Nov 192010

Some quotes from Salman Rushdie’s story  (New Yorker 2001-06-16):

“What is the digital equivalent of lovely? he wondered. What are the digits that encode beauty, number-fingers that enclose, transform, transmit, decode, and somehow, in the process, fail to trap or choke the soul out of it? Not because of the technology but in spite of it, beauty, that ghost, that treasure, passes undiminished through the new machines.”

“Life is fury, he’d thought. Fury – sexual, Oedipal, political, magical, brutal – drives us to our finest heights and coarsest depths. Out of  furia comes creation, inspiration, originality, passion, but also violence, pain, unafraid destruction, the giving and receiving of blows from which we never recover. The Furies pursue us; Shiva dances his furious dance to create and also to destroy. But never mind about gods! Sara, ranting at him, represented the human spirit in its purest, least socialized form. This is what we are, how we civilize ourselves to disguise the terrifying human animal in us – the exalted, transcendent, self-destructive, untrammelled lord of creation. We raise each other to the heights of joy. We tear each other limb from fucking limb.”

“Somewhere in the existing software there was a bug, a potentially lethal flaw. Nothing less than the unselfing of the self would do. If he could cleanse the whole machine, then maybe the bug, too, would end up in the trash.”

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Nov 192010

Quotations from Weil’s The Iliad, or the Poem of Force

To define force – it is that x that turns anybody who is subjected to it into a thing. Exercised to the limit, it turns man into a thing in the most literal sense: it makes a corpse out of him.

Force is as pitiless to the man who possesses it, or thinks he does, as it is to its victims; the second it crushes, the first it intoxicates.

The man who knows himself weaker than another is more alone in the heart of a city than a man lost in the desert.

“Two casks are placed before Zeus’s doorsill,
Containing the gifts he gives, the bad in one, the good in the other…
The man to whom he gives baneful gifts, he exposes to outrage;
A frightful need drives across the divine earth;
He is a wanderer, and gets no respect from gods or men.”
The Iliad

The man who is the possessor of force seems to walk through a non-resistant element; in the human substance that surrounds him nothing has the power to interpose, between the impulse and the act, the tiny interval that is reflection. Where there is no room for reflection, there is none either for justice or prudence.

Those that have force on loan from fate count on it too much and are destroyed.

Ares is just, and kills those who kill.
-The Iliad

Heroes quake like everybody else.

Violence obliterates anybody who feels its touch.

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Nov 192010

John Agard. <em>Weblines.</em> Bloodaxe. 1852244801.

Look for more information about Anansi stories. Anansi stories were collected in Jamaica by Walter Jekyll in 1907. The figure of Anansi comes from Africa and was a minor figure in Ashanti folklore but becomes a bigger figure in Caribbean folklore as a trickster. Anansi has a lisp, a limp, eight legs, a cunning brain: a spiderman.

The Ashanti trickster/culture hero, also called ‘the Spider’. He is the intermediary of the sky god Nyame, his father, on whose command Anansi brings rain to quench the forest fires and determines the borders of oceans and rivers during floods. Later Anansi’s place as representative was usurped by the chameleon. His mother is Asase Ya.

Anansi is sometimes regarded as the creator of the sun and the moon and the stars, as well as the one who instituted the succession of day and night. It is also believed that he created the first man, into which Nyame breathed life. A typical trickster, he is crafty, sly, villainous, but he also taught mankind how to sow grain and how to use the shovel on the fields. He set himself up as the first king of the human beings and even managed to marry Nyame’s daughter. He was beaten only in his encounter with the wax girl, to whom he stuck fast, having struck her with his legs when she refused to talk to him. The people then rushed forwards and beat the tricky Anansi.

Anansi is one of the most popular characters in West African mythology.

From The Encyclopedia Mythica. URL:  <a href=””></a>

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Nov 192010

Elaine Pagels.

Saint Iranaeus – 2nd century; Bishop of Lyons; architect of the four gospels; key work is five volume Against Heresies; Gospel of John was the first and foremost of the Gospels; readings of John are contentious and there are non-canonical gnostic Johannian readings that are of note.

“Heretical” teachers put a high value on spiritual experience and the limitations of human language in expressing the ineffable.

It was Constantine who was ultimately responsible for recognizing the best organized and largest group as the lawful church. It was not theology that won the day but politics.

Arius: 3rd century Alexandrian clergy initiated a crisis in the church that resulted in the Council of Nicaea in 325 and the formulation of the Nicene Creed which emphasized the unitary nature of God.

Athanasius: 4th century Bishop of Alexandria; wrote a letter in 367 that decreed the list of canonical books of scripture, Old and New Testaments; the purpose was to combat heresy and to outlaw apocryphal books.

Although Athanasius intended the “canon of truth,” now enshrined in the Nicene Creed, to safeguard “orthodox” interpretation of Scripture, his experience of Christians who disagreed with him showed that these “heretics” could still read the “canonical Scriptures” in ways that he considered unorthodox. To prevent such readings, he insists that anyone who reads the Scriptures must do so through dianoia – the capacity to discern the meaning or intention implicit in each text. Above all, he warns believers to shun epinoia. What others revere as spiritual intuition Athanasius declares is a deceptive, all-too-human capacity to think subjectively, according to one’s preconceptions. Epinoia leads only to error – a view that the “catholic church” endorsed then and holds to this day.”

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Nov 192010

We can know more than we can tell. Consider The Tacit Dimension by Michael Polanyi’s philosophy of science argued that there is no scientific method that can be transmitted as a logical and rigorous method to be learned in textbooks (or philosophy books). Science is learned by the practice that is transmitted from master to apprentice, as in the guilds of medieval and early modern Europe. A crucial part of scientific knowledge that is learned is tacit in character, so that it cannot be spoken, but only demonstrated and imitated. The Tacit Knowledge and Intuition Website has one take on tacit knowledge. When Polanyi talks of tacit knowledge, he is more often referring to a subconscious process than a set of things we know or could know subconsciously. In his words, “Knowledge is an activity that would be better described as a process of knowing.” Polanyi’s concept of tacit knowing. Karl Erik Sveiby also has an interesting page in Tacit Knowledge and provides you the opportunity to Test Your Tacit Knowledge. Tacit and implicit learning have in common the idea of not knowing what you do know or have learned. “Tacit knowledge” has been all but hi-jacked by management gurus, [Not to mention software architects, engineers, designers and theologians–y2karl] who use it to refer to the stock of expertise within an organisation which is not written down or even formally expressed, but may nevertheless be essential to its effective operation.”Tacit knowledge and Implicit learning provides yet another view. I don’t pretend to understand much of this and yet I feel the concept has merit–ah, as Wittgenstein observed, Of that of which we can not speak, we must be silent.

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