Wednesday, January 31, 2024

Weights depending, and flying ships with anchors

Just a quick sync note. Last night I had a dream which I've forgotten most of, but I remember one scene in which I was paragliding over a beach -- or doing something similar to paragliding, but I could control the direction and altitude of my flight. I had a 14-kilogram dumbbell (it was labeled) which I wanted to give to someone standing on the sand. I didn't want to drop it from a great height, but neither could I afford to fly too low, so I tied it to a length of rope and lowered it. The rope wasn't long enough, so I still had to fly dangerously low. The person on the sand (who I think may have been my brother Luther) still couldn't quite reach it, so I let go of the rope and let it drop. It landed in the wet sand, and he was able to retrieve it just in time, before the rising tide made it impossible. I think there was also a magnet involved -- either the dumbbell was magnetic, or I wanted to give him a magnet as well as a dumbbell, or something like that -- but my memory of that part is too vague.

The sync is that today William Wright posted "Suspended in TIme: Loosening girdles and deepening weights, and the Grey Lady of the New York Times," which included this quote from him who must not be named:

The winds and waves took them withersoever, day and night, and by long store of provisions they were comfortably housed, if uneasy about their fates, to them known only dimly, but what was made known was this:  Zhera' [Jared-Faramir] would enlarge the girdle of Arda, and Izilba deepen the weights depending therefrom.

This begins with the wind carrying someone hither and thither (cf. paragliding) and ends with "weights depending" -- i.e. hanging down. If you wanted a visual representation of the concept of "weights," a dumbbell would be a natural choice.

The passage above was actually quoted earlier, in William's January 15 post "The Anchorwoman: Dream 2 of 3," which lessens the synchiness of my dream somewhat. Still, the original post was more than two weeks ago, and my dream came just the night before he decided to post the same quote again. In this earlier post, the "weights depending" are associated with "lowering anchors and ropes." Combining this with my dream imagery, I am reminded of various accounts of anchors being lowered from flying ships in the "vintage" reports of UFOs avant la lettre collected in Jacques Vallée's classic Passport to Magonia, for example:

In March [1897], an object of even stranger appearance was seen by Robert Hibbard, a farmer living fifteen miles north of Sioux City, Iowa. Hibbard not only saw the airship, but an anchor hanging from a rope attached to the mysterious craft caught his clothes and dragged him several dozen feet, until he fell back to earth.

From a month later:

Merkel, Texas, April 26. Some parties returning from church last night noticed a heavy object dragging along with a rope attached. They followed it until, in crossing the railroad, it caught on a rail. On looking up they saw what they supposed was the airship. . . . After some ten minutes, a man was seen descending the rope. He came near enough to be plainly seen; he wore a light blue sailor suit and was small in size, he stopped when he discovered the parties at the anchor, and cut the rope below him and sailed off in a northeast direction. The anchor is now on exhibition at the blacksmith shop of Elliot and Miller and is attracting the attention of hundreds of people.

After reporting the above incident, the Houston Daily Post goes on to note its similarity to something that reportedly took place in Ireland "about 1211 A.D. or earlier":

There happened in the borough of Cloera, one Sunday, while the people were at Mass, a marvel. In this town is a church dedicated to St. Kinarus. It befell that an anchor was dropped from the sky, with a rope attached to it, and one of the flukes caught in the arch above the church door. The people rushed out of the church and saw in the sky a ship with men on board, floating before the anchor cable, and they saw a man leap overboard and jump down to the anchor, as if to release it. He looked as if he were swimming in water. The folk rushed up and tried to seize him; but the Bishop forbade the people to hold the man, for it might kill him, he said. The man was freed, and hurried up to the ship, where the crew cut the rope and the ship sailed out of sight. But the anchor is in the church, and has been there ever since, as a testimony.

In Gervase of Tilbury's [early 13th-century] Otia Imperialia, the same account is related as having taken place in Gravesend, Kent, England. An anchor from a "cloudship" became fastened in a mound of stones in the churchyard. The people heard voices from above, and the rope was moved as if to free the anchor, to no avail. A man was then seen to slide down the rope and cut it. In one account, he then climbed back aboard the ship; in another, he died of suffocation.

No idea what to make of such stories. I simply note them as possible sync links.

Roller skates and keys

My January 28 post "Assorted syncs: Finnegans Wake, Kubla Khan, dayholes" twice mentions Xanadu -- quoting the opening lines of Coleridge's Kubla Khan and then mentioning John Man's book about the historical city of Xanadu -- and then quotes some rap lyrics ("Feel the Fiyaaaah" by Metro Boomin and A$AP Rocky) about everyone needing new shoes. William Wright's January 29 post "Needing new shoes to roller skate in Xanadu" puts Xanadu and new shoes together with the 1980 movie Xanadu, which is about roller skating. The "new shoes" everyone needs, he concludes, are roller skates:

Why does everyone in the family need new shoes?  Well, that is what you wear in Xanadu, apparently, so if you want to go, you need to get a pair of new shoes, specifically shoes with wheels attached to them.

A brand new pair of roller skates? There's a song about that:

The brand new roller skates are paired with a brand new key. This ties in with William's description of a scene in Xanadu which

involved a locked green door, which came up recently in WJT's blog.  In the clip, the actor goes up to what appears to be an abandoned building and attempts to open the green door, but obviously can't.  Undeterred, he still looks for a way in, and eventually finds one . . . . This also reminded me of WJT's restaurant, which was abandoned, and even though he found it locked and closed up, he was still determined to try and find a way in.

The reference is to my January 23 post "The Green Door finally closes." In that post, I repeatedly emphasize that because the green door is now locked, I now need a key to get into the abandoned restaurant. Actually, I'll probably end up just climbing in, like the character in Xanadu, but in that post I emphasized the need for a key -- a new key for this new lock -- and the original post ended by expressing the hope that the person who locked up the restaurant might have hidden the key somewhere nearby where I could find it.

These lines from "Brand New Key" also got my attention:

I ride my bike, I roller-skate, don't drive no car
Don't go too fast, but I go pretty far
For somebody who don't drive
I've been all around the world

This ties in with my last post, "Hearts of gold, new shoes, dirty paws, and walking on air." This featured a music video for the song "Dirty Paws" consisting of a montage of scenes from the 2013 movie The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. In the video, we see the Ben Stiller character traveling all over the world. We see him riding a bike, skateboarding, running, and being a passenger on various forms of transport, but never once do we see him driving a car.

That post juxtaposes hearts of gold with new shoes and dirty paws. In Shakespeare's most famous (only?) use of the expression "heart of gold," dirty shoes are nearby:

The King’s a bawcock, and a heart of gold,
A lad of life, an imp of fame;
Of parents good, of fist most valiant.
I kiss his dirty shoe, and from heart-string
I love the lovely bully.

Note added: "Brand New Key" is originally a Melanie Safka song, of course, but I posted the Dollyrots version here because it suited my mood better. Here are the front and back covers of the album it's from:

A white rabbit on the front, and a black rabbit on the back -- fitting right in with one of William Wright's themes. The black rabbit is even a disembodied head, like this picture William posted in "Speech problems: Dream 3 of 3":

Tuesday, January 30, 2024

Hearts of gold, new shoes, dirty paws, and walking on air

On a brief hike this morning before work, I found myself humming "Greensleeves" to myself:

Greensleeves was all my joy
Greensleeves was my delight
Greensleeves was my heart of gold
And who but my lady Greensleeves?

Then when I had lunch, the restaurant was playing Neil Young's "Heart of Gold":

In the afternoon, I taught an English class. The textbook used statements about superstitions to model first-conditional grammar, and one of the examples provided had to do with new shoes.

This got my attention because my January 28 post "Assorted syncs: Finnegans Wake, Kubla Khan, and dayholes" had quoted some rap lyrics about new shoes, and William Wright had picked this up and run with it in yesterday's "Needing new shoes to roller skate in Xanadu." So I was in sync-noticing mode.

After going through the examples with the students, I asked them to describe local superstitions using the same grammar. This led to this little conversation:

"Many people believe that if a dog or cat has white paws, it will bring its owner bad luck."

"So the Black man in the picture is lucky. His dog is white, but its paws are brown."

"I think its paws are really white. They're dirty because it was digging."

"So the horseshoe really brought him good luck, because now his dog doesn't have white paws."

After the class, I put on some background music while I did some paperwork, letting the YouTube Music algorithm do its thing. The very first song it served up was "Dirty Paws" by Of Monsters and Men. I looked at the screen and saw that the accompanying video was a montage from The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, a 2013 Ben Stiller movie based (very loosely, one assumes!) on the Thurber story.

For me, Ben Stiller's most iconic role will always be that of Tugg Speedman playing Four Leaf Tayback in Tropic Thunder, so there's a link back to the four-leaf clover in the textbook.

William Wright's "Needing new shoes to roller skate in Xanadu" post includes several references to "walking on air." Here's the poster for the Stiller movie:

And yes, that's the sync fairies' favorite building in the bottom right corner.

Here's another poster:

Where have I seen that imagery before? Oh, right. Here's a still from the Panic! at the Disco video "High Hopes," from my December 7 post "Mr. Mxyztplk revisited":

Mr. Mxyztplk is often called Mxy for short, not too far from Mitty.

I must say, this sync-synergy with William Wright is going on much longer than I had expected.

Monday, January 29, 2024

Filth Room

Spotted in a hospital in Yuanlin, Taiwan:

It's actually the room where medical waste is temporarily stored. Searching for the Chinese phrase online led me to an even stranger translation from Mainland China, using an alternate Chinese word for "room" which also happens to mean "between":

Sunday, January 28, 2024

Assorted syncs: Finnegans Wake, Kubla Khan, dayholes

In my January 25 post "An old pre-dator, chameleons, and le Demiurge," instead of using a common expression like "full circle," I instead appropriated a famous line from Finnegans Wake and wrote of how something "brings us by a commodious [sic] vicus of recirculation back to the chameleon." For those of my readers who have never attempted this self-described "usylessly unreadable" book, here is its iconic first "sentence," James Joyce's answer to "Call me Ishmael":

riverrun, past Eve and Adam's, from swerve of shore to bend of bay, brings us by a commodius vicus of recirculation back to Howth Castle and Environs.

The recentness of this random allusion on my part made me sit up and take notice when yesterday's post by William Wright, "Key-Stones and the Hill-Murray Pioneer," happened to mention how he and his wife had taken "the River Run Gondola" at a ski resort.

In the same post, William mentions Kubla Khan (referencing one of my own posts). When I looked up the first sentence in Finnegans Wake so I could paste it into this post above, I got it from this site, where mousing over the word riverrun causes a lengthy note to pop up, which includes this:

Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Kubla Khan: "In Xanadu did Kubla Khan / A stately pleasure-dome decree: / Where Alph, the sacred river, ran / Through caverns measureless to man / Down to a sunless sea."

Actually, William made a mistake and wrote "Kubla Kahn," which made me think of Alfie Kahn, a Jewish education theorist in whom my mother used to put a lot of stock. Looking him up just now, though, I found that I had made a mistake, too, as his name is actually Alfie Kohn. Anyway, Alfie is a link to Alph. Alph, by the way, is a bit of Elvish I know without having to look it up, remembering it from my childhood reading of Tolkien: It means "swan" and is derived from the root ALAK, meaning "rushing." Do swans rush? Maybe the incongruity is what made it memorable.

William Wright's post also mentions "White Holes" (opposite counterparts to black holes). This synched with dayhole, a word from my childhood which I had suddenly thought of a few days before. This was a word invented by my brother when we were kids. Since a bedside table was called a nightstand, he decided that the gap between a bed and a wall, if there is no furniture in it, should be called a nighthole. The space between a church pew and the wall was then dubbed a dayhole. If you happened to be sitting far from the aisle, you could get out of the chapel more quickly at the end of the service by "escaping through the dayhole." All this was brought back to mind a few days ago when I ran across a reference to one Chad Daybell, a fringe Mormon and accused murderer, dayhole being similar to his surname and also associated with Mormon churches. Later I found myself singing Harry Belafonte's famous calypso song, but with "Day-O" changed to "dayhole." Some of the lyrics tie in with the "banana spider" urban legend, which I mentioned in my December 19 post "RV and preparation."

A beautiful bunch of ripe banana
(Daylight come and me wan' go home)
Hide the deadly black tarantula
(Daylight come and me wan' go home)

On the road this morning, I had Finnegans Wake on my mind. I'm not sure why my train of thought went the way it did, but I ended up thinking about the name Mamalujo -- generally agreed to come from Matthew, Mark, Luke and John -- and wondering what the Old Testament equivalent would be. Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers -- Geln? For the sake of euphony, we might need to throw in a few second letters, as Joyce did -- Gelen? Gelnu? Gelenu?

I had breakfast at an American-style diner in Taichung and stayed there for some time drinking coffee and reading. There was a TV on, showing some sportsball something-or-other, and a loudspeaker playing some extremely profane and sexually explicit rap, the sort of thing that would never fly as a background music in a family-friendly restaurant in the US but is fine in a place where most people don't know much English. I thought: These lyrics are like if Arnold had had leave the Demiurge's Reality Temple early, after replacing only 25% of the words in the English language with nigger.

In certain moods, though, I actually like having lots of background noise as I read.

Since I had just been thinking about "riverrun past Eve and Adam's," the rap on the loudspeaker got my attention when it mentioned those two names:

Adam, Eve with the fruit
Why we need new new?
Only got two seats, why we need new coupe?
Only got two feet, why we need new shoes?
Papa need new shoes, baby need new shoes, Imma need new shoes . . .

At this point, I glanced up at the TV and saw a commercial for, appropriately enough, shoes. Shoes called GEL-NIMBUS:

The reason the "new shoes" rap had gotten my attention was that it mentioned Adam and Eve, like the opening of Finnegans Wake. Earlier, on the road, I had been thinking about how to make a Mamajulo-like abbreviation out of Genesis Exodus Leviticus Numbers. Now here's a shoe called GEL followed by a word very similar to Numbers.

After breakfast, I looked through the small English section of a used bookstore in Taichung. One of the books they had was John Man's Xanadu: Marco Polo and Europe's Discovery of the East. A week earlier, on a visit to the same store, I had picked up a copy of Italo Calvino's Invisible Cities, which consists largely of a fictional conversation between Marco Polo and Kublai Khan.

Saturday, January 27, 2024

Worm Jacob

This jumped out at me yesterday as I was reading Isaiah:

Fear not, thou worm Jacob, and ye men of Israel; I will help thee, saith the Lord, and thy redeemer, the Holy One of Israel (Isa. 41:14).

Due to current events, it was "Yemen of Israel" that first caught my eye, but my interest pretty quickly shifted to "thou worm Jacob."

From a very early age, maybe six or seven, I've used the old-fashioned abbreviation Wm for my first name. (Jas was added much later, when I started blogging.) From time to time, people jokingly pronounce it as it's written, as /wəm/, which is very close to how worm is pronounced in the non-rhotic New England accent I grew up speaking in Derry, New Hampshire. Jas is for James, of course, which derives, via French and Latin, from the name Jacob. So, in a fairly straightforward way, Worm Jacob = Wm Jas.

Thinking about this jogged loose a half-remembered factoid I'd picked up somewhere ages ago: Doesn't Isaiah use the same Hebrew word for "worm" and "crimson"? Indeed he does:

This word appears as worm in Isa. 41:14. A different form of the same word appears as crimson in one of Isaiah's most famous lines:

Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool (Isa. 1:18).

Isaiah juxtaposes crimson with wool, which got my attention because Woolly was a nickname of mine in my late teens and early twenties -- an alteration of Willy, but also inspired by my appearance at that time. As hard as it may be to believe now, there was a time when I not only had hair but had enough of it that a photo of me from back then is being used to this day as an illustration in the Hebrew Wikipedia article for "Hair." (I know this because some random Israeli dude once emailed me about it.)

The caption reads "blond hair and red beard." Of course it had to be Hebrew Wikipedia, and they chose me because I had a woolly red beard. In what I've written above, I started with something that reminded me of my name, looked up the Hebrew behind it, and was led to Isaiah talking about something red becoming like wool.

The Hebrew word in question means both "red" and "worm." This made me think of the red serpent I mentioned in my recent post "Red chameleons, manticores, and vampires":

the esotericists of the 19th and 20th centuries associated Teth with the serpent, and specifically with the red serpent. (This is why Oswald Wirth, who mapped Teth to the Hermit card, added a red serpent to his otherwise traditional version of that trump.)

(Like my past self, Wirth's Hermit seems to have gone a bit overboard with the beard.)

So Worm Jacob leads us to the red worm or serpent, which leads us to Teth, one of the two Hebrew letters transliterated as T. Is that a link not only to Wm Jas but to my surname as well? At first I thought probably not. Teth evolved into Theta, while the Greek and Latin letter T, as used in the Greek word from which my surname derives, evolved from a different Semitic letter, Tav. Hebrew Wikipedia changed my mind:

That's Tycho Brahe, another man who loved facial hair not wisely but too well. As you can see, Tycho is transliterated into Hebrew with Teth, not Tav. I can assume that Tychonievich would be similarly rendered.

Incidentally, I have one other link to Tycho besides the name and the fashion sense. Tycho famously lost part of his nose in a duel and used to wear false noses made of gold, silver, or brass. Some years ago, one of my young students asked me if I'd ever broken a bone. When I told him I'd broken my nose once, he looked at me in amazement and said, "So, that's not your real nose?"

Thursday, January 25, 2024

Red chameleons, manticores, and vampires

In Last night's post "An old pre-dator, chameleons, and le Demiurge," I connected the chameleon (etymologically "dwarf lion") with the lion-headed serpent (standard meme representation of the Demiurge) and with the manticore on the cover of the Piers Anthony novel A Spell for Chameleon. Fantasy manticores aren't often portrayed as red, but this is a historically correct manticore, following the earliest description of the beast, by Ctesias, as having "cinnabar-red fur":

This afternoon, after my previous post, I decided to check /x/, which I haven't done in a week or two. I found this thread, featuring red chameleons in the picrel:

This is a colorized version of an originally black-and-white Escher print. Obviously the whole point of a chameleon is that it can be any color it wants to be, but the default color in pictures is either green or multicolored. I don't think I've ever seen a picture of an all-red chameleon before, so it's an unusual artistic choice. They're not actually all red, though, but have blue eyes. Ctesius specified that the manticore, though otherwise as red as cinnabar, was "blue-eyed." Notice also that the chameleon's long red tongue is emphasized.

My post with the manticore began with a meme of a cat (a "dwarf lion" in another sense) in the role of the camouflaged Predator from the 1987 movie of that name:

In the /x/ thread about The World Atlas of Mysteries, the only image reply, aside from several photos of pages from the book, was a psychedelic-looking image of a cat:

Between the Predator post and the current one, I posted "Surround, confound," in which a song I heard in a dream (in three dreams, actually) turned out to have similar lyrics to one from a TV adaptation of the Anne Rice novel Interview with the Vampire. Therefore, when I saw a thread on vampires on /x/, I naturally clicked:

The picrel shows the vampire with an extremely long red tongue, just like the chameleon on the cover of The World Atlas of Mysteries. (She also appears to have bat wings, like the manticore.) This is an unattractive and clearly non-human trait, which is at odds with the text of the post:

Sometimes I see people make fun of the idea that vampires are attractive and "faggy" the way the media portrays them. But isn't this exactly the type of vampire that would blend in the easiest with society and be the superior predator compared to the monstrous one?

The quintessential "attractive and faggy" vampire is surely Lestat de Lioncourt (lions again!) from Interview with the Vampire, who is literally a homo and who is played by Tom Cruise in the 1994 movie adaptation. (Just now, trying to find where the name Lestat had come from, I found this Facebook post by Anne Rice, which mentions Lestat's "blue eyes, his feline grace.") The assertion that a "superior predator" would "blend in"  clearly syncs with the Predator cat meme and the idea of the Predator as a "chameleon."

One more /x/ post caught my eye in the context of the red manticore and red chameleons:

The devil "appeared as the traditional red thing." Beyond that, I'm not sure how relevant the post is, but I did find it interesting that the devil asked about the "law of the black star," as William Wright has been posting about black holes recently.

Two Tarot cards also come to mind in connection with the red manticore and chameleon (lion-headed reptile). One is the Rider-Waite Two of Cups, which has a red lion's head (with wings, like the manticore) above a caduceus with serpents:

The other is "Lust," the card that replaces Strength in Aleister Crowley's black-mass parody of the Tarot. (His "Wickedest Man in the World" brand demanded that he rename all the virtue trumps.) The Whore of Babylon is shown riding a manticore-like creature with a lion's body and mane, human faces, and a long tail suggestive of "le Demiurge" itself:

Note the symbols at the bottom of the card, connecting it with the Hebrew letter Teth and the sign of Leo. Leo is the lion, of course, and the esotericists of the 19th and 20th centuries associated Teth with the serpent, and specifically with the red serpent. (This is why Oswald Wirth, who mapped Teth to the Hermit card, added a red serpent to his otherwise traditional version of that trump.)

Interestingly, the first image response in that "What do vampires look like?" thread said that a vampire looks like Aleister Crowley:

Jimmy Savile was given as another example of what a vampire looks like, but there are enough creepy images in this post as is without my inflicting that on my readers.

Surround, confound

I had essentially the same dream repeated three times last night. I take any recurring dream to be potentially significant. I am an observer in this dream; I don't appear as a character. Here's how it goes:

There are three women working together in a kitchen. They appear to be Mexicans in their late twenties or early thirties, and two of them are pregnant. In the living room nearby, the television is on. They decide they want to take a break from their work and sing together. There is already very loud music coming from the television, and I think it strange that they don't turn it off.

Preparatory to singing, the two pregnant women temporarily remove the babies from their wombs. I don't see how this is done, but it is apparently very easy to do and doesn't require surgery. Each baby is wrapped up in spider silk to keep it safe while it is out of the womb, and they are placed side by side on the kitchen table.

The three women then sing together in English, and they have very good voices. The song is simple, with only three lines, and is repeated several times:

Sur-round me
Con-found me
I need your lo-o-o-o-o-ove

(The word love is drawn out over six musical notes, which is why I have written it as I have.)

An entirely different song is being played on the television -- some sort of loud rock-'n'-roll with a male vocalist -- and I am astonished at how well the two songs harmonize, as if they had been written to be sung together. In each of the three repetitions of the dream, though, the song on the television is different but the women's song is the same, and the harmony is still perfect.

Googling the lyrics after waking up, I find that they're quite similar to "Come to Me" by Daniel Hart and Sam Reid, from Interview with the Vampire (Original Television Series Soundtrack), released in 2022:

Come to me
And let my ever-loving arms surround you
Come to me
And let my infinite embrace confound you

A bit odd, that. One doesn't usually associate love with being surrounded and confounded. I'm quite sure I'd never heard "Come to Me" before. In fact, I didn't know until today that Interview with the Vampire had ever been adapted for television, though I understand there was a movie version back in the 1990s with Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt.

I suppose the fact that this is specifically a song from television is a further sync with the dream.

The babies wrapped in spider silk are obviously an influence from the Spider World novels I am currently reading, in which giant spiders catch human prey, including children, and wrap them up in silk. The spiders in the novel actually eat human beings, but real-world spiders drink their prey rather than eating it, which is a link to vampires. William Wright's December 10 post "A Vampire's Weekend" explicitly connects giant spiders with vampires.

An old pre-dator, chameleons, and le Demiurge

After work this evening, I checked America's flagship meme post and saved this one:

I've never seen the 1987 Arnold Schwarzenegger movie Predator, but I know enough from cultural osmosis to get the reference: the title monster can blend in perfectly with its surroundings, like a chameleon, making it virtually invisible. The meme made me think about the word chameleon itself, since the second half of the word clearly means "lion." Looking up the etymology, I find that it comes from the Greek for "dwarf lion" -- which would also be a pretty good name for a housecat. The Online Etymology Dictionary speculates that "Perhaps the large head-crest on some species was thought to resemble a lion's mane." Keep that lion-headed reptile imagery in mind.

Just after getting my meme fix, I checked William Wright's blog and found that his latest post is called "'Get in the choppa!': A skin-removing Chameleon hunting Arnold Schwarzenegger" and is all about -- what else? -- the 1987 movie Predator.

William's post ends with this note:

[Note: as I was just finishing up some edits above, I looked at Predator and saw it as Pre-Dator, as in something that pre-dates.  A Being that is very old and from "Before" - Ancient - for whatever that is worth]

This made me think of two things. First, it's in the context of a Schwarzenegger movie, and people often imitate Schwarzenegger's Austrian accent by dropping the r from his first name, sometimes even spelling it Ahnold. Ages ago, in some intro-to-literature class, we read the Joyce Carol Oates story "Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?" One of the main characters is Arnold Friend, who represents the devil or the personification of death. The teacher pointed out that if you remove the r's from his name, it becomes an old fiend. The movie Predator, the title of which William Wright read as "something that pre-dates . . . very old . . . Ancient," stars "Ahnold" -- Arnold with the r removed -- which, as the intro-to-lit teacher noted, and as Oates perhaps intended, yields an old.

The other connection I made was with Revelation 12:9. William had capitalized Ancient as if it were a title, and "ancient" is one of the titles applied to Satan in that verse: ho drakon ho megas, ho ophis ho archaios, "the Great Dragon, the Ancient Serpent." And that juxtaposition of drakon and archaios brings us by a commodious vicus of recirculation back to the chameleon.

A few months ago I watched, and posted a bit about, a series of videos by someone going by Galahad Eridanus, who created, under the influence of "angels" and psychedelics, a symbolic diagram he calls the Abraxian Cosmogram. Part of it looks like this:

Notice the two serpents labeled archon and drakon, which correspond respectively to Ahriman and Lucifer in Rudolf Steiner's system. Revelation 12:9 uses the words drakon ("dragon") and archaios ("ancient"). Drakon is obviously the same word used in the Cosmogram; archon and archaios are forms of the same word, being respectively the present participle and gerund of the verb archein ("to be the first").

Chameleon, recall, is from the Greek for "dwarf lion," apparently because the Greeks thought the chameleon looked like a lion-headed reptile. In the Cosmogram, the being with the Greek name Archon is depicted as a lion-headed serpent. This is a Gnostic symbol, often associated with the name Yaldabaoth, but in memes it is invariable given the title Demiurge. I suppose it's just a coincidence that one of the first such memes I found in an image search also happens to include a gray cat and a tree:

What's the significance of the Demiurge? Well, in his post William Wright mentions that a scene in Predator reminded him of "that strange picture that WJT has posted on his blog a few times (with Arnold running away from the reality temple)." Yeah, but whose reality temple?

Another random chameleon note. My January 7 post "My tail is dun" takes its name from a scene in the Piers Anthony novel Centaur Aisle, in which Dor has forced a "spelling bee" (a magical insect which can spell words) to help him write an essay. The resentful bee, though unable to misspell a word, finds a loophole by giving Dor technically correct spellings, but of homophones, not the words he clearly wants. When Dor dictates "My tale is done," the bee produces "My tail is dun."

In a comment on that post, I noted that Dor's mother is actually named Chameleon. I now note further that, just as the scene I had referred to was about spelling and used lots of homophones and homonyms, the character Chameleon was introduced in the novel A Spell for Chameleon -- that's spell in the magical sense, of course, a homonym of what the spelling bee does. The cover features a manticore -- a mythical creature with a lion's mane and the tail of a dragon or scorpion. This one has a scorpion's tail, but a manticore still seems similar in principle to the lion-headed serpent.

The idea of a "spelling bee" as an insect also makes me think of the spelling-reform project carried out in mid-19th century Utah under the direction of Brigham Young. They called it the Deseret Alphabet, deseret being a word said in the Book of Mormon to mean "honeybee." So a good English translation of "Deseret Alphabet" would be "Bee Spelling."

Tuesday, January 23, 2024

The Green Door finally closes

Starting back in July 2022, I used to explore from time to time a restaurant that went out of business and was abandoned in 2015. They put up a green sheet-metal wall around it, but the green door in the wall was never locked, and you could just walk in. See "Owl time, and cold noodles," "The Green Door," and "Phoenix syncs."

This past Sunday (January 21), I happened to pass the abandoned restaurant and decided that I would go back that night and explore it again. I ended up getting sidetracked and not going, though. Then on Monday I found this:

That's right, nearly a decade after going out of business, the restaurant is finally closed. I'm quite sure the lock was not there when I passed it on Sunday, so I'm not sure if I should feel disappointed that I missed my last chance to explore or lucky that I wasn't inside when they locked it up!

I don't know what prompted someone to lock the place up now, after nine years. I was hoping it would be a combination lock, since they're obviously not going to open it very often and would thus have set it to something easy to remember and therefore easy to guess. No such luck; it's a key lock.

Oddly, I had just been thinking about keys on Sunday. Earlier this month, after more than a year of praying the Rosary every day, I decided to stop for a while just to see what would happen and to prove to myself that it hadn't become a superstitious compulsion. The main effect I noticed was that syncs stopped as if turned off with a tap. (I wish I'd known that trick back when I was trying to make new syncs stop for a while!) On Sunday, I took up the Rosary again after my break, and the sensation was remarkable. The beads felt like a living thing in my hands, and I could feel my mind sliding into a subtly but distinctly different mode of consciousness. I thought to myself, "It's magic!" and was immediately answered by a mental voice in my head, a woman speaking French: Oui, c'est l'une des clés. "Yes, this is one of the keys."

The voice reminded me of the woman in the dream recounted in "Rapunzel and the True Song of Wandering Aengus." That woman had spoken English, but I had understood that she wanted me to think of her as Claire Delune, and l'une des clés (the final s's are silent) sounds almost like clair de lune in reverse. That dream had prominently featured the Yeats lines "The silver apples of the moon, / The golden apples of the sun," and that combined with "one of the keys" made me think of the gold and silver keys that were recently in the sync-stream. If the Rosary is one of the two keys, what's the other?

This train of thought led me to do a word search for key in the Book of Mormon. Somewhat surprisingly, given that "keys" would become, so to speak, a key concept in Mormonism as it later developed, there is only one mention in the BoM, and it's quite literal:

And as I went forth towards the treasury of Laban, behold, I saw the servant of Laban who had the keys of the treasury. And I commanded him in the voice of Laban, that he should go with me into the treasury. . . . And I also spake unto him that I should carry the engravings, which were upon the plates of brass, to my elder brethren, who were without the walls (1 Ne. 4:20, 24).

The next day, when I discovered that I would now need a key to get into the abandoned restaurant, I remembered a dream I had had on August 26, 2023, recorded in "Phoenix syncs":

Remember the abandoned restaurant I explored in July 2022? I recently had two dreams set in an environment resembling that restaurant, a long-abandoned building where everything was covered with dead leaves. On the night of August 26, I dreamed that I was searching such a building with my brother, trying to find "plates" -- meaning further records like the Golden Plates from which the Book of Mormon was produced.

I was with my brother, trying to get plates -- exactly the circumstances surrounding the Book of Mormon's one and only mention of keys.

Then I remembered that in September 2022 (see the comments to "Dreams, shifty-eyed owls, and the white Starbucks cup") I had actually dreamed about a rosary being a literal key. Not until I looked it up just now did I remember that this was in the context of exploring an abandoned building:

I’ve just remembered a fourth dream vignette, in which I was exploring an old abandoned building and found in it a very large wooden rosary. Each bead was the size of a golf ball and had a single word engraved on it. I believe the words were those of the Lord’s Prayer. I found that the cross on the rosary was also a key which fit the lock of one of the doors in the old building. I left the rosary hanging from the keyhole, but an old priest came and told me not to, saying a key has no purpose if you just leave it in the keyhole.

Could this possibly be a garbled precognition? If you look back up at the photo of the locked door, you'll see that the lock is attached to a chain, superficially similar to a string of beads. If I were to unlock the padlock and leave the chain hanging, it would look a bit like "the rosary hanging from the keyhole" in the dream. In the dream, I found the rosary/key in the abandoned building. Is it possible that whoever locked up the restaurant left the key hidden somewhere nearby and that I could find it? Only one way to find out.

Note added (Jan. 24): In the above post I describe how my rosary beads "felt like a living thing in my hands," prompting me to think, "It's magic!" At the end of the post, I say that a metal chain is similar to a string of rosary beads. The next day, I was reading The Magician, the fifth book in Colin Wilson's Spider World series. Several pendants on gold chains have been discovered which seem to have mysterious powers. Niall, the human protagonist, takes two of them to Steeg, an artificial intelligence, who promptly destroys them, saying that he has discovered "that these devices can be animated with some kind of living force" and are therefore extremely dangerous. Steeg then reprimands Niall for focusing on the pendants themselves and ignoring the chains.

"But I didn't think the chains made any difference."

"That is what you were intended to think. In fact, they are part of the device."

"I'm sorry."

"That is unnecessary. Now that we understand the danger, it is possible to anticipate it."

Niall said: "But do you understand how it works?"

"No. I said I understand the danger. But since I am designed for purely rational thinking, I am unable to understand the principles of magic."

The words caused a prickling sensation in Niall's scalp. "But are you sure it is magic?"

"The ability to make living forces manifest in dead matter must be defined as magic."

This parallels very closely what I wrote about the rosary the day before I read it. When "living forces manifest in dead matter" -- when what ought to be an inanimate object feels as if it were alive -- that's magic. My seemingly living matter was a rosary; Niall's was a metal chain -- something which I had explicitly compared to a rosary in my post.

Niall very naturally but incorrectly assumes that only the pendant has any power and that the chain is just a chain. Likewise, someone unfamiliar with a rosary would naturally focus on the crucifix and think of the string of beads from which it depends as incidental, when in fact the beads are the main thing.

Monday, January 22, 2024

White Feathers, Strange Sights

In the late afternoon, the waxing gibbous Moon, high in the bright blue sky, kept catching my eye -- or drawing my eye, rather; I kept craning my neck up to look at it. It seemed somehow smaller than usual -- I would have estimated it at 25 arcminutes if I didn't know better -- and very, very white, without the slightest hint of yellow. Something about it made me think of a small white feather, pennaceous along the edge, plumulaceous along the ragged-looking terminator. Once while I was looking at it, a bone-white egret -- a black-legged E. garzetta, as free as the moon of any hint of yellow -- flew across my field of vision, reinforcing the white-feather imagery.

Then, as I crested a hill, the Sun came into view -- low on the horizon, deep red-orange in color, and absolutely enormous, subjectively appearing to be close to three degrees in diameter. The contrast with the Moon -- appearing under normal conditions to be the same size and color as the Sun -- couldn't have been greater.

Ordinarily, a red setting Sun will redden the whole sky around it, but in this case, perhaps due to the complete lack of clouds, this huge engorged Sun somehow coexisted with a regular blue sky. This strange combination made me think of a picture I painted in New Hampshire in 1983, when I was four years old, which I still have for some reason. I think at first it survived many years more or less by chance, and after that it was just too old to consider throwing away. When I got home, I dug it out of my files and photographed it:

(I like to think Vincent van Gogh might have painted something like this when he was four years old, and called it Wheatfield with Brontosauruses. Unfortunately, Vincent was already in his twenties when sauropods began to emerge in popular consciousness.)

I photographed the painting with my phone and uploaded it so that I could download it from my laptop for this post. When I went to get it from the cloud, I ran across this meme I had saved on January 9, which also features a dinosaur silhouetted against the setting Sun:

Come to think of it, my dinosaur painting also bears a certain resemblance to this image I posted two months ago, in "Yellow Light and the Mushroom Planet":

The dinosaurs are walking to the right, as in my painting. This despite the fact that people -- myself very much included! -- almost always find it much easier and more natural to draw animals facing left rather than right.

Since I haven't posted anything for a while, I'll go ahead and tack a random dream onto this. It's from a few nights ago, but I wasn't online at the time.

In the dream, it was common knowledge that in a normal forest, the canopy is more or less one continuous beehive. There are leaves and things on the lower levels, but once you get up high enough, the branches are all coated with black honey-dripping material created by bees.

I was working in a library where we were trying to create the same effect. We wanted all the bookcases to have books and books and books and then when you get high enough just this tarry black material full of bees and honey. The trick was to find a way of attracting bees to set up shop on the tops of the bookcases, and I had discovered that the best way to do this was to get big brown waxed-paper bags of frozen shoestring potatoes -- the kind they use to make French fries at fast-food places -- and put a few bags on top of each bookcase. Bees would come to eat the potatoes and then stay and build the sticky black hives we were after. This was very successful, and it made our library look very old and respectable and forest-like.

One of the very special features of this library was that we had a whole bookcase devoted to books written by members of the Moody Blues, with one shelf for each member. We had to pad out Mike Pinder's shelf with a few volumes of Pindar, the Theban poet, and there were a few other random books thrown in, including Octopus and Squid: The Soft Intelligence by Jacques Cousteau, but conceptually it was all Moody Blues. We were very proud of it. For some reason, we put all the books on the shelves while the bookcase was lying down on the floor, and then we had to carefully lift it up into position without any of the books falling out. We successfully did this and kept commenting on how great it was that we had managed to get it "perfectly vertical." We had also managed to get the sticky black beehive at the top perfectly flush with the ceiling without damaging either hive or ceiling. All in all, it was extremely satisfactory and was something no other library could offer its patrons.

Thursday, January 11, 2024

Sync: Turning a mattress with a small bloodstain upside down

Today I started reading The Delta, Colin Wilson's fourth Spider World novel. At one point, one of the characters is attacked by a giant creepy-crawly while in bed. He kills it, and then he and a friend try to hide the evidence so as not to alarm the others:

The bloodstained bedclothes already lay on the floor. Fortunately, the blood had made only a small stain on the flock mattress; together, they turned this upside down.

Shortly after reading that, I checked /pol/, which is unsurprisingly still going to town with the "secret Jew tunnel" story that's been all over the media. Lots of crazy webms, including this instant classic:

But this next one was the synchy one. I don't pretend to have the faintest idea what's going on here or why, but they pull out some mattresses that were hidden inside a wall, one of them appears to have a small bloodstain on it, and they turn it upside down:

Google is now deciding some already-published comments are spam

Something weird is going on where Google will retroactively decide that some comment that has already been published here and has been visible for days is actually spam, and then it disappears. Sometimes this even happens with signed-in comments by me, the author of the blog! I just discovered this today, when I found that the comment count on some of my recent posts was going down. I've manually restored all the spammed comments (100% of which were real comments from regular readers, not spam) and will try to figure out how to prevent shenanigans of this kind in the future.

Wednesday, January 10, 2024

Burying the lede: Australia makes it a federal crime to ACCESS "violent extremist material" on the Internet

It's all over the news that Australia has decided to outlaw the public display of the symbols of some German political party from a hundred years ago. As bonkers as that would be just by itself, the real story here isn't getting nearly as much press. Included in the new law is a provision that makes it a crime to access "violent extremist material" using a "carriage service" (meaning the Internet). You don't need to produce this material or even possess it; just clicking a link and seeing it is enough. If the US will put you in prison for sharing a meme, Australia will now put you in prison for looking at a meme. Forget the "public display" of anything; so much as lurk on /pol/ in the privacy of your own home, regardless of your own political views, and you're flirting with five years behind bars.

This is just insanely over-the-top tyrannical. I might compare it to something, but I wouldn't want any of my Aussie readers to go to prison for reading the analogy!

Tuesday, January 9, 2024

Sync: The sexual implication of foot-washing

Yesterday, following a link on AC, I read an anecdote from an Epstein girl who said she had been ordered to give a particular celebrity a foot massage, but this person's feet were so disgusting that she insisted on washing them first. This particular celebrity is not accused of anything beyond that, but obviously people are going to be skeptical of the idea that he was on the Lolita Express just for the footrubs.

Shortly after that, I listened to the second part of a YouTube debate with Leo Ebbert and others on the subject of Joseph Smith and polygamy:

More than once in the course of the debate, the idea came up of foot-washing as implying sexual activity. Apparently some non-Mormon sect of the day taught that couples should wash each other's feet before doing the deed, and at one point it was proposed that "Washed our feet and went to bed" in a journal entry implied that something sexual had taken place.

Today, I started reading The Fortress, the third novel in Colin Wilson's Spider World series. About a quarter of the way into it, we discover that one of the characters is a polygamist, many of whose wives appear to be underage. When wife number eight, who Niall guesses is a pre-teen, is introduced, she asks her husband, "Shall I wash your feet now?"

So that's three times in two days, in three completely different contexts, that I ran into foot-washing in connection with polygamous and/or underage sex.

Sunday, January 7, 2024

My tail is dun

In Taichung today, I stopped at an intersection where there were, opposite one another, two shops with English names selling caffeinated beverages: John Tea and Louisa Coffee. This struck me as significant for some reason I couldn't put my finger on -- perhaps something to do with John Dee, I thought. I didn't get a chance to take a photo, but here it is on Street View:

When I got home, I read William Wright's latest post, "'Louise has weapon': Arrival, language, and power." The name Louise got my attention, obviously. The reference is to the 2016 movie Arrival, which I recently watched and mentioned in a post, in which an alien language is deciphered by a linguist named Louise and her partner, Ian. Louise and Louisa are forms of the same name, as are Ian and John. Here's a sample of what the alien language looks like:

And here's one of the first image search results for coffee stain:

William discusses my recent post "Rapunzel and the True Song of Wandering Aengus," in which I was asked in a dream "Do you know what a week is?" and replied with a little verse defining it in terms of the phases of the moon:

From none to half, or half to all,
Or all to half, or half to none
Takes seven days, and this we call
A week, and now my tale is done.

William says that, since the dream had no visual component, the question might actually have been about weak, or even the Elvish word wiqe, which means "penis." The latter is a bit of a stretch, since the Elvish word would be pronounced "wee-kway" and wouldn't really sound like week, but the general point is that homophones -- whether within one language or across languages -- introduce ambiguity and the potential for misunderstanding.

I didn't mention it in my post, but I had actually thought something very similar just after my dream -- not about the word week but about the ending of the verse: my tale is done.

The Piers Anthony novel Centaur Aisle begins with a scene in which Dor is writing an essay for school, having pressed into service a "spelling bee" -- a magical insect which is "incapable of misspelling a word, however much it might wish to, to spite him." Dor dictates his essay to the bee, only to discover later that its spite has found a loophole, giving what are technically correct spellings, but of homophones, not of the words Dor clearly intended. The final essay begins with "Eye live inn the Land of Xanth, witch is disstinked from Mundania" and ends with "My tail is dun."

The dream reminded me of this episode, so much so that when I typed it up for the blog post, I inadvertently wrote "my tail is dun" and had to go back and correct it.

After writing most of the above, I took a break to do some housework. While I did so, I listened to a debate on YouTube about whether or not Joseph Smith had practiced polygamy. (William Wright had sent me the link, and his friend Leo Ebbert is one of the participants.)

In the debate, Mark Tensmeyer and Jacob Vidrine argue for the position that Joseph Smith was a practicing polygamist, while Leo Ebbert and Jeremy Hoop argue that he was not. In Leo's closing remarks, he repeatedly uses the expression "Heads I win, tails you lose" to characterize the methods of his opponents. Immediately after that, Jeremy gives his closing remarks, in which he states that "there simply is no evidence" of Joseph's polygamy. "There's only tales of it."

Among Mormons, of course, the name Dunn is closely associated with tall tales.

Friday, January 5, 2024

Rapunzel and the True Song of Wandering Aengus

I took a brief nap after lunch today, which is not something I ordinarily do, and I had a verbal dream. My unseen interlocutor (there was no visual aspect to this dream) was a woman who wanted me to think of her as Claire, but I understood that this was definitely not her real name; she was using Claire Delune as a sort of jokey nom de guerre, chosen precisely because it was ridiculous. She never actually told me this, and I never actually addressed her as Claire; it was just understood. Although I could not see Claire, my mental image of her (for even in dreams there is a distinction between what we "see" and what we picture) was of a blonde woman who looked as if she might burst into laughter at any moment.

Claire and I were having what I understood to be a ritualized dialogue, with each of us reciting lines from a memorized script. I thought of the whole thing as being "Masonic" in nature:

Claire: Do you know what a week is?

William: I do.

Claire: Will you tell me?

William: I will.

From none to half, or half to all,
Or all to half, or half to none
Takes seven days, and this we call
A week, and now my tale is done.

Claire: That is well said. Do you know the True Song of Wandering Aengus?

William: I do not.

Claire: I will give it you.

Claire then recited the "true" version of the Yeats poem "The Song of Wandering Aengus." Unfortunately, my memory of this disintegrated almost immediately upon waking. I can only remember a few details: It was told from the point of view of the Glimmering Girl rather than from that of Aengus, and there were only two long stanzas. The second stanza ended with the well-known lines "The silver apples of the moon, / The golden apples of the sun," and the first stanza ended with the same two lines in reverse: "The golden apples of the sun, / The silver apples of the moon." Aside from that, the only specific wording I can remember is the phrase "viper dragon," which appeared in both stanzas. (The second stanza mirrored the first in many ways, after the manner of "The Two Trees.")

After I awoke, the first thing I did was look up "The Song of Wandering Aengus" and refresh my memory. No viper dragons. Then I ran a search for "yeats" "viper dragon" just in case anything should turn up. This yielded what Google humorously terms "about 0 results" -- but not exactly zero:

The Witch's Tower! That caught my eye because William Wright's two latest posts -- "Disney's 'Tangled', Galadriel's Hair, and linking the Anor and Ithil Stones" and "New Moons Shining and Karma Chameleons" -- have dealt with the story of Rapunzel, specifically as told in a Disney movie I had never heard of, in which Rapunzel's animal sidekick is a chameleon. I had read these shortly before my nap, and the reference to the Anor ("sun") and Ithil ("moon") Stones may have occasioned my dreaming of Wandering Aengus. I had also watched a clip from Tangled that William had posted, in which I learned for the first time that the traditional name of Rapunzel's witch captor is Gothel.

"Viper dragon" has no obvious connection to Rapunzel, though, so imagine my surprise when I clicked on the third image above and enlarged it. (Only a low-resolution image is available, sorry.)

I'm pretty jaded when it comes to seemingly impossible coincidences, but this is really a seemingly impossible coincidence! Just after learning for the first time that Rapunzel was held captive by a witch called Gothel, I have a dream in which the phrase "viper dragon" appears in a Yeats poem. I then search for "viper dragon" "yeats" -- and the only results are from a Rapunzel story, including the page in which Gothel introduces herself!

The Witch's Tower was published in 2019 by Tamara Grantham and is the first book in a series called Twisted Ever After. (Disney's Tangled was released in 2010, with a 2012 sequel called Tangled Ever After.) The sample available on Amazon shows that it begins with an epigraph from Yeats:

A Google Books search shows that the string "viper, dragon" appears only once, in a list of potion ingredients:

Both excerpts above include references to drops of Gothel's blood, which I suppose is an additional coincidence.

Go to the window; it’s dark but clear

In a period of just a few days, the following things happened: On May 30, William Wright proposed that the beings I know as Joan of Arc (Je...