Spring/Summer 2018

The Getty Acropolis:
Mountain Temples

I believe that architecture has the power to inspire, to elevate the spirit, to feed both the mind and the body. It is for me the most public of the arts.

—Richard Meier, Getty Center architect, 2001      

The first picture below, taken at night, is the Acropolis in Athens, Greece, built circa 500–400 B.C. The second, at right, taken as twilight pushes up through the sky, is the Getty Center in Los Angeles, built circa 1983–1997.

picture of acropolis
Acropolis at night. Photograph copyright: © Rodrigo Varas @ Unesco World Heritage

getty at twilight
Getty Center. Photograph © Scott Frances. Used by permission.

I can’t be in Los Angeles without stopping here, at the Getty Center. I alight from the tram that floats us on air up the steep and winding path, I start walking, and then it happens: my body is, I am, aware of being inside this network — of structures, angles, curves, widening vectors, trellises and pergolas with vistas, quiet empty spaces, stairs climbing the outside walls, tables and chairs awaiting on the mountain floor.

This place, which seems to rest against the sky, is tethered to the mountains and to the city below. It doesn't feel too airily high, it's weighted. It feels like it was always supposed to be here, waiting to have been uncovered.

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Claire-Louise Bennett,
Her Living Images

Hey, nonny, nonny . . .
be you blithe and bonny,
Converting all your sounds of woe
Into. Hey, nonny, nonny.

— Wm. Shakespeare

None shally shally on that here hill . . .
None shilly shilly on that here first rung . . .
None ganny ganny on that here moon loose . . .

— C-L Bennett

The Universe Inside

The terrain of some writing is personal. Sometimes authors write about the small instead of the big. Their universe seems small because the writer is his or her own universe, which stops at the end of the body. So you have to go inside the body to get to the heart of the matter. Which means you have to go inside the mind, that is, the universe of the mind.

This is one of the hardest things in the world. This kind of writing may seem too simple-minded or self-obsessive to a reader who needs a bigger playing field, a reader who finds nothing compelling about a character who focuses on his or her daily life. But this is what many writers do.

You can’t automatically say that an author who writes about the small is narcissistic. It’s just that the writer starts somewhere, and then that place or experience entangles itself in set points within set boundaries. And then opens up, effusively and maybe in a paroxysm. Observation and recognition, not plot, move the story to its ending.

Writers who are good at this effortlessly take the reader through a character’s personal impressions and reactions, funny little likes and dislikes, to the resonant and not always conscious events they relate to, so that a story can start, say, in someone’s kitchen and end somewhere far away, say the cosmos.

picture of claire-louise bennett
Claire-Louise Bennett. Photograph © Conor Horgan

Claire-Louise Bennett’s book Pond is such a collection of stories. She has a through-the-back-door style, one not seeking attention. Events often move like waves in her pieces, hitting the shore, receding, and thrashing up again carrying matter from ever lower sea depths. Sometimes her female narrators may seem claustrophobically self-centered, but this is only because their interest is in discovery and they tend to live within their own thoughts.

And what thoughts!

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Forbidden Fruit —
Tales From North Korea

Not under foreign skies
Nor under foreign wings protected
I shared all this with my own people
There, where misfortune had abandoned us.

—Anna Akhmatova, Requiem, 1961

Take it into town, happy, happy
Put it in the ground where the flowers grow
. . .
Shiny happy people laughing

            —from REM's 1991 hit,
Shiny Happy People Laughing

Happy!  Sad!

In North Korea, you must be happy. Or you must be sad. Not in an ordinary way, but extremely. It is written.

Nowhere else on earth are people so happy. The country has a joy index that measures it. Nowhere else are people so smiley. Their national television station shows them that they live in the happiest place on earth.

cover of bandi's book showing happy north korean students
Happy students.   iStock photo, Mangyongdae Schoolchildren's Palace in Pyongyang. Photograph by Frances Stevens of (partial) bookcover designed by Peter Dyer for Bandi's The Accusation.

When they lose what they love the most, a dear leader, they are then the saddest people on earth. Nothing can contain their grief. It is that simple, that pure. Even the children cannot contain their sorrow.

The happy, or sad, crowded squares of North Korea are, of course, meant to showcase its strength and unity as a nation. The onus such outpourings put on ordinary, tired, and often hungry people, to line up and spend their energy, their day off, in a public square when they aren’t eager to do so, is a fraught matter. Every person knows his and her exact placement in all events, including the children, and one’s absence at any time is noted and punishable.

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Fall 2017/Winter 2018

What Is Money?
Why Pay Taxes?

Money is created digitally, out of thin air. How can this be? When the federal government spends, it just deposits digits into an account. The government doesn’t go to Fort Knox to find the money, it simply changes the digits.

When we pay taxes, the opposite takes place. The government destroys the digits, takes money out of the economy. It doesn’t have to wait for the money to show up first, it simply changes the digits.

Once, for every dollar, there was a given amount of gold held in a vault in Fort Knox or wherever else the central banks held their gold. This limited the amount of money moving through the economy, because you had to have the gold in the vault before you could create the dollar. It put constraints on the central bank and the federal government.

Long after other governments around the world stopped the practice, the United States continued to give foreign central bankers gold for dollars, at the rate of about $35 an ounce in the 1960s. In 1971 Richard Nixon shut the gold window because we had too many foreign investors exchanging their dollars for our gold, and not enough gold.

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House of Cards: The Big Investors Understand You

My grandfather made bricks.
My father made bricks.
I make bricks, too!
But where is my house?
—The old brick-maker in Federico Fellini’s film, Amarcord

A house is not a home. Except when it is. Even when it’s not, owning one provides something to depend on for the long run.

A house, a home, and something for the long run are what the young couple wanted when, child in tow, they offered the asking price on a house they liked on Jo Ann Drive in Spring Hill, Tennessee, the Nashville area where the husband’s new job was.

Little did they know that the snake was in the grass on the lawn, that American Homes 4 Rent (AH4R), based in Agoura Hills, California, offered the seller the same amount (not more), but for all cash and no inspection. The offer was too good to pass up, and the firm scored another touchdown — signed the contract 12 hours after the house went on the market, as reported by the Wall Street Journal on July 21, 2017.

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Newthink Alchemy

For gold they say "Sun", for silver "Moon", for quicksilver "Mercury", for copper "Venus", for iron "Mars", for tin "Jupiter", and for lead "Saturn."

            — Titus Burckhardt (References, p.77)

In the heat of the alchemical flask, liquid mercury vaporized (was released) to produce a purer form of the base ore. The alchemist called this distillation. He distilled saltpeter in alum to form nitric acid. In a corrosion-resistant vessel, he distilled sulfuric acid from alum. Fire made volatile materials stable and hard ones waxy, bendable, mixable.

This was serious business. Changing a substance into a solid, liquid, or gas; into a form more pliable or soluble; into jewel-like crystals, was more than transformation. It was transmutation, the alchemical term for the changes occurring as the "qualities" in the metal became purified through the chemical process (e.g., of distillation, coagulation, or dissolution). Transmutation allowed the impurities (dross) to escape and the metal to be released into its highest form, its essence.

And the highest essence was gold.

The true essence of lead is gold. Each base metal represents a break in the equilibrium which gold alone represents. (Burckhardt, p.47)

The cosmic correlate to gold was the sun, which mirrored the divine intellect. The earthly correlate to base metal was the human soul. The real goal was the transmutation of the soul into its perfect essence and union with the divine intellect.

This was not fusion; it was union — the divine intellect and the human soul shared some of the same properties and, therefore, mirrored each other. The alchemists often represented this symbolically in their crucibles as a mirroring of seeming opposites, as though there were a gravitational pull between them: downward and upward energies, lightness and darkness, sun and moon, gold and silver.

mercury, symbolically, in the alchemical flask
Mercury in the alchemical flask — what the alchemists saw in the metal. Manly Palmer Hall collection of alchemical manuscripts, 1500-1825, The Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles.

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Spring/Summer 2017

Medieval Mindfulness:
Bokes enlumyned ben þey

part-page from book of kells
Part-page from Book of Kells, on vellum (prepared calfskin), folio 74r (74th two-sided page, right side), circa 800 AD. Copyright © The Board of Trinity College Dublin, the University of Dublin. Used by permission.

It’s a fact that when I see something medieval, I probably like it. Not that I don’t like other periods; I do, but medieval representations and accounts have a tactile earthiness and simplicity that aren't as available in these virtual days. There's more to it, though, it only looks simple.

It’s weird to hear people describe the European early middle ages as “the dark ages” — when nothing happened for hundreds of years (300 to 1100? I don’t know.). Europe was actually wildly afoot with merging and clashing cultures, mass migrations in every direction, uprooted peoples trying to make sense of the world, no longer knowing what to call themselves.

In the fourth century, rich young Romans were giving their parents apoplexy by forsaking their inheritances for a life of austerity and Christian meditation in the North African desert. In her book The Desert Fathers, Helen Waddell gives poignant descriptions of the life of these "athletes of God," as the desert dwellers came to be called. "Tell me ... If new roofs be risen in the ancient cities: Whose empire is it now that sways the world?" asked the desert father Antony of St. Jerome (Waddell, p.14, quoting Jerome).

Their life style added nothing of substance to the religious canon, Waddell writes, but their actions "showed a standard of values that turned the world upsidedown" (Waddell, p.22).

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Greed & Fear, Inc.

The king was in his counting house
Counting all his money . . .

—From the nursery rhyme Sing a Song of Sixpence

Illustration of king counting his money from Sing a Song of Sixpence
The king in his counting house. Illustration © Peter Martin Kronheim, in Aunt Friendly's Picture Book

Anyone who tries to navigate his financial life without knowing something about the circuitous routes of modern finance is harming himself. Do you know the final stop of your mortgage payment? Which high frequency trading (HFT) platform trades your pension benefit? What that costs you? Who owns your local bank? That money is a game with made-up rules? That yours is “the dumb money”?

The February 17, 2017 Wall Street Journal had a front page story about a 68-year-old professional woman from Monterey, California who “lived like she was rich” until her fortunes collapsed in the recent recession. After declaring bankruptcy, she sold her condo for less than she paid for it and moved to an affordable community in Iowa, population 700, where she is enjoying a less expensive life.

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王 忠杰, 画家
Wang Zhongjie, Artist

To explore, to create. The origin of life. To clash with life, clash with the canvas — that's the fundamental question.

    —From the diary of Wang Zhongjie, 15 April 2008

photograph of the artist wang zhongjie
Wang Zhongjie. Photograph copyright © L'adigetto.it.
All rights reserved.

忠杰, 长大当个画匠 !

"Zhongjie, when you grow up, become a painter!"

These are the last words Wang Zhongjie's grandmother said to her grandson, and they have burnished a place in his mind ever since. His grandmother was illiterate and Zhongjie was but a little boy at the time. He already loved to draw, yet could never have imagined that this would be his life's mission. Her remark, uttered perhaps lightly but more likely with conviction, became fused to his memory of his grandmother and sparked in him the idea and determination to set off on a long, difficult, solitary road. That of painting.

The term his grandmother used, 画匠 (huajiang), was “crafts painter,” a humbler designation than 画家 (huajia), the word normally used in artistic circles for “painter.” Perhaps the old woman was not acquainted with the loftier term. Young Zhongjie never had the chance to ask her about it, but it remained clear in his mind, a spiritual will bequeathed by the woman who had taken care of him, performing the day's tasks in her own no-nonsense way. We'll never know.

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Are Electric Vehicles Ready for Prime Time?

With the success of Tesla and the current trend to have every major car manufacturer offer an electric vehicle, it is becoming more important than ever to explain in simple language the essentials of the major fuel consumption difference between internal combustion engines and electrically driven vehicles.

There is some truth in the popular belief that electric cars are overall more environmentally friendly than those using internal combustion engines. The advantage would be even more enhanced through the production of cleaner electricity, from natural gas, solar, wind, or even nuclear power. Higher taxes at the gasoline pump would be a separate advantage.

It is crucial, however, to understand clearly the factors that can diminish and even eliminate the perceived advantage of an electric vehicle, namely how the electricity is currently generated and the vehicle's retail cost.

Here are some facts not clearly understood by many consumers. A zero emissions electric powered engine does not exist, yet. It is true that the driver of a Tesla (Tesla, Inc.), Nissan Leaf (Nissan Motor Co.), Chevrolet Volt (General Motors Corp.), or any of the other electric vehicles does not emit directly any carbon dioxide (CO2) while operating the vehicle. But the electricity does not get generated from thin air.

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Fall 2016/Winter 2017

If Birds Can Fly,
Why, Oh Why, Can't I?

Human physical capacity is greatly restricted by natural laws, nowhere better illustrated than by our inability, despite vigorous and patient flapping of the arms, to fly. But the problem here is not simply the lack of wings. Scale up a pheasant to the size of a man and it would plummet to earth like a rock. Or consider Icarus. In the very plausible picture of him in my childhood mythology book, each attached wing equals his height and is about one quarter as wide—not unlike the graceful proportions of a swallow. Unfortunately, to fly with those wings the boy would have to beat his arms at one and a half horsepower, four times the maximum sustained output of an athletic human being. Icarus and Daedalus may have been willing to utterly exhaust themselves in their aerial escape from Crete, but most of us would like to go with better equipment.

Weight, shape, and available power all play a part in the science of flying. Let us begin with the most obvious requirement to fly: a lifting force must counterbalance the weight of the animal in question. That lift is provided by air. Air has weight and, at sea level, pushes equally in all directions with a pressure just under fifteen pounds per square inch of surface. To achieve lift, an animal must manage to reduce the air pressure on its top surface, thereby creating a net pressure pushing upward from below. Birds and airplanes do this with properly formed wings and forward motion. The curvature and trailing edge of a wing force the air to flow more rapidly over its top side than its bottom. This causes a net upward pressure in proportion to the air density and to the square of the forward speed, a basic law of physics deriving from the conservation of energy. Thus with every doubling of the speed comes a quadrupling of the lift pressure. No motion, no net lift pressure. Likewise, birds couldn’t fly on the moon, where the air density is essentially zero. (Under the moon’s reduced gravity, however, creatures could jump six times as high as on Earth, which might be a happy substitute.)

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The Lost World of
Old Europe

the thinkers
Fired clay figures found in a tomb near the Black Sea in Cernavodă, Romania. Hamangia culture, 5000 BC. National History and Archaeology Museum, Constanța, Romania. Photograph from Wikimedia Commons, public domain image.

In 4500 B.C., before the invention of the wheel or writing, before the first cities were built in Mesopotamia and Egypt, Old Europe was among the most sophisticated and technologically advanced places in the world.

—David W. Anthony (ed.),
The Lost World of Old Europe, p.29

In honor of Rodin, let’s call the 7000-year-old couple above The Thinkers. Are they just thinking? Or mourning? They’re Europeans. Their facial expressions, their elongated necks, their heads tilted wistfully upwards, their attentive miens tell two tales. The first is the experience of the subjects, lost in thought and sorrow; the second is the consciousness of the prehistoric artist who sculpted these figures with such poignant focus. I’m far from the first to call these figures The Thinkers, but in fact it was my first thought when I saw them. This couple is genuinely modern. They are us.

The next image, also a thinker, has the same poignancy, reflecting consternation, hardship, beauty, and the artist's ownership of his art.

the thinker of tarpesti
Another thinker, or mourner, known as the Thinker of Târpești,. Fired clay, 4750 BC. Cucuteni Eneolithic Art Museum, Piatra Neamț, Romania. Photograph © jammy!, www.flickr.com/photos/homemadejam

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U.S. Government's Insolvency —
Not a Bad Thing

Some people today say that the United States government is bankrupt. It’s usually said in a negative way that suggests that this is catastrophic and that at some point everyone is going to wake up and realize that the emperor has no clothes.

What does it mean to be insolvent, and why is that necessary for a country to function in a modern monetary system? I admit, how it works can be somewhat mind-blowing. It took me a while to understand the principles behind it.

First, we'll look at what it means to be bankrupt. Being bankrupt assumes that a court of law has declared you bankrupt, unable to meet your debts. This is a legal designation.

We’re going to get away from that term here, and focus instead on insolvency. Merriam-Webster’s definition of what it mean to be insolvent is: either (a) unable to pay debts in the usual course of business, or (b) having liabilities in excess of a reasonable market value of assets held. It doesn’t have to be both. It can be one or the other.

photo of crumpled dollars
Photograph by Frances Stevens

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The Singularity Nonevent; or, What Makes Us Human?

Graphic © Frances Stevens

If we were all Ms. Brights, we could throw away those mega-vitamins. We’d get younger every time we came home. But we’d have a different set of problems, we’d never get to grow up.

Stumbling Into the Fray

I became aware of the boundary-pushing futurists accidentally. I was reading the Wall Street Journal and thinking about the connections between global finance, technology, and job loss, and how they have taken so many people unawares and left them stunned. I used to edit professional books, many of them in finance, and I've grown antennae for volatile economic headwinds.

I also love astronomy. Finance and astronomy have taken me to some strange places, but none as unusual as the conundrum that much-needed computer science talent is being diverted into an inquiry into reprogramming our humanity, mapping our neurology and biology as blueprints to change ourselves.

It started with Alan Lightman’s beautiful little book, The Accidental Universe. In his final chapter he talks about the effect of the unseen world on our understanding of reality — how quantum physics has revealed a world "almost unfathomable from our common understanding" of it (p.135). How ironic, he says, that the science which has brought us closer to nature by revealing the natural world to us is also separating us from it. Quantum mechanics, the science behind the technologies that drive our devices, is getting us used to experiencing the world a step away from our sensory reality. Will seeing a real snake in the woods someday be considered a less desirable or inferior experience to seeing its picture blown up on a screen? Will we prefer a disembodied self to what we have now, even if that means losing some of our human traits?

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Ancient Astronomers

newgrange before reconstruction
Newgrange before reconstruction, with grass overgrown. Photograph © Department of the Environment Heritage
and Local Government, Ireland

It has often been said that there is no human instrument more ancient ... than the sundial; it is a visible map of time. The earliest must have been erected in the Old Stone Age tens of thousands of years ago; but among the oldest now known are those built in Ireland during the neolithic period.

— Martin Brennan, The Stones of Time, p.40

Look at the black and white photograph above. What do you see? A grass-covered knoll, with trees and other growth, with some big rocks scattered at the bottom. And that is about all people in Ireland saw for centuries, until over a lengthy period of investigation starting in the late 1960s and continuing now, scientists and archaeologists realized that this mound (Newgrange) and others like it contain the cultural maps of an ancient people. How ancient? Radiocarbon dating places them in the neolithic age, starting in the fifth millenium BC.

For the curious, who we are and where we come from may never be answered, and what we discover along our way can undo what we thought we knew. In 2013, my husband and I visited the giant mounds, or cairns, of County Meath where, 5500 years ago, settled communities chiseled their calendar into stone. The mounds are the oldest buildings in Europe still standing, and their engraved symbols are the subject of an intense renewed study.

Ireland is young. People have only lived there for about 10,000 years. While ice sheets on the European continent retreated north before paleolithic times, they didn't recede from Ireland until 8000 BC, when the earliest mesolithic migrants began making their way to areas all over the island—in the north, along the coast, and into the interior.

Mount Sandel excavation in Coleraine, Northern Ireland
1970s excavation of Mountsandel mesolithic site in Coleraine, Northern Ireland, dating to 7900–7600 BC. © Peter Woodman.

Some archaeologists believe the first migration was small, from Scotland, with settlers moving along the island's eastern shores, because of the similarities found in the mesolithic remains in both places. Peter Woodman, an Emeritus Professor of Archaeology at the Royal Irish Academy, has excavated sites in Coleraine, Northern Ireland, that date to 7900-7600 BC.

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Modernity Is More Expensive
Than You Think.

Our modern scientific and technological world is built on a belief in the autonomy of natural systems and the unbounded resourcefulness of science and technology as tools to understand the universe. Our faith in these systems, once thought liberating, has brought us pollution, a defoliated and ravaged wilderness, and nuclear threat, all symptoms of an environmental crisis that puts our existence and life on earth in jeopardy.

The golden age of science that ushered in the industrial revolution began with Copernicus, who in the early 1500s set in motion a series of inquiries that culminated with the publication in 1687 of Sir Isaac Newton’s Principia Mathematica. Scientific explanation spread widely, permeating the social fabric of western society and the globe. Science would free us from the burdens of scarcity and help us conquer nature. Our productivity and consumption would increase.

They certainly did, and we are now in an age of bondage to materialism, in which a focus on self-interest has estranged us from each other and brought us to an environmental precipice. We are working harder and craving more, some of us in an effort to fill an internal emptiness that no level of material consumption will satisfy. The priority we’ve assigned to increased production must be taken away if we are to deal successfully with the fallout bestowed on us so far.

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Spring/Summer 2016

James Joyce, Italo Svevo & Leopold Bloom

“What in water did Bloom, waterlover, drawer of water, watercarrier returning to the range, admire?
Its universality: its democratic equality and constancy to its nature in seeking its own level...”

—James Joyce, Ulysses, Chapter 17, Ithaca

James Joyce's Leopold Bloom is a character at home with reality, and with the mysteries and potential of everyday life. Well-read, fairly cultured but not an intellectual, he excels at experiencing his thoughts and feelings as an activity — not unlike, say, the way a hiker might experience nature and his own sentient thoughts on a trek along the Appalachian Trail.

What else does Bloom admire about water?

... the independence of its units: the variability of states of sea: its hydrostatic quiescence in calm ... the multisecular stability of its primeval basin ... its vast circumterrestrial ahorizontal curve: its secrecy in springs ... its healing virtues: its buoyancy in the waters of the Dead Sea ... its properties for cleansing, quenching thirst and fire, nourishing vegetation: its infallibility as paradigm and paragon...

Does Bloom consciously delineate all of this in his mind as Joyce writes it? No, but he senses it experientially and would appreciate his creator's literary rendition of it. Bloom is more interesting, and nicer, than the young Stephen Dedalus, who “distrusted aquacities of thought and language.”

The middle-age Mr. Bloom is comfortable in his own skin, even while handling social slights throughout the day. He is a natural perceiver of the finer and the baser impulses of human nature, including his own nature. His range of thought and feeling as he wanders his city, noticing and processing what surrounds him, his responses internally and externally, are his Ulyssean journey towards home.

A Friendship

joyce age 18
James Joyce, age 18, four years before leaving Ireland. University
College, Dublin

Where did Bloom come from? Stephen Dedalus serves as a portrait of the artist as a young man, but Bloom represents something else entirely. After leaving Ireland with Nora Barnacle in 1904 at the age of 22, Joyce earned a salary teaching English at the Berlitz School first in Zurich and later in Trieste, on the northeast coast of the Italian peninsula, where he and Nora made their home. In 1907, he took on a student 20 years his senior, Italo Svevo, with whom he enjoyed discussions about literature and writing. The two established a lifelong friendship. The highly cultured, well-traveled Svevo was Joyce's inspiration for the person of Leopold Bloom, including Bloom's Jewishness. Joyce admired the strong family ties and moral conscience he saw in his Jewish friends, qualities that describe Joyce himself.

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Lessons From the Yucatan

Many years ago I met a Mayan couple in the Yucatan that seemed incredibly happy. They were in their sixties and they lived in an oval one-room house. The house walls were made of vertical sticks and covered with clay that had been painted white on both the interior and exterior. The roof had a steep pitch and was laid with thatch. There were no windows, just a front and a back door.

The main piece of furniture was a large handmade armoire where the couple kept their clothes and other valuables. There were a few chairs, a table, and two hammocks hanging on the wall that they would unfurl and stretch across the room for sleeping.

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The Potion?
It's Not What You Think.

iseult & tristan, by john duncan
Tristan and Isolde, John Duncan, tempera on canvas
City Art Centre, Edinburgh, Scotland

Let all men in their thoughts gaze only at Ireland, let their eyes take pleasure there and see how the new Sun following on its Dawn, Isolde after Isolde, shines across from Dublin into every heart. ... Whoever looks Isolde in the eyes feels his heart and soul refined like gold in the white-hot flame. ... she adorns and sets a crown upon womankind.

Gottfried, p.151

The medieval tale of Tristan and Iseult exposes elemental, urgent passions and needs. Sometimes the struggle with them is ferocious. Sometimes the struggle is simply to stay alive.

Large fragments survive of three versions of the story written between about 1160 and 1213 − those of Beroul and Thomas in the Anglo-Norman tongue of their native Britain, and Gottfried of Strassburg’s in German. They wrote with love for their characters and empathy for their suffering.

The authors did something else. They gave us characters with sophisticated thought processes and careful self-awareness. Thomas and Gottfried created a new kind of story, to be read privately, not simply recited as reliable entertainment at court. They worked within the tale’s constraints of Celtic mythical elements and European courtly norms, but they (like other great medieval writers) set the tone and standards for their compositions. What each created was a literary work whose probing into the shadow world of human emotions, motives, and behavior presages the great novels of later ages.

Even Beroul, whose version is the oldest and most enchanted, interjects his feelings at pivotal junctures in the narrative so that we know where he stands. When, for example, the evil dwarf Frocin insists that King Mark banish Tristan or lose the support of his own court, Beroul inserts into the text, “Cursed be all such magicians! … May God curse him!” (Beroul, p.61)

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Colleges and Universities:
New Peddlers of Subprime Mortgages

It is probably not much of an exaggeration to say that there is a unanimity that the Great Recession of 2007 is the most significant financial disruption witnessed in the United States since the Great Depression. But what is more significant is that most parties believe that the direct trigger for this financial calamity was the phenomenon of subprime mortgages. These were the highly profitable mortgages that financial institutions could not produce, package, and sell fast enough.

The profitability associated with these mortgages, sold to households and individuals who could not afford them, is best illustrated by what Charles Prince, CEO of Citibank at the time, told a Japanese interviewer: “As long the music is playing, you've got to get up and dance. We're still dancing.” His statement shows a certain moral depravity. It simply says that the great United States financial system could not stop knowingly exploiting a large segment of U.S. households as long as the sham operations produced great profits and even greater bonuses.

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