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, September 3, 2016

Next Gen Prophet

Next Gen/Prophet by Office courtesy of DMT Tapes FL (2015). Video Source: Youtube.

Yesterday, I went into a shop where there was a vinyl LP record player used as a prop; it was playing an early Van Morrison album that I have not heard in - a long time. The saleswoman told me her daughter, who is in her twenties, has never seen a vinyl record player and couldn't figure out how to turn it on. The record player was brand new, because vinyl LPs from the 1960s to the 1980s are back in fashion. From DMT Tapes FL, here is a track from the digital album: Compositions for Abandoned Shopping Malls (16 May 2015; Hat tip: Dan Bell). This retro-1980s electronic music is tagged alternative vaporwave / florida ambient / future funk / outsider ambient. Wiki:
"Vaporwave (or vapourwave) is a music genre and art movement that emerged in the early 2010s among Internet communities. It is characterized by a nostalgic or surrealist fascination with retro cultural aesthetics (typically of the 1980s, 1990s, and early-mid 2000s), entertainment technology, consumer culture and advertising, and styles of corporate and popular music such as lounge, smooth jazz and elevator music. Musical sampling is prevalent within the genre, with samples often pitched, layered or altered in classic chopped and screwed style. Central to the style is often a critical or satirical preoccupation with consumer capitalism, popular culture, and new-age tropes. ...

Music educator Grafton Tanner argued in his 2016 book Babbling Corpse: Vaporwave and the Commodification of Ghosts that 'Vaporwave is one artistic style that seeks to rearrange our relationship with electronic media by forcing us to recognize the unfamiliarity of ubiquitous technology.' He goes on in saying: 'Vaporwave is the music of non-times and non-places because it is skeptical of what consumer culture has done to time and space.' In his 2016 review of Hologram Plaza by Disconscious, an album in the mallsoft subgenre of vaporwave, Dylan Kilby of Sunbleach Media stated that '[t]he origins of mallsoft lie in the earliest explorations of vaporwave, where the concept of malls as large, soulless spaces of consumerism were evoked in some practitioner's utilization of vaporwave as a means for exploring the social ramifications of capitalism and globalization,' but that such an approach 'has largely petered out in the last few years in favor of pure sonic exploration/expression.'"
See my earlier posts on ambient music:

Image Source: reddit.

Image Source: Youtube.

Image Source: We Heart It.

Image Source: Phoenix 2772.

Vaporwave Wallpaper (2015). Image Source: Wallpaper Vortex.

Vaporwave Wallpaper (2016). Image Source: Wallpaper Vortex.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

SpaceX: Not an Explosion

SpaceX's Falcon 9 on fire in Florida today. Image Source: Ahomka FM.

Sadly, SpaceX's Falcon 9 exploded today on the launchpad at Cape Canaveral, Florida, USA. The Falcon 9, which I have discussed here, is the great hope of company founder, Elon Musk. Report UK:
"In a statement, the company blamed the blast on 'an anomaly' and said no-one had been injured. It said the rocket's payload, a satellite due to be launched on Saturday, was also destroyed. ... The Falcon-9 booster is designed to return to Earth and land on a floating platform. SpaceX is seeking to create a new era of reusable rockets and affordable private space travel and has used its Falcon-9 rocket to take supplies to the International Space Station (ISS). In December last year, the California-based company successfully landed a Falcon-9 back on Earth after a mission – a first in rocketry. It went on to recover five more boosters, with most of them touching down on an ocean platform. The idea is to re-fly these rockets, and the first such 'second hand' vehicle is scheduled to launch in October. SpaceX is run out of Hawthorne near Los Angeles by Elon Musk, who made his fortune with internet companies. As well as being the rocket company”s CEO, he also heads up the Tesla electric car company."
The lost rocket cost USD $62 million and Musk's companies took a stock hit of almost USD $400 million; in one day, Musk's personal loss on his shares was USD $350 million. The satellite on the rocket, Amos-6would have enabled Facebook and Eutelsat to provide connectivity to entrepreneurs in Africa, a subject I will cover in a later post.

SpaceX failed Falcon 9 launch (1 September 2016). Musk called the ball of fire "not an explosion." Video Source: Youtube.

See all my posts on SpaceX.

Lost Cities: Zerzura

Image Source: Kickstarter.

For today, see a trailer for a film currently raising production funds on Kickstarter, Zerzura, a 'Sahara Acid Western.' Zerzura (زرزورة) was a legendary oasis city in the Sahara Desert west of the Nile, located in Egypt or Libya. In the 20th century, real searches for this mythical centre focussed on the northern Gilf Kebir and inspired the 1992 novel and 1996 film The English Patient. Some oases were indeed discovered, but these efforts folded into Second World War espionage and British special ops work in North Africa. You can read about that here and here.

Image Source: Tribe Expeditions.

Zerzura is a place of Bedouin myth, supposedly guarded by djinn or 'black giants,' who may have been the Toubou people. Zerzura was also mentioned in the mystic 15th century Arabic manuscript, Kitab al Kanuz, a medieval manual for Egyptian treasure hunters. In the 1960s, the story received a bizarre new treatment from unconfirmed sources, although Wiki's summary suggests that the 1960s' account below embroiders upon the records of the medieval scribes of an emir in Benghazi, Libya. Ask Why:
"In 1969, Emile Schurmacher, a journalist interested in mysteries, explained that the Muslim legend of Zerzura was that, began with a caravan in 1481 AD, wending its way across the desert from the Nile to the oases of Kharga and Darkhla when it was engulfed by an unusually severe sandstorm. Instead of blowing out in a couple of days, this storm lasted over a week and by the time it settled, the caravan, humans and camels, had died of suffocation. Only one man, a camel driver called Hamid Keila shook himself from the shelter of his dead camel and looked upon a plain of sand with just a few bulges and oddments of fabric emerging from beneath it. The caravan had been obliterated.

We know this because months later Hamid Keila turned up in poor shape in Benghazi on the Mediterranean and was able to tell an astonishing tale which was recorded by the Emir’s scribes.

The camel driver had climbed the escarpment to get a view of the desert and see whether any oases were accessible. The sandstorm had changed the familiar landmarks and he recognised nothing. He struggled along the scarp hoping that he would get his bearings. Lacking water he was becoming delerious when he was found by a group of men the like of whom he had never seen before. They were tall, fair-haired and blue-eyed. What is more, they carried straight swords not scimitars.

Quizzed by the Emir, the camel driver related his story confidently enough but he always seemed uneasy and rather shifty. The strange men came from a city in the desert called Zerzura where they took the half-dead Keila and treated him with kindness. The citadel was well watered with springs, and vines and palms sprouted. Access was by a wadi that ran between two mountains and from it a road proceeded into the gates of the city, which was walled. Above the gate was a carved bird of unusual appearance and the houses within were white in the sun. Water was plentiful and pools and springs were used by slim light-skinned women and their children for washing and bathing, and the dwellings were richly furnished.

The people of Zerzura, or El Suri, spoke Arabic but with many peculiar words that the camel driver could not understand until they were carefully explained. The strange people were evidently not Muslim because the women were unveiled and Hamid Keila saw no mosque and heard no muzzein. The Emir asked the camel driver how he came to be in Benghazi and again looking uncomfortable he said he escaped one moonless night when he had regained his strength, and after a difficult journey north had arrived in the city. The Emir was puzzled and wondered why it was necessary to escape unless he was being held a prisoner. The camel driver was shifty and could not explain why his story was inconsistent, his rescuers having been declared to be kind. The Emir ordered his guards to search the unfortunate man and they discovered in his robes a huge flawless ruby set in a gold ring.

Asked how he had obtained the stone, the camel driver could not answer and the Emir judged that he had stolen it from people who, although apparently infidels, had shown him great kindness. The Emir ordered the unfortunate man to be taken into the desert again and to have his hands cut off. And so he was.

The ring and ruby came into the possession of King Idris of Libya and has been examined by several experts who vouch for its immense value. More important, they declare it to be of European workmanship of about the twelfth century, a date that could link the ring and the apparently Teutonic Arabs with the crusades and the possibility that knights who had got lost in the desert had gone native and survived in their remote idyll. Some parties of crusaders did get lost on the way out to the Holy Land or back from it."
Several Websites claim that the ruby ring was inherited by Libya's King Idris (1889-1983). Perhaps in 1969 it fell to Muammar Gaddafi (1942-2011). Given that there are no obvious modern sources on this ring, it is likely that the ring and the city from which it came are legends, begging for further exploitation. For example, the tale of lost crusaders taking up residence in the Middle East is popular with today's New Age spiritualists; the myth feeds the Millennial folkloric obsession with pre-Islamic Middle Eastern religions. Some New Age theorists project the story back thousands of years to ancient and classical times, and claim that Atlantean, proto-Irish or proto-Celtic northmen, possibly Druids, traveled to Egypt and influenced its old dynasties. Some Masonic speculations claim that the Druids and ancient Egyptians shared the same beliefs and rituals. These variants should be considered as 20th and early 21st century branches of folklore. The Zerzura story inspired a German-Austrian-Swiss video game in 2012, the Lost Chronicles of Zerzura.

The producers of this 2017 film, Zerzura, correctly describe their work as ethnofiction, an improvised ethnographic docufiction, which blends docudramas with fable:
"Zerzura is a feature length film shot in the Sahara desert. Mixing folktales and documentary, the film follows a young man from in Niger who leaves home in search of an enchanted oasis. His journey leads him into a surreal vision of the Sahara, crossing paths with djinn, bandits, gold seekers, and migrants. A folktale transposed onto an acid western, the film is a collaborative fiction, written and developed with a Tuareg cast, and shot in and around Agadez, Niger.

Over the past decades, Agadez has reestablished itself as a hub of movement across the desert. Migrants throughout the continent stop here on their perilous trek North, bound for mythic cities in Europe. Tales of gold in the desert abound, and men sell their houses for gold detectors. Young Tuareg leave home to seek their fortune in the fractured Libyan state. As people leave, stories return, becoming folklore, apocryphal and wildly exaggerated versions of truth.

In the style of 'ethnofiction' proposed by Jean Rouch, Zerzura is a window into Saharan dreams and imagination, a folktale about the universal drive to search for something that we know is likely false and unwavering faith in the face of realism. In an American-Tuareg production, a script written and developed collaboratively and largely improvised performances, the film plays with mutual exoticism to create a trans-cultural fiction. Zerzura asks 'what we are looking for in the desert, and what do we meet in these empty places?'"
See all my posts on Lost Cities.

Monday, August 29, 2016

NASA Reaches Jupiter

"Jupiter's north polar region is coming into view as NASA's Juno spacecraft approaches the giant planet. This view of Jupiter was taken on August 27, when Juno was 437,000 miles (703,000 kilometers) away." Image Source: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS.

NASA's Juno probe, launched from Florida on 5 August 2011, entered Jupiter's orbit on 4 July 2016; it will remain in orbit for 20 months, testing Jupiter's atmosphere and magnetosphere until February 2018. The American space agency continues the Decadal Solar System Exploration Survey; Jupiter has previously been visited by Pioneer 10 (1973) and Pioneer 11 (1974); Voyager 1 (1979) and Voyager 2 (1979); the Galileo spacecraft (1995-2003); Ulysses (1992 and 2004); the Cassini-Huygens mission (2000); and the New Horizons probe (2007). This Juno mission brings full circle four centuries of research on the great planet, which has three outer Gossamer rings and 67 moons. There are two Jovian lunar exploration missions proposed by the Europeans and Russians and NASA for the 2020s. More photos will follow from the Juno mission:
"NASA's Juno mission successfully executed its first of 36 orbital flybys of Jupiter today [27 August 2016]. The time of closest approach with the gas-giant world was 6:44 a.m. PDT (9:44 a.m. EDT, 13:44 UTC) when Juno passed about 2,600 miles (4,200 kilometers) above Jupiter's swirling clouds. At the time, Juno was traveling at 130,000 mph (208,000 kilometers per hour) with respect to the planet. This flyby was the closest Juno will get to Jupiter during its prime mission. 'Early post-flyby telemetry indicates that everything worked as planned and Juno is firing on all cylinders,' said Rick Nybakken, Juno project manager at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.

There are 35 more close flybys of Jupiter planned during Juno's mission (scheduled to end in February 2018). The August 27 flyby was the first time Juno had its entire suite of science instruments activated and looking at the giant planet as the spacecraft zoomed past.

'We are getting some intriguing early data returns as we speak,' said Scott Bolton, principal investigator of Juno from the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio. 'It will take days for all the science data collected during the flyby to be downlinked and even more to begin to comprehend what Juno and Jupiter are trying to tell us.'"