Wednesday, November 30, 2011

A Minimum Axiomatization for Reality (Part IV)

[continued from this]


So:  Having further motivated our positing of the new ZFC, as an essentially modest and conservative move,  we inquire, what further potential axioms  might attract our attention?

The first thing that springs to anybody’s mind  is “the existence of God”; but here I must be a spoilsport.  Simply by its bare wording, it yields us almost nothing – no more than a positing of “the Great Pumpkin”.  But then, almost everyone who subscribes to the statement  means a heck of a lot more by it than they let on;  that lot-more differs, from person to person; what it is, is inexplicit, at least until some War of Religion breaks out; and is mostly unconscious in each one of us.  It’s about as useful as, in set theory, the proposition that  “Sets exist”; or, in the Theory of Everyday Life, “Sh*t happens”.  Both doubtless true, but not fruitful.

Thus:  What conjecture might be worthy of being accorded provisional axiomatic status, by the Regressive Gambit (“By their fruits ye shall know them”)?
One we have already met.

(Axiom I) Der Herrgott ist rafiniert,  aber boshaft ist er nicht.

Remarkably, this principle is tacitly assumed  in enterprises as widely separated as the Theory of Everyday Life, and theoretical physics.  Our Olympic judges are holding up a unanimous “10-out-of-10” on the score of Fruitfulness.

Specifically:

(A) In the former, it serves for such essential tasks  as allowing us to accept, without qualms,
(i) the Existence of Other Minds; and for refuting that vile devil’s-spawn,
(ii) the falsity of the Myth of the Brains in a Vat, along with the ravings of Berkeley.

Note:  The Man in the Street already accepts (i) without qualms, having fortunately been spared contact with the corrosive hyperscepticism of the tenured diabolists (excuse me – eliminative materialists); and has probably never heard of (ii), unless he has watched “The Matrix”.  So who needs another axiom already? -- But here he simply joins the otherwise honorable ranks of those early mathematicians, who made implicit use of the Axiom of Choice in their proofs, without knowing it.  (I) is indeed necessary for the deduction of (Ai) and (Aii) – trust me on this. If you deny it – well, if you lead the Unexamined Life, I can’t argue with you.

(B) In physics, it undergirds (though it does not establish) such covertly metaphysical principles as Uniformity, Symmetry, Analyzability … 

Again:  the Lad in the Classroom imagines, between toothsome chomps on his chewing-gum, that these are affordances of Science itself, along with the opposite Coulomb charge of electrons and protons, and the curious mating habits of the mantis; for he has met these ideas in no other setting.  But again:  They are prior principles guiding the practice of science, not something we discovered in a lab.

A merely autobiographical aside, of no philosophical import whatsoever:
I tend instinctively to accept (I), though on very little evidence.  If pressed, I defend it – lest Reason flee her throne.  But in the matter of physics, I tend to think its reach is less than one might suppose.  Already the paradoxes of quantum theory seem to infirm it to some extent.

(I), then, though some deem it crucial, is not comparable to the seemingly intuitive Axiom of Choice, but is more like one of the ambitious axioms for Large Cardinals, with which, in recent years, theoreticians have attempted to trick out Set Theory. 

And here is another one, a classic – an axiom with the gloves off, comparable in overvaulting ambition   to the hypothesis of full-bore Measurable Cardinals, GCH, Surreal Numbers, you name it.  Its implications are absolutely incredible (and I mean that, alas, in both senses of the word), so please be sitting down before it is stated.  Ready?  Here goes:

(Axiom II) God cares about each one of us, individually.

This proposition is central to the theology, and even moreso to the psychology, of almost every Christian congregation.  It is in bad odor with most contemporary philosophers – but leave these aside.  We have each, in our own lives, experiences that make us contemplate (II), and either nod -- or wring our hands.

I’ll neither publically doubt that proposition, nor defend it, not being privy to any arguments beyond those already long-since trotted out on either side, nor to any personal experiences that might change the game..  But let us note that, largely from within the ranks of scientists, there has arisen a conjecture  intermediate in strength  between (I) and (II) –

            (Axiom AP) the Anthropic Principle

in any of its forms, concentrations, or dilutions.

Indeed, quite apart from its genesis, it is mainly scientists who pay attention to this hypothesis (and employ it in concrete calculations).  To the average believer, who already accepts (II),  (AP) is hardly news, since (II) entails it.

[completed here]

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

A Zoögraphy of WDJ


    BENEDICITE, omnes bestiae et pecora

Many of you may have wondered -- What’s with all the animals already ? ! ?  Cantor, topology, passe encore;  but like -- penguins?  freakin’ woodchucks?? -- What’s up with that?

Hey it’s the same at work.  I spend my days at a cluttered desk in a tiny pod, Saving American Lives (yeh okay occasionally Canadian too, to stretch a point), and these scary guys who can kill with a paper-clip (with even conceptualizing a paper-clip) walk by (the spookiest ones  in civvies), and what they see perched on every bookshelf  is a plush menagerie -- mostly penguins, but other friends as well:  an Army hamster who sings “Caissons” when you press his paw, in a hamster voice; Bob the Grunting Hedgehog (squeeze him and see); and various silent animals (they could speak if they so desired, but they have taken Trappist vows) -- microscopic teddy-bears; Miss Mice.   I don’t ask for them, they just materialize.  (You and I were born in this same way.)
But the point I wish to make here, before a worldwide audience of mostly astronauts and research scientists and professor-types, is that this apparent furry confusion is actually intellectually structured -- the zoösphere is a noösphere.  (Say, that’s rather good.  Reckon I’ll copyright that.   ©2011 Dr. J Worldwide Universal Enterprises.)

Now, some of you -- well, you yourselves are too young, the time is not ripe:  but some of your grandchildren may wish to distinguish themselves in the burgeoning field of Justice Studies ®:  and for the sake of such of these, why not offer this handy cheat-sheet, the key to the symbolism of all the animals on this site.  I mean, I could stuff it in a time-capsule  and bury it by the old oak, but this is simpler

And so -- Time for the March of the Animals !



(1)  Ducks

These, as I conceive them -- and as I actually hear them quacking -- are like the choirs of angels, who spend their being in continuous joyous praise of the Lord.  St. Francis drops by to preach to them from time to time;  they are in ecstasy.


Much more complex.  These don’t need to be preached to -- they have already received their Word, though we know not what that Word is.  The situation is precisely comparable to that of the Men and the Jinn -- parallel creations, seldom interacting, each the recipient of Revelation, which  in each case  some accept and some reject.


These lie more distant from any theology.  They are clueless, humbly doing their best (as do we all).  They are not consciously aware of their Maker, in any focussed sense;  their state of mind is comparable to that masterfully portrayed by Hugh Lofting in Doctor Dolittle and the Secret Lake (1948), where an antediluvian turtle tells the story of Noah’s Ark. 
(Bibliophilic footnote:  The original hardcover volume is difficult to acquire.  I ordered it several times from various used-booksellers, only to receive the wrong title every time but one.  Conceivably I own the last extant copy on Earth.  And I would not part with it at any price.  … --- … -- Well, hey, okay, but bidding begins at a million.  We accept payment in Swiss francs or in bullion.)

(4) Kittehs.

These already have their own World, even their own Scripture, to which we would not presume to add.

(5) Doggehs.

Kittehs  no like doggehs.

(6) Bunnehs.

Vulnerable, infantile innocence.  Loveable but too lowly for St. Francis to really preach to.  He does bless them, though.

(7) Turtles

I like turtles.


Elephants denote wisdom, epitomized in Ganesha.
Another magnificent elephant-friend is Babar, who embodies every virtue you can imagine.   He is the pachydermal counterpart of Doctor Dolittle -- immensely knowledgeable and capable, yet gentle (and rotund).

These are rather depressed at being known only as the “world’s largest rodent”;  cf. Gregor Samsa.   Their role on this blog is based on that of the sheep in Woody Allen’s “Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Hilbert Space” (not sure if that’s the right title, have to look that one up), only I figured it’d be funnier with capybaras.

(10)  B-b-b-BUGS....


Of the Great Chain of Being, Tillyard wrote:

Its main function was to point morals for the benefit of man.  The ant was a wonderful creation, but the chief thing was that he was there for the sluggard to go to.
-- The Elizabethan World Picture (1942)


(11)  Mr. Mouse

Mice are made by our Creator  to nourish the owls, and to point moral examples for our edification.


[Philological footnote:
Zoögraphy, pronounced zoh-OG-ra-fee.  It means ‘map of the animal landscape’.
Noösphere, pronounced NO-us-feer.  It means 'the mental world as a structured whole, transcending any individual mind'.]

[Update 9 August 2014]

(12)  Pangolins.

awl .... sweeeeeepeeeeeeee .........


I have never written a line about these lovelies, but they are so-o-o-o  sweet ...

[Thanks go out to Snarla  for mailing me that image.]

Monday, November 28, 2011

A Minimum Axiomatization for Reality (Part III)


[continued from this]

Improbable though it seems – I began this thought-stream rather as a lark, but suggestive analogies keep cropping up -- here is yet another similarity between the mathematical and the anthropological settings of Choice.  Here our author, Potter, resorts to theological language  (p. 250)  to do justice to the mathematical state of affairs

The arguments that are given by mathematicians for believing the axiom of choice  are often quite weak.  One common argument generalizes from the finite case, on the basis that there is no reason to suppose that infinite collections behave any differently.  The difficulty with this is that we have nothing except a wing and a prayer to support the view that they do not behave differently.
            -- Michael Potter, Set Theory and its Philosophy (2004)
 
 
The naivety of the reported reasoning (Sicut in finito, sic in infinito) seems extreme  -- two things could scarcely be more different, and mathematics overflows with processes that do not generalize straightforwardly to the infinite case.  (Consult discussion here.)  But we are in little better case, in our everyday implicit beliefs, when challenged to defend them.  Saint Augustine’s epigram (“Quid est tempus? Si nemo a me quaerat, scio …”) is classic.  We may offer a more homely case, our response to a nihilist who doubts the presence of this coffee-cup, and demands to know why on earth I would postulate the existence of such a thing, which Bishop Berkeley had surely already adequately refuted.

I:  Because I see it in front of me, and hear the ching of the spoon against the china, and feel its warmth and weight and solidity in my two hands, and the taste of the wholesome beverage that issues from its porcelain interior.
He:  Ha!  Your brain evidently floats in a pretty well-appointed vat.

The only really adequate answer to his sly challenge, is Axiom I, below.

Potter goes on:

Another variant  proceeds more cautiously, by generalizing  first from the finite to the countable case  in the constructive manner already outlined, and then generalizing to the uncountable case by appeal to the idea that an ideal being could achieve the choices required of him (or perhaps Him).

And so, at last, towards the very end of the logic book, He puts in an appearance.

[continued here]

Sunday, November 27, 2011

L’uni-vers

La pratique des monostiques  semble inconnue chez force peuples de la planète, tout ainsi que la géométrie algébrique.  C’est bien triste.  A part le français, l’anglais, l’allemand  et le russe, aucune autre langue ne présente d’article à ce sujet sur Wiki -- autant dire:  cela n’existe pas.  (Wikipedia, c’est la solution de l’antique énigme, esse est percipi.)  Les français arrivent même en tête, avec Emmanuel Lochac et ses Monostiches;  et l’article Wiki en est de loin le plus fourni des quatre.  Et la forme de l’alexendrin est un véritable moule à monostiques.

Et pourtant, ces termes monostique et monostiche  manquent d’une certain mélodie en notre langue (monostich ou monostichon -- passe encore), ainsi je le rebaptiserai l’uni-vers.  Car c’est se rendre compte de l’ancienne vérité  bien connue de William Blake,

To see a world in a grain of sand,
And a heaven in a wild flower,
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand,
And eternity in an hour

Le monostique est bien un uni-vers, l’univers in petto, un cosmos tout-petit tout-petit, et plus vaste qu’une larme ou un rire …


~
Des exemples de mon cru :




*
Pour d’autres friandises
de la confiserie 
du docteur Justice,
consultez:

Trussed like a Turkey: DSK


 An extraordinary new analysis of the DSK case  by Edward Jay Epstein has just been published by The New York Review of Books.   (I tried to read it and comment on it yesterday, after reading in Le Figaro that it had been posted,  but the NYRB site had somehow been disabled and I never got through until just now.) It's a compelling read, complete with Professor-Plum-with-a-candlestick-in-the-library -style diagrams.  Se non è vero, è ben trovato.

These new allegations go unmentioned in this morning’s papers, The Washington Post and The New York Times, whether in their print or (so far) online editions.  Indeed, as of this writing, almost the only newspapers that a search for “Edward Jay Epstein” on Google’s English-language news page  were foreign:
[This one includes a video interview with Epstein, who there adds further details and charges.]

[This one offers a somewhat breathless summary of Epstein's article -- which reads therefore more like a thriller, whereas Epstein's just-the-facts-ma'am approach  is more like a police procedural.]

[Just mentioning this to show that Rumania is outpacing the United States in tracking this, although the events happened right here in New York.]

etc. etc.

The immensely ironic exception was this:  “The Plot to destroy DSK”, in … the New York Post !  Right from the start, the NY Post was at the forefront of those baying for Strauss-Kahn’s blood, sliming him and Frenchmen generally.
Indeed, when Mr. Epstein may again have a free moment, he might wish to look in to the full extent of the involvement of that rightwing Murdoch rag.

[Update:  Ah ! The NYRB is already on the case: http://www.nybooks.com/blogs/nyrblog/2011/jul/30/its-time-scrutinize-fox/  ] ---

Thus, the American MSM is so far mum about all this.  Par for the course -- Americans have seldom been over-curious about the excesses committed in their name, as witness the continuing reverence for Reagan.   But mark it well:  the NYPD, and the NYPost, were at best cat’s-paws, at worst active enablers,  in publically humiliating and shredding the reputation of the man who otherwise might very well have become the next President of France, and who was, at the time of his takedown, the professionally respected leader of one of the most important economic institutions in the world, the IMF, in the middle of a global financial crisis.  All this based on the say-so of a perjurer. --
These new allegations may or may not be true;  for its part, Accor, parent company of Sofitel, not only denies them, but makes some simple empirical statements directly contradicting Epstein:  that instead of a three-minute celebratory shimmy by two of its employees upon discovering that DSK was doomed, they are on the tape for only eight seconds, and not dancing.  And, that the neighboring suite that Diallo visited several times that morning (possibly simply to bring new towels, possibly to consult with her controller, possibly to service another client  in an unrelated case) was unoccupied at the time of the events.  Such facts are easily checked. --

[Update 7 December 2011]  Certain facts have been checked, NYRB has climbed down:  13 seconds by the clock.   Le Monde comments:

L'enquête d'Edward Epstein ressemble de plus en plus à une baudruche, qui se dégonfle de jour en jour. Après avoir promis les images de la désormais célèbre "danse de joie", sans même en posséder une copie, voilà que le journaliste est désavoué sur le site de la New York Review of Books.

A reader comments:

C'est bien dans les habitude de la Presse, on flingue d'abord et on identifie après!!!

A somewhat more meditative reader ripostes:

8 secondes, 13 secondes, 30 secondes, 3 minutes : en quoi est-ce si important? L 'article incriminé manque de rigueur : sans aucun doute. Mais le seul point important est:la réalité de cette manifestation de joie. Il faut rappeler que, ce qui n'est pas contesté -du moins pour l'instant- cette manifestation de joie de 8s, 13s, 30s, 3mn survient quelques instants (minutes) apres l'appel de la police. Y a-t-il un lien de cause à effet ou pure coïncidence, pur hasard? That is the question.

~     ~     ~

A complete listing of our earlier posts on this astonishing affair may be consulted here.   It is a matter of the gravest international importance, though the only reason most Americans even paid any attention is because of the sex.
 ~     ~     ~
I collect here some of the more interesting comments from French readers.  By and large, most of them aren’t buying it.
~
[Le Parisien]
Les théories complotistes ont de beaux jours devant elles. C'est plus agréable de (se) faire croire que notre héros n'est pas un salaud, mais une victime du méchant Sarkozy (combien de complots lui a-t-on imputé depuis qu'il est président ?). C'est curieux que les complotistes invétérés n'ait pas relevé le fait bizarre quand même qu'une amie de DSK travaillait comme documentaliste au siège de l'UMP.
---
quand bien meme, dsk aurait été victime d'un complot, nous pouvons que nous en féliciter. Ce complot a au moins le mérite de nous avoir fait connaitre la vie de débauche que menait DSK ET DE CE FAIT DE NOUS L AVOIR ELIMINE de la présidence a laquelle il pouvait prétendre. BRAVO AU COMPLOT
---
Ca devient passionnant. N. SARKOZY va sûrement partir demain pour New York, pour superviser l'enquète.
---
Complot au FMI ? Complot avec BANON ? Complot au SOFITEL ? Complot au CARLTON ? Vraiment DSK est une oie blanche, il ne s'est rien passé Ce grand enquêteur d'edward prépare un livre et en fait la pub aujourd'hui ENCORE UN POLAR AMERICAIN. Les avocats de DSK vont ils porter plainte pour complot ? Prochain épisode, DANS DSK LE RETOUR !
---
Complot ou pas, cette histoire n'arrange aucunement la situation pour la réélection de Nicolas Sarkozy en 2012. Les gens se posent la question (1 sur 2 si j'en crois le sondage en ligne) et savent bien que ces situations peuvent receler quelque part de manipulation. Aujourd'hui dimanche, je vois tout un tas de personnalités démentir, parler de fantasme etc. Si c'est du fantasme, ils n'ont pas besoin de venir ajouter des démentis, cela donne une impression de défense sur des non-faits, une défense face à des attaques à venir quand les faits seront mieux établis. C'est contre-productif pour le camp UMP. Attention, les présidentielles sont à moins de 150 jours, on est en plein dans la zone rouge !
~
[Le Figaro]
Il y a convergence d'intérêts pour: 1- DSK qui veut se refaire une virginité en politique et donc passer pour une victime. 2- Le PS pour atteindre l'UMP et salir une fois de plus NS pendant la présidentielle, en particulier le Club DSK.. 3- Les médias pour faire des titres et du fric...
À noter que l'auteur spécialistes des «complots présumés» et qui gagne sa vie avec ses romans, fait aussi partie de la même diaspora que DSK ....
Quant aux faits: utiliser un blackberry ou Facebook et autres réseaux sociaux, c'est la porte ouverte aux médias... Voir le scandale «Murdoch» en Grande Bretagne...
---
Le seul souci pour les avocats de DSK est de gagner au civil; toute cette agitation va dans ce sens et non dans la pseudo découverte d'un pseudo complot ourdi par Nicolas Sarkozy contrairement à ce qu'espèrent nos donneurs de leçons de gauche
---
Curieux complot dans lequel l'agent placé en première ligne n'est pour rien.
---
Ce monsieur n'est pas cohérent ! si madame Diallo n'est pas impliquée donc il n'y a pas eu complot puisque c'est elle qui a été présumée violée par DSK . Ces deux hommes du Sofitel avait donc tout simplement attendu que DSK fasse l'erreur qu'ils attendaient pour danser la danse des sioux ! Si c'est cela qu'il veut démontrer où se trouve le complot ? Je vais faire un procès aux avocats de DSK et du journaliste pour harcèlement sur notre équilibre mental et notre tranquillité ! lol !!!
---
Le vieux monsieur et sa Sainte Claire feraient mieux de se faire oublier définitivement pour quelque temps. C'est quoi cette histoire de porter plainte contre des journaux pour atteinte à la vie privée et de l'autre ces "nouvelles revélations" au Sofitel. Qu'ils restent tous les deux à Tel Aviv ou dans leur riad à Marakesh et que l'on n'entend plus jamais parler d'eux
---
Moi si j'étais un dirigeant de l'UMP je porterais plainte pour « atteinte à notre intelligence ». Car question timing, chapeau ! Pourquoi en effet ne pas l'avoir piégé, ce qui semble si facile, en pleine campagne présidentielle, après une primaire triomphale ?
~
[Le Monde]
Une seule chose est sûre dans cette affaire. C'est que DSK et donc le PS disposait d'une taupe au sein de l'UMP. On se rappellera qu'il y a peu de temps, les coordonnées des cadres de l'UMP, leur adresse, nom des femmes et enfants, etc, se sont retrouvés sur la place publique à la suite d'une opération de piratage. Y-a-t-il un lien entre la présence de taupes du PS au sein d'un parti adverse et ces divulgations. C'est cela le PS d'aujourd'hui: des méthodes dignes de la STASI?
---
Comment un journaliste d'investigation digne de ce nom peut-il déduire quoi que ce soit de crédible à propos d'une "danse festive" muette de deux salariés d'un hôtel ? C'est vraiment du ramassis de caniveau ce genre d'allégation. Quand va-t-on faire un black out total sur ces billevesées encombrantes …
[This commenter then posts a URL to a conspiracy-analysis site -- which, however, mysteriously fails to lead anywhere.  Wheels within wheels!]
---
Le nième article avec son flot de réactions. Continuez comme cela, chers branchés, et la véritable opposante à Sarkozy ce sera Mme Le Pen. N'avez vous pas l'impression qu'il y a à l'heure actuelle des problèmes plus importants ?
---
Des barbouzes à la française qui se prennent les pieds dans le tapis en suivant DSK de trop près dans la chambre d'à côté et sur son blackberry?
---
la semaine dernière, j'étais dans un 5 étoiles à Bruxelles (une promo trouvée sur Internet...). Les femmes de chambre sont entrées en plein après midi dans la chambre, et deux fois le lendemain matin. elles frappent, elles entrent aussitôt... pratique courante, donc.
---
tout cela est bien triste que DSK soit obsédé par le sexe car il est d'une toute autre carrure que Hollande qui risque de faire perdre une fois encore le ps
~
[New York Post]
Comment faut-il écrire : "New York Revue of Books" ou "New York Revue of boucs" ? Continuez, continuez, en France, nous sommes MdR (morts de rire).
~
[Le Journal du Dimanche]
Les théories complotistes sont increvables. Curieux que les complotistes n'aient pas relevé le fait bizarre qu'une amie de DSK travaillait au siège de l'UMP. Imaginez qu'on ait appris qu'une amie de Sarkozy travaillait rue de Solférino
---
sans vouloir jouer les devins, évident que cette campagne des avocats de DSK précède l'annonce du rejet de la demande d'immunité de DSK ... ---
DSK faisait venir ses "amis" pour participer a des orgies a Washington.Orgie rime souvent avec alcool et cocaine. Il se faisait prendre en photo avec des prostituées dans son bureau de directeur du FMI!Alors si des services secrets des USA ou de France ayant appris cela aient décidé de le surveiller non seulement ça ne me choque pas mais je trouve ça sain. Cet homme perdait les pédales.
---
diallo a ete paye pour lui piquer son blackberry peu importe la maniere....
[A remarkable suggestion -- I hadn’t thought of that !  In that case the whole sex angle would have been incidental.  This is all getting very cinematic …]

BREAKING UPDATE !  

That last hypothesis -- that Diallo’s task was not necessarily to seduce DSK, but to swipe the bugged Blackberry (which now has become the Macguffin or Maltese Falcon of this affair) has set wheels whirling and twirling inside my brain (I am reduced to the state of Herman Cain).
OK -- it’s like this. A meta-conspiracy-theory.  (Pencils ready?) 

=> This whole affair was set up from start to finish by DSK himself  !!! <=

Why (you may ask) ? -- Weh-hell, I’ll tell you why, for the price of your movie ticket !  (However, as a special favor to the elite audience that frequents WDJ, I’ll spill the beans right now for free.)
DSK knew that he could never really be President -- as soon as he won the Socialist primary, journalists would be all over him, and much dirty laundry (such as that  recently  from Lille) would inevitably be aired:  like Trump or Perry, he would explode once you got a closer look at him.   Further (this subplotline ©2011 by Justice Worldwide Enterprises, all rights reserved)  he was himself a pauper, apart from his rich wife, and his extravagant lifestyle (that much is true) had piled up enormous hidden debts.  Since some of the money was owed to the Corsican mob (oh, this is good) he had to come up with some quick source of serious liquid cash. 
And so he crafted this intricate plot-within-a-plot(-within-a-….), himself owning the rights to the story, and he alone knowing the intimate details.  (His encounter with Diallo he recorded on his iPhone.  Turns out he was fully clothed, and they just shared a few laughs over canasta.)
Major studios around the world will be in a bidding frenzy for this story within the month.  Strauss-Kahn will pocket millions right up front, plus a take of the gate.
My services as screen-writer are available (if you can afford them).  Please contact my agent, Dr K.
~

[Update]
The phone’s been ringing off the hook.  We’re looking at Di Caprio for the prosecutor, and Marlon Brando has agreed to come back from the dead to portray Strauss-Kahn.  As for Diallo, we’re thinking of maybe Scarlett Johansson -- talk about casting against type !
You remember that great old coda to every episode of “Dragnet”:
(portentous voice):
The story you have just heard    is true.
Only the names have been changed    to protect the innocent.
Well, the title-card for the movie I shall script (or, if Hollywood has any sense, direct) will read:
The story you are about to watch,  while not literally true,
partakes of a certain truthiness.
Only the facts have been changed,  to make it more exciting.
~
In the screenplay I shall write for this, against a record-breaking seven-figure advance,  there will be an extraordinary number of nude scenes -- more than ever before in the history of cinema.   Not, note, of Diallo, who turns out to be an undercover nun;  but rather of the extensive cast of French DST agents, who were renting fully half the rooms in the Sofitel that day, and who turn out  all  to be these incredibly shapely females, whose only fault  is an obsessive need  to take showers …
For professional reasons, I shall require to personally and privately  interview each actress presenting herself for one of these lucrative career-launching roles…
~
[Update, late Sunday night]
OK so -- finally, belatedly, the Washington Post acknowledges what has been happening.  Only, they put a cockeyed spin on it:
The odd thing is that, per our informal survey of readers’ reactions in a number of newspapers,  the French reaction is surprisingly muted, even weary.   But more important, the Post’s attempt to portray this story as something local and abroad, something Franco-hexagonal, is self-protective, even contemptible.  Almost all the alleged plotters named in Epstein’s account are Americans.  The arresting officers were all Americans.  The prosecutor, the judge are Americans.   The perp walk is quintessentially American. The tabloids that smeared him and hounded him are American.  The prison system that leaked a grainy photo of him sitting defeated and unshaven in a cold, cold cell, is American.  The prurient prudery that, for an allegation of oral sex, first denies bail, then sets it at a million dollars, when murderers walk free for a fraction of that, is all too American. And the Who-Wants-to-be-a-Millionaire civil justice system, that allows the second-chance lawsuit to be conveniently relocated to The Bronx, is American. You can’t shovel this thing off as just some sort of intra-Gallic squabble.
[I tried to sample the readers’ responses, but once again, as with the original NYRB report, the site appears to have been hacked:  an attempt to retrieve the comments puts you into an infinite loop.]
[As of post-time, the NYTimes is still not picking up the story, though it all happened in New York.]
 ~
FLASH -- CRITIC
In a remarkable late development, DSK has sought asylum in my fortified lakeside compound.  I have put him in the West Wing.
By an extraordinary coincidence, “Mr. Big” (Monsieur LeGrand), who pulls the ficelles of French politics (Sarkozy being nothing but his puppet), is also my house-guest for the weekend, taking up quarters in the East Wing.
Neither is aware  of the presence  of the other.
Things bid fair to prove a bit awkward over dinner …
~

MEGAFLASH -- STOP THE PRESSES
OK -- complications.  The Illuminati have hit the compound, managing to get past the crocodile-moat, and DSK is dead.  But this movie-deal is far too big to be derailed by a detail like that.  I have hired a sosie to act as his stunt-double till the pact is inked;  Marlon Brando is still on board.   I’m interviewing Ms. Johansson in the bedroom  even as we speak.
And Mr. Big ?  Why do you even ask ?   He always gets away …

Orthoëpy of the Doxology

 
On the rare occasions when, as a child, I attended services -- with friends or relatives, and usually Lutheran -- they sang (and eventually I tried to sing with them), this simple song, a quatrain of tetrameters:

Praise God, from Whom all blessings flow;
Praise Him, all creatures here below;
Praise Him above, ye Heavenly Host;
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.

They called it “The Doxology”.  It was sung to a tune which, I later learned, is known familiarly as “the Old One Hundredth”.

Simply as written, it might almost be a quatrain from that other simple song (though that one is stress-timed, the syllable-count being variable):

Praise the Lord for the humble woodchuck,
praise the Lord for the mouse and mole,
praise the Lord for the backyard visits
that sustain the soul.

(That last line is a trimeter -- stress the “that”.)

But there is a subtlety, a depth, a twist to the Doxology, as we actually sang it.  After the straighforward naturalness of the first verse, an iambic tetrameter, the emphasis suddenly turns trochaic.   The way we sang it was:

PRAISE him ALL creaTURES here BE-low

The stress is now wrenchingly contrasemantic -- autonomous -- thrawn.
And likewise for the third verse -- though here, additionally, we slipped out of the familiar major key, to enter some mode more minor or indeed medieval:

PRAISE him A-bove YE hea-ven-LY host

before finally returning to the sunny uplands of iambic rhythm and major key.


[Note: The technical term for such displaced stress metri causâ  is wrenched accent.]

~

For long, I did not know what this might mean.
Life took an ever more secular course, and I did not hear the song again until, in middle age, I at last was baptized, joining the Presbyterian church in Princeton.  There, we usually sang a sprightlier version,  with no sprung-rhythm, nor dark modes, and with some jolly “hallelujahs” thrown in.   But the old tones of the Old One Hundredth  still dwelt in memory.

The Doxology.   It was a numinous, a fearsome word, long and unEnglish and utterly unused in the circles in which I usually moved, and yet as normal and natural as “hot dog” or “baseball” to these believers.   It concretized the wall between the churched and the unchurched .  Occasionally, when staying with relatives, I would get a glimpse of what went on within those walls:  yet still it stood. between me without and them within.

And even within the everyday American Protestant context itself, it had a taste of strangeness.   The business of that thrawn stress in the middle verses  always gnawed at me, and left me alert for such things.  (I later wrote a paper called “Contra-semantic Sentence Stress”, taking off from the patter of stewardesses.)  I never analyzed the thing, vaguely assuming that, as does happen in verse, the choice of words was such as momentarily to throw the beat off-kilter -- many poets do this deftly, deliberately, just the right amount, to avoid any tedium or singsong quality.   But if you look at the verses as printed, you immediately see that is not so.  We could just as easily have sung them parallel to the first verse:

Praise HIM all CREAT-tures HERE be-LOW-hoh…..

But now here is the key -- and it is a key to Christianity as well, that faith that embraces paradox -- and parasemantics.   For, if we had sung it straight through in that simple way, refraining from any blue notes or celadon notes or burnt-umbrous notes as well, it truly would have been like the Humble Woodchuck -- a children’s song.  Nothing wrong with that.  A lot right with that.   But genuine Christianity is not by any means so simple.   It states that flat out, at the outset, with the startling, baffling, thrilling doctrine of the Trinity, which sets all reductivizing simplification at defiance.  And the doxology as we sang it, in that southern-Californian church, our Fords and Buicks shimmering out in the parking lot, to whisk us off afterwards for some post-worship hamburgers -- as we sang it, it gave us a taste of strangeness, a hint of darkness  absent from our workaday American lives, in that sunlit time before Kennedy was slain.
For see -- it does not bid just us to praise.  All creatures.  In particular and in primo:  the ducks, whose chorus of simple unstinting praise sails up to Heaven from every field and pond.   And even as we sing, our praise is paralleled, by a higher choir, unseen but singing too, aloud and full-throated, upon heights upon clouds upon Eternity and upon Time  -- World Without End.

~   Praise   Him   ~
~
A story that will haunt your dreams
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