Thursday, 31 March 2016


Semana Santa is a spectacle but not a circus. There was an atmosphere of appreciation and reverence for the procession of floats (pasos) on the theme of the Passion of Christ and the Suffering of the Blessed Virgin. The penitents precede bearing tall candles whose drippings schoolchildren at the edge of the crowds catch. Also in the procession are first holy communicants with baskets of tiny sweets which they give out. Overblown cornets and shrill reed bands play mournful marches. Navigating around the sharp corners of the narrow lanes of Seville and Cordoba the invisible porters (costaleros) hidden by a curtain have to step sideways to straighten up for a new direction. There are teams of them with bags folded on their necks catching I would think some projection underneath the float. Just behind always there was a man with a tall stepladder in case any of the candles on the float came loose or the magnificent brocades of the figures required adjustment. It was all beautifully managed but then they have training from the 16th.C. or so.

Saturday, 12 March 2016

Circus Animals Dung

Did that play of mine send out
Certain men the English shot?

asked Yeats. Well no, might be the answer to that, it was a frake of their own. Still the general power of words or even great literature to change political reality cannot be doubted even if it is not the grandiose ‘truth to power’ but the steady erosion of the samizdat that makes in the end the tyrant foolish to himself, hollowing out his complacent ideology. Jokes and mockery, satire and pasquinade are more effective than the grand manifesto. Trump in my outsider’s view has a grasp of this with his trademark clown hair. The Les Bendovas and the Flying Lying Scarlattis are silenced by laughter. The attribution of ‘cerebrality’ to him by Carson may be damaging but I sense that the wheels won’t fall off his car and he may yet usurp the top hat and the swallow tail coat.

Thursday, 10 March 2016

The Man in the High Castle by Philip K. Dick

For the nth. time: What if the Nazis had won the Second World War? Because Dick is known as a science fiction writer we could be led to hope time travel might undo that by way of deus ex machina magic. Writing that I am probably showing my ignorance of the S.F. genre - Man, don’t you know worm-holes only came in 1983 in the works of, sadly neglected works of, Herman von Gosseling?

The Man in the High Castle was published in 1962 and that appears to be about the internal time of the book. Good Nazi rocket technology has made the journey from Dortmund to San Francisco a mere 45 minutes for the elite rocket-set. T.V. has not kept up and is local and fragmented. Dick does not overindulge these ironies. The political set-up of the U.S. is in partes tres. There are the Western Pacific States (P.S.A.) under Japanese rule, the Rocky Mountain States, native run and backward and the Nazi Eastern hegemony. These are details. In a work like this, I don’t get bogged down. Blitz Read. Jawohl.

At the centre of this novel is another novel called The Grasshopper Lies Heavy written by Hawthorne Abendsen which reverses the actual world giving us an ‘if only’ counterfactual history of the war and its remote causes.
Roosevelt is not assassinated in Miami, he goes on and is re-elected in 1936...
At an obscure city in Russia called Stalingrad the German receive a setback.

The I Ching with its portentous gloom is the manual which guides the actions of some of the main characters. Well, you can only bring the counterfactual so far, there has to be a bridge to reality.

The ‘if only’ spreads its disaffection and shows that art is a dangerous thing for the tyrant. There are many witty elements in this book. The Japanese ruling class are fond of Pop Americana such as Mickey Mouse watches and rare comic books. In a satirical passage an elite ruling couple, Paul and Betty sense wabi in a pin made by jeweller Frank Frink. The serious implication of this is that the soul of the subject people is becoming strong again. Paul the aesthete collector:

I still see no shapes or forms. But it somehow partakes of Tao. You see?’ He motioned Childen over. ‘It is balanced. The forces within this piece are stabilised. At rest. So to speak, this object has made its peace with the universe. It has separated from it and hence has managed to come to homeostasis..........The hands of the artificer had wu, and allowed that to flow into this piece.

Paul then tries to subvert the growth of wu by suggesting to Childen that there was money to be made by reproducing this pin wholesale as a good luck charm.

I would say that the artificer of this book had wu. He doesn’t allow his work to be overwhelmed by gadgets unless we consider the book to be one of the earliest and most disruptive of them. Or was that fire? The Nazis tried to cancel the one with the other.

I asked the I Ching What does the man of Courage do?
34 - Thirty-Four

Ta Chuang / Awesome Power

Thunder fills the Heavens with its awful roar, not out of pride, but with integrity; if it did less, it would not be Thunder:
Because of his Great Power, the Superior Person takes pains not to overstep his position, so that he will not seem intimidating or threatening to the Established Order.

Opportunity will arise along this course.

Friday, 4 March 2016

Gavaya/Bos Gaurus

Assimilation (upamana) is the instrument of assimilative cognition. Assimilative Cognition (upamiti) consists in the of the relation between a name and the object denoted by it. Knowledge of similarity is the efficient instrument of such (karana} cognition.
This may be illustrated thus :
A person happens to be ignorant of the exact meaning of the word gavaya (a particular animal of the bovine species). From a forester, he learns that a gavaya is similar to a cow;; he goes to a forest sees the animal called gavaya, which is similar to a cow and recollects the information conveyed by the assimilative proposition.
Then the assimilative cognition, "This is the animal (of the bovine species) denoted by the word gavaya' arises.Thus ends the chapter on upamana.
(from A Primer of Indian Logic

I’m beginning to have an obsession with the gavaya similar in scope to Aunt Betsy Trotwood’s one with the donkeys in David Copperfield. I want to drive them out, I want a gavaya free account of similarity, I want to strip back to the bare wood before all the fancy finishes were applied. Let’s look at it free from the Nyaya version which puts denotation at its centre. Kuppuswami Sastri tells us that this was because they wished to distinguish it from the pramana of anumana or inference.

The Nyaya conception of upamna as a distinct instrument of valid cognition restricts its scope to ascertainment of the denotative or primary significative power of a word (saktigraha). The chief object of the Naiyayikas in so restricting its scope is to save it
from being swallowed up in inference (anumana).

In saving it in this way they missed, I think, the fundamental nature of the judgment this is like x or alternatively this is unlike x or this is the same x that I told you about. What makes this pramana( i.e. means of valid knowledge not reducible to any other), unique and fundamental is that the concept of ‘like’ cannot be taught: it is an immediate intuition. From the further elaboration of this native power denotation may be discovered. Am I saying that it is something that you just ‘see’ and is therefore perception. No, I mean it involves perception plus a judgment.

For the moment the gavayas are out of the garden and back in the forest again.