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Saturday, October 25, 2014

Spread The Wealth


If Dr. Spencer in NYC was not contagious until he began showing symptoms of Ebola - and the first symptom (at least, the first we know about) was the elevated temperature on Thursday last morning - why are people going around disinfecting everything he has come into contact with?

It seems that he felt sluggish back on Tuesday. Apparently feeling sluggish is not a symptom. In my mind, it is a symptom of the flu, so maybe he was celebrating the onset of seasonal flu with a trip to the bowling alley across town.

Perhaps sluggishness led to extremely poor choices, an inability to think clearly. I have had those symptoms with the flu in the past.

Julia Ioffe has an article in the NY Times on the phenom of America's frenzied indulgence in germ-spreading:
http://www.newrepublic.com/article/119969/new-york-city-ebola-case-why-did-dr-craig-spencer-go-bowling
From where I sit, it often looks like the other side of American individualism, which becomes selfishness when you lay it on thick. It’s the belief that you and your needs are acutely exceptional and important, and take precedence over those of the people around you. It’s the unspoken belief that your day radiating sickness at the office is worth a couple of your colleagues being bedridden with your flu for a week. 

--



Thursday, October 16, 2014

We Make The World

Through our conversation we make the world.

As we communicate, we are "negotiating" a common world view. We may not agree, and the common world view will contain contradictions and conflicts, but we are negotiating as longer as we talk and interact.

The world is not only our responsibility, it is our fault.

It can also be our creation.

There is a great fund of good in the world which we obscure by a mudslide of 24/7 bad news and political debate.
My wife says she watches NBC News and Bryan Williams because he ends the show every day with a story about people who are making a difference. However, it seems symptomatic of our dilemma: 27 minutes of conflict and hurt and 3 minutes of the good, when in real life, the opposite ratio is probably the correct one.

We are scripting a story of suffering and pain for all to see and participate in.

Let us do something else.

--

The Christians Of Iraq




I saw a car with a bumper sticker that stated, "Save The Iraqi Christians"
It did not say how that was to be accomplished.

(Keep in mind that our leaders are the products of the same educational system that is bringing us the daily examples of how to handle infectious diseases, such as Ebola.)

The removal of the Iraqi Christians is another step in decreasing diversity of religion. We are already into a process of decreasing biodiversity, and the concentration of wealth we witness serves to decrease social diversity.
Diversity is decreased by cramming everything into a smaller number of possible boxes; instead of a large number of boxes, some large and some small, we have just one or two large boxes: wealth or poverty, ISIS or the sword, feast or famine.

--


Wednesday, October 15, 2014

From Metropolis To Hitler: Fire and Clay

I have finished reading Thea von Harbou's novel Metropolis. I have seen Fritz Lang's film five times, three times in the past two years. I have spent a lot of time thinking about it, and I think that the leader of Metropolis, Joh Fredersohn, is a pre-archetype of Hitler, being an anticipation of the type of leader who actively seeks the destruction of the society he has created.

Joh Fredersohn's motives escape me, unless there is some connection between his wife, Hel, and the ancient goddess Hel.
There probably is.
The shrine to the woman Hel who was the mother of Joh Fredersohn's son, Freder, was in Rotwang's house, the strange continuum between antiquity and alchemy - Kabbala and the Star of David - mixed with Tesla coils and modern science.

At the threshhold between new and old, we see Rotwang striving to recreate Hel, who had died in the birth of Freder. Since both Rotwang and Joh Fredersohn had loved Hel, and since Rotwang is seemingly working for Fredersohn to create his robotic version of Hel, this is a very tight triangle of passion.
Yet, the scheme changes as Fredersohn seeks to undermine and kidnap a new religious movement among the oppressed workers by abducting Maria, the main figure of the new movement, and creating the robot using her as a template. The motive is to turn the pacifist religious workers movement to revolution, and then to turn the police and army loose to destroy them...

... none of which makes sense, because the city quite obviously cannot exist without the working class.

And there is a sense of the Golem, made from clay by Judah Loew ben Bezalel, the 16th century Rabbi of Prague. The Rabbi brought the Golem to life to protect the Jewish community during a time of troubles.
And in the midst of the Star of David in Rotwang's house/lab, we see a woman made, not of clay like the golem, but of metal and electricity brought to life to destroy a community! The defender of the oppressed becomes the oppressor!

And there is a current children's book titled The Golem And The Jinni in which the Golem is a female and the Jinni male, the female made from clay and the male made from smokekess flame of fire, as the Jinn are created, as is written:


Where are we?
I feel lost in a maze of symbolic misadventures.

Why did we enter the twentieth century in dubious battle and why did we leave the twentieth century in the fog of wars?
Why does man imagine that he himself creates and he himself destroys? And why is man become intoxicated with his illusion of power? Where have God, where has Adonai, where has Allah disappeared? For they exist only as ideological signs... without the awe of the Holy.

We awe ourselves with our own cruelty and destruction.

--

Monday, October 13, 2014

The Parable Of The Talents



I refer to Wikipedia for a succinct account of the Parable of the Talents ("talents" being an ancient currency):
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parable_of_the_talents_or_minas


Parable of the talents

The parable in Matthew 25:14-30 tells of a master who was leaving his home to travel, and before going entrusted his property to his servants (property worth 8 talents, where a talent was a large unit of money, as discussed below). One servant receives five talents, the second two talents, and the third one talent, according to their respective abilities.

Returning after a long absence, the master asks his servants for an accounting. The first two servants explain that they have each put their money to work and doubled the value of the property they were entrusted with, and so they are each rewarded:

His lord said to him, "Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a few things, I will set you over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord."

— Matthew 25:23, World English Bible

The third servant, however, has merely hidden his talent in a hole in the ground, and is punished:

He also who had received the one talent came and said, "Lord, I knew you that you are a hard man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you did not scatter. I was afraid, and went away and hid your talent in the earth. Behold, you have what is yours."

But his lord answered him, "You wicked and slothful servant. You knew that I reap where I didn't sow, and gather where I didn't scatter. You ought therefore to have deposited my money with the bankers, and at my coming I should have received back my own with interest. Take away therefore the talent from him, and give it to him who has the ten talents. For to everyone who has will be given, and he will have abundance, but from him who doesn't have, even that which he has will be taken away. Throw out the unprofitable servant into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth."

— Matthew 25:24–30, World English Bible


This is a tough nut to crack, this parable. One needs to be there, to see the gestures and the intonations of the speaker's voice to know what was intended in places. For example, I could read the last quoted portion as:

"You !! You -oh, Einstein! - you knew that I did not sow !!??..." and so on. Sort of sarcastic-like.

Be that as it may, I read the money or talents as the Law, the Torah.

By hiding it in the ground, the servant treats it as a mere possession; precious, indeed, but still merely an asset of value to be put into a vault and guarded.

By taking the talents and putting them out into the world, by putting them at risk - for the money could have decreased as well as increased - the first two servants treat the Law as something valuable which yet must be changed in some way.

For me, this change is understanding.
Understanding changes not only the one who understands,  but it changes that which is understood, and - if the matter be weighty enough - it changes the world.

My own study of this parable changed my understanding of the parable, but also changed me, for I see now the distinct difference between the Rabbi of Goray and the Rabbis of the surrounding villages:
Women desiring divorce or a pronouncement of death for a husband (lost to war or pogrom for some years gone by) flocked to Goray because the Rabbi there interpreted the Law with great sympathy and understanding and lenience, whereas the Rabbis round about were stiff-necked and had little sympathy for the sorrows of women.

The Law is not something that sits upon the necks of mankind.

It is something which calls us on to understand, and blesses us when we do.

This is reflected in the desire of various types of people who wish to have copies of the Ten Commandments erected upon the square in front of City Hall; these people wish that the Law of God be seen by all people as cast in stone and unchanging.
But the Law of God can hardly be expressed in words, and each and every person and generation must struggle to come to an understanding, and as they do, the Law as it is perceived by mankind changes.

The servant with much understanding changed most, the servant with less changed, but less in the same period of time.
The servant who treated the Law as an unchanging asset to be stored away and hidden gained nothing, changed nothing, and was cast out in the end.

--
pix: Wikipedia


Friday, October 10, 2014

Futility's Exercises

Futility is electing a Republican majority in Congress in 2014.

If we want anything done, we should elect Democratic majorities in 2014, and turn them and President Obama loose to accomplish something, anything!

Then, if you still don't like it, elect Republican majorities and a Republican President in 2016.

--

Thursday, October 09, 2014

My Brother




My younger brother passed away last weekend.

It was not entirely a surprise, but that only eliminated the element of surprise, not the element of grief. Yesterday I saw the real meaning of "Infinity", which is never to see again; never, never, infinitely never will the touch or look be there.

Drugs may have been involved.
Thus, he belonged to the under-class of our brave, new world. Even though many of us have read and heard the Gospels say that our human judgement is a perilous project:

- Judge not so that you may not also be judged;
- Let he among you who is without sin cast the first stone;
- As you measure, so shall it be measured to you;

we always ignore such scriptural clap-trap and render our judgements, probably with the feeling of great satisfaction that we are once again showing Jesus of Nazareth who's boss.

All elements of the "good" people involved treated me with respect and my brother's memory with disrespect. From the police to the medical examiner's office to the landlord of the apartment where he lived, deftly, surely, respectfully, with great sympathy...  and some without even a vestige of sympathy, casting out his belongings... they let it be known that my brother was really not worth my time.

The police went to great lengths to make sure I was informed not only of his last moments, but of a parade of events earlier which cast him into a bad light. They did not know that I usually saw him every week or two; that we would go to the bank and the store; that we would go to the coffee shops; that we would drive down to the river and watch the river traffic and talk.

The "better" crowd wanted me to know that he was riffraff, just in case I were one of those relatives who, after having ignored the black sheep of the family for years, now pops up out of no-where to act in a pious manner.

I do not judge their actions. I merely state that I was appalled by them, and I continue to be so, even though I fully understand them.
What I cannot understand is the vast desert of ignorance of any religious teaching underpinning our everyday activities... for if someone acts in a manner we consider immoral, then why would we jump at the chance to add a judgement which is discountenanced by Scripture?

Not to judge does not mean to approve of. It merely means to be silent. It means to seek understanding of our lives of happiness and suffering.

A judgement is cast in stone. Understanding is deep change, for to understand something we previously did not understand changes us and our world. That is why I hate "belief" systems: they are dead and buried in a vault. I would rather seek understanding and be surprised by the world and by God...  for I do not question existence, but I realize my grasp of the Nature of the World and The Holy is grossly imperfect.

Those who make judgements are the "good" citizens who seek to have the Ten Commandments propped up in front of the City Hall: the commandments are Laws, cast in stone, unalterable.
If we put up the Golden Rule to do unto others as we would wish them to do to us in front of City Hall, we might cause people to stop and ponder. Thinking deeply might cause change. Insights might fly in like a flock of flamingos, and we would be changed.
Perish the thought!

Those who judge now reflect that he who was of little value has now died, punished by death and the barbs of our condemnations, while the "good" live on in sanctity.

Those who understand now look about like the Prince of Verona at the end of Romeo and Juliet, look about at the dead and the living, and say:


"All are punishèd...
    All are punishèd ! "





--



Sunday, October 05, 2014

Detroit Tigers Win The Central Division !




At the end of the regular baseball season, I was present at Comerica Park to watch the Detroit Tigers play the Minnesota Twins. There was a close race with the Kansas City Royals to the championship of the American League Central Division.
Earlier in the week I had listened to the local TV news by some gross error on my part, and if was reported that there was a weird machine of statistics that was non-Gould-computable (after Stephen Jay Gould, baseball nut and fine scientist) which said that any combination of Tigers wins or Royals losses that equaled 3 would mean the local boys would win.

It went down to the wire.
So here we were on a fine, warm Sunday.
My friend required a free parking space, so we parked a mile and a half away from the stadium in a George Romero-type neighborhood. I knew this because a large abandoned building had "Zombieland" painted across the upper floor facade.
This did make it easy to find the car after the game, since Zombieland was visible well beyond the ball park, a feature that made up for the fact that there were so many buildings with boards over the windows - just like the fenestral barricades in "Night Of The Living Dead" and "28 Weeks Later" and other memorous flicks of the nouvelle onde de zombies ( I don't use "nouvelle vague" since that has been patented by earlier Frenchies, and I hate to pay des royalties !!)

I had worn my least comfortable shoes, my docksiders. It was a tough walk until the pain numbed me up. Even my "Milkman" shoes would have been better. ("Milkman" shoes is what I call my flipping Tevas, since the name reminds me of "Tevia", who happens to have been - and still is - a milkman.)

My friend bought peanuts on the outside of the stadium, significantly cheaper than those inside. This fact of life was significantly established by Dr. Carver years and years ago. Same goes for beer and bottled water.
I eat the entire peanut; I just throw the whole thing into my mouth and chomp away on it. Since there is a good deal more salt on the shell than on the kernels, I do not eat many peanuts this way... unless there is a bottled water monger nearby.

Speaking of which, we sat on the third-base line about five rows higher than the top of the home team dug-out, and about 15 seats from it away from home plate.
These were great seats until the 5th inning when the crowd became thirsty from the sun and wind and the beverage mongers I mentioned - water and beer - decided to encamp between ourselves and home plate, waving bottles of refreshment in their hands, two or three cans or bottles per hand, waving them like plastic date palm fronds in a frenzied oasis.

My friend and I had decided to make a bet on the outcome of the game.
We both picked the Tigers to win - probably based on the irrefutable fact that "they were due!" - so we had to modify the wager.

He said to pick how many runs they would win by.
I considered this. One run or two runs seemed to hardly register in my mind. I saw three, four, or five runs, and nothing greater than five. Then four and five faded, leaving a big old  staring right at me with my own mind's eye.

So I held up three fingers, saying that the Tigers would win by three runs.

Long story - or at least 9 innings duration - truncated and made brief, they won by precisely three runs.

We went to eat afterwards. I ate a club sandwich with an enormous wooden "waif-pole" crowned with curlicues of plastic clingfilm. I was thinking of  Ahab, Tashtego and Dagoo, not my extraordinary prowess at prognostication.
When we left the eatery, my friend said he had left my winnings as my portion of the tip.

I told him first that he was a scoundrel's sibling, and then that when it comes to betting on future events, I valued being right over the money involved.
Since he could not thimblerig me out of that, he decided to drive home by way of the Past.
He drove through the sketchiest neighborhoods, then by the street where he was born, then down Chandler Park where I was born.

I hungered for a madeleine to nibble, but the Cadieux Cafe, the neighborhood Belgian bar, was closed and eerie, wild grasses trespassed lawns in a drunken stagger, and I took solace in being right, for the joy of youth was lost in the translations from concrete isle to concrete isle within the asphalt archipelago.





photo: James D. Griffioen
--







Saturday, October 04, 2014

Friar Lawrence's Blog




Arms and the man... the love of man for woman, the woman and man for the child... and of all for the black powder and firearms

These violent delights have violent ends
And in their triumph die, like fire and powder,..


I cannot find any reports of children shooting and/or killing other children in the USA for October 3, 2014.
Nor any report of a child killing their instructor in firearms.

Huzzah !

--

The Digital Revolution Becomes The Digital 18th Brumaire !




Is there anyone there who has any sense, common or otherwise?

From the highest priorities - protecting the President, keeping the country safe from Ebola, governing the country instead of squabbling, running a banking system without destroying it - down to the everyday matters such as health care idiots, banking buffoons, and cable TV incompetents, we are being worn down into a formless, quivering mass of people who are mad as hell, and may not take it anymore.

You have tried to fix a mistake on an invoice or statement. After a few rounds with a mechanized phone menu system which asks you to enter "1" or say "Yes", and which interprets your clearing of your throat as a response, or which eavesdrops on you speaking to your wife when it is giving you a long list of choices, and takes your words and says that it does not understand them, you finally get someone who takes an hour to clear things up... and then signs you up for some gizmo or plan that you expressly turned down.

The Electronic and digital revolution has left us prey to business and hucksters, governments and scammers, hackers and hijackers...

The Era of Multi-Tasking has left us with people in charge who cannot even do one task anymore: they cannot perceive the whole and they cannot formulate the steps to go through and they cannot monitor nor evaluate the results... even though those results are delivered in real time.

We have a country where half the people have bizarre constructs called "belief systems" about newspapers, TV, the time of day, and the nature of angels.
Half the country cannot comprehend science, and the other half distrusts it.
The educational system - what is left of it - is being delivered into the hand of dogmatists and people who value politics above learning.
India has a satellite circling Mars. The people of India value science and religion; they do not choose one over the other. We hitch rides to the Space Station on Russian rockets.
We have constant battles of buffoonery, where various reincarnations of Snopes, Darrow, Bryan, and our Sciences and our Religions fight in the fog of war over little understood "belief systems".

We have Memes that run our lives, and "Memes" are nothing but Great Attractors of the random Brownian pool of concepts and idea we have floating through our echoing craniums.

When the ferment of the French Revolution - that great period of dissipation of the energy of Aristocracy - came to an end, it eventuated in the new growth of Napoleon as Emperor.

The breakdown of the pre-digital age has come to an end, and it has led to the new empire of Wealth Concentration, Dysfunctional Government, Incompetence based on the Illusory Ability conveyed by the speed and flexibility of electronics... and the list goes on.

--



Friday, October 03, 2014

Texas Hospital Ship Of Fools

 Ship Of Fools
(Possibly Texas Hospital Ship Of Fools)



I have come to the conclusion that the people in charge of this country are indeed aliens.
They are not very intelligent aliens, either. They are Stephen King's Tommyknockers with the added attraction of not being able to jimmy rig.

How difficult is it for a medical person hearing that a man who has arrived at the hospital with a fever - a man who states he had been in Liberia, where an Ebola outbreak is raging.........

... how difficult is it to quarantine the guy until the CDC gets there?

The people in charge of this country form a hierarchy of stupidity.
They are as stupid as the rest of us, but we do not get the Power nor the Money they do for their brand of stupidity.

Yesterday there was an article about NASA doing some work on handling rogue asteroids headed towards Earth.
NASA has had its poor moments, but I feel they will make a good effort that will far exceed anything the CDC has so far done about Ebola in the USA.

If the CDC were running NASA, they would give a pass on the first asteroid headed towards Earth, saying they'd double up efforts on the second planet buster.

If the UN were running NASA, they could not get the group of gifted and powerful imbeciles that make up their membership to agree on any measures to take.

If the US State Department were running NASA, they'd add fire power to the asteroid, hoping that it would hit Bashar Al Assad's office.

If the Congress were running NASA, they go home on recess and reconvene at some future date, after they had cut NASA funding.
--

Archetypes




I was reading about someone interested in the history and understanding of the Warrior archetype in our society.

Hmm...

There is the Hero / Heroine. The Hero is Odysseus, unwillingly thrust into someone else's war, and living by his wits and skills until the day he can return to normal life.
In his journeys, he goes is transformed from Everyman into the Hero. This is accomplished by his or her ability to find deep sources of energy and knowledge within themselves.

The Warrior is Achilles or Ajax.
The live for war, and the blood they spill boils on their red hot skin. The best Warrior is the beserker, a war-machine.

We have been mislead by movies and books into thinking Warriors are anything but those members of society which serve our communal blood lust.

--

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Semitic Anti-Semitism


During the most recent Gaza War, left-wing Israelis demonstrated against the violence, only to be met by right-wing Israeli violence.

http://www.juancole.com/2014/09/government-inciting-israeli.html



The Narrative of 60 plus years may fall apart. What would we do without our Narrative?


--



The Fog Of War



The phenomenon called "fog of war" usually occurs during intense battle, when information flows are interrupted, passions are high, and smoke obscures the fields of battle. No one can be sure what's going on.

Here in the USA, we have improved on the concept, and we have extended the fog of war even to the planning stages.
We started this process back in Iraq in 2003, when we mislaid the files containing the plans for what to do once the shooting stops. This ran at the same time as the Afghanistan war when we pushed the enemy out of the country, but notoriously failed to destroy his ability to re-infiltrate Afghanistan and to wage war.
A war which does not destroy the enemy's ability to wage war is more like a pugilistic walk in the park.

Concerning the entity now known as Islamic State, the Congress has voted to support a vastly flawed plan.
(Can you imagine what would happen if the idiots actually were not dysfunctional and were able to come together effectively to "run" our own country?!  It makes one tremble.)

Now Iran will not back the US led Alliance of Airplanes against IS, but will support Syria and Hezbollah in their fight against IS.
Of course, the USA, true to its long, long, long history of arming people and seeing those arms later turned against the USA itself, will "vet" Syrian rebels and supply the "good" rebels with arms to fight IS. (How we determine the "good" rebels probably comes down to asking them to pinkie swear that they will not use US weapons against US soldiers and people.)

Since Assad and Hezbollah will continue their fight against Syrian rebels - even the "good" ones - the two efforts against IS will soon find themselves at odds, and the independent efforts will soon turn from merely being uncoordinated into being actively deleterious to each other. Then the match will be "Advantage, Islamic State!"


... AND, in case you have not noticed, by doing this we have introduced ourselves into the middle of a religious civil war!

Sunni versus Shia. Our allies - Saudi Arabia, Qatar, etc. etc. - versus Iran.
The one thing everyone has agreed the USA should never do: step into a religious civil war in the Middle East, has just been accomplished by our elected leaders.

No fog in that war, pal. We got a pretty good idea what's going to happen.
--

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

TransperceMer / Sea-Piercer



Libyan Parliament Currently Operating from a Floating Ferry
http://mashable.com/2014/09/10/libyan-parliament-ferry/
Libya's elected government has fled escalating violence in the country's capital, and taken refuge in a Greek ferry in the neighboring port city of Tobruk, according to news reports.

A large ship usually used to transport cars between Italy and Greece was hired at the last minute to accommodate Libya's parliament, the Guardian reported. Elected in June, the officials were originally set to meet in Benghazi, but changed course due to intensifying conflict...

If you have seen the film Snowpiercer ( Transperceneige ), you will recognize the theme of human events carried on in the universe of Continuous Transport.
Many science fiction stories have involved generations living on starships in their centuries long journeys to far away stars. That is pretty much Continuous Transport. It is Irony in an enigmatic cocoon: human nature remaining the same while the environment radically changes; immobilis in mobile.

We are Captain Nemos, however; we seek mobilis in mobile: change within change.
If we do no change, we will never arrive at our far-off goal.

--

World War E





World War E
(Ebola)


A call to violence flies the wind,
and wakes the sleeping horde;
display butterflies unpinned,
resurrected from their board!

Crack!  The specimen window glass
like a stone back rolled;
life and death in stark contrast,
command as quisling lord!

The rumor’d wars, the pandemics
us to their bidding bind;
we cannot run, we cannot mix,
as the civil knots unwind!


--

Written September 17, 2014 upon hearing about President Obama's plan to combat Ebola.
Disease, Poverty, and Ignorance are much greater enemies than ISIS could ever hope to be, for all that is needed for peace is for enough men to kill each other and to exhaust the capability of warfare.

I greatly disagree with arming the Syrian rebels, for that is exactly how we helped to created ISIS, which itself followed our Frankenstein-like creation of Al Qa'ida.
To continue to follow such a grotesque and monstrous policy is the path to ruin.

Hopefully, we may reclaim ourselves by the much more difficult battle against Ebola, which requires a commitment to the world for the present and for the future, and whose aim is solely that of the welfare of the peoples of the world.

How long has it taken us to respond to a crisis which is not political and whose implementation is not problematic? The photo above is from the following blog article:
http://leschroniquesderorschach.blogspot.com/2014/03/une-epidemie-debola-ravage-la-guinee-et.html

Les Chroniques de Rorschach
samedi 22 mars 2014
Une épidémie d'Ebola ravage la Guinée et la Sierra Leone 

The date is Saturday, March 22, 2014 and the title is "Ebola epidemic raging in Guinea and Sierra Leone".

So it has been at least all of 2014 until now that the world is mounting a response that might possibly succeed.

Let this also be a warning to those who think the elites that run the world are competent to maintain the health and well-being of the world community.

--



Monday, September 15, 2014

Evolution And Its Discontents


Thomas Huxley, Known As Darwin's Bulldog



A Lady said that Evolution was a scientific theory - just as the Gipper, better known as Ronald Reagan said - and she agreed: just a theory.
She then asked me if I believed in Evolution.

I answered that although the science of living things seems to be the correct arena in which to have beliefs or disbeliefs, I had none: I neither believed nor disbelieved.

Interestingly enough, she disbelieved my seriousness. It was her "belief" that I was somehow "pulling her leg".

However, I have no rods on the anvil nor any ferric materials in the fire. Evolution is an old friend - I recall reading about Darwin, Huxley, Leake, and Bishop Usher when I was in grade school. Yet I have no reason to establish a full-blown "Belief System" (or, "BS" as it is abbreviated) about the whole thing.

Were I in research, now, that is a different case. Were I researching, say, worms and amoebae or lichens or some ratty little mammals that I had to chivvy from their burrows and rush to the laboratory mazes, I would probably need to have a BS.
Or if I had to, say, bet money on some future life issue, like "should I move to an island nation if climate change is true, and the ocean levels will rise 20 feet over the next trimester of the CO2 cycle?", then I would probably have to swat, study, and set up a proper BS.

Otherwise, no. The Belief System is potentially in me (as Aristotle would say), but it is not everywhere present in force at all times.

I then told her that God and the Holy were not properly "beliefs" at any time or place. I left her in a state of disheveled disbelief. She said hotly that I acted as a capricious and arbitrary cad.
I said "Arbiter, Non Modo Arbitrario"
("An Arbiter ... referee, judge, moderator; any good-type of notion that deals with placid reason and virtue... but not Arbitrarily!")
At which point She-who-must-be-obeyed, who had sat silently during this vaudeville of belief,  took straight aim at my shins under the table and delivered a stealth kick of 20 megatons! Later she said she would have kicked the other lady, if she had had a clear shot.

--

IS ?

Gates Of Mordor 
(Doubling for the Gates Of Hell)


This is not an essay on Heidegger and Being, meditating upon "what-is" and "what-is-not".

What-is-not is our dreams, and What-is is our comeuppance, chickens coming home to roost, and a game of pick-up-sticks in which we have been granted the guarantee of grasping the night soil end of the stick.

It is about the new War against IS, ISIS, or ISIL.

(1)
In the Washington Post we read:

Arab states willing to join air fight against Islamic State in Iraq, U.S. officials say
http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/arab-states-willing-to-join-air-fight-against-islamic-state-in-iraq-us-officials-say/2014/09/14/7bdbe1a4-3c41-11e4-b0ea-8141703bbf6f_story.html?hpid=z1
Several Arab states have offered to conduct airstrikes against militants in Iraq alongside the efforts of the United States, U.S. officials said Sunday as the Obama administration sought to bolster its case for action against the Islamic State.
“A lot of this is still in the discussion phase, but I want to be clear that there have been offers, both to CENTCOM and to the Iraqis, of Arab countries taking more aggressive kinetic action against ISIL,” including airstrikes, a senior State Department official said in Paris, using an alternative acronym for the militant network...
Lucky old stiffs are we, to have the Battlestar Islamica Rangers of Saudi Arabia and Qatar and Dubai come to our cause, especially since they were the ones who funded such mercenaries in Syria in the first place.

What will happen when IS sees the mighty air forces of civilization arrayed against their iniquities!!

Will they tremble in fear and remorse? Or will they skedaddle into heavily populated areas and cities, thereby ensuring that any air strike will inflict the maximum collateral damage and death among the civilian populations?

The culture of death loves the holocaust past. The Art of Modern War as set down in the days of World War II by the GGs (Greatest Generation) involved extensive bombing and destruction of civilian areas, a strategy which carried over into the Cold War in the form of Mutually Assured Destruction (of cities) - an Armageddon bullet we dodged once and are eager to confront again.

(2)
The beheading videos seem to be designed to elicit an uncontrolled and inchaote response, which is exactly the way numerous people are responding to them, as if IS were some sort of super-powered Puppet Masters who rule men's minds!

(3)
We ignore natural allies because they are enemies of the Likud party:

Senator Lindsey Graham:

“The first thing I want to tell American people, from my point of view, it is our fight, it is not just their fight,” Graham said. “I will not let this president suggest to the American people we can outsource or security and this is not about our safety. There is no way in hell you can form an army on the ground to go into Syria, to destroy ISIL, without a substantial American component. To destroy ISIL, you have to kill or capture their leaders, take the territory they hold back, cut off the financing, and destroy the capability to regenerate.”

There are troops on the ground in Syria: the Syrian Army and the rebel groups whose fighters are the source of the IS army.

(Senator Graham also said
http://www.breitbart.com/Breitbart-TV/2014/09/14/Graham-ISIS-is-an-Army-Of-Islam-Opening-The-Gates-Of-Hell-On-The-World
"If they survive our best shot, this is the last best chance, they will open the gates of hell to spill out on the world. This is not a Sunni versus Sunni, this ISIS versus mankind."
and we may reasonably pause and consider the implications of a very senior US Senator describing important world affairs as if it were all part of a Left Behind novel...
What the heck!)

(4)
We should support in a big way a combination that has a good chance of success.

The people of this area must fight their own wars.
If people wish to kill, they have to do so until they are incapable of continuing. If a outsider or referee steps in and says "Time-out!", then they will only live to kill yet another day.

And they must learn the lessons other nations learned in conflict; they must create their pown heroes and heroines and leaders who will lead a new nation born in their wars.

As it is, the political process is frustrated by interventions.
What would the USA be if the nations of Europe and France were strong enough to have forbade the British to commence hostilities against the colonies of America? Would George Washington have risen to the status he achieved? Would there have been a Constitution?

Those who live by the sword must be schooled by the sword and be sent to after-school detention class, which will be overseen by Mr. Sword

--

La Maison De Ma Mere Est Sur La Table...




(My Mother's House Is On The Table...) ... and ready for its new owners.
(I have no idea why I fancy it is "on a table". I wuz reading Mme de Sevigne's letters, and the mood took me into franco-steampunk-o-phile associations.)

My mother's house has been sold and closed on, with nary a hitch... except at the bank where the niceties of Trusts and Trustees and the incorrigibly correct wording of documents of Trusts and financial instruments referring thereto were delved into interminably, while my mother sat there with a knowing look on her face.

The next day she called and asked me how to write a check for my brother.

She had not heard a word the banker had said.

Some things never change, no matter how truthful yet fruitless they have become, and my mother's belief (and - to be truthful - I suppose, mine also) that people tend to mumble, speak inaudibly, and to swallow words at the end of sentences - all of which is clearly true... just ask some foreign guys and dolls that come over here and try to speak to 'Mericans! - leads us into a state of Truth perversely joined from Joy...

For the fact that people mumble cannot be changed, and only by purchasing some sort of hearing assistance device ( such as an ear trumpet ) may we be able to engage in sock-in-the-mouth chit-chat with other blokes and frails.

She resists with the faith of a believer who has found Truth and Frustration, two gunwhales of the canoe of Life spread athwart by Irony.

--

Thursday, September 04, 2014

Brennt Die Welt?




Is the world burning?

Not really.

ISIS is 2 million young men with no hope and no jobs looking to kill themselves and others, and soon the fund of suicidal young Muslims will be exhausted, and the fire will die.

Russia and Ukraine is a conflagration, but it will not spread like wildfire.

Ebola is rising...
We shall see how the world regimes handle that problem.
Hopefully, we can handle it better than global warming.

America still has no real functioning form of government, and does not look to have one anytime soon.
It does not seem able to confront its problem of racism, nor of gross inequity.
That is a real problem that has been pushed to the back burner, but will explode again soon once the world looks for leadership.

--

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

An Adventure In Art (57)

Chiens De Mon Quartier


Bernadette Leclerq
Peintre-Illustrateur-Ceramiste

--


Monday, August 25, 2014

Jokes I Missed The First Time...



... because there was just too much of an interval between punch lines. Yes. Punch Lines. Plural. So we have multiple punch lines, long extended jokey narratives, and it takes one heck of a weather eye to spot the Moby Dick of Jest if and when he breaches the placid ocean of the mundane.

So, Sherlock with Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman, Season 1, The Great Game.

The opening scene in in Minsk, Belarus. Sherlock is seated across the table from a prisoner in an otherwise deserted room of empty tables, probably a cafeteria doubling as an interview room.

The prisoner tells his story of how he killed his girlfriend, quite accidentally, and as he tells the story, Sherlock corrects his grammar. When the prisoner, Tate (I believe) says " I weren't", Sherlock corrects him: "I wasn't", and Tate repeats " I wasn't".
So also with "he learned me" to "he taught me", "I done it" to "I did it", "weren't" to "wasn't" again, and a double negative with "no more" changed to "anymore".

The prisoner pleads to a departing Sherlock that
"...without you, I'll get hung for this."
Sherlock pauses and looks back,
"No, no, no; not at all, Mr. Tate...(pause)... "hanged", yes!"
 Funny stuff.

So within minutes, the main story starts, Sherlock is in his flat, shooting at the wall from boredom, Watson enters hungrily, walks to the fridge and finds a head that Sherlock has procured from the morgue to study the coagulation of saliva after death, and he is keeping it cool.

Watson asks Sherlock whether he read his "A Study In Pink" in Watson's blog.
After a bit of a dispute as to merits, Watson points out that Sherlock surely must admit that he is unfamiliar with some very basic facts.
Sherlock responds that,
"... it doesn't matter to me who's Prime Minister, or who is sleeping with who."
 I wonder whether back in Minsk there's a dead man walking, muttering "With Whom! Bloody with whom!"

--

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Chickens Coming Home To Roost




modernfarmer.com

--

Ebola



There is a person in California who is in isolation for possible Ebola virus infection. He is exhibiting signs of viral infection, and he was recently somewhere in West Africa.

Death by epidemic was one of my favorite obsessions back in the 90s, along with financial melt-down and future dystopia. Such themes have also been frequent in films and books, and they form the " lasciate ogni speranza voi ch'entrate " embellishing the entrance to the cavern of the future for our generation.
("Abandon all hope, you who enter here"; from Dante's Inferno)

Science is on top of things, but the scientific process is not terribly robust, it being but a human endeavor and prone to human failings, like viable smallpox cultures hidden away in a desk for 40 years.

Although we are told that Ebola cannot be transmitted through the air ( as an aerosol, a colloid composed of fine particles and liquids in gas - in this case, the gas is air ).

I believe that exactly means that Ebola cannot be transmitted through the air between human beings, and not that it is entirely impossible that the Ebola virus can be in some sort of infectious aerosol.
Studies have been done:

Are we *sure* Ebola isn’t airborne?
Posted by Tara C. Smith on August 3, 2014 
http://scienceblogs.com/aetiology/2014/08/03/are-we-sure-ebola-isnt-airborne/

[...]
Let me back up. The paper in question was an experimental study done in the wake of the 2008 finding of the Reston Ebola virus in pigs and a previous study looking at the Zaire virus in pigs. In the air transmission study, they inoculated pigs with Ebola and examined transmission to macaques (who were not in direct contact with the infected pigs). They did find aerosolized Ebola in air samples, and some of the macaques did come down with symptoms of Ebola. So, it looked like pigs could spread Ebola through the air, which is something that had already been suggested by the epidemiology of the 2008 pig Ebola outbreak. It’s always nice when experimental data matches up with that observed during a real-life occurrence of the virus.

*However*, the kicker was not that Ebola is transmitted by air in human outbreaks, but rather that there may be something unique about pig physiology that allows them to generate more infectious aerosols as a general rule–so though aerosols aren’t a transmission route between primates (including humans, as well as non-human primates used experimentally), pigs may be a bigger threat as far as aerosols. Thus, this may be important for transmission of swine influenza and other viruses as well as Ebola.
[...]
(underline emphasis mine)

If air-borne transmission is heavily dependent upon the virus-carrying aerosols, there should be investigation into the nature of pig aerosols and how they differ from aerosols produced by humans (such as the aerosols produced by sneezing). However, the question of how pig aerosols significantly differ from human aerosols has not received a lot of attention.

At the beginning of this month, it seems that orders went out to burn the bodies of Ebola victims in Western Africa.
Heat may produce aerosols, such as a laboratory situation where a hot loop is introduced into a culture. A body which is not uniformly subjected to virus killing heat may produce an aerosol, I should think.
What the nature of those aerosols are is anybody's guess.

And, by the by, the Ebola virus is transmitted by contact with bodily fluids, such as are contained in spit, blood, urine, feces, etc.
The old belief that aerosols are created when one flushes the toilet are actually true; in experiments where toilet bowls were swabbed with some bacterium, measurable amounts of bacteriua-containing aerosols were detected after the first few flushes.

--

Personal Snapshots Of The Great Painters: Magritte's Series Of Film Posters


--

Monday, August 11, 2014

Religion As Politics




Most of what we call Religion is politics and sociology: the push and crush of human beings, not of deities and angels.

In TIME we see:
How an Extremist Buddhist Network Is Sowing Hatred Across Asia
Charlie Campbell / Dharga Town @charliecamp6ell
Aug. 8, 2014 
http://time.com/3090990/how-an-extremist-buddhist-network-is-sowing-hatred-across-asia/

All one needs is the headline.
For many years, Buddhism was the paradigm of a "real" religion to even liberal atheists; even Sam Harris felt he had to admit to dabbling in Buddhist-type meditation.

But not all Buddhists are smiling.

Religion and God take a lot more work than merely putting a pin on one's lapel. It does not matter so much whether we believe in God as it matters whether we understand the Holy in our existence. 

I see less and less proof that we grasp the most fundamental understanding of the Holy, as our lives become emptier and our soul howl in the mad night.

--

The Next Systemic Crisis




[I have picked the illustration at random from a grab-bag of "coming crises".
Prepare for two things:
(1) to meet your Maker, and
(2) the death of money....... or some other nonce notion that inhabits the minds of those who make Money from the frightened.]

I have heard quite enough about possible financial crises recently, including from my mother, who has become a believer in vigorous market corrections after the Dow dropped 300 points or so last week (It did the same in February last, but she forgot).
She had a financial advisor whose job was to collect sizable fees, leaving her and my father fully invested in Real Estate as 2007 lapsed into 2008.

She has a litany of how many people lost money, and it could not be helped. She forgets my story of how I bailed out of everything in March, 2008, and pretty much put my money in my mattress. I am but a foolish offspring who lost nothing. She also forgets that the stock market has climbed back since 2008, and losses have been eclipsed.
I am neither a good steward nor a foolish steward; I am a "kid".

The present crises in the minds of such people, many of whom listen to FOX, are mostly due - I think - to the fact that something is not quite right... and Obama is President!

I don't see a financial crisis. We are all too aware of such things. We are on the qui vive!, so the French say: our eyes are peeled!
There will be scams, to be sure, but real systemic crises need to flourish in the shadow world where there are no newspapers, blogs, TV reporters, or any information media.

Back in 2007 and 2008, there was plenty of warning, only it was not in the "popular" media, but in more arcane and professional type publications.

The next crisis is quite obvious, but we cannot evaluate it even though it is plainly before us, for we have not lived through its destruction yet.
We appreciate a financial crisis because we've lived through one. But our rationality and understanding continues to be befuddled by things we have not personally experienced, nor which form a robust part of a Political or Religious or Social Narrative already. That is, we can believe fervently in a Story that we already believe in...
That is how we operate.

The Crisis is the failure of government to govern in such a way that the interests of all the Stakeholders in the country derive some benefit.

Majority Rule in a Democracy implies two things:
(1) there actually is governance, or "rule",
(2) the majority needs to comprehend the needs of the minority within its program.

If not, then the majority rule is Anarchy or Tyranny.

--

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Butterfly Under Glass


 Mounted Butterflies On Display



All of us are artists.

The artistic difference between those whom we term "artists" and the rest of the workforce is this:

the outcome of our projects remain predictable and less complex, whereas those of "artists" become complex and unpredictable over time and exposure to those who experience the art.

There is an illusion of static permanence achieved by putting things in art galleries and museums, and by multiplying reproductions of "works of art" to infinity, but that is merely the archival approach to any phenomenon.

Art = The Butterfly (le papillon) at the beginning of the French series Les Revenants; pinned through the thorax and mounted into an old wood frame display case, it suddenly revives at the very inception of the series.
It bursts through the glass which enshrouds it and the other butterflies on display with an amorphously transparent pseudo-immortality, like that of Snow White's temporary bier in the fairy tale.... life will out!

Art rises like the butterfly. Papillon!

If we recall the film Papillon based on the life of Henri Charrière, and which starred Steve McQueen and Dustin Hoffman, we would think about the controversy about Charrière's veracity in telling his story of imprisonment on Devil's Island - a veracity much impugned.
However,
French journalist Gerard de Villiers, author of "Papillon Épinglé" (Butterfly Pinned) maintains that "Only about 10 percent of Charrière's book represents the truth."

Wikipedia

And that 10 percent grew exponentially into a great film and great memories.

--

Monday, July 28, 2014

Design






http://www.whitemonkeydesign.de/


--

Our Miss Brooks




I also saw Pandora's Box (Der Buchse Der Pandora), directed by Georg Wilhelm Pabst, and starring Louise Brooks as the main character, Lulu.

I fell in love with her... tragically...


--

Cloud Atlas



picture:  http://peterpopken.blogspot.com/2012/11/cloud-atlas.html


I have just finished watching the film Cloud Atlas in its entirety, with no stops, gaps, nor breaks, and merely a minimum of short intervals during which I could not quite get the words people were saying.

I was astonished.

I have been astonished by quite a few films lately: Cloud Atlas, The Great Beauty, Melancholia, Take Shelter,... I wonder why there are so many? Why are there so many films dealing with such important issues?
It is the time for such questions, I think, for we stand upon the brink of a vast change. But this is not the time for that topic.

Cloud Atlas; I have heard some people say that the multiple story lines were confusing, so I was sort of cringing at the start of the film, ready to be amused, bemused, and confused. Trouble is: I was not confused in the slightest.

I marveled at a film which could turn on a dime from one story to another, and yet leave me with no sense of vertigo, nor any sense of having lost the thread of meaning, for all the stories - although different - were the same.
There was never a re-set for a shift in plot: we never had to leave one group and mentally say, OK, now we back in 2012, or the future, and we must reacquaint ourselves with the characters...
Never had to do it. All stories led to Rome, as it were.
I loved the various melodies and languages coming to a complete symphonic meeting of voices.

I also heard people say it was about karma. I heard the word mentioned towards the end of the film by an inquisitor.
I also heard "karma" mentioned in conjunction with Carlos Casteneda, but I never though of Casteneda being concerned with karmic matters. There is meaning in Casteneda, but it is not at all the obvious meaning. Enough on that matter for the time being.

Karma can be a personal flotation device, or it can be a millstone tied about one's neck; take your pick.

Wikipedia
...The official synopsis describes it as "an exploration of how the actions of individual lives impact one another in the past, present and future, as one soul is shaped from a killer into a hero, and an act of kindness ripples across centuries to inspire a revolution."
Whether one believes in re-incarnation as reality, or whether it is merely a plot device, does not matter, for the continuity of a soul through time is a belief that is not quite necessary for the film to influence us, although it is rather fun to keep track of the various roles played by the actors throughout the multi-plots.


Unhappy times filled with such hopeful and happy films!



--

Monday, July 21, 2014

Wes Anderson And The Life Aquatic And Transperceneige




1)
A.O.Scott review of The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou
http://www.nytimes.com/2004/12/10/movies/10life.html

... In my ideal cinémathèque, "The Life Aquatic" would play on a permanent double bill with "The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie." Mr. Anderson and Stephen Hillenburg, Mr. Squarepants's creator, share not only a taste for nautical nonsense, but also a willingness to carry the banner of unfettered imaginative silliness into battle against the tyranny of maturity...

2)
Transperceneige is rendered in English as Snowpiercer , which sort of ignores the full possibilities of the "Trans..." at the beginning: possibly just transpercer but also possibly a reference to a train, such as TransSiberian Express. I suppose people thought something like Snowpiercer Limited was too redolent of Gene Wilder and Silver Streak.
I referred Transperceneige as a film about "continuous transport", and thought of George Herriman's Krazy Kat, wherein once a shipload of owls were in a state of continuous transport, staying just ahead of rosy-fingered dawn across the face of the globe.

Upon reflection, there are many such tales in Science Fiction, where the interstellar vessels which journey hundreds of years between the stars are actually in a state of continuous transport; their arrival at some destination no longer sure nor guaranteed; the ship's hierarchy broken down into chaos and tribal factions.....

Or Spaceship Earth.

There was the conceit of a self-contained universe: The Orient Express, the Nostromo of Alien, Prospero's Island.
We add our own concept of ghastly infinitude: endless and pointless repetition of failure, our haunted Flying Dutchman.

--



Friday, July 11, 2014

Bruno Bettelheim




Much of what Mr. Bettelheim wrote is ignored these days. However, he provided a brilliant peek into the ways and uses of symbols:

Bettelheim analyzed fairy tales in terms of Freudian psychology in The Uses of Enchantment (1976). He discussed the emotional and symbolic importance of fairy tales for children, including traditional tales at one time considered too dark, such as those collected and published by the Brothers Grimm. Bettelheim suggested that traditional fairy tales, with the darkness of abandonment, death, witches, and injuries, allowed children to grapple with their fears in remote, symbolic terms.
Wikipedia; Bettelheim

Symbols are a masterful tool, allowing us to understand that which is beyond our senses, and to experience that which is beyond our abilities, and to feel that which is beyond or forbidding to our emotions.

In a very real sense, symbols are the most benevolent Chauncey Gardiner, who "likes to watch" that from which he is removed by the very nature of things. When we watched Chance Gardiner in the film  Being There, did we understand anything that was normally forbidden to our understanding by the powers of social life?

--

The Face Of The Virgin

This is made up from 3 posts. They deal with Mary, the mother of Jesus, Susan of the revolution, and the last brings in Elizi Dantor, a Lwa of Vodou.

It has become apparent they all deal with the same thing.

**********





Kick-Ass Mary


How great the pain that pierced your heart,
Mother, when they raised Him on the cross;
ceaseless furrows of your tears record the
tsunami of your loss!
Hammer and spear, thorns and scourge,
all life from your soul did purge?


"My pain blinded everything else, I could not stand;
I admit that in my pain I cried a few
tears and screamed in my deep despair... softened
by the mound of stones I threw!
from Roman heads came blood, their cries attest:
'Get that Jew bitch! That Jewish terrorist!' "






notes:

the Virgin Mary is usually depicted as silently suffering during the passion of Jesus. However, she fought for her kids like a soldier, and drew the blood of killers. She still fights for us.

(as I explain in a comment, I tired of Mary being portrayed as Our Lady of Perpetual Victimization.)


**********




Susan welcomes Revolution
in the month of Nisan:
she smokes without matches,
she drinks without wineskins;
when she cries,
she is not dieing...
as are we...
but she is creating the rivers of Eden!


Susan is a Visionary
in the Spring of the year:
not drinking from poisoned wells,
not eating of forbidden foods;
when she sleeps
she does not slumber,
as do we,
but remains vigilant for her tribe until dawn!


Susan is an desert shaman
in the April of time:
the scorpion of heart's desire
makes her strip off all her clothing;
when she loves,
she is not at peace,
as are we;
nightly hunts she leads with the campfire's greyhound smoke.


Susan welcomes revolution;
in month of Tammuz:
reflections in eternity,
encased in Persian mastic
as an ant
encased in amber:
but not we
who east of Paradise must live until all men be free!


**********


MyStudios.com  

The face of the Virgin is that of a young girl, or a young woman. Rarely is she portrayed as a middle-aged woman or an older woman. So do I think of her. I use the grammar of Images and link common images in prayer.
However, when Mary visits her cousin, she sings the Magnificat, wherein we hear: "He casts the mighty from their thrones, and raises the lowly."
From this we get a glimpse of ancient Jewish thought in the society and in the individual, for Mary exclaims that God has turned the social order upside down and chosen Her, not a rich woman, not a trust child, not a queen; just Her.

So, is Mary always demure and a follower? Or may she also be a radical, a leader?
What we think of Mary is solely within this world and our consciousness. The Holy is not constrained by our thinking nor our imaging. The Holy is undefined to our minds, for to be otherwise would to be limited.
The Holy is a mystery which we attempt to understand with language and imaging and emotions - and ritualized behavior - and magical thinking - and the list goes on. However, the Holy is not what any one of these may show, for these activities come from our past, our personal histories. We have learned how to speak and picture God and Mary and Jesus. We learned this in the past. The Holy is the Future. It is where we are going.

The Holy cannot be held within our imaginings. It is the future and what Religion is actually all about. The fact that evil men infest religion makes human religion no different from human politics, or human business. What does differentiate Religion from all other human activities is the fact that Religion has the potential to exceed all that separates humans from each other and join them in a supra-national, supra-parochial group of communality.
And just as this conception probably strikes you as bizarre and outlandish, so also must any experience of the Holy knock you off your high horse, as it did Paul on the road to his fate.  

Life has infinite detail; it is demure and it is brash. All Life is tending to the Holy, regardless whether it be demure or brash. God saved us because he loved us. Period. Not because we thought of the Holy in a certain way and not because we acted out a given role. The Love came because God willed it. Nothing more, nothing less.

Jesus said that those who have not seen and yet believe are blessed. Blessed are they who have not seen, that have not imagined, that have not created an image in their minds of things remembered, that have not a taste of emotion from beholding Jesus. They are more blessed that have not seen and now do not see, for Jesus has left the Earth.
Now we have Faith without having seen, without miracles and signs. What, indeed, is an image or a sign if not something that can be pondered over, talked about, remembered, imagined, possibly even measured and subjected to science?
We could take a scientific poll of those who witnessed the Virgin at Fatima and put Religion on a proper scientific footing! And about time, too. Jesus said blessed are those who have not seen, for their Faith leads them. So if you are Faithful, you will not require images; you will not need to see... a sign, a holy person, a miracle. Our Faith frees us from all material needs eventually.

Now, having said this, when I pray, the Holy is not imaged. When I turn to certain aspects of the Holy, such as the Virgin, I pray to the Virgin, my Mother. She is demure and she is radical in her defense of her children. Until one month ago, my image of the Virgin was that of a meek and demure young woman with possibly a dash of wailing mother thrown in - the result of so many Lenten Fridays and singing the Stabat Mater Gloriosa. I had begun to study Haitian Vodou ( or Voodoo as we foppishly call it ), and I learned that even Mary may fight for her children.

My understanding of Haitian religion was nil, consisting of little knowledge of Toussaint L'Ouverture, readings of scary slave ship rebellions, insurrections, tales of Zombies popularized by white men in the early 20th century, Bela Lugosi in White Zombie, and a general disdain and feeling of racial superiority  (I have just described the USA's relationship with Haiti.).

I was looking at religious art of Haiti. This art often is a concentration of objects and a mixture of media. A religious statue can be composed of a bewildering array of found objects, rum bottles, old statue, aged holy cards, beads, sequins, candles, applique... there is no limit. While looking at one, I suddenly became aware that this art differed in no way from the religious art of any other country.

Moreover, the history of Vodou differed in no essential way from the history of any other religion. Whereas the Haitian artist creates an infinity of detail in his art, the European heritage of art has a preference to be rational - having just enough detail to "get it". Certainly not so much detail as too enable the viewer to become lost in a revery.
Art containing the range of detail shown in Haitian art is considered "cranky" or marginal by Western society; like " The Fairy Feller's Masterstroke " versus Mondrian.

The viewing of the Virgin as demure, as in much of Christian tradition; or the viewing of the Virgin Mother as a vigorous proponent of her children, much like the Ezili Dantor of Haiti who is another image of the Virgin [ or, of Mary, for Elizi Dantor is more like a complement to virginity - 2014] - neither view exhausts the infinity of the Holy which we think of as the Virgin Mary.

Now, most people want something definite at a point like this. This is where one is supposed to say: "When you speak about God, you are actually talking about yourself." I do not believe that. It is a trivialization of religious life.

When I speak about anything in the same way that I speak about religion, I'm always speaking about my hopes and fears, my likes and dislikes - my whole history. When we talk about the Holy, we are talking about the past, present , and the future. When we talk about the Holy, we are talking about God, the Virgin, the Saints, the Angels, the Prophets, ourselves, our friends, our enemies, the whole of human history...

There is NO simple conclusion that sums it all up in one small sentence that you feel comfortable wrapping your arms around. It is an infinity wrapped in angelic arms with no end.

When I see Mary, I see forever.

--