The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

poignant sensation

with 2 comments

Underground philosophizing, in today’s post.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A humble narrator does three things, generally, while riding in “the system.” One, I’m trying to get a few decent shots of trains coming and going into the station. Two, I’m usually listening to music of one sort or another on my headphones. Three, I’m struggling with some existential dilemma, which I tend to avoid thinking about when I have better things to do.

Since time spent in “the system” is essentially the exploration of a parabola of mindless intent, I figure you might as well use it to work out some deep seated personal conflict or other bull crap that’s slowing things down when you’re not on the Subway. I’ve been told by MTA employees that train operators (that’s the driver, the conductor is the one mid train who opens and closes the doors) loathe getting photographed, so I make it a point of doing so. One of the many things I plot, plan, and philosophize about are passive aggressive revenge scenarios against fairly unreliable and impersonal government agencies. It keeps me from pondering what sorts of debased life may be hiding in the sweating concrete bunkers just beyond the light puddles created by the station platforms, at any rate.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

In case you’re wondering why today’s post has little to do with what I did last week, it’s because the rain and high humidity  basically cancelled out any and all plans that didn’t involve a humble narrator earning a paycheck. My time was essentially spent staring into space and bemoaning the climatological extremes, in between subway trips.

While on the train, I pondered why so many Democrats describe themselves as “progressives,” as they don’t actually seem to know the mean of the word (Robert Moses was a progressive, as in “progress”) and why so many Republicans call themselves “conservatives” since they too seem ignorant of what that term indicates. Progressive is “you need to move, since the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, and the many need an eight lane highway instead of your house,” and Conservative is “things are pretty good the way they are, so I’m going to resist anything but incremental change.”

As a note, one thing I don’t wonder about are the incorruptible human remains of Saints. They were embalmed in honey. Honey is basically a time machine. They pull jars of the stuff out of Egyptian tombs that are pretty much edible 5,000 years later. In ancient times, if you received a wound, they’d put honey (liquid gold) in it. Then they’d layer some odiferous powder like Frankincense on top (to defeat the olfactory senses of flying insects), and splatter a resin like Myrrh on top to seal it. The whole affair would get wrapped in clean linen. Y’all don’t need three wise men, you have me.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One spends a pretty good amount of time wondering what the steel dust choked air, combined with the electromagnetic spill over from the energized third rail and the nitre coated concrete walls of the subways, is breeding underground. You’ve got all you need down there to replicate the early conditions for life on Earth – electrical fields, organic molecules, lots of solute choked liquids…

Who can guess, all there is, that might be festering into life down there?


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Written by Mitch Waxman

July 30, 2018 at 1:00 pm

2 Responses

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  1. The classic Pentacle post with food for thought.

    Pardon the length but our Humble Narrator has indeed set a full table so here are some ideas submitted for your consideration:

    “…I pondered why so many Democrats describe themselves as “progressives,” as they don’t actually seem to know the mean of the word…”

    The people who call themselves progressive may not respect the history and meaning of the word but they do in fact know what they are doing in using it.

    It was inevitable that under post-modernism that words would lose any actual definition and meaning when you can define any word as anything you want just because you say so and reality be damned. Meaning is also now replaced instead with emotional connotation. Furthermore, the word progressive was co-opted by the left for exactly the positive emotional connotation it conjures and as a way of rhetorically redefining themselves to distancing themselves from their past failures. The way the word liberal became a byword for past failed social engineering projects like the great society and is now proscribed.

    “…and why so many Republicans call themselves “conservatives” since they too seem ignorant of what that term indicates.”

    I agree and disagree.

    I agree that those Republicans who call themselves conservative have over time shifted the concept of what they are trying to conserve have gradually shifted it leftward to be indistinguishable from 1950’s to 1960’s mainstream liberals.
    Not surprising as since the as Democratic party shifted further left in the late 1970’s and purged the more moderate liberals in their ranks. So liberal opportunists like Charles Krauthammer, Irving and William Kristol made the switch to the Republican party in the 1980’s. They and other fellow travelers then re-branded their mid-twentieth century liberalism as neo-conservatism when Reagan made the word liberal a synonym for failure and then hitched a ride on the conservative movement which seemed at that time to be in ascendancy.

    But then again, contrary to the typical leftist two-dimensional cardboard cutout villain stereotype, the Republican party was always a more moderate party with the 1980’s Reaganism being simply an aberration despite its political success and promptly brought back to its moderate liberal roots with the election George H.W. Bush.

    The Buckleyite conservative movement was and always will be a guardian of the northeastern blue blood establishment and rearguard of the establishment left.
    In the end, this became more apparent as they failed to even conserve women’s restrooms and from this and other failures and broken promises that spawned the alternative and dissident right.

    I disagree as that modern conservatism is operating as advertised insofar as it conserves established older leftist changes that are now the traditions that Burkean conservatism states must now be conserved.
    So it all depends on your frame of reference.

    “As a note, one thing I don’t wonder about are the incorruptible human remains of Saints. They were embalmed in honey. Honey is basically a time machine. They pull jars of the stuff out of Egyptian tombs that are pretty much edible 5,000 years later. In ancient times, if you received a wound, they’d put honey (liquid gold) in it. Then they’d layer some odiferous powder like Frankincense on top (to defeat the olfactory senses of flying insects), and splatter a resin like Myrrh on top to seal it. The whole affair would get wrapped in clean linen. Y’all don’t need three wise men, you have me.

    Are you planning to change careers and become an undertaker?

    “One spends a pretty good amount of time wondering what the steel dust choked air, combined with the electromagnetic spill over from the energized third rail and the nitre coated concrete walls of the subways, is breeding underground. You’ve got all you need down there to replicate the early conditions for life on Earth – electrical fields, organic molecules, lots of solute choked liquids…”

    Hmmmm.
    I think I can answer this.
    I have often wondered if over the entire history of the earth whether a single bolt of lightning at one time may have been energetically coherent enough that for at least a microsecond it may have achieved self aware consciousness and sentience perhaps even choosing where it would strike if blind random probability governing how life starts is correct. But it would perhaps only happen once. Think of the odds against it.

    But a new type of cell forming in the muck of our subway?
    A chemical molecular computer having all the elements we recognize as comprising a computer: DNA as a program, RNA as a processor reading the program and executing the instructions, messenger RNA and considering epigenetics now as an input output device that this is in fact such a machine.

    A computer, a problem solving machine, that came spontaneously into existence by pure chance and began solving the problem of program self replication that it made up by random chance chemical reactions?

    And also I ask why some species of molecular matter can be organic and therefore be alive and others cannot.

    However I digress. Sorry ’bout that.
    But considering the monumental odds of near perfect zero chance of computers spontaneously forming and programming themselves then becomming alive, I’d say no way new life can come from any new primordial ooze present anywhere on this planet. Including in the laboratories that have been trying to replicate it.

    Then again, there would likewise be no life anywhere else in the universe as here on earth we already hit the lottery for impossible things to happen so our Humble Narrator need never fear new lifeforms evolving in our subways or from outer space. But that a bird retro-mutating from the chemicals present in the Newtown Creek into a carnivorous, prehistoric dinosaur-like creature I’d call a neo-velociraptor….well that might happen.

    Don Cavaioli

    Cav

    July 30, 2018 at 3:14 pm

  2. Sir,
    In light of my oft long-winded dissertations of such intolerable contrarian insanity and in the spirit of making amends for the egregiously trying the patience of not only our host and Humble Narrator but the Lords and Ladies of the Pentacle, I herewith offer this talismanic quote to shut tiresome lunatics such as myself up.

    Or to simply make you look too intelligent and well-read to offer a reasoned rebuttal to such obviously demented ravings and thus rightly claim to have trounced me in every debate we’ve ever had with one reuseable, and thus green, eco-friendly quote.

    “If you argue with a madman, it is extremely probable that you will get the worst of it; for in many ways his mind moves all the quicker for not being delayed by things that go with good judgment. He is not hampered by a sense of humour or by clarity, or by the dumb certainties of experience. He is the more logical for losing certain sane affections. Indeed, the common phrase for insanity is in this respect a misleading one. The madman is not the man who has lost his reason. The madman is the man who has lost everything except his reason.”

    —G. K. Chesterton (purveyor of fine, first rate clever quotes for any and all occasions since 1902)

    Thus I concede to you, sir.

    Don Cavaioli

    Cav

    August 2, 2018 at 10:15 am


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