Saturday, January 06, 2018



I heard the preacher speaking,
and of miracles I heard,
the wine of revelation
from the water of our words.
I heard of men and women
in humility of ways
transfigured to the glory
of the Ancient One of Days
(first river-bathed and lustral
in the waters of the earth,
then drunken, full of Spirit,
with the Wine of heaven's birth),
of wisdom-seeking sages
who had sought the Good by star
and found it with its Mother
where the Jewish peoples are,
the True in swaddled clothing --
thus their wise philosophy
was turned, like wedding-water,
to that wine, epiphany.

By This Star to Nobler Star They Pass

The Epiphany
by St. Robert Southwell

To blaze the rising of this glorious sun,
A glittering star appeareth in the East,
Whose sight to pilgrim-toils three sages won
To seek the light they long had in request;
And by this star to nobler star they pass,
Whose arms did their desired sun embrace.

Stall was the sky wherein these planets shined,
And want the cloud that did eclipse their rays;
Yet through this cloud their light did passage find,
And pierced these sages' hearts by secret ways,
Which made them know the Ruler of the skies,
By infant tongue and looks of babish eyes.

Heaven at her light, Earth blusheth at her pride,
And of their pomp these peers ashamed be;
Their crowns, their robes, their train they set aside,
When God's poor cottage, clothes, and crew, they
All glorious things their glory now despise,
Sith God contempt, doth more then glory prize.

Three gifts they bring, three gifts they bear away;
For incense, myrrh and gold, faith, hope and love;
And with their gifts the givers' hearts do stay,
Their mind from Christ no parting can remove;
His humble state, his stall, his poor retinue,
They fancy more than all their rich revenue.

Thursday, January 04, 2018

Colors and Words

As Hegel pointed out, colors are truly remarkable phenomena. Like words, they are capable of being given an indefinite number of meanings and of arousing a variety of emotions. Like words, also, they can be used in order to produce a fresh meaning or a new emotional reaction. The gifted artist is as sensitive to colors as the gifted writer is sensitive to words. Similarly, both seek to use language or hues in such a way that an original idea, meaning, or insight is suddenly revealed. When the painter sees colors he does not simply see dabs of soft material that are to be placed on canvas. Just as a writer must master the meanings that phrases can have, so also the painter must master the meanings that colors can have.

Jack Kaminsky, Hegel on Art: An Interpretation of Hegel's Aesthetics, p. 114.

Wednesday, January 03, 2018

Quanta Eruanno

J. R. R. Tolkien was born on this day in 1892. One of his translations of the Ave Maria into Quenya:

Aia María quanta Eruanno
i Héru as elye·
aistana elye imíca nísi:
ar aistana i yáve mónalyo Yésus:
Aire María Eruo ontaril
á hyame rámen úcarindor
sí ar lúmesse ya firuvamme:

Quanta Eruanno literally means, 'full of God's gift'.

Monday, January 01, 2018

A Poem Draft

New Year's at Chico Hot Springs

The metronome of time has ticked once more,
A new year of hope has laid in store;
May Love be King from shore to shore,
And peace be found on earth.

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Changes, Sustains, Dissolves, Creates, and Rears

Last Lines
by Emily Brontë

No coward soul is mine,
No trembler in the world's storm-troubled sphere:
I see Heaven's glories shine,
And faith shines equal, arming me from fear.

O God within my breast,
Almighty, ever-present Deity!
Life--that in me has rest,
As I--undying Life--have power in Thee!

Vain are the thousand creeds
That move men's hearts: unutterably vain;
Worthless as wither'd weeds,
Or idlest froth amid the boundless main,

To waken doubt in one
Holding so fast by Thine Infinity;
So surely anchor'd on
The steadfast rock of immortality.

With wide-embracing love
Thy Spirit animates eternal years,
Pervades and broods above,
Changes, sustains, dissolves, creates, and rears.

Though earth and man were gone,
And suns and universes ceased to be,
And Thou were left alone,
Every existence would exist in Thee.

There is not room for Death,
Nor atom that his might could render void:
Thou--Thou art Being and Breath,
And what Thou art may never be destroyed.

The Last Jedi

I finally got around to seeing The Last Jedi; it was OK but not great. There are great scenes but it rambles around too much, and at times is almost a parody of the obsession with subverting audience expectations -- see! this entire line of the story that we built up so much investment on, we're just throwing it away, just because; bet you didn't see that coming!

But the primary irritation I had was Vice Admiral Incompetent. One of my pet peeves, which is irritated quite a bit in modern cinema, is the character that is put forward as Strong Smart Woman whose behavior is in fact either sociopathic or arbitrary. Fortunately we avoided sociopathic here -- it could have been much worse, had they attempted to make Holdo seem a strong leader by excessive violence, which is too often done -- but they manage to make her incompetent. The decoy tactic wasn't bad, but in the course of implementing it, she (1) managed to spark a mutiny by simply failing to reassure her people that she had a plan; and (2) implemented her plan without preparing her people, or giving them any indication of the goals beforehand, despite the fact that the plan required swift and stealthy at-a-moment evacuation to a base that needed to be prepared as quickly as possible. She refused to explain herself at all, even when it was clear that her crew was cracking under the strain, which is the worst kind of authoritarian leadership. It looks even worse when one compares it to the snippets we'd seen in this and the prior movie of Leia's leadership, which always shows her as fully in command, with the full respect of her troops, while also taking into account individuals as individuals. I mean, in this movie she slaps Poe and demotes him, but still (very understandably) has his unwavering loyalty. But Vice Admiral Holdo shows nothing but that she can't handle people. And it's not as if the Resistance is a regular army; it's a ragtag group of volunteers that needs to have far more flexibility than another kind of military would have, one in which the distance between Commander and Vice Admiral is more a matter of keeping order than a rigid chain of command; even if she had shown more competence, her command style is entirely wrong for the kind of fight she's leading.

And this, of course, is setting aside the fact that her plan is an extraordinary gamble -- a large-scale stealth evacuation, to a supposedly highly armored facility (whose armor turns out to be technologically obsolete), simply in order to radio for help. Were it not for the deus ex machina of Luke Skywalker, the entire Resistance would be gone, instead of reduced to a single ship.

The only thing in the movie that irritated me more was when at the casino planet, after having made such a big deal about the slavery issue, they free the animals and leave the slaves in slavery.

But there are good parts. While we don't get much sense of continuity between the Luke Skywalker here and the one we've known previously, much of the Skywalker/Solo line of the movie is fairly decent. The burn-the-past element is questionable, but there are indications that this is not the whole story (e.g., Rey's keeping of some of the Jedi texts, and her repudiation of Kylo Ren's let-the-past-die approach).

Evening Notes Index, 2017b

November 27: The Hegelian Ontological Argument

November 7: Martyrs under Communism

October 26: Andrew Moon on Degrees of Belief

October 12: Of the Logic of Imperatives

September 27: Indispensability Arguments for Causal Reasoning

September 6: Psycho-Pass

July 31: The Epistemological Objection to Divine Command Theory

July 21: 'The Normative Jinx'

July 13: On the Reliability Problem for Mathematical Platonism

Evening Notes Index, 2017a