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Thursday, March 23, 2017

Soldiers and Sailors' Monument, New York

Soldiers and Sailors' Monument
Riverside Drive and 89th Street, New Yorkk
[Photo By: KPA]

This massive circular temple-like monument located along Riverside Drive at 89th Street commemorates Union Army soldiers and sailors who served in the Civil War. This monument, one of the few in a city park that the New York Landmark Commission designated a landmark, was designed by architects Charles (1860–1944) and Arthur Stoughton (1867–1955), who won a competition with this ancient Greek design.
The marble monument, with its pyramidal roof and 12 Corinthian columns, is based on the Choragic Monument of Lysicrates in Athens. It was commissioned by the State of New York, and dedicated on Memorial Day in 1902. Sculptor Paul E. Duboy carved the ornamental features on the monument. The pillars list the New York volunteer regiments that served during the battle as well as Union generals and the battles in which they led troops. For years the monument was the terminus of New York City’s annual Memorial Day parade.

In 1961 the City spent more than $1 million to fix the monument’s marble fa├žade, which had deteriorated, and portions of the monument were replaced with more durable granite. [Source: NYC Architecture]

The Particularities of Heaven

Multicultural Gothic
From the Painting American Gothic
Illustration By: Kagan Mcleod After Grant Wood

I met with a group in New York which holds monthly meetings but which I can attend only periodically. Despite my low attendance record, I am on the mailing list for announcements on upcoming meetings and also for the topics to be discussed at these meetings.

I will post later on the discussion and responses. But here was one question about heaven which I found intriguing and insightful. (It wasn't so far off topic since the discussion dealt with Western civilization, and a large part of the strength of Western civilization was Christianity and belief in God which of course includes the afterlife and heaven.)

"What language is spoken in heaven? What are the flower and plants in heaven?"

Simple but profound questions, which refer to the multicultural utopia that is now being designed in Western countries, but with little success. People still group around their cultures. Even if they don't "speak" their ethnic languages, they still "think" and behave within those cultural and ethnic contexts.

One fascinating thing is as the numbers of ethnic groups increase both through immigration and birth, the younger generations start to congregate together.They all speak English fluently, and with less fluency their parents' languages. These Chinese, Korean, Indian, Somali, Ethiopian etc. youth groups create their own variations of "ethnic" English adding words from their ancestral languages, making their own distinct "language," or perhaps a better word than language is their own idiom. They also have subtle but distinct accents so astute observers can distinguish a Chinese ancestral influence from a Korean, or an Ethiopian from a Somali.

So multicultural utopia is a myth. Eventually, at a critical number, people capitulate towards their own particularities.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

New York: Green Fire Escape

[Photo By: KPA]

New York: Doorway Window

Doorway Window

[Photo By: KPA]

New York: Path

St. John the Divine New York
Path below the cathedral

[Photo By: KPA]

The Illusion of Freedom s brought on by fear

But those of us endowed with a brain somewhat larger than that of Whiskers,
sooner or later come to feel that there is something rather fishy about this freedom.
For every time we think we are about to dive into some inviting crack or
sink our teeth into some lovely hunk of wood, we are brought up short,
arrested, and constrained.
J. M. Smith, from his article (posted below and also printed here) Life in a Rat Ball
[Image of the Union Rat

I think the primary "feeling" that guides this illusion of freedom is fear. Modern man is full of fear. When he abandoned God he was left with an insurmountable abyss (yes the analogy holds: insurmountably deep). He has to fill this through a number of ways. Some become addicted to drugs alcohol. Some spend hours watching television - news, soap operas, MTV music videos. Others spend their days surfing from one website to another trying to find that connection.

This fear now is so ingrained that people have no way to analyze it or even attempt to get rid of it. They can only keep on going with the same futile behavior of circling around in a ball like a rat.

Contemporary man has become a wimp, and all he can do is run around in circles, like a rat or a madman.


March 17, 2017
Life in a Rat Ball
By: J. M . Smith
The Orthosphere
March 17 2017

My daughter has a pet rat, an engaging little creature named Whiskers, who enjoys riding on her shoulder and hiding under her hair. When Whiskers is not on my daughter’s shoulder, or in his cage, he bumps around the house in his rat ball. This is a sphere of clear plexiglass into which he is inserted by way of a door, and which he can roll in whatever way he pleases by simply attempting to climb its walls.

Watching Whiskers bump around our living room the other day, it occurred to me that much of what we humans call “freedom” is, in fact, the freedom of a rat ball. Like Whiskers, I, for instance, am often left to myself unsupervised. And then I move about with a certain semblance of freedom. But although I am “free” to move about unsupervised, I can never break free of the rat ball.

I am not saying that I am desperately eager to slip away through some crack under the baseboard in order to take up a stealthy and secretive life within the walls. Like Whiskers’, my life is good. But should such an impulse come over me, it is not one to which I could yield. My rat ball won’t pass through cracks.

Escape is not the only thing a rat ball prevents. Whiskers is an engaging fellow, but he is still a rat, and therefore has it in his very nature to gnaw. Gnawing is a rat’s reason for being, his destiny, if you like. And yet there is nothing at all for Whiskers to gnaw inside his rat ball. The concave inner surface of the sphere is impossible to bite, and all those lovely, gnawable chairs, and fabrics, and cords, are absolutely beyond his reach. Indeed, since they can be seen through the ball, I must suppose that poor Whiskers suffers the torments of Tantalus as he bumps around the house.

So, there you have it: life in a rat ball. There is, at first, a superficial experience of freedom. Each of us bumps around the world crying Whoopee! Look at me! I’m free and I’m really going places! But those of us endowed with a brain somewhat larger than that of Whiskers, sooner or later come to feel that there is something rather fishy about this freedom. For every time we think we are about to dive into some inviting crack or sink our teeth into some lovely hunk of wood, we are brought up short, arrested, and constrained.

When this happens, most of us will simply shrug, turn, place our forepaws against a different side of our rat ball, and roll off in another direction. Some of us do this with the expectations that things will be different the next time around.