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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Nov 192010

TLS 2004.03.05

-Brancusi called himself “the peasant from the Carpathians.”
-Had a lifelong fascination with Platonism.
-Minimalists were influenced by him.
-Cruel, Dadist wit: his sculptures often demonstrate a brutal and brutalized object that fails to find wholeness.
-Played a pioneering role in assemblage.
-After 1914 made the base of the sculpture an integral part of the sculpture.

“The Kiss”
– dramatic repudiation of “beefsteak” sculpture
– influences: Egypt, Romanesque figures
– philosophically, the sculpture is classical however: Plato’s Symposium: “lovers are the result of a bisection which has reduced us to a condition like that of flat fish, and each of us is perpetually in search of his corresponding tally…Love is the name for the desire and the pursuit of the whole.”

-Did many variations on the theme of the sleeping or severed head.
-standard Symbolist prop: evoke castration anxiety; Bracusi’s are more ovoid forms (eggs) and pregnant with the suggestion of new birth (birth of ideas as well?)
-suggestive of lightbulbs (electrification was just beginning: he was interested in new technologies)
-Sleeping white heads “allude to this brave new world presided over by electric satellites. Their perpetual mineral brightness suggests that our own condition will soon be one of sleeplessness, no longer subject to the natural phases of the moon.”

-A continual sense of dislocation and of friction between forms: the seamless flow of contours is repeatedly disrupted and sliced into.

-Fountains and water were important to Brancusi: “Sculpture is water.” (Brancusi”)

-“His multipart sculptures might therefore be said to aspire to the condition of dry or frozen fountains. They are mirages as much as oases – illusory utopias.”

-Friend of Duchamp and Leger: Duchamp’s “Fountain” (1917) builds on Brancusi ideas; Duchamp often represented Brancusi in New York to clients.

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