Thursday 24th of July 2014

pining for uplifting culture...

mozart

culture shapes our destiny.

We are in need of smartness. Desperately. Desperately seeking smartness...

We've lost the plot. We can hardly see beyond the next trinket to buy, though we believe in fairies to make up for our lack of understanding. So far, after many centuries of trials and errors, we have ended up in the "modern" age, now using our endeavours to promote the god of cash, while being submissive to a tummy tickle from the spruikers and advertisers.

Possibly we never had the plot to loose. We possibly never were prepared to understand a skerrick of relative reality, as we were educated through the prism of Santa Claus and religious dogma.

Is this the best we can do? At every turn of what we mostly do, we need to sell our adopted interpretations, our obsolete usefulness, our ability to precisely count cash and our idiotic thumb-numbing gadget manufacturing so we can survive amongst each other, primordially mercantilly or by sanctioned robbery... There comes something called the cultural value factor which reaches great heights with some artistic expression, but seems to crawl like dust under the beds when we go shopping. Most shops do sell pre-prepared goodies that will shape our next acceptance of stylised mediocrity and dust-gathering ability.

Most cultures (especially Western) have compounded the ability to create things that have no other purpose that to glorify our adopted narcissistic desires and grand follies. Ordinary folks (cobblers, peasants, soldiers), formerly used as fodder by the rich (king, nobility, churches) have continued the tradition of glub, by replacing their own ability of rich expression they suppressed, by the latest god — consumerism...

A space to live was more than a hut, for the rich... Castles are the signature of an inequality of subjects in a construct that has bred people in specific station of life, not by nature but by systemic imposition — using culture as a weapon and an oppressive mean.

At various times in history, some of us managed to escape the treadmill, but Voltaire is long dead and his flame is hard to keep alive under the constant assault of comfortable inanities that stop us asking the right questions.

At this level we need to look at the plastic toys we're amusing our kids with... It's frightening... Equipped with this inane relationship, it will be quite difficult to steer them towards a more enlightened and complex elevated understanding...

Most kids aren't dumb... Most adults are. Adults become dumb... Adults usually destroy their own ability to be creative by becoming submissive in a system where challenges are geared to succeed in being submissive, despite appearing to be participating in individualistic choices. We are individually submissive — even the rich farts, who in some way submit themselves to supply crap in mass quantity to the masses. There are the exception though, those of us who provide unique luxury goods, but who are tempted nonetheless to provide "exclusive" luxury goods on a larger scale to make a bigger profit... The perversion of the mind has gone to a extra level. Some of us might do some exciting things like flying a killer kite or jumping from a plane with a flimsy parachute — but long has gone the time to play monkey-bars without a safety net or a lawyer taking notes on how to sue the purveyor of the apparatuses. 

Imagine people like Mozart developing a sense of complex music using multicoloured plastic cubes with no sharp edges... Music ain't going to happen... Dull sounds might come out of the toddler throwing the bizos against the wall in disgust possibly in step with the inane rap music blaring deconstructed words to a numbing rhythm from annoying fools, or as a challenge to the proximate adults who childishly and naively think it is proper kiddy entertainment by demonstratively stacking the cubes according to colour and/or stackability. 

But the kids have mastered the plastic cubes in three seconds flat and continue to play with the damned things because they have nothing else to interact with. After a while they become hooked on entertaining boredom — like we are on booze and cocaine — and their inquiring genius is permanently erased from their brains. We think they are evolvingly learning something. Unfortunately, they are become dumb like us.

Most people who become geniuses, despite some dull or rebellious moment with formal education, would have started with a bit more than playing with tinted extruded hydrocarbon polymers, unless they asked questions about their atomic bondage. 

Take an orphan, Anne-Louis Girodet de Roucy-Trioson, for example. Boy, his name itself is a mouthful, slightly feminine for a male — and compare your kid's education with plastic cubes to Anne-Louis penchant for philosophy, literature and voluptuously sensuous ladies as a young kid... Hum... He soon became a painter with an extraordinary vision for the plasticity of the human body, especially that of the female kind. 

But Anne-Louis Girodet was mischievous as well and understood the dynamics of people's readiness for "prostitution" or for the sales of anything to get cash, power, glory or flattery. Better known simply as Girodet, he excelled at creating the detailed illusions commissioning-people wanted, with lovely twist of discreet satire in a style designed to be at the utmost of exquisiteness and skills. 

Skills are a rare currency these days. We have skills, sure, but compared to the skills of a Johann Gottfried Büring, industrially we're still making thatched roofs or buildings with hubcaps...

These days, the displayed nudity would be forcefully demanded to be covered up with clothes because of the wowsers — including those who can't bear women breast-feeding in public... Same with Jean-Antoine Houdon's works. His lovely delicate sculptures border on the eroticism, even those involving adolescents... He would be taken to court for indecency and thrown in prison...

Most of these works do not make it in our ordinary repertoire of present cultural references. We have fallen into the inane and the democratically mediocre. Not because democracy means mediocrity, but the providers of our information use mediocre easy channels to sell us plastic cubes, especially those that amuses us, the adults... These are designed to make us forget we have the ability to feed ourselves, beyond the macculture shiny standardised lighting system to which we react, like Pavlov dogs...

We need to think we can do better, smarter and with more dedication than going to the hamburger shop for a treat... Yeah.... Advertising would not be itself if it had nothing to sell...

Of course, the exclusive beauty of some objects d'art were reserved to the elite who could pay well for the singularity. Uniqueness has a price and we all cannot afford it. We get copies... cheap copies... Pity. The consolation though is that consumerism has raised our ability to acquire a variety of standardised uniqueness. You know what I mean: the same thing comes in different colours. The cubes have different polishes. And we place them in different spots in our homes.

Yeaaaahhhhh... This seems to be the way decent young positive people respond to statements that make sense in our own minds... Yeaaaahhhhh... But are we stating the obvious to these newer smart arses, are we misunderstood (possibly we don't know what we're talking about) or are we dismissed with a charming smile for bothering them with a thought?...

One never knows.

We are in need of new smartness. Desperately. Desperately seeking new smartness...

Yobboville has its problems, including a latent short cut to happiness via booze and laziness, though there are people in Yobboville who understand the theory of relativity, unlike most ministers in the present government... 

Yes, we need relativistic yobbos, engineers, scientists and artistic minds in government — we don't need lawyers, accountants nor "charitable cyclists in tights". We need inspiration and joie de vivre... not crap from those dour Bernardis bent by religious fanatic fairly land.

Happy yakka.

 

Gus Leonisky.

(And Tony Abbott is an idiot for fouling the truth)...

 

failing to spread...

The Australian share market has finished flat as optimism in Hong Kong and Japan failed to spread to local shares.

Asian stocks have been lifted by strong US trade data which boosted expectations for US growth.

In Australia, the All Ordinaries index ended unchanged at 5,319.

The benchmark ASX200 index lost one point to end at 5,316.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-01-08/flat-finish-for-australian-share-market/5191064

yeaaaahhhhhh.... I have no idea what this means to reality beyond today... read above...

in need of a fair secular world...

Top Religious Influence Stores of 2013

31 DECEMBER 2013 

Religion continued to wield undue influence in world culture and politics, with a number of seismic shifts felt throughout 2013. Here are the top stories of 2013 noted by Atheist Alliance International:

Pope Benedict XVI Resigns

On  February 11, Pope Benedict announced to a shocked world that he was resigning as Pope as of February 28 - the first Pope to do so in over 600 years.  Although he claimed that his decision was based on his declining health, he also stepped down from a papacy mired in sexual and financial scandals, from the rampant child molestations being uncovered in countries around the world (and the efforts by the church to keep them secret) to the trial of Pope Benedict's whistle-blowing butler to the scandals of the Vatican bank leading to the bank chief's ouster.  More than one Vatican-watcher openly wondered whether these scandals weighed as much as, if not more than, the Pope's decision.

 

Pope Francis Takes to the Stage

Benedict's successor, elected on March 13, began making his own news in short order on the world stage.  Beginning with his spurning of the use of the papal condo and limosine, the first Jesuit and non-European elected to the papacy soon began sounding very different from his predecessors. From his "Who Am I To Judge?" comments at World Youth Day in Rio de Janiero regarding gays and atheists to his formation of a panel to examine and make recommendations to address the church's sexual scandals to his criticism of the shortcomings of capitalism, Pope Francis seemed to be indicating a new direction and focus for the Catholic Church.  His disarmingly open and humble persona have successfully pushed many of the church scandals to the "back burner" as the world has elevated him to something of a celebrity "rock star" status, even as he has taken pains to assure church leaders that he is not advocating any changes in church doctrine, such as priest celibacy, women in the priesthood, or the assertion that the Catholic church is the "one, true church" in its worldview.

 

Jews Step Away From Their Religion

A Pew survey released in late 2013 on American Jews brought sharp debate to the surface over the disclosures that more than one in five US Jews are non-reliigous, with fully 32% of Jewish Millenials being so, and that fully 58% of American Jews have non-Jewish spouses, bringing into question the definition of Who Is A Jew and, indeed, the future of American Jewry.

 

"Arab Spring" Leads to Increase In Religious Restrictions in Middle East

A movement started primarily by secular youth who were tired of high unemployment and the lack of political freedoms in their respective countries, the chaos that has followed the challenge and overthrow of longstanding Arab leaders has allowed better-organized Islamist groups to move to the forefront in dictating the type of change being brought about.  In 2012, both Tunisia and Egypt put Islamist parties in power. In Libya, Islamist militias have become the 'de-facto' local government in many communities, several of which have been leading a secession of the oil-rich eastern third of the country from Tripoli. In Syria, the opposition to the Bashar government has splintered between the secularists and the Islamists, with better-trained and better-equipped Islamist units pushing out secularist units from opposition strongholds and imposing Sharia law. The biggest losers have been the women, many of which enthusiastically participated and even led parts of the Arab Spring but who are now seeing what few rights they had being dialed back even further, being told how to dress, being fired from and denied holding jobs, and being shut out of the new political institutions arising.  Christian and other groups are also being subjected to increasing persecution and violence in all of the countries involved in the Arab Spring.

 

LGBT Community Under Assault by Religious Interests

It’s been a mixed year for the LGBT community. The targeting of the community by religious groups was especially prominent over the past couple of decades in the US as religious groups frantically put up barriers to legalizing same-sex marriage, but this wave now appears to be quickly diminishing as a majority of Americans are now approving of same-sex marriage and states have voted or legislated to remove same-sex marriage restrictions in 18 US states plus the federal district.  In June, the US Supreme Court struck down the federal law banning recognition of same-sex marriage. As of the end of 2013, over 40% of the US population now lives in states that allow same-sex marriage, and at least two more states will recognize it in 2014.

Elsewhere in the world, however, the legal attacks against the LGBT community seem to be on a steep rise as of the end of 2013:

- Uganda (Finally) Passes "Anti-Homosexuality" Bill

In mid-December, the Speaker of the Ugandan legislature announced that the legislature had finally passed the notorious "Anti-Homosexuality" bill that had been bottled up in legislative committees for years.  Extending existing Ugandan laws criminalizing homosexual acts, the new law not only provided life in prison for repeat offenders but also criminalized the "promotion of homosexual agendas" and failure to report knowledge of homosexuals to government authorities.  The bill had been promoted not just by Ugandan Pentecostals but also by their American counterparts who have been identified as being part of a Christian Dominionist "New Apostolic Reform" movement that seeks to bring all governments under an aggressively conservative Christian worldview.

- Australian Supreme Court Invalidates Same-Sex Marrage Legislation

The Australian Capital Territory (ACT) in October became the first state in Australia to legalize same-sex marriage.  But in early December, based on an appeal mounted by several conservative religious groups, the Australian Supreme Court unanimously ruled against the the new law, declaring it to be in violation of federal statute.

- India’s Supreme Court Reinstates Colonial Criminalization of Homosexuality

Also in early December, the Indian Supreme Court overturned a lower-court ruling and reinstated a law imposed by British colonial powers in the 19th century criminalizing same-sex relationships.  The Court was pressured by several Hindu, Muslim, and Christian groups to reinstate the ban, even though opponents say the colonial law had been used primarily to harrass and stigmatize the LGBT community.

- Indonesian Government Shuts Down National Condom Week

Also in early December, the Indonesian government cancelled National Condom Week, an annual program designed to raise awareness of HIV/AIDs in the country.  The program was attacked and condemned by Islamic religious groups, claiming that the program “encouraged homosexuality” and legitimized pre-marital sex.

 

Collection & Reporting of Discrimination & Persecution of Atheists

On December 10, 2012, at the suggestion made at a meeting with the US State Department Office for International Religious Freedom, the American Humanist Association, in collaboration with the International and Humanist Union, the Center for Inquiry International, the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science, and the Secular Coalition for America (US) released a report outlining a review of the state of religious freedom for nonbelievers in some 60 countries around the world.  The report identified systematic discrimination against nontheists by social groups as well as governments.  In 2013, a new website, www.FreethoughtReport.com, was launched to provide a reporting portal for additional cases of nontheist discrimination.  This website has opened up discussion of persecution of nontheists in the mainstream media and has provided important statistics on the threat against nontheists around the world such as the discovery that atheists can be put to death for being open with their atheism in 13 countries around the world. 

 

Malala Versus the Islamists

In 2012, a young Pakistani girl named Malala Yousafzai dared to stand up for the rights of women to receive an education and who then barely survived an assassination attempt by the Taliban for her "offense to Islam." Since recuperating from her life-threatening injuries, Malala has become a prominent spokesperson for women's rights in the Muslim world, speaking at the United Nations, on a number of western news and talk shows, and through the release of a book on her experience. While she continues to embrace and promote Islam, she has become an important voice in promoting the moderation and humanization of Islam for the modern age.  

 

Pakistani & Afghani Islamists Hunt & Murder Polio Vaccine Workers

In a story that appeared repeatedly throughout 2013, Islamists killed more than three dozen polio vaccine workers over the course of the year as part of an anti-vaccination campaign. Portrayed as a conspiracy by the West to sterilize and reduce the world Muslim population, Islamists have successfullly shut down vaccination programs in Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Nigeria, the three remaining countries in the world where polio is still active.  The World Health Organization has said that the ongoing threats have caused over a million children to miss being vaccinated in these countries in 2013, slowing down and perhaps even reversing the eradication of polio in these countries and in the world.

 

African Pentecostals Expanding Into Worldwide Enterprises

For the past several years, Nigerian pastors have been vying with American pastors for the notorious honor of being listed on Forbes' Top 10 Richest Pastors list.  Among the American pastors of Bishop T.D. Jakes ($150 million), Benny Hinn ($42 million), Creflo Dollar ($27 million), Kenneth Copeland ($35 million) and Billy Graham ($25 million), the list includes Nigerian plutocrat-pastors  Bishop David Oyedepo ($150 million), E.A. Adeboye ($100 million), "Pastor Chris" Oyakhilome ($30-50 million), Pastor Matthew Ashimolowo ($30 million), and Temitope Joshua ($10-15 million).  All of these pastors, both American and Nigerian, are known for having multiple opulent homes in multiple countries and their own private jets while relying heavily on nepotism to manage their empires. Less-known is that they also have sizable international operations: All of the Nigerian pastors listed above have missions in the US, the UK, and even Australia and Canada, all contributing significant contributions to their bottom line - and, of course, all tax-free.  This past year, Pastor E.A. Adeboye made headlines in announcing a tour through Australia, New Zealand, and Papua New Guinea to plant new missions for his evangelical empire; in doing so, he raised the ire of human-rights and secularist groups who sought to have his visa application rejected for the demonization of LGBT people and the victimization of individuals accused of witchcraft.  The visa was granted anyway, but the incident exposed just how lucrative evangelical preaching has become in some parts of the world.

http://www.atheistalliance.org/news-a-articles/aai-news/699-top-religious-influence-stores-of-2013

and while you were looking the other way...

 

The theft of a vial of the blood of the late pope John Paul II from a church in the mountains outside Rome is odd at first sight because it looks so strange to keep such a thing. On second thoughts, nothing could be more natural than keeping relics of the dead. We keep all kinds of family treasures, handwritten letters and other tokens of an absent presence. What's strange is keeping relics of dead people we never knew.

 

Protestants tend not to do this in the same way as Catholics. Parts of our cities are crowded with statues, but these are relics at one remove, so to say: they are symbolic recreations with no physical link to the original. If the statue of Winston Churchill in Parliament Square, in Westminster, were also his sepulchre it would be closer to a relic. If it were also thought to work miracles, that would be better still. But I don't think that even Ukip members come to pray at statues of Churchill.

 

A statue stands to a relic in the same relation as an alphabet stands to a set of pictographs. The meaning has been transferred from a physical connection to an arbitrary symbol. This is less true in an age of photography, when there are numerous representations of a face and body against which statues can be matched, but even then they are a re-creation, not a copy. Whenever I meet someone famous, or anyone whom I have only ever known from pictures, they always look quite different: not just smaller, but more normal.

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/belief/2014/jan/28/pope-blood-reverence-relics-grief-narrative

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Gus : I am not a fan of relics... In my youth, there were a few in my parent's church. There, in gold caskets with a thin glass cover one could admire the bone from the big toe of such and such saint... It was gross. The bone had been blanched by whatever process like a hunting trophy. 

In fact I believe in the sacristy, there would have been about ten toes in reserve, just in case the exhibited one would get damaged... To steal the blood vial of a pope is very sick. to actually exhibit the said pope's blood is even sicker.

 

revisiting pasternak with chris floyd...

From Chris Floyd... and Doctor Jhivago

...

Over the years, some critics have decried these passages as the clumsy strokes of a fictional amateur, a poet gamely trying and failing to match the rich plenitude of Tolstoy's novels. (And to be fair, the English translations of the novel, though serviceable, are hobbled by clunky prose that ill-serves the original Russian.) But surely Pasternak, a writer of immense talent and intelligence, knew exactly what he was doing with these portions of the novel. The "clumsy" strokes that brake and complicate the grand narrative are central to the book's meaning. "Zhivago" means "the living," its root word is "life." And life is immense, comprising every aspect, every atom of reality. "Life, always one and the same, always incomprehensibly keeping its identity, fills the universe and is renewed in every moment in innumerable combinations and metamorphoses," as Zhivago says at one point. It is in the careful observation and deeply felt experiencing of the details of daily life that the meaning of existence can be found – or rather, consciously created.

Elsewhere in the novel, Pasternak deals with more openly with this theme, especially in one of the book's central chapters, made up of a diary that Zhivago keeps when his family have been driven from Moscow by the privations of the Revolution – and by Zhivago's own political unreliability, which stems from his refusal to hew to any party line and its grand, impersonal abstractions, its distorted caricatures of the infinite complexities of human reality. They are living off the land, deep in the countryside, their whole life taken up by the struggle to survive: byt in its starkest terms. Only at night, their work done, can they turn to their books, the handful of Russian classics they've taken with them into exile.

The whole chapter is like a marvelous concerto, blending and concentrating all of the novel's themes and variations in what appears to be the most artless of forms: the ramblings of a private journal. Among the many passages that illustrate the relation of byt to the "overworld," the realm of dominance and hierarchy, this one stands out:

"What I have come to like best in the whole of Russian literature is the childlike Russian quality of Pushkin and Chekhov, their shy unconcern with such high-sounding matters as the ultimate purpose of mankind or their own salvation. It isn't that they didn't think about these things, and to good effect, but they always felt that such important matters were not for them. While Gogol, Tolstoy and Dostoevsky worried and looked for the meaning of life and prepared for death and drew up balance-sheets, these two were distracted, right up to the end of their lives, by the current individual tasks imposed on them by their vocation as writers, and in the course of fulfilling these tasks they lived their lives quietly, treating both their lives and their work as private, individual matters, of no concern to anyone else. And these individual things have since become of concern to all; their work has ripened of itself, like apples picked green from the trees, and has increasingly matured in sense and sweetness."


2.
Of course, the supreme irony of the relation between the humble, private, "pointless" world of byt and the "real world" of power and exaltation is that the former is actually where any genuine "transcendence" can be found, while the latter is the merely the outgrowth of our most primitive and meaningless urges.

For what is the desire to "project dominance," to erect hierarchies, but the elaboration of the same unconsidered instinctual drives that underlie the social structures of the animal world? You can see it in any colony of apes (although they too have their forms of sustaining, nurturing byt). I've written of this elsewhere, but I think it has some application in this context as well:

Is it not time to be done with lies at last? Especially the chief lie now running through the world like a plague, putrescent and vile: that we kill each other and hate each other and drive each other into desperation and fear for any other reason but that we are animals, forms of apes, driven by blind impulses to project our dominance, to strut and bellow and hoard the best goods for ourselves. Or else to lash back at the dominant beast in convulsions of humiliated rage. Or else cravenly to serve the dominant ones, to scurry about them like slaves, picking fleas from their fur, in hopes of procuring a few crumbs for ourselves.

Read More: http://chris-floyd.com/component/content/article/1-latest-news/2371-testament-communion-subversion-remembering-pasternak.html

at the whim and the hand of the artist...

Antony and Cleopatra, one of history's most romantic couples, were not the great beauties that Hollywood would have us believe, academics have said.


A study of a 2,000-year-old silver coin found the Egyptian queen, famously portrayed by Elizabeth Taylor, had a pointed chin, thin lips and sharp nose.

Her Roman lover, played by Richard Burton, had bulging eyes, thick neck and a hook nose.

The tiny coin was studied by experts at Newcastle University.

The size of a modern 5p piece (18mm or 0.7in), the artefact from 32BC was in a collection belonging to the Society of Antiquaries of Newcastle, which is being researched in preparation for the opening of a new Great North Museum.

read more: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/england/tyne/6357311.stm

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Who knows. This is an article from 2007... Sorry to bring you back in time...

We interpret something — a coin — the image on which is not based on science but on visual rendition. Coin-makers may not have been accurate in their depiction of people. And I believe there would have been more than one coin makers for the realm and some would have done more "sensitive" images... They could have been instructed to pretty it up, I suspect. 

Sure, the coin with Cleopatra's face is not flattering... But it's possible the coin maker did his/her job as best as possible — but was lousy nonetheless, unless he/she was a satirist.


As one who does "interpretation" of faces to draw caricatures, I know how difficult it is to be "portrait" accurate, especially in 3D or in an embossed technique.

 

The coin could have been part of a sarcastic set. Anyone knowing about what came of this study should give an update...