Monday, July 29, 2019

p18wri My Review of the Movie "Yesterday"

p18wri My Review of the Movie "Yesterday"

by John Taylor; 2019 Jul 15

Our neighbour's prolific mulberry tree overhangs our back yard, raining down a shower of mulberries on the back part of our lawn. The standard way of harvesting mulberries is to lay down a sheet and shake the berries out of the tree. There were some old fibreglass sheets lying by our house that I had never found a use for, so I laid them under the tree and forgot about them until finally I collected the mulberries that had fallen on them all up in a 5 gallon bucket. More mulberries than I could handle all at once. They filled the sink but they stank because some lain long enough to ferment. So, having no use for mulberry wine, I had to mulch the whole lot.

By that time I was exhausted from this and other garden puttering, so I decided that this week I would pass on the weed and feed, where you work as a volunteer farm hand at Shared Harvest Farm for three hours for a vegetarian meal in exchange. The alternative for me was "welfare night" (Tuesdays are half price) at the Welland Cineplex. As always, it features two kid's movies, two teen comic book films, two teen horrors and one film for adults, and by adult I mean that I was the youngest person there. Everybody was either a senior, like me, or a senior senior, all old enough to remember when the Beatles were in their prime.

That, the Beatles, was the subject of the film in question, "Yesterday." It asked the question, "What would it be like if you, a failed, unpopular musician, entered a time warp where the Beatles never got together and only you and a couple of others, non-musicians, remembered their songs?" The musician tries to remember the Beatles opus, and the Beatles songs he purports to write are met with the adoration they deserve. The story goes on as you might expect a romantic story to play out.

The male lead does a creditable job of reproducing the all but universally forgotten songs of the Beatles, but he is almost too convincingly impervious to the charms of the female lead. It is one of the most difficult challenges in acting, I think, to play her role, because you have to make the whole audience fall in love with you in only a few minutes. Many, if not most, actresses in that demanding role fail miserably, or succeed with only part of the audience. In this case, she succeeds brilliantly and for that reason the whole movie works, its lesser flaws you want to forgive and forget.

The climax of the movie comes when the male lead, guided by the research of the two others who remember the Beatles, seeks out and meets the "troubled Beatle," who, he finds, has lived a long and fulfilled life. For that reason, the Beatles apparently never got together. Art demands blood and pain from its servants. From his point of view, he was much better off without the Fab Four ever coming about.

After the movie was over, I got into the car and turned on the radio, which was still tuned to the station to which I always gravitate, CBC French. They were playing a lovely violin concerto and I fell to wondering what would happen if that piece had never been written. We would get along, I guess, but the world is definitely richer for having it on the airwaves. I am no music fan and I disliked most popular songs, even many Beatles songs, when they first came out, and I still dislike most of it. That is why I prefer CBC French, because I am a neophile and given a choice prefer to hear music that I have never encountered before. The English music that dominates the radio dial is narrow in scope, packed with old music that, as I say, may be nostalgic but I did not particularly like it, even when it was new. But CBC French rarely disappoints with its old and new material.

My thoughts turned to my own writing career, such as it may have been. As an artist, maybe I am like that Beatle who never found the Beatles, and was better off for it.

Saturday, July 13, 2019

p24og, p10, p17 The Bab's Chiasm of King Philosopher, Philosopher King

by John Taylor
2019 July 13

"Speak truth to power," you often hear. This comes, perhaps, from Plato, who held that there is a natural affinity between the learned and the powerful. Plato himself attempted to personally act as counselor to a young king, and he failed spectacularly, at great personal cost. Nonetheless, the ideal utopia, he held, would be when it would be possible for the most learned, philosophers that is, to gain power. That would be the best kind of rule, rule of those who know, or philosopher kings. Or conversely, the powerful could learn to become philosophers, king philosophers, as it were.

This crossover between truth and power, then, was understood to be symbolized in the Greek letter chi (pronounced like the "ch" in loch), which looks like an "X". From that we get the word "chiasm," like the philosopher king, king philosopher, that we just discussed. One side is reflected in the other, which is highly attractive. God loves Himself more than anything else, since nothing else is worthy or capable of withstanding such intense adoration. This, God's self-love, is the uber-love, from which all other loves are mere derivations. Christianity latched on to this phenomenon in their symbolism of the cross, correctly divining that the affinity between the power and the love of God, omnipotence and munificence, met and commingled in the Person of His Manifestation.

The longing for linkage between love and power permeates all of nature. For example, it shows itself in the phenomenon of polarity in magnetism. An attraction is set up between opposite poles, negative and positive, while repulsion takes place whenever the polarities are the same, negative to negative, or positive to positive. Truth and power's crossover point always induces a field of attraction and repulsion, attraction of the opposite, repulsion from whatever is, or aspires to be, or purports to be, the same as it.

The Bab introduced the very word "Manifestation," or direct showing, of God. Before, the role of God's Messengers was to prophesy the coming of that sometime in the future. The Bab's title is Arabic for "gate." This Gate opens up a new chiasm, a world of spiritual revelation where the polarity opens up into twin Manifestations, whose love for one another was of an intensity not yet seen on this planet. The sign of this intensification of divine love will be a new liberality coming out of the confluence of those who know and those who act, philosopher kings and king philosophers. That may be why Baha'u'llah in the Suriy-i-Muluk, which was itself the ultimate "truth to power" statement, this section being addressed to Sultan Aziz, the proximate oppressor of the Manifestation, advised that all kings must, like God, be both just and liberal in compassionate action.

"It behoveth every king to be as bountiful as the sun, which fostereth the growth of all beings, and giveth to each its due, whose benefits are not inherent in itself, but are ordained by Him Who is the Most Powerful, the Almighty. The King should be as generous, as liberal in his mercy as the clouds, the outpourings of whose bounty are showered upon every land, by the behest of Him Who is the Supreme Ordainer, the All-Knowing." (Summons, 5.70, p. 213,

Sunday, July 07, 2019

p24 Crosses, a 2002 essay about the Baha'i principles, in which I discovered Google

Crosses; 10 December 2002

Dear Friends,

I ran across the word "chiasma" (also, "chiasm," or "chiastic") lately in a review of a book called "The Culture of Power and the Power of Culture." This was a word I didn't remember seeing. My high priced reference CD ROM dictionaries didn't have it. So I googled it. Google is a free, amazing service that uses gazillions of supercomputers to search the entire Internet. It is frustrating to pay for something and find out that is not as good as something that is free. 

The meaning of this word impressed me. The definition Google came up with is in a list somewhere of rhetorical devices.

"A type of rhetoric in which the second part is syntactically balanced against the first. For example, "There's a bridge to cross the great divide," and, "There's a cross to bridge the great divide."

It cites another chiasma by Coleridge: "Flowers are lovely, love is flowerlike." The word comes from chi, apparently the Greek letter that is shaped like an X or a cross. Recall that the Master explained that the cross is not only a religious symbol of Christianity but it is also an aspect of nature, a universal symbol of crossing over and sacrifice.

"Meditate upon these words and pay attention to the tissue in all existing substances, either plant, animal or man, and thou wilt see that they all are formed of the cross figure or two crosswise lines. Consider this intently with true meditation. Then thou wilt be taught by the Holy Ghost that it is for this reason that God hath chosen this symbol to be displayed as the token of sacrifice in all periods of ages. I will explain to thee, in future time, the mystery of sacrifice." (Abdu'l-Baha, Tablets, v3, 598)

But this use of interstices in a rhetorical device hints at another meaning. Is the cross also a symbol of chirality, or handedness, of the bilateral symmetry that exists deep down in reality? 

If so, the word can summarize how I organize the Baha'i principles.

Each principle, I found after long and bitter experience, is best approached as a sort of hologram. Cut off a piece of hologram and you don't have a piece of the picture cut off, you have the whole picture, only dimmer. The Badi calendar works like this, and I guess it was sufficient reason after researching the principles so long for me a couple of years ago to be distracted and go through the days of the month and month of the year virtues of the Badi calendar first, before I felt ready to take on the principles. I organized it all as a chiasm, though I knew it not at the time.

Principle is a set of chiasms, each principle recapitulating all the others within itself. So for example for the principle of search for truth, I go through all the other principles from the point of view of search for truth. My upcoming, planned series on proofs of deity will use this chiasmic approach, in which I will try to bridge the cross and cross the bridge over the great divide of belief in deity. The final title in book form of all these essays might well be chiastic too, something like, "The Principles of Peace and Pieces of the Principles." Or maybe not.