Wednesday 20 March 2013

Modern mind.

(... Mind? ... Modern? ...)                                                                                               Up, Down.                              Equinox 
Contents: Urban Consciousness, Venus de Pedra, Carbon Tax, Connectivity Cost, Updates, Edward Burtynsky, Rhyming Slang, Beyond the Zero.

Did I say 'focus' last time? Idiot!    And it's equinox not solstice you fool! After looking at it for several days, vaguely ... troubled but not aware enough to figgure it out?

If all the world was apple-pie,
And all the sea was ink;
And all the trees were bread and cheese,
What could we do for drink?

            Gammer Gurton's Garland
            or, The Nursery Parnassus,
            1774, 1810 ...

If all the world was apple-pie,
And all the sea was ink,
And all the trees were bread and cheese,
What should we have for drink?
It's enough to make an old man
Scratch his head and think.

            Harry's Ladder to Learning,
            1849-1850, text at Gutenberg.
"Nobody knows you when you're down and out," sing Bessie Smith and Otis Redding; which takes me back to the summer of ... 1963 in North Bay and (well before this tune came out) Dock of the Bay.

(Would you like some cheese with that whine? :-) 
In Toronto it seems anything but the facts will do, any response but a true one. Sure, some try ... you can hear the anger and frustration of Danny Harvey in this video (which does not seem to play properly?).

In the video last time David Suzuki mentions the demographic shift in Canada from 80-20 rural to 80-20 urban consciousness over a period of less than 100 years. And what do these urban dwellers know anyway? Two or three generations seeing nothing but the sanitized margins of Algonquin Park. I'm just lucky, (like Edward Burtynsky) my father took me into the woods often enough to learn something.

Jerry Van Amerongen, Ballard Street: 'My, but the mountains are wonderful this morning!'Last week I watched two Michael Cimino movies: The Deer Hunter and Heaven's Gate. Long movies, three hours, proof that the maker had sufficient discretion for full indulgence. But despite scenes of powerful clarity they each end ... in (to me) failure as stories. The Deer Hunter, which effectively completes at the moment in which De Niro does not shoot the deer, dribbles off instead into a tearful rendition of 'God Bless America'. Heaven's Gate (touching on some of the same issues as Pynchon's 'Against the Day') is too unfocussed to comment on, a nonsense.

The currency of urban consciousness is cinematographic stories, but they can't be trusted. A trite conclusion, sorry. 
Balzi Rossi Polichinelle Grimaldi.Dolní Věstonice.Dolní Věstonice.Dolní Věstonice.Dolní Věstonice.Engen.Gagarino.Gagarino.Gagarino.Galgenberg.
Oboy! Oboy! Naked women! Hyeuh, hyeuh, hyeuh ... (Pynchon fans may recognize the dulcet tones of Pig Bodine.) Palæolithic (gotta love those dipthongs); literally 'stone' age, so somewhere between 2½ million and 10,000 years ago - quite a stretch of time, far beyond my imagination. And 'art' so there are enough high-falutin theories on the go (floating around it, like milkweed seeds) to cramp your style if you happen to be trying to, say ... figure-skate on the head of a pin.

Identity - this art is me. Projection - maybe I can fly; maybe this art can fly too. Introjection - "When a child envelops representational images of his absent parents into himself, simultaneously infusing them with his own personality," (says Wikipedia approximately). Or as a defence mechanism; presumably assuming, "You won't hurt me - I'm you!"

[Nope, (close but) not quite like any of that.] 
Hohle Fels.Hohle Fels.Laussel.Laussel.Kostienki.Kostienki.Kostienki.
It all started in the free section at the London Review of Books (LRB): Lucky Hunter-Gatherers; which captivated me from the first paragraph - something credible about it. This despite more than the usual full-fallible quota of slip-ups from Internet bad habits. I assumed early on (f'rinstance) that T.J. Clark is female. When I eventually saw my mistake I went back to try to see where it came from - and couldn't. And later on, trying to fit luck into it - and again, couldn't; until I meticulously re-read up to "‘Work’ was far from being a stable category, and certainly wasn’t an all-determining one. Lucky hunter-gatherers, at least in this respect," about half-way through.     So, not to trust anything your read in this blog eh?

He praises "Jill Cook’s marvellous catalogue" which is available for purchase (pricey though) here. I trolled for the images presented here using this list at Wikipedia.
Mal'ta.Mal'ta.Mal'ta.Monruz.Moravany.Rombo Losange.Rombo Losange.Savignano.
[I might just as easily have reflected on it for a moment, thought "Yeah, like carrying a rabbit's foot ... and about the same size too!" and taken it no further (and nearly did).] 
Rodrigo Chaves.
Anyway, bullshitting began with the first man:
"You know the hottie who lives in that cave?"
"The other day I was passing by and ..."

[The original carries a somewhat different message, but I like the play of 'contos de foda' (bullshitting) and 'contos de fada' (fairy-tales).]

So ... the authors: Tim & Jill (went up the hill?). He is important enough to have a potted bio on Wikipedia: T.J. (Timothy James) Clark; and both are readily available to see and hear something of how they think: Jill Cook interview at the Bradshaw Foundation website, and TJ Clark talking about Picasso (there is lots more, these are just the ones that seemed best to me).
TJ Clark.TJ Clark.TJ Clark.Jill+Cook.Jill+Cook.Jill+Cook.
So ... what have they got that moves me to all this enthusiasm?

Mus' be that quality without a name thang agin. D'you think? Edward Burtynsky same kinna way. (Slippin' into a hill-billy lisp to mask the obvious.)

[Everyone knows the word 'Stonehenge'. 'Henge' is a word in its own right too. First, there are other places called henges: Dowth Henge, Monknewtown Henge, etc. - old, roughly circular, made of stone. And it's always worth plumbing the OED, in this case for a list of (generally obsolete) meanings: the ‘pluck’ of an animal; hanging, suspended, articulated ... stones; a hinge.] 
Tom Toles.Carbon Tax:    Thomas Friedman says It’s Lose-Lose vs. Win-Win-Win-Win-Win.

Taxes go where? Well ... they go somewhere between: a) nowhere; b) a rich-man's pocket (or a rich woman's); c) a bureaucrat's pittance; d) a nonsense program; e) a minor benefit of some kind; and, f) back into the hands of the payer.

Friedman doesn't seem to understand the distinction (I'm an American! I don't have to be subtle!) - but give him credit, any sort of carbon tax is preferrable to none. Others, the left-lib hand-wringers like Paul Krugman prefer d) & e). Even though there is an inevitable vigorish fraction of c) involved in f) - entropy, perpetual motion machines and all that - I presume most tax payers would prefer it. That is if they could see it as a possibility and accept the notion that, yes, something revenue-neutral can have an effect.

Jim Hansen makes the case here for revenue-neutral Fee & Dividend carbon taxation schemes: An Honest Effective Path. Quite convincing ...

... but the last time I mentioned this topic, the pundits at The Guardian didn't even list it as an option. Doh?! 
The cost of being cool in k-k-Canada: (as compared with, say, Iceland.)
Cellphone Downloading Charges.Cellphone Downloading Charges.Cellphone Downloading Charges when Roaming.Cellphone Downloading Charges when Roaming.
A 2011 report from the OECD: International Mobile Data Roaming; and a recent post by Michael Geist: Canadian Wireless Reality Check.

One of those graphs is in Gigabytes and one is in Megabytes - there are 1,000 Mb in a Gb so ... it looks to me like downloading while you are roaming is 1,000 times more expensive. I asked Michael Geist if this is a reasonable conclusion - and he answered the email but not the question - so I'm just guessing. PPP figures in the OECD report. It apparently means Point to Point Protocol - but they don't explain how it is relevant.

Bottom line message? "Trust us, we're experts." The good news is that Canadians are being screwed about proportionally to Icelanders (but from a starting point about six times greater).

Kewel! (Or maybe that should be 'Quewel!' And no, I don't have a mobile telephone - gave 'em up when I realized Congolese women were being brutally raped to provide the tantalum.) 
RC Carrington's 1859 sketch.Ken Kesey Sailor Song.
 Updates: (Bakatcha!)

No Dash For Gas: EDF drops lawsuit against environmental activists after backlash.


Fuck the bees: Bee-harming pesticides escape proposed European ban. Oh well. Ralph Nader says one pound of plutonium will do in eight billion (are there even eight billion of us here yet?) but actual results are equivocal.


Cosmic endings: Higgs boson particle: Physicists confident (not really, more equivocation). AND Sun Storm Forecast: Tiny Chance of Havoc; see also Carrington Event & Carrington's report. AND Superbugs!

BUT the only smart guy I know who still talks to me says: Penguins! (Thanks for that Martin.) 
I saw this talk some years ago and thought Edward Burtynsky was already somewhere in this blog - but as usual I can't find it - so:
2008 Breezewood Pennsylvania.1996 Nickel Tailings Sudbury Ontario.1996 Nickel Tailings Sudbury Ontario.1999 Oxford Tire Pile Westley California.1999 Oxford Tire Pile Westley California.2003 Oil Field Belridge California.2004 Recycling E-waste Zeguo Zhejiang China.2000 Shipbreaking Chittagong Bangladesh.2000 Shipbreaking Chittagong Bangladesh.2000 Shipbreaking Chittagong Bangladesh.
If he sees this I hope he is not offended by the violence necessary (at my level of skill) to render thumbnails into HTML. He keeps a website. I noted what looks like $10,000 for a print so ... you may understand some of the bourgeois urbanity (I was going to say 'Pollyanna positivity' but didn't) evident in the TED talk.

He gave a presentation recently. Eventually it will turn up and I will try to remember to post a link. 
Rhyming slang, the impenetrable code of figurative language. I spent some years working around Geordies - and eventually I'd catch on when they muttered 'give it a butcher's'. It is a code without a key. As I think about it now I see every phrase spoken or written with a figurative dimension requiring personal history - a modicum of Good Samaritan energy, or at the very least some of Kant's 'good will' and Illich's 'conviviality' - to be ... comprehensible. Mostly not. Takes time.

Human discretion has been hijacked by politicians (and their servants, the bureaucrats), and human spirituality has been hijacked by religions. It was well worth 1,000+ pages of Thomas Pynchon to find myself primed to catch this enlightening thought.

Back in the day, facing final examinations, I decided (instead) to read every word of William Faulkner ... nothing changes very much :-)

Be well.
Beyond the Zero:    (Zermelo?)

I finished 'Against the Day' last week; and not wanting to overstate: Wowzers!                     (!!!)                         (¿¿¿)

Very possible to gush on about secular transcendence, time and times shifting and merging cf. circularity á la 'Finnegan's Wake', etc. so I won't; except to say ... Thomas Pynchon knows about wind, and many of its (nine billion?) names and what they mean and how they blow ... and this is mid-March in some country north of the tropics ... windy weather. Comin' up on Easter too eh? (In case you prefer your transcendence sanctified.)

A collection of teasers:
                         One: The Light Over the Ranges part 5 - Lew Basnight becomes a detective,
                         Two: Iceland Spar part 12 - Lake Traverse marries Deuce Kindred.
                         Three: Bilocations part 5 - Yashmeen Halfcourt & Cyprian Latewood.
                         Three: Bilocations part 6 - Kit Traverse on the S.S. Stupendica (short excerpt).
                         Three: Bilocations part 12 - Lew Basnight encounters Lamont Replevin (excerpt).
                         Three: Bilocations part 17 - Kit Traverse's choice (excerpt).
                         Four: Against the Day part 4 - Yashmeen & Auberon Halfcourt (excerpt).
                         Four: Against the Day part 7 - overture and possibility (short excerpt).
                         Four: Against the Day part 11 - A trio (an excerpt some may find salacious).

[I thought of including Four: Against the Day part 20 in which Lew Basnight meets Lake Traverse & Deuce Kindred, and the whole of the last chapter, Five: Rue du Départ, which runs through at least several of the modes to be found in 'Anatomy of Criticism', but ... didn't, and won't - though I have them scanned and will gladly share via e-mail for the purposes of discussion with anyone who has a notion.]

First (to me) came 'A Journey into the mind of Watts' ... 1966 (oh look, it's on-line at NYT) - maybe - 'V' was out in 1963 already, 'The Crying of Lot 49' also in 1966, so maybe somebody told me, can't remember - but it is Watts that stands out in my memory. Re-reading it this morning and some of that feeling comes back. 'Entropy' came to me about that time too; another bit of light for a white boy grew up in Toronto where there were no black people visible at that time, 50s; and no idea what a 'lease-breaking party' might be, nor a lease for that matter.

This ain't no hagiography gentle reader, nope.

Ah ... can't find 'Entropy' on-line ... have to remedy that ... here you go: Entropy 1958-59. 

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