DAY 138: Leibniz and world peace

July 30th, 2015 § 0 comments

Well, more of him later – he’s waited a good while already. In a predictable if slightly farcical follow-up to our report on Susya (last post), under the pressure of interventions from the EU and the White House, there were steps towards a climb-down. As reported by +972 magazine:

‘With more or less the entire Western world warning Israel not to demolish the Palestinian village of Susya and forcefully displace its residents, it is no surprise that the Israeli army might be seeking a way to climb down the tree it is stuck on.

So how does one announce that it might not demolish that village which it has been claiming for years has no right to exist? As a first step, you might look for an internal document you discarded years ago, one that argues the residents of Susya do actually own the land from which you want to expel them, and then leak it to the press.’


Palestinian girls chant slogans at the protest against the demolition of their village, Susya, July 24, 2015. (Keren Manor/

Of course, the village’s inhabitants – now possibly allowed to go on living there – are not going to be allowed to build. And meanwhile Israeli military forces shot and killed three Palestinians in the last week. All three killings took place during raidsmourning in the middle of the night to detain suspects in crimes we know nothing about.

Here in Britain we can  - in contrast to the citizens of Texas like Sandra Bland,


or Hebron – on the whole go to bed without the fear that the police will haul us out and shoot us. Thank God for relative freedom. And yet we must worry at the mounting attempts to brand the eminently cuddly and sensible Jeremy Corbyn jeremy-corbyn-smallas a dangerous Islamic terrorist at worst and a mischievous idealist at best,. To quote from the totally unreliable ‘’:

‘Leadership challenger, Yvette Cooper, said, “Jeremy Corbyn would force your averagely-bright child to sit with the thickest, while having lessons in double gayness shoved down his throat by a bearded woman in dungarees. What a bastard!”

Unrealistic challenger, Liz Kendall, opined, “Three-day week. Coal miners. Greenham Common. Duffel coats. Cold winters. The right to strike. Investment in the NHS. Social justice. Is this the kind of Britain you want?”’

But back (or on) to Leibniz. He, like me – or like I? – would have worried about how the Chinese manage to do texting. There they all are sitting inscrutably in front of a screen which can surely contain no more than ten characters. They have a thousand or more available, and they’re trying to, send a message like 他妈的闭嘴 or ‘Shut the fuck up’ (Google Translate informs me). Look at those characters. How do they do it?

I hope you’ll be charmed to learn, as I am, that there are at least five answers. One is to use Pinyin (i.e. write it like it sounds) in which our phrase above reads ‘Tā mā de bì zuǐ’. After you’ve typed a syllable with its tone, the phone may still not be sure which character you mean, and offer you a list. Or it may work it out the whole sequence from the context – it’s a smart phone, remember. Another is (naturally) to describe how you’d write the character – the sequence of different strokes that go to make it up. (My source says this is called Wubi.) Each of these is quite variable, as we’re living in a competitive capitalist society; and you’ll likely be using a different method again if you’re from Taiwan or Hong Kong. (Two or three methods in each, I think.)

Here, as my interest was roused by observing a Taiwanese friend’s keyboard, I should note that their method, or one of them, is called ‘cangjie’

cangjieCangjie phone keyboard

with 24 graphological units and – Have you lost interest already?

And yet the point is more than academic, since Leibniz, like me, realized that Chinese writing represented not sounds, but thoughts - which is why it doesn’t matter how you pronounce it. Here, then, we have a step towards a single means of communication between all peoples which can lead to world peace, because we shall all understand each other. This is the ‘universal characteristic’ which Leibniz dreamed of.  Did I hear you say ‘他妈的闭嘴’?


In my ceaseless attempt to be democratic among the world’s languages, I hit on some terrific poems by Albania’s Ujko Byk. who deserves a much wider audience. For example:


Së rishmi

Once again

Sidomos nesër

Especially tomorrow

Në vend të autopsikografisë

In lieu of autopsychography



Fjala e fundit e botës.

The world’s last word.

Shkruaj në shenjë:

Write to me as a sign:

Gjuha shqipe nuk është aq e vështirë.

Albanian isn’t that difficult a language



The last line is a complete clincher.


I’ve been meaning to offer a track by the late renowned South African tin whistle player Spokes Mashiyane. So here it is, complete with statue. Title is ‘Meva‘. (Footnote: I’m amazed that Bud Shank, who I remember as a West Coast flautist in the 1950s, facilitated Spokes’ performing at Newport in 1965.)

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