#AtoZChallenge2015: Pulchritude

Female pulchritudePulchritude is synonymous for (great) physical beauty. The Wikipedia article defines beauty as a “characteristic of a person, animal, placeobject, or idea that provides a perceptual experience of pleasure or satisfaction. Beauty is studied as part of aestheticssociologysocial psychology, and culture. An “ideal beauty” is an entity which is admired, or possesses features widely attributed to beauty in a particular culture, for perfection.

The experience of “beauty” often involves an interpretation of some entity as being in balance and harmony with nature, which may lead to feelings of attraction and emotional well-being. Because this can be a subjective experience, it is often said that “beauty is in the eye of the beholder.”[1]

There is evidence that perceptions of beauty are evolutionarily determined, that things, aspects of people and landscapes considered beautiful are typically found in situations likely to give enhanced survival of the perceiving human’s genes.”

Eli Siegel asked: Is Beauty the Making One of Opposites?

“1   FREEDOM AND ORDER DOES every instance of beauty in nature and beauty as the artist presents it have something unrestricted, unexpected, uncontrolled?—and does this beautiful thing in nature or beautiful thing coming from the artist’s mind have, too, something accurate, sensible, logically justifiable, which can be called order?

2   SAMENESS AND DIFFERENCE DOES every work of art show the kinship to be found in objects and all realities?—and at the same time the subtle and tremendous difference, the drama of otherness, that one can find among the things of the world?

3   ONENESS AND MANYNESS IS there in every work of art something which shows reality as one and also something which shows reality as many and diverse?—must every work of art have a simultaneous presence of oneness and manyness, unity and variety?

4   IMPERSONAL AND PERSONAL DOES every instance of art and beauty contain something which stands for the meaning of all that is, all that is true in an outside way, reality just so?—and does every instance of art and beauty also contain something which stands for the individual mind, a self which has been moved, a person seeing as original person?

5   UNIVERSE AND OBJECT DOES every work of art have a certain precision about something, a certain concentrated exactness, a quality of particular existence?—and does every work of art, nevertheless, present in some fashion the meaning of the whole universe, something suggestive of wide existence, something that has an unbounded significance beyond the particular?

6   LOGIC  AND EMOTION IS there a logic to be found in every painting and in every work of art, a design pleasurably acceptable to the intelligence, details gathered unerringly, in a coherent, rounded arrangement?—and is there that which moves a person, stirs him in no confined way, pervades him with the serenity and discontent of reality, brings emotion to him and causes it to be in him?

7   SIMPLICITY AND COMPLEXITY IS there a simplicity in all art, a deep naiveté, an immediate self-containedness, accompanied perhaps by fresh directness or startling economy?—and is there that, so rich, it cannot be summed up; something subterranean and intricate counteracting and completing simplicity; the teasing complexity of reality meditated on?

8   CONTINUITY AND DISCONTINUITY IS there to be found in every work of art a certain progression, a certain indissoluble presence of relation, a design which makes for continuity?—and is there to be found, also, the discreteness, the individuality, the brokenness of things: the principle of discontinuity?

9   DEPTH AND SURFACE IS painting, like art itself, a presentation of the “on top,” obvious, immediate?—and is it also a presentation of what is implied, deep, “below”?—and is art, consequently, an interplay of surface and sensation as “this” and depth and thought as “all that”?

10  REPOSE AND ENERGY IS there in painting an effect which arises from the being together of repose and energy in the artist’s mind?—can both repose and energy be seen in a painting’s line and color, plane and volume, surface and depth, detail and composition?—and is the true effect of a good painting on the spectator one that makes at once for repose and energy, calmness and intensity, serenity and stir?

11  HEAVINESS AND LIGHTNESS IS there in all art, and quite clearly in sculpture, the presence of what makes for lightness, release, gaiety?—and is there the presence, too, of what makes for stability, solidity, seriousness?—is the state of mind making for art both heavier and lighter than that which is customary?

12  OUTLINE AND COLOR DOES every successful example of visual art have a oneness of outward line and interiormass and color?—does the harmony of line and color in a painting show a oneness ofarrest and overflow, containing and contained, without and within?

13  LIGHT AND DARK DOES all art present the world as visible, luminous, going forth?—does art, too, present the world as dark, hidden, having a meaning which seems to be beyond ordinary perception?—and is the technical problem of light and dark in painting related to the reality question of the luminous and hidden?

14  GRACE AND SERIOUSNESS IS there what is playful, valuably mischievous, unreined and sportive in a work of art?—and is there also what is serious, sincere, thoroughly meaningful, solidly valuable?—and do grace and sportiveness, seriousness and meaningfulness, interplay and meet everywhere in the lines, shapes, figures, relations, and final import of a painting?

15  TRUTH AND IMAGINATION IS every painting a mingling of mind justly receptive of what is before it, and of mind freely and honorably showing what it is through what mind meets?—is every painting, therefore, a oneness of what is seen as item and what is seen as possibility, of fact and appearance, the ordinary and the strange?—and are objective and subjective made one in a painting?”

Image: Female Pulchritude by Kenney Mencher

Art as the Exquisite, by Eli Siegel: http://www.aestheticrealism.net/essays/art-as-the-exquisite.html

#AtoZChallenge2015: Orthogonal

Orthogonal projectionThe word orthogonal conjures up memories of wonderful maths classes, many years ago, as well as more obscure readings, much later, of absconse topological subjects. Geometry was one of the great pleasures of my youth: yes, we are all different!

I quote from: Barile, Margherita. “Orthogonal.” From MathWorld–A Wolfram Web Resource, created by Eric W. Weissteinhttp://mathworld.wolfram.com/Orthogonal.html

“In elementary geometry, orthogonal is the same as perpendicular. Two lines or curves are orthogonal if they are perpendicular at their point of intersection. Two vectors v and w of the real plane R^2 or the real space R^3 are orthogonal iff their dot product v·w=0. This condition has been exploited to define orthogonality in the more abstract context of the n-dimensional real space R^n.

More generally, two elements v and w of an inner product space E are called orthogonal if the inner product of v and w is 0. Two subspaces V and W of E are called orthogonal if every element of V is orthogonal to every element of W. The same definitions can be applied to any symmetric or differential k-form and to any Hermitian form.”

For those of my readers so inclined, Wikipedia has an interesting article on matrices!

“In linear algebra, an orthogonal matrix is a square matrix with real entries whose columns and rows are orthogonal unit vectors (i.e., orthonormal vectors), i.e.

Q^\mathrm{T} Q = Q Q^\mathrm{T} = I,

where I is the identity matrix.

This leads to the equivalent characterization: a matrix Q is orthogonal if its transpose is equal to its inverse:

Q^\mathrm{T}=Q^{-1}, \,

An orthogonal matrix Q is necessarily invertible (with inverse Q−1 = QT), unitary (Q−1 = Q*) and therefore normal (Q*Q = QQ*) in the reals. The determinant of any orthogonal matrix is either +1 or −1. As a linear transformation, an orthogonal matrix preserves the dot product of vectors, and therefore acts as an isometry of Euclidean space, such as a rotation or reflection. In other words, it is a unitary transformation.

The set of n × n orthogonal matrices forms a group O(n), known as the orthogonal group. The subgroup SO(n) consisting of orthogonal matrices with determinant +1 is called the special orthogonal group, and each of its elements is a special orthogonal matrix. As a linear transformation, every special orthogonal matrix acts as a rotation.

The complex analogue of an orthogonal matrix is a unitary matrix.”

Image: orthogonal projection at http://english.rejbrand.se/algosim/visualisation.asp?id=orthogonal_projection

#FiveSentenceFiction: Isolated

DeckardI took the test, and I still don’t know why: I was happy as I was, enjoying the world and all those beautiful beings…

Yet, somehow, I must have wanted to know, I must have had doubts for some time, never clearly expressed, to anyone, not even myself.

Was it curiosity, or self-doubt, or some form of masochism?

I shall never know, but the truth is, what I know for sure, and I can never change, is this: I am a replicant, a machine, I am not really human!

So, despite all the lovely memories, I feel just desperately alone.

Inspired by the character of Deckard, in Blade Runner.

#AtoZChallenge2015: Nests

Reconstruction of a Maiasaura nest at the Natural History Museum in London.I am reading “A Sting in the Tale“, Prof. Dave Goulson‘s beautiful account of his studies of the bumblebees. One aspect of those (relatively) small creatures life I find fascinating is their aptitude to return to their nest, even when separated by sizeable distances (in one case from up to ten kilometres away). “It is humbling” writes Goulson, “to reflect that though a bumblebee has a brain smaller than a grain of rice, it has powers of perception and learning that often put us mammals to shame.”

This is what the English Wikipedia says about insects’ nests:

Social insects, including most species of antsbeestermites, and wasps, are nest builders. Their often elaborate nests may be found above or below ground. Features often include ventilation systems and separate chambers for the queen, her eggs, and developing individuals.[3]

Bees and hornets often seek out natural cavities in which to construct their nests, also known as hives, in which they store food and raise their young. Other species of bee and some wasps dig holes in the ground or chew through wood.[6] Bee nests are founded upon the wax the secrete from their bodies, while those of wasps are dependent on their ability to turn plant water into paper using their saliva.[2] Nests often exhibit divided living, with eggs and food stores kept in distinct parts of the hive.[6] Vespid wasps build complex nests from paper-like material where they lay eggs in individual cells. When the young hatch, their parents feed them chewed up larvae. Different species exhibit different nest structures. Paper wasp nesting consist of a single tier of cells, while yellow jacket nests can be many layers thick, reaching up to 30 centimetres (0.98 ft) in diameter.[1] Nesting strategies can be plastic, for instance the wasp Parischnogaster mellyi will significant vary its nest construction based on environmental conditions, and the wasp Mischocyttarus mexicanus is known to nest in groups or alone depending on the distribution of potential nest sites in the area.[2][8] Nest sizes vary dramatically and the largest wasp nest on record measured 1.75 metres (5.7 ft) in diameter and was 3.7 metres (12 ft) tall. Found in New Zealand, it was likely built by the German wasp.[5]

Termites build elaborate nests that span multiple generations and may last decades.[2] Using chewed wood, mud, and feces they build large mounds which may extend well into the air.[4] The largest nests, built by members of Amitermes genus, stand nearly 7 metres (23 ft) tall with a similar circumference at the base, and host millions of individuals.[2] Termite mounds are constructed to allow for excellent air flow, regulating the mound temperature. The mounds protect against drying and predation allowing many species to lose ancestral traits such as hard bodies, skin pigmentation, and good eyesight. Magnetic termites construct their nests with flattened sides along the North-South axis to ensure maximum warming during the winter, while exposing minimal surface area to the harshest mid-day sunshine.[2] Other termite species use their nests to farm fungi.[4]

Ant nests feature an elaborate colony structure that may extend 2 metres (6.6 ft) or more underground. As the structure gets further underground, individual chambers become farther and farther apart indicating that the ant is aware of its depth. It is hypothesized that they accomplish this by sensing the level of carbon dioxide in the soil.[4] The leaf cutter ant builds a complex nest which can house 8 million individuals. Its nests feature numerous chambers, most notably garden chambers where they farm fungus on leaves they harvest from the forest.[2]

Species such as the carpenter ant and the wasp Polistes exclamans build “satellite nests” – smaller nests near, but separate from, the main nest.[9][10] These satellite nests are used as an insurance against predators and parasites; if the original nest is attacked, surviving members can move the satellite nest.[9] Other species such as the Black hover wasp, Parischnogaster alternata, construct nests in clusters with the central core composed of older colonies surrounded by younger colonies.[11]

Image: “Dino feszek1″ by Dénes Emőke – Natural History Museum in London. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons – https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Dino_feszek1.jpg#/media/File:Dino_feszek1.jpg

#AtoZChallenge: Myths #WritersWednesday

For those of us who were lucky enough, in our childhood, to have parents who could, and were willing, to spend time reading us stories, some of those stories have stayed with us forever: they illuminate our lives, draw a smile at a chance encounter, or a tear, at the sight of a disaster which brings us back to a long forgotten time. Such are myths: as ancient as mankind, the ground for both wisdom, and also terror, and of much wonder.

World Mythology, The Illustrated Guide“Nearly everybody loves a good story. Certainly every child does. Our sense of self – our notion of who we are, and from whence we came, and whither we are going – is defined by the tales we tell. We are, in essence, who we tell ourselves we are.” (Robert Walter, Director of the Joseph Campbell Foundation, Foreword to “The Illustrated Guide to World Mythology“.)

What has always fascinated me is the permanence of some of those stories, across time, regions of the world, and cultures. There, I suspect, lies the eternal wisdom of mankind. Often, the rediscovery of that wisdom takes a lot of effort. “Antique texts have presented archeologists with formidable problems of interpretation. Understanding the hieroglyphs of ancient Egypt became possible after 1799 with the discovery near Alexandria of the trilingual Rosetta Stone. Without that advance in knowledge, the riches of Tutankhamun, unearthed in 1922, would have lost much of their importance for our understanding of Egyptian thought. Decipherment of the so-called Linear B script in the 1950s gave us access to the myths of the ancient Mycenaean culture of Crete. But the script of the Indus Valley civilisation, in what is now Pakistan and India, still remains undeciphered.” (Introduction to The Illustrated Guide by Dr Roy Willis.)

I have some favourites: the she-wolf who brought up Romulus and Remus the founders of Rome, Artemis, the chaste goddess of the hunt, the Izumo cycle of Japan, Jason’s quest for the Golden Fleece, the Fenian myths of the Celtic world. And also: the malevolent spirits of the deep forests of central Europe, the shamans of Siberia, the Navajo and Hopis myths – all transmitted through generations by word of mouth – Quetzalcoatl the feathered serpent, Eshu the Trickster, the myths of the Maoris, and so many more…

Perhaps this is the secret of good writing: letting the old stories submerge us…

Eshu the Trickster

Image: courtesy Myth Encyclopedia – This carved wood sculpture shows Eshu, the trickster god of the Yoruba people of Nigeria in West Africa.

order and disorder are forever paired, and neither can exist without the other.

Read more: http://www.mythencyclopedia.com/Dr-Fi/Eshu.html#ixzz3XI4ovAKz

#AtoZChallenge2015: Lavandula

I still see those blue scented fields in the Provence, at the foot of green and white mountains, a few steps away, the Mediterranean and its hidden secrets…

“The ancient Greeks called the lavender herb nardus, after the Syrian city of Naarda (possibly the modern town of Dohuk, Iraq). It was also commonly called nard.[39] The species originally grown was L. stoechas.[2]

Lavender was one of the holy herbs used in the biblical Temple to prepare the holy essence, and nard (‘nerd’ in Hebrew) is mentioned in the Song of Solomon (4,14)

nard and saffron,[40]
calamus and cinnamon,
with every kind of incense tree,
with myrrh and aloes,
and all the finest spices.[41]

During Roman times, flowers were sold for 100 denarii per pound, which was about the same as a month’s wages for a farm laborer, or fifty haircuts from the local barber. Its late Latin name was lavandārius, from lavanda (things to be washed), from the verb lavāre (to wash).[42] The Greeks discovered early on that lavender if crushed and treated correctly would release a relaxing fume when burned.[citation needed]

In medieval times powdered lavender was used as a condiment.[43]

Lavandula (common name lavender) is a genus of 39 known species of flowering plants in the mint familyLamiaceae. It is native to the Old World and is found from Cape Verde and the Canary Islands, southern Europe across to northern and eastern Africa, the Mediterranean, southwest Asia to southeast India. Many members of the genus are cultivated extensively in temperate climates as ornamental plants for garden and landscape use, for use as culinary herbs, and also commercially for the extraction of essential oils. The most widely cultivated species, Lavandula angustifolia, is often referred to as lavender, and there is a colour named for the shade of the flowers of this species…

The English word lavender is generally thought to be derived from Old French lavandre, ultimately from the Latin lavare (to wash), referring to the use of infusions of the plants.[6] The botanic name Lavandula as used by Linnaeus is considered to be derived from this and other European vernacular names for the plants. However it is suggested that this explanation may be apocryphal, and that the name may actually be derived from Latin livere, “blueish”.[7]

The names widely used for some of the species, “English lavender”, “French lavender” and “Spanish lavender” are all imprecisely applied. “English lavender” is commonly used for L. angustifolia, though some references say the proper term is “Old English Lavender”.[8] The name “French lavender” may be used to refer to either L. stoechas or to L. dentata. “Spanish lavender” may be used to refer to L. stoechasL. lanata or L. dentata.”

Image: “Bee pollen lavender” by TTaylor – Own work. Licensed under CC BY 2.5 via Wikimedia Commons – https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Bee_pollen_lavender.JPG#/media/File:Bee_pollen_lavender.JPG

#AtoZChallenge2015: Képi

Ah, le sable chaud… This incomparable military hat evokes La Légion, Jean Gabin, and so much of French lore, cinema… and military disasters!

“The kepi (English pronunciation: /ˈkɛp/ or /ˈkp/) is a cap with a flat circular top and a visor (American English) or peak (British English). Etymologically, the term is a loanword of the French képi, itself a re-spelled version of the Alemannic Käppi: a diminutive form of Kappe, meaning “cap”. In Europe, this headdress is most commonly associated with French military and police uniforms. In North America, it is usually associated with the United States Civil War, as it was worn by soldiers on both sides of the conflict…

The kepi was formerly the most common headgear in the French Army. Its predecessor originally appeared during the 1830s, in the course of the initial stages of the occupation of Algeria, as a series of various lightweight cane-framed cloth undress caps called casquette d’Afrique. These were intended as alternatives to the heavier, cloth-covered leather French Army shako. As a light and comfortable headdress, it was adopted by the metropolitan (French mainland) infantry regiments for service and daily wear, with the less practical shako being relegated to parade use. In 1852, a new soft cloth cap was introduced for campaign and off-duty. Called bonnet de police à visière, this was the first proper model of the kepi. The visor was generally squarish in shape and oversized and was referred to as bec de canard (duck bill). This kepi had no chinstrap (jugulaire). Subsequent designs reduced the size of the cap and introduced chinstraps and buttons. The kepi became well known outside France during the Crimean War and was subsequently adopted in various forms by a number of other armies (including the U.S. and Russian) during the 1860s and 1870s.

In 1870 when troops were mobilized for the Franco-Prussian War large numbers of soldiers either refused to wear the issued shakos or threw them away. The Emperor abolished the infantry shako for active service and replaced it with the kepi on 30 July 1870[1]

In 1876, a new model appeared with a rounded visor, as the squared visor drooped when wet and curled when drying. The model used in World War I was the 1886 pattern, which was a fuller shape incorporating air vents.

By 1900, the kepi had become the standard headdress of most French army units and (along with the red trousers of the period 1829-1914) a symbol of the French soldier. It appeared in full dress (with inner stiffening and ornamental plume or ball ornament) and service versions. Officers’ ranks were shown by gold or silver braiding on the kepi. The different branches were distinguished by the colours of the cap – see the table. Cavalry normally wore shakos or plumed helmets, reserving red kepis with light or dark blue bands for wear in barracks. General officers wore (and continue to wear) kepis with gold oak leaves embroidered around the band.

In 1914 most French soldiers wore their kepis to war. The highly visible colours were hidden by a blue grey cover, following the example of the Foreign Legion and other North African units who had long worn their kepis with white (or more recently khaki) covers in the field. With the adoption of sky-blue uniforms and steel Adrian helmets in 1915 to replace the conspicuous peace time uniforms worn during the early months of war, the kepi was generally replaced by folding forage caps. Officers, however, still wore kepis behind the lines.

Following the war the kepi was gradually reintroduced in the peacetime French army. The Foreign Legion resumed wearing it during the 1920s; initially in red and blue and then in 1939 with white covers on all occasions. The bulk of the French army readopted the kepi in the various traditional branch colours for off-duty wear during the 1930s. It had now become a straight sided and higher headdress than the traditional soft cap. This made it unsuitable for war time wear, and after 1940 it was seldom worn except by officers. An exception was the Foreign Legion who, previously just one of many units that wore the kepi, now adopted it as a symbol.”

Image: “1970-Legion-sapeur” by Jp.negre at fr.wikipedia – dessin de jp Négre d’aprés une photo de la revue “Képi Blanc”. Licensed under FAL via Wikimedia Commons – https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:1970-Legion-sapeur.jpg#/media/File:1970-Legion-sapeur.jpg

#AtoZChallenge2015: Jousting

Feeling in a medieval mood? Well, read on, damsels and jouveanceaux!

Two knights in jousting armour, from the Turnierbuch of Maximilian I (Hans Burgkmair the Younger, ca. 1540)Jousting is a martial game or hastilude between two horsemen each wielding a lance with a blunted tip, often as part of a tournament. The primary aim is to strike the opponent with the jousting sticks while riding towards him at high speed, if possible breaking the lance on the opponent’s shield or jousting armour, or unhorsing him.

Jousting emerged in the High Middle Ages based on the military use of the lance by heavy cavalry. It transformed into a specialised sport during the Late Middle Ages, and remained popular with the nobility both in England and Germany throughout the whole of the 16th century (while in France, it was discontinued after the death of King Henry II in an accident in 1559).[1] In England, jousting was the highlight of the Accession Day tilts of Elizabeth I and James I, and also was part of the festivities at the marriage of Charles I.[2]

Jousting was discontinued in favour of other equestrian sports in the 17th century, although non-contact forms of “equestrian skill-at-arms” disciplines survived. There has been a limited revival of theatrical jousting re-enactment since the 1970s.

The joust became an iconic characteristic of the knight in Romantic medievalism and hence in the depiction of the Middle Ages in popular culture. Jousting matches were notably depicted in Ivanhoe (1820).

The term joust is derived from Old French joster, ultimately from a Late Latin iuxtare “to approach, to meet”. The word was loaned into Middle English around 1300, when jousting was a very popular sport among the Anglo-Norman knighthood. The synonym tilt dates ca. 1510.”

Image: “Turnierbuch (Hans Burgkmair) 13″ by Hans Burgkmair – http://www.uoregon.edu/~dluebke/Reformations441/441Week02.html. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons – https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Turnierbuch_(Hans_Burgkmair)_13.jpg#/media/File:Turnierbuch_(Hans_Burgkmair)_13.jpg

#AtoZChallenge2015: Images

La Vendetta del Toro by Jvdas Berra February 2015They are all around us: our language is no longer merely phonetic – ahhh the 80’s! – it is that of the selfies and snapshots, taken at the speed of news tickers. For this is truly the Society of the Spectacle, and we, dear readers, are the subjects as well as the makers… Our hedonistic, self-centred, preoccupations have now displaced the “real” world from our minds.

Raymond Williams wrote of “image” in 1976:

“The earliest meaning of image in English was, from the 13th century, a physical figure or likeness… There is a deep tension between ideas of ‘copying’ and ideas of imagination and the imaginary… All these uses [of the word image] have been overtaken by a use of image in terms of publicity, which can be seen to depend on the earlier senses of conception or characteristic type but which in practice  means ‘perceived reputation’, as in the commercial brand image or a politician’s concern with image. This is in effect a jargon term of commercial advertising and public relations. Its relevance has been increased by the growing importance of visual media such as television. The sense of image in literature and painting had already been developed to describe the basic units of composition in film. This technical sense in practice supports the commercial and manipulative processes of image as ‘perceived’ reputation or character. It is interesting that the implications of imagination and especially imaginary are kept well away form the 20th century use of image in advertising and politics.”

Image: La Vendetta del Toro by Jvdas Berra, February 2015

#AtoZChallenge2015: Hegemony

For students of world history, and of world-historical thought, hegemony is one of the Sesame keys: from ancient Greece, to the Italian city-states of the early Renaissance, to the Netherlands of the 17th century, to imperial Great Britain, to todays’ United States of America, the presence of “great powers”, and among them that of a “hegemon”, one country or nation state for a while dominating the others, has been the backdrop of western history.

From Wikipedia: “Hegemony is the political, economic, or military predominance or control of one state over others.[1][2][3][4] In Ancient Greece (8th century BCE – 6th century CE), hegemony denoted the politico–military dominance of a city-state over other city-states.[5] The dominant state is known as the hegemon.[6]

In the 19th century, hegemony came to denote the “Social or cultural predominance or ascendancy; predominance by one group within a society or milieu”. Later, it could be used to mean “a group or regime which exerts undue influence within a society.”[7] Also, it could be used for the geopolitical and the cultural predominance of one country over others; from which was derived hegemonism, as in the idea that the Great Powers meant to establish European hegemony over Asia and Africa.[8]

The Marxist theory of cultural hegemony, associated particularly with Antonio Gramsci, is the idea that the ruling class can manipulate the value system and mores of a society, so that their view becomes the world view (Weltanschauung): in Terry Eagleton’s words, ‘Gramsci normally uses the word hegemony to mean the ways in which a governing power wins consent to its rule from those it subjugates’.[9]

Ancient Greece under the hegemony of Thebes, 371–362 BCE

In cultural imperialism, the leader state dictates the internal politics and the societal character of the subordinate states that constitute the hegemonic sphere of influence, either by an internal, sponsored government or by an external, installed government.”

From Giovanni Arrighi “The Long Twentieth Century”:

“A dominant state exercises a hegemonic function if it leads the system of states in a desired direction and, in so doing, is perceived as pursuing a general interest. It is this kind of leadership that makes the dominant state hegemonic. But a dominant state may lead also in the sense  that it draws other states onto its own path of development… This second kind of leadership can be designated as ‘leadership against one’s own will’ because, over time, it enhances competition for power rather than the power of the hegemon.”

From Christopher Layne (“The Peace of Illusions”):

“When World War II ended, the Soviet Union was the only obstacle to US global hegemony, and in the first postwar decade Washington’s principal grand strategic goal was to secure that hegemony by removing the Soviet Union as a peer competitor. The United States emerged from the war in a position of unparalleled geopolitical preeminence, and the scope of America’s interests expanded concomitantly, and indeed, had done so  while the war was still ongoing. Once the war ended, Washington’s perceptions of the Soviet threat to those interests began to grow. As a result, US and Soviet  interests collided… in Europe, the Middle East, and Northeast Asia, which contributed to the intensification of postwar Soviet-American tensions that culminated in the cold war… America’s main grand strategic aim was to secure its global hegemony by bringing these potential poles of power [Germany and Japan]  into its orbit and thereby prevent them from emerging as challengers  to US predominance.”

While reading through this post, I realised I had already written on the subject, for last year’s challenge! Which shows either (or both) my lack of imagination, or continued interest in the subject…