ace of Cups features a white dove and an overflowing cup marked with a W that looks more like an upside-down M.

"We would pop champagne and raise a toast" is a recurring line in "Kings & Queens." Near the end of Through the Looking-Glass, the Red Queen and others drink a toast to Alice by turning their glasses upside down:

'Meanwhile, we'll drink your health -- Queen Alice's health!' she screamed at the top of her voice, and all the guests began drinking it directly, and very queerly they managed it: some of them put their glasses upon their heads like extinguishers, and drank all that trickled down their faces -- others upset the decanters and drank the wine as it ran off the edges of the table . . . .

Coming back to Isaiah 55 (sorry, it's hard to write about this non-linear web of associations in a linear manner), here's another passage from the same chapter:

For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater: So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it (vv. 10-11).

Rainwater is no good if we just collect it and let it stagnate. It's supposed to be used and transformed, that it may give seed to the sower and bread to the eater -- and the same is said of the word of God. This reminds me of a poem I wrote in 2010 about manna -- which must be eaten and internalized, or else it quickly goes bad.

Who on the bread of life will feed,
will live forever -- so we read
in that same book which oft is read
as if it were itself that bread.
But in that book is also told
how manna stinks when it is old,
in but a day breeds worms and reeks --
Then what if it were kept for weeks?
Or months? Or many a yawning year?
How would the manna then appear?
When centuries had past it paced,
how would the bread of life then taste?
And were it served at such a date,
what would become of them that ate?

The historical manna is often understood to have been something produced by desert insects, so there's a possible link to the idea of feeding on honeydew.

I'm not sure which, if any, of these many disparate associations will lead anywhere worthwhile. I just wanted to get them all written down first before I forget them.

Friday, December 22, 2023

His Dark Dove

William Wright's latest post, "A Numenorean Flying Ship," discusses Jeff Bezos's latest spaceship launch -- of a phallic rocket called New Shepard and decorated with an enormous black feather (even though Blue Origin's logo is, naturally enough, a blue feather). One of William's fellow Mormon-Tolkien-crossover thinkers has written of the Black Feathers as a group of Númenorean baddies, and William has been exploring the idea of Númenor (Tolkien's star-shaped island divided into the regions Andustar, Forostar, Orrostar, Hyarnustar, and Hyarrostar) as a heavenly body rather than a literal island. He quotes some of Tolkien's posthumously published notes suggesting that he had once toyed with the idea of spacefaring Elves and Númenoreans. This one in particular caught my eye:

For upon the Straight Road only the gods could walk, and only the ships of the Elves could journey; for being straight that road passed through the air of breath and flight and rose above it, and traversed Ilmen [outer space] in which no mortal flesh can endure.

The phrase Straight Road is here used to refer to space travel. This is interesting vis-à-vis New Shepard's black feather. When, a few months before the birdemic, I began a post with the word corvids, that post was called "Birds that go straight" and characterized the crow as one such because "'As the crow flies' means in a straight line." In my December 2020 post "Red crows of the sun," I discuss my childhood idea that crows and all other black-feathered birds are actually from outer space.

William Wright is far from the first to connect bald Bezos and his phallic rocket with Dr. Evil in the second Austin Powers movie (whose phallic rocket I recently referenced in "Sometimes a banana is just a banana," though William didn't catch it).

There are more parallels. Dr. Evil has a son named Scott Evil. Bezos has a son with a woman named Scott. Bezos named his rocket after Alan Shepard. Dr. Evil's rocket was part of a program named after Alan Parsons. Bezos's company is called Blue Origin. Dr. Evil sings "What if God was one of us? Blue blue blue blue blue blue blue." I'm telling you, these are some top-shelf coincidences!

My last post included the Ava Max music video for "Kings & Queens"; this begins with footage of white doves in flight, which are later replaced with parrots in the rest of the video. Parrots replacing doves made me think of my favorite Flaubert story, "A Simple Heart," which ends with the Holy Ghost appearing in the form of a parrot. With this context of subverted holy-dove imagery, Bezos's black feather made me think of the Tori Amos song "Black-Dove (January)," the lyrics of which apparently came to her in a dream:

I used to vaguely connect this song with the Waco massacre of 1993, since the lyrics repeatedly mention Texas, and David Koresh is an anagram of His Dark Dove. Listening to it again now, I notice other things:

Black-dove black-dove
You don't need a space ship
They don't know you've already lived
On the other side of the galaxy 
She had a January world
So many storms not right somehow
How a lion becomes a mouse
By the woods
But I have to get to Texas
Said I have to get to Texas
And I'll give away my blue blue dress

Notice how the black dove is associated with space travel (all black birds are from outer space), and there's also mention of a "blue blue dress" (cf. the blue robes of the spacefaring "wizards"). "How a lion becomes a mouse / By the woods" is interesting, too. Satan is called a roaring lion in the Bible, but William Wright has recently been connecting "Satan-Saruman" (his term) with the rat or mouse. I recently posted about a sinister mouse in the woods.

The most interesting and unexpected link has to do with Koresh himself, though. Remember that this post began with the Texas launch of a penis-shaped spaceship called New Shepard. Today I learned that before they were called Branch Davidians, the Waco group had a different name:

Shepherd's Rod.

Thursday, December 21, 2023

My name's Blurryface, and I care if you give kings and queens a bad name

Last night I let the YouTube algorithm choose some music for me while I did some chores. Earlier this month I had listened to the Ava Max song "Kings & Queens" after William Wright posted about it, and YouTube figured I wanted to listen to it again:

The tune of the chorus seemed really familiar, and it took me a second to realize where it was from: "You Give Love a Bad Name" by Bon Jovi:

Besides the melodic similarity (I guess there are only so many tunes out there, right?), something else the two songs have in common is the incongruous application of phallic weapon imagery to a woman. Bon Jovi has the repeated line "You're a loaded gun," implicitly addressed to a woman. Ava Max sings, "And you might think I'm weak without a sword / But if I had one, it'd be bigger than yours" -- and, lest the Freudian subtext be too subtle for some listeners, drives it home with a Michael Jackson crotch grab. The Bon Jovi song says "I play my part, you play your game"; Ava Max's très maçonnique music video features lots of chessboard imagery and helpfully explains "In chess, the king can move one space at a time / But queens are free to go wherever they like." Bon Jovi sings, "You promise me heaven, then put me through hell"; "Kings & Queens" is from the album Heaven & Hell.

Guns and swords as phallic symbols came up in my November 28 post "Sometimes a banana is just a banana -- right?" -- another theme of which was having no stones. "Never mind the Stones, here's the Sex Pistols." "Let him without stone cast the first cigarette." Check out what the algorithm served up immediately after "Kings & Queens":

Some random Simon and Garfunkel cover? Yes, but take a closer look at that thumbnail:

The next song after that, "Stressed Out," references the idea of a limited number of melodies being recycled by different bands:

I wish I found some better sounds no one's ever heard
I wish I had a better voice that sang some better words
I wish I found some chords in an order that is new

Tuesday, December 19, 2023

RV and preparation

In my November 28 post "Sometimes a banana is just a banana -- right?" I recount a dream I had in which there was a song beginning "R-V!" and I note that "in the dream I understood RV to stand for preparation worker, even though that doesn't make any sense." I had the dream in the early 1990s, but I just posted about it three weeks ago because the sync-stream had made it relevant.

This morning, one of my private English students brought this magazine article:

RV alone would have been something of a sync, but notice that five words on the page have been bolded for special emphasis -- as "key vocabulary" the reader should be sure to know -- and that one of these is preparation. There's no logical connection between RV and preparation, so this is a pretty strong sync.

(By the way, the grammar pedant in me has to take exception to the last sentence in the first column: "It was called the Gypsy Van, and many people considered it to be the first RV." Surely it was only later, in retrospect, that the Gypsy Van was thus considered -- I doubt anyone in 1915 was politically correct enough to call it a Roma Van -- so it should be "many people consider it to have been the first RV.")

Note added (3:50 p.m.):

The facing page, which I didn't photograph, has an additional example sentence for each of the bolded words. The one for preparation is "Morris put a lot of preparation into the job interview." The name caught my eye because a couple of days ago I found myself thinking of the spider who patrols my balcony -- a large male cane spider (Heteropoda venatoria), the one I mentioned "dancing" to a Johnny Cash cover in "Spider's oil and walking the line" (December 12) -- as "Morris." I don't know where that name came from, and I never made a conscious choice to give it to him; I just caught myself thinking "I wonder if Morris will come out tonight" and realized that he had a name.

I understand that cane spiders are an arachnophobe's nightmare, being both enormous and given to sudden bursts of lightning-fast movement, but anything that kills cockroaches is all right in my book, and Morris is more than welcome on my balcony. Among his conspecifics, Morris stands out for his eyes -- not usually a cane spider's best feature -- which, though tiny, are bright green and remarkably reflective. They always seem to be glinting even when there's no obvious light source, and that's usually how I spot him at night.

I first mentioned my "RV" dream in a post dealing primarily with bananas and my childhood "Banana Man" persona. One of the common names for Morris's species is banana huntsman spider, and apparently there is an urban legend that spiders of this species will hide inside bananas. According to Wikipedia:

The banana spider myth claims that the Huntsman spider lays its eggs in banana flower blossoms, resulting in spiders inside the tip of bananas, waiting to terrorize an unsuspecting consumer. This is supposed to explain why monkeys allegedly peel bananas from the "wrong" end.

My post also included a reference to the way monkeys allegedly peel bananas:

I insisted on eating them "the monkey way" -- meaning with the skin peeled back but not removed, as I had seen monkeys eating them in cartoons.

I've just remembered now that during my Banana Man period, my father told me that I ought to write a story about a boy named Harvey who had a secret alter ego as the superhero Banana Man. Why Harvey I don't know, but I remember that he specifically suggested that name. Harvey of course sounds very similar to RV.

Another novel with Tyco and mushroom people

A few months ago, on a whim, I picked up a secondhand copy of Timelock by Koté Adler, an apparently self-published novel by an author on whom I have no information other than that he obviously didn't have a copyeditor. I go back and forth on whether or not he's a native speaker of English. The summary in the back cover is as follows:

On board a vast and lonely starship hurdling through space at relativistic speeds, Alik Likiaksa pushes the limits of his consciousness to unlock the secrets of an alien messenger.

Through the lens of the hallucinogenic mushroom, this psychedelic journey into the future carves out a new footprint for a fresh and exciting sub-genre of psychedelic science fiction.

Timelock is the first installment of an epic science fiction adventure that seeks to define man's ultimate place within the Cosmos and unravel the mystery's of mind.

I bought it because it was cheap, because it looked like something I wouldn't be able to find anywhere else, and because I read a fair bit about psychedelics and about fringe theories of time.

At the time I bought Timelock, I had no knowledge of the existence of Eleanor Cameron or her Mushroom Planet novels. I discovered these after Kevin McCall mentioned them in a comment on one of my Little Skinny Planet posts, the connection being that the Mushroom Planet is very small and orbits the Earth. I've since read the whole series and posted quite a lot about it. Regular readers will be aware that one of the main characters is a Mushroom Person called Tyco Mycetes Bass. Mushroom People appear human-like but are actually fungus-based organisms.

Since Timelock features space travel and mushrooms, it seemed natural to read it after finishing Cameron's series. I was expecting mushrooms to appear only as a hallucinogen, but in fact this novel, too, features extraterrestrials who appear humanoid but are actually fungi. The main "mushroom person" character is called Myco, suggesting both the first and middle names of Mr. Bass. Of course it's not all that surprising for two different fictional mushroom people to have names suggesting the scientific prefix myco-, meaning "mushroom." More striking is the fact that the human characters in Timelock use a currency called the tyco. I'm not sure if that's a coincidence or an homage -- perhaps Adler had read Cameron's books -- but it certainly is a coincidence that I bought Timelock and then, shortly later and for unrelated reasons, had the Mushroom Planet novels brought to my attention.

Monday, December 18, 2023

Hey, hey, Mercy Woman plays the song and no one listens

Last night I dreamed that I was hearing a "spidery" (slow, high-pitched, ethereal) performance of the Monkees song "Listen to the Band." I awoke with a vague sense that the lyrics had been in Latin but couldn't remember any of them.

In the morning, I said my Rosary, and the Salve Regina brought the dream back to my memory. After all, what is Salve, . . . Mater misericordiae but a Latin translation of "Hey, hey, Mercy Woman"? Ad te clamamus exsules filii Hevae -- "To thee do we cry, Eve's exiled children" -- what are we asking but that she "listen to the banned"? Of course the problem is that we are so intent on being listened to that we forget to listen: "Hey, hey, Mercy Woman plays the song and no one listens."

After the Rosary, I attended a sacrament meeting at the tiny English-speaking branch in Taichung -- the first time I have set foot in a Mormon church in well over a decade and probably closer to two. The CJCLDS has changed a lot in that time, but the sacrament meeting experience is just exactly the same as ever -- including, yes, its characteristic boringness, but not only that. I appreciated the total silence at some points in the service -- a commodity in short supply in Taiwan. I found myself thinking of it as "Quakerish," though I know Quakerism only through books.

Mormons don't do anything remotely like a liturgical calendar -- they don't even go to church on Christmas Day unless it happens to fall on a Sunday -- but one concession to the season is that Christmas carols are sung instead of ordinary hymns. Today, one of the selections happened to feature the only Latin in the Mormon hymnal: "Angels We Have Heard on High," with the Latin refrain Gloria in exclesis Deo. I thought it was funny: Earlier this year, I had tried and failed to find a Latin Mass in Taiwan, and then the one day I decide to go to a Mormon church instead, they have Latin!

Then I realized -- how had I not noticed it before? -- that "Angels We Have Heard on High" has pretty much the same tune as "Listen to the Band." Transpose "Angels" into G major (Mormons sing it in F major), map two measures of "Angels" to each measure of "Listen," and they fit almost perfectly. I don't have the musical talent to do it properly myself, but someone ought to. You can listen to a quick and dirty proof of concept here.

There's a certain thematic overlap, too: "Angels we have heard" -- "Listen to the band" -- the angel band. You could introduce the combined songs with that Negro spiritual about "ten little angels in de band."

I guess YouTube knows it's Christmastime, too. This evening the algorithm served up Denmark + Winter's version of "Little Drummer Boy." That syncs with "Listen to the Band," too. "Shall I play for you, pa-rum-pa-pum-pum, on my drum? Mary nodded. . . ." -- "Hey, hey, Mercy Woman . . . play the drum a little bit louder."

Friday, December 15, 2023

Go out, believe out. Go in, believe in.

This was spoken to me in a dream last night. The meaning is that when we enter or leave a particular environment, we change not only our outer behavior but also our beliefs. In an environment where a certain thing is believed, you will find yourself believing it, too, to a non-trivial extent. This happens automatically, and the best way to safeguard against it is to be consciously aware of it.

In the dream, I caught some bees -- plucking them from the air with my fingers like Daniel-san with his chopsticks -- and placed them around the edges of doorways, where they obediently stayed.

"Do those bees live in the doorway?" someone asked. "Is their hive there?"

"No, not yet," I said. "It's just a few bees for now, but I hope they will build hives soon."

"But I don't like bees."

"Well, you'd better get used to them. They're our friends."

I meant that they were our friends because the proximity of stinging insects would make people more alert and nervous as they passed through doorways, raising their consciousness and making them less susceptible to the belief-altering effects of entering and leaving places.

Beetle-oil lamps in Spider World

I’ve started reading the first of Colin Wilson’s Spider World novels. The human characters use lamps that burn insect oil, apparently primarily from beetles.

We’re getting awfully close to “With spider’s oil the lamps of Salem burn.” It’s not spider’s oil, but it’s in a spider-centric novel, and any sort of creepy-crawly being a source of lamp oil is a pretty unusual idea.

Thursday, December 14, 2023

The "waters" of outer space

I’ve been sailing all my life now
Never harbor or port have I known
The wide universe is the ocean I travel
And the earth is my blue boat home. 

-- Peter Mayer, "Blue Boat Home"

Praise ye the Lord from the heavens:
    praise him in the heights.
Praise ye him, all his angels:
    praise ye him, all his hosts.
Praise ye him, sun and moon:
    praise him, all ye stars of light.
Praise him, ye heavens of heavens,
    and ye waters that be above the heavens.
-- Psalm 148:1-4

The lines from Psalm 148 quoted above use the typical Hebrew poetic device of parallelism, where each line is followed by one that parallels it -- either a paraphrase or a similar idea. In the first two couplets quoted, the two lines are more-or-less synonymous; "the heavens" and "the heights" probably mean about the same thing, as do "his angels" and "his hosts." In the third couplet, the lines are not synonymous -- the sun and moon are not considered to be "stars" in the Bible -- but are obviously thematically related.

What about the fourth couplet? I propose that the two lines are synonymous there, too. The "heaven of heavens" and the "waters that be above the heavens" refer to the same thing -- namely, outer space. (The standard reading, that "waters above the heavens" refers to clouds, strikes me as ridiculous.) In Genesis 1, the "heaven" is the atmosphere, the place where birds fly, and the "waters" are "above" that -- outer space. Outer space is the heaven of heavens in a fairly literal sense, since many different "heavens" -- i.e., the atmospheres of many different planets -- are contained in it. Space is called "waters" simply because that's a metaphor that comes very naturally, as seen in the Peter Mayer song.

If "waters" can mean space, then the story of the City of Enoch floating away into space and Atlantis sinking beneath the waters could be variants of the same original story.

Wednesday, December 13, 2023

The Philosopher's Pupil and the eclipse

In my October 23 post "Jesus is my librarian," I describe what brought Iris Murdoch's novel The Philosopher's Pupil to my attention:

One of the other books on the shelf caught my eye, though: The Philosopher's Pupil, a book I bought right around the time I was outgrowing Iris Murdoch and never ended up reading. It made me think of the ending of a poem that features in the Eridanus videos:

Ascend, O moon
Into the sun
Eclipse's eye
Thy will be done.
Lo, Abraxas!
To thy pupil cometh sight,
For from thy shadow shineth light!

It's a little surprising, given that the author's name is Iris and all, that I'd never thought of the ocular sense of pupil in connection with Murdoch's book; I'd always assumed it referred to a philosopher's student and never considered any other possible meaning. Seeing the title printed on a black background, though, with that poem in the back of my mind, I made the connection. Now I suppose I'll have to read it to see if Murdoch does the same.

I've very nearly finished The Philosopher's Pupil, and, no, the "pupil" as part of the eye never comes up. The original synchronistic context, though, was of the dark "pupil" at the center of a solar eclipse. This is the "pupil" image from the Galahad Eridanus video:

This image has no relevance for the vast majority of Murdoch's novel, but right near the end it shows up:

Only the sun, blazing through the misty light, had changed or was changing. It was no longer round but was becoming shaped like a star with long jagged mobile points which kept flowing in and out, and each time they flowed they became of a dazzling burning intensity. The star was very near, too near. It went on flaming and burning, a vast catastrophic conflagration in the evening sky, emitting its long jets of flame. And as it burnt with dazzling pointed rays a dark circle began to grow in its center, making the star look like a sunflower. George thought, I'll look at the dark part, then I shall be all right. As he watched, the dark part was growing so that now it almost covered the central orb of the sun, leaving only the long burning petals of flame which were darting out on every side. The dark part was black, black, and the petals were a painful shimmering electric gold (pp. 556-557).

This hallucinatory episode, which also includes a flying saucer, ends with George losing consciousness. When he comes to, he asks, "Was there an eclipse of the sun?" and is told that there was not.

The parallels with Galahad Eridanus's "eclipse" -- which was also a hallucinatory vision rather than a literal astronomical event -- are quite close.

The sunflower angle is interesting, too, as that flower has been in the sync-stream recently, particularly in some of William Wright's recent posts. I had not previously made the connection that if a sunflower resembles a solar disc, it is an eclipsed solar disk, a dark circle surrounded by a fiery corona.

Note added 1:50 p.m.: Looking back at the "Jesus is my librarian" post, I see it had a photo of Murdoch's book on my shelf, very close to an English translation of Baudelaire's Les Fleurs du mal. Here is Odilon Redon's illustration for the latter book:

The sad death of a dog fox and a vixen

Just a minor sync note:

I read Time and Mr. Bass (1967) by Eleanor Cameron while I was also reading The Philosopher's Pupil (1983) by Iris Murdoch. These are completely different novels -- a sci-fi yarn for children written by a Canadian living in California, and a psychological novel written by an Irishwoman living in England -- but each features two wild foxes which are always referred to with gendered terms: dog fox for the male and she-fox (Cameron) or vixen (Murdoch) for the female. (Was vixen perhaps considered a slightly improper word for children in the '60s?) In each novel both foxes are eventually killed, causing distress to a character who had thought of them as "my" foxes.

Here's page 32 of Time and Mr. Bass:

"Oh!" said Mr. Bass sadly. "No, Chuck, it's my lovely dog fox, and he's dead. Now, that's a shame. I thought he and I had come to an agreement that he'd let our hens be, but someone's gone and shot him -- Towyn, I expect -- and so I take it he did not let our hens be. . . . Tchk! This is bad -- this is very, very bad."

Later (p. 171) the vixen, too, is killed:

"Poor beast," said Mr. Theo softly, and he knelt and took the slim muzzle in his hand and lifted her head. "Poor beast, she died of the most extreme terror." Gently, he closed her eyes.

Here's p. 534 of The Philosopher's Pupil:

'The foxes -- they are dead. The men came and killed them -- here in the garden -- I showed them where.'

Alex screamed out, her lips wet with a foam of rage -- 'You what, you let them do it? You showed them? You devil -- without telling me -- you let them kill my foxes -- oh I could kill you for this -- how could you do it -- let them kill my foxes -- why didn't you tell me --?'

I've read a lot of books, but only two where this happens -- and I was reading them concurrently, after each had been brought to my attention by the sync fairies. Not the best of omens.

Tuesday, December 12, 2023

Spider’s oil and walking the line

In yesterday's post "The spider, the rat, and the poltergeist," I mentioned listening to the Denmark + Winter cover of Johnny Cash's "I Walk the Line" and thinking of it as being sung by a spider.

For starters, this is just very spidery music. Anyone who has spent any time interacting with spiders in an indoor environment will know that they are extremely responsive to music, being drawn to some kinds and repelled by others. (I believe there have even been a few studies by The Science on this, drawing broad-brush conclusions to the effect that spiders prefer classical to techno or something like that.) And, though Johnny Cash himself would surely leave them cold, Denmark + Winter's ethereal rendition of "I Walk the Line" is exactly the kind of music spiders like. In fact, when I played it last night, a large male cane spider came out from his hiding place under the wooden slats of my balcony floor and joined me, waving his pedipalps a bit in the tentative way they do, which is about as close as cane spiders, a nervous breed, ever get to dancing.

As I suppose is obvious, I'm fond of spiders. Tolkien apparently thought of them simply as horrible and disgusting, which is also my father's view. (Once, when my father was explaining what made spiders so repulsive -- "big fat gut, long skinny legs" -- a friend of mine overheard and responded with an indignant "Hey!") With a few exceptions, I find most kinds of spiders very likable -- particularly jumping spiders, which have an almost mantis-like air of weird spirituality. When I was living in what is now Hell Hollow Wilderness Area in Ohio, I had a persistent fantasy that there were giant jumping spiders living in the woods on the far side of Paine Creek, and that, being cursed with voicelessness themselves, they would sometimes bring humans to their nocturnal soirées to perform. A pure-voiced girl in a white gown would sing, and I would accompany her on a recorder. (This was not my instrument of choice, but spiders are fastidious about music, and they had a strict rule: Mama don't 'low no banjo pickin' round here.)

As for the lyrics, "I keep my eyes wide open all the time" is obviously applicable to spiders, but the main thing is the repeated phrase "I walk the line" itself. Walking the line is what spiders do.

Today, wondering about possible meanings of "With spider's oil the lamps of Salem burn," I put do spiders produce oil into a search engine. I was pretty sure they don't, but it can't hurt to check, right? Apparently it's a common misconception -- there are lots of sites debunking it -- that spiders do produce oil, and that this has to do with their ability to "walk the line." Here's what the Spider Myths Site has to say:

Myth: Spiders have oil on their feet that keeps them from sticking to their own webs.

Fact: Everyone who educates about spiders has heard the question "why don't spiders stick to their webs?" many times. Who first came up with the oil-on-the-feet idea is unknown, but it must have originally been a perfectly reasonable guess, or hypothesis. Since the decades-old origin of this idea, in some circles it's become a dogma. It's been repeated countless times in print and online. There are even classroom lesson plans built around this false "fact".

To quote two of the world's leading experts on spider silk use (Fritz Vollrath and Edward Tillinghast) writing in 1992: "Ecribellate spiders simply tiptoe around the glue, which they deposit in spheroidal globs. When a spider accidentally steps into one of these glue balls, as it sometimes does, it suffers no more inconvenience than a human stepping into a wad of gum. When a fly slams into the web, however, it hits about 50 of the droplets, enough to make it stick." I might add that most spiders don't even make sticky silk, and those that do (mainly orbweavers and cobweb weavers) still have many non-sticky threads in various parts of their webs.

So "spider's oil" is a myth, a substance invented by those who don't imagine a spider capable of simply watching its step. Spiders aren't immune to the traps they set for others; they're just careful. (Carefulness lies very close to the essence of spider-nature, I think.) I'm not sure how or whether that ties in with the idea of "spider's oil" as lamp fuel, but it seems worth noting.

Note added: Another "spider-friendly" cover of an originally rougher song is Storm Large's take on the Pixies in the 2013 movie Big Ass Spider (one of the best opening scenes in any movie ever). People understand that this is what spiders like:

Monday, December 11, 2023

The spider, the rat, and the poltergeist

William Wright's December 10 post "A Vampire's Weekend" discusses "Ya Hey" and "Step," the only two Vampire Weekend songs I know, both of which I have posted about before. He finds in them allusions to Tolkien's spider-demon Ungoliant and to a rat or mouse which he identifies with another Tolkien villain, Saruman.

So I guess it's time to talk about the poltergeist of July-August 2019.

The first thing that happened was that our phone line suddenly went dead in the middle of a call, and the phone wouldn't work after that. Eventually an electrician found the problem: A cable inside the wall had been snipped neatly in two, as if with a pair of shears. He said he couldn't understand how it had happened. He said sometimes mice will bite wires, but this was such a clean cut, and in a place that should have been inaccessible even to a mouse. And in any case we keep multiple cats, and mice are simply not an issue.

A day or two after that, an air conditioner, a water dispenser, and a television set all suddenly stopped working at the same time. In each case the technician found that a small but important component had mysteriously been cut neatly in two.

When a brass doorknob somehow spontaneously cut itself neatly in half, we began to get the feeling that something paranormal was involved.

Then classic "poltergeist" phenomena began. Strong odors, such as sulfur and camphor, would suddenly appear and disappear. Small objects, especially shoes, would suddenly jump up, fly across the room, or skitter across the floor. I had a very strong sense that I was being watched, and by something that was not human. I had a vague sense that it felt like "some kind of animal," while my wife had a much more specific apprehension of it as a spider. Sometimes a brief image of an enormous spider would suddenly flash across her mind. She began to be quite frightened and to press me to "do something" about it.

Since some sort of spiritual presence seemed to be involved, I had the bright idea of "interrogating" it with Tarot cards. "Who are you?" I asked, then shuffled my deck, and drew a card: The Devil. "What do you want?" Death.

My reaction to this was, "Oh, come on!" It was just too corny, too cartoonish, too much like something out of a bad horror movie, and it didn't seem to fit the phenomena themselves, which seemed more mischievous than evil. I refused to take it seriously. I wrote at the time, "I think we're dealing with the spiritual equivalent of a 12-year-old boy making prank calls."

The feeling that we were dealing with an "animal" presence of some kind persisted, leading me into this dangerous line of thinking:

So far I haven't tried any prayers or other exorcistic gestures because, to be honest, my hunch is that this entity has shown up at my house the same way animals in need of help always do, and that I should receive it in the same spirit. Of course, to help it I need to know what it needs or wants (besides "death," I mean!). . . . Is it foolhardy to think I might be able to housebreak this thing? My feeling is that as long as I resist the temptation to try to enslave it, I'm not in any real danger . . . .

It's hard for me to understand now how I could have thought that way even for a moment, but I did. Fortunately, I quickly came to my senses:

Here's my thinking. A devil's purpose is not to annoy or terrorize but to tempt, and I think the temptation in this case was to do precisely what I almost did: to welcome this thing, using compassion as an excuse, but in fact motivated by morbid curiosity and pride.

Obviously, anything that calls itself the Devil, and that sees ordinary Christian prayer as a hostile act, should be taken at face value and sent packing. The only thing that made me hesitate to do so was the interesting (but absurd and illusory) prospect of "taming" it, as if I were King Solomon or something, as if I had somehow become a magician just by reading books.  . . . evil seems to be required to explicitly identify itself as such -- and it doesn't get much more explicit than saying "I'm the Devil, and I want death." If I had responded with," Right, well make yourself at home, then," I would essentially have been in the position of Faust inviting the black poodle into his house (and it was perhaps this subconscious connection that made me think of it as being like a stray animal).

I began using prayer against the thing, starting with some prayers that were recommended by a pen friend who is an Anglican priest. Phenomena ceased for about a week, and then this happened:

In what was by now a familiar pattern, two solid steel components in the ceiling fan -- which should have been the strongest parts of the whole structure -- had snapped neatly in half for no apparent reason. The workers who installed the new light fixture said they had never heard of such a thing happening. My wife had been on the sofa nearby when it fell and narrowly escaped being hit.

This type of violence represented a serious escalation, and I stepped up my efforts to get rid of the thing once and for all. What ended up doing the trick was a Latin prayer to St. Michael, recommended by a Catholic friend. (This was my first experience praying in Latin, which is now something I do every day.) When I started the prayer, one of my cats went absolutely berserk, behaving as if it were possessed, but by the end of the prayer, everything was normal, and the poltergeist phenomena never came back. Later that evening, when the Taoist "ghostbuster" team I had called earlier arrived, they said the house was clean and there was nothing for them to do.

In going back through my old emails while writing this post, I found this comment from a friend:

Although it is currently a mystery; I'm pretty sure that, if you find a cure, you will find-out what it was all about at some time later - assuming you remain curious to learn.

I wouldn't say I've found that out yet -- I'm not yet at the point where "It was a character from a Tolkien novel" feels like a real explanation -- but my curiosity has been reignited. After some time, I had more or less set the whole thing aside, contenting myself, like Bartholomew Cubbins and King Derwin, with saying "it just 'happened to happen' and was not very likely to happen again." Now, like so many other things from my past, it's resurfacing and demanding to be made sense of.

After reading William Wright's post, I was going to listen to those Vampire Weekend songs again, but I somehow tapped the wrong thing and ended up instead listening to Denmark + Winter's strange reimagining of Johnny Cash (another "Man in Black" for you, Bill):

"I keep my eyes wide open all the time / I keep the ends out for the tie that binds / Because you're mine, I walk the line." Is it strange to imagine this being sung by an unblinking spider spinning its thread?

To end with a random sync wink: William Wright's introduced Ungoliant in his post "A familiar symbol, secret combinations, and Mama Ungoliant." The "familiar symbol" of the title is a circle inside, or sometimes overlapping with, a triangle. This morning, after writing most of the above but before posting it, I stopped in a clothing store to buy some socks and saw this on a T-shirt:

Saturday, December 9, 2023

With spider’s oil the lamps of Salem burn

Quite some time ago, I guess it was 2002 or thereabouts, I briefly immersed myself in Les Prophéties of Nostradamus, consisting of hundreds of French quatrains written in a trance state. I decided that I, imitating what I imagined the French seer's methods to have been, would try to produce such a quatrain myself, in English. The first line "came through" almost immediately:

With spider's oil the lamps of Salem burn

And that was it. Try as I might, I couldn't get any more than that one line, and that one line didn't make any sense. Nostradamus had written over a thousand quatrains that didn't make any sense, and here I couldn't even get two lines! Well, all have not every gift. I turned to other pursuits.

That one opaque line has been filed away in the back of my mind ever since, just in case it should ever turn out to mean anything, but the contingency has seemed a remote one. I've mostly assumed it's meaningless, but then nothing is ever really allowed to be meaningless, is it? Every idle word . . . .

Today, William Wright posted "A familiar symbol, secret combinations, and Mama Ungoliant." He discusses a repeating theme in music videos in which lights are set up "almost like beacons or signals, . . . as if they are expecting and signalling for someone to arrive from space." He then brings up Ungoliant, Tolkien's evil spider-demon, and speculates that it is "her, perhaps, that these signals are meant for." Spiders and lamps -- the juxtaposition made me think of my old Nostradamic monostitch.

That post also included the old Mormon Tabernacle Choir logo, which William thinks suggests a spider:

In the past, I've noticed the hidden NaCl in the name of this Salt Lake City-based organization, but today what jumped out at me was Bern. The Mormon temple in Bern, Switzerland, has been in the sync-stream recently, and of course it's also a homophone of burn, the final word of the "lamps of Salem" line. Then I noticed what I had somehow missed before: that one of the music videos discussed in William's post is actually called "Burn" -- a song by Ellie Goulding.

On a hunch, I ran a search for ellie goulding spider. The first hit was a song called "Mama" by a band called Clean Bandit, featuring Goulding, for which someone had created a video consisting of scenes from one of the Spider-Man movies:

William Wright's post explicitly connects the word Mama with spiders ("Mama Ungoliant"). One of the music videos he discusses -- where Mama came from -- is Panic! at the Disco's "High Hopes," in which "Brendon Urie climbs a tall building (walking up on the outside)" -- obviously the sort of behavior one associates with Spider-Man.

I certainly wouldn't say my monostitch makes sense now, but at least there are now, at long last, some hints that it may actually mean something. I'll see if anything develops from this.

About sixteen small stones

Randomly clicking a blogroll link today took me to Sixteen Small Stones, a Mormon blog that hasn't posted anything since 2018. I clicked the "About" page and noticed that the tab now said "About | Sixteen Small Stones." If the Sheffer stroke is ignored, "About Sixteen Small Stones" looks like it means approximately sixteen, sixteen give or take a few.

Minutes later, randomly clicking another blogroll link took me to the synchromystic blog Groupname for Grapejuice, which features this image in the sidebar, taken from an English translation of a 1708 book by Roger de Piles:

The lower image shows what looks like about sixteen small stones -- fifteen, to be precise, and I guess they're actually meant to be grapes. The original figures by de Piles also include an image of a single sphere, so a total of sixteen individual (ungrouped) "small stones."

Juice and stones were recently juxtaposed in William Wright's September 9 post "Ancient Juice as something that will be brought with the Sawtooth Stone."

Friday, December 8, 2023

The White Tree of Life . . . Saver

I change the wallpaper on my phone from time to time, probably every month or so on average. In my September 29 post "Syncs: Tropical dreams and not-dreams, 555, Freeman and not-Freeman," I describe how on August 29 I changed my wallpaper to an image of the White Tree of Gondor, and then less than a month later I found very similar imagery in a book I was reading, The Unseen by Mike Clelland. Since then, I've changed the wallpaper four or five times.

On November 22, as described in "They shall take up serpents," I somehow changed my wallpaper to a picture of a coiled rattlesnake while I was asleep or half-asleep, with no conscious awareness of having done so. I didn't like having that as my wallpaper, but I couldn't decide what I wanted instead. I briefly tried various things and finally, a couple of days ago, reverted to the White Tree of Gondor. (It's unusual for me to go back to an old wallpaper like that.) Once again, the imagery was reflected in what I was reading -- in this case Green by Laura Peyton Roberts.

Spoiler warning, I guess, in case any of you were planning to read a novel about leprechauns written for teenage girls. A peppermint Life Saver falls into the mud, and then this happens:

Where the candy had fallen, something was rising out of the muck. Something weird and spindly and shaped like a . . . tree? Its pointed trunk stretched up toward the moon. Boughs sprouted and began to spread. [. . .] Still the tree kept growing -- up, out, bigger, faster, until it was truly huge. And every inch of root, trunk, and needle was peppermint white, glowing in the moonlight like a bleached bone.

A spindly, all-white tree at night -- matching my phone wallpaper quite closely.

For Mormons, the first connotation of a white tree is not Gondor but the Tree of Life as seen in the desert visions of Lehi and Nephi. The white tree in Green grows from a Life Saver.

My reading about the Life Saver tree also coincided with my employee putting up an all-white Christmas tree at our school. The white tree in Green is not explicitly Christmas-related (the story takes place in summer), but peppermint is a Christmassy flavor (candy canes), and the mention of needles rather than leaves suggests a Christmas-type tree.

Above Majestic (with an excursus on turban jokes)

Last Halloween, I posted " Francis Bacon, papal keys, triple tiara, Denver Airport ," which included a meme referencing that airpo...