<= 2020.07.14

Apocrypha

And as he journeyed, he came near Damascus: and suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven, and he fell to the earth. There he beheld two snakes entwined, and struck them with his staff. And immediately there fell from his eyes as it had been scales.

Attractor States

A right-hand glove could be put on the left hand, if it could be turned around in four-dimensional space.

—Wittgenstein, Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus 6.36111

The difficulties: how do you imagine the process unfolding in time, where do you set the axis of rotation, and what in fact is the nature of the glove, this familiar object you’ve been pulling onto your right hand your entire life without ever suspecting it was other than what it seemed?

Assuming the axis of rotation transfixes the object: if the glove is in fact no more than it appears, a three-dimensional object with no extension along a fourth spatial degree, then the commencement of rotation will cause it to wink instantly out of apparent existence—except, theoretically, for a widthless line segment coinciding with the axis of rotation—until the transformation completes, at which time it will wink back into existence as its own mirror image, every point in its body affording a strict bijective correspondence to its former self but the geometric relations between those points now inverted.

If, on the other hand, the familiar glove turns out to be the three-dimensional tip of a four-dimensional iceberg, an object with previously unsuspected contours extending into hidden space, then before it attains its final transformed state—newly mirrored, but in every other respect the same old article—it will pass through warpings and deformations such that it ceases to resemble a glove at all, shrinking and distending, exhibiting unforeseeable prominences and depressions, splitting into multiple bodies before fusing back into one, and generally inducing nausea and fomenting outrage among church, state, academy, press and even those many private hearths that suppose, wrongly, they’ve already seen it all.

Sōjun Mel Weitsman (1929-2021)

I only knew him at Berkeley Zen Center for a couple of years, but that much listening and a few quiet encounters were more than enough to be certain I was in the presence of wisdom, and wisdom that knew to wear itself lightly. I’ve encountered the trait elsewhere, but not often, and never in someone whose position of authority enabled him to do so much good.

There have been so many tributes over the last few days, public and private. I hadn't known that he was given the same name on ordination as Ikkyū. That astounds me; everything I knew of his manner was so mild and measured. But perhaps those contraries coincide as well.

Hakuryū Sōjun Daiōshō

白龍宗純大和尚

Fending off the devil in georgia

seems like it’s rainin all over the world

turn up the volume

the opposite of bullshit

well I’m not the world’s most physical guy

The kid in elementary school who taunted me with the name “Pauline.” I don’t remember who he was; the image comes up of a thick-necked lout, budding Fred Flintstone. How did he even know the name? Were his parents film critics?

When Joyce’s names were recorded on his birth certificate, his middle name was misspelled, and so he was registered as James Augusta Joyce (rather than James Augustine Joyce). Joyce later uses a similar slip for Bloom’s name in Ulysses: Bloom’s name is recorded as Leopold Paula Bloom rather than Leopold Paul Bloom on his birth certificate.

I have never done anything creepy like track IPs on the comment box (or even look at usage or referrer logs, really) but I wish I had some way of knowing who it was that asked me to improve my attitude about heteronormativity and Joyce in 2005, because at the time I didn’t want to acknowledge that my attitude needed improving, and the response I gave wasn’t adequate.

everything’s so easy for Pauline

Aaron Hoover (1978-2020)

Hoov is present, anyhow implicitly, around the first year of this site (written 20 years ago by an idiot, please don't put weight on it, but is part of the “we” who felt old at 22 going to see Weezer in decline, for instance). A few months before I started writing here, I crashed for the summer on his couch in the Western Addition. He was a year ahead of me in getting out of college: a big deal then, I thought of him as worldly-wise. Took up bass duties in our band without much experience and put all his heart into learning the instrument. Wanted us to cover “Subbacultcha,” which shows exactly the right ludic sense even if it outstripped my abilities as a vocalist. A generosity with no second thoughts, to let me and my library suitcase sprawl all over his room for two months, thereby subsidizing the bad novel draft I wrote at Café Abir before driving out to Iowa with Jen and subsequently failing to conquer the world. It all only just happened. When I find myself around Fulton and Divisadero I swear it’s still happening.

1.

Dating for everyone. Just do it! Follow this link: [link suppressed]

2. Sketchbook

HAL 9000 takes off its crown and walks in disguise among the common soldiers.

Things base and vile, holding no quantity,
Love can transpose to form and dignity

οὐκ ἔστ’ ἔτυμος λόγος οὗτος,
οὐδ’ ἔβας ἐν νηυσὶν ἐυσσέλμοις
οὐδ’ ἵκεο πέργαμα Τροίας
(you never went to Troy)

3. Fragmenta adespota

] injured mockingbird,
nymph syrinx, rings all registers of song
but grips the wire with one foot only.
I would write more if I were more lonely.

Out for flu shot, TDAP, SSRI refill for the happy new year. Four new pandemic pounds—your weight’s still in the normal range, says the doctor, are you happy about it? Do I look like I’m happy with anything? I don’t hate my body as I once did, this is what our truce looks like and it’s unattractive, like any compromise.

Planting a desert garden out front. The agaves were here when we arrived. I gave them some gravel, added ceanothus and manzanita and a small palo verde that lost all its leaves as soon as I planted it. They do that; the bark is still green. But I’ve worried about it for months.

Still no rain. The wish for rain.

A bit of burn on the air, but the sky is back to sane blue and the view very clear across the bay out to the Salesforce tower.

After a year and a half in the house we still have heaps of dry, dead vegetation to harvest from the yard. No embers are landing here, but these yellow stalks would go up like the Fourth of July if they did. Get a goat! Get a megatherium!

Dave Eggers writes about fire season for the New Yorker, and reassures us that fire season sucks. For his friends in the wine country it especially sucks.

We watch videos with R. of orphaned mountain lion cubs getting rehabilitated at the Oakland Zoo. Spots, blue eyes, bandages. They hiss: we’re not yours! Then I dream of going to the Stanford campus and adopting small tigers. In the background, behind the library, their mother is growling.

Two Finite Automata

1

Monday morning sprint planning. The scrum master has opened up Jira and is paging through issues. “We don’t need to look at that one, that’s a prior issue. That one’s also prior… that’s prior… prior… prior….” I draw breath and turn over in bed. A crow is calling outside, “Pra… pra… pra….”

2

What’s on the homepage of The New York Times today? What else but a data visualization: “Unlocking the Genius of Mozart Through Data!” We’ve rearranged Mozart’s scores to play every note he ever wrote—in pitch order. First come all the Cs. It takes an incredibly long time to get through them. Eventually we switch to C♯, which we don’t expect to be quite so thick on the ground, but it’s still going to be a good long while before we get to D.

<= 2020.07.14

The Warm South
The Roof Rat Review