Archive for the ‘Language and religion’ Category

News for (massive) dogs: St. Bernard of Menthon

December 5, 2018

It’s about the lives of the saints (like some other recent postings); it’s about Switzerland (for some value of Switzerland); and it’s about dogs, really big dogs. St. Bernard of Montjoux, and the dog named after his 11th-century refuge for travelers in the Alps.

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News for bears: St. Corbinian

December 5, 2018

Recent news flashes for bears: the 11/17/18 posting “Teddy Bears’ Picnic Day” (with the customary bow to possible gay subtexts); and the 12/4/18 posting “Santa Barbara: smite him with lightning”, with image #2 — Corrado Parducci’s Horace Rackham Fountain at the Detroit Zoo (1939), featuring a pair of sculpture bears. Now, continuing the lives of the saints theme, but disregarding the many saints named Ursus or Ursula, we come to St. Corbinian, the patron saint of bears (thanks to the 8th-century Miracle of the Bear).

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Santa Barbara: smite him with lightning

December 4, 2018

Today is Saint Barbara’s feast day. Draw near and sit with me, for today’s telling of the lives of the saints. There will be miracles.


(#1) St. Barbara as envisioned by sculptor Corrado Parducci at St. Barbara’s Church in Dearborn MI

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Mandala swimmer, Kali tat, Banksia stamp

November 5, 2018

(Hunk in a swmsuit, oblique literate raciness. Plus religion, art, and plants.)

Today’s mailing from the Daily Jocks company takes us to the beaches of Oz, where an ad for the Aussie homowear firm 2eros’s Mandala swimsuit is framed as a postcard, complete with a 2018 Oz-floral stamp. Plus a caption of mine:


(#1) The flower of his manhood

Ramble down the
Rocks to revere his pink
Lotus flower, to
Lose yourself on the
Blue wheel of desire

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Revisiting 20: X Places

November 1, 2018

The Scenes From a Multiverse of 10/9, entitled #NOTALLPLACES:

A riff on Michael Schur’s sitcom The Good Place, with Kristen Bell (as Eleanor, apparently sent wrongly to the place after her deathGood Plae modality is harsh.) and Ted Danson (as Michael, the designer of the place). Also a comment on social media (Twitter vs. Facebook).  And of course on the nature of reality and our perceptions of it.

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Three exercises in cartoon understanding

October 24, 2018

In this morning’s comics feed: a Zippy with the slogan “Kindness, Acceptance, Inclusion”; a Bizarro with a Discomfort Control mechanism; and a Rhymes With Orange about the facial recognition of a Mr. Banner. The first two can be understood at some level even if you don’t get the cultural references involved (though they’re much more entertaining if you do), but the third is probably just incomprehensible if you don’t recognize Mr. Banner.

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Ancient of days

October 7, 2018

My morning name on the 5th, a line from a familiar hymn (“Come Thou Almighty King” / “Come, Thou Almighty King” / “Come Thou, Almighty King”), sung to the tune known as Moscow, Trinity, or Italian Hymn. Surely not by accident, an album of familiar hymns was playing on my iTunes when I woke up — but “Come Thou Almighty King” had not been played. Yet. While I was checking the playlist on my computer the hymn came up. So I seem to have been prescient.

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The rose and the flames

June 3, 2018

(After some extended moments of reflections on religious belief, this posting will venture into the sexual wilds, and the later material will not be suitable for kids or the sexually modest.)

Two design drawings by Elizabeth Daingerfield Zwicky (from a set available to the public in an Instagram file): one a rose window (alluding indirectly to such images at Stanford’s Memorial Church, which serve as potent Christian symbols); and one suggesting tongues of flame / fire (alluding to those that figure in the Christian religious holiday of Pentecost, which fell this year on Sunday, May 20th). Two religious symbols, with associated linguistic expressions (rose window; tongues of flame/fireto speak in tongues).

First, things: the rose, and flames.

Then, these things serving as symbols in Christian ways of thinking (actually, each can have several different symbolic values, even within this specific sociocultural context).

Then, these symbols, with these values, deployed in art, music, film, and fiction, and even in food and in plant names.

Then, the original things — rose and flames — serving as symbols in other sociocultural contexts: in particular, as sexual symbols, for body parts and for sexual acts.

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bunny ears

May 21, 2018

It started with a candid photo of people at a social gathering, with one person making a V hand gesture behind the head of the person next to them, much as in this photo of pro tennis players:

(#1) Swiss jock jokery:  Stan Wawrinka doing the ‘bunny ears’ gesture behind Roger Federer

Bunny-earing someone is a prank (NOAD on the noun prank: ‘a practical joke or mischievous act’), pranks being a very culture-specific form of play + humor that deserve analytic attention that I’m not able to provide, but will just take as a cultural given here.

To come: a bit of the history of bunny-earing; senses of the expression bunny ears (illustrating (mostly metaphorical) sense developments in many directions); and uses of the V hand gesture (illustrating symbolic functions of many different kinds; the gesture itself is “just stuff”, without intrinsic meaning, which can be exploited for many different symbolic purposes). The act, the meanings of the linguistic expression for the act, the cultural significances (or “social meanings”) of the act.

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The 6-fold way

May 19, 2018

A fabulous design from Elizabeth Daingerfield Zwicky yesterday:

(#1) “6-fold” (or: “The 6-fold Way”)

To come. On 6-fold symmetry: snowflakes (natural and in paper), many monocot flowers, Kekulé’s carbon ring for benzene, the major colors of the color wheel (reproduced in the rainbow flag for Gay Pride).

Then on number, color, and gender parallelisms, which will give us 6 as purple and queer. And how the opposition of the secondary hues green with purple in #1 parallels the opposition of the primary hues blue with red (and, in the background of #1, the opposition of the primary hues red with yellow).

And on the name 6-fold way, adapted from the Noble Eightfold Path of Buddhism and Murray Gell-Mann’s adaptation of the idea (under the name The Eightfold Way) to a theory organizing subatomic particles.

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