Pacioli’s Equilibrium in the Cosmos

Pacioli based his Divine Proportion on Plato’s Five Bodies, four of which represent the basic elements – cube (earth), octahedron (water), tetrahedron (air) and icosahedreon (fire) – and the last, a dodecahedron, which represented being.

Kepler used the Platonic bodies as his guide for the cosmos as a complete and perfect entity in which we can find our own equilibrium.

Ice Friday: Nguyen’s “The Sympathizer”

Some choice extracts from Viet Thanh Nguyen’s 2015 eloquent novel:

Innocence and guilt. These are cosmic issues. We’re all innocent on one level and guilty on another. Isn’t that what Original Sin is all about? (103)

What if, I said to him, I wrote a screenplay about the American West and simply called all the natives Indians? You’d want to know whether the cavalry was fighting the Navajo or Apache or Comanche, right? Let me tell you a secret, the Auteur said. No one gives a shit (133)

I was suddenly aware of the outline of my body, of the sensation of the chair underneath my thighs, of the fragility of the force holding together y body and my life. It would not take much to destroy this force, which most of us took for granted until the moment we could not. (198)

The beautiful, transparent Stolichnaya maintained a stoic Russian demeanor as we regarded it in silence. Every bottle of alcohol has a message in it, a surprise that one will not discover until one drinks it. (213)

The only problem with not talking to oneself was that oneself was the most fascinating conversational partner one could imagine. Nobody had more patience in listening to oneself than oneself, and nobody knew better than oneself, nobody misunderstood than oneself. (248)

Do The Right (No)thing

What is everyone so wound up about? Aren’t El Paso and Dayton the status quo? Aren’t MSNBC et al just getting their satellite dishes ready for the next massacre at the next mall/festival/school? Don’t their ratings go up with every casualty? Or did I miss something?

The people of Newtown, Connecticut are mad.

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It’s almost as if they expect the media to address issues like gun control instead of mainlining our catharsis.

More importantly, what’s this “media vultures” spin? Is the media supposed to be something alien? Do they live in a shadowy compound? Don’t the people of Newtown understand that we can only read so much about lobbying for gun control? I mean, it’s just like all of this talk about my privacy being invaded. Instead of going on about what this guy Snowden thinks, can’t TMZ just catch him drunk in Red Square? 

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In  the meantime, the people of Newtown need to stay focused on news that matters:

Rob Ford Breaking News!
                             Rob Ford Breaking News!
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And remember Edward R. Murrow’s famous words: “Television isn’t the classroom of the world; it’s the marketplace.” That wasn’t a bad guess for a guy who had never posted or sexted, not understanding our basic need for the simple things.

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Life, liberty and the pursuit of more soma.

This country’s obsession with guns will will never change. (Much of this was reblogged from December 6, 2013.)

Tree-Planting is Everything

EXT. DAY.

Davis and Baz bag up in the pre-dawn light; the horizon is purple and green. They both ingest mushrooms and take a long drink of water before going up to plant the burned ground together. Clouds of ash rise up as they begin to work. A montage series offers close-ups of the shovel blades going into the ground, the trees gripped in their hands, boots tramping over the burned-out ground, interspersed with helicopter shots of them, tiny figures in the massive dominating landscape of mountains and valleys.

DAVIS (Not stopping): Feeling it?

BAZ: Feeling it.

DAVIS: It’s good.

Montage of close-ups continues, including extreme close-up of the bright blue tape tied off on a branch, beetles scampering along the edge of a burn-out twisted stump, an abandoned chainsaw blade twisted among the weeds, a woodpecker perched on a tree at the edge of the block, sweat dripping off the nose and chin of Davis, a mosquito landing and stinging Baz on the shoulder, ending with a hard slap. They stop, look at each other, drink water, move their trees from the back bag to the side, and continue planting.

DISSOLVE TO:

EXT. DAY.

Davis and Baz continue to plant. The sound of their heavy breathing, scuffing boots and cicadas are the only sounds. They reach the back edge of the block and a band of shade, planting the very edge of the road like experts, the trees rapidly dropped in. They pause in the shadows, each eating nuts and dried fruit, drinking in heavy gulps that spill down their necks.

DAVIS: I almost like this.

BAZ: Almost.

DAVIS: There’s something….

BAZ: Being an animal.

DAVIS: A burrowing creature, like a…badger.

BAZ: Digging.

DAVIS: Bringers of life.

BAZ: At 11 cents a tree.

They both laugh stupidly, looking at each other, and then go back to planting.

BAZ: I could never work at a desk.

DAVIS: Why would anyone do that? Insane.

BAZ: Look at my arm.

DAVIS (Looking at his dirty, ash-stained arm): I see it.

BAZ: Why is that part of me?

DAVIS: It’s crooked.

BAZ (Examining it): No, it isn’t.

DAVIS: I’m not saying that like it’s a bad thing.

BAZ: It isn’t crooked.

DAVIS (Holding his arm out): Mine is too!

BAZ: You’re right. Your arm’s fucked up.

DAVIS: It isn’t fucked up.

BAZ (Taking a tree, rubbing the needles gently through his hand): My point is that this arm is mine. It’s a part of who I am supposed to be.

DAVIS: Extremities.

BAZ: My brain commands, the electric impulses obey.

DAVIS: You’re just in your head? The master commander.

BAZ: Not even that. It’s a tiny point in the back. Or just outside, floating in the darkness.

DAVIS: That’s you?

BAZ (Planting again): Yes.

DAVIS (Following him, planting too): What about your nose?

BAZ: I don’t have a problem with my nose.

BAZ (Throwing his shovel in hard): That makes sense to me.

DAVIS: Your nipples.

BAZ: Nipples. Yeah.

DAVIS: What the fuck are you doing with nipples?

BAZ: I like nipples.

DAVIS: Your nipples?

BAZ: Yes.

DAVIS: You find that erotic.

BAZ: And my throat.

DAVIS: I don’t like that word.

BAZ: Throat. Man, I love a chick’s throat.

DAVIS: You mean her neck.

BAZ: No. Throat. That’s erotic.

They plant in silence, the sound of their shovels pronounced against the stillness of the day.

DAVIS (Reciting Hamlet, II, II, 228-331):What a piece of work is man, how noble in reason, how infinite in… Something or other. I forget… in apprehension how like a god… and yet to me, this quintessence of dust.

There is a long pause, the shovels once again the only sound.

BAZ  (Reciting lines from Ginsberg’s Howl in a deep and booming voice):Moloch! Moloch! Nightmare of Moloch! Moloch the loveless! Mental Moloch! Moloch whose mind is pure machinery! Moloch in whom I dream angels!Moloch! Moloch! Robot apartments! Invincible mad houses! Granite cocks!

There is another long pause.

DAVIS (Unwrapping packets of trees): Granite cocks?

BAZ (Planting ahead, chanting):Invincible mad houses, granite cocks. Invincible mad houses, granite cocks!

Davis starts planting again and joins in the chant, done in chorus with their boot steps, the shovels in the ground, the tree dropped in. They suddenly hear another noise, almost the same grunting, but deeper and louder. They look up together and see a Grizzly Bear standing right in front of them, massive, only 30 feet away. The giant creature considers them, chewing on something methodically. Baz and Davis notice a bear cub on the other side of her. They waver and then, in unison, continue to plant, Baz makes a grunting noise that almost sounds like he is continuing the chant. They plant a number of trees in succession and look up again. The bear and cub have both vanished.

DAVIS: Jesus. We just had a fucking vision.

BAZ: Both of us? At the same time?

DAVIS: What did you see?

The Grizzly and cub come out from behind the slash, walking away, and crashing into the forest.

BAZ: I saw that.

Davis goes back to planting.

DAVIS (Looking back up): What?

BAZ: I think I just saw your cat. (Pause) Riding the cub’s back, guiding it by the ears.

DAVIS: What was that noise you were making?

BAZ: What noise?

DAVIS: You were grunting or something.

BAZ: I was asserting my presence.

DAVIS: You sounded like you were having a seizure.

BAZ: It’s what the mountain gorillas do.

DAVIS: When’s the last time you think this bear ran into a fucking mountain gorilla?

BAZ: That stuff’s universal.

DAVIS (Laughing to himself): Joint. (Pause) Universal joint, remember? The van?

They continue to plant toward the road.

DAVIS (Planting his last tree): Last one. How many you got?

BAZ (Looking in his bag): Same, man. The exact same.

Baz plants his last tree and they walk slowly, languidly down.

DAVIS: What are your numbers?

They walk for a few moments in silence.

BAZ: I don’t know.

DAVIS: Me either.

BAZ: Oh, shit. One more. (Pulling a tree out and planting it)

DAVIS: Baller.

Tree-planting is Life

EXT. DAY.

Davis plants slowly, stops and stares off into the grey sky. He rips a piece of flagging tape, ties it off, counts three paces for the next tree, throws the shovel into the ground and plants a tree. He swats at the mosquitoes, which swarm all over his face, and wipes at the sweat dripping down his neck and face, as he continues to plant, wearily and mechanically. He plants along the edge of the forest again, looking up into the darkness.

CUT TO:

INT. NIGHT.

Davis sits slumped forward, his face down, at the bench in the Quonset hut. It looks as if his face might actually be in his food. A chant begins behind him.

TREEPLANTERS: Fuck this fish! Fuck this fish!

One of the treeplanters throws a plate of food at another. A food fight ensues. Timor, camera in hand, runs amongst the screaming planters, filming the scene like an action picture. Davis never raises his head, not even when the cook comes out screaming with a fire ax.

COOK: Out of my tent! Out! OUT!!!

The mob stampedes out of the Quonset hut. Davis remains slumped over.

CUT TO:

EXT. DAY.

Davis plants slowly up a steep slope. He grabs a branch to pull himself over a pile of slash and throws the shovel in, dropping a tree into the hole, kicking it in, and continuing up, kicking hard through the brush.

DAVIS (Half signing Cordelia by The Tragically Hip):It takes all your power to prove that you don’t care.(Pause)I’m not Cordelia, I will not be there.

He continues to wearily yet determinedly plant trees. He looks up and sees Max fifty yards away, his tree-planting bags hanging at his side, standing on a tree stump. A crow sits on a fallen tree above, cawing at him.

MAX: Flee from me, you monster! Flee!

The crow moves back and forth, still cawing, on the branch. Max suddenly leaps off the stump and runs wildly away, appearing in and out of the slash, the crow paying little attention, until he suddenly stumbles and vanishes out of sight with a hard thud. Davis drops his bags and, as the crow flies lazily off, runs over to find Max sprawled out face down in the muck.

DAVIS (Kneeling beside Max): Max.

MAX (Groaning, face covered in mud): Did you see that Grizzly, man?

DAVIS: It was a crow, Max.

MAX (Pause): You have anything to drink? A martini. That’s what I am thinking.

EXT. NIGHT.

Davis sits in the hot tub with a small group, including Max, Graham, Cindy, Emily and three other treeplanters. Allan, wearing his Baller hat as usual, arrives, drops his towel and climbs into the tub.

ALLAN (Opening a bottle of beer): You guys hear about the Grizzly?

CINDY: Girlfriend in town?

ALLAN: Three people mauled. (Guzzling his beer) They just radioed Tony twenty minutes ago.

MAX: I was mauled by a raven.

ALLAN: You were mauled, man? By a raven?

MAX: Well, not ‘mauled’ mauled.

ALLAN: These people were actually fucking mauled.

CINDY: (Mocking him) They were mauled, man.

ALLAN: Ask Tony.

CINDY: You know what my problem is with you?

ALLAN: That you can’t have me.

CINDY: You’re what’s wrong with this place, Allan. You just keep talking and talking. When all you’re supposed to do is plant trees, just that. (Pause) You just don’t stop. And you’re not going to stop, are you?

TREEPLANTER #1: Is that, like, Schopenhauer?

TONY (Walking by the hot tub, a load of fire axes over his shoulder): How’s the water, kiddies?

ALLAN (Almost in falsetto): Tell them about the Grizzly, Tony.

TONY: Mauled three.

ALLAN: What did I tell you?

TONY: How are your numbers, Cindy Lou?

CINDY (With contempt): What do you think, Tony-O?

TONY (To TREE-PLANTER #1): You crack a thou?

TREE-PLANTER #1: 900.

TONY (Nodding at Graham): What about this guy? You balling it or what?

GRAHAM: I got in eight and a half.

MAX (Muttering to Davis): Why doesn’t he say eight hundred and fifty, like a normal person?

TONY: You hear what this guy’s doing, Davis? You got that in you? (Turning to Max) Who’s this guy? You still even on my fucking crew?

Max stares back at him.

TONY: Clock’s ticking, buddy. You got me? Plant or walk. Got it?

Max stares back, expressionless. Tony walks away.

GRAHAM (Reciting from The Power of Myth):The conquest of the fear of death is the life’s joy. Life in its becoming is always shedding death and on the point of death. The conquest of fear yields the courage of life.

ALLAN: Yeah, man. It’s a good day to die.