Saturday, July 22, 2023

James Morier, The Adventures of Hajji Baba of Ispahan


Opening Passage:

My father, Kerbelai Hassan, was one of the most celebrated barbers of Ispahan. He was married, when only seventeen years of age, to the daughter of a chandler, who lived in the neighbourhood of his shop; but the connexion was not fortunate, for his wife brought him no offspring, and he, in consequence, neglected her. His dexterity in the use of the razor had gained for him, together with no little renown, such great custom, particularly among merchants, that after twenty years' industry, he found he could afford to add a second wife to his harem; and succeeded in obtaining the daugther of a rich moneychanger, whose head he had shaved, during that period, with so much success, that he made no difficulty in granting his daughter to my father. In order to get rid, for a while, of the importunities and jealousy of his first wife, and also to acquire the good opinion of his father-in-law (who, althoguh noted for clipping moeny, and passing it for lawful, affected to be a saint), he undertook a pilgrimage to the tomb of Hosein, at Kerbelah. He took his new wife with him, and she was delivered of me on the road. Before the journey took place he was generally known, simply as 'Hassan the barber'; but ever after he was hnooured by the epithet of Kerbelai; and I, to please my mother, who spoilt me, was call Hajji or the pilgrim, a name which has stuck to me through life, and procured fro me a great deal of unmerited respect; because, in fact, that honoured title is seldom conferred on any but those who have made the great pilgrimage to the tomb of the blessed Prophet of Mecca. (pp. 5-6)

Summary: Born on the road, it is unsurprising that Hajji Baba spends his life is a life of restless motion. Having learned the barber's trade from his father, as well as all the jokes and stories one might learn in a barber's shop in Ispahan, Hajji Baba attracts the attention of a Turkish merchant, Osman Agha, and goes on the road with him. Their caravan is attacked by bandits, however; some are killed, Osman Agha and others are sold off as slaves, and Hajji Baba's life is only spared because of his talent as a barber. The bandits themselves are eventually attacked by an armed guard for a Persian prince, and Hajji Baba is captured. He eventually ends up in Meshed, where he becomes a water vendor, selling dirty water to pilgrims with a sales patter that promises that it is holy water. He does well enough that he is able to upgrade his business to become a tobacconist, selling tobacco leaf heavily adulterated with dung; he has a knack for reading a man, so he does very well in being able to assess whether a man is connoisseur enough to tell the difference, and so he manages to last a bit longer than one might expect. Through this trade, he meets the Dervish Sefer, and is able to learn an even more lucrative trade, providing spiritual guidance and assistance, and occasionally manufacturing miracles, for the gullible. However, his actions as a tobacconist lead to punishment and a need to leave the city.

Heading for Teheran, Hajji Baba meets with a courier; he steals the courier's horse and arrives in Teheran, delivering the messages as if he himself were the courier. This puts him into a position where he gains the favor of the court physician, which in turn puts him in a position to become the Shah's executioner. Both of these positions were important and prestigious ones, but they were both unpaid -- the expectation being that the clever man will not need to be paid to fill the position because he will find ways to use the position to get money. Hajji Baba does well enough, but it does not take very long before he gets into some trouble over one of the Shah's harem girls, and has to flee to the holy city of Koom. There his dervish training becomes useful, and by luck it even resolves his outstanding problem with the Shah when the Shah makes a pilgrimage to the holy city and circumstances lead to Hajji Baba being pardoned.

Back in Ispahan, Hajji Baba discovers that his father has died; it takes some doing to get it, but his inheritance from his father helps him to set himself up as a scribe. This leads to his meeting Mollah Nadan; the mullah is setting up a marriage market and needs a clever man to run it. Islamic law technically allows for temporary marriages; in orthodox Islamic law itself, the conditions for this are quite restrictive, but where there is a law, there are people using it as cover for a scam. Mollah Nadan's marriage market is illegal, but it allows people to do illegal things with just enough covering of technicalities to prevent them from immediately looking like they are illegal. The marriage market is potentially very lucrative, but it requires a delicate balance and a bit of cunning. Hajji Baba discovers that all of the women he is given to supervise as a marriage broker are ugly, and one is the former wife of the court physician. At around this time, he ends up meeting Osman Agha again, and with a bit of luck and ingenuity finds a way to trick him into marrying one of the women.

The marriage brokering career ends, too, however, when Mollah Nadan falls from grace and has to leave the city with Hajji Baba. Hajji Baba sneaks back into the city to see if any of Mollah Nadan's property can be salvaged, but discovers Mollah Bashi, who had been a key player in Mollah Nadan's fall, dead in his bath (apparently by ordinary accident). He is afraid that he will be charged with murder, but also sees an opportunity and seizes it -- he takes the mullah's clothes and goes around collecting money owed to Mollah Bashi. Mollah Nadan eventually discovers what he is doing, and makes Hajji Baba trade clothes. Hajji Baba's luck has held again, because Mollah Nadan is seized, arrested, and charged with the murder of Mollah Bashi. Hajji Baba, now flush with cash, decides to become a merchant. Things get dicey when people realize that he is one of the suspects for Mollah Bashi's murder, but he is saved again when bandits attack the caravan. He escapes to Baghdad, where he meets Osman Agha again. Together they invest in the pipe-stick trade.

Hajji Baba has in the meantime convinced a wealthy widow to marry him, and done so by pretending his expected future profits were wealth already in hand; this inevitably will end badly. However, he happens to fall in with the Persian ambassador, who, having found him useful in a bit of espionage against the English and French diplomatic delegations, arranges to have Hajji Baba receive a position in a diplomatic mission to England, as a mizra or secretary. Thus Mizra Hajji Baba returns to Ispahan to prepare for his mission, an important man on his way to wealth, his life as a con man having perfectly fitted him to be a diplomat.

 I tend not to like picaresque on its own. In a picaresque novel, of course, the inevitable assumption is that you are either a con artist or a gullible mark, or, as often happens both, and this is not an exception. It mostly rides on Hajji Baba's ability to con the reader as well as he cons his marks. And it's common (and this work is also no exception) that such novels are highly episodic. It's very difficult to care much about the overall story of Hajji Baba, in part because you never really get what the overall story is until one discovers at the end that it's all an origin story explaining how a man becomes a diplomat. That itself is a good joke, and gives additional meaning to everything that has happened to the protagonist, but it's a light frame. Hajji Baba is often charming, though, and there are many amusing episodes, so it was interesting to read. 

Favorite Passage: There are several sub-stories in the work, and one of them in the middle of the work, is set off by itself as its own story, "The Story of the Baked Head", told by a dervish friend of Hajji Baba; in the edition I have, it has different-colored pages and its own distinct page numbers.

I have much curtailed the story, particularly where Mansouri proceeds to relate to teh Sultan the fate of the head, because, had I given it with all the details the dervish did, it would have been over long. Indeed I have confined myself as much as possible to the outline; for to have swelled the narrative with the innumerable digressions of my companion a whole volume would not have contained it. The art of a story-teller (and it is that which marks a man of genius) is to make his tale interminable, and still to interest his audience. So the dervish assured me; and added, that with the materials of the onewhich I have attempted to repeat, he would bind himself to keep talking for a whole moon, and still have something to say. ("The Story of the Baked Head" p. 13)

Recommendation: Recommended; I found it a bit uneven, but there are excellent parts.


James Morier, The Adventures of Hajji Baba, Random House Inc. (New York: 1937).

Friday, July 21, 2023

Dashed Off XXIV

 All our loves are, in their purest form, subcreative.

keying a painting (e.g., highlights vs broad light) // keying a bit of music

"The nature of the mind is to be free, active, with the power of withdrawing itself from its own associations." R. B. Haldane

Our victories must be over the Devil, the world, the flexh; the most obvious example of victory over the Father of lies is the crown of the doctor; over the world is the crown of the martyr; and over the flesh is the crown of the virgin.

poena damni: "Depart from me" :: poena sensus : "into eternal fire" (Mt 25:41)

Bottles and jars by their very conception include the space inside them.

Spatiotemporal regions are located & bear their locations relatively.

Artifacts often incorporate beings of reason.

All of intellectual  life consists of incremental improvement building up to a point of discontinuity, at which things jump to another state.

"From each according to his ability, to each according to his need" can only work in societies that are relatively free of pleonexia.

When people talk about behavior being 'unchristian', they often really mean 'not safely Christian', which is not really the same.

Concepts, being means through which we think, are hidden from us except insofar as they are expressed in signs and actions; this is obviously true of other people, but is true of ourselves, as well. Reflection on our own concepts is reflection on their expression in signs and deeds. But we do have besides this a presential knowledge of our conceptualization itself.

Lk 24:49 Spirit as Promise
-- en epangelian tou Patros is also found in Acts 1:4
cf. Acts 2:33: 'the promise of the Spirit of holiness having been received from the Father'
Gal 3:14: ' so that the promise of the Spirit we might receive through faith'
perhaps also 2 Tim 1:1: 'by the will of God, according to the promise of life in Christ Jesus'
Acts 13:32: epangel to the Fathers, evangel to you -- this is clearly a punning parallel

2 Pt 1:5 (follows 1:4 on being partakers in divine nature): Supply in your faith, virtue; in virtue, knowledge; in knowledge, self-control; in self-control, endurance; in endurance, piety (eusebeia); in piety, brotherly love (philadelphia); in brotherly love, charity (agape).
-- it is natural to see this as a ladder.

In the epistles, 'arete' is only used in Phil 4:8, 1 Pt 2:9, 2 Pt 1:3, 5.

Nedarim 31b: circumcision is so great that it sealed 13 covenants (Gn 17); so great that it is greater than the Sabbath; so great that it is greater than Moses (Ex 4:24-26); so great that it is greater than prohibitions for leprosy; so great Abraham only called wholehearted once he received it (Gn 17:1); so great God would not have created the world except for it (Jer 33:25).

With the exception of invasion by a militarily superior power, all the threats to democracy are from democracy.

Beauty by its nature indicates both something enduring or eternal and something enjoyed; it intermediates between the two.

Reading is only completed in virtuous character, which reading alone cannot give.

moral, jural, and sacral presence of spouse to spouse even in physical separation
spouse as sign of spouse

All work is hierarchically structured according to the relations of its ends and possible means.

People try to handle real problems by substituting symbolic proxies. Everyone does this; sometimes it is even helpful, in allowing one to reposition oneself; but sometimes it is actively destructive and toxic.

In every society, our abilities in the aggregate have not been adequate to meet our needs in the aggregate. This problem can only be alleviated by improvement of our ability (whether in capability or how it is organized) and reduction of our need.

"If men fall for some vicious piece of insanity, when they have no way to make it work and no possible reason to explain their choice -- it's because they have a reason that they do not wish to tell." Ayn Rand
"All work is an act of philosophy." 
"The man who lies to the world, i sthe world's slave from then on."

forgiveness as moral-jural gift

You either interpret scripture in light of precedent or you interpret it in light of hypothesis.

Business structure in firms is based on perceived problem structure; business is a structured negotiation of a terrain of problems.

reasoning as mediate truth; acts of skill as mediate good

Good intentions are dangerous in politics in the sense that a perpetual political problem is people overstepping bounds out of good intentions.

Persons overlap by reason and by love.

theology : theosis :: Christian ethics : beatitude

cradle Catholicism as training into conversion

"Sanctifying grace disposes  the soul to possess the divine person." Aquinas (ST 1.43.3ad2)

the Old Testament as a story of the invisible missions of the Son and the Holy Spirit

The power of custom is in multiplication.

"Every inquiry is comparative and uses the means of comparative relation." Nicholas of Cusa

Spiritual things are investigated symbolically.

The museum or library as a quasi-mystical entity is a common story trope.

In love, giving and gift are in some way one.

The Ascension accentuates Christ's sacramental presence & Mystical Body; physical presence of physical body would distract from these.

When we trust an artifact, like a bridge or a computer, we are trusting the design and the faithfulness of its implementation to that design. These in turn may be trusted formally, in terms of its own features, or effectively, in terms of the designers or the implementers. As organizations are moral or jural artifacts, the same is true of organizations.

If you don't have hierarchies, you have demagogues.

Corporate firms have a tendency to act like psychopaths, for they have no conscience or moral feeling of themselves, and they cannot have virtues but only simulacra of them as juridical persons.

Old Testament : Christ's Circumcision :: New Testament : Christ's Baptism

Our understanding of any other person is a tangle of logos and mythos and learned ignorance.

One's own premises are often not easy to check.

Mysticism without asceticism is immensely dangerous for both soul and society.

Many cognitive biases seem to be associative biases in linguistic processing.

otium for eutrapelia as a major end of civil society

There is no method of pedagogy that can prevent cheating, although not all methods are equally cheatable.

Historically, the clergy is built up by the laity, at least for the most part, and the laity of every generation inherit the clergy built by the previous generation and add to it. Over time, the character of the clergy is what the laity have made it. 

Nutrition, procreation, and education cross every common public/private line.

Lv 4:3 chatat
4:2 'anyone who sins unintentionally'
-- but also used for extended impurity (Lv 15) and inauguration of Tabernacle (Ex 29)
-- ch-t-' root can indicate sin or purgation (e.g., Ps 51:9, Lv 8). Ramban, on the basis of Jdg 20:16, takes it to mean 'mark-missing', not being up to the appropriate standard in some way.
-- Some rabbis suggest it works by substitution, otehrs by providing a context for appropriate repentance; some rabbis suggest it removes sin, others that it removes need for penalty, others that it serves as ransom.

Prayer is not complete until it is a kind of giving.

A common rabbinical problem with respect to Esther (whcih is useful for broader considerations): Esther's marriage to Achashverosh does not seem to be one that is halakhically acceptable; was she culpable? Several possible answers:
(1) Yes. Rabbis who take this usually also recognize that there were circumstances that made it understandable, even if not exculpated: e.g., Esther and Mordechai are ordinary Jews trying to be Jews in circumstances that are much less than ideal for knowing and following the law.
(2) No, because her circumstances were equivalent to being forced. This is sometimes based on a reading of Esther 2:8 & 2:16. The nature of the coercion is the tricky part.
(3) No, because it was necessary to save the Jewish people. The thing is such that it would normally be unacceptable, but in this context is like violating a Sabbath law in order to protect the Sabbath in general.
(4) No, because the prohibition in relevant form was not yet given. While there may have been broadly related prohibitions, the specific prohibition is part of the rabbinical 'fence'. Those who accept this view hold that a version of the prohibition that clearly rules out Esther's action only arose out of the necessities and insights of the return (Ezra and Nehemiah).

conservation laws as identifying ways in which things cannot begin to exist without a cause of a particular sort

"Do not be surprised that you fall every day; do not give up but stand your ground courageously. And assuredly the angel who guards you will honor your patience." John Climacus

'naturalizing' as a form of allegorical interpretation

"With love and instruction, / commingled with truth, / the intellect can grow / and becomes rich with new things, as it meditates with discernment / on the treasure store of hidden mysteries." Ephrem

"If one can give a definition of Christianity, we shall define it as follows: Christianity is a mimesis of the divine nature." Gregory of Nyssa 

Much of what has been called magic in occult circles is clearly concerned with unusual objective causation.

'[main trait] but [qualification]' is an extremely common way of describing people's personalities.

The being of the Creator and the being of the creature are necessarily distinct and necessarily not in competition.

Every skill is completed in prudence.

By naming things, we place them in a context of other things.

Wednesday, July 19, 2023

The Test of Freedom

 When we defend the family we do not mean it is always a peaceful family; when we maintain the thesis of marriage we do not mean that it is always a happy marriage. We mean that it is the theatre of the spiritual drama, the place where things happen, especially the things that matter. It is not so much the place where a man kills his wife as the place where he can take the equally sensational step of not killing his wife. There is truth in the cynicism that calls marriage a trial; but even the cynic will admit that a trial may end in an acquittal. And the reason that the family has this central and crucial character is the same reason that makes it in politics the only prop of liberty. The family is the test of freedom; because the family is the only thing that the free man makes for himself and by himself. Other institutions must largely be made for him by strangers, whether the institutions be despotic or democratic. There is no other way of organizing mankind which can give this power and dignity, not only to mankind but to men. If anybody likes to put it so, we cannot really make all men democrats unless we make all men despots. That is to say, the co-operation of the common-wealth will be a mere automatic unanimity like that of insects, unless the citizen has some province of purely voluntary action; unless he is so far not only a citizen but a king. In the world of ethics this is called liberty; in the world of economics it is called property, and in the world of aesthetics, necessarily so much more dim and indefinable, it is darkly adumbrated in the old dramatic unities of place or time.

[G. K. Chesterton, "A Defence of Dramatic Unities", Fancies Versus Fads.]

Tuesday, July 18, 2023

Seventh Centenary

Today is the seven hundredth anniversary of the canonization of St. Thomas Aquinas. From his commentary on the letter of Paul to the Ephesians:

The faithful must be strong through charity, for love is as strong as death (Song 8:6); hence, it is symbolized by a pillar of fire capable of consuming everything: therefore, they received a burning pillar of fire for a guide on the unknown journey (Wis 18:3). As fire makes the surroundings visible, puts metals to the test, and destroys what can burn, so charity enlightens human actions, examines one's motives, and exterminates all vices.

 [Thomas Aquinas, Commentary on the Letters of Saint Paul to the Galatians and Ephesians, The Aquinas Institute for the Study of Sacred Doctrine (Lander, WY: 2012) p. 178.]

Three Poem Drafts

 Moon in Pool

In crystal pools the silver moon
is crowning deep and velvet sky;
it gives but never fades away;
its wealth is spread but does not die.

Its light may wane and wax again,
and like the tide go in and back,
but evermore it rises high
and never cares for loss or lack.

The fruits of heaven, bright and sweet,
with sugared light show argent ray,
eternal in eternal change
for silent pool and heaven's way.


Come into my head;
it's a jungle in here,
with adventures in full
for those without fear.
Deep rivers and wide
curl through bank and tree
and roll from mountain height
to byssal infinity.
Fruits of every kind
grow on boughs of green;
the very stones are gold
and diamonds bright of sheen.
And in the midst of all
a garden God has made;
there all the finest plants
grow rich with seed and blade.
We may use them all,
except one tree alone
that stands both tall and fair
where God alone has sown.
But I forgot the truth
as I talk here now in dream --
that place is out of reach;
I only see its gleam,
for at its golden gate
a flaming spirit stands
preventing all approach
to bright undying lands.
I once went walking there;
I ate from tree forbid
and have not seen it since,
its grace from me now hid.

Summer Sleep

Let the cicadas remove the stress from your shoulders
that you may become younger as you grow older;
let the birds in the blueness take wing on the wind,
rising up to the glory and descending again.
By the pond where the turtles in gentleness play,
up-peeking above the surface their heads,
let sleep come to take you in breeze and in cool;
walk in the gardens in the realms of the dead
by the ripples and waves of a mirroring pool.

Monday, July 17, 2023

The Saga of Eight Deer Jaguar Claw

 I've been doing some reading recently about Eight Deer Jaguar Claw, the legendary Mixtec king who founded the Tututepec Empire in Mesoamerica. It's a fascinating story, although it's a bit difficult to work out a standard version of it. The codices on which it is recorded are not fully deciphered and they also vary quite a bit -- they seem each to give regional variants of the same general legend. But roughly it seems that the story is something like this.

It was a common practice in Mesoamerica to name children after their birthday, so we know that Eight Deer Jaguar Claw was born on 8 Deer, which would have been in mid-June; he was born in the year 12 Reed, which is about 1063 in our reckoning. He was the son of a priest, Five Alligator Sun of Rain*, in Tilantongo; his mother seems to have been an important lady from Tecamachalco, named Nine Eagle Cocoa Flower. He had two brothers who end up playing a significant role in his story, Twelve Motion Bloody Jaguar, who became a warrior, and a Nine Flower Copalball Arrow, who became a priest; he also had a half sister, Six Lizard Jade Fan.

The basic story starts with Eight Deer Jaguar Claw visiting a divine oracle, Lady Nine Grass, in Chalcatongo. Lady Nine Grass seems, like the Greek sibyls, to have been a voice of the gods; she weaves in and out of all of the major Mixtec legends of the time, and seems to have an association with death. Lady Nine Grass seems to have called a meeting to deal with some major feuds and wars that were brewing at the time; Eight Deer Jaguar Claw seems to have been around twenty, and seems to have been there on behalf of his father, who had been serving as regent to the young king of Tilantongo. (All of the people who are noted especially as having been there will end up being major contenders in the struggle for control over the region, the most notable being King Eleven Wind of  Red and White Bundle and young Princess Six Monkey War Quechquemitl of Jaltapec, both of whom will be significant rivals for Eight Deer Jaguar Claw and both of whom have an impressive legendary story of their own.) After this meeting, Eight Deer Jaguar Claw has a number of adventures, which according to one version of the legend include conquering a few minor cities. He plays a ball game with a number of Toltec warriors. Ball games were not mere entertainment in Mesoamerica; they were major civic and religious events that seem to have been interpreted allegorically. Afterward, he journeys with companions to the city of Tututepec, according to one version of the legend carrying a variety of sacred objects he has obtained in his adventures, including a flint staff, a conch, a skull shield, a sacred bundle, a golden fish, and an owl spear, and seems to do a series of rituals with them during his journey, although we don't quite know what any of the symbolism of it means. Some of these objects, however, are associated in other legends with the founding of a city or the consecrating of ground for a temple, so the point of the rituals overall is to emphasize the founding of an empire. At Tututepec, he becomes king.

The coastal city of Tututepec seems to have been well placed as a mercantile crossroads, so by taking control of it, Eight Deer Jaguar Claw suddenly had a vast quantity of wealth at his disposal. Even more important than this, however, was that he was able to leverage this into a significant alliance with the powerful Toltec kingdom to the northwest of the Mixteca region, through a Toltec man named Four Jaguar Face of Night. To seal the alliance, Eight Deer Jaguar Claw undergoes a Toltec nose-piercing ceremony, which officially 'adopts', we might say, Eight Deer Jaguar Claw into the Toltec royal family. This seems to have come at an opportune time -- perhaps an opportunity time deliberately selected by Eight Deer Jaguar Claw -- because Tilantongo's ruler had died and left no obvious heir. Thus wealthy, with a significant warband, and having formal recognition as royalty by a powerful ally, Eight Deer Jaguar Claw returns to Tilantongo and seizes the throne. A major campaign follows as Eight Deer Jaguar Claw begins to subjugate the other Mixtec royal houses. A particularly troublesome center is ruled by a king named Eleven Wind Bloody Jaguar; we don't know the name of the city that Eleven Wind Bloody Jaguar ruled, but it's usually nicknamed Red and White Bundle, because that's what its place-symbol looks like. Eleven Wind Bloody Jaguar seems to have had a claim on the Tilantongo throne, and therefore dealing with him was a major priority for Eight Deer Jaguar Claw, who eventually seems to have come to some sort of uneasy treaty with him, sealed by marrying his sister, Six Lizard Jade Fan, to his rival, which he then leveraged in his favor by a marriage (perhaps only symbolic) with Six Lizard Jade Fan's daughter, Thirteen Serpent, thus marrying himself into the family, after which he conquered Red and White Bundle in 1101, killing all of the men in Eleven Wind Bloody Jaguar's family, except for one who seems to have escaped, Four Wind Fire Serpent. The whole of this sequence of events shows Eight Deer Jaguar Claw's impressive use of every means at his disposal to unify the Mixtec cities -- religious ritual, marriage (he had several), war, trade alliance, and more. While he seems to have conquered many cities directly (represented by their place-symbols being pierced by a spear), there are also a lot of cities whose representations indicate a direct surrender (which, as with us, is symbolized by something like a white flag). Thus, it seems that, once he got up a certain amount of momentum, a number of kings, seeing the tendency in events, saw fit simply to ally themselves with the juggernaut rather than be smashed by it. As a result, Eight Deer Jaguar Claw consolidated the many Mixtecan cities into one unified kingdom; literally over a hundred cities are specifically named as having joined the empire.

Some versions of the story seem to suggest that with the help of his brothers, Twelve Motion Bloody Jaguar and Nine Flower Copalball Arrow, he went on to conquer much more mythical places and regions. In particular, he seems to have sought ought a demigod-priest of the One Death, who lived in the region of the dead and was the oracle of the Sun-god himself. Thence he seems to have learned the ritual means to rule as a god-king.

Ah, but from the pinnacle the fall is far and fast. While we don't know for sure that this was the intent, it's possible to read the end of the tale as a commentary on the presumption of Eight Deer Jaguar Claw's trespass on the prerogatives of the gods. Twelve Motion Bloody Jaguar was murdered by what seems to have been a conspiracy of Mixtec rulers, apparently including a couple of Eight Deer Jaguar Claw's own nephews, and Four Wind Fire Serpent managed to organize an ambush against Eight Deer Jaguar Claw that succeeded. Thus died the greatest of all Mixtec kings, ignominiously under an assassin's violent blade. This led to a war between the Mixtec and Toltec kingdoms, but after a treaty was finally made, Four Wind Fire Serpent, who had married the daughter of Eight Deer Jaguar Claw, became the high king of the Mixtec, and Eight Deer Jaguar Claw's line continued even to the time of the coming of the Spanish.**


* There is often some variation in terms of how these names are rendered into English. For instance, Five Alligator is sometimes called Five Crocodile and Twelve Motion is sometimes called Twelve Earthquake.

** I've pieced this story together out of many different sources, but have found John Pohl's "The Legend of Lord Eight Deer", which in parts is very speculative but also hangs everything together in a way that broadly makes sense, particularly helpful. I've blended it with some more cautious accounts in light of what seemed to make the story work, but it should of course be emphasized that I am not in any way an expert on the Mixtec codices and much of our interpretation of them is rough and approximate, anyway.

Sunday, July 16, 2023

Links of Note

 * Benjamin S. Yost, Kant's Demonstration of Free Will, or How to Do Things with Concepts (PDF)

* Alexander T. Englert, Kant's Favorite Argument for Our Immortality: The Teleological Argument (PDF)

* Michael Hatcher, Do we need an account of prayer to address the problem of praying without ceasing? (PDF). A fascinating discussion. Strategy 3 is, I think, the obviously correct strategy; we are to pray without ceasing as a Church. The imperative is a plural imperative to a church in a public letter that would have been expected to be shared around as public letters generally were. The problems Hatcher identifies for the strategy are not, I think, actual problems; a generic plural imperative to a group naturally implicates that the group is to obey the imperative but that each individual and subgroup has a responsibility to contribute to its doing so, or aid others in contributing to its doing so, as they reasonably can. Thus there is no need to specify individuals or groups. 

* Michelle La Rosa discusses the No Interest Loan Scheme, operated by the Good Shepherd Sisters of Australia, at "The Pillar"

* Carlos Steel, Why should we prefer Plato's Timaeus to Aristotle's Physics? Proclus' critique of Aristotle's explanation of the physical world (PDF)

* David Fisher discusses Aphrahat the Persian Sage, at "Catholic 365"

* Huw Williams, Remember Richard Price!, at ""

* David Glick, The Principle of Least Action and Teleological Explanation in Physics (PDF)

* Kurt Gray, Will Blakey, Nicholas DiMaggio, It's not only political conservatives who worry about moral purity, at "". The thesis that they weren't was obvious to anyone who actually ever considered the arguments given by non-conservative; the opposite view seems to have arisen from taking some very limited studies on some limited issues as if they were general representations of the entire spectrum of politics, combined with (and perhaps due to) a lack of basic common sense. In any case, despite the title, the article is less about conservatives vs. liberals than about general shared patterns in how people reason about moral purity.

* Ryan Kulesa, Kantian Conscientious Objection: A Reply to Kennett (PDF). Kennett's argument is indeed odd; nothing can count as a professional duty for Kant unless it is already determined to be universalizable. Thus her whole argument amounts to saying, as Kulesa notes, that you can't have conscientious objection to things you are morally required to do, which is true, but also useless. What is more, Kant's understanding of conscience as most properly an expression of reason means that we should in general respect the attempt of people to recognize the authority of the tribunal of their conscience.