Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Poems: Composing . . . or Decomposing

A friend of mine saw these two moments in the process of composing poetry and wanted to take photos, so here they are:

Composing 1

Composing 2

Both photos reveal a poet at work amending poems that appear to be in the final stages of composition . . . or decomposition.

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Monday, August 20, 2018

The Other Forgotten Poem


The other poem is titled Mistral, and according to NRL Monterey, Marine Meteorology Division, the "mistral is a strong, cold northwesterly wind system that blows from Southern France into the Gulf of Lions  . . . with sustained winds often exceeding 40 kt, and gusts sometimes to 100 kt." Folk belief holds that it drives men insane. Here's the poem:
Mistral
Wind of evil from the mountains,
Wind from darkness of the hills,
Toss the stars in glowing fountains
Struck like sparks from grinding wheels.

Drive a man to dread the morrow -
Whisper nothing in his ear;
Wrap his soul in shrouds of sorrow -
Hold him in unyielding fear.

Wind of evil from the mountains,
Wind of darkness from the hills,
Toss the stars in glowing fountains
Struck like sparks from grinding wheels.
Nothing special, this poem, but I want to put it with my next collection of poems, which will appear in 2050.

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Sunday, August 19, 2018

Forgotten Poems

Dante

In perusing the first Emanations anthology to see how far Carter Kaplan's project has come over the years, I discovered that I had somehow left out two poems from my Radiant Snow collection. Here's one of them:
Dante's Odyssey
Those nights I often dreamt
of broken labyrinths
where black, black flames rise up
in resurrected death
to prophesy with no one's tongue
on what shall come, is passing, or has passed.
I like this one, so I don't know how I neglected to include it.

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Saturday, August 18, 2018

Report from Genoa: Morandi Bridge Collapse

Before the Collapse

Collapsed

An Italian friend of mine reports on the Morandi Bridge collapse in Genoa:
Yes, here we are ok, but what a dramatic situation. That bridge was essential to the life of Genoa, as well as the streets close to the bridge that now are closed to the traffic. I've been driving on that bridge, or under, every day for 13 years, and my husband more. Right now - can you imagine? - the traffic from the part of Genoa situated in the valley of Polcevera can use only one street as large as Channing Way in Berkeley! It's the result of incompetence, corruption and ... the usual Italian problem.
I'm glad to hear that my old friend and her family are unharmed.

Condolences to those who are not so fortunate.

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Friday, August 17, 2018

Earth Lines?

Earth

Latitudinarian: expressing broad views.

Longitudinarian: expressing long-winded, narrow-minded views, especially as one approaches the poles.

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Thursday, August 16, 2018

Just the facts . . .

Druze Fighter

After a battle between ISIS and Druze fighters, MEMRI TV Clip No. 6707 reports the following:
Reporter: "You were wounded, but not killed."

Local Druze Fighter: "Right."
Ah, the mark of a good reporter, leaving no tombstone unturned!

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Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Pierre Manent: Beyond Radical Secularism

Pierre Manent
Wikipedia

Over at GoV, the cultural critic Thomas F. Bertonneau reviews the English edition of Pierre Manent's book, Beyond Radical Secularism -- How France and the Christian West Should Respond to the Islamic Challenge. Here is the opening paragraph of Bertonneau's review:
Pierre Manent (born 1949), a former student of Raymond Aron's who currently holds a professorship in political philosophy at the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales, Paris, has over the years written a dozen books devoted to the discussion of the liberal-modern dispensation — its origins, its basic assumptions, and its limitations. Unsurprising in a student of Aron's, Manent is moderately right-leaning, at least in a contemporary French context, in that he defends classical liberalism, disparages the authoritarian liberalism that has replaced it, advocates for the legitimacy of the nation-state, and turns his considerable skepticism on the European Union. Like a number of his contemporaries on the French Nouveau Droit, Manent insists that by the compelling force of their history and culture, France and its European sister nations are Christian nations and that they derive the fundamental decency of their political arrangements at least in part from a specifically Christian view of man and the world. In his expository style, Manent qualifies as quintessentially French: He argues his theses with thoroughness and subtlety and eschews any rhetoric of provocation. His prose gives an impression of coolness, calmness, and steadiness, qualities that incline a reader to concede the argument, if only while he is reading it.
The review is long, but worth reading, and Manent looks to be one for the reading list.

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Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Milton and Middle Knowledge?

John Milton

The following brief passage is taken from Milton's essay Areopagitica, and note especially his references to Jesuits and to Arminius:
But of our Priests and Doctors how many have bin corrupted by studying the comments of Jesuits and Sorbonists, and how fast they could transfuse that corruption into the people, our experience is both late and sad. It is not forgot, since the acute and distinct Arminius was perverted meerly by the perusing of a namelesse discourse writt'n at Delf, which at first he took in hand to confute. (Areopagitica, Dartmouth, Milton Reading Room)
I call attention to the Jesuits and Arminius here because they developed a theology that is called Middle Knowledge, which refers to God's Middle Knowledge and which is of interest to me because it attempts to maintain human freedom and divine foreknowledge, a theology not so far from the one Milton himself eventually adopted.

Learn more about Middle Knowledge here.

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Monday, August 13, 2018

Writer's Block 5: Truth Triumphant?


I'm still suffering writer's block, which has inspired another poem, this one drawing upon Milton's Areopagitica and his Sonnet 12, the two of which seem together to conjoin a view of truth as always discernable with a view of truth as not always discernable, a consequence of our rebellious nature:
Writer's Block 5: Truth Triumphant?
If every sort of doctrine were loosed
upon the world, as seems to be the case,
could truth fend truly in that steeplechase
and run unimpaired, even without a boost?

Do not we all misdoubt her doubtful strength,
not having seen her with all falsehood grapple,
for we've seen how, with that one false apple,
sure put to worse was truth, and at great length?

Now good and evil grow inseparably,
and Adam's judgement is this one great doom,
to judge, as twixt twins leapt forth from the womb,

the taste of good and evil from the tree
that brought in death and made the world a tomb.
But still revolts the man whom truth set free.
This is where Milton leaves us -- in a moral quandary, our doom! We judge good and evil by means of the good and evil we experience within ourselves, in what we attain as good or commit as evil. Or so thinks Milton . . .

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Sunday, August 12, 2018

Wisacre versus Wisecracker

Wise Old Goats?

Which is worse, a wiseacre or a wisecracker?

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Saturday, August 11, 2018

Turning Milton's Prose into Poetry


A few days back, I quoted from Milton's Areopagitica, breaking Milton's prose and making it look like poetry:
And though all the windes of doctrin were let loose
to play upon the earth, so Truth be in the field,
we do injuriously, by licencing and prohibiting
to misdoubt her strength.
Let her and Falshood grapple;
who ever knew Truth put to the wors,
in a free and open encounter.
Her confuting is the best and surest suppressing.
I borrowed my Milton quote from Dartmouth's Milton Reading Room site, but I broke the prose into the free verse that you see just above. I received this prose-broken-into-poetry response from John Savoie on the Milton List:
Of late I too have grown fond of linebreaking prose;
Milton's prose especially rewards the segmentation.
Note that John Savoie is also a poet and a Milton scholar, so he's a voice to listen to . . .

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Friday, August 10, 2018

Milton on Truth


Milton speaks out for free speech and argues that truth can fend for itself against falsehood:
Let her and Falshood grapple; who ever knew Truth put to the wors, in a free and open encounter. (Milton Reading Room: Darthmouth)
My question: Is Milton correct? Can truth fend for itself? Or can falsehood sometimes defeat truth?

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Thursday, August 09, 2018

Grace Shulman Speaks on Jefferson and Milton


There's some squabble going on about some poet or other who, though not African American, used African American lingo in a prize-winning poem published in the Nation. Both the poet and the Nation have apologized. I haven't seen the poem. I address a different issue here, namely, individual influence.

Here are some words of note by Grace Shulman in her comment
on the Nation's apology for publishing a poem many found offensive.
Shulman was critical of the apology, but she misattributed
some words to Milton and was apologetic about that:
Correction: August 5, 2018
An earlier version of this article misattributed a quotation;
it was Thomas Jefferson, not John Milton,
who said that "error of opinion may be tolerated
where reason is left free to combat it."
But one can see how Jefferson's view derives from Milton's view in Areopagitica:
And though all the windes of doctrin were let loose
to play upon the earth, so Truth be in the field,
we do injuriously, by licencing and prohibiting
to misdoubt her strength.
Let her and Falshood grapple;
who ever knew Truth put to the wors,
in a free and open encounter.
Her confuting is the best and surest suppressing.
Jefferson knew his sources well, no doubt (and I borrowed my Milton sources from the Dartmouth site), so there is more than lingo at stake here when one speaks of influence.

Something to think about . . .

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Wednesday, August 08, 2018

Writer's Block 4: Windfall

Satan Arousing
Rebel Angels
(1808)
William Blake

I'm still suffering writer's block, so I've commiserated with myself by drawing lines from John Milton to write today's poem:
Writer's Block 4: Windfall
When I consider how my life is spent,
Which far as angel's ken once held purview,
Above Most High insatiate to pursue,
Too well I see and rue the dire event.

Oh how unlike the place from whence we fell,
But here at least, we shall be fondest free,
And what I should be, all but less than He,
To rule th'infernal world, this deepest Hell.

We glory to've escaped the heavenly host,
As gods, thus through our own recovered strength,
Not by the grace of some supernal Power.

Here may we reign secure, and might I boast,
To reign is worth ambition, whate'er the length.
In Hell thus reign; serve not in Heaven's bower.

*With apologies to John Milton.
Milton's not around to receive my apology, but I think that he would have understood, and even approved.

Homework: Who is the speaker in this poem? Obviously, it's . . .

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Tuesday, August 07, 2018

Islamic Voice on Jihad


On July 26, 2018, Memri reported that on Telegram, "Jihadis Release[d An] English Book Sanctioning ‎Attacks In [The] West, Calling Muslims There To Focus On ‎Military, Law Enforcement, Political, [And] Economic Targets," arguing that aggressive jihad is not a distortion of Islam but one of its highest endeavors:
Much has been said about 'Islamic terrorism' in light of recent attacks in the West, targeting the US, Britain, France, and a number of other European countries. Western politicians and commentators appear to have reached a consensus that such 'barbaric' attacks have nothing to do with Islam and are the sole actions of a small group of extremists, bent on distorting the religion of Islam to justify their actions. Indeed, many Muslims also echo these sentiments, stating unequivocally that these 'actions, and individuals have nothing to do with Islam,' effectively reinforcing the Western narrative. However, this discourse seems to ignore one important voice – Islam's. Western governments and media has [sic have] for a number of years attempted to dictate to Muslims what Islam is, or should be – A version of Islam compatible with western [sic Western] ideals, principles, and (global) interests. Unfortunately, many Muslims, especially in the West, have become confused with these conflicting narratives – that of the West's, and that of Islam's. Consequently, many are now in doubt as to what the 'Islamic perspective' is on a range of contemporary (and some old) issues faced by Muslims in the twenty-first century, with one such issue being that of Jihad.
The voice of Islam that expresses itself here goes deep into the Islamic sources to justify an aggressive jihad against the West. This fits my argument that Islamism is not extremism, but is, rather, radicalism at the root of Islam.

Read more at the online site.

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Monday, August 06, 2018

Bernard Lewis and John Milton


Bernard Lewis liked to quote Milton's Sonnet 19:
"that one talent which is death to hide . . . lodged with me useless."
Milton is probably alluding to his poetic talent, but I've not looked into this. Lewis seems to have quoted Milton to motivate students who lacked confidence in their talents. According to Katherine Nouri Hughes:
Bernard did me the favor and honor of taking . . . seriously [my amateur interest in the Orient]. "Being an amateur -- even a dilettante," he said, "was respectable. What possible fault is there in loving and delighting in what you engage in? There is something, however, that you must beware of." He specified by citing Milton: "that one talent which is death to hide . . . lodged with me useless." It was something he repeated many times in the seasons that followed.
Lewis to Milton -- the greats are drawn to the greats . . .

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Sunday, August 05, 2018

Poetry Break: Writer's Block 3


I'm still encountering Writer's Block, so I composed the 'poem' below to record it:
Writer's Block 3
I cannot call this poetry,
for writer's block has hold on me.
I scribble-scrabble nonsense verse,
but that just makes the problem worse.

Perhaps I ought to go to bed
and lay to rest my weary head.
Oh, I don't mean eternally;
I still have things I'd like to see.

Call this a poem if you dare,
but that won't get you anywhere.
The critics know it's doggerel,
and they will say: "Go straight to Hell."
If this case of Writer's Block goes on, I'll have a goodly number of poems to blame it for.

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Saturday, August 04, 2018

Writer's Block 2


Here's another poem I can't write because of writer's block:
Writer's Block 2
I cannot write this poem,
this hum-drum decorum,
kinetic beat-up plug
unstopped bug-in-a-rug

business because I
am a regular guy
and not a chaotic,
revived, old school beatnik

who cannot stop himself
dropping the odd word "pelf"
into mid-third-stanza
to show he can stand-ja.
And that's how things stand for now.

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Friday, August 03, 2018

Franklinesque?

Rip Van Winkle
in
Sleepy Hollow

If one of Franklin's proverbs is true, then shouldn't its opposite be untrue? For instance:
"Early to bed and early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise."
Here's the opposite
Later to bed and later to rise, makes one unhealthy, unwealthy, unwise.
Is that true or false? Also, does its truth or falsity depend on the truth or falsity of Franklin's proverb?

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Thursday, August 02, 2018

Poetry Break: Writer's Block Re-View

Writer's Sphere:
When Ideas Just Won't
Crystalize!

Here's a little poem that might not work because I had to invent one or two words to complete it:
Writer's Block Re-View
I can neither rhyme nor reason
my way through more than one season
of the many that passed my way
to bring me to review this day

your book. That work was over-long
in reaching me. It was too strong-
ly bound to fall apart, so it,
physi-scellanic, did not split.

I should be writing pertnear all
of what I owe you for your call-
ing out to me to answer you,
but writer's block stops my review.
Does that work for all you'uns out there in Internet-of-Things Land? Is "pertnear" allowed, or is my dialect unbefitting here? Consider this a poem in process . . .

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Wednesday, August 01, 2018

But what's an apple?


In a recent opinion piece ("Why Mistranslation Matters," July 28, 2018) for the NYT, Mark Polizzotti refers to Jerome's translation of the Bible and to Milton's Paradise Lost as two sources of our modern concept of the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil:
When Jerome, the patron saint of translators, rendered the Bible into Latin, he introduced a pun that created one of the most potent symbols of Christian iconography, turning the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil ("malus") into the tree of apples ("malum"). It's true that "malum," in Jerome's day, could mean any number of fruits: the serpentine creature on Michelangelo's Sistine ceiling, for instance, is coiled around a fig tree. But in the 16th century, both Albrecht Dürer and Lucas Cranach the Elder, following Jerome's lead, famously depicted Adam and Eve beside unambiguous apples. And when, the following century, John Milton wrote of Eve's "sharp desire . . . / Of tasting those fair Apples," he helped concretize the image of the bright rubine Malus pumila that we know today.
Okay, so Albrecht Dürer and Lucas Cranach the Elder also each played a role in winning for the apple its highest place of honor as a symbol of evil. But supporting roles only!

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Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Enough is Enough?


Enough is enough.
A word to the wise is enough?
Looks like the wise have had about enough of enough . . .

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Monday, July 30, 2018

Why, I Don't Know . . .


A proverb for reflection and edification:
"A word to the wise is enough."
No one knows why, but the wise really like the word "enough."

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Sunday, July 29, 2018

Man of La Mancha: To Dream the Impossible Dream


I've discovered another site online that uses my scholarly findings, this time my reading of Don Quixote's relevance to a critical reading of Miguel de Luna's History of the Conquest of Spain by the Moors, and I've red-fonted the specific words:
21. LUNA, Miguel de. The History of the Conquest of Spain by the Moors. Together with the Life of the most illustrious Monarch Almanzor. And of the several Revolutions of the mighty Empire of the Caliphs, and of the African Kingdoms. Composed in Arabick by Abulcacim Tariff Abentariq, one of the Generals in that Spanish Expedition; and translated into Spanish by Michael de Luna, Interpreter to Philip the Second. Now made English. London, Printed by F. Leach, for S. H. and are to be sold by T. Fox . . . 1687.
8vo, pp. [32], 237, [1]; occasional soiling, title partly overlaid at extreme inner margin by a stub (of another title-page?), small marginal tear to a6, not affecting text; early nineteenth-century polished calf, red morocco label, top joint cracking; Ditton Park bookplate (Montagu-Douglas) with library shelf-marks; a very good copy. £2250
First edition of this translation of the first part of Luna’s Verdadera historia del rey Don Rodrigo (Granada, 1592-1600), itself purportedly translated from an Arabic source, but in fact an original composition. This is the issue with S.H. in the imprint, no licence on the verso of the title-page, and the dedicatory epistle signed with initials 'M. T.' rather than 'Matt. Taubman', presumably the City poet.

Luna's account of the Arabic conquest of Spain to the year 761 was considered genuine by Southey, dismissed by Ticknor and other scholars as a forgery, but now appreciated as an important, essentially literary document from the age of Cervantes, who knew the work. The Verdadera historia and Don Quixote 'abound with the same phrases and diction', and Cervantes specifically ridicules a passage in Luna in which Tariff fulfils a prophecy by the presence of a mole on his back – Quixote strips to reveal his mole as evidence of his strength in Part I Chapter 30 (see Horace Jeffrey (sic. Jeffery) Hodges, 'Holey Moley: Don Quixote's significant Señal', Bulletin of the Cervantes Society of America 29:2, 2009). 'Great inspiration for Cervantes came from this type of "true" history"' (sic. history') (ibid., 22:2, 2002, p. 20).

The narrative concludes 'The End of the First Part'; the second, which is promised in 'The Publisher to the Reader' and was to include a 'Dissertation' by the translator, never appeared. A different translation of selections of the work was published in 1627, under the title Almanasor, the Learned and Victorious King that Conquered Spaine. ESTC finds 8 copies of the present issue in the U.K. and four in North America (Boston Public, Folger, Huntington, and Clark), and only four copies altogether of the other issue (Christ Church, NYPL (2), and Newberry). The same sheets were reissued in 1693 but with fewer prelims (pp. 26, probably omitting the epistle dedicatory to James Fitz-James, Duke of Berwick, the illegitimate son of James II). Wing L 3484A.
This site is named after a long-deceased, but very important 19th-century bookseller, Bernard Quaritch, specializing in rare books, in this case, Hispanica, "a short selection of early Spanish books."

Thanks to all at Bernard Quaritch for noticing me and my work, back in 2014!

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Saturday, July 28, 2018

Baylor Transcendent!


In poking around about on the internet, I stumbled upon this short auto-bio piece published in Baylor Magazine (Spring 2009):
Name: Dr. Horace Jeffery Hodges, BA in English Literature, '79
Current hometown: Seoul, South Korea (originally from Salem, Arkansas)
Occupation: Professor at Ewha Womans University teaching research-based writing to undergraduates and a graduate course on John's Gospel and Gnosticism
Highest degree earned: PhD in History, UC Berkeley

A career highlight:

I suppose that one highlight of my academic career was obtaining a Fulbright Fellowship in 1989 for doctoral research in Tuebingen, West Germany . . . which quickly became Tuebingen, Unified Germany after the Berlin Wall came down in November 1989. I remained until 1995 in Germany, where I met a Korean woman on a train (in 1992) and married her (in 1995).

How did your experience with the Honors Program at Baylor prepare you for your life/career after college?

My Honors Program experience best prepared me for graduate-level seminars because through the program's upper-level courses, I was already familiar with discussion sessions in which we Honors students would intensively discuss important books with committed scholars, both from Baylor and from elsewhere.

But the greater preparation that the Honors Program provided was a confirmation that I could achieve something academically, and be recognized for that, despite having been . . . well, nobody in particular.

Memories from the program:

I can say that several professors at Baylor had a positive influence upon me, sometimes through the Honors Program, sometimes through non-Honors courses. I will mention a few names: Morse Hamilton, Wallace Daniel, Robert Baird, James Vardaman, Thomas Hanks, and Philip Martin.

I took several courses with all of these men, and I could say a great deal about all of them, for they all were fine Baylor gentlemen who inspired me in one way or another. I feel led, however, to remember Mr. Martin -- not because he had more influence, but because he was also a kind man who was less well-known but who deserves remembrance. I had Mr. Martin for German my sophomore year, and I was dreadful in that language though I eventually learned to speak it. My first course with Mr. Martin had me enrolled as an Honors student, but I did nothing "honorable." Indeed, I received a "C" though I probably deserved a "D" if not an "F." I was terrible. But I had perfect attendance and was never late for my 8:00 a.m. class, and Mr. Martin appreciated my consistency . . . even though I was consistently bad in German.

I took his course again in the spring of my sophomore year and did even worse . . . but still received a "C." That semester, we each had to give presentations in German, and I tried to describe my bicycle trip from the Ozarks to Waco -- a trip that I had undertaken to prove to myself that I could ride my bike 500 miles and reach Baylor in time for school. I succeeded in that trip but failed so miserably in my German presentation that Mr. Martin had to ask me to switch to English in order to understand precisely what I had done . . . and when he came to understand that I had ridden a bicycle, not a motorcycle, he was completely won over to my side for the rest of my Baylor career . . . even though I didn't know much German. He even asked me to take his Goethe course, and I did. I received an "A," by the grace of Mr. Martin and the fact that I could write my papers in English. Mr. Martin treated me to lunch off-campus several times, a great boon for a poverty-stricken student like me. I should have thanked him for that. Perhaps I did . . . but hardly enough.

In closing, I ought to remember Professor LeMaster, poet and scholar in the English Department, who guided my senior Honors' thesis and confirmed that I could write well creatively. Without his willingness to accept me as his student, I would not have succeeded, nor would I have finished the Honors Program.
I could go on and on about Baylor, but being quietly fanatical, I'll lapse into silence and just think good things . . . . Besides, I may have already posted on this back in the spring of 2009.

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Friday, July 27, 2018

Waiting for God Ought Be Not Patriarchal

Me?

My older son Jae-Uk is traveling through Europe with a friend, and they are currently in Rome, where they visited the Vatican Museum and found this sculpture of me.

Naturally, Jae-Uk knows it isn't a statue of me, but I have to admit to a certain likeness . . . not that I like the likeness.

Do any any of you readers recognize this sculpture and know its sculptor?

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Thursday, July 26, 2018

The Gnostic Conception of the Evil Cosmos and the Soteriological Breaking of Fate

Claudia Maggi
(I Presume)

I occasionally come across references to my scholarly writings, and the passage below in Italian (April 2007, Puissances de l'âme, Varia, "La concezione plotiniana dell’uomo tra fascino e autodominio: la questione degli influssi astrali" ("The Plotinian conception of man between charm and self-control: the question of astral influences") by Claudia Maggi (p. 353-371) for Etudes Platoniciennes) discusses an article of mine on astrological fate and the views of Gnostics:
La demonizzazione del cosmo sensibile che è, secondo Hodges, la più grande innovazione apportata dallo gnosticismo al pensiero antico spiegherebbe l’obiezione gnostica al determinismo astrale. Questo è legato alla rottura del regno spirituale attuata da Sophia: nella caduta, Sophia avrebbe perso parte della sua sostanza spirituale; il Dio inferiore, prodotto accidentalmente dalla sua caduta, avrebbe intrappolato la sostanza persa da Sophia all’interno di corpi umani materiali, per assicurarsi l’asservimento dei quali avrebbe assegnato sette entità subordinate ai sette pianeti, assegnando loro il compito, come fato, di tenere legati gli uomini al mondo della materia. Hodges ritiene che gli gnostici intravidero nell’idea che la regolarità del cielo potesse influenzare gli eventi sulla Terra la prova di un progetto malvagio il cui scopo era intrappolare l’uomo. Al contrario è probabile che almeno alcuni gnostici utilizzassero le irregolarità celesti dimostrate da Ipparco con la precessione degli equinozi come prova di un intervento soteriologico nel mondo che consentiva di rompere il solo apparente determinismo causato dal movimento regolare del cielo.
In this passage, Maggi directs us to see H. J. Hodges, "Gnostic Liberation from Astrological Determinism: Hipparchan 'Trepidation' and the Breaking of Fate" (Vigiliae Christianae 51 (1997), 359-360; 372-373). For those readers who don't know Italian, here's a loose translation:
The demonization of the intelligible cosmos, which is, according to Hodges, the greatest innovation brought by Gnosticism to ancient thought, would explain the Gnostic objection to astral determinism. This is related to the breakdown of the spiritual realm accomplished by Sophia: in her fall, Sophia had lost some of her spiritual substance; the inferior god, accidentally produced by her fall, trapped the substance lost by Sophia within material human bodies, to secure the enslavement of which he would assign seven entities subordinate to the seven planets, assigning them the task, as fate, of keeping human beings connected to the world of matter. Hodges thinks that the Gnostics saw, in the idea that the regularity of the planetary heavens could influence events on Earth, evidence of an evil project whose aim was to trap human beings in the world. In contrast to this fateful cosmic regularity, Hodges finds probable evidence that at least some Gnostics used the celestial irregularities demonstrated by Hipparchus with the precession (or rather, in this article, with the "trepidation") of the equinoxes as proof of a soteriological intervention in the cosmos that enabled a breaking of the determinism caused by the regular movement of the planetary heavens.
Something like this is what I meant. This article of mine has been used and cited quite a few times in the scholarly world, so here is the evidence that I could have added something of value to the debates over gnosticism, if only I had received the support of a friend who wouldn't write the recommendation I needed when I was applying for a job. But that's a long time ago . . .

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Wednesday, July 25, 2018

The Present Conumdrum

Present Conundrum
Not a Uniformitarianism
Where is This All Going?
When is This Going to End?

As one of my one-line poems, I wrote the following:
There's no time like the present conundrum.
But what does it mean? Well, it takes the old saying, "There's no time like the present," meaning "Get started now," and adds the uncommon word "conundrum," thereby forcing our attention on the meaning of the word "present."

It's a conundrum, a puzzle.

The past stretches in a line from an indistinct beginning and moves away from us in temporal measure.

The future stretches in a line from some indistinct ending and moves toward us in temporal measure.

The experienced present is not an infinitesimal, for an infinitesimal lacks length, a lack that could be made up for by the space in which we find ourselves.

Spatiality determines our experienced present. We leave one space and step into another, and our experience of time passing occurs in that step, but so long as we remain within a certain space, we experience no passage of time.

I speak alone, based on my own experience only. How do you experience time?

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Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Poetry Break: Smiles


You've all heard of today's on-campus, politically motivated 'snowflakes'? Well, I'm not even thinking about those snowflakes, but about smiles that can melt away if not encouraged. Here's some encouragement, I hope:
Smiles
The longest word, they say, is smiles
Because it goes on for a mile
From "s" to "s" to make that smile.

Though I agree the word is smiles,
This longest word goes on for miles
To spell an extra-special smile!
Not much of a 'camera' took this smiling image, more of a 'camera obscura,' but this smiley face will have to play the role of the fragile smile.

You see? I can be silly, too.

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Monday, July 23, 2018

Max Weber: Protestant Ethic Revisited

Poor With Us Always?
Christianity Today

Lincoln Lau and Bruce Wydick tell us that "The 'Protestant Work Ethic' Really Does Fight Poverty (Christianity Today, July/August 2018). I have cut-and-pasted from their report:
[Max Weber famously argued that] Protestant religious beliefs led inevitably to Europe's work ethic, to its attitude toward wealth and specialized labor — and, in short, to modern capitalism: Europe experienced economic growth largely because of its Protestant beliefs.

A randomized controlled trial by leading development economists, among 320 villages and 6,276 low-income families in the Philippines, provides a scientifically rigorous test of the causal effects of Christian beliefs on economic outcomes . . . . The results . . . appear to confirm that the Protestant ethic causes economic change. Participants in the study who were randomly selected for a curriculum teaching Christian values subsequently showed increases in household income relative to a control group. The implications of this pioneering study could be vital for Christians and others trying to do effective work among the poor. This is a reminder that teaching Christian doctrine and values does not need to be separated from community development. In fact, combining the two may have better results.

Protestants can rejoice. There is a healthy biblical balance to the Protestant ethic (see, for example, Col. 3:23 and Eph. 4:28) . . . . At the same time, a biblical understanding of human agency, and its possibilities and responsibilities, has helped reverse the fatalism that is often associated with poverty in the developing world.
This report is interesting to me because one of the first monographs I read in grad school was Weber's Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism, which was also linked to the rise of science and technology in the West, partly due to the work of the sociologist Robert K. Merton. Works such as these come around and around . . .

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Sunday, July 22, 2018

Poetry Break: Attend


Our friend Eric Walsh is returning to Canada, and we will miss his presence. Here's a poem I've written in honor of Eric, and you need to know that he's the Canadian ambassador to Korea, if you want to make sense of the poem.
Attend
For Ambassador Eric Walsh
Be glad your ears are on your head
And not some other place instead.
For were they where they're surely not,
Most likely 'deaf' would be their lot!

Oh, let us only just suppose
Your ears were stuck beneath your soles.
From that position underfoot,
You'd hear a constant put, put-put.

And how could you, ambassador,
Put best foot first through open door?
And how hear rumor on the wing?
You'd hear not any goddamned thing!

Intelligence is what I mean,
The kind of sound from which you glean
Some information guaranteed
To help your country supercede.

Thank God your ears are where they be!
They hear interdependently,
And separate the noise from sense
So safe we'll live, at less expense.

* Apologies to Jack Prelutsky
This was a fun poem to write - I just spun it off Prelutsky's poem about a misplaced nose.

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