"This week the minaret of one of Syria's most beautiful mosques was destroyed in the northern city of Aleppo. The Ummayad mosque established in 715 was rebuilt in 1159 after being damaged by a fire and then built again a century later after the Mongol invasion. The oldest surviving part was the minaret and both the State forces and the rebels accuse each other of its destruction. Lying in the Old City, the mosque is a Unesco world heritage site but has become part of the wider devastation of Syria's rich cultural heritage; a Crusader castle and Roman ruins in the ancient city of Palmyra have also been damaged.
However sad this physical destruction of history and art is, it should matter less to us than the recent reports that some 70,000 lives have been lost in this terrible civil war with hundreds of thousands more displaced. This is a war which is gradually ripping the country apart but about which the rest of the world doesn't seem to know what to do. Yet there is a different poignancy to the loss of a country's artistic and cultural past. It is these visual artifacts, building and ruins which speak to us of a country's history, its collective memory, the love and passion of the people who make a piece of land into a nation state. That so many Syrians are now killing each other and destroying ruins and religious sites poses the disturbing question, what exactly is still held sacred in so many part of the Muslim world?
A couple of weeks ago I returned from a short break to Istanbul. The area surrounding the majestic Hagia Sophia and the Blue mosque is also a Unesco world heritage site, tourists wander freely, the buildings stand sublime, the contested past of the place breathing its religious spirit into a refashioned, modern and vibrant city. But I wonder whether the preservation of history is only meaningful in countries where there is the preservation of peace, where people can enjoy the ordinariness of life, where there is order and purpose and we have the luxury of self reflection.
Earlier this week the former Met commissioner sir Ian Blair said societies choose what kind of violence they will tolerate. Looking across to so many part of the Islamic world where there is civil war, state violence and individual acts of terror, I wonder how and when Muslim societies will move away from seeing violence as a resolution to human conflict. When God is great is uttered as people and buildings are blown up what kind of God have so many created in their hearts and minds? The destruction of the minaret is not just a physical destruction but a tragic metaphor for a nation's soul."
(Mona Siddiqui, 26 April 2013, BBC Radio 4: Thought for the Day)
Fig.1 At left, the damaged Umayyad mosque in the northern city of Aleppo, Syria, on Wednesday 24 April 2013; at right, the view of the mosque with the minaret intact on 6 March 2013. (AP) [http://www.wbur.org/npr/178906558/minaret-of-iconic-syrian-mosque-destroyed-in-fighting].
"Since the extra dimensions beyond spacetime that physicists talk about are all spatial dimensions (or 'space-like' as some prefer to say), thinking about how the simplest spatial dimensions relate one to another gives us tools for imagining the more complex ones. The key to remember with all this is that each additional spatial dimension is at 'right angles' to the one before: so each new dimension allows an observer to see 'around the corner' in a way that was unattainable from the previous dimension. This time, let's work through the dimensions with that idea in mind."
(Rob Bryanton, October 2009)
Rob Bryanton (2006). "Imagining the Tenth Dimension: A New Way of Thinking About Time and Space", Trafford Publishing.
"The [Aotearoa New Zealand] Maori origin myth describes a world of darkness locked in the unyielding embrace of Ranganui, the Sky Father, and Papatuanuku, the Earth Mother with all their children (sea, forest, land, mountains, wind and rain) trapped between them. This inertia was shattered by Tane Mahuta, god of the forest, when he forcefully separated Papa and Rangi, thus liberating his siblings as well as their future descendants, freeing the light, and catalyzing the procreation of all life forms. Processes of differentiation and proliferation were then set in motion bound by mauri, the life force, imparting character (so that birds are birds and fish are fish), and uniting the physical and spiritual."
(Suzanne MacAulay, 'Field Aesthetics', Gathering/Place: Folklore, Aesthetic Ecologies, and the Public Domain)
Fig.1. Chris Matatahi & Peter Plumb. 'Maui's Dwelling Place', 1 metre tall. The whalebone is 79 cm long and 40 cm wide at the furthest points. The greenstone face is 21 cm tall and 13 cm wide at their furthest points. The base is NZ kauri wood and greenstone. Three paua pearls are inlaid in the upper area of the whalebone.
"There's an authorial consciousness and meta narrative that's noticeably at play in many of the Bugs Bunny cartoons. In fact, the opening of this film started out with the well-known ending, "That's All Folks!" which was then corrected by Bugs to say, "That's Not All Folks!"--a phrase that included copyediting marks. So we know from the start that the narrative is all a game, that beginnings and endings (or any traditional narrative arc) shouldn't be taken seriously, and that Bugs will always toy with our expectations.
One episode stood out spectacularly. In Duck Amuck (created in 1953), Daffy Duck is exquisitely tortured by his creator. In the course of the film the animator messes with and changes the scenery, interchanges props, replaces the soundtrack, mutes Daffy, and even erases and physically alters Daffy himself. For example, as Daffy strolls with a ukulele, singing a lazy, tropical song, he's tossed into a variety of climates, ending up in the snow (you can almost hear the animator laughing--at Daffy and in celebration of his artistic, cruel freedom). Daffy keeps trying to live--and entertain--but he can't maintain any constancy or control of his surroundings, or even his body."
(Lit Matters , 15 December 2007)
[Duck Amuck can be interpreted as a (playful) allegory to Christian mythology where Daffy Duck represents humanity and Bugs Bunny (his creator) represents 'God'.]
(from Greek theos apo mechanes): An unrealistic or unexpected intervention to rescue the protagonists or resolve the conflict. The term means "The god out of the machine," and refers to stage machinery. A classical Greek actor, portraying one of the Greek gods in a play, might be lowered out of the sky onto the stage and then use his divine powers to solve all the mortals' problem. The term is a negative one, and often implies a lack of skill on the part of the writer.