DAY 92: Analytic light

July 5th, 2014 § 0 comments

Those of us who are or have been in analysis, probably most of this column’s well-heeled readers, may have sometimes wondered about what it does to time – compare relativity, if you like. As you all know, the standard psychoanalyst’s unit on time, the ‘analytic hour’, is 50 minutes (except for Lacanians who use a 3-minute hour). After which, the analyst looks at her watch, gives you the bill, and calls time.

Lacan Light, which travels at roughly 3×1010 cm/sec, will cover 1.08×1014  cm in an ordinary punter’s hour, but the smaller 9×1013  cm in an analytic hour – which gives rise, naturally, to the distance measure of an ‘analytic light-hour’. This is not idle talk –  not that I’m against idle talk, better than much that goes on on Facebook – but relates naturally to the fact that physicists spend some time (how much?) analysing light itself. Accordingly, in the current model of the universe which I favour, light travels for 9×1013  cm or roughly 559234070 miles, or  4864217941 stadia, in an analytic hour. (Do please check these figures and let me know of any errors.)

As I see it then, light has now had fifty minutes of analysis, and is held up for ten minutes – say at a checkpoint having a light cup of coffee, 2012-11-07 06.40.21before it can proceed to bombard whatever eye or telescope it’s seeking. The consequent revision of all the fundamental constants may solve many of the problems which are currently tying physicists in knots magnetic_field_of_a_torus_knot_by_bugman123-d3e4jlv(literal and metaphorical). Or knot, as the case may be. Light could end up with a cut not only in its hours, but in its wages, and in debt to EDF et al; and shopping around for a cheaper power supplier would hardly solve the problem.

Death in the Middle East

Here’s a commentary by Amira Hass on what’s been happening in the West Bank; better than anything I can say.


Palestinians in Jenin, July 1, 2014

Relatives of Yousif Zagha, 20, who was killed by Israeli troops early Tuesday, watch his funeral in the West Bank refugee camp of Jenin. Photo by AP

The abduction and murder of three West Bank yeshiva students is viewed by the Palestinian public as just another incident in a routine of violence for which Israel bears primary responsibility. It didn’t spark opposition and protest, but neither did it spark support and calls for “more.”

Two weeks under an Israeli military steamroller that harmed thousands of Palestinian families with no connection to the kidnapping killed even the natural tendency to feel compassion and identification on an individual level. And that’s aside from the basic fact that Palestinians see that Israelis in particular, and the world in general, discriminate when it comes to violence.

Palestinian violence merits condemnation, and both its perpetrators and those who weren’t its perpetrators are punished with great severity, even though it is by nature reactive. In contrast, the permanent Israeli violence – by the government due to the very fact that it is a foreign government, by the army and by private individuals like settlers – not only isn’t penalized, but is barely reported. It isn’t defined as violence, it doesn’t interest Israelis, and it certainly doesn’t spark feelings of identification in them. Israeli victims of violence – of whom there are fewer than there are Palestinian victims – are given names and faces in Israel and worldwide. The many Palestinian victims are at best mere statistics. This assertion isn’t just a view expressed in a newspaper op-ed; it’s at the root of the Palestinians’ daily experience. The lack of compassion in specific cases is the Palestinian response to this discrimination.

As long as the bodies hadn’t been found, a great many Palestinians believed no abduction had ever occurred. In their view, the kidnapping was fabricated to thwart the Palestinians’ national unity government, undo the achievements (from the Palestinian perspective) of the deal to free kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit, and harm Hamas. They concluded that the kidnapping benefited Benjamin Netanyahu’s government, which had been painted into a diplomatic corner (for example, by the European and American refusal to object to the Palestinian unity government). The hunger strike by Palestinians under administrative detention in Israel had begun to make waves in the media, and the killing (murder, according to the Palestinians) of two Palestinian teens in Beitunia by Israeli soldiers had exposed lies in Israel’s account of the incident and utterly embarrassed the Israeli authorities. For a while, it even caused the army and the border police – according to both demonstrators and journalists – to exercise uncustomary restraint at several demonstrations. So instead of asking, “Who is this Palestinian who has managed to undermine all these Palestinian successes,” they took refuge in conspiracy theories.

That prevented any public discussion of a different conclusion: Not only is there no unified Palestinian strategy, but it has once again been proven that even within Hamas, there is no coordination between tactics and strategy. The kidnapping endangers the new government and works against the interests of Hamas’ leaders and many branches of the movement. They needed the unity government, in the short term, to survive the crisis over how to pay salaries to Hamas employees in Gaza, and in the longer term, to get rid of the burden of the chronic economic crisis created by the Israeli blockade. Yet even those – primarily in the Fatah party – who were furious at the local players who planned and perpetrated the kidnapping, were compelled to suppress their feelings of anger in light of the Israeli onslaught 287734against a very large section of the Palestinian public.

Others, including opponents of Hamas, were waiting for the moment when the kidnappers would announce their terms for returning the hostages (alive). In the asymmetrical balance of power between Palestinians and Israelis, abduction is seen as a legitimate tool. If the murderers had planned to keep the abducted teens alive but something went wrong, this attests to amateurism and lack of proper preparation. Yet it’s doubtful any discussion of this issue will be possible, either. Hamas doesn’t publicly repudiate those of its members who failed or acted on their own initiative.

In this atmosphere, Palestinians who believe it’s wrong to kill unarmed Israeli teens, even if they are settlers or study in the settlements, don’t dare to say so aloud. After Palestinians were forced to admit that the kidnapped Israelis were not armed soldiers, but teens, they repeatedly stressed that they were settlers. Among the Palestinians, the prevailing view is that attacks on settlers are justified, and that a distinction should be made between them and Israeli citizens living on the other side of the Green Line.

One man who says he could never personally kill a settler declared that the attack on these settlers was interpreted as a signal to Israelis that they shouldn’t send their children to the West Bank, that they shouldn’t feel safe there, that they should know their presence there means the dispossession of the Palestinians. It’s very doubtful that this is the message those who kidnapped and murdered the three teens originally planned to send. What is certain, however, is that at the moment, there is no internal Palestinian debate over whether the murder indeed serves this goal.

An Expected Party

On a subject which is quite unrelated (and you may be relieved to have been spared more thoughts about ISIS, although there’s a little squib to come), I’ve been wondering about the likely consequences of (what should have been) Gandalf’s arrest on a charge of recruiting for jihad. Not only did he send thirteen dwarves and an unwilling hobbit over the misty mountains – having arranged for their intoxication with food and song – but he was subsequently responsible for endless volumes of pseudo-mythology, followed by movies glorifying his recruits’ exploits. And for the suffering of parents who had to read the stuff to their children, take them out to the movies, buy them popcorn, and so on.

Our current government, which favours jailing all such recruiters, and seizing their assets up to the point of rendering three-year-old children

2014_521_rumaya_stRumaysa Farooqi, homeless in Manchester

(not that Gandalf had any) homeless, would have taken a tough line on this behaviour from the start, and spared us the whole of Middle Earth. I see that a dyslexic devotee of the ‘Total War Center’ (what?) called Isildor has already had an idea in this vague region:

‘Can you make Gandalf something like the Iman for Gondor, who can call a Jihat?
If he dies there could be the massage, that Gandalf has to travel to other places now, because bigger problems occupy him.
If he has died, the player could have the chance to recruit him again. Only one simultaneous. When he is alive this would be imposible. This Jihat could be maby called “Ask Gandalf for help”.
The Dshihat he calles could be named something like “Gandalf’s advise” and be only possible against Harad, Mordor, Rhun, Isengard or the Rebels.’

Well, to be honest, I’ve had enough of fictional characters dying and coming to life again (Sherlock Holmes, Lisbeth Salander, Aslan) – the whole Jesus plot. Gandalf seems a resurrection too far.

Many times, I suspect, in this broken narrative, I’ve been tempted to resort to Robert Lowell’s eloquent sixties pessimism. Well, here it is, fans.

Waking Early Sunday Morning

Oh to break loose, like the chinook
salmon jumping and falling back,
nosing up to the impossible
stone and bone-crushing waterfall—
raw-jawed, weak fleshed there, stopped by ten
steps of the roaring ladder, and then
to clear the top on the last try,
alive enough to spawn and die.

Stop, back off. The salmon breaks
water, and now my body wakes
to feel the unpolluted joy
and criminal leisure of a boy—
no rainbow smashing a dry fly
in the white run is free as I,
here squatting like a dragon on
time’s hoard before the day’s begun!

Time to grub up and junk the year’s
output, a dead wood of dry verse:
dim confession, coy revelation,
liftings, listless self-imitation,
whole days when I could hardly speak,
came pluming home unshaven, weak
and willing to read anyone
things done before and better done.

Fierce, fireless mind, running down hill.
Look up and see the harbor fill:
business as usual in eclipse
goes down to the sea in ships—
wake of refuse, dacron rope,
bound for Bermuda or Good Hope,
all bright before the morning watch,
the wine dark hulls of yawl and ketch.

I watch a glass of water wet
with a fine fuzz of icy sweat,
silvery colors touched with sky,
serene in their neutrality—
yet if I shift, or change my mood,
I see some object made of wood,
background behind it of brown grain,
to darken it, but not to stain.

Oh that the spirit could remain
tinged but untarnished by its strain!
Better dressed and stacking birch,
or lost with the Faithful at Church—
Oh anywhere, but somewhere else!
And now the new electric bells,
clearly chiming, “Faith of our fathers,”
and now the congregation gathers.

Oh Bible chopped and crucified
in hymns we hear but do not read,
none of the milder subtleties
of grace or art will sweeten these
stiff quatrains shovelled out four-square—
they sing of peace, and preach despair;
yet they gave darkness their control,
and left a loophole for the soul.

No, put old clothes on, and explore
the corners of the woodshed for
its dregs and dreck: tools with no handle,
ten candle-ends not worth a candle,
old lumber banished from the Temple,
damned by Paul’s precept and example,
cast from the kingdom, banned in Israel,
the wordless sign, the tinkling cymbal.

Empty, irresolute, ashamed,
when the sacred texts are named,
I lie here on my bed apart,
and when I look into my heart,
I discover none of the great
subjects: death, friendship, love and hate—
only old china doorknobs, sad,
slight, useless things to calm the mad.

Oh to break loose now. All life’s grandeur
is something with a girl in summer…
elated as the President
girdled by his establishment
this Sunday morning, free to chaff
his own thoughts with his bear-cuffed staff,
swimming nude, unbuttoned, sick
of his ghost-written rhetoric!

No weekends for the gods now, Wars
flicker, earth licks its open sores,
fresh breakage, fresh promotions, chance
assassinations, no advance.
Only man thinning out his kind
sounds through the Sabbath noon, the blind
swipe of the pruner and his knife
busy about the tree of life.

Oh hammering military splendor,
top-heavy Goliath in full armor—
little redemption in the mass
liquidations of their brass,
elephant and phalanx moving
with the times and still improving,
when that kingdom hit the crash:
a million foreskins stacked like trash…

Sing softer! But what if the new
diminuendo brings no true
tenderness, only restlessness,
excess, the hunger for success,
sanity of self-deception
fixed and kicked by reckless caution,
while I listen to the bells—
Oh anywhere, but somewhere else!

Pity the planet, all joy gone
from this sweet volcanic cone;
peace to our children when they fall
in small war on the heels of small
war—until the end of time
to police the earth, a ghost
orbiting forever lost
in our monotonous sublime.

Sufi Music

and still on the theme of Iraq, where Sufis are currently not doing too well, here is a’dhikr ceremony’. And to be ecumenical, (back to Rwanda, which seems a hot spot for church music) a more uptempo offering from the Impanda choir -I think a Seventh Day Adventist group, though it’s not always easy to pin down these affiliatiions.

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