Echoing Ginsberg?

[ by Charles Cameron — the Holland Tunnel arrest and the beat poet’s Howl — a note on semiotics ] . A Dodge SUV registered to Higher Ground Tactical sits in the Port Authority impound yard near the Holland Tunnel in Jersey City on June 21, 2016. Photo: Chad Rachman/New York Post The SUV is […] Read more »

Brutal violence vs deeply symbolic threat

[ by Charles Cameron — two manifestations of the extreme right in Israel ] . ** I don’t think too many people will argue that deliberately burning famiies in their homes is less than brutal. My question to ponder here is how brutal human-on-human violence of that kind is, compared with the symbolic impact of […] Read more »

Human Sacrifice and State-Building

[by Mark Safranski / “zen“] A while back I had a longish post that argued that the mass executions practiced by ISIS drew from the long pagan tradition of ritualistic human sacrifice. Today in the news, some social scientists see evidence of human sacrifice as the catalyst for establishing and maintaining stratified, hierarchical and (usually) oppressive […] Read more »

Red mercury as scam and symbol

[ by Charles Cameron — CJ Chivers, nuclear nonsense, faux chemistry, and the alchemical imagination, with hat-tip to Cheryl Rofer ] . CJ Chivers, conflict journalist extraordinaire and author of a book about the Kalashnikov assault rifle, The Gun, today posted a remarkable account of what he terms The Doomsday Scam, with the subtitle “For […] Read more »

ISIS: Paganism with an Islamic Face?

[by Mark Safranski, a.k.a “zen“] “And thou shalt not let any of thy seed pass through the fire to Moloch, neither shalt thou profane the name of thy God: I am the LORD.” – Leviticus 18:21  “They rejected the commandments of the Lord … and served Baal. They consigned their sons and daughters to the fire” – 2 […] Read more »

Review: Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy

[by Mark Safranski, a.k.a. “zen“] Blood Meridian: or The Evening Redness in the West by Cormac McCarthy Cormac McCarthy and Blood Meridian first came to my attention back in 2000 when noted literary critic, Yale professor Harold Bloom was interviewed on C-Span’s Booknotes regarding his book, How to Read and Why. Bloom, an eccentric character who […] Read more »

April 19th anniversaries & Hegghammer’s “terrorist culture”

[ by Charles Cameron — Thomas Hegghammer has an important new piece out, and today’s anniversaries offer an insight into why it’s important ] . upper panel: the end of the siege of Mt Carmel, Waco, TX, 19 April 1993 lower panel: aftermath of the Oklahoma City bombing, OKC, 19 April 1995 ** The bombing […] Read more »

Of morale and angels, Kiev and Ragnarok

[ by Charles Cameron — not to mention crushing Khomeini, lubing your M16, and that Afghan powerpoint ] . ** In my previous post, Of morale, angels and Spartans, I raised the question of how our increasingly visual and graphical age could visually represent morale. I noted that the Muslims outfought a larger force at […] Read more »

Paris, the Prophet and his veiled face

[ by Charles Cameron — the role of iconography vs idolatry within Islam and Christianity ] . Karim Sadjadpour of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace tweeted an image of Muhammad today: Images of the prophet Mohammed weren't always taboo. This 16th century Persian miniature depicts his ascent to heaven pic.twitter.com/HdSmAwh8cb — Karim Sadjadpour (@ksadjadpour) […] Read more »

Vexillology 2

[ by Charles Cameron -- in response to a comment by Zen on a previous post -- swastikas, anarchist flags, Gadsden flags, black banners, and their various variants ] . Yesterday, in response to my piece on Black Banners in the Washington Post Zen commented: Funny how no one mistakes the meaning of a flag […] Read more »