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"God is in the details" (--Mies van der Rohe[fn.46a[ Go to footnote! ]]
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33[ Return to footnote trigger! ] (From: "Academia's Overheated Competition", By Andrew Delbanco, NYT OpEd page, 16Mar01) "I teach at Columbia.... Every year I read that our incoming students have better grades and better SAT scores.... But... I do not find a commensurate increase in the number of students who are intellectually curious, adventurous or imbued with fruitful doubt. Many students are chronically stressed, grade-obsessed and, for fear of jeopardizing their ambitions, reluctant to explore subjects in which they doubt their proficiency.... [/] Our best universities are waging a take-no-prisoners war against each other - boasting to the world not only about the rising SAT scores of their students, but about the soaring numbers of applicants who want to come to their campuses. And they are doing everything they can to keep those numbers climbing.... We need to slow down the spiral of irrational competition in which both students and colleges are caught.... [A] concerted effort should be made by presidents and deans to repudiate the idea that getting into college is about learning how to win in an unregulated marketplace. How can we foster critical thinking about inequities in our society if students turn cynical about the system before they arrive in college?" (Ed. note: Lawrence Kohlberg called this "the hidden curriculum": what schools really teach, as opposed to the nominal curriculum of physics, philosophy, etc.)
Note (25Aug01): The "anchor" for this footnote somehow got lost. I hope I have fixed this and linked the footnote to the text it was supposed to annotate, but I am not sure. This website has indeed "gotten out of hand" after 5 years of adding stuff to it every day.
34[ Return to footnote trigger! ] "A growing number of companies are turning to grading systems, also known as forced rankings or distributions, as a way of making sure managers evaluate employees honestly and make clearer distinctions among them. At companies that do not compare employees with one another this way, nearly every employee can come away feeling above average, like the children of Lake Wobegon. But under the grading system, managers are forced to identify some people as low performers. [/] At General Electric, for example, supervisors identify the top 20 percent and bottom 10 percent of their managerial and professional employees every year. The bottom 10 percent are not likely to stay. [/] As John F. Welch Jr., General Electric's chief executive, wrote last month to shareholders, 'A company that bets its future on its people must remove that lower 10 percent, and keep removing it every year - always raising the bar of performance and increasing the quality of its leadership.'" ("Companies Turn to Grades, and Employees Go to Court", by Reed Abelson, The New York Times on the Web, 19Mar01)
35[ Return to footnote trigger! ] "Winnicott (1974 ["Fear of Breakdown"]) has shown that, when people in analysis speak seriously of a fear of a breakdown or a fear of death, they are projecting into future time what has already been experienced in the infantile past. One can only truly fear what one knows about through experience. Terrifying and often disabling fears of breakdown and death are distinct ways of remembering traumatic experiences that actually happened in a person's infancy. What is dreaded and feared as a potentially calamitous future event is the necessity of experiencing through the memory of the evolving psychoanalytic transference the horrible, regressive, and once death-threatening breakdown the person experienced in a dependent state in infancy.... [/] One way for a therapist to collude with resistance to therapeutic progress is to focus on external perpetrators or long ago traumas to prevent having to live through [with the patient] deeply distressing, and frightening breakdown recreations together in the here and now therapeutic relationship. [/] The breakdown fear a person felt in infancy lives on as the somatic underpinning of all subsequent emotional relatedness but cannot be recalled because: (a) No memory of the experience per se is recorded -- only a nameless dread of re-experiencing the dangers of infantile dependence and breakdown, (b) the memory of the breakdown experience itself is guarded with intense pain, somatic terror, and physical symptoms of all types, (c) the trauma occurred before it was possible to record pictures, words, or stories so it cannot be recalled in ordinary ways, but only as bodily terrors of approaching breakdown and death. But massive breakdown of functioning is not the only kind of trauma known to occur in infancy.... [/] Masud Khan's 1963 concept of 'cumulative trauma' adds a new set of possibilities to those already discussed...." ("False Accusations Against Therapists: Where Are They Coming From, Why Are They Escalating, When Will They Stop?", Lawrence E. Hedges, Institute for Psychological Therapies (IPT) Journal, Vol.7 Nr.1, 1995)
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I was born with a large mole on my chest. By the time I was a teenager, pieces were falling out of it and it sometimes bled. I was terrified of doctors, but one time I got up the courage to ask my parents to take me to a doctor to get it removed. They did nothing. When I was in college, I finally got the mole removed, and fortunately, it was not malignant. By that time, however, I had developed a phobic fear of birthmarks turning cancerous and killing me. In the 1980s, I had good health insurance, and I found a doctor who would remove any moles I asked him to remove, with the only condition being that he biopsy them (which was fine with me). So I got every mole on my body removed. In more recent years, I have been chronically troubled by small but annoying growths in my mouth. Oral surgery was not able to solve this problem, especially since the operations to remove the autochthonous irritants produce iatrogenic ones. The oral surgeon does not question that my complaints have a basis in reality, but the things that trouble me are sometimes so small he has a hard time finding them, and he thinks they would not bother "most people", some of whom he says live with much larger growths in their mouths, which they have never even noticed.... Getting back to the moles: I grew up with something I did not want, after having been deprived of something I would have wanted had I known it existed: The doctor who made a buck circumcising me could have earned as good a buck taking off that mole instead ("Never again").
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In the case of a passenger on a hijacked airplane, cellphones have the humanly constructive use of enabling the person to make contact with their loved ones and thus not go their doom "all alone". For persons trapped in collapsed buildings, in some hostage situations, etc., the cell phone, besides breaking through the isolation barrier, can also help the trapped person guide rescuers to find them, potentially changing doom into rescue.
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Cell phones ("beepers", etc.) are ambivalent technologies: Under normal circumstances, their main use is to intrude into and spoil persons' privacy and jerk them around. At any moment, the ring of a cell phone or pager can make a person stop what they are doing (e.g., relaxing and perhaps even daydreaming, or doing some task in a calm way) and "jump to" whatever the cell phone call intrudes into their life. Cell phones and pagers greatly enhance the power of surveillance of parents over children, the power of bosses to boss employees around (esp. employees who work outside the office!), etc.
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[ What are cellphones doing to us? ]Obviously, having a cellphone is different for a CEO than for a gopher ("Go for this!" "Go for that!"...). If "you" are sufficiently powerful that none dare to call "your" cellphone to jerk "you" around, then having the cellphone may be a very different experience than if "you" are an object of other persons' power to boss "you" around and snoop on "you". ("Ring! Ring! Excuse me for intruding on your privacy, Most Esteemed CEO Sir, but I thought you might need to know that all life on earth was ended by a massive asteriod impact about 5 minutes ago. I do apologize for calling you on your cellphone, Most Esteemed CEO Sir, but I felt you would want to know." Alternatively: "Gopher! Why the hell did you take two rings to pick up? A massive asteroid is about to adversely affect my net worth! Stop it! Step to it, NOW!")
A cellphone was finally bestowed on me (BMcC), in January 2006.
38[ Return to footnote trigger! ] One of the few pieces of real estate that it might have substantively benefitted humanity to defend was lost long ago: The Alexandrian Library. For information on libraries and archives destroyed in the 20th century, see: Lost Memory - Libraries and Archives Destroyed in the Twentieth Century (A Unesco publication, 1996).
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I have been opposed to Islamic persecution of women, esp. female ritual genital mutilation (FGM), since I learned about it, ca. 1980. The people who practice this social custom sometimes describe it as "perfecting what nature left not quite finished". ~ Long before the NYC World Trade Center suicide bombings (aka "911"), I thought up the idea of covering various public buildings with giant chadors (cf. the artist Christo?). After "911", however, I though up a further idea, for an Islamic fundamentalist stealth delivery vehicle for a nuclear or biological/chemical weapon: The Burqabomb[er]. [See also: U.S. spy satellite photo of secret Islamist ICBM]
40[ Return to footnote trigger! ] National Public Radio "All Things Condsidered" interviewed a rap singer, 01Oct01. The singer kept repeating: "Brilliance is based on experience." I thought: He's right, and that's yet another reason schools and their tests are wrong: Instead of testing young persons to measure what we can know we will find before we test them, namely, how they can't be brilliant because they don't have experience, the school could be nurturing students' experience, looking forward to the day when they would have the potential to be brilliant.
41[ Return to footnote trigger! ] There is, of course, a distinction between groups which proselytize and try to make everybody else like themselves, and groups which "only" try to prevent anyone from interfering with them internally organizing their own group as they want. But, when push comes to shove, this difference does not make a difference, since the non-proselytizing groups will use any means they can avail themselves of to secure for themselves their "promised land". In the present context, radical Zionists presumably would not see any problem with a war in which America fought the Arab world and both America and the Arab world were devastated but, as a result of which, they were able to secure for Israel all the land they believe thay have an absolute right to.
42[ Return to footnote trigger! ] "Ojala!" means "Hope!" in Spanish, but, literally, it means "May Allah grant!" -- deriving from the medieval Islamic occupation of the Spanish peninsula. I wrote this word here in November 2000, long before the Islamic fundamentalist terrorist acts of 11 September 2001.
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I interpret "discontents" more in terms of dys-contents than simply malcontents, i.e., persons who do not or cannot "fit in", as opposed to persons who are simply unhappy with their lot in the system. Persons who avidly participate in the competition but lose are frequently unhappy, aka discontented. But becoming winners would make them happy ("contented"). Dys-contents are probably less unhappy when they are winners than losers, but winning still does not really satisfy them. They seek satisfactions which the system does not afford to anyone. The dys-contents of a system are the contents the system produces but cannot contain (dysfunctions), in contrast, e.g., to the contents that fill important but unappealing "scut work" functions without which the system could not function. Probably more dys-contents are self-destructive than hurtful to others, and many find ways to "survive" (aka "adapt"). If society can see them as canaries in the coal mine, then perhaps their destructively dysfunctional types can be kept from ever arising, and the destruction caused by malcontents averted also.
44[ Return to footnote trigger! ] I thought of the juxtaposition of the WTC towers and "The Slab", on 29 December 2001, the day before the New York Times Sunday Week in Review section ran an article making the same comparison. Also: I previously had a web page I called "2001.html": a picture of my preferred "slab", two books: Edemund Husserl's The Crisis of European Sciences and Enzo Paci's The Function of the Sciences and the Meaning of Man, posed vertically together with an outline drawn around the edges to emphasize the "block" thus formed -- but I removed it because it did not look convincing.
45[ Return to footnote trigger! ] I heard this only once, in the film: "The Battle of Algiers". I have never heard this in reality.
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Mies van der Rohe quote from: "On restraint in design", NY Herald Tribune 28 Jun 1959: "Less is more", "God is in the details", "Architecture starts when you carefully put two bricks together. There it begins." (ibid.). Citation information from Bartleby.com.
47[ Return to footnote trigger! ] [ Pope John Paul II, 2002, responding to priestly pedophilia scandal ]If the following things aren't insane (or aren't as insane as some other things our society treats as true...), they are at least paradoxical, if not oxymoronic: (1) NYT on the Web, 21Mar02, "Pope Calls Priestly Pedophilia 'Grievous Evil'" (Reuters): "Partly in response to the [recent] scandals [of pedophilia by American Catholic priests], a Vatican department is preparing a document on 'psychological profiling' to block men who have potential sexual problems from entering the priesthood." To become a Catholic priest one must take a vow of lifelong celibacy. (2) I have also read (ref. lost) that Al Qaeda does not accept anyone who is depressed or has suicidal personality tendencies, to train to become a suicide bomber. (3) It is illegal for a farmer to replant genetically modified seeds even if the farmer did not buy them originally but the wind just happened to blow them onto his land (Monsanto vs Schmeiser).
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On the 24Apr02 NPR "Marketplace" radio show, there was a piece about why so many corporations incorporate in the state of Delaware. "[Reporter Sam] Eaton: 'In a state that has nearly as many corporations as it does people -- over half a million, to be precise -- you have to wonder why so many businesses are setting up shop there. For Patricia Grabowski, with Delaware Business Incorporators, the answer is simple.' Grabowski: 'There are no legal ramifications to this state at all.' Eaton: '[Grabowski] says under Delaware law, a privately held company's owners and finances are no one's business, but the business.' Grabowski: 'Anybody can incorporate, anybody. If you were to call me and say you were so and so, and you gave me all the information that I needed, and you were giving me information about your cat, there's no way I would know that.'"
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Different topic: "'We made the gas market in the United States what it is today,' said Robert Hermann, Enron's former chief tax counsel. 'We decided we could do the same thing with electricity, and we were well on our way to doing it. Then we thought we could do it with anything. We had people who thought they could sell hairballs if they could find the buyers.'" (Peter Behr and April Witt, "The Fall of Enron: Coming Storms: Visionary's Dream Led to Risky Business", The Washington Post, 28Jul02, p.A01, emphasis added)
49[ Return to footnote trigger! ] As Marshall McLuhan famously said: "The medium is the message." What McLuhan actually said was: The meaning of a new communication medium is the changes it imposes on the pace, pattern and scale of persons' lives, apart from the particular overt contents the medium is used to convey. --And, of course, Heraclitus did not, to the best of my knowledge, say exactly what I have here quasi~attributed to him. I believe, however, it would have been consonant with his character and with classical Greek Weltanschauung (e.g., "Nothing in excess") for him to have said it, had the occasion arose, as, for myself, it did, 15May02, when I saw a fish drawn with a marking pen on the window-wall (i.e., an inside wall which is glass from floor to ceiling...) of someone's office where I work.
50[ Return to footnote trigger! ] I note that I thought of this about 2 years before "911". If I could imaginatively speculate this way while I was on vacation, about a mere field mouse on a side street in the dark, might there be reason to have expected the United States "intelligence" establishment should have anticipated terrorists [mis...]using jumbo jet commercial airplanes as guided-missile incendiary bombs in broad daylight?
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It may be worth noting that Mr. bin Laden's words here are almost identical to something Hermann Broch wrote in his novel: The Sleepwalkers, before 1930: "...a community of life that has ceased to justify its existence, a so-called community devoid of force but filled with evil will, a community that drowns itself in blood and chokes on its own poison-gases...."(p.646). Broch was speaking of "The West", in the period of World War I and its aftermath.
52[ Return to footnote trigger! ] You may remark that this "garden" is "hard to make out in the pictures". To some extent this is an artefact of my less than satisfactory pictures themselves. But the garden is somewhat overgrown. I do some pruning, but I am probably too timid and do not cut enough either for the beauty of the graden or the health of the plants. I also try to fight the weeds, but not entirely successfully. Also the lawn is almost always overgrown -- except right after it has been mowed. In this, the pictures -- esp. the "overgrown view"[ See overgrown garden! ] -- remind me, at this time (July, 2002), of the house of the ghosts (Lady Wasaka's house) in the classic Japanese film "Ugetsu" (Kenji Mizoguchi, 1953).
53[ Return to footnote trigger! ] "Typically the 5 positions are Dial Up (DU), Dial Down (DD), Crown Down (CD), Crown Left (CL) and Crown Up (CU). I believe the positions are usually regarded in that order as well. Crown Up is taken into account before Crown Down if the watch is to be worn on the right wrist and Crown Right is seldom considered because it's quite rare for a watch to spend any considerable amount of time in that position. WOSTEP (and presumably others) is now using these abreviations for the above positions CH (formerly DU), CB (formerly DD), 9H (formerly CD), 6H (formerly CL), 3H (formerly CU) and lastly 12H (formerly CR, the usually unadjusted position)." (--from the Moderator of an Internet watch forum, which is unlikely to provide a durable citation, alas...)
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Consider the following quote from Mr. Rumsfeld: "It seems to me that the problem in the United States is that we have -- we are in a certain mode. Our normal procedure is that if somebody does something unlawful, illegal against our system of government, that the first thing we want to do is apprehend them, then try them in a court and then punish them. In this case [Jose Padilla] that is not our first interest. [/] Our interest is to -- we are not interested in trying him at the moment; we are not interested in punishing him at the moment. We are interested in finding out what he knows. Here is a person who unambiguously was interested in radiation weapons and terrorist activity, and was in league with al Qaeda. Now our job, as responsible government officials, is to do everything possible to find out what that person knows, and see if we can't help our country or other countries." ("Transcript of the U.S. Department of Defense News Briefing Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld Tuesday, June 11, 2002", 12 June 2002, United States Diplomatic Mission to Italy website) It obviously is possible, pending further reseazrch, that this is the original text I heard and think I remembered in the footnote trigger text.
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To be precise, I have created two things: (1) my "enframing" of Marcel Duchamp's L.H.O.O.Q. (which was his enframing of da Vinci's Mona Lisa), and (2) My I.U.D.T.C.R., which is an allusion to Duchamp's L.H.O.O.Q. (Hopefully this is clear or less clear....)
56[ Return to footnote trigger! ] "Mr. Nehm described a conversation, which he said was recounted by a witness in the course of the investigation, in which Marwan al-Shehhi, who is suspected of being the pilot of one of the planes, mentioned the twin towers to the witness, a Hamburg librarian, in April or May 2000 and boasted: 'There will be thousands of dead. You will all think of me.'" [/] 'You will see,' Mr. Nehm quoted Mr. Shehhi as saying. "In America something is going to happen. There will be many people killed."... 'It surprised me how many clues the perpetrators left behind from their daily lives concerning the planning of this act,' [Mr. Nehm] said. 'We always speak of "sleepers," but the activities that we have listed in the indictment are incredible -- we have 90 pages -- which include a picture of their movements without gaps. That this was possible is incredible.' (Douglas Frantz and Desmond Butler, "Sept. 11 Attack Planned in '99, Germans Learn", NYT, 30Aug02, pp.A1,A10, emphasis added)
57[ Return to footnote trigger! ] It is not possible to count the links on this website, except under an interpretation (i.e., according to particular contingently selected criteria). Does one count links in dynamically generated pages [pages generated by cgi scripts, etc.]? If yes, does one separately count each specific page that can be dynamically generated, or only count once for each "type" of page? Does one count "boilerplate" links, i.e., the link on each page back to my home page or to my visual site map? What about the links in this footnote? The links in website page inventory pages? Etc. This exemplifies the way that "facts" are not real things out there apart from what we think about them. On the other hand, given an interpretation (a selected set of criteria), then the number of links in this site is uniquely determined. This exemplifies the way that "facts" are real apart from what we would like them to be.
58[ Return to footnote trigger! ] [ Pablo Picasso self-portrait! ]How much did the fascination with and celebration of "primitive art" by white Western males like Picasso [Self-portrait at right] in the early 20th century contribute to the eventual rejection of Western culture by so many Westerners in the late 20th century?
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"Many musicians allow music to tell a story. They recount events, showing how one moment develops out of another, building suspense about what is to come. They emphasize continuity. Such playing is novelistic, theatrical. [/] But [Canadian pianist, Glenn] Gould's playing is different. He isn't interested in novelistic experience. In fact, the elimination of background and the accumulation of detail can be overwhelming. Yet when he pulls it all together, it becomes possible to apprehend something that also seems beyond comprehension. The result can be sublime: one begins to experience music as if from outside, gazing in at its workings while being absorbed in them. One is at once standing still while being swept away, standing apart while feeling immersed. [/] This is what Gould meant by 'ecstasy.' He even praised musical ecstatics who 'stepped out' of the world, just as he did by retiring from the concert stage, and came to see the world in a different way. Some of that ecstasy is surely communicated to listeners, transforming perspectives, altering perceptions. [/] In fact, when one returns to the mundane world after such a musical encounter, a remnant of awe is preserved, a confidence that however unexpected life's offerings, some sense might be made of them." (Edward Rothstein, "Glenn Gould's Legacy, a Persistent State of Awe", NYT, 28Sep02, page ref. lost)
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After Gould stopped giving concert performances, he devoted himself to perfecting recordings of the music. He believed that high fidelity recordings had made concert performances obsolete because the recordings could be editted to be more perfect than live performance.(ref. lost)
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"Wright created a situation at Taleisin where he was the chieftain surrounded by his followers, surrounded by his army. And regarded itself as an army under siege. The rest of the world was wrong, the rest of the world didn't understand them, they had the right way of doing it, the master was always right. It's not a civilized situation, it's a heroic one...a touching one."
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--Vincent Scully, architectural historian, in PBS Ken Burns television program: American Stories, Frank Lloyd Wright (Part II). Scully was describing the pedagogical situation in Wright's architectural studio school, where much of the student/apprentices' "education" consisted in doing construction work and other chores for Wright and his family. My personal experience (Yale, 1964-65) of Professor Scully was that he lectured about civilization but treated students as if he was a master -- what he accuses Wright of doing.
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This quote is not exactly "right on" (one-to-one and onto, in mathematical jargon) to the subject of my monumentality web page, because the category of heroism includes sacrifices of all kinds, not just sacrifice to Power. The person who sacrifices him or herself for their compeers is deprived of civilization, too. To once again cite the title of Josef Pieper's fine essay: Leisure [is] the basis of culture. Heroism (sacrifice) and civilization (leisure) cannot occur contemporaneously in a person's life. A person can, however, survive a heroic situation and afterwards enjoy civilized leisure. Conversely, dangers may impinge on an individual, deprive him or her of civilized leisure, and coerce the person into a heroic situation until the danger can be overcome and safe, more fittingly human[e] conditions of life restored (if they can be restored, which frequently they cannot).
61[ Return to footnote trigger! ] [ Cezanne: Mont Saint-Victoire Seen from the Bibemus Quarry ]This picture of Mt. Fuji may look to you just like a blur. You may not see much if any resemblance to Cezanne's painting: Mont Saint-Victoire Seen from the Bibemus Quarry. I worked at The Baltimore Museum of Art for 2-1/2 years, and looked at this painting in the Cone collection almost every day, and I thought about it a lot, in part because at a certain point I found the painting "spoiled" for me by the mountain looking like Claribel Cone's head in profile. When I saw this image, I immediately felt a resemblance to the BMA painting and also another Cezanne painting of the mountain from further away.
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