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, October 6, 2017

Countdown to Hallowe'en 2017: Dark Ambient and Dark Web Tales

There are new horror genres appearing online, in which the fear factor depends on blurring the line between the virtual and real. It makes the raven girl on the subway, above, oddly reassuring: at least she is honest about how gothic things are these days.

Potion Shop Sounds | Apothecary Ambience | 45 Minutes (24 June 2017). Video Source: Youtube.

Over the past few years, ambient horror soundtracks have appeared on Youtube, which are unsettling because they add a cinematic video game quality to daily work at the desk. Some people listen to them to get to sleep, like the 6-hour Quiet Rusty Sewer Ambient Noise River.

Aaron Dykes at Truthstream Media explains the power of music - related to the frequency at which the eardrums vibrate - and particularly the discordant Locrian mode. From Bridget Mermikides: "From at least the early 18th century this tritone was described as Diabolus in Musica (the Devil in music)." The Secret Power Music Holds Over You (30 August 2017). Video Source: Youtube.

Locrian Mode example. Sample Source: Wiki.

Locrian Mode example: Björk's Army of Me (1995). Sample Source: Wiki.

The new horror music is non-music, made up of cinematic sound effects tracks. There is a spectrum of how scary these recordings are; they range (at the top) from vague background noise to (lower down) demonic atmospherics.

Haunted Halloween Mansion Fireplace with Thunder, Rain and Howling Wind (24 October 2016). Video Source: Youtube.

HAUNTED FOREST Scary Sounds of Ghosts in the Darkness 2 HOURS (12 March 2015). Video Source: Youtube.

Gathering Darkness - Scary Noises in a Haunted House - 2 Hours (2 May 2015). Video Source: Youtube.

Amazing SCARY 3D Holophonic Sound (21 August 2013). Video Source: Youtube.

Another example of horror found in the blurring between the virtual and the real is evident in a new genre of online horror story-telling, an offshoot of creepypastas, which explores the Dark Web. The Dark Web is reputed to be a place where anything goes, outside police jurisdictions, in a No Man's Land of international anonymity. Many Darknet communities are devoted to whistle-blowing, hacking, politics, drugs, crime, and hidden news.

By contrast, the Clearnet is the main, indexed Internet with which everyone is familiar. Clearnet lists of Dark Websites from 2015 to 2017 are here, here, here, here, and here - but don't click on links in those lists or surf further without a Tor browser and a VPN. A May 2017 Motherboard report gave a link to a list of every possible site on the Dark Web, that is, 1,208,925,819,614,629,174,706,176 sites, or just over one septillion Dark Websites beyond the reach of Google. That number directly contradicts Wired's 2015 estimate that there were over a billion sites on the Clear Web and 7,000 to 30,000 Dark Websites. You can see the total number of indexed Clear Websites counted in real time at Internet Live Stats.

Interactive livestream horror. Deep Web Horror Story - Why I Left The Deep Web by TASDiablo (21 May 2017). Video Source: Youtube.

Here is a discomforting thought: imagine that your online identity goes on walkabout when you turn your computer off. I discussed this problem in my post, Nosce Te Ipsum. There are already marketplaces where your online and real identities and personal information are bought and sold. There are sites (which don't stay active for long) where you can check if you have popped up in hacks of merchants, corporations, governments, or institutions. There is not much you can do about it if you have surfaced in a hack, but at least you know your information is out there. The site Make Use Of advises employers and landlords to run background checks on applicants by tracking down their personal information which has been released by hackers on the Dark Web.

People who reside on the indexed Clearnet do not realize that a lot of mainstream Websites have alt-sites on the Dark Web or the Deep Web; and Clear-versus-Dark content is not the same. This is surprisingly true of businesses, institutions, official offices, and even universities, as with Carnegie Mellon, which notoriously ran and runs Dark Web nodes to trap users. From the American Marketing Association:
"A few hours after ProPublica’s Dark Web announcement on Jan. 6, [2016,] Adland, an advertising news and curation site, announced it had launched its own hidden service site, as well. 'Adland’s target cares about privacy. We have two different types of readers.'"
Facebook is on the Dark Web, with registry by telephone number. I did not check, but perhaps this means that if you are on the Clear Web version of Facebook - surprise! - your profile is on the Dark Web too. Are your Clear Web privacy settings for Facebook maintained on its Dark Web version, or are you wide open in the alt-version? Further from the American Marketing Association:
"In October 2014, Facebook announced it had added a Dark Web version of its social network in order to circumvent problems caused when Tor users accessed their accounts through Facebook’s regular site. A spokeswoman for Facebook said the company was still in the process of evaluating dark net metrics and is not ready to publicize them."
If the interface between Clear- and Dark Web versions of Facebook is not yet complete, the activation is undoubtedly waiting on Zuckerberg's drawing board. All the more ironic, then, that in 2017 he spoke loudly to defend social justice and freedom. But his early view of users of his network, before it spread beyond Harvard revealed his true attitude: "They trust me — dumb fucks." This was the original IM:
Zuck: Yeah so if you ever need info about anyone at Harvard

Zuck: Just ask.

Zuck: I have over 4,000 emails, pictures, addresses, SNS

[Redacted Friend's Name]: What? How'd you manage that one?

Zuck: People just submitted it.

Zuck: I don't know why.

Zuck: They "trust me"

Zuck: Dumb fucks.
This was later spun as (from Zuckerberg's friend Charlie Cheever) "I feel Mark doesn't believe in privacy that much, or at least believes in privacy as a stepping stone." Then, from Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg:
"Mark really does believe very much in transparency and the vision of an open society and open world, and so he wants to push people that way. I think he also understands that the way to get there is to give people granular control and comfort. He hopes you'll get more open, and he's kind of happy to help you get there. So for him, it's more of a means to an end. For me, I'm not as sure."
Facebook has, or will, or wants to put its users on the Dark Web, no hackers needed. Remember this when Zuck announces his candidacy for president, or as vice-president with Chelsea Clinton, in 2020, or 2024, or later. Remember it when he describes exploitation of Facebook members' information as a social good: Facebook stops men from cheating on their wives.

People still think that the key to winning the US presidency involves 30-state road trips, like the one Zuckerberg undertook this year. Donald Trump proved that you have to do that, and you also have to dominate the Internet. Most of the Internet is not the Clearnet. Most of the Internet is the Dark Web. This is why it is important to know what is on the Dark Web, and the true picture it gives of our whole reality. Obviously, Trump knew this. It is not a nice picture.

Image Source: The Kernel.

Your employer, or your government, or your favourite social media page, has an alt-lifestyle. In 2015, the US government was the top funder of the Dark Web browser, Tor, and provided 80 to 90 per cent of its money. This was not news: Tor was invented by the US government in 1995 and released in 2002, supposedly offering total anonymity, a free ticket to go play in the darkness and do whatever you wanted without anyone knowing. The notion that you could browse the Dark Web with Tor, set up any site you wanted, commit crimes (or watch others do so), and not be detected was and is laughable. It was never about anonymity.

Click to enlarge. The Human Experiment Red Room: "Instead of ... random torture, The Human Experiment allegedly has multiple warehouses around the world where the users perform horrific experiments on people such as injecting bleach into pregnant women as well as starvation, sterilisation and radiation exposure. The results are then published on the site." Images Sources: here, here and here.

It was more like the users of the anonymous Tor browser were pawns on a bigger chessboard, the dimensions of which they did not understand. Members of law enforcement, who have gone under cover on the Dark Web and Deep Web to gather evidence and conduct arrests mistakenly believe that they have moved through these chaotic free zones in order to reassert and strengthen the laws of functioning civil societies.

Image Source: Sick Chirpse.

On the contrary, I have long thought that the early decades of the Internet permitted freedom and intentionally promoted anonymity as a way to give us enough rope with which to hang ourselves. We generated our own evidences for the condemnations and convictions of later crackdowns and totalitarian purges. A future, mirror image of this freedom has slept behind the scenes all along, and its despotic manifestation seems almost inevitable.

Tor let its users bear witness to, and indulge, the darkest aspects of human nature so that others, watching this Petri dish playground, could understand how those factors worked in virtual reality, and how those indulgences might be harnessed in the name of future social controls. For those who still have faith in mainstream society and have believed its superficial manifestation to be its totality, and a benevolent, altruistic construction, I can only say that you are mistaken. Government investment in the Dark Web confirms that the true, larger picture is at best Lovecraftian.

HUNT ME FOR SPORT!?! - Deep Web Browsing 78 (18 December 2016). Video Source: Youtube.

On Youtube, there is a series (here) which features a Canadian gamer guy, Mutahar, who talks about his adventures browsing the Dark Web, not as horror fiction, but as real horror online. His gobsmacked chatter is annoying, but in a way Mutahar offers the voice of relative sanity. The most convincing of these forays take on the flavour of Joseph Conrad's novel, Heart of Darkness, as Mutahar sails uncharted waters into the pit of the human soul.

PSYCHIC INSIGHTS!?! - Deep Web Browsing 59 (7 August 2016). Video Source: Youtube.

DEEP WEB YOUTUBE!?! - Deep Web Browsing 63 (4 September 2016). Video Source: Youtube.

TURN BACK!?! - Deep Web Browsing 106 (9 July 2017). Video Source: Youtube.

Above, in Episode 106, Mutahar debunks Red Rooms. Red Rooms are rumoured snuff rooms on the Dark Web. Some say that the rooms with the highest entrance fees allow users to control live, real-time, interactive torture and killing sessions of remotely-held captives. You can see All Things Vice dismiss Red Rooms as an urban legend, here.

These stories barely touch the edge of that world: there are sites which you can only access if you have a Deep Web address - which constantly changes, and a password - which also constantly changes. If you had the keys to the basement of Bluebeard's Castle, then you would learn how the world really works. From Ranker:
"Reddit user digikun muses, “Honestly? The creepiest stuff [on the Dark Web] is the login screens. 'Picture a page, with a plain HTML password field and submit button. If you type something wrong, the page just pops back up again. No error message, nothing. Now picture hundreds of these nameless, blank login screens on the Deep Web. What do you think is behind them?'"
The unindexed Deep Web is like a mansion with countless locked doors, housing a secret, unknown architecture of possibly systemic activity.

Whether Red Rooms are real or not, what is even more unsettling is that the Dark Web is like a set of Chinese boxes, with higher layers of unnoticed, invisible watchers. This is why the most scary tales from Tor users do not concern the Dark Web's crazy or criminal content. The most frightening stories always involve a user discovering that he or she was being watched, photographed, and recorded, in real time, as the user browsed the dark sites. It didn't matter how anonymous they thought they were. It did not matter what precautions they had taken. Anonymity is a myth.

I am not sure how to defy this silent audience of watchers, these totalitarians-in-waiting. For them, we are ants in a virtual ant farm, and our online behaviour has already been comprehensively studied for decades. What is most depressing is the obvious founding assumption in the Tor experiment, that freedom would make human beings into self-indulgent, corrupt and psychotic libertines and cannibals. Let average citizens off the leash, and what do they do? Turn into animals, or worse.

It is a chilling precursor to despotism, because this experiment destroys left-liberalism automatically; it confirms that a true Tabula rasa ensures degeneration, not regeneration. The blank-slate-creates-mayhem hypothesis also ruins old-fashioned conservatism, because it implies that social responsibilities and stable traditions cannot withstand hideous impulses unleashed by total freedom. I am not saying I agree with these assumptions, rather that these appear to have been the underlying principles of the Tor project and the access it has offered to the Dark Web.

The freedom Tor offered was an illusion, to create an experiment, based on certain principles. Those principles were not that America is the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave, nor that freedom in other countries leads to a social good.

Tor browsing on the Dark Web confirms that the US government actually presumed that all people, not just Americans, if let loose to do as they pleased, would and will incline toward the shadow side of human nature, rather than a love of better constructive purpose. Tor and the Dark Web mean that the US government believed that freedom would lead to degeneration, not virtue. It is a really disturbing underlying fact, which underpins the whole online Underground; and it is a point that is little understood by that Underground, except the most paranoid types.

All the more interesting, then, that the Clear Web appears to be spontaneously generating a counter-movement of positive enlightenment in virtual reality living. There is a reassertion of morals and ethical behaviour in association with the values of freedom and anonymity. In other words: these are brand new 21st century norms for international online communities. An authoritarian conclusion may have been scripted by the Internet's architects, but no one said the Internet might not go off script.

See all my posts on Horror.
See all my posts on the Paranormal.
Posts on the Occult are here.
Click here for my posts on Ghosts.

Check out other blogs observing the Countdown to Hallowe'en!
Image Source: 4Chan.

1 comment:

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