The Art of Tetman Callis

Some of the stories and poems may be inappropriate for persons under 16

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The tautological law

November 21st, 2017 · No Comments

“Shinto doctrine holds that women should make offerings to aborted foetuses to help them rest in peace. If one believes that abortion is killing and yet is still pro-choice, one could try to use contraception for every single sex act; if one had to undergo an abortion, one could then work to provide contraception, or jobs, or other choices to young girls; one could give money to programmes that provide prenatal care to poor women; if one is a mother or father, one can remember the aborted child every time one is tempted to be less than loving.” – Naomi Wolf, “Our Bodies, Our Souls”

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The price of life

November 20th, 2017 · No Comments

“The pro-life warning about the potential of widespread abortion to degrade reverence for life does have a nugget of truth: a free-market rhetoric about abortion can, indeed, contribute to the eerie situation we are now facing, wherein the culture seems increasingly to see babies not as creatures to whom parents devote their lives but as accoutrements to enhance parental quality of life. Day by day, babies seem to have less value in themselves, in a matrix of the sacred, than they do as products with a value dictated by a market economy. Stories surface regularly about ‘worthless’ babies left naked on gratings or casually dropped out of windows, while ‘valuable’, genetically correct babies are created at vast expense and with intricate medical assistance for infertile couples. If we fail to treat abortion with grief and reverence, we risk forgetting that, when it comes to the children we choose to bear, we are here to serve them—whomever they are: they are not here to serve us.” – Naomi Wolf, “Our Bodies, Our Souls”

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Some other time

November 19th, 2017 · No Comments

“The morning of the election I thought about what it means to vote for a woman. Voting for a woman felt like voting for respect, for tolerance, for justice, for peace, for empathy, for righteousness, for equality, for color, for movement, for understanding, for listening, for strength, for kindness, for hope, for openness, for braveness, for black lives, for gay rights, for emotion, for feeling, for spirit, for heart, for story, for making, for holding, for inclusivity, for love.” – Anna Dunn, “Lines of Resistance”

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A road not taken

November 18th, 2017 · No Comments

“By around 1970 Europe and Japan had more or less recovered from the Second World War and were becoming economically competitive with the United States, which had recently wasted enormous resources in Southeast Asia. The US responded by reneging on the Bretton Woods regime: going off the gold standard, establishing the dollar as the world’s reserve currency, and turning the IMF into a global enforcer for Wall Street. Among its other benefits, this move conveniently positioned us to capture the flood of petrodollars that followed the oil price rises soon afterward. The savage Volcker interest rate hikes later in the decade further weakened the US manufacturing sector and strengthened the financial sector. The Reagan years saw American companies flee abroad in droves. The end of the Cold War presented the US with a fateful choice. We could relinquish the artificial financial advantages that kept money flowing into Wall Street even as foreign demand stagnated, American industry declined, and the American trade deficit grew. This would have meant military retrenchment and a period of economic austerity, but it would have restored our competitiveness, allowing for reindustrialization on a solid basis and with a more evenly distributed prosperity. But we didn’t.” – George Scialabba, “Socialist Register 2004″

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November 17th, 2017 · No Comments

“When a person exercises a common right, without negligence or malice, to render such action a nuisance, and therefore to hold the defendant liable, it must be such an act in itself as to be a nuisance to all or to a majority of the persons living in the neighborhood, and not simply, by exceptional circumstances, to one person.” – Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts, Rogers v. Elliott, 146 Mass. 349 (1888)

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Whiskey in your water? Sugar in your tea?

November 16th, 2017 · No Comments

“As technologies become the protagonists of the drama, people become props. The machines do the work — observing us, anticipating our needs or desires, and acting on what they take to be our behalf.” – Geoff Nunberg, “Creepy Futures”

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Not to mention the MAD years

November 15th, 2017 · No Comments

“There had been a deep and unsubtle optimism among Americans. The Great Depression and Pearl Harbor created a different sensibility that suspected that prosperity and security were an illusion, with disaster lurking behind them. There was a fear that everything could suddenly go wrong, horribly so, and that people who simply accepted peace and prosperity at face value were naïve. The two shocks created a dark sense of foreboding that undergirds American society to this day.” – George Friedman, “World War II and the Origins of American Unease”


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It only costs a nickel

November 14th, 2017 · No Comments

“Step right up; show me your life. I’ll show you the story you’re in. Nothing more important in this world, kid. Figure that out and you’re halfway out of the dark. Call them fairy tales, if that makes you feel good. If you call them fairy tales, then you don’t have to believe you’re in one. It’s all about seeing the pattern—and the pattern is always there. It’s a vicious circle: the story gets told because the pattern repeats, and the pattern repeats because the story gets told.” – Catherynne M. Valente, “The Consultant”

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From tiny acorns grow

November 13th, 2017 · No Comments

“If man is not to live by bread alone, what is better worth doing well than the planting of trees?” – Frederick Law Olmsted, “Trees in Streets and in Parks”

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Not so clever by half

November 12th, 2017 · No Comments

“If there is a choice in explaining a government action between a Machiavellian, clever, ingenious plot to achieve that result and sort of blind, bumbling, well-meant incompetence, choose number two all the time.” – Admiral Dennis Blair, Director of National Intelligence (interviewed by Kathy Gilsinan in The Atlantic)

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November 11th, 2017 · No Comments

“The Greek poet Yiannis Ritsos, jailed for political reasons, wrote his poems on cigarette papers while in prison, stuffed them into the lining of his jacket and, when he was released, walked out wearing his collected poems. They were mostly short.” – Daniel Halpern, “A Few Questions for Poetry”

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The font

November 10th, 2017 · No Comments

The Valley Spirit never dies.
It is named the Mysterious Female.
And the Doorway of the Mysterious Female
Is the base from which Heaven and Earth sprang.

It is there within us all the while;
Draw upon it as you will, it never runs dry.

Tao Te Ching (trans. Arthur Waley)

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He’s got his work cut out for him

November 9th, 2017 · No Comments

“The task of the human-hearted man is to procure benefits for the world and to eliminate its calamities. Now among all the current calamities of the world, which are the greatest? I say that attacks on small states by large ones, oppression of the weak by the strong, misuses of the few by the many, deception of the simple by the cunning, and disdain toward the humble by the honored; these are the misfortunes of the world.” – Mo Tzu (trans. Fung Yu-lan), A Short History of Chinese Philosophy

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The Great Divide

November 8th, 2017 · No Comments

“Now to all who acquired the use of them these new weapons [horse, chariots, and swords] gave a powerful horizontal thrust that carried all before it, and the older, basically peasant, land-rooted civilizations were simply helpless. But not only a new striking power, a new arrogance, too, had arrived: for is there anything more flattering to a man of simple character than a good seat on a splendid horse? The words cavalier, caballero, chevalrie, and chivalrous tell the tale. The day of the peasant afoot and the nobleman ahorse had dawned, which the machine age, only now, has ended. And it was to last for about four thousand years, gradually welding by violence and empire the far-flung provinces of the earlier, centrifugal ages; so that the world that formerly had been dividing was now gradually being brought together—but with a radical split horizontally between those who cry ‘Victory!’ and those who weep. All the way from the Nile to the Yellow River the lesson of the inevitability of sorrow thus was learned by those in the role of the anvil from those with the mettle to be hammers, and with that, the golden age of the children of the earth Mother was of yore.” – Joseph Campbell, The Masks of God: Oriental Mythology

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The children of lesser gods

November 7th, 2017 · No Comments

“In Egypt a sequence of psychological stages progressed (or, if the reader prefers, declined) from a state of mythic identification, through inflation, to mythic subordination, and in the last of these a certain standard of human decency not inherent in the order of nature was by projection attributed to God. The Pharaoh—that great ‘Nature Boy’—was thereby subdued to human virtue without damage to his sense of participation in the virtue of divinity. But in Mesopotamia this highly flattering sense of participation in divinity dissolved. The king was no longer the Great God, nor even, as in Egypt, the Good God, but the Tenant Farmer of the God. And this mythological rupture set the two orders of nature and humanity apart, without converting man fully, however, to the courage of his own rational judgments. As a consequence, a pathos of anxiety developed in which all the nursery agonies of a child striving to gain parental favor were translated into a cosmological nightmare of mythic dependency, characterized by alternate gains and loss of divine support, and finally a mordant, rat-toothed sense of intrinsic human guilt.” – Joseph Campbell, The Masks of God: Oriental Mythology

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Even in seven-league boots

November 6th, 2017 · No Comments

“From the child of five to myself is but a step. But from the newborn baby to the child of five is an appalling distance.” – Count Lev Nikolayevich Tolstoy

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Twitter me this

November 5th, 2017 · No Comments

“Good faith is no defense where the fraud and deceit practiced consist of making false statements of fact as of the knowledge of the one speaking, for if one asserts a thing to be true of his own knowledge when it is not true, or when he does not in fact know whether it is true or not, his statement that he knows it to be true of his own knowledge is false whether the fact asserted is true or not. And if a person makes a positive statement that a thing that is susceptible of knowledge is true, it is implied that he knows it to be true of his own knowledge, and, if he has no such knowledge, he is guilty of actual fraud.” – Justice Graves, Illinois Appellate Court, National Bank of Pawnee v. John L. Hamilton

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November 4th, 2017 · No Comments

“We do not have ideology. We do not have theology. We dance.” – Unidentified Shinto priest (quoted by Joseph Campbell in The Masks of God: Oriental Mythology)

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Painting the picture

November 3rd, 2017 · No Comments

“[Florida Department of Corrections] inmates convicted of property crimes and weapons-possession offences have the most tattoos, while sex offenders, particularly those convicted of paedophilia, tend to have the fewest. Inmates with at least one tattoo were actually 9% less likely to have been incarcerated for murder than those without. The effect is even more pronounced for those with tattoos on their head or face, who are around 30% less likely to be murderers. Similar associations can be found for perpetrators of domestic crimes. Those relationships hold even after controlling for age, race and sex.” – “Crime, ink,” The Economist, December 24, 2016

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November 2nd, 2017 · No Comments

“When we consider the nature and the theory of our institutions of government, the principles upon which they are supposed to rest, and review the history of their development, we are constrained to conclude that they do not mean to leave room for the play and action of purely personal and arbitrary power. Sovereignty itself is, of course, not subject to law, for it is the author and source of law; but in our system, while sovereign powers are delegated to the agencies of government, sovereignty itself remains with the people, by whom and for whom all government exists and acts. And the law is the definition and limitation of power. It is, indeed, quite true that there must always be lodged somewhere, and in some person or body, the authority of final decision; and in many cases of mere administration, the responsibility is purely political, no appeal lying except to the ultimate tribunal of the public judgment, exercised either in the pressure of opinion, or by means of the suffrage. But the fundamental rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, considered as individual possessions, are secured by those maxims of constitutional law which are the monuments showing the victorious progress of the race in securing to men the blessings of civilization under the reign of just and equal laws, so that, in the famous language of the Massachusetts bill of rights, the government of the commonwealth ‘may be a government of laws and not of men.’ For the very idea that one man may be compelled to hold his life, or the means of living, or any material right essential to the enjoyment of life, at the mere will of another, seems to be intolerable in any country where freedom prevails, as being the essence of slavery itself.” – United States Supreme Court, Wo v. Hopkins

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For those keeping track

November 1st, 2017 · No Comments

“The fourteenth amendment to the constitution is not confined to the protection of citizens. It says: ‘Nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.’ These provisions are universal in their application, to all persons within the territorial jurisdiction, without regard to any differences of race, of color, or of nationality; and the equal protection of the laws is a pledge of the protection of equal laws.” – United States Supreme Court, Wo v. Hopkins

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Like with like

October 31st, 2017 · No Comments

“The study of history offers no manual of instructions that can be applied automatically; history teaches by analogy, shedding light on the likely consequences of comparable situations. But each generation must determine for itself which circumstances are in fact comparable.” – Henry Kissinger, Diplomacy

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Sheltering snowflakes

October 30th, 2017 · No Comments

“As an adjunct professor at a private university, I protect students from the reality of my own precarity and of theirs. I protect the illusion that institutional education is still or ever was in its majority a liberatory experience and a sustainable one. I falsely present myself as a ‘sustained’ being. There are strong reasons for doubt and disbelief—and I cover up that doubt hourly; I flout a confidence which I wrench forth from the air alone, and contrary to all counterindications.” – Emily Abendroth, “It Looked Like What You Needed And Then It Needled You”

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So there

October 29th, 2017 · No Comments

“It’s very hard indeed if not impossible to intend or design something uncanny. The uncanny results, it isn’t something you have much control over.” – Ian Penman, “Wham Bang, Teatime” (emphasis in original)

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And vice versa

October 28th, 2017 · No Comments

“It turns out that every local solution is also global.” – Christopher J. C. Burges, “A Tutorial on Support Vector Machines for Pattern Recognition”

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The we’ll try to put them back together

October 27th, 2017 · No Comments

“Let’s follow the time honoured tradition of understanding things by trying to break them.” – Christopher J. C. Burges, “A Tutorial on Support Vector Machines for Pattern Recognition”

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Sir yes sir

October 26th, 2017 · No Comments

“The Army’s the greatest teacher in the world. There’s only one answer for any question and you learn that answer because your life depends on it.” – M. F. McAuliffe, “The Cohort of Mist, Fog, and Fire”

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Most of the atoms are still around

October 25th, 2017 · No Comments

“Of all the many places celebrated in poetry since ancient times, most have vanished. Mountains have crumbled, rivers taken new courses, and roads new routes. Stones have been buried and hidden in the earth, and old trees have given way to saplings. Time passes and the world changes.” – Matsuo Basho, The Narrow Road to the Deep North (trans. Chilcott)

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Roads to travel

October 24th, 2017 · No Comments

“Mythology—and therefore civilization—is a poetic, supernormal image, conceived, like all poetry, in depth, but susceptible of interpretation on various levels. The shallowest minds see in it the local scenery; the deepest, the foreground of the void; and between are all the stages of the Way from the ethnic to the elementary idea, the local to the universal being, which is Everyman, as he both knows and is afraid to know. For the human mind in its polarity of the male and female modes of experience, in its passages from infancy to adulthood and old age, in its toughness and tenderness, and in its continuing dialogue with the world, is the ultimate mythogenetic zone—the creator and destroyer, the slave and yet the master, of all the gods.” – Joseph Campbell, The Masks of God: Primitive Mythology

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Bliss of ignorance, folly of man

October 23rd, 2017 · No Comments

“A woman’s life is quite different from a man’s. God has ordered it so. A man is the same from the time of his circumcision to the time of his withering. He is the same before he has sought out a woman for the first time, and afterwards. But the day when a woman enjoys her first love cuts her in two. She becomes another woman on that day. The man is the same after his first love as he was before. The woman is from the day of her first love another. That continues so all through life. The man spends a night by a woman and goes away. His life and body are always the same. The woman conceives. As a mother she is another person than the woman without child. She carries the print of the night nine months long in her body. Something grows. Something grows into her life that never again departs from it. She is a mother. She is and remains a mother even though her child die, though all her children die. For at one time she carried the child under her heart. And it does not go out of her heart ever again. Not even when it is dead. And this the man does not know; he knows nothing.” – Unidentified Abyssinian woman (quoted by Carl Kerényi in “Kore”)


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