DAY 127: Rubble

April 8th, 2015 § 1 comment

I thought I was temporarily through with banging on about Gaza and Palestine and all that. (Incidentally, the other day, I saw a completely mind-blowing 1963 Czech feminist movie called ‘Something Different’ something-different-1963-001-hand-standby  Vera Chytilová – only showing for one night in Crouch End to ten people; black and white, no plot, subtitles – everything an arthouse movie should be.) Where was I? Oh yes, I could get on with the other interesting stories – the ISIS invasion of yarmoukYarmouk, the long history of violence/pogroms in Kenya’s North-East of which the recent al-Shabaab attack is just a part, the Saudi-led onslaught on Yemen, the looting in Tikrit by the Shia militias who have recaptured it from ISIS, the election in Thanet,… But then, in my inbox I got yet another appeal  in the form of a video which I felt I had to share (‘We are still under the rubble’). So it’s back to Gaza, I’m afraid.

But, to return to the movies, which I’m sure you’d rather do if only for a moment: I suddenly had as it were an epiphany about the difference between art and life when watching Scorsese’s unforgettable Mean Streets. [By the way, watching it also brought home the fact that none of the films about mathematicians mentioned in these pages so far has (have?) a rock’n’roll score. The consequent alienation effect – to get technical – would go a long way to dissipate the ‘aura’, as Benjamin would call it, around the mathematician-hero. (Apologies if this is all too Frankfurt 1930s).] To pick up the thread: I was thinking about epilepsy (don’t ask why). In life, you can have (or be) an epileptic and they will go on being an epileptic in – as it were – a quiet way without disturbing anyone. In art, and I’d cite particularly Mean Streets and The Idiot, if there’s an epileptic early on meanstreetsin the narrative they’ve got to have a fit at some crucial stage (breaking a vase or being dropped by Harvey Keitel or something), otherwise in terms of one of Barthes’ Laws of Narratology, why was their infirmity mentioned in the first place? Similarly, I suppose, if the story contains a haemophiliac he (only males get it, remember) has to get at least a scratch.

Which leads us naturally on to the still unsolved question of dark matter. Dark matter seems to outweigh visible matter roughly six to one, making up about 26% of all the matter in the universe.  But what is dark matter? darkmatter


Artistic representation of dark matter. Image credits: tchaikovsky2, Deviant Art (No kidding!)
Well, weakly interacting massive particles, or WIMPs, are among the leading hypothetical particle physics candidates for dark matter. The term “WIMP” is given to a supersymmetric dark matter particle that was produced by falling out of thermal equilibrium with the hot dense plasma of the early universe, and these  ‘are among the leading hypothetical particle physics candidates for dark matter’.


The search for WIMPs (why?)
 This of course would be grist to my mill, since about twenty years ago when supersymmetry was fashionable I used to write papers about it. However, British scientists now think they have an explanation which is both more meaningful and closer to home: Dark matter (26% of the Universe) is composed of Marmite. (Woolf, Joyce and Leavis, Proc. Roy. Soc. A 471, 2015, pp. 991-997).
This would explain why it’s undetectable and doesn’t interact with anything. I’d advise against putting it into the LHC though, as it would surely clog up the works and cost billions of Sfr to extract.
Meanwhile, I’m struggling to understand this science, even at the most basic level, and would welcome any reader who could help me out. Here’s a start:

‘Both at national and international levels, the focus continues to be exclusively on the irresponsible borrower, with complete immunity for the totally reckless lender or the enormous leech-like industry which continues to feed on the interest or “economic value” created by shifting fictional money around. On the contrary, we count such activity as growth. And things will not change as long as this industry continues to be shrouded in too-complicated-for-you-to-understand language. Because people will not feel informed, confident or courageous enough to question a fractional reserve banking system in which creating fake money, buying it from ourselves with interest and giving it away to private entities “too big to fail”, is considered normal.’ (Alex Andreou in the Guardian).

Preach it, bro!

Anyone who sympathises with my finding the language too complicated has my vote. Of course, Ezra Pound thought he understood it; well, here anyway is his onslaught, from his pre-fascist period -I think – if he had one:

Canto XLV


With Usura

With usura hath no man a house of good stone
each block cut smooth and well fitting
that design might cover their face,
with usura
hath no man a painted paradise on his church wall
harpes et luz
or where virgin receiveth message
and halo projects from incision,
with usura
seeth no man Gonzaga his heirs and his concubines
no picture is made to endure nor to live with
but it is made to sell and sell quickly
with usura, sin against nature,
is thy bread ever more of stale rags
is thy bread dry as paper,
with no mountain wheat, no strong flour
with usura the line grows thick
with usura is no clear demarcation
and no man can find site for his dwelling.
Stonecutter is kept from his tone
weaver is kept from his loom
wool comes not to market
sheep bringeth no gain with usura
Usura is a murrain, usura
blunteth the needle in the maid’s hand
and stoppeth the spinner’s cunning. Pietro Lombardo
came not by usura
Duccio came not by usura
nor Pier della Francesca; Zuan Bellin’ not by usura
nor was ‘La Calunnia’ painted.Botticelli,_calunnia_01_480
Came not by usura Angelico; came not Ambrogio Praedis,
Came no church of cut stone signed: Adamo me fecit.
Not by usura St. Trophime
Not by usura Saint Hilaire,
Usura rusteth the chisel
It rusteth the craft and the craftsman
It gnaweth the thread in the loom
None learneth to weave gold in her pattern;
Azure hath a canker by usura; cramoisi is unbroidered
Emerald findeth no Memling
Usura slayeth the child in the womb
It stayeth the young man’s courting
It hath brought palsey to bed, lyeth
between the young bride and her bridegroom
                               CONTRA NATURAM
They have brought whores for Eleusis
Corpses are set to banquet
at behest of usura.
Or ‘globalization’, as it’s called these days. To quote David Harvey, Naomi Klein and others,

 globalization blunteth the needle in the maid’s hand and stoppeth the spinner’s cunning.

Another cultural treat last week was the ROH’s Mahagonny (relayed to a cinema near you) On the day, perhaps appropriately, there was a massive electric outage at Holborn which wiped the area and meant Covent Garden had to limp on with emergency power and no bar – Brecht would perhaps have been amused. I won’t critique the production, I have friends better qualified; here for comparison anyway is the original Lotte Lenya.


§ One Response to DAY 127: Rubble

  • KateH says:

    well, WIMP was a bit suspect, and then I got on to marmite. The chief thing about marmite is that it’s anything but undetectable. You can smell it at fifty paces. Someone here is amusing themselves. It may be Woolf. Did she like marmite?

    While we’re with the modernists, brilliant Pound, if you could only quench the accompanying subliminal mutter of ‘and it’s all because of the Jews that we no longer have this great art’.

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