Sunday, May 29, 2016

Politicians and Penguins


It has been reported that Trump just made fun of Romney for “walking like a penguin”:


We are outraged at the insinuation.  Penguins walk nothing like that stumblebum Romney -- they have a natural grace and dignity.

"I shall not dignify that innuendo  by a reply..."

~

For your weekend reading pleasure,
we reproduce our earliest think-piece (from March 2013)
on the relations between politics and penguins.

(For further particulars, consult Prof. Dr.  H.D.G. von Vogelkunde, Die Pinguinistik in der Weltwissenschaft, 30 volumes, 1807 fff. )

~    ~    ~


(1)   One is not quite sure whether the following description of the French President, by his ex-mistress and songstress, is meant as a compliment …

Carla Bruni règle ses comptes avec Hollande
Sans le nommer, l'ex-première dame traite François Hollande de «pingouin» dans son prochain album.

Well, here are the lyrics;  you be the judge:

«Il prend son petit air souverain
Mais je le connais, moi, le pingouin n'a pas de manière de châtelain.
Eh, le pingouin, si un jour tu recroises mon chemin,
Je t'apprendrai, le pingouin,
Je t'apprendrai à me faire le baisemain (…)
Ni laid ni beau, le pingouin,
Ni haut ni bas, ni froid ni chaud, le pingouin, ni oui ni non (…)
Tiens le pingouin  t'as l'air tout seul  dans ton jardin»…

For those of you whose French is rudimentary, the Translation Team here at the World of Dr Justice (headquarters:  Geneva)  offers the following free rendition (a certain poetic-license being naturally effected metri causâ)

Hooray for penguins, the King of Beasts!
Ruling the roost, from most to least!
Join us in our voyaging,
and let’s go visit  The Penguin King !!


(2)   You have doubtless read of the recent plebiscite in the Falklands, in which 97% of those voting elected to remain beneath the umbrella of Great Britain.  Omitted from the MSM reports were the vote totals of the indigenous (as opposed to colonialist) population, who surely should have a say.   These are, of course, penguins, and they far outnumber the other bipeds (the ones who lost their feathers in a long tragedy of evolutionary decline).  They voted almost unanimously to reject both British and Argentine overtures, and to become an Overseas Territory of Antarctica.
(The only dissent was a contrarian chick, who plumped for the North Pole.)

Note:  This is not the first time that penguin suffrage has altered the course of history:


(3)  For an earlier thinkpiece on the political relevance of penguins, consult:
       http://worldofdrjustice.blogspot.com/2011/02/penguins-politics.html

[Footnote:  The present post is focused on strictly politicological aspects of Spheniscidae.  For the philosophical dimension, consult the following treatise


.

Sex and Math



He saw in imagination   a thin, large-eyed adolescent girl,
the same flush of color near her cheekbones,
standing breathless in a middy blouse, bloomers, and hockey pads,
on the playing field.
She had the air of finding this game a silly one,
yet she was jubilant with excitement and interest, even so.

He could think of her in the morning,
slight-breasted, in a sweater;
her narrow legs   crossed   under a short serge skirt,
biting the end of a pencil over an algebra paper 
to which, frowning,  whispering figures,
shaking back her fluffy hair,
she added
neatly and accurately,

fresh    equations   . . .     .       .        .

-- James Gould Cozzens,  Ask Me Tomorrow (1940)


[With a friendly nod to Love and Math, by Edward Frenkel. ]

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Age-old questions, answered at last


Q:  Is it the heat?
A:  No!  It’s the humidity !!

Q: When is a door … not … a door ???
A: When it’s a-roving / (athwart) (agley) …

Q: Où sont les neiges  d’antan ??
A:  Dans les égouts  d’aujourd’hui.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

“Arrival and Departure” monostich



The cicadas in the garden  kept on rasping  their thin, silvery
praise of the heat

[-- Arthur Koestler, 1943]

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Prolegomenon to any adequate pataphysics


Satirists have joined the breadlines, ever since actual reality became too wacky to satirize.


Unemployed satirists.
Send in your aluminum pull-tabs to help!


Surfing the Net, you can always find some silliness somewhere -- to notice it, would be shooting fish in a barrel.   But the editorial board of the NYTimes  is not quite a straw-man (though perhaps it should).   So here goes.

This morning they served up an editorial entitled, stirringly, “French Women Fight Back”.   For anyone familiar with the social relations in current-day, multi-culti Western Europe, or with the already misandric slant of legislation in those countries (see Looking at Someone Up and Down), will smile at this, or sigh.   To polemicize would be pointless.  But as part of our series on European political gestural semiotics,  we reproduce the photograph -- the only one illustrating the editorial -- which the editors saw fit to stand for this righteous uprising:

Or maybe they're doing "I'm a Little Teapot"

To all appearances, they are flashing a yoni-symbol!
(Can you imagine if a group of men had thus, publically and polemically, reduced women to their anatomy like that?)

Compare the Merkel-Raute:


American readers might here deny the senses of their eyes, or try to explain it away.  But actually, in France, the way feminists protest being noticed for their physiques, is to march naked in public:

What are *you* looking at, you dirty old man!

(They have done far more egregious things in public, than that;  which we decline to link to.  This is, after all, a family magazine.)

[Update Feb 2017]  "Raute" has become the new nickname for Merkel (earlier: Erika, after her supposed DDR intel career).  It is used with much the same dismissive tone that people said Dubya for George W. Bush.



~

AirBNB has come out with its own corporate version of the yoni-symbol, cleverly tweaked so as to accommodate Rorschach projections of lingam, mamillae, or podex as well:




~

There is a “Société du spectacle” aspect to the androphobic fanfare in Germany and France.   Cf. this extended essay, from yesterday:

   Vergewaltigung: Spiel mit den Zahlen

.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

The Echo Chamber


It has been well remarked, that in pre-packaging the selection of articles they show you, based on your personal browsing history and what their metrics predict you’ll want to see, news outlets and news aggregators are swaddling their readers in solipsism, so that what you ever get to see is a foregone conclusion.  That, superadded to the bias problems of outlets with an agenda to push.


I try to fight this, in part by sampling a wide variety of outlets in various languages and countries (the taboos in America differ from those in Europe, for example, so that a story suppressed in one venue  might be reported in another).   But access to these (apart from those I regularly check into as a matter of course, like nzz.ch and figaro.fr and heise.de/tp and derstandard.at, usw.) is generally, again, via aggregators -- news.google.*….  Naturally, the Google staff may have their own slant, but hopefully that differs from country to country.

Recently, however, something quite disturbing happened, on the British version --news.google.co.uk [not a typo:  .co, not .com]:  They suddenly started adding entire sections grouped by special-interest material. (This happened only on this Mac, not on our tablet running Android.)
The only previous one, “Suggested for You”, is unobjectionable, being clearly so labeled, and moreover they offer a “Still interested? Yes/No” opt-out option.  For example, they flag articles about the TV show Blindspot, a holdover from when I nursed hopes (since dashed) that it might prove any good.
But now additionally, all of a sudden, from nowhere, there are sections, titled with the same font as the standard ones that everybody sees (unless you specifically opt out), like “World” or “Business”, clearly culled (though very spottily) from my search history:

“Physics” [this, in addition to the “Sci/Tech” section that is standard]
“Computer Security”  [ditto]
“topological” [sic, this one lower-case; the relic of once search on the math topic; but results were flooded with engineering senses like “topological insulators”]
“yemen” [again lower-case -- bizarre]

That is marginally more concerning, since I didn’t ask for it, and since the selection is odd (I haven't searched on "topological" for well over a year).  But what is really hair-raising is that, here on news.google.co.uk, the section that I mostly log in for, namely “U.K.”,  has been entirely suppressed, and replaced by the same “U.S.” section (today’s top story on this supposedly U.K.-focussed site: “Headless body found in Texas Pick-up”).
Why they did that is baffling.  Certainly it bears no relation to my own clicking history (since that is the one and only section I ever click on at that site), let alone to common sense (suppress the U.K. section for someone specifically asking for .co.uk).
So now there are two countries whose press I cannot access via news.google -- the other being Spain, which Google stopped indexing a while back, in (justified, IMO) protest against an overreaching law passed by the Spanish parliament.

[The Label for this piece La société du spectacle, a notion popularized by the situationistes half a century ago, and in the U.S. by Boorstin’s The Image and subsequent works..  All that has changed since then is that, increasingly, the spectacle we watched is an individualized peep-show booth.]




~

The decline in quality -- in sheer competence -- at the news outlets (television especially, but newspapers as well) over the past couple of decades, is noticeable.
An interesting perspective from the White House messaging guy:

“40 percent of newspaper-industry professionals have lost their jobs over the past decade … The average reporter we talk to is 27 years old, and their only reporting experience consists of being around political campaigns. That’s a sea change. They literally know nothing.”


~

Facebook (which I never go near -- or anyhow, not knowingly) likewise pushes certain news stories over others, and has lately been embroiled in controversy over their slant.  To be fair, though, the company has been under intense pressure from the Rot-Grün-Merkel faction  to censor  not only news recommendations, but individual Facebook pages, cleansing them of opinions that dissent from the Willkommenseuphorie route to the destruction of Germany.  (We here at WDJ suffer, as you see, from no such bias.)


At another level -- more fundamental -- than that of issue-specific bias, is the general self-generated self-reflecting echo-of(echo-of(echo-of…)) incestuous nature of “trending” stories -- trending because they’re trending, like celebrities  famous for being famous.


-- Well, so long as we’re beating up on Facebook, we hereby huffily object to their far-from-adequate plugging of this blogspot, the “World of Dr Justice”, pourtant the most respected source of worldly and otherworldly insight apart from The Onion  (en revanche, we’re much funnier than they are).


~



In an interview the other day, an economist called the market position of entities like Amazon and Google, monopolies on a scale not seen since the days of the robber barons -- of Standard Oil and the railroads.   But while those behemoths primarily impacted our pocketbooks, the current cyber-masters are in a position to mess with our minds.
The comparison is obvious enough, once made;  but it is hard to wrap your heads around it, since monopolists (we are brought up knowing) are men in suits, with smokestack hats and villain whiskers -- not cheeky dudes in chinos.
All the economist could come up with, by way of remedy, was to somehow nationalize all that stuff, “Like the Post Office” -- a comparison less than reassuring.

The segment struck me  since, just the day before, none other than Donald Trump had brought up much the same point, in the process  pointing out that the agenda-drenched billionaire Bezos, the king of the Amazon, bought up (the bedraggled remains of) the Washington Post -- his new toy.  
For this Trump was sniffily dismissed by the knowing, as naïve and ill-informed.  (Much as Hillary and her minions dismissed candidate Obama as “naïve”.)

(Hey, just sayin';  credit where credit is due.)
[TBC]

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Math Madness in the Skies


Much of the world is sadly shaking their heads over the incident in which a economics professor, spotted doing equations by a “blonde woman in flip-flops” and deemed a terrorist on that account, was forcibly removed from the plane and sent to Security.




What no one has bothered to reveal, in all this brouhaha, is the statement by the woman herself.   Contacted by the crack WDJ news team, the woman (a physics professor at a named U.S. university) commented:

“Look, the guy was setting the integral of the limit as equal to the limit of the integrals -- without insuring uniform convergence!  And the domain of functional definition wasn’t even compact, for Pete’s sake !!  That’s plain loony!  I didn’t say he was a terrorist, I said he was an errorist.”


We see.  But did that pose a danger to the plane?

“Definitely!  The integral threatened to -- as the saying goes -- ‘blow up’.”


A reader commenting in the German newspaper Die Welt  concurs:

Wenn es sich um nichtlineare Gl gehandelt hat, könnte die Frau Recht gehabt haben!

Diverging to infinity,   at 33,000 feet


Happy Mother’s Day.


[Update]  The American Mathematical Association has awarded its prestigious  Exceptional Civilian Service medal to “the Blonde Bimbo in Flip-flops” (as she prefers to be known; like Andrew Wiles and Grigori Perelman, she shuns the limelight),  for forestalling a potentially catastrophic non-convergent integration,  with effects on cabin pressure that can only be imagined.

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Salutes and Semiotics


We earlier offered semiotic analyses of politically-tinged postures and gestures, in Europe

     La quenelle

and in the Middle East

     The Rabi`ah

And now such a controversy has flared up in the United States, specifically at West Point.   In a highly interesting and well-illustrated article in this morning’s New York Times,


we are invited to consider this graduation photo:



Now, as a non-veteran civilian, I shall have nothing at all to say about this Army-internal controversy, leaving that to the warfighters themselves.   But a word about the ambiguities of the symbolism.

The raised-fist gesture has been around a long time, appearing in a wide variety of contexts, though  in general  with a common theme of militancy.   I first encountered it personally in the late 1960’s, as part of the movement against the Vietnam War.  At the time, there were actually two raised-hand antiwar gestures.  The one more familiar to outsiders was that of a raised hand with two lifted fingers, the index and the medius (Pointer” and “Tall-man” as we called them in kindergarten -- O happy days!);  and that, to be sure, with the palm towards the onlooker; the same gesture with the onlooker facing the back of the hand, is not used in America, but is used in England, and means something quite different, and very very bad.  This gesture was often called the “Peace sign”;  it was the badge of the peacenik.  Although most of us who flashed the thing didn’t know it at the time, it was an odd choice for an antiwar symbol, since the same sign during the second World War was the “V for Victory” sign, universally known.   Well, autre temps, autre sémiotique.
The raised fist, in its beginnings, was subtley different:  it was the signature gesture, not of peaceniks, but of activists, militants, and had roots in the Communist movement (a fact probably unknown to most who came to use the gesture, simply for its jaunty sexiness).  In their purist form, the gestures meant respectively  “Bring the Boys Home” (a moderate slogan, suitable for patriots) and “Bring the War Home” (in the startling formulation of the Weathermen).

Back to the posed photograph.   Its evaluation, and the actions to be taken as a consequence, hinge crucially on the fact that these soldiers are in uniform;  that is the essential context, sine qua non. I know of people who have been stripped of their security clearances and even drummed out of the service, for having done something publically in uniform  which they would be perfectly at liberty to do in civvies. As such, it is a matter for the Army in general and West Point in particular;  for the rest of us, it is none of our affair.
But as semioticians, we may consider a bit.

The pose itself is striking -- and, to this observer, strikingly handsome, considered only as a tableau.   It calls to mind  such sculptural compositions as  this (from the Arc de Triomphe):



But more pertinently, we are dealing here, not with such stray, subjective associations, but with a context within a context, the larger context (as the article illustrates) being specifically a long-standing West Point tradition, exemplified by this, from 1884:



Thus, while the raised-fist motif (of ambiguous interpretation, now that the gesture has been so watered-down as to be exploited by pop stars) might or might not seem defiant or truculent (eye of the beholder),  it occurs in a framing that is in fact ultra-Army and ultra-traditionalist.  And quite possibly,  what was in the minds of these young women at the time  was not really that of insurrection (let alone Communist), but more along the lines of another Army tradition:  esprit de corps.

[Aesthetic footnote]  The distaff composition actually seems quite a bit more "Hooah!" than that of the 19th century men.  The guys  towards the bottom  seem to have melted.


[Psychological footnote]  As a complete outsider to all this, what first struck me (and somewhat shocked me) about the picture, was not the fists, any minatory interpretation of which was at least partly neutralized by the merry grin on the woman stage-left, and the cocked-head dreamy half-smile of the woman at the opposite bannister (who resembles a -- white -- woman I work with).  Rather, it was the grey old-fashioned uniforms.  Had they dressed up as Confederates?  Surely not;  the article identifies the kit as “traditional gray dress uniforms”.   To contextualize adequately would require expert testimony;  you can’t just go by the sight of your eyes.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

The “National Enquirer”, Space Aliens, and the JFK Assassination


I once wrote occasional items for the National Enquirer.  Whether there was a by-line, I don’t recall;  they would ask me occasionally for an assessment of matters related to language.   I had never read that periodical, but knew its reputation among the aesthetically-correct elite, and was bemused that this much-maligned tabloid would go to the trouble of getting input from an actual expert in a certain field, completely unknown outside of that field and thus with no commercial pizzazz.  That simply didn’t gibe with The Narrative that was assumed by right-thinking illuminati.  So I looked at a few issues, and found it as alien to my tastes as can well be imagined: a relentless focus on celebrities, including such truly eyelid-deadening matters as celebrity diets.   Still, you can’t really fault them for that -- de gustibus;  similarly, the American Mathematical Monthly is rather obsessively focused on math.

At one point -- since I had a family to support and was being paid a pittance at my day-job, despite its being a Ph.D. position (or rather two positions, each requiring a Ph.D.) -- I actually considered becoming more involved with them, and sent away for their application materials.  It was a daunting packet:  a relentless emphasis  upon the absolute need for research, accuracy, documentation … tape-record everything, assume you’ll have to stand up to legal challenge from public figures with a fan-base and high-powered lawyers,  leave nothing to chance … they really didn’t make it seem like a free ride at all.  True, methodological exactitude in the service of often trivial stories (Which Hollywood Starlet Has Been Secretly Cheating on her ... Diet?);  but within their sphere of activity, their striving for journalistic integrity was impressive.

Now, I haven’t glanced at the Enquirer for roughly thirty years, and maybe it has changed;  but apparently not:  the even-handed summary in Wikipedia supports this:
In fact, the Enquirer appears to have an impressive record of journalistic scoops -- many of them initially denied or decried by the rest of the world.

So!  While we are on the subject of journalistic integrity, consider this, from the Washington Post, a prominent daily newspaper with a mostly undeserved reputation for excellence:

Trump was widely criticized Tuesday for claiming that Cruz's father, Rafael Cruz, was spotted with Lee Harvey Oswald around the time of Kennedy's assassination. The business mogul seems to have been referring to a National Enquirer story from last month alleging that the elder Cruz appeared in a 1963 photo with Oswald, a claim the now-defunct Cruz campaign has called "garbage."
After ABC News anchor George Stephanopoulos questioned the tabloid's credibility -- it is perhaps best known for its alien sightings -- Trump defended the Enquirer's coverage of the O.J. Simpson murder trial and John Edwards's sex scandal in 2008.

There are formulations one could criticize:  Trump didn’t just come out and “claim” that Rafael Cruz was “spotted” with Lee Harvey Oswald;  rather, the Enquirer published a quite explicit photograph, showing Oswald a few feet away from a gentleman whom the Enquirer identified as Cruz Sr.; Trump merely alluded to this, as might anyone.   But what really grabbed my eye was that phrase “best known for its alien sightings”.   If it is best known for that, rather than for (in the words of the Enquirer’s own site) “the most up-to-the-second celebrity gossip, news and Hollywood happenings”, it is because of misleading -- you might say, lying -- characterizations such as the one above in the Washington Post.   There are indeed tabloids that deal in that;  at the time I wrote for the Enquirer, there was the Weekly World News (I think it was called), which had a great deal of purely imaginary Elvis sightings and anal probes.   The Enquirer was not like that at all.  (Again, don’t take my word for it, check out their site;  and see whom you believe, the Enquirer or WaPo.)

So the legitimate questions -- which neither the Post article nor those in the rest of the  media of decorum address -- are:

(1)  Is the photograph genuine, or a hoax?  In the latter case, the Enquirer is either
   (a) civilly and perhaps criminally liable for a grave misdeed, or
   (b) the victim of hoaxsters (as it was in the case when the paper was hoodwinked by some reporters from the Salt LakeTribune), and thus arguably negligent.

And if the photograph is genuine, then the question is:

(2)  Is the figure circled by the Enquirer  in fact Rafael Cruz?

(On all those questions, I am myself completely agnostic;  simply making a logical point.)
The disinclination of the MSM, or the Cruz campaign, to address this obvious and simple fact, is noteworthy.  In particular, calling the Enquirer account “garbage” is a mere evasion:  what about (1), and (2)?  If the Enquirer has (excuse the verb) simply trumped up a slander, or lazily propagated the fabrication of others without due diligence, or otherwise been journalistically remiss, then it deserves anything from legal sanctions to a very public shaming, as happened to Rolling Stone in the mendacious campus-rape affair (although the goodthink media that gleefully ran with the story until it exploded, once again got a pass).  But merely rattling the Park Avenue tea-cups at it, and spreading innuendo and even falsehoods in the process, as the Washington Post appears to have done, is not a valid argument.

~

For another case of a story that, if true (and we ourselves hold no brief  one way or the other), was well worth investigating, but which died, as the publication that first uncovered it is sniffed-at by its betters:

http://worldofdrjustice.blogspot.com/2011/02/dont-know-whether-to-laugh-or-cry.html


Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Monostichs: Magical and Mournful


Magical Monostich (at seaside) :

The range of marshes lay clear before us,
with the sails of the ships on the river   growing out of it.

Mournful Monostich (walking a London streetscape) :

while To Let  To Let  To Let,  glared at me from empty rooms.



[Source:  Ch. Dickens, Great Expectations (1861).]

Monday, May 2, 2016

The Mystery of the Analytical Chemist (updated)



Among the unpublished manuscripts of my late friend Dr. Watson … no, just kidding.

Our Mutual Friend, the last finished novel of Charles Dickens, does not lie at the center of most readers’ affections;  yet connoisseurs there are, who wóuld award the palm to that late work.   And one of the most memorable minor characters therein -- as minor as might be, since (if memory serves) he utters not a word at any time -- is the discreetly appearing and vanishing figure of the Analytical Chemist.  His denomination is never explained, and he is given no other name.  His ostensible function is to wait on the Veneering’s table, at that elegant or elegantesque or simili-elegant supper party which is to seal the coming-out of these arrivistes or nouvel-arrivés; his deeper purpose is … well, it must be guessed-at.   But whatever it was, Dickens was evidently quite satisfied with the results.

What does he mean, then -- and especially, why ever is he called that?
The proper approach, I now believe, is not to be overly … analytical about it (as I tried to be, upon first encountering the character, with wonder).  The phrase simply wandered into Dickens’ mind,  without any nicety of correspondence to the Dalton or Lavoisier theory of the day, and serves perfectly to suggest what needs suggesting:  neither fawning nor class resentment  on the part of the table-attendent, but cool detachment, and unwavering observation.  In this he is a forerunner of that other supranatural butler, Jeeves.
(There are differences, but these are subtle, and must await another time  for treatment, when Jeeves himself shall consent to appear at the center of our lens.)


Bonus quote:

Hungarian goulash, always a dish to be avoided unless you had had the forethought to have it analysed by a competent analytical chemist.
-- P.G. Wodehouse, Ice in the Bedroom (1961)

For further Dickensiana:
http://worldofdrjustice.blogspot.com/search/label/Charles%20Dickens



[Postscript May 2016] A foretaste of the denomination may be found in chapter 8 of Barnaby Rudge (1841).  Describing the farcical Tubby’s-Clubhouse-style subterranean meeting of the ‘Prentice Knights:

One of the conductors of this novice held a rusty blunderbuss pointed towards his ear, and the other, a very ancient sabre, with which he carved imaginary offenders as he came along  in a sanguinary and anatomical manner.

Savor the semantics of that “anatomical manner”, and you will be well on the way towards the Analytical Chemist.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

A lost fragment of “Edwin Drood”


The literary world is thrilling to the latest discovery of a work by a major figure -- in this case, the American poet Walt Whitman -- previously unknown (in the present case, published, but not under the poet’s name):


Since the work in question -- mere newspaper fare, and appearing as its lead article -- was “hiding in plain sight”, one cannot say that the world of letters has been particularly enriched by its (re)discovery -- or rather, re-ascription.  It consists of diet advice and whatnot.  Still, it is rejoicing to learn, once again, that forgotten treasure may be found for the ferreting.

As our own, far more modest contribution to Whitmaniana, we offer this seldom-seen photograph, not of the poet, but of his elder brother Phineas:

Walt Whitman's smarter brother

In actual, actuarial fact, Walt had upwards of a dozen brothers, all of them smarter than himself, but none of them poets;  and since they all went into banking, or barbering, or bagel-making, or bootblacking, their tales are lost to literary history.

~

Quite on another plane  from that of Whitman (who struggled  his entire life to become a poet, without ever discovering the principle of the rhyme) is that of the brilliant Dickens, whose final novel, The Mystery of Edwin Drood (posthum.  1870), a masterpiece of clockwork plotting and stylistic concision, was left tragically unfinished by the author’s untimely, more than lamented death.  No work in history has more sharply whetted the thirst of cognoscenti, for more; in attics throughout England, dusty trunks have long been feverishly ransacked, in hopes that some further chapter, or even the bare outline of the plot (along with the key to the murder), might turn up.  So far, all in vain.

Until now.  Using methods which, both for reasons of methodological proprietorship and of possible legal liability in case some corners might have been cut (quite without my knowledge), we shall not disclose,  we at last have managed to acquire -- against a sum which, again, I shall not reveal; consider it my humble financial contribution to world scholarship -- an actual fragment, on a torn bit of manuscript and in the author's own hand, of the final chapter of that work.

For its genuineness I have the solemn testimony of my employee Mr Thomas Chatterton, Gentleman, Director of Chemical Analysis for the WDJ  Department of Incunabula:  the fragment was printed on the very same rare make of paper that bore that priceless manuscript “A Dinner at Veneerings”, which it was our good fortune to expose to the marveling world, a photo-image of which manuscript may be inspected here.

Here then, follows the fragment.

Vide infra;  right … there.

not but that, had he

  Umm, that’s it.  That’s all he wrote.  That’s what you get.  Something of an anticlimax, perhaps, to such as are hard to please.
It might have been nice to have an actual verb, at least.   Or a noun;  or a name.  Still, as the first authenticated posthumous addition to that classic of suspense and detection, our find must mark an epoch  in Dickens scholarship.

We ourselves are far too rigorous in our adherence to the methodological rigors of diplomatic editions, to venture a guess as to the context;  although, examing the fragile fragment with a magnifier, we do perceive, off at the right edge, a curve which might be a part of an o;  in which case  the passage may confidently be emended to “had he only” -- or, what is almost the same, “had he only known”.   Or yet further, with more than moral certainty,

not but that, had he only known what effect these words would have upon his stunned interlocutor, he might have

~

A night of intense reflection, not unaccompanied by ardent spirits, has revealed to me the following astonishing completion:

… he might have plunged his hand into the hidden inner pocket of his blouse of Indian silk, and extracted the gem-encrusted dagger which he had secreted for so long against this very possibility -- sinking the instrument repeatedly into the half-averted visage of the crone --
“SO!  You thought you could do away with him, and frame me for the deed, and make me to imagine that I had done it myself, while in an amnesiac haze  the fruit of the treble-strength opium which you, on that accursed night, administered with your traitor’s hand!”

Ex pede, Herculem!  The mystery is solved at last !!

-- Mm; hmm.  Of course, that is all a bit speculative.


~
~  Posthumous Endorsement ~
"If I were alive today, and in the mood for a mystery,
this is what I'd be reading: "
(My name is Charles “Chuck” Dickens,
and I approved this message.)
~         ~
~



[Lit. Crit. footnote (all satire aside):
 Such a dénoument would resemble that of Wilkie Collins’ pioneering whodunit, The Moonstone (1868), in which the protagonist, having been slipped some laudanum, unconsciously commits an act which is key to a crime, and which frames him for the crime itself.   Dickens and Collins were longtime friends and emulous colleagues;  moreover, Dickens was certainly well aware of The Moonstone, having been its actual publisher!

I wrote all this simply as a hoot; yet there are several indications within the published portion of the book, which make such a hypothetical ending plausible.  For:
(1)  The crone who runs the opium den  has been meddling with the dosages;  Jasper remarks upon this.
(2)  You would think that the crone would be favorably disposed towards Jasper, since he’s a regular customer and pays his bills;  yet she absolutely has it in for him, with a deadly hatred, as we see towards the end of the published book when she visits the cathedral and sees him sing.
(3) … TBC
]
]

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