Saturday, April 30, 2011

The Origins of Speaking in Code

“ If I had my possessions [khrēmata], Simonides, I would not be distressed as I am now at being together with the noble [agathoi]. But now they [i.e., my possessions] have passed me by, even though I was aware, and I am speechless because of my lack of possessions, though I would be better aware than many, [aware] that we are now being carried along, with white sails lowered, beyond the seas of Melos, through the dark night, and they refuse to bail, and the sea washes over both sides of the ship.

It is a difficult thing for anyone to be saved, such things they are doing. They have deposed the pilot [kubernētēs], the noble [esthlos] one, who was standing guard with expertise. They seize possessions [khrēmata] by force [biē], and order [kosmos] has been destroyed. There is no longer an equitable division [of possessions], in the common interest, but the carriers of merchandise rule, and the base [kakoi] are on top of the noble [agathoi]. I am afraid that perhaps a wave will swallow the ship. Let these things be allusive utterances [= ainigmata] hidden by me for the noble [agathoi]. One could be aware of even [future] misfortune, if one is skilled [sophos].
- Theognis of Megara (667–682)

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Finding Strength

And the will therein lieth, which dieth not. Who knoweth the, mysteries of the will, with its vigor? For God is but a great will pervading all things by nature of its intentness. Man doth not yield himself to the angels, nor unto death utterly, save only through the weakness of his feeble will.
--Joseph Glanvill

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Two+ Birds on a Wire

Not all metals and metallic alloys possess the physical properties necessary to make useful wire. The metals must in the first place be ductile and strong in tension, the quality on which the utility of wire principally depends. The metals suitable for wire, possessing almost equal ductility, are platinum, silver, iron, copper, aluminium and gold; and it is only from these and certain of their alloys with other metals, principally brass and bronze, that wire is prepared.

Friday, April 22, 2011

The Odd and the Even in Dialectic

Do you use an even or an odd "frame of reference" when you shape your dialectic?

One:Many :: Many (Two (or possibly Zero/Nothing?):All

1:2+:: 2+or0:Infinity


The magic of meaning transferrence through selective forgetting/misunderstanding!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Le Désert de Mon Coeur

“ Perses, you must have on your mind all things that are in season , especially with regard to sea-voyaging.”
- Hesiod, "Works and Days" (641–642)

Monday, April 18, 2011

Alice's Evidence

Salvador Dali (1969)

Seize the moments of happiness, love and be loved! That is the only reality in the world, all else is folly. It is the one thing we are interested in here.

--Leo Tolstoy, "War and Peace"

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

On the Range of "Otherness"

Sophistry, the "Athenian" Business Model

Plato, "Sophist"
STRANGER: Then now you and I have come to an understanding not only about the name of the angler's art, but about the definition of the thing itself. One half of all art was acquisitive—half of the acquisitive art was conquest or taking by force, half of this was hunting, and half of hunting was hunting animals, half of this was hunting water animals—of this again, the under half was fishing, half of fishing was striking; a part of striking was fishing with a barb, and one half of this again, being the kind which strikes with a hook and draws the fish from below upwards, is the art which we have been seeking, and which from the nature of the operation is denoted angling or drawing up (aspalieutike, anaspasthai).

THEAETETUS: The result has been quite satisfactorily brought out.

STRANGER: And now, following this pattern, let us endeavour to find out what a Sophist is.

THEAETETUS: By all means.

STRANGER: The first question about the angler was, whether he was a skilled artist or unskilled?


STRANGER: And shall we call our new friend unskilled, or a thorough master of his craft?

THEAETETUS: Certainly not unskilled, for his name, as, indeed, you imply, must surely express his nature.

STRANGER: Then he must be supposed to have some art.


STRANGER: By heaven, they are cousins! it never occurred to us.

THEAETETUS: Who are cousins?

STRANGER: The angler and the Sophist.

THEAETETUS: In what way are they related?

STRANGER: They both appear to me to be hunters.

THEAETETUS: How the Sophist? Of the other we have spoken.

STRANGER: You remember our division of hunting, into hunting after swimming animals and land animals?


STRANGER: And you remember that we subdivided the swimming and left the land animals, saying that there were many kinds of them?

THEAETETUS: Certainly.

STRANGER: Thus far, then, the Sophist and the angler, starting from the art of acquiring, take the same road?

THEAETETUS: So it would appear.

STRANGER: Their paths diverge when they reach the art of animal hunting; the one going to the sea-shore, and to the rivers and to the lakes, and angling for the animals which are in them.

THEAETETUS: Very true.

STRANGER: While the other goes to land and water of another sort—rivers of wealth and broad meadow-lands of generous youth; and he also is intending to take the animals which are in them.

THEAETETUS: What do you mean?

STRANGER: Of hunting on land there are two principal divisions.

THEAETETUS: What are they?

STRANGER: One is the hunting of tame, and the other of wild animals.

THEAETETUS: But are tame animals ever hunted?

STRANGER: Yes, if you include man under tame animals. But if you like you may say that there are no tame animals, or that, if there are, man is not among them; or you may say that man is a tame animal but is not hunted—you shall decide which of these alternatives you prefer.

THEAETETUS: I should say, Stranger, that man is a tame animal, and I admit that he is hunted.

STRANGER: Then let us divide the hunting of tame animals into two parts.

THEAETETUS: How shall we make the division?

STRANGER: Let us define piracy, man-stealing, tyranny, the whole military art, by one name, as hunting with violence.

THEAETETUS: Very good.

STRANGER: But the art of the lawyer, of the popular orator, and the art of conversation may be called in one word the art of persuasion.


STRANGER: And of persuasion, there may be said to be two kinds?

THEAETETUS: What are they?

STRANGER: One is private, and the other public.

THEAETETUS: Yes; each of them forms a class.

STRANGER: And of private hunting, one sort receives hire, and the other brings gifts.

THEAETETUS: I do not understand you.

STRANGER: You seem never to have observed the manner in which lovers hunt.

THEAETETUS: To what do you refer?

STRANGER: I mean that they lavish gifts on those whom they hunt in addition to other inducements.

THEAETETUS: Most true.

STRANGER: Let us admit this, then, to be the amatory art.

THEAETETUS: Certainly.

STRANGER: But that sort of hireling whose conversation is pleasing and who baits his hook only with pleasure and exacts nothing but his maintenance in return, we should all, if I am not mistaken, describe as possessing flattery or an art of making things pleasant.

THEAETETUS: Certainly.

STRANGER: And that sort, which professes to form acquaintances only for the sake of virtue, and demands a reward in the shape of money, may be fairly called by another name?

THEAETETUS: To be sure.

STRANGER: And what is the name? Will you tell me?

THEAETETUS: It is obvious enough; for I believe that we have discovered the Sophist: which is, as I conceive, the proper name for the class described.

STRANGER: Then now, Theaetetus, his art may be traced as a branch of the appropriative, acquisitive family—which hunts animals,—living—land— tame animals; which hunts man,—privately—for hire,—taking money in exchange—having the semblance of education; and this is termed Sophistry, and is a hunt after young men of wealth and rank—such is the conclusion.


STRANGER: Let us take another branch of his genealogy; for he is a professor of a great and many-sided art; and if we look back at what has preceded we see that he presents another aspect, besides that of which we are speaking.

THEAETETUS: In what respect?

STRANGER: There were two sorts of acquisitive art; the one concerned with hunting, the other with exchange.

THEAETETUS: There were.

STRANGER: And of the art of exchange there are two divisions, the one of giving, and the other of selling.

THEAETETUS: Let us assume that.

STRANGER: Next, we will suppose the art of selling to be divided into two parts.


STRANGER: There is one part which is distinguished as the sale of a man's own productions; another, which is the exchange of the works of others.

THEAETETUS: Certainly.

STRANGER: And is not that part of exchange which takes place in the city, being about half of the whole, termed retailing?


STRANGER: And that which exchanges the goods of one city for those of another by selling and buying is the exchange of the merchant?

THEAETETUS: To be sure.

STRANGER: And you are aware that this exchange of the merchant is of two kinds: it is partly concerned with food for the use of the body, and partly with the food of the soul which is bartered and received in exchange for money.

THEAETETUS: What do you mean?

STRANGER: You want to know what is the meaning of food for the soul; the other kind you surely understand.


STRANGER: Take music in general and painting and marionette playing and many other things, which are purchased in one city, and carried away and sold in another—wares of the soul which are hawked about either for the sake of instruction or amusement;—may not he who takes them about and sells them be quite as truly called a merchant as he who sells meats and drinks?

THEAETETUS: To be sure he may.

STRANGER: And would you not call by the same name him who buys up knowledge and goes about from city to city exchanging his wares for money?

THEAETETUS: Certainly I should.

STRANGER: Of this merchandise of the soul, may not one part be fairly termed the art of display? And there is another part which is certainly not less ridiculous, but being a trade in learning must be called by some name germane to the matter?

THEAETETUS: Certainly.

STRANGER: The latter should have two names,—one descriptive of the sale of the knowledge of virtue, and the other of the sale of other kinds of knowledge.

THEAETETUS: Of course.

STRANGER: The name of art-seller corresponds well enough to the latter; but you must try and tell me the name of the other.

THEAETETUS: He must be the Sophist, whom we are seeking; no other name can possibly be right.

STRANGER: No other; and so this trader in virtue again turns out to be our friend the Sophist, whose art may now be traced from the art of acquisition through exchange, trade, merchandise, to a merchandise of the soul which is concerned with speech and the knowledge of virtue.

THEAETETUS: Quite true.

STRANGER: And there may be a third reappearance of him;—for he may have settled down in a city, and may fabricate as well as buy these same wares, intending to live by selling them, and he would still be called a Sophist?

THEAETETUS: Certainly.

STRANGER: Then that part of the acquisitive art which exchanges, and of exchange which either sells a man's own productions or retails those of others, as the case may be, and in either way sells the knowledge of virtue, you would again term Sophistry?

THEAETETUS: I must, if I am to keep pace with the argument.

STRANGER: Let us consider once more whether there may not be yet another aspect of sophistry.
Now would anybody like to enroll in Plato's "Academy"? ;)

Sunday, April 10, 2011

It's NOT Your Yob!'s Mine!

" Kindle up the council fires,
Lo ! our Saint the flame inspires,

Whilst we pass the flowing bowl !
Let the smoky volumes roll,
From the calumet and pipe,
Of sweet Peace the welcome type,
Let our Sachems' healths go round,
Beat with nimble foot the ground ;
Till the woods and hills reply,
Vocal mirth and symphony.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

He Sits at the Table and Writes...

Those hours, that with gentle work did frame
The lovely gaze where every eye doth dwell,
Will play the tyrants to the very same
And that unfair which fairly doth excel;
For never-resting time leads summer on
To hideous winter, and confounds him there;
Sap checked with frost, and lusty leaves quite gone,
Beauty o'er-snowed and bareness every where:
Then were not summer's distillation left,
A liquid prisoner pent in walls of glass,
Beauty's effect with beauty were bereft,
Nor it, nor no remembrance what it was:
But flowers distilled, though they with winter meet,
Leese but their show; their substance still lives sweet.
--Shakespeare, "Sonnet V"

Just don't look up! ;)

Thursday, April 7, 2011

A Caged Bird Sings of the Pythia

51. These observances then, and others besides these which I shall mention, the Hellenes have adopted from the Egyptians; but to make, as they do, the images of Hermes with the phallos they have learnt not from the Egyptians but from the Pelasgians, the custom having been received by the Athenians first of all the Hellenes and from these by the rest; for just at the time when the Athenians were beginning to rank among the Hellenes, the Pelasgians became dwellers with them in their land, and from this very cause it was that they began to be counted as Hellenes. Whosoever has been initiated in the mysteries of the Cabeiroi, which the Samothrakians perform having received them from the Pelasgians, that man knows the meaning of my speech; for these very Pelasgians who became dwellers with the Athenians used to dwell before that time in Samothrake, and from them the Samothrakians received their mysteries. So then the Athenians were the first of the Hellenes who made the images of Hermes with the phallos, having learnt from the Pelasgians; and the Pelasgians told a sacred story about it, which is set forth in the mysteries in Samothrake.

52. Now the Pelasgians formerly were wont to make all their sacrifices calling upon the gods in prayer, as I know from that which I heard at Dodona, but they gave no title or name to any of them, for they had not yet heard any, but they called them gods ({theous}) from some such notion as this, that they had set ({thentes}) in order all things and so had the distribution of everything. Afterwards, when much time had elapsed, they learnt from Egypt the names of the gods, all except Dionysos, for his name they learnt long afterwards; and after a time the Pelasgians consulted the Oracle at Dodona about the names, for this prophetic seat is accounted to be the most ancient of the Oracles which are among the Hellenes, and at that time it was the only one. So when the Pelasgians asked the Oracle at Dodona whether they should adopt the names which had come from the Barbarians, the Oracle in reply bade them make use of the names. From this time they sacrificed using the names of the gods, and from the Pelasgians the Hellenes afterwards received them:

53, but whence the several gods had their birth, or whether they all were from the beginning, and of what form they are, they did not learn till yesterday, as it were, or the day before: for Hesiod and Homer I suppose were four hundred years before my time and not more, and these are they who made a theogony for the Hellenes and gave the titles to the gods and distributed to them honours and arts, and set forth their forms: but the poets who are said to have been before these men were really in my opinion after them. Of these things the first are said by the priestesses of Dodona, and the latter things, those namely which have regard to Hesiod and Homer, by myself.

54. As regards the Oracles both that among the Hellenes and that in Libya, the Egyptians tell the following tale. The priests of the Theban Zeus told me that two women in the service of the temple had been carried away from Thebes by Phenicians, and that they had heard that one of them had been sold to go into Libya and the other to the Hellenes; and these women, they said, were they who first founded the prophetic seats among the nations which have been named: and when I inquired whence they knew so perfectly of this tale which they told, they said in reply that a great search had been made by the priests after these women, and that they had not been able to find them, but they had heard afterwards this tale about them which they were telling.

55. This I heard from the priests at Thebes, and what follows is said by the prophetesses of Dodona. They say that two black doves flew from Thebes to Egypt, and came one of them to Libya and the other to their land. And this latter settled upon an oak-tree and spoke with human voice, saying that it was necessary that a prophetic seat of Zeus should be established in that place; and they supposed that that was of the gods which was announced to them, and made one accordingly: and the dove which went away to the Libyans, they say, bade the Libyans to make an Oracle of Ammon; and this also is of Zeus. The priestesses of Dodona told me these things, of whom the eldest was named Promeneia, the next after her Timarete, and the youngest Nicandra; and the other people of Dodona who were engaged about the temple gave accounts agreeing with theirs.

56. I however have an opinion about the matter as follows:—If the Phenicians did in truth carry away the consecrated women and sold one of them into Libya and the other into Hellas, I suppose that in the country now called Hellas, which was formerly called Pelasgia, this woman was sold into the land of the Thesprotians; and then being a slave there she set up a sanctuary of Zeus under a real oak-tree; as indeed it was natural that being an attendant of the sanctuary of Zeus at Thebes, she should there, in the place to which she had come, have a memory of him; and after this, when she got understanding of the Hellenic tongue, she established an Oracle, and she reported, I suppose, that her sister had been sold in Libya by the same Phenicians by whom she herself had been sold.

57. Moreover, I think that the women were called doves by the people of Dodona for the reason that they were Barbarians and because it seemed to them that they uttered voice like birds; but after a time (they say) the dove spoke with human voice, that is when the woman began to speak so that they could understand; but so long as she spoke a Barbarian tongue she seemed to them to be uttering voice like a bird: for had it been really a dove, how could it speak with human voice? And in saying that the dove was black, they indicate that the woman was Egyptian. The ways of delivering oracles too at Thebes in Egypt and at Dodona closely resemble one another, as it happens, and also the method of divination by victims has come from Egypt.
--Herodotus, "Histories" (Book II)

The Dragon

Extract from 'Myths and Legends of China' by E.T.C. Werner (1922)
The dragons are spirits of the waters. "The dragon is a kind of being whose miraculous changes are inscrutable." In a sense the dragon is the type of a man, self-controlled, and with powers that verge upon the supernatural. In China the dragon, except as noted below, is not a power for evil, but a beneficent being producing rain and representing the fecundating principle in nature. He is the essence of the yang, or male, principle. "He controls the rain, and so holds in his power prosperity and peace." The evil dragons are those introduced by the Buddhists, who applied the current dragon legends to the nagas inhabiting the mountains. These mountain nagas, or dragons (perhaps originally dreaded mountain tribes), are harmful, those inhabiting lakes and rivers friendly and helpful. The dragon, the "chief of the three hundred and sixty scaly reptiles," is most generally represented as having the head of a horse and the tail of a snake, with wings on its sides. It has four legs. The imperial dragon (possessing "quintessence") has five claws on each foot, other dragons only four. The dragon is also said to have nine 'resemblances': "its horns resemble those of a deer, its head that of a camel, its eyes those of a devil, its neck that of a snake, its abdomen that of a large cockle, its scales those of a carp, its claws those of an eagle, the soles of its feet those of a tiger, its ears those of an ox;" but some have no ears, the organ of hearing being said to be in the horns, or the creature "hears through its horns." These various properties are supposed to indicate the "fossil remnants of primitive worship of many animals." The small dragon is like the silk caterpillar. The large dragon fills the Heaven and the earth. Before the dragon, sometimes suspended from his neck, is a pearl. This represents the sun. There are azure, scaly, horned, hornless, winged, etc., dragons, which apparently evolve one out of the other: "a horned dragon," for example, "in a thousand years changes to a flying dragon."

The dragon is also represented as the father of the great emperors of ancient times. His bones, teeth, and saliva are employed as a medicine. He has the power of transformation and of rendering himself visible or invisible at pleasure. In the spring he ascends to the skies, and in the autumn buries himself in the watery depths. Some are wingless, and rise into the air by their own inherent power. There is the celestial dragon, who guards the mansions of the gods and supports them so that they do not fall; the divine dragon, who causes the winds to blow and produces rain for the benefit of mankind; the earth-dragon, who marks out the courses of rivers and streams; and the dragon of the hidden treasures, who watches over the wealth concealed from mortals.

The Buddhists count their dragons in number equal to the fish of the great deep, which defies arithmetical computation, and can be expressed only by their sacred numerals. The people have a more certain faith in them than in most of their divinities, because they see them so often; every cloud with a curious configuration or serpentine tail is a dragon. "We see him," they say. The scattering of the cloud is his disappearance. He rules the hills, is connected with fêng-shui (geomancy), dwells round the graves, is associated with the Confucian worship, is the Neptune of the sea, and appears on dry land.
Yang... the Just Be Cause

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Feminized Knight's Errant

It's a shame, there's no pill for that, princess!

Meanwhile back at Castle Anthrax...

The Damsel of the Sanct Grael by Dante Rossetti
Thou art now a-weary? There above are sheep and sun-set stripes: is it not sweet to sleep- the shepherd pipes?

Thou art so very weary? I carry thee thither; let just thine arm sink! And art thou thirsty- I should have something; but thy mouth would not like it to drink!-Oh, that cursed, nimble, supple serpent and lurking-witch! Where art thou gone? But in my face do I feel through thy hand, two spots and red blotches itch!

I am verily weary of it, ever thy sheepish shepherd to be. Thou witch, if I have hitherto sung unto thee, now shalt thou- cry unto me!

To the rhythm of my whip shalt thou dance and cry! I forget not my whip?- Not I!"

Then did Life answer me thus, and kept thereby her fine ears closed:

"O Zarathustra! Crack not so terribly with thy whip! Thou knowest surely that noise killeth thought,- and just now there came to me such delicate thoughts.

We are both of us genuine ne'er-do-wells and ne'er-do-ills. Beyond good and evil found we our island and our green meadow- we two alone! Therefore must we be friendly to each other!

And even should we not love each other from the bottom of our hearts,- must we then have a grudge against each other if we do not love each other perfectly?

And that I am friendly to thee, and often too friendly, that knowest thou: and the reason is that I am envious of thy Wisdom. Ah, this mad old fool, Wisdom!

If thy Wisdom should one day run away from thee, ah! then would also my love run away from thee quickly."
--Nietzsche, "Zarathustra:

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Join the Masquerade!

All the world's a stage,
And all the men and women merely players:
They have their exits and their entrances;
And one man in his time plays many parts,
His acts being seven ages. At first the infant,
Mewling and puking in the nurse's arms.
And then the whining school-boy, with his satchel
And shining morning face, creeping like snail
Unwillingly to school. And then the lover,
Sighing like furnace, with a woeful ballad
Made to his mistress' eyebrow. Then a soldier,
Full of strange oaths and bearded like the pard,
Jealous in honour, sudden and quick in quarrel,
Seeking the bubble reputation
Even in the cannon's mouth. And then the justice,
In fair round belly with good capon lined,
With eyes severe and beard of formal cut,
Full of wise saws and modern instances;
And so he plays his part. The sixth age shifts
Into the lean and slipper'd pantaloon,
With spectacles on nose and pouch on side,
His youthful hose, well saved, a world too wide
For his shrunk shank; and his big manly voice,
Turning again toward childish treble, pipes
And whistles in his sound. Last scene of all,
That ends this strange eventful history,
Is second childishness and mere oblivion,
Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything.
--Shakespeare, "As You Like It"