Predictable, enormously surprising

[ cross-posted from Zenpundit — read these in sequence, and tremble ]
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Here:

  • New Yorker, Citing climate change, BlackRock will start moving away from fossil fuels
  • New Yorker, Will Big Business Finally reckon with the Climate Crisis?
  • World Economic Forum, The Global Risks Report 2020
  • BlackRock, A Fundamental Reshaping of Finance
  • Guardian, European Investment Bank to phase out fossil fuel financing
  • IEEFA, The terrible, horrible, no good, very bad year for oil and gas
    .
    **

    Climate scientists caught on first, then the US military, and now financial risk analysts. Things are shifting: if BlackRock ‘s C-suite officers (they control a dime out of every dollar in the world) were the jurors, the current US administration might not like their verdict.

    And money doesn’t just talk, it votes.

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  • Poems: climate, impeachment, climate

    Scorched earth

    Scorched earth used to be a military tactic —
    Samson caught three hundred foxes,
    and took firebrands,
    and put a firebrand in the midst between two tails,
    sending them through enemy fields —
    but what if nature out-flames the foxes?
    What if floods engulf
    those waterboarding Khalid Sheikh Mohammed?

    Hosing down used to be a police tactic —
    against dissenting crowds,
    with dissent almost a badge of honor,
    police visor and shield
    almost an admission of guilt —
    ah, earth, water, air, mind — all ablaze!

    **

    For sure

    No sense in wasting a poem on impeachment,
    those things pass
    like leaves in the wind,
    Nixon, Clinton,Trump, and
    by the time you read this
    another fistful, maybe no doubt —
    on second thought, poems too
    are leaves in a high wind, sacred altitude at best.

    Han Shan sent his poems floating downstream,
    scribbled them on the walls of caves
    and hermitages,
    wrote them on beech-bark
    on the off-chance someone would find them —
    Pulitzer-winner Gary Snyder for sure found them!

    **

    Forecast

    Floods and firestorms:
    the planet is not so much burning as oscillating,
    floods, the element of water,
    fire would evaporate them,
    but only after bringing them to boiling point,
    firestorms, wrathful,
    water would quench them,
    but boiling point is hardly the issue.

    We are deep into future problems,
    the courage of our blind denial
    blithely fire-walking
    with water-walking ability
    granted us solely in scriptures —
    prediction succeeds, prophecy fails, what next?

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    One or other, both or neither?

    By Charles Cameron 5 Comments

    Reposted from Zenpundit — Modi or Trump, special or chosen? — with thanks to The Emissary — and closing in on the shining suchness of the Tathagata
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    Modi of India, Trump of USA?

    **

    Trump of USA proclaims himself the Chosen One, while Modi of India’s supporters claim Modi is the Special One.

    Who knew?

    **

    Sources:

  • The Emissary, The Special One
  • Giphy, I am the Chosen One
  • .
    **

    Buddhist logic from the beginning differs from its Aristotelian cousin, featuring the chatushkoti or tetralemma:

    India in the fifth century BCE, the age of the historical Buddha, and a rather peculiar principle of reasoning appears to be in general use. This principle is called the catuskoti, meaning ‘four corners’. It insists that there are four possibilities regarding any statement: it might be true (and true only), false (and false only), both true and false, or neither true nor false.

    Hence my title, One or other, both or neither?

    Oh ah:

    speaking of the Buddha, Nagarjuna states that the Buddha’s teaching is “emptiness is suchness, not suchness, both suchness and not suchness, and neither suchness nor not suchness.”

    Furthermore:

    The suchness of the Tathagata is the suchness of all phenomena.

    Rumor therefore has it that there’s a fifth possibility, a refuge from all dualities: the shining suchness of the Tathagata.

    **

    No, really — please comment!

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    Saint Greta, Virgin and Guevara

    By Charles Cameron 2 Comments

    A pair of DoubleQuotes and a whole bunch of the questions the two of them raise – also posted at Zenpundit
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    DoubleQuote I: St Greta, Virgin and Guevara:

    Questions:

  • Is either meme valid?
  • including its implications?
  • Are those implications obscure to you?
  • Can both sets of implications be valid at once?
  • Could both memes be irrelevant?
  • misleading?
  • Are they in conflict?
  • counterpoint?
  • harmony?
  • Do you have a preference for one meme over the other?
  • What’s your opinion of the other meme?
  • .
    **
    .
    DoubleQuote II: St Greta and St Malala:

    Each of these young women is addressing the United Nations, Malala asking for universal education, Greta for immediate action on climate change.

    Questions::

  • Is there urgent need for universal education?
  • Is there universal need for action on climate change?
  • is Malala Yousafzai a sort of saint?
  • Is Greta Thunberg a sort of saint?
  • Does either one set your teeth on edge?
  • Why do I even have to ask that question?
  • .

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    DoubleQuoting Myanmar and Assam..

    By Charles Cameron 1 Comment

    It’s the first quote that carries the implication of genocide, but what of the rest?

    **

    It’s not a joke, is it? Myanmar..

    The United Nations Office on Genocide Prevention warns of certain indicators that “provide an environment conducive to the commission of atrocity crimes,” including “increased politicization of identity” and discriminatory “measures or legislation” targeting protected groups. In addition to certain prohibited acts, such as killing members of a group, genocidal States often use legal and administrative tools to facilitate the destruction of a targeted group “in whole or in part.”

    In Myanmar, successive governments have implemented measures and legislation to erase Rohingya Muslims’ identity and rights, creating an enabling environment for genocide.

    **

    It’s not a joke, is it? Assam..

    UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi today expressed his concern over the publication of a National Register of Citizens (NRC) that may put large numbers of people in India’s north-eastern state of Assam at risk of becoming stateless.

    It is too early to say what the nationality status of those left off the National Register, some 1.9 million according to the authorities, may ultimately be. UNHCR is concerned, however, that many are at risk of statelessness if they do not possess another nationality.

    **

    That’s a DoubleQuote — but it’s also pattern recognition, and the start of a possible concatenation of such quotes — a mala of urgencies.

    BTW, it’s more than possible, as Myanmar >> Bangladesh migration illustrates, that mass migration across national borders may be a pragmatic alternative to genocide — but that threatens national sovereignty, doesn’t it?

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    Metaphors for full, empty, void, overflowing — Indian trains

    You already know the way things are —

    so this DoubleQuote will show you the familiar, hopefully with a new slant —

    — the abstract intuition that sees these two images taken together as a binary, a pairing of extremes — something the brain finds very reassuring —

    — and a metaphor for duality and as such, non-dual.

    **

    The lower of the two photographs, with the ladies walking along the railway tracks with no train in sight, is taken from an article on the oncoming monsoon that might interest you:

    Waiting for the Monsoon, Discovering a Brain Tumor Instead

    A brain tumor — what kind of strong weather in mind and heart is that? We live in an alien, often beautiful, sometimes unbearably human world.

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    A couple of instances of Christianity in the world around us

    By Charles Cameron 3 Comments

    I saw Omar Ali yesterday — terrific conversation — and when I asked what topics I should discuss here, he suggested I post whatever interests me — so here’s the anointing of Brazilian strong-man Bolsonaro, and hymn singing in Hong Kong.

    Religious behavior in general fascinates me — but when it affects politics, people often don’t realize what powerful motivation it can provide.

    **

    Religion can be coercive, as in the anointing of Bolsonaro

    see video

    — Remember the laying on of hands over Donald Trump? The overarching authority of religion has Trump bow his head, but sets Bolsonaro on his knees! —

    — and religion can be liberating —

    see video

    — That’s a crowd of protesters in Hong Kong singing “Sing Hallelujah to the Lord”.

    Remarkable.

    **

    From Reuters in June:

    Sing Hallelujah to the Lord’ an unlikely anthem of Hong Kong protests

    For the past week, the hymn has been heard almost non-stop at the main protest site, in front of the city’s Legislative Council, and at marches and even at tense stand-offs with the police.

    It started with a group of Christian students who sang several religious songs at the main protest site, with “Sing Hallelujah to the Lord” catching on among the crowd, even though only about 10 percent of Hong Kong people are Christian.

    “This was the one people picked up, as it is easy for people to follow, with a simple message and easy melody,” said Edwin Chow, 19, acting president of the Hong Kong Federation of Catholic Students.

    The hymn is simple, optimistic yet adds a touch of solemnity and calm to the proceedings, and also affords some legal protection to the protesters —

    The students sang the songs in the hope of providing a cover of legitimacy for the protest. Religious gatherings can be held without a permit in the financial hub.

    “As religious assemblies were exempt, it could protect the protesters. It also shows that it is a peaceful protest,” Chow said.

    The hymn was composed in 1974 by Linda Stassen-Benjamin in the United States for Easter. Its five words are repeated over four stanzas in a minor key, which gives it an air of meditative solemnity.

    **

    Between the anointing of a dictator and the hymn singing of a crowd of protesters demanding democratic freedoms from the Chinese state, we have quite an instructive confluence of ways in which religion can enter the public square.

    No doubt there are others. In Nepal, there’s the tantric cultus of the goddess Kubjikaa. What’s religion up to in your neck of the woods?

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    Invisibility, Jeff Sharlet’s The Family, and the goddess Kubjikaa

    By Charles Cameron 2 Comments

    It’s like a waterfall: you stumble on an idea that comes from the mouth of Doug Coe, describing the principle behind the influence of The Family, of which he was the long-time leader —

    — and it turns out the same principle is referenced in an article on surveillance in Defense One

    — only to re-emerge in Dr Mark SG Dyczkowski‘s work on the tradition, philosophy and practice of the goddess Kubjikaa.

    **

    There’s clearly a principle at work here that could find application in many fields, contexts, silos — and the concatenation of such instances is itself a demonstration of the value of silo-breaking thinking.

    FWIW, I wouldn’t have so much as heard of the Goddess Kubjikaa were it not for my half-century friendship with Mark Dyczkowski, to whom I owe so much, and into the waters of whose scholarship so deep I have dipped no more than a toe.

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    The Ideal and the Practical — the Practice

    By Charles Cameron 3 Comments

    I’d written a response to @AnAn and included a quote from the Chuang Tzu’s chapter on Lord Wen-hui and what he learned from his Cook Ting, and wanted to throw in the following DoubleQuote — but graphics seem to be discouraged in the Comment sections here, so I’ve opened this post for the purpose:

    The thing is, Lao Tzu offers us the ideal statement, formulated in terms of an impenetrable absence of space, and an absence of substance to the point of non-existence — while Chuang Tzu, peering over Lord Wen-hui’s shoulder right there in Cook Ting’s kitchen, offers us the same insight, couched in terms of there being “spaces between the joints” and his knife having “really no thickness” — Chuang Tzu’s measureless insight penetrates Lao Tzu’s impenetrable absolutes to show us there’s room for play there — “room — more than enough for the blade to play about in”.

    If we bear these two versions of the same idea — formulated ideally and in practical terms by the two principle philosopher-poets of the Taoist school — in mind when our thoughts run up against the impracticality of an ideal, we may find, like Cook Ting, that we too have room enough room to play in.

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    I’m fond of saying “two is the first number”

    By Charles Cameron 1 Comment

    I was senior analyst in a small and wonderfully eccentric DC Beltway think tank a while back, and my boss kept asking me for what he called “early indicators” of upcoming troubles. The trouble was, I never saw an “indicator” as such — I only ever saw “indicators” plural. It takes two to tango, they say, and from my POV it takes two to make a pattern.

    My HipBone Games began as an attempt to make Hermann Hesse’s Glass Bead Game playable, preferably on a paper napkin in a sidewalk cafe, so I began with boards like my WaterBird —

    — with ten moves, ten concepts arrayed in such a way that players or later readers could see ten richly interconnected concepts in one place — concepts that might be textual, musical, mathematical, visual, filmic — if we’d known how to convey smells via the internet, I’d have included those, too..

    And over time, I discovered the obvious — that the fundamental game move involved two concepts, with one bridging link between them. So that’s the fundamental way to learn to play the HipBone Games. Over time, I’ve come to rely more and more on this simplest of HipBone Games, the DoubleQuote:

    — leaving the larger HipBone Gameboards — the 8-move Dart board on up to the 120-odd Said Symphony board, dedicated to, you may have guessed it, Edward Said, and available for possible competition games and solo symphonies.

    **

    What’s a concept, you might ask — what constitutes a move?

    I might use a different definition if I were taking about anything other than the Bead Game, but in this context, a concept is a rich idea — an idea with rich possibilities for association. Let me take a paragraph from a New Yorker piece as an example:

    Melissa and Ashley, identical twins from Georgia, shared a bedroom while growing up. They had the same best friend, took classes together in high school, and dreamed of becoming artists in their own collective. “We’re like two different people with one brain,” Melissa liked to say.

    The article in question is titled An Underground College for Undocumented Immigrants — so there’s room associations with the underground railroad perhaps, another situation where the official system repressed a minority, and that minority found ways to circumvent the system.

    I’ve chosen this example, in fact, because it offers numerous associative possibilities — to other ideas, narratives, or statistical finds about twins, to other New Yorker articles, to underground movie theaters or catacombs, to those who dream of becoming artists — and in particular for my purposes here, because it’s about two people who think, almost as if they are one.

    In fact, to emphasis this notion of unity and harmony, I might simply chose this statement for the first position in my DoubleQuote::

    We’re like two different people with one brain

    **

    Let’s use a musical analogy, and say the two of them think in close harmony, or, since there are two of them, that thinking together, they constitute a duet..

    The opposite of harmony,in which many notes played simultaneously form a chord, is counterpoint, in which differing melodic lines move between discord and resolution — harmony a “vertical” matter, synchronic, while counterpoint is “horizontal” and diachronic —

    — and the opposite of a duet is a duel.

    **

    The two friends in Don DeLillo’s New Yorker piece, Midnight in Dostoevsky like to keep their minds at opposite poles from each other. As one of the two reports:

    He liked to test himself on what he knew. He liked to stop walking to emphasize a point as I walked on. This was my counterpoint, to let him stand there talking to a tree. The shallower our arguments, the more intense we became.

    I wanted to keep this one going, to stay in control, to press him hard. Did it matter what I said?

    The actual phrase I’d place in juxtaposition to the first paragraph above might come from a discussion of whether the old man walking in front of them that day was wearing an anorak or a parka —

    It was our routine; we were ever ready to find a matter to contest.

    Again, the context — the article itself — is rich in associative potentials, with parkas, anoraks, Inuits, linguistics, life in the arctic circle, the whole idea of North — on which the pianist Glenn Gould wrote an entire radio opera

    — and note that Gould is himself a master of counterpoint, specializing in the work of JS Bach, and called his radio opera technique “contrapuntal radio” —

    So:

    “This was counterpoint” — the opposite of harmony, and full of both conflict and resolution, with phrases isolated and overlapping, paused and repeated, denial and occasional agreement and renewed denial — a duel, not by any means a duet.

    And yet each of our two excerpts describes the conversations of two close friends, the one emphasizing unity, the other diversity. And it is in the similarities and differences between the two conversation — between duel and duet — that the two concepts link to become a single move.

    **

    Having given that extended example, let me present a few more DoubleQuotes, in their positions on the board — with minimal explanations:

    Some of them are made of names or phrases so simple, they fit on a mini-version of the board:

    Some bring Shakespeare to bear on current events — in this case, Saudi Crown Prince MBS and the Khashoggi murder:

    Some showing similarities in different materials:

    Some making historical comparisons — this one’s in an earlier version of the same board —

    or opposite opinions and creative practices of two of the world’s most distinguished physicists:

    or — and this is my personal favorite, crossing as it does the great disciplinary boundary — between CP Snow’s Two Cultures — between art and science:

    **

    But either I’ve been very unclear, or you get the idea.

    Here’s the blank DoubleQuotes board again, for you to download and drop your own examples into.

    At gmail I’m hipbonegamer — feel free to send me your own, with any explanation you feel like making, and in a later post I’ll put them up here.

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