Friday, 28 September 2018

When You have Time.

Let’s call them time stutterers for now. They go forward and can’t find the clarification they seek. The only thing to do then is to go back and examine the starting point of their argument, the ur-thought, what might be called the undifferentiated cognitional continuum or in demotic, the first thought. Such a one is Irad Kimhi
thinking and being
who cannot come to terms with a conclusion. He has to keep moving around should it be noticed that he is not getting any older. That is not quite correct, he ages in starts and then he goes back in time by way of a wormhole that he bought second hand in the Foreigner’s Market in Tashkent. It’s a very delicate thing which he touches only with gloved hands. “If this breaks”, he said, “a great many great minds who have received seed thoughts from me will be unable to progress". The apparatus is the size of a creepie stool which I surmise he places over his head. It seems ancient but it’s hard to tell with brass. However, when he left for a moment I tried to lift it but couldn’t. Was it fixed to the floor? “You tried to lift it didn’t you, of course you couldn’t know that the object you are looking at is merely the emerging node of the great Wahad”.

It’s perfectly obvious to me that Rivka Galchen has met with one of these Cartonauts who fret without the security of a clear and distinct idea.
region of unlikeness
In nursery terms it’s the little square of blue flannel blanket we call a ‘wubbi’. Revka planted that hoax in the N.Y.T. which refers on to her own fiction if you can call it that. It’s unfinished, hesitant, provisional, abounding in possibility, scorning closure, reluctant and quaintly shy.

Irad will be back.

Tuesday, 25 September 2018

The Fox (1922) by D.H. Lawrence

I read The Fox by D.H. Lawrence last night for the first time and it confirmed my opinion that when constrained by the short form he was at his best. Give him prating room and he will take it. That mars the end of the novella which up to that was compressed and moved with the internal energy of the story. Then out comes the soap-box. ‘Can you hear me back there, I’ll capitalise so’s you won’t miss the important bits’.

Is the symbolism neon with directional arrows indicating an entrance into a magical playground where the dark forces of illness, repression and dismal Sapphism are defeated by manly health? Of course and no doubt for his red hair and beard D.H. might himself have been nicknamed ‘Foxy’.

We are introduced :"The two girls were usually known by their surnames, Bamford and March.” They are both nearly 30 and it is presumed they will never marry. The year is 1918. Bamford is the sickly one and the principal investor in their small holding. March is robust and practical:

March did most of the outdoor work. When she was out and about, in her puttees and breeches, her belted coat and her loose cap, she looked almost like some graceful, loose-balanced young man, for her shoulders were straight, and her movements easy and confident, even tinged with a little indifference or irony. 

Into this menage comes a trois in the form of a fox that is taking their chickens. Somehow he evades their gun:
The fox really exasperated them both. As soon as they had let the fowls out, in the early summer mornings, they had to take their guns and keep guard: and then again as soon as evening began to mellow, they must go once more. And he was so sly. He slid along in the deep grass; he was difficult as a serpent to see. And he seemed to circumvent the girls deliberately. Once or twice March had caught sight of the white tip of his brush, or the ruddy shadow of him in the deep grass, and she had let fire at him. But he made no account of this.

In one of her dreamlike rapt moments the fox appears to March like a spirit animal:

She lowered her eyes, and suddenly saw the fox. He was looking up at her. Her chin was pressed down, and his eyes were looking up. They met her eyes. And he knew her. She was spellbound — she knew he knew her. So he looked into her eyes, and her soul failed her. He knew her, he was not daunted.

Later she goes out to look for the fox:

She took her gun again and went to look for the fox. For he had lifted his eyes upon her, and his knowing look seemed to have entered her brain. She did not so much think of him: she was possessed by him. She saw his dark, shrewd, unabashed eye looking into her, knowing her. She felt him invisibly master her spirit.

Then a young man turns up, a soldier on leave. The fox is in the hen house toorallou. March has a dream:
That night March dreamed vividly. She dreamed she heard a singing outside which she could not understand, a singing that roamed round the house, in the fields, and in the darkness. It moved her so that she felt she must weep. She went out, and suddenly she knew it was the fox singing. He was very yellow and bright, like corn. She went nearer to him, but he ran away and ceased singing. He seemed near, and she wanted to touch him. She stretched out her hand, but suddenly he bit her wrist, and at the same instant, as she drew back, the fox, turning round to bound away, whisked his brush across her face, and it seemed his brush was on fire, for it seared and burned her mouth with a great pain. She awoke with the pain of it, and lay trembling as if she were really seared.

This is a great short read. I forgive him the ending and maybe I’m wrong about it. ‘tinged with a little indifference or irony’. Very fine.

Saturday, 22 September 2018

Finne (witness) on Tuam Mother and Baby Home / T.V. program

I watched the documentary about the Tuam Mother and Baby home (on -subtitles are available, look for Finne (witness)) and it was quite good as far as it went if you can forgive the Netflixy style and the Gothic giant nun wardress with a six inch keyring and a rosary beads hanging with the keys. Peter Mulryan telling his own story suffered a great deal and still was not embittered only puzzled at how the nuns were so cruel. Can I suggest a possible answer. Those nuns did not come from Mars, they were Irish people. The parents who put the girls into those homes after they fell pregnant were not aliens. They were Irish. The government inspectors who viewed these homes and saw the neglect were nice middle class people with good pensionable employment and also Irish. The laundries were no secret soviet city plants. They were considered to be a solution to a problem. This loveless horror was better than baby farms where the infant mortality rate was higher and often they were merely a cloak for outsourced infanticide.

The historical facts have been swamped by film reconstructions which make any objective assessment seem like a whitewash. The McAleese report was accused of this.

McAleese Report

Have a look at Pt.4 if you are inclined to acquaint yourself with statements from those who actually went through the Magdalen system. It’s not as exciting as giant nuns and portentous music but it certainly isn’t something you’d bring to the beach. At 1000 pages you’d need a handcart.

Tuesday, 18 September 2018

Repairing Milinda's Chariot

And the venerable Nagasena said to Milinda the king: "You, Sire, have been brought up in great luxury, as beseems your noble birth. If you were to walk this dry weather on the hot and sandy ground, trampling under foot the gritty, gravelly grains of the hard sand, your feet would hurt you. And as your body would be in pain, your mind would be disturbed, and you would experience a sense of bodily suffering. How then did you come, on foot, or in a chariot?" "I did not come, Sir, on foot. I came in a carriage." "Then if you came, Sire, in a carriage, explain to me what that is.
Is it the pole that is the chariot?" "I did not say that." "Is it the axle that is the chariot?" "Certainly not." "Is it the wheels, or the framework, or the ropes, or the yoke, or the
spokes of the wheels, or the goad, that are the chariot?" And to all these he still answered no. "Then is it all these parts of it that are the chariot?" "No, Sir." "But is there anything outside them that is the chariot?" And still he answered no. "Then thus, ask as I may, I can discover no chariot. Chariot is a mere empty sound. What then is the chariot you say you came in? It is a falsehood that your majesty has spoken, an untruth! There is no such thing as a chariot! You are king over all India, a mighty monarch. Of whom then are you afraid that you speak untruth?" And he called upon the Yonakas [Greeks] and the brethren to witness, saying: "Milinda the king here has said that he came by carriage. But when asked in that case to explain what the carriage was, he is unable to establish what he averred. Is it, forsooth, possible to approve him in that?"

What we see here is a classic philosophical paradox by which I mean an argument that proceeds impeccably to a conclusion that we are loth to accept. The usual mereological discussion is guided by Nagasena’s suggestion and begins with ‘proper parts’. This I suggest is to start from the wrong end. Our primary concepts are of wholes. Grasping that reality we can now break it down into its constituent parts over which the chariot ‘shadow’ hangs. What I mean by this is that you can then grasp ‘wheel’(chariot), ‘pole’ (chariot) etc. Your chariot schema is like an exploded parts diagram or an image where the part is highlighted and the rest is greyed out.

The chariot wheel for example we can grasp as a whole without even knowing that its parts are felloes (wheel), hub (wheel), spokes (wheel), tyre (wheel). Leave out that ‘wheel’ part and what you have is an eccentric sculpture.

Zeno’s paradox that starts with the notion of instants or discrete fractions of time also starts from the wrong end. The proper start is with the concept of a complete unit i.e. speed and the realisation that Achilles is not running the tortoise’s race for him.

Is this too simple? The critique of the concept of Atma, that is the purport of this parable, assumes that we build it up out of momentary states. Wrong end again. The Self is known with each state of awareness but they are not the parts that make it up.

Sunday, 9 September 2018

Professor Auerbach meets Mrs. Ramsey in To the Lighthouse

It’s pointless knowing a lot if you only see what you already know. Auerbach in Mimesis was hewing to certain lines but when he comes to modernist writers who run off those he seems to be a little blunted. Knots no doubt. The Brown Stocking which I skipped to wanting to see what he made of To the Lighthouse misses a great deal particularly the influence of Bergson via Proust. (Proust was the best man at the wedding of his cousin Louise Neuberger to Bergson.) The concept of Duration, how memory sifts it and the density of poetic expression which reflects its compression in the present moment; all these elements are present in To the Lighthouse. I have posted before on the panpsychist element in the book
Mrs. Ramsey is herself the lighthouse illuminating with intense beams different sections of the cone of memory.
cone of memory
She is compared in Auerbach’s citation to a Greek goddess. I think this must be an ironical reference to the Moirai (Fates), the spinners which decide the fates of men, here ironically knitting her yarn into a pair of socks. Her matchmaking schemes are the fates she ordains.

Mr. Ramsey shares with the author’s father fussiness about soup. Leslie Stephen in his essay A Bad Five Minutes in the Alps taken from the collection Essays on Freethinking and Plainspeaking admits to this crankiness but does not specify its exact nature. I take this essay i.e. ‘Bad 5 mins.’, to controvert William James’s Will to Believe. More on that later. L.S. edited a collection of the essays of William Kingdon Clifford of which The Ethics of Belief is one and of course Clifford is perhaps the first of the modern panpsychists. ‘What goes around comes around’.

((All of Sir Leslie Stephen's books can be found at wikisource:
Leslie Stephen

Correction: William James’s essay was delivered in 1896 and the Essays on Freethinking and Plainspeaking were first published in 1873 and so for James to tackle Stephen on the matter of faith under pressure would be proleptic time travel, or something. In any case the connection is clear because James mentions Stephen in his first paragraph.

Thursday, 6 September 2018

Dog Story

She had two dogs, Jack Russell terriers. One of them was hit by a car and was so badly injured that the vet had to put him down. “Now”, said the vet, “what you should do is take the body home with you and allow his companion to smell him. By that he will know that he is dead and won’t be in a wondering state. He can get on with things then.”

How did Descartes form the clear and distinct nonsense that animals were automatons? Overweening or supervening theory is a quaking bog.

Monday, 3 September 2018

Fridge Magnet

Yes, moral contempt is not a pleasant emotion but I will admit that my irascibility has served me well. At a certain point I can say ‘enough’ and move away far and fast and fare thee well. Friendship is not a vow and may be set aside when common ground becomes so exiguous that there is no practical access. Old long maintained but essentially defunct connections are like the furry stuff at the back of the fridge. They must go. Not alone do they no longer nourish, they are poison.

How’s your fridge?