TIMES, TIME, AND HALF A TIME. A HISTORY OF THE NEW MILLENNIUM.

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.



Friday, February 1, 2013

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Prehistory's Mysteries: Middle Earth Meditation

White Ships from Valinor, by Ted Nasmith. Image Source: Nasmith via The One Ring.

What will they think of next? How about a fantasy ticket to time travel into the antediluvian prehistoric consciousness? This latest New Age cross-pollination in the media sees Youtube hosting meditations with a pop culture theme taken from J. R. R. Tolkien's Middle Earth.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Prehistory's Mysteries: Ice Age Portrait?


Stuck with you in the cave. Again. 26,000 year old portrait of a woman. Image Source: Moravian Museum, Anthropos Institute / Short Sharp Science.

Time capsules go both ways. In light of this post, where experts are puzzling over the invention of spear heads well before their common appearance, I wondered whether an exceptional mind appears every few centuries or even every millennia. Perhaps this mind invents something almost in a vacuum, way before the commonly-dated arrival of the innovation. For example, daVinci designed a helicopter in the 16th century. But we don't date the invention of the helicopter to the date of his design. We date it to 1936, with the appearance of the Focke-Wulf Fw 61.

We are aware of the first cave paintings dating to about 100,000 years ago (see my posts on cave paintings here, here and here). But the creation of the oldest portrait is another matter. Above, a 26,000 year old mammoth ivory carving billed as the oldest known portrait. It is included in the upcoming exhibition Ice Age Art: Arrival of the modern mind at the British Museum, London, from 7 February to 26 May.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Retro Darkness Around Hollywood Stars


"Whatever happened [to] my friend Corey Haim?" The Thrills (2004); (song here; lyrics here). Image Source: Cynema via J. Haim.

There has been a lot of Hollywood retro around of late. There was this post on Joan Crawford and this one on Crawford and Garbo; and there was this post on Hollywood turning surreal in the 1940s.

I recently read James Hutchings's The Case of the Syphilitic Sister, a pulp Minutemen-esque story at Jukepop Serials. His metahuman reworking of the 30s' mystery thriller is a fascinating Millennial mash-up. It is not set in Hollywood, but the cultic tone of Hutchings' work reminded me a bit of the Black Dahila and the unfortunate celebrations after Whitney Houston's death last year.

The rise and fall of today's stars eerily repeat parties, scandals and deaths of yesterday. It is almost as though the stars of each new generation become doubles of the ones who came before; they face the same highs and dangers.

I generally don't follow Hollywood gossip unless something remarkable happens like Britney Spears shaving her head and chasing after paps with an umbrella. But lately, the huge success of Justin Bieber has reminded me of the appeal of the Gen X teen heartthrob, the late Corey Haim. It is a compelling story: a Canadian teen carries some northern magnetic secret south in an intrepid bid to win American hearts, and succeeds. That secret might be genuineness, honesty, innocence, and hope from a land similar enough to be familiar, but actually quite different; whatever it is, it is a secret forgotten and lost in America's heart of darkness. The Canadian kid who goes to California to make it big was a central trope in David Lynch's neo-noir "poisonous valentine to Hollywood," Mulholland Drive (2001).

For some time, I've noticed lingering efforts to get Haim a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame (one online petition is here). I have always thought (80s' nostalgia aside) that Haim was an actor who had a great deal of talent that was misdirected through formulaic vehicles in his stellar youth. Then, due to sexual abuse by his Hollywood minders, he became mired in drug addiction.

He lost the magical light in his acting that would have brought him more serious roles as an adult. Could he have regained it? He still had charisma in roles just before his death, especially when he played against type, as in Crank: High Voltage (2009). But the drugs - and what they masked - had nearly sucked out his soul. He never matured into a DiCaprio. And he was never allowed to pull a no-holds-barred Mickey Rourke comeback. I do not know whether Haim could have managed what Rourke did in Sin City (2005) if he had stayed clean and kept working into his forties.

There was nothing, looking at Haim's original promise, which said he could not have done either. After his breakthrough role in Lucas (1986), Roger Ebert famously anticipated both Haim's promise and sad fate:
Lucas is played by Corey Haim, who was Sally Field's son in Murphy's Romance, and he does not give one of those cute little boy performances that get on your nerves. He creates one of the most three-dimensional, complicated, interesting characters of any age in any recent movie. If he can continue to act this well, he will never become a half-forgotten child star, but will continue to grow into an important actor. He is that good. 
What would Haim have become, had he not been, as Alison Arngrim put it: "corrupted in every possible way" by his Hollywood guardians? It is a little tricky for his fans to ask Tinseltown for recognition, since the silence around Haim's death is evidently bound up with the dark side of Hollywood - and entertainment in general. One would think in the wake of the Savile scandal in Britain (mentioned in this post), that Hollywood would do more to recognize victims like Haim to make amends for its own ugly history of paedophilia. Perhaps giving Haim a star would publicly open that can of worms, and force some quarters to account for crimes committed. Perhaps, as in the Savile case, Haim's ruined talent (and the miseries of other victims) will only be acknowledged in Hollywood after the perpetrators are dead.
 
One blog commenter points out that paedophilia in Hollywood is hinted at in the famous movie, The Godfather (1972):
In The Godfather, they briefly referred to this vile behavior - with parental approval. Producer "Jack Woltz" has the birthday party for a very young actress at the studio (even gives her a pony), then later at his home when he's having dinner with "Tom," you see the little girl at the top of the stairs, crying and disheveled. Her mother takes her back into the bedroom.
If anything, Hollywood's silence about Haim's death at the Oscars and SAG awards might confirm what his friend and co-star Corey Feldman claimed: that the industry is sitting on a terrible open secret that it does not want to acknowledge. That, and the industry is filled with callousness.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Prehistory's Mysteries: The World's First Known Portrait?


Stuck with you in the cave. Again. 26,000 year old portrait of a woman. Image Source: Moravian Museum, Anthropos Institute / Short Sharp Science.

Time capsules go both ways. In light of this post, where experts are puzzling over the invention of spear heads well before their common appearance, I wondered whether an exceptional mind appears every few centuries or even every millennia. Perhaps this mind invents something almost in a vacuum, way before the commonly-dated arrival of the innovation. For example, daVinci designed a helicopter in the 16th century. But we don't date the invention of the helicopter to the date of his design. We date it to 1936, with the appearance of the Focke-Wulf Fw 61.

We are aware of the first cave paintings dating to about 100,000 years ago (see my posts on cave paintings here, here and here). But the creation of the first portrait is another matter. Above, a 26,000 year old mammoth ivory carving billed as the first portrait. It is included in the upcoming exhibition Ice Age Art: Arrival of the modern mind at the British Museum, London, from 7 February to 26 May.

Prehistory's Mysteries: Like iPods in Ancient Rome

Image Source: National Geographic.

National Geographic reports that prehistoric stone spear tips were found in South Africa at a Homo heidelbergensis site in 2012. The catch is that the spear tips date to 500,000 years ago, which is 100,000 to 250,000 years earlier than the accepted date for the invention of spear tips. Paleoanthropologist John Shea, who was not part of the study, told NatGeo that if the dating is accurate, it would be "like finding an iPod in a Roman Empire site." The find implies that this primitive hominid used complex language and complex tools. But researchers wonder why related complex artifacts are not evident alongside these sophisticated weapons:
Some of our early human ancestors may have been smarter, and deadlier, than we thought, according to a new study of what may be Earth's oldest stone spear points. If the dating is correct, it suggests our evolutionary forebears mastered the art of the stone-tipped spear half a million years ago—some 250,000 years earlier than previously thought. ... Until now ... there's been no evidence H. heidelbergensis had the know-how to put the two together.

To fasten a handle to a blade—a technique called hafting—a prehistoric hunter likely would have had to procure a stone blade, a wooden shaft, twine woven from plants or animal sinew, and glue made from tree resin. The glue itself may have required a mastery of fire, to liquefy the resin, said Shea, of New York's Stony Brook University. ...

Hafting would have been worth the work, because once you add a stone blade, a spear is "going to cause a lot more damage, create more bleeding, and cause the animal to die quicker," said University of Toronto anthropologist Jayne Wilkins, lead author of the new spear-tip study, released Thursday by the journal Science.

By allowing more efficient hunting, Wilkins explained, the spear "means more reliable and regular access to meat." And scientists agree that more meat in the diet meant increased human brain size. That's not just an increase in brain tissue, she added. The increase in size hints at intellectual expansion. The hafting process requires forethought. "You have to plan days in advance before actually being able to use your weapons to hunt," she said. And you'd want to teach your comrades to do the same, presumably by talking.

For Stony Brook's Shea, there's "no question" that hafting involved speech. "It would probably not be something that could be taught by imitation. This is a technology that is so complex that it absolutely, positively requires language."

The idea that H. heidelbergensis may have had language may not be especially shocking, given that the species is theorized to be the last known common ancestor of both Neanderthals and our species, Homo sapiens.

"We have language, and Neanderthals likely had language ... so it stands to reason that our last common ancestor had linguistic abilities too," Shea said. (See "Neanderthals Had Same 'Language Gene' as Modern Humans.") ...

he age of the spear points remains a matter of debate. If they are really a half million years old, why haven't we found them at later sites? The gap—between 500,000 and 250,000 years ago, is richly represented by archaeology, Shea said. But we haven't found stone spear tips. Why not?

It's possible, Shea said, that the technology was simply lost, only to be invented all over again thousands of years later. But "I don't think it's likely this is something that people invented and then abandoned," he said. "You wouldn't expect that kind of complexity to vanish completely."

There's another mystery, Shea explained. It's not just stone spear points that seem to be missing from other H. heidelbergensis sites. "If they could make glue, they should have been able to make other complex substances and artifacts, even ceramics," he said. But there aren't any. And, he added, if H. heidelbergensis could put stone tips on handles, you ought to see other tools, like axes, with stone tips and handles.
Homo heidelbergensis. Image Source: John Gurche, artist / Chip Clark, photographer / Smithsonian.