One has just been sent out as a biblical dove, has found nothing green, and slips back
into the darkness of the ark -- Kafka

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Forgotten or Discarded Scarecrow?

Forgotten? Discarded? On the run? Not scary enough? Hard to believe he can scare anything here beneath this tree.

Monday, November 24, 2014


From The Fall:

To be sure, you are not familiar with that dungeon cell that was called the little-ease in the Middle Ages. In general, one was forgotten there for life. That cell was distinguished from others by ingenious dimensions. It was not high enough to stand up in nor yet wide enough to lie down in. One had to take on an awkward manner and live on the diagonal; sleep was a collapse, and waking a squatting.


I believe this little-ease is in the Tower of London:

[From Wikimedia Commons]


"The Just Judges" by Van Eyck

The Just Judges or The Righteous Judges is the lower left panel of the Ghent Altarpiece, painted by Jan van Eyck or his brother Hubert Van Eyck between 1430–32. It is believed that the panel shows portraits of several contemporary figures such as Philip the Good, and possibly the artists Hubert and Jan van Eyck themselves. The panel was stolen in 1934 and has never been found.

Photograph of the stolen panel:

[Photo and text from Wikipedia:]


More from "The Fall"

Stayed close to home this morning. Walked to Bucks (hoping to see my coyote on the Greenbelt but no luck); sunrise over the lagoon was OK but I resisted the pic; a little Camus and then a short trek around the golf course and lagoon.


Excerpts from The Fall:

     By the way, will you please open that cupboard? Yes, look at that painting. Don't you recognize it? It is "The Just Judges." That doesn't make you jump? Can it be that your culture has gaps? Yet if you read the papers, you would recall the theft in 1934 in the St. Bavon Cathedral of Ghent, of one of the panels of the famous van Eyck altarpiece, "The Adoration of the Lamb." That panel was called "The Just Judges." It represented judges on horseback coming to adore the sacred animal. It was replaced by an excellent copy, for the original was never found. Well, here it is. No, I had nothing to do with it. A frequenter of Mexico City--you had a glimpse of him the other evening--sold it to the ape for a bottle, one drunken evening.
In philosophy as in politics, I am for any theory that refuses to grant man innocence and for any practice that treats him as guilty. You see in me, tres cher, an enlightened advocate of slavery. 
     Without slavery, as a matter of fact, there is no definitive solution. I very soon realized that. Once upon a time, I was always talking of freedom. At breakfast I used to spread it on my toast, I used to chew it all day long, and in company my breath was delightfully redolent of freedom.
Well, here's the stroke of genius. I discovered that while waiting for the masters with their rods, we should, like Copernicus, reverse the reasoning to win out. Inasmuch as one couldn't condemn others without immediately judging oneself, one had to overwhelm oneself to have the right to judge others. Inasmuch as every judge some day ends up as a penitent, one had to travel the direction and practice the profession of penitent to be able to end up as a judge. You follow me? Good. But to make myself even clearer, I'll tell you how I operate. 


Saturday, November 22, 2014

Camus' "The Fall"

Finished with Modiano. May read more if and when it becomes available on Kindle. So-so but it kept my interest. Have taken up Camus' The Fall (third time, I believe). Relatively easy read. Not always as good as I remembered, but probably (for me) his best work.


An excerpt:
Any society, however brilliant, soon crushes me whereas I have never been bored with the women I liked. It hurts me to confess it, but I'd have given ten conversations with Einstein for an initial rendezvous with a pretty chorus girl. It's true that at the tenth rendezvous I was longing for Einstein or a serious book. In short, I was never concerned with the major problems except in the intervals between my little excesses. And how often, standing on the sidewalk involved in a passionate discussion with friends, I lost the thread of the argument being developed because a devastating woman was crossing the street at that very moment.

Sunset and Palms (From the 110 South)

Two or three nights ago. Couldn't resist. Call me a hoarder of sunsets and sunrises. It was along my usual route home. A faux paradise is better than no paradise.


Saturday, November 15, 2014

Buffon's Needle

Also quite interesting (I'm glad I followed the link): Buffon's Needle.


In mathematics, Buffon's needle problem is a question first posed in the 18th century by Georges-Louis Leclerc, Comte de Buffon:
Suppose we have a floor made of parallel strips of wood, each the same width, and we drop a needle onto the floor. What is the probability that the needle will lie across a line between two strips?
Buffon's needle was the earliest problem in geometric probability to be solved; it can be solved using integral geometry. The solution, in the case where the needle length is not greater than the width of the strips, can be used to design a Monte Carlo method for approximating the number π.