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Hi Bryan: A more recent AP report is titled "Visit to Russian underground sect reveals few signs of horrors trumpeted by authorities" and begins: Authorities spoke of a creepy cult living in an "eight-level ant house" dug deep into the ground, where children were kept in unheated cells and starved of daylight. A visit to the compound suggests a more ordinary reality. A brief visit inside the compound, which provided shocking headlines around the world when police raided it and seized the children, revealed none of the elaborate underground design described by prosecutors. Nor does a police video showing rooms inside. The father of a cult member, who originally disapproved of his daughter joining the group, said he was able to visit freely and has no complaints about how members live or treat their children. The conflicting portrayals raise questions about whether authorities may have exaggerated the eccentricity of the sect, perhaps in an effort to show they are cracking down on radical Islamic groups... The story is still plenty gothic -- but it looks as though it may be the gothic of a Russian police imagination rather than the gothic of an Islamic "cult"...
Picking up on Chris' last remark, with which I strongly agree: I'd like to suggest that what's artificial is something made by artifice, an artefact. A suspension bridge that Isambard Kingdom Brunel designed is certainly an artefact, certainly artificial, and plausibly a work of art as well as craft – but it's definitely real. If I'm right about this, the opposite of artificial would probably be natural or (if one argues that bees' honeycombs are in fact artefacts) spontaneously-occurring. Our use of artificial to mean false or unreal is a later usage, albeit one ideally suited to a world of sound-bite politics, photo-opportunities and PR.
Toggle Commented Dec 16, 2011 on Stories and Games (3): Experiencing Fiction at ihobo
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Hi Chris:The reference to devotion particularly interests me, as it is suggestive of bakhti as a form of sacred fiction, and I think there's a lot to be gained in this perspective (which is prefigured in some of the Hindu philosophical schools as far as I can ascertain).Indeed -- as you'll see in my essay, Bhakti tradition could be very specific about the rasas. As to the fictive aspect... * You’ll recall Jean Renoir appearing as Octave in his own movie, La Règle du Jeu? Hitchcock and others do it too, of course, and it’s figurative of a Creator taking incarnation -- or playing a role as avatar -- within creation... Well.. with the Ramayana, we can also find the reverse! I recall that when I was in India more than thirty years ago, I was told the Ramayana was written by Valmiki, first among poets -- and it was only afterwards, and under the poem's inspiration, that Vishnu did indeed take the form of Rama and come to earth to live out the story already depicted in Valmiki’s epic. I just did a quick Google search to see if I could corroborate this memory, and found the following brief statement (wish I had better access to scholarly resources): Rama was born a hundred and fifty years after Sage Valmiki wrote theRamayan. According to some the Ramayan was written in theSatyayug and Rama was born in the Tretayug. The Valmiki Ramayan or Dhoumit RamayanThat’s a pretty lovely tribute to the creative artist, no? The god performs what the poet has first envisioned? * ... taken from a comment of mine on Bill Benzon's blog, where he was discussing Nina Paley's magnificent film, Sita Sings the Blues -- which is, btw, simply put, a must see, a masterpiece!
Toggle Commented Dec 15, 2011 on Stories and Games (3): Experiencing Fiction at ihobo
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Hi, Chris: I think you're onto something important here, and that a significant strand within the Indian philosophy of aesthetics will support you. Specifically, I suspect the notion of rasa is relevant to your discussion of quasi or shadow emotions. The word is found in connection with Abhinavagupta's aesthetics, which pretty much provide the foundation of Indian (and Tibetan and other Asian) philosophies of art. A rasa is a mood which can be conjured in suitably disposed others by those who can reach it in themselves and have the requisite skills to transmit it. I have an essay, written some years ago and far from perfect, in which I suggest that Jaques' melancholy in As You Like it, Spencer's mutabilitie, the Spanish duende as described by Lorca, the American blues and various Japanese moods such as yugen and aware are all examples of rasas from different cultures. You can find my essay here -- but there are far more eloquent expressions of each of these rasas by aficionados, Lorca's terrific essay on the Duende being the example that comes immediately to mind: This writer appears to suggest that the sublime is another such mood or rasa… Rene Daumal is another great writer who has explored the question of rasa. Myself, I think of the rasas as a "second octave of emotions" -- which in specifically sacred contexts I can easily term "devotions". * I hope that this will prove useful, and that we can continue to exchange notes… I'm still hoping to review your book, but have been sick & "not up to par" recently.
Toggle Commented Dec 14, 2011 on Stories and Games (3): Experiencing Fiction at ihobo
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I take delight in creativity and compassion. Perhaps you do, too, I hope so, anyway. 1. It all starts in the mind. 2. The mind has two styles: linear and lateral, rational and metaphorical, prosaic and poetic, one-track and leaping. 3. Creativity and compassion both require lateral, metaphorical, poetic, leaping skills. 4. We could develop leaping skills. 5. The right kinds of games develop leaping skills. 6. Games like poetry, theater, improvisation and counterpoint. 7. There are usually additional learnings required: finger technique, rhyme, acting. 8. The simplest lateral thought ties one idea to another. 9. When you think or say "That reminds me" you're doing it. 10. That skill can be enhanced without need of a piano, theater, etc. 11. I wouldn't use my new computer for "downstream" projects like hunger, health, war. 12. Or not *only* those things. 13. I'd use it for direct mind training in letting one idea connect to another. 14. I'd practice and teach connecting the dots. Oh well, that's a big part of it anyway. The main point I want to make, computer or no computer, is that the social entrepreneurial world, the foundation world, the funding world, really needs to notice that Donella Meadows says *changing paradigms* is the most powerful place to intervene in systems, and *the mind itself* -- not a hospital, food distribution point, or school n-- is where paradigms are changed. So asking, "does your program support health or education, reduce hunger or provide shelter" needs to be supplemented with an extra category, "or address the mind directly?" I have designed some games that do that: I'd like to work with others to build web-playable versions. I have other tasks, too. * how can a man sleep, with his dream awake beside him?
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