Monday, July 18, 2005

"There are a thousand thoughts lying within a man that he does not know until he takes up a pen to write."

William Makepeace Thackeray

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

"[D]ifferent social contracts are not Pareto—rankable: rich enough agents always prefer a more laissez-faire society, while those who are poor enough always want more of a welfare state."
Source: Roland BĂ©nabou, "Inequality, Technology, and the Social Contract", October 2004,, as online 13 July 2005

He then examines how these two social models compare in terms of aggregate growth. Cutting out the Greek symbols, he writes:

"Compared to a more laissez-faire alternative, a more redistributive social contract is associated with lower inequality, and
1) has higher growth when tax distortions are small relative to those induced by credit constraints on the accumulation of human capital;
2) has lower growth when tax distortions are high and the credit—constraint effect is weak"

Saturday, July 02, 2005

The ability to illustrate a spiritual event in the physical world is the central truth of icon painting. Here, that which belongs to the lower world -- the physical materials of wood and paint-- has been transformed and brought to new life by the higher, spiritual world of divine light and energy contacted through contemplative prayer. The colours play on our sensibilities like musical harmonies and enable us, through inner resonance, to open to a higher power. The icon's symmetry and balanced form corresponds to the meditative state of the mystic, where the exterior is passionless and without movement. This external stillness preconditions the inner state, and it is here that the higher life appears appears. At the centre of the painting is a strong, vertical axis around which flow the movements and energies expressed by colour and form.

Source: Richard Temple, Icons: Divine Beauty, Saqi Books 2004, p 87
"Behind these questions of style lie subtle metaphysical influences in which reside the essential difference between Eastern and Western Christian art in the 14th century. [...] It can be said that Western art strove essentially for realism, while Byzantine art strove essentially for transcendentalism. Western painting attempted to create the illusion of a third dimension while working on a two-dimensional plane. Icon painting, while using the same picture plane of two dimensions, extends not into the third dimension but rather into the fourth dimension or 'space-time', where space is infinity and time is eternity. This is the key to understanding the Byzantine icon in relation to Western painting. We see that the icon painter uses techniques of abstraction and conscious distortion, by which he tries to show us things we usually regard as invisible."

Source: Richard Temple, Icons: Divine Beauty, Saqi Books 2004, p 71