Comments on a cultural reality between past and future.

This blog describes Metatime in the Posthuman experience, drawn from Sir Isaac Newton's secret work on the future end of times, a tract in which he described Histories of Things to Come. His hidden papers on the occult were auctioned to two private buyers in 1936 at Sotheby's, but were not available for public research until the 1990s.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

More Human than Human

Ed (2014) © Chris Jones. Video Source: Youtube.

For today, see a sample of computer generated imagery from September 2014. Soon, we won't be able to tell real people from virtual humans online. From the creator, Chris Jones:
Work in progress, hand-made with Lightwave, Sculptris and Krita, composited with Davinci Resolve Lite. Music by me. ... Due to popular demand I'm attempting to extend the soundtrack, but it's not coming easily... so it could take a while. No scans, motion capture or photos were used (except for reference). First half rendered in ~800 hours on a 2008 vintage quad core. Additional rendering by GarageFarm.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Little Pockets of Eternity

The Photography Workshop is the Website of Mumbai-based photographer Kedar Kulkarni. You can see his personal gallery here, and particularly his beautiful photos of small town India here. Kulkarni also runs workshops for other photographers and posts their works. For today, see images from the site taken by Dinkar Patil. In November 2014, Patil captured the animate, the inanimate and the people along the Narmada River, all interacting in the breathtaking regional environment and eternal light of India. This was Patil's Roadtrip Series 5:
The walking part of the journey began in Vadodara, Gujurat, India and ended in Jabalpur, Madhya Pradesh, India. A total walking distance of 800 kms that was completed in 32 days, with rest stops, with an average of 30 kms, walked per day for a total per day, walking time of between 7-8 hours.
Patil does something curious here. Stone gods clustered in corners come alive, while the landscape's living inhabitants begin to look fixed and permanent. It is a fascinating swap.

Patil's style is un-photoshopped, anti-glossy, uncontrived. It could be Kulkarni's influence, who lists his great inspirations in the history of photography here. Patil's photos take the viewer back to a time when we still believed in a reality, served by the camera. From the dawn of photography, photos documented interactions between an artist, a tool, and the environment. At that time, we kept track of things, rather than things keeping track of us. We were the actors and agents, not our tools. By contrast, in today's graphics, the camera dominates the photographic story. We are no longer watchers, we are watched. Cameras and other tools for seeing (and spying) oppress us in an endless House of Mirrors with meta-visions and meta-narratives. Thankfully, that is not the case here: in Patil's work, some little pockets of eternity slip through his lens.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Photo of the Day: Suntory Whisky 3D on the Rocks

See more of Suntory's 3D-printed ice cubes here, and my earlier post on Blade Runner custom scotch glasses, here. A 3-D printing Redditor corrects this story: "Not 3d printed -- idiot reporter thinks anything computer controlled must be a 3d printer... It was milled with a very awesome mill."

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Forever: Maybe Not the Word You Want?

Johnny Depp's original 'Winona Forever' tattoo. Image Source: johnnydepp.org.

In the past couple of days, the word forever kept coming up. Finally, it all converged in a 'plate of shrimp' moment. The first mention came up in this analysis at The White Review of Johnny Depp and Winona Ryder. The article, Famous Tombs: Love in the 90s, described Depp's and Ryder's relationship as the American youth romance of the decade. Author Masha Tupitsyn then probed a more interesting question. She almost cracked what, exactly, happened to the Depp-Ryder romance, not in terms of what it meant privately to the two actors, because we can't know that, but what it represented to the rest of us.

Image Source: Buzzfeed.

Tupitsyn hints that it never went anywhere, but Johnny and Winona did. She believes that Depp sublimated it in alcohol and drugs, replacing love for a woman with addictions so distracting that it became impossible to get back to the original source. Meanwhile, Ryder moved forward, but part of her is still trapped in that past time. It wasn't just her love for Depp. She embodied a decade for Generation Jones and Gen X rebels, symbolized by the curious fact that she is naturally a blonde, but for decades has dyed her hair Gothic black:
Like John Cusack, another black haired/pale skinned 80s/90s idol, as well as a youth actor whose great, and perhaps only gift, was to enact a different kind of youth (a counter-youth and counter-masculinity) in his youth, Winona Ryder was never timeless, she was of the time. Most especially that brief time in her life, her teenage years and early twenties. Perhaps this is why Jake Gyllenhaal’s light hair was dyed jet-black for the retroactive DONNIE DARKO, and Christian Slater’s jet-black for HEATHERS. Something about dark hair showing up in the late 80s and early 90s as a form of retribution for an aesthetically fascistic and representationally narrow decade. These are people who were not kissed by the sun, who were not California Dreamin’, or, as the German writer Heinrich Laube puts it, ‘These pale youths are uncanny, concocting God knows what mischief.’ If, as the teenage radio pirate DJ, ‘Hard Harry’ puts it in PUMP UP THE VOLUME (1990), the 80s were a totally ‘exhausted decade, where there’s nothing to look forward to and no one to look up to’, Winona Ryder rose up from the bleached-blonde ashes of the 1980s.
Depp and Ryder started in gothic and horror genres. Their early work, like that of contemporaries Keanu Reeves, Parker Posey and River Phoenix, appeared in dark indie films or popular movies with unsettling vibes. Depp made his feature film debut in Nightmare on Elm Street (1984), in which he played a nice but useless boyfriend. These roles reflected a time, when, for a brief period, surreal depictions of the collective unconscious entered the American mainstream in almost unedited forms. It was remarkable. David Lynch, an American director surreal enough to be respected by Europeans, became popular, as his Twin Peaks exposed the underside of the American Dream.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Perspectives and Milestones

Paul Stankard's handblown glass pieces look impossible to create. In Beauty Beyond Nature, he discusses the craft. Image Source: Paul Stankard via boing boing.

This blog has just passed 2 million hits! Welcome to the 1575th post and the end of the blog's fifth year. Thank you to everyone who has stopped here. Your time is precious and comments are always appreciated. Thank you to every interviewee who has been kind enough to discuss your work. And thank you to other bloggers I have met along the way, who have shown me the value of real-time publishing. These bloggers are all amazing people, intelligent and gifted mavericks (you know who you are), who know what to read on a desert island, and who walk the line.

This blog was partly inspired by a site called The Strip, and partly by the late Mac Tonnies, whose blog (now in paperback on Amazon here) was published from 2003 until his untimely death in 2009. Tonnies' Posthuman Blues remains a landmark. Sometimes I revisit his blog, and I am still amazed by his ideas and vision, his uncanny ability to pin down the Zeitgeist, to channel the new Millennium's collective unconscious, to decrypt and encrypt a cultural environment of changing symbols, to describe the future.

Blogs remain relevant because some are still independent. Media independence? Political neutrality? What's that? Although media outlets co-opt blogs to make them branded social media products, some blogs remain artistic life statements and authentic testimonies. Readers follow a blogger on a personal journey as he or she tries to make sense of the exploding world of communications. So, Histories of Things to Come is based on a true story.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Planet Walkers

Press imagery for the BBC series, Voyage to the Planets (2004). Image Source: BBC.

For today, here are two fictional Youtube videos on what it would be like for astronauts to walk on the surfaces of Venus and Pluto. The clips are modified, taken from the 2004 BBC TV series, Space Odyssey: Voyage To The Planets. This award-winning, fake-umentary series speculated on what a manned exploration of the solar system would be like:
Five astronauts pilot the nuclear thermal rocket powered Pegasus spacecraft on a tour of the solar system. Their mission is a collaboration of the NASA, CSA, ESA and РКА space agencies and takes the crew to Venus, Mars, a close flyby of the Sun, Jupiter’s moon[s] Io and Europa, Saturn, Pluto, and the fictional Comet Yano-Moore. Most of the planetary destinations the crew reaches are followed by a manned landing there. Prior to the mission large tanks of hydrogen were deposited in stable orbits around the planets to allow the crew to refuel to have sufficient delta-v for the multi-year mission.

The crew encounter many hardships and disappointments along the way. A Venus EVA that almost ends in disaster when the lander Orpheus encounters launch delays, the near-loss of the shield during the aerobrake in Jupiter's upper atmosphere and the loss of samples from Jupiter's moon Io all test the crew's resolve. The most devastating blow comes when the ship's medical officer dies of solar radiation-induced lymphoma in Saturn orbit, forcing the crew to decide whether to continue the mission to Pluto, or abort and return to Earth. In the original British release, the crew decides to press on to Pluto, making history. The American version, broadcast on The Science Channel, was trimmed for length, the crew deciding to turn back at this stage rather than continue. The programme is narrated by David Suchet.
I don't know how long the links will last, but the series is up in parts on Youtube and another link is on Vimeo:

Voyage to the Planets still (2004). Image Source: BBC via The Space Review.

Voyage to the Planets (2004) concept art by Daren Horley. Image Source: The Rogue Verbumancer.

The Youtuber who posted the Venusian clip argues:
Theoretically , we can build VENUS SPACE SUIT. "Chief Navy Diver Daniel Jackson (US Navy) holds the depth record using an ADS. On August 1, 2006 he was submerged at 2,000 feet (610 m) deep off the coast of La Jolla, California." Venusian pressure is an equivalent to a 1-km-deep water ocean. Pressure isn't even the biggest problem , the biggest problem is temperature and acid in atmosphere. But if we landed on the highest mountain Maxwell Montes, conditions would be much more better: pressure - equivalent to a approx. 325 m(!) in ocean , temp. 650 F (+343 C). We can create suits made of titanium [melting point is more than 1,650 °C or 3,000 °F] and use basalt-based fiber technology with a thermal range of -260 C to +982 C (1800 F) and melt point of 1450 C . The biggest problem is to create corrosion resistant coating and effective cooling system. 

Atmospheric diving suit (2006), a potential precursor for a Venusian spacesuit.
Image Source: U.S. Navy photo / Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Chelsea Kennedy via Wiki.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Can You Keep Up?

Video Source: Youtube.

The above video from mid-2014 features American management expert, Gary Hamel, speaking (actually, yelling) about the pace of change, and if and how we can keep up. He points out that the recession was at least partly due to the transformation of the economy due to technology: "The world is becoming more turbulent, faster than our organizations are becoming more resilient." Individuals and businesses are having real problems coping with the flood of information and the exponential expansion of the technological environment.

Triangular hierarchical management structures cause a lot of these problems. Hamel claims that those hierarchies responded to earlier social and economic conditions, unsuited to the demands of new economies. The question he seeks to answer is how people can become more committed, autonomous and efficient in their work, so that they can respond to change and evolve profitably without becoming overwhelmed. There is more from him below, talking on the evolution of management in 2011.

New Movies in Old VHS Cases

New wine in old bottles. From the French satirical site, golem13, via The Poke, here's what Millennial movies would look like if packaged in the old 1980s-1990s VHS cases. It shows how graphic art and marketing have moved from the static to the kinetic in 15-20 odd years.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Laugh of the Day: Easter's Concerned Reader

A concerned reader of the blog thinks this blog needs to lighten up. He sent some links from the UK humour site, The Poke, which ran, Jesus is the Boss and 35 reasons to love Easter on Good Friday. The first two paintings are by Nathan Greene, The Senior Partner (2002) and The Difficult Case (1994). Thanks to -B.

Friday, April 3, 2015

A Total Lunar Eclipse for Passover and Easter

The Olive Trees (1889) by Vincent van Gogh. Image Source: Wiki.

There will be a total lunar eclipse in the early hours of 4 April 2015, Pacific time. See the video below, or go here for viewing details.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Forty Days and Forty Nights: Christian Lent and Easter

The Temptation of Christ (1854) by Ary Scheffer. Image Source: Wiki. Based on Matthew 4:9: "Satan says that to Jesus: 'All these things I will give you if you fall down and do an act of worship to me.'"

The number 40 is central to the Christian religion. It is the pivotal signifier of the temptation and resurrection of Christ. It is the number, one might say, on which his proclaimed historic existence and divinity depend. If one were to hang the entire faith on numbers, they would be 3, 1 and 40; and according to the Rule of Three, 40 is mathematically and mystically related to 3 and 1. As Christianity evolved away from Judaism, an incredibly elaborate religious story mingled with Roman imperial history. Taken literally by its believers, this legend of human and divine sacrifice came to obscure the Christian faith's underlying numerology.

Jews remain more forthright than Christians in their numerological mysticism. Building on ancient Mesopotamian mythologies of water gods, they used ingenious mathematical theories to see 40 as the harrowing number of sin, atonement and forgiveness, and made it a symbolic catalyst of revolution:
According to Rabbi Geoffrey Dennis, author of The Encyclopedia of Jewish Myth, Magic and Mysticism, the number of 40 represents "a time of radical transition or transformation." Any time the number 40 appears in a biblical passage, it's meant to indicate a liminal time when something extraordinary occurs. Multiples of 40 also are used to denote extraordinary circumstances ... .
Aside from delayed messianism, the heart of the Jewish tradition turns on the problem of sin and how to resolve sin. The number 40 represents that resolution of sin as a basis for a jump to a new level of development. It is a way out of the terrible dilemmas posed to humans who try to find a higher path when confronted by the bestial aspects of their nature: immorality, depravity, viciousness and brutality.

The magic of numbers, the deep, transformative and pure value of mathematics to find absolute truths in a flawed world, lies at the core of this story. Math provides quantitative and definitive keys to otherwise unknowable abstractions. And for any human being on this planet, not just Jews and Christians, that is really something. The breathtaking power of mathematics offers a path away from compromise, from failure and shades of grey, from violated ideals and muddied knowledge. For those who wish to renew hope amidst the grime of adulthood, for those who yearn for purity, numbers provide real answers. Although it is not usually acknowledged in spring religious observances (descended from pagan fertility rites and projected onto the Christian calendar), it is on these mathematical and numerological assumptions that Christian Lent and Easter are founded.

Image Source: Busted Halo.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Forty Days and Forty Nights in Jewish Tradition

In the Hebrew Book of Jonah, the prophet Jonah spent 3 days and 3 nights inside a whale. Image Source: CredoMag.

Numbers carry sacred, mystical and occult meanings in Jewish tradition, because they are symbolic religious tokens of the relationship between god and man. Also known as Gematria, the Jews derived this numerological bridge between the divine and the human from the Assyro-Babylonians. Letters of the Hebrew alphabet were ascribed numerical values, such that the mathematical sums embedded in written words conveyed transcendent symbolic messages. To continue HOTTC's series on Forty Days and Forty Nights, this post explores the powerful meanings associated with the number 40 in Jewish culture.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Forty Days and Forty Nights: The Rule of Three

Christ in the Wilderness (1872) by Ivan Kramskoy (1837-1887). Image Source: Wiki.

For Christians, this is the season of Lent, a period of contemplation on sin, repentance and atonement, which lasts for 40 days. In Judaism, Christianity and Islam, the number 40 appears repeatedly, often as a measurement of time. How and why do forty days and forty nights unite these three faiths? Wiki also records the number's occult astrological dimension:
The planet Venus forms a pentagram in the night sky every eight years with it returning to its original point every 40 years with a 40 day regression (some scholars believe that this ancient information was the basis for the number 40 becoming sacred to Jews, Christians, and Muslims).
Many occult websites claim that Venus traces a pentagram path through the heavens as viewed from Earth.
Scientific astronomical sites do not appear to discuss this phenomenon. Video Source: Youtube.

In religious texts, the number 40 simply came to mean 'a lot.' But the number is a third multiple of the 'Rule of Three,' which makes it fundamental to the structure of creative expression, philosophystatisticscomputing, investing, diving, military strategy, and aeronautics. When you see any number repeated in many sacred texts across thousands of years, it is worth asking if some innate knowledge is passed on in the mythological cryptics. Even a secular outlook can decode the idea of religious fasting periods. The basic notion is that sensory deprivation quiets clamour and distractions. Hunger makes you think about the eternal! Stop feeding the senses, and let them redirect toward the big picture. Finally, one focuses to hear and see the truth in things. And there sits the number 40, in plain sight, at the end of Lent. What does it mean?

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Fountain of Youth 19: Professional Lifespans

Still from the film, Valhalla (2013), which explored the mountain culture of Nelson, British Columbia, Canada. Image Source: Sweetgrass Productions via under solen.

Your job can determine how long you live. It may even be the most important decision you ever make with respect to your mortality. Pacific Standard: "Burn brilliantly, or burn long: The choice is yours." In fact, it looks like you can do both, as long as you are willing to change career paths more than once in your life.