Sunday, 16 March 2014

70. Catastrophism in Cultural Geology Demonstrated

Scene 1. The Dumbshow
a. Draw a large map of Europe. Mark on it with crisp black lines the various political boundaries between internationally recognised independent states that have existed, de jure or de facto, through the late lamented Twentieth Century (and the little runt so far of the whole Third Millennium[1]). Then mark on it in red the following:
battles & skirmishes resulting in deaths of combatants (whether between officially sanctioned armies[2] & their opponents, or armed irregulars of various sorts [terrorists, partisans, resistance etc]), whether on the ground, in the air, at sea (in the area of the map), or any combination thereof – use for this a star: *;
killings of unarmed or non-combatant populations by either legally sanctioned or irregular combatants, whether on the ground, or from the air or sea etc – use for this an obelisk: †;
sites where prisoners or detainees of state or irregular forces have been executed[3], left to die or treated such that death ensued, for reasons of their “ethnicity”, “religion”, “politics”, “class”, “gender”, ”sexuality”, “criminality”, “education” etc or the “necessity of war”, “pleasure”, “operational requirements”, “historical necessity”, “justice”, “god’s will” etc – use for this a double obelisk: ‡.
b. Stand back and admire.
c. Reread the larger text box of Figure 4 (above).
d. Read out loud in your own voice the text in the smaller cartoon of Figure 4 (below) – I’ll reproduce it in print if it’s too difficult for your sight: “‘Why so glum, grandpa?’ reader’s voice.”

Scene 2. Let Us Prepare for the Revolt of the Titans
Take out the box – it is black, shiny & hopeful.  We can call it a manifold. It is marked by various input & output sockets. Lift up the box and squint carefully into one of the input sockets. Inside it, you will see images magically appearing: a quick-cut montage of scenes of cultural & historical significance. Now look into the output sockets. The first of these will show a display of values. Please say these words, in a glum voice, “The power of the technique can readily be seen by detailed examination of the cross-peaks associated with carbon resonances of between 50 and 55 p.p.m. The chemical shifts for protons 3 and 9 were noted from the 1H/1H COSY to be different. This information, when applied to the 1H/1H COSY spectrum [Fig 4], allows all four carbon resonances to be unambiguously assigned.”[4]
Now juggle with the manifold, throwing up & catching it repeatedly. Try spinning it in the air or seeing how high you can throw it. Do not let it either fall or land in some high place. When you do so, as eventually you will, please say these words, as noisily as you can, “We’re all on that long voyage already.”
Now stagger and sway, as you are shaken by an earthquake. Pick up the manifold – it is, you will find, a long way away. You must crawl to get it. When you have it, pick it up & look into output sockets 2 & 3, switching between them several times. You will notice how the red expands rapidly and then gets swept back into a smaller area, but glowing brighter, followed by the yellow shifting & ending up by splitting repeatedly & attacking itself. Please say these words, in tones of justice, “We shall all die living with cancer.”
Now look into output socket 4, the final socket of the manifold. The structures visible here are peculiarly interesting and full of detail: the secrets of the Golden or Gilded Head, the Chapel of the Opened Book and the Grave of Arthur[5] are all revealed to you, and also of the Great Hermaphroditic Conjunction (also known as Species Consciousness). Please say these words, following as dirty a laugh as you can manage, “I shall now make up stories of happier things, which could have existed and ought.”
Please, having first placed the manifold back in its container, do so, if you can. Thank you.

[1] Had you forgotten?
[2] Include in this anyone in uniform and on some level employed or sanctioned by the state – so, police, militia, state or border guards, scouts etc.
[3] Murdered, that is
[4] J. Mann, R.S. Davidson, J.B. Hobbs, D.V. Banthorpe and J.B. Harborne, Natural products: Their chemistry and biological significance (Longman Scientific & Technical, 1994), p 228
[5] Arthur could be me, as Artognou may be you.

1 comment:

  1. section 2: “black, shiny & hopeful. We can call it a manifold” – this phrasing wasn’t inspired by but is conscious of the excellent ezine Black Box Manifold, edited by Alex Houen and Adam Piette.