Sunday, September 30, 2012

“Present Mirth” monostich

~    ~

~     a butterfly,   brief as the breeze    ~

~    ~

Les caractères

Theophrastus, successor to Aristotle at the head of the Peripatetic school, is celebrated for his pioneering portrait of characters, or moral/personality types.  Better known to moderns is its lineal descendent,  Les caractères, of La Bruyère.  But what shall detain us here, in the course of our ambling review of the psychoanalytic movement, is the characterology of G.C. Jung, as outlined in his work of 1921, Psychologische Typen. In after-days, it spawned Myers-Briggs and ‘socionics’.

The psychological biota itself -- this is well-known -- presents  as a “blooming buzzing confusion”.   We can scarce generalize, or quantify, over dandelions,   let alone  people. 
Yet then comes  Plutarch’s Parallel Lives :  a milestone.  The advance consists, not in the matter of simply  listing  a limited roster  of celebrated characters,  but in positing a strict paralellism  between the Greek roster, and the Roman.
This does not in itself present a structure of personality-types;  rather, it (strongly) suggests that such a structure (as yet undiscovered) may exist:  else, whence such extensive paralellism ?

[Insert rudimentary exposition of Jungian typology.  Or better yet -- look it up yourself  in Wikipedia.]

So (any reader will naturally ask):  Where do I come in?
Well, for a single example, let us consider Jung’s categories :  Thinking, Feeling; Sensation, Intuition; cross-classified with Extraverted/Introverted :   with, as our lab specimen, that wild&wacky  but loveable   Doctor Justice.
Among Jung’s eight types is the “Introverted Intuitive”;  and herein I must number myself.  Jung also offers a twinned pair of “Thinking” types, which would have been my “first choice”;  but a moment’s reflection  reveals that intuitive is on the mark.   I have repeatedly fought against that imbalance in my nature, by striving for thinking: majoring first in chemistry, later in math, as an ‘enantiodromic’ counterforce to my essentially poetic cathexis.

People of this type are inclined to make use of the mechanism of reification -- i.e.,  they treat ideas, images, or insights  as if they were real objects.  For intuition, therefore, unconscious images acquire the dignity of things.
Anthony Stevens, Jung: A Very Short Introduction (1994), p. 96

The bulk of the ‘founding posts’ of this blog  were in defense of philosophical Realism (in the mathematical context, a.k.a. Platonism).  I have never used this unpleasant term “reification”, whose connotations are wholly negative.  But as glossed above, -- yeh, I’ll cop to that.

OK so -- I cop to the Type -- do I cop to the Shadow?

Shadow:  Extraverted Sensation. … Poorly oriented in time and space, they tend to forget appointments, are seldom punctual, and easily get lost in strange places.
-- Stevens (id)

Poorly oriented in time -- definitely.  I have little sense of when things happened to me, and can easily be off by a matter of years.  Indeed, often the only way I can fix the thing is that I do tend to recall precisely where I was when something happened.  So, something can at least be dated to, say, the Princeton Years.  But this latter fact connects with my being very well oriented in space :  When my wife and I wander through the footpaths of a forest, she is instantly disoriented, and calmly relies on my inner compass.
As for appointments, I never forget them;  though some decidedly overt-extraverted (ditsy) women I work with  do that constantly -- simply not showing up for their exams, or showing up on the wrong day … I recoil in horror from such behavior.  And as for punctuality -- I am always punctual, thank-you-very-much (having been raised on Mary Poppins -- who is likewise punctual, and magical).
That last feature, “easily lost in strange places”, is much more interesting.  In actual practice, I virtually never get lost, in part simply because the very prospect of such a disaster  fills me with nameless horror, so I do conscientious advance research before traveling.  Whereas, if the travel arrangements are left to my wife, we can easily wind up in the wrong town entirely.  But in dreams, being lost is the paramount terror.   Even the runner-up, the Examination Dream, tends to have this flavor:  I am never actually concerned that the exam itself will be too hard;  merely, I was not given clear directions as to the location where the exam is to take place, and must wander about a vast impersonal campus, finding no help from anyone at all.

Back to the I.I. Shadow.  Stevens goes on (in very poor taste, I might add): 

They tend to make poor lovers …
-- Stevens (id)

Har-rumph!  -- Obviously, nothing I could say, would sway; we must rely on the testimony of others.
I call as my first witnesses:
            Miss Daisy M.
            Mlle Fifi la-C.
            die Jungfrau Gretchen W.

followed by (in chronological order)
            Laurette S.
            Ms. Anastasia Y.
            Mme la comtesse Marie-Claire l’O

and so forth.


Whether this sort of thing is any more than the kind of game played in newspaper astrology columns, I leave to others to assess.  Yet one factor structurally distinguishes Jung’s typology from the usual party-game: namely, the assertion of a duality:: a Personality of type AI (so Jung) will have a shadow of their respective opposites, ai.  -- “Structurally”, as opposed to simply empirically.  -- Oh dear, the thought is becoming cloudy already, difficult to express.  -- Once again, Jung has my number:  “they have difficulty in communicating their ideas simply and in an organized way, for they pursue image after image, idea after idea, ‘chasing after every possibility in the womb of the unconscious’.”  That is exactly what is happening here -- guilty your honor -- only (mercurially) yet a different image suddenly presents itself:  not the womb, but the vulva of the Unconscious.

Okay so -- What do I mean by all this.
Jung offers eight basic character categories, astrology twelve.  Only, Jung’s is more orderly than that, in that it is structured as the combinatorial consequence of four cognitive types  times two expressive subflavors.   Already, conceptually, this is an improvement :cf. in physics, the “eightfold way”, which is likewise combinatorial.  Indeed the analogy goes farther, since that Jungian foursome is itself structured as two dyads: compare color, flavor, charm, independent (and combinatorially combining) dimensions in quantum particle physics.
But let us set that aside, and simply consider the twelve bzw. eight categories as an unstructured ‘flat file’.  The question, then, is empirical, not structural or theoretical:  Which taxonomy does a better job of “cutting Nature at the joints”?
Okay now -- here’s another layer -- and one which, so far as I know, has no counterpart in astrology.  Jung emphasizes dualities, in the form of dialectal dichotomies -- Self vs. Animus bzw Anima, to take an example independent of these characterological categories.  And here he maintains that each person whose basic (overt) type is of the bi-componential category such-plus-such, has an underside or revers de la médaille composed of their respective opposites, or duals -- call them what you may.
Now -- Jung’s dualistic scheme  differs from the mathematical in that (apart from the fact that this whole spiel is a metaphor) each duality is by no means symmetrical:  one of the coin-sides is weaker (and also unconscious, though that is not essential, since really  both sides are).   Now, mathematical duality is by no means definitionally self-symmetrical:  in favorable cases (such as Hilbert space, or  L2 ) the category in question is called “self-dual”, and is calculationally especially nice to work with;  in consequence, it is primarily this sort of duality that interests mathematicians.
Anyhow:  This Jungian structural/theoretical nicety now becomes once again robustly empirical :  Is it in fact the case that  people who (by general consensus -- let us simply assume this, for nothing rides on it) fit into such-and-such an overt category, manifest the corresponding dual as a covert category?

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Word of the Day: “magistricide”

Pronounced  “ma-JISS-tra-side”.  
It means “killing your teacher”.
Etymology:  From Latin MAGISTER ‘teacher’, the source of our words master and (less directly) mister ; plus -CIDE, as in homicide, infanticide, insecticide.

For a blood-curdling illustration, click here:

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Word of the Day: « Gaulois »

We earlier saw, in the case of the neologism ultralaïcard, how culturally untranslatable a French word can be.   Today we consider another such case.

To most Americans, the word Gaulois (pronounced goal-WAH) conjures up little or nothing.
(Having just pulled that fascinating fact out of my ass, which serves as a bottomless repository of such things [Ha-ha!  You said "bottom"-less], I suffered a sudden twinge of empiricist conscience, and padded off to ask my wife.  Sure enough:  She had never even heard the word, and seemed little inclined to learn more about so phonologically rebarbative a vocable.  QED.)
Those of us who are acquainted with the term, most likely know it only in the context of the popular comic, Astérix le Gaulois.   Popular, that is, in l’Hexagone;  you pretty much have to be français de souche to appreciate it.  Personally, it leaves me cold; and its crude, overdrawn graphics have left some of their DNA in the recent cartoon provocations by CharlieHebdo.
The feminine form of this word is Gauloise, and is known in America as a popular brand of absolutely dreadful French cigarattes.   In certain American college towns, during the Vietnam era, it was fashionable to smoke these, but cardboard would be just as tasty.  (For this site’s official policy on the right cigarette, click here:

This morning  we were perturbed to learn  that this fine old word (which means “relating to Gaul”, the old Roman-era name for France) has become a snarled epithet.  And this, not by way of denouncing that sucky comic or those sucky cigarettes, but simple ethnocentrism.  
Extract from a manifesto by Jean-François Copé, Manifeste pour une droite décomplexée (to appear):

Si j'ai reçu en héritage l'amour de la France et le désir de la servir, c'est à Meaux que cet amour s'est incarné, frotté à la complexité de la vie. Car la France dont je parle à travers ces pages, ce n'est pas une France abstraite, conceptuelle, romanesque. Ce n'est pas non plus la France des beaux quartiers et des élites. (…)Le «choc de la réalité», c'est aussi cette mère de famille qui est venue me voir il y a peu. Elle vit seule avec son fils dans une tour du quartier Beauval et elle se sent menacée depuis qu'elle a réagi face à une agression. Son garçon jouait avec sa console de jeux vidéos portable en bas de l'immeuble. Il s'est fait bousculer par un adolescent qui lui a pris sa machine. La mère connaît l'adolescent. Elle va voir les parents, des voisins, pour réclamer l'objet qu'elle a acheté au prix de plusieurs mois d'économies. Et voilà qu'on lui répond: «Si t'es pas contente, casse-toi, la Gauloise…» Depuis, cette femme sent qu'on la dévisage ; elle se sent comme étrangère dans ce quartier où elle habite depuis des années. Un «racisme anti-Blanc» se développe dans les quartiers de nos villes où des individus - dont certains ont la nationalité française - méprisent des Français qualifiés de «Gaulois», au prétexte qu'ils n'ont pas la même religion, la même couleur de peau ou les mêmes origines qu'eux.

Although the passage does not state this explicitly, the implication is instantly clear to any Frenchmen:  the people hurling this epithet are, pour l’essentiel, of North African extraction.
The semantic development, then, proceeds precisely from the connotation ‘français de souche’.   The nearest American equivalent would be honky or whitey, but the cultural intension is quite distinct:  as though one were to deride Americans of European ancestry as “Mayflowers” (though actually that would be applicable only to those whose ancestors came from England).   In America, where everyone is descended from comparatively recent immigrants (apart from the aboriginals who run the casinos and the duty-free cigarette joints, and who do not serve as role models for anyone anymore), a comparable notion of “Américain de souche”  is simply not available.

Si cela vous parle,
savourez la série noire
en argot authentique d’Amérique :


[Update 8 Oct 2012]  Feuilleton de Leila BABES :  le néologism « souchien » comme épithète, le « discours de Dakar », et autres gauloiseries :

For more on the  « discours de Dakar », click here:

A consulter aussi:  Leçons de géometrie hexagonale.


Pour d’autres friandises
de la confiserie 
du docteur Justice,


Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Hijacked Haikus

In an earlier post, we glanced askance at the importation of the haiku form, from its natural habitat in a syllable-timed language without independent stress, like Japanese (or French), into an emphatically dynamic, stress-laden language like English,  which is much better served  by drumbeat metres  like the ballad.

The preëminence, however, of the haiku in Japanese, as well as its persistent (if ill-starred) favor among anglophones,  suggests that the genre  deserves a second look.
Not to be imported slavishly, wholesale; but adapted, as has many a metre before.

And so we have bred a new breed (deep in the underground poetry-laboratories of WDJ),
by Haiku out of Rootabaga Stories:
minimalist like its original,  with a likewise light touch,
yet ferociously stress-centred.

This new birth marks a date, in the poetic firmament.
View the new arrival, in all its hopeful trembling newness,

On the same cat, sunning himself, on the same spot, again

  On the same cat, sunning himself, on the same spot, again

    Will you look at that cat … !
    Can you top that ??
    I can’t !

Monday, September 24, 2012


According to those invaluable blogstats,
someone just found this site by a search on the following Boolean string:

        french poem about spider

Vous êtes le bienvenu(e), monsieurdame !  Et pourtant  To our great confoundment, we are forced to confess, that hitherto  we have had no such offering.  This yawning gap we now hasten to amend, as follows:

Que not’ frère l’araigne
ce tribut ne dédaigne
car il comble un vide:
ce poème arachnoïde

Philological note:
Spiders speak a more classical, even old-fashioned, variety of French, than what you and I learned in class.   Their word for ‘spider’ is the chastely Latinate araigne, from Latin ARANEA (cf. Spanish araña).  The modern bastardization is araignée, which by rights should mean “spiderweb” or maybe “spider-clowder” (though I personally have never witnessed  a clowder of spiders;  they tend to be rather standoffish).
I would also love to report that dédaigne was the subjunctive of an archaic *dédaindre;  but alas, ‘tis not so, it’s dédaigner (from DIGNARI) all the way down.  (Immediately related to our English verb deign, btw, and more distantly to the noun dignity, from the Latin source.)

Pour d’autres friandises
de la confiserie 
du docteur Justice,


Sunday, September 23, 2012


O look!  It’s Mr Naughtysquirrel.
Up to his usual mischief, I’ll be bound.

Sun Day Cat poem

O my, it’s Mr Lazycat,
sunning himself in the sun.
Have you ever seen something to match that cat?
I certainly have not.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Honour thy Parent One and Parent Two (updated)

Goodbye, Mom and Dad. Hello, Parent One and Parent Two.
The State Department has decided to make U.S. passport application forms "gender neutral" by removing references to mother and father, officials said, in favor of language that describes one's parentage somewhat less tenderly.
The change is "in recognition of different types of families."
Eleison, kyrie.

[Update 12 Sept 2012]
HOLLYWOOD, September 11, 2012, ( –  Defenders of marriage have long said if the institution is redefined beyond one man and one woman, there is no clear end to the new combinations that could be considered “marriage.” A growing body of evidence shows the popular culture, led by Hollywood elites, do not intend to stop with same-sex unions.
Nick Cassavetes, the director of the romantic film The Notebook, told reporters at the debut of his new film that incest is no different than allowing same-sex weddings. “Love who you want, isn’t that what we say? Gay marriage – love who you want,” he said.
“If you’re not having kids, who gives a damn?” the son of legendary director John Cassavetes and actress Gena Rowlands asked in an interview with The Wrap while premiering his new film, Yellow, which features an incestuous affair between a brother and sister.

[Update 22 septembre 2012]  Whispers of something similar  possibly impending in France:
Il y a encore mieux , dans le projet Taubira (qui a un peu fuité , semble-t-il) les termes Père et Mère disparaîtront du livret de famille au profit de Parent 1 et de Parent 2 , et pour le nom des enfants ce sera au choix ou les deux noms de Parent 1 et Parent 2 ou peut être un numéro.

Note:  This is a reader’s comment, not from the body of the article.  It might be satire, but … it’s hard to tell, anymore.
When I was younger, the very notion of “gay marriage” would have seemed a satire, and in very bad taste at that.

Travaillant au noir,
le détective  se trouve aux prises
avec le Saint-Esprit


[Update 7 October 2012]  You fancy I exaggerate?  Wish it were so.
With so much marital pluralism and private ordering already available, why not add a further option — that of polygamous marriage?”

The slope just gets slipperier, the further down you slide, owing to the spillage of body fluids.

Une affaire grave (updated)

Now that the distractions of the Présidentielle are out of the way, serious scholars of the Gallic scene  can return to the essentials.  Review the latest here:

Aurélie Delvaulx, 25 ans, conteste les accusations portées par une autre escort-girl qui a affirmé aux enquêteurs avoir subi de la part de DSK des actes sexuels non consentis. «Cette histoire est bidon», dit-elle.

Belgian temptress and observatrice politique  Aurélie D

Commented Angela Merkel (speaking through an interpreter):
Je commence à en avoir assez de DSK et de ses histoires. J'avoue que je m'en fiche totalement. Rideau svp !

Attempts to reach Ms. Delvaulx for comment were unsuccessful, as she is already booked for the evening.

Gratuit !
Lisez le conte entier

For an archive of our coverage of these momentous matters, click here:

And if (by mischance) you perused this post, not from a sober concern for the fate of the noble Gallic nation, but because of the broad -- er, the broad-er perspective,  -- well then, there's this:

      Dames, dames, dames !


Si cela vous parle,
savourez la série noire
en argot authentique d’Amérique :

[Update 22 sept 2012]  Reprieved!

Cela me ravit, d’être ravie !

C’est le soupçon le plus infamant qui ait pesé sur Dominique Strauss-Kahn dans l’affaire du Carlton : des accusations de «viol en réunion» reposant sur le témoignage d’une escort-girl belge ayant participé à une soirée en décembre 2010 à Washington. Selon les informations du Figaro, les investigations ont abouti à une impasse et le parquet de Lille s’apprête à classer sans suite l’enquête préliminaire ouverte en mai sur ce volet du dossier.

Au cours de l’été, la jeune femme a transmis un courrier à la police judiciaire de Lille dans lequel elle explique n’avoir pas été victime de violences à Washington et avoir été parfaitement consentante à ce qu’elle décrit comme des «jeux sexuels». Sa lettre était accompagnée d’un courrier de son avocat belge. La prostituée n’avait jamais porté plainte pour ces violences présumées qu’elles avaient relatées à des policiers en Belgique. La défense de DSK avait dénoncé un « acharnement » contre son client.
Dans sa première version, Marie-Anne, la prostituée belge, âgée de 25 ans à l'époque, avait raconté que DSK avait «utilisé la force» contre elle pour tenter de la sodomiser et qu'elle s'y était opposée: «J'ai dit clairement que je ne voulais pas à plusieurs reprises, à haute voix». Une autre participante à la partie fine, Aurélie, avait été moins affirmative dans son récit: «Je voyais à sa tête que ça ne lui plaisait pas. J'ai dit à DSK d'arrêter (…) Je ne l'ai pas entendu dire non».

*     *     *
~ Commercial break ~
Nook lovers are book lovers!
We now return you to your regularly scheduled essay.

*     *     *

Oh.... my.... God...   ....    ..........
I just realized one of the factors  that renders her so attractive to me:  She reminds me of Eliza Dushku, of the Buffyverse, and star of "The Dollhouse" ...

Ravish me in your dreams,  Big Boy ....

[Update Lent 2013]  Eheu, vae mihi!  Vanity, vanity, all is vanity!
And to dissociate you all from the overripe riot of color above,
we now offer, in the spirit of bread&water,
a strrripped-down (minimalist) vision of das Ewig-Weibliche,
for your spiritual contemplation.

[Scroll down only if over 18]



The Venus of Praxitiles, a chaste and ancient statue; bra and panties  painted on, so that no-one will harbor inappropriate thoughts

Pour d’autres friandises
de la confiserie 
du docteur Justice,


This morning’s new web

On a front porch bedecked with webs spanning every aperture, as though hung with bunting,
the small, gracile green spiders that have proliferated this season,
today were joined by a larger species:
russet, and about the size of one joint of my thumb.

He reigned supreme at the dead center of his elaborate web,
until I approached to inspect his handiwork.
Here he sings his song:

i’m a big grumpy spider
heh heh heh
i can eats anything

o nooooezzz !!
that monster bigger than me ! ! !
time to make my getaway
on my clever escape-route strand

(heh  heh  heh  heh  heh ... )

(For more fun with our octopodal buddies the spiders, click here.)

Advice to the Mittlorn

Many among the Republican faithful  have been disturbed at the recent meltdown of the Romney campaign, resembling nothing so much as the downswirl of Turds in a Toilet-Bowl ©.   Herewith an attempt to reassure them.

Q:  People have been questioning our candidate’s foreign-policy experience. -- Well, not his experience exactly, since he has none:  but his foreign-policy common-sense.  There was his disasterous trip to London;  his sinister trip to Israel; and his unprovoked provocations of China and Iran, egging them on to trade-war or war.  What are we to say, when some know-it-all Liberal  throws this in our face?
A:  Remind them that Mr. Mitford Romney has bulked up his diplomatic portfolio by becoming Prime Minister  of free and independent Azawad.

Q:  Are Romney-Ryan actually Christian?
A:  Mormons and Ayn-Randers are considered to be “virtual Christians”.

Q:  I can handle Romney, awkwardness and all;  but his closest associates -- Sheldon Adelson, Donald Trump, and Marc Leder -- make me physically ill.  What ever shall I do?
A:  Take two aspirin, and call me in the morning.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

All Thumbs Down (Updated)

As usual, we shall largely refrain from wading into the sociopolitical kerfuffle surrounding that video, “Mohammad Does Manhattan” or whatever the heck it was called, whose promotion by provocateurs  sparked assaults upon American and European embassies in much of the world (Japan’s embassy in China has also been under assault, but that is not part of the main feature, more like the introductory cartoons).   But we make certain logical, linguistic, and literary points.

The narrative as initially (mis)understood in the Muslim world is as follows:
(A) America made a film ridiculing Islam, and should apologize.
The narrative floating around the US has two subflavors:
(B1)  [mainstream media]  Some Americans made a film which, though some might find it offensive (de gustibus non disputandem est) is protected as free speech -- “We disagree with what you say but we shall defend to the death your right to say it”.  Free speech as such is protected from legal sanctions.
(B2) [Romney fantasy]  The Obama administration did apologize for making the film and it was a disgrace to do so, since the film embodies American values and we should be proud of American values.

Quite apart from your religion or politics, all those narratives are factually false.

(1)   So far as anyone knows, there isn’t actually any such “film”, in the traditional sense of this term. (A Washington Post columnist makes this point here.)  There is an amateur video, never seen in movie theatres, but simply posted on YouTube, along with hundreds of thousands of other amateur offerings, such as cats looking confused, gay sex with someone being dismembered, and (possibly most disturbing of all) Drunk Gumby.  (A much funnier and even viler “drunk Gumby” video -- apparently this is a whole genre unto itself -- used to be available here:,  but has alas been “removed by the user”, i.e. suppressed by The State. Somebody please re-post!)  The distinction is important, since absolutely anything can go ‘direct to video’, whereas a true movie requires a lot of social and financial muscle for production and distribution, and thus the very act of receiving such treatment  tells you a lot about the country in which it was made.   Thus, I almost never read reviews of books I don’t plan to read -- they come and go in their hundreds every month.  I do read movie reviews of major studio-funded movies I will never see, so as to feel the pulse of the nation.
The fact that the US media continues to speak of a “film” as though it were part of a double feature with “Batman’s Revenge”  is a disservice -- to semantics.
(2)  The video certainly wasn’t made by “America”, as in scenario (A), and apparently not even by an American, but by an Egyptian -- an Egyptian, to be sure, abusing the hospitality of American soil.

Cinematic genius Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, surrounded by his many fans

(3)  Given (1) and (2), there is no question of America “apologizing” -- not as a moral or political matter, but simply a grammatical matter:  You cannot apologize for something you have not done.   If you, not I, step on Elvis’s blue suede shoes, I may defend your action or denounce it, but I cannot “apologize” to Elvis.

(4)  As a matter of law, speech as such is not protected.  For instance, knowingly false and malicious statements (such as certainly characterize this video) can be prosecuted as slander or defamation.   In this country, however, you cannot be prosecuted for making such statements about a dead person (such as the prophet Muhammad, upon whom be peace) or a religion.  So, this video is probably not subject to legal sanctions so far as its content (although charges might be brought owing to certain fraudulent circumstances of its production):  but this, as a matter of details specific to the case, and not by some blanket exemption for “speech”.    In fact, any time someone is prosecuted under our (intolerably vague) laws against “conspiracy”, they are being prosecuted for things they said, not things they did.

(5)  A point that has received surprisingly little commentary:  the perpetrator initially pretended to be Israeli, and to have raised the millions of dollars he needed to make the film from “100 Jewish doctors”.
First, a legal point.   Suppose I make a video defaming Babar the Elephant King, sign it “Harvey P. Miller, 333 Oak Lane, Gashville, Ohio”, and leave it on the doorstep of the International Babar Society.   I cannot be prosecuting for the content, since U.S. law recognizes no category of lèse-majesté, nor of slander of elephants.   So be it.  But:  Mr. Harvey P. Miller,  of 333 Oak Lane, Gashville, Ohio, does have a prospect of legal recourse of some sort, since his life has been put in peril by the malice of another.
If the perp’s story had stuck, it could well have sparked violence, not against our embassies, but against Jews and against Israel.   And if Romney had just managed to “hold it” for twenty-four hours (clenching his teeth, and dancing from foot to foot), instead of putting his foot into his mouth and swallowing it, he could be basking right now on the high ground, denouncing the video along with a chorus of Friends of Israel.   But as usual, he blew it.

(6)  That detail -- we might almost say, that folkloristic motif -- of “a hundred Jewish doctors” (vice fifty Presbyterian plumbers, or a thousand Confucian choreographers) immediately set off an alarm bell.  The guy was obviously a phoney -- but phoney in an interesting way, and one not widely familiar to Americans.  For here we have to deal, not with everyday small-town/farmburg anti-Semitism, but the strange, Jungian-archetype-ridden psychic underworld of such other weirdly imaginative slanders as the Protocols of the Elders of Zion (which I partly satirize in the Riemann Conspiracy series -- the only difference being that the Riemann Conspiracy is real, and they are coming for you right now.)   Specifically, it echoes the anti-Jewish Stalinist show trials known as the “Doctors Plot”.


  Thus far the language and logic of the thing -- all from a rational Western perspective.   Such logico-linguistic hygiene is useful for avoiding bone-headed Romnification ©,  but not for understanding what is going on in the rest of the world, or predicting events.  And here, there is no settled mental calculus that will aid us:  We shall have to proceed far afield, leaving logic well behind.

Fouad Ajami has a thoughtful essay on the subject in this morning’s Washington Post:
We have ourselves addressed the issue in an earlier essay:
            Pride and the Laws of Motion

~   ~
For an exhilarating parable
in which Spring becomes general,
and dry twigs  send forth  green leaves,   see
Murphy and the Magic Pawnshop
~   ~

[Update, 20 IX 2012]

(Historical background -- a public service from Le Figaro)
Les 75.000 premiers exemplaires du numéro sur les caricatures de Mahomet ont été vendus en quelques heures. Le journal satirique devrait en écouler plus de 200.000.
[Translation:   Repenting all the way to the bank.]

[Update  22 Sept 2012]  The mental confusion on the part of the Muslim rioters  is matched by the confusion of the Washington Post reporter:

Despite repeated U.S. disavowals of the privately made video and denunciations of its content, many Pakistanis remained unconvinced, seeing it as an intentional calumny against the prophet Muhammad.

This is a false dichotomy.   Pakistanis are absolutely correct in seeing the video as “an intentional calumny against the prophet Muhammad”;  that’s exactly what it was, no-one really denies that.  (As the author of several intentional calumnies, mostly against the likes of Donald Trump, I recognize them when I see them.)   That fact is not in contradiction to denunciations and disavowals from U.S. government entities, which had no role at all in the production or distribution of the video.

[Update 28 September 2012]

The man thought to have been behind the anti-Islam video that set off deadly protests across the Muslim world in recent weeks was arrested on Thursday for violating terms of his probation in a 2010 bank fraud case.