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.



Showing posts with label Afterlife. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Afterlife. Show all posts

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Hallowe'en Countdown 2018: The Illuminati and the New Vampire Ouroboros


The Papal Audience Hall, Rome, Italy. Partly situated in Vatican City, the Paul VI Hall was designed by architect Pier Luigi Nervi and completed in 1971. The mouth of the serpent features an alien-looking sculpture of Jesus resurrecting from nuclear-bomb-created slag. Conspiracy theorists believe that the hall proves that the Vatican is secretly presiding over a neo-Babylonian Satanic sect of serpent-worshipers. Image Source: wykop.

Today's Hallowe'en countdown continues Monday's post on the ouroboros, the symbol of immortality behind the vampire story. The ouroboros myth reveals why populists and New Agers pair the reptile with the vampire in conspiracy theories about lizard aliens and blood-drinking élites.

David Icke is the main popularizer of the lizard alien hypothesis. David Icke: Conspiracy of the Lizard Illuminati (Part 2/2) (24 August 2012). Video Source: Youtube.

British ex-footballer David Icke is at the forefront of describing this new version of the ouroboros vampire, starting in his 1999 book, The Biggest Secret. Despite denials, he has laced his account of reptilian humanoid élites with anti-Semitism. He repackages anti-Semitism as anti-evil-space-alien, anti-Kabbalist, anti-Zionist, anti-Khazarian, anti-Babylonian Brotherhood, anti-moon-Death-Star, and anti-Saturn-worship. He claims that he opposes 'false Jews,' Freemasons, and Illuminists.

Icke was ridiculed throughout the 1990s and early 2000s. He only gained a following after the rise of social media and the concurrent 2008 recession, which was blamed on banking institutions and saw a corresponding explosion of anti-Semitism.

At the same time, graphics editing software became broadly available which was capable of subtly altering images and videos to create 'evidence' of lizard people. As a result, Icke now travels the world, talking for up to eleven hours at a stretch to packed audience halls. It is a new form of entertainment, and thousands of vloggers, bloggers, New Agers, and conspiracists have followed suit. They have expanded Icke's hypothesis to produce an enormous Millennial cosmology. Vox called it "the greatest political conspiracy [theory] ever created."

But the point is that it is not original. I think Icke derived his lizard people hypothesis from the ancient Egyptian mystery of the ouroboros, in which serpents were believed to be bound to the souls of kings and queens.

Monday, October 1, 2018

Hallowe'en Countdown 2018: The Order of the Dragon and the Vampire Ouroboros


Vampires are connected to the ouroboros, an ancient Egyptian symbol linking life and death. This is "an engraving of a woman holding an ouroboros in Michael Ranft's 1734 treatise on vampirrs." Notice the hourglass balanced on its edge in the bottom left corner, and the satyr playing the triangle above the woman. Click to enlarge. Image Source: Wiki.

Welcome to the month of October! Every year, this blog joins dozens of other blogs to count down to Hallowe'en (check out other participants here). I reserve this countdown for topics which are too weird, frightening and creepy to cover during the rest of the year. This month, I will be publishing new Hallowe'en posts every Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

Vampires open the countdown this year. Vampire and other horror stories tie in strongly to modern conspiracy theories. During this countdown, I cover strange and sometimes offensive material. That doesn't mean I personally believe in, or endorse, those ideas.

The Old Vampire Ouroboros: The Order of the Dragon

The German poet and diplomat, Oswald von Wolkenstein (1376-1445), wearing an Order of the Dragon brooch with the serpent eating its tail. Portrait from the Innsbrucker Handschrift (1432). Notice the closed right eye, now a common gesture in photographs of celebrities. Image Source: Portrait in the Innsbruck manuscript of 1432 (Liederhandschrift B)/Wiki.

Serbian performance artist Marina Abramović using two snakes to cover her right eye and neck. Image Source: e-flux conversations.

The word 'Dracula' comes from the title granted the Wallachian rulers of Transylvania who were members of the chivalric Order of the Dragon, a group founded in 1408 to keep the Turks out of Europe.

The order started in Germany and Italy, but spread to the princely houses of Central Eastern Europe. Members of the order carried the signum draconis, the sign of the dragon, later displayed on the coats of arms of certain Hungarian noble families: Báthory, Bocskai, Bethlen, Szathmáry, Benyovszky, Kende and Rákóczi.

Engraving of an ouroboros by Lucas Jennis, in the 1625 alchemical tract, De Lapide Philosophico. Image Source: Wiki.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Tweet of the Day 3: Romanov Redux



I have intended to discuss Russia's potential revival of the Romanov dynasty for awhile, not least because the 100th anniversary of the royal family's murders, on 16-17 July 2018, is coming up.

In 2014 and 2015Vladimir Petrov, the Leningrad member in Russia's legislative assembly and a member of Putin's party, proposed that the Romanov pretenders could be restored and installed in their old summer house, the Livadia Palace in newly-occupied Crimea, to bolster the planned tourist industry there. You can see the Russian government pushing this idea in the travel video below. Check out the number of dislikes the video got on its original Youtube page!

The video at the bottom shows an alternate version of the same ad, cut with clips about the experiences of actual visitors. One way you can see English subtitles is by clicking cc and 'translate page.'

Russian tourist ad for Channel One - Visit the Crimea (2015). Video Source: Youtube.

Alternative advertising "In short in the Crimea" 2015 (29 July 2015). Video Source: Youtube.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Countdown to Hallowe'en 2017: Operation Wandering Soul


"Fair Use dissemination of documentary clip about 'Wandering Soul,' aka 'Ghost Tape Number 10' - an audio harassment theme recorded by the US Army Psychological Operations Battalion for loudspeaker broadcast during the Vietnam War. 'Wandering Soul' attempted to demoralise Vietcong opposition by engaging with traditional Vietnamese superstition and folk-lore." Video Source: Youtube.

During the Vietnam War, the Americans exploited a local Vietnamese superstition that a person must be buried in the soil of their homeland, or be doomed to wander through hell forever. The US Army developed a psyop called Operation Wandering Soul, in which they created funeral dirges and dead Vietnamese soldiers' lost souls, warning Viet Cong soldiers to retreat. They played this tape into the jungle at night. You can read more about Operation Wandering Soul, here and here.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Shamans, Scandals and Post-Truth Totalitarianism


Image Source: Korean Exposé.

Three gigantic scandals currently challenge propriety and public service in politics. They raise the question of how the Internet is transforming government and the exercise of power. They also confirm a theme which I have considered here, namely, that futuristic technology is breathing life into old, mythical traditions, and not all of those traditions are nice or easy to manage. At the heart of all three scandals sits WikiLeaks, demonstrating that Julian Assange is a shaman in his own right. This post does not speculate on the truth of the scandals, but assesses what they mean for what is left of civil society and government. Warning: read no further if you are a minor or if you want to avoid offensive content.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

All Souls


Image Source: C. Bessich via Adriana Sanchez.

For All Souls' Day today, to remember the faithful departed, see photos from Melaten Cemetery, Cologne, Germany. Although the cemetery is 200 years old, this area has a dark past prior to its current use. In the 13th century, lepers were sequestered in a hospice at Melaten; later, it was a place where witches were burned. Now noted as a conservation area and for its incredible statues, it is the resting place of the city's most famous people, listed here.


Images Source: European Cemeteries.

Monday, October 31, 2016

Happy Hallowe'en! Soul Cakes and Trumpkins


In England, people originally carved faces in turnips, not pumpkins, on All Hallows' Eve. English colonists began carving pumpkins in the New World. Image Source: Telegraph.

Happy Hallowe'en! Today's post is dedicated to Samhain soul cakes, and how Donald Trump made Jack o' Lanterns great again. Below the jump, see some pumpkin carving competition winners before - and after - The Donald announced his presidential candidacy. The whole nation is carving Trumpkins in 2016.

Soul cakes and pumpkin-carving are offshoots of cooking, preserving and baking which are part of harvest festivals in the northern hemisphere. To absorb the power of Gaelic Samhain (October 31; pronounced SAH-win), the Catholic Church combined harvest festivals with pagan funerary rites and ancient spring death rituals. In the 5th century BCE, Greek women visited graves with libations and cakes; the Romans adapted that custom to placate lemures, or ghosts, with beans and salted flour cakes during the festival of Lemuria in May. Later traditions from Ireland, to Germany, to Jamaica, to colonial America, buried the dead with small cakes, scones, or biscuits, while mourners drank liquor or port; graveyard ceremonies in Hungary and Estonia also often involved drinking special fortified wines. All of these traditions combined to inspire the American trick or treat candies, chocolates and potato chips. You can see modern recipes for Samhain soul cakes here, here, here, here and here.

The graveside consumption of cakes and wine may have led to the term 'cakes and ale' coined by William Shakespeare in Twelfth Night (1601-1602); merry-making and a wanton good life symbolized by cakes and ale defend us from death. But they also remind us that death is never far away and bring us closer to it:
"Dost thou think, because thou art virtuous, there shall be no more cakes and ale?"
With one line, Shakespeare summarized the religious injunction against the pleasures and temptations of mortal life when one contemplates mortality. Yet contemplating mortality makes us want to indulge. This time of year is about losing and rediscovering a balance between life and death, light and dark. Cakes and wine ease the grief of the living, and calm the spirits of the dead. Overindulge, and religious authorities warn, you will find yourself possessed by forces beyond your will.

My friend C. suggested the BBC Radio 4 recording from 2011So You Want to Be an Exorcist. Other BBC shows on exorcism are on Youtubehere. The exorcists interviewed for the BBC Radio 4 show claimed nearly anything can open you up to demonic possession, including ouija boards, street drugs, sexual immorality (which can be code for homophobia), astrology, yoga, New Age spirituality, and tarot cards. Apparently, the Anglican Church now has an official exorcist on call in every diocese due to rising demand, which I find hard to believe.  It sounds like they realized the Catholic Church has cornered the market, and they want their own Indy 500. I can just see the C of E promotional television series about an Anglican exorcist, starring Helen Mirren. That doesn't exist yet, but you can watch the terrifying new American television FOX series, The Exorcist, online here or here. The trailer is here. In 2010, The Daily Mail reported here on 21st century exorcists.

Samhain soul cakes. Image Source: My Witch's Kitchen.

The Starbucks seasonal pumpkin scone with spiced glaze follows the ancient soul cakes tradition. Image Source: Starbucks via pinterest.

To celebrate the pumpkin harvest, here is a pumpkin scones recipe, inspired by Starbucks. I checked the best cookery book which collects the historic recipes of colonial America, and offer this pumpkin pie recipe, altered and adapted from: Helen Duprey Bullock, A National Treasury of Cookery, vol. 1, Early America (New York, New York: Heirloom Publishing Company, 1967), p. 54.

2 9-inch unbaked pie shells
2 cups mashed cooked pumpkin
3 eggs, well beaten
1.5 cups heavy cream or 1 14-ounce tin of sweetened condensed milk
3 tbsp. rum
0.5 tsp. vanilla extract
0.25 cups granulated sugar
0.25 cups brown sugar
0.18 cups molasses
0.5 tsp. salt
1 tsp. ground mace
0.5 tsp. nutmeg
1 tsp. finely-grated candied ginger or fresh ginger
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
0.5 tsp ground cloves or allspice

Make the pie shells and refrigerate them, or thaw frozen commercial pre-made pie shells in the refrigerator. Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. In a large bowl, combine pumpkin, eggs, cream or condensed milk, rum and extract, sugar, salt, spices. Blend well. Pour into chilled pie shells. Bake for 15 minutes at 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Reduce heat to 325 degrees Fahrenheit and bake for 45 minutes.

Best pumpkin spice latte you can make at home. Video Source: Youtube.
Different pumpkin spice latte recipes are here, here and here.

History Channel's history of Hallowe'en explains the origins of Jack o' Lanterns. Video Source: Youtube.

A pumpkin carved by Scott Cully, "the Northwest's legendary pumpkin carver," Parkplace Mall, Kirkland, Washington, USA (2008). Image Source Mickeleh / flickr via Daily Picks and Flicks.


Cully's 2010 lantern, lit. Image Source: pinterest.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Awaken the Amnesiacs 5: Reflection Reversal


One of Gerhard Richter's mirror paintings on display at the Centre Pompidou, Paris, France. Image Source: View on Canadian Art.

Imagine a mirror, presented to you as a piece of art. Hanging in a gallery, the art would superficially deliver a message about itself. But this art piece would not be about itself. The artist had devised this piece to turn its viewers into objects, while the artwork became the viewer, or subject. The painting-as-mirror would be actively, perhaps even aggressively, looking back at its viewer. In this case, the viewer should wonder not about the artwork, but upon what or whom is that artwork gazing? Everything in the reflection would direct attention and questions back upon the viewer. In the style of the 1970s' minimalist movement, this was the conceit of Gerhard Richter's mirror paintings (thanks to -C.). Richter's sheets of colour-coated glass reflect the viewer. Richter's paintings "have secrets."

Now consider that the mirror's nature as an inert object with innate power might only become apparent once it is covered, or the light on it changes or disappears. Without light, Richter's mirror paintings become matte, dull, flat surfaces. The mirror, when covered, betrays its dangerous nature because we are no longer mesmerized by what we see in it. When it loses its power to reflect back at the viewer, to transform the viewer into an object, the viewer is reminded, brought to conscious awareness, that he or she has been watched. Add light again and the mirror gains agency and becomes a subject gazing actively at the world, with the world looking back at it. But at that very moment, the viewer in the world gazing into the mirror is mesmerized, and forgets the true nature of his experience, mistakenly thinking that he is the agent of action.

This power play is true of all mirrors, which is why some cultures require mirrors, or even reflective television screens, to be covered during sleep or after someone in a family dies. When Richter made a mirror into a piece of art, he manipulated superstition and embedded that message into an art piece, an object with cultural value. By putting mirrors into art galleries, he made us start to understand how mirrors reverse perspective and power. We think we are looking at mirrors, that we are agents with power when we gaze into them. But they are the real agents of power, and they are looking at us.

Friday, March 4, 2016

The Triumphs and the Frauds


Orson Welles (1915-1985). Image Source: Indiewire.

Years ago, I concluded that changing one's name artificially is a hex sign. Someone has built a fake reality for themselves around a fake identity, an alter ego. Of course, that depends on the circumstances; and now, alter egos and icon names are everywhere on the Internet. The original question concerned what is fake and what is real when it comes to building reputation through a public persona. In those pre-Internet days, a fake name propelled a figure forward to become more real and credible than the original person, for all the wrong reasons.

In 1974, Orson Welles made a documentary - his last completed major work - about disinformation and the agency it gives to fake people. His film, F for Fake, concerns a notorious Hungarian art forger, Elmyr de Hory (1906-1976), who sold hundreds of fake copies of paintings by master artists, authenticated by art experts, to top galleries and museums. The film also focuses on the forger's biographer, Clifford Irving. Irving made his name by writing a fake biography of Howard Hughes, which was completely fabricated and for which Irving spent nearly two years in prison.

Peter Bogdanovich describes F for Fake. Video Source: Youtube.

Welles encountered these characters in Ibiza, Spain. As he tried to get to the bottom of this story, the director confirmed how impossible it was to unravel liars' lies. Over time, their fabrications gained credibility and authority, based on reputations, cultivated layer by layer, over decades in exclusive social settings. In another short from the same period, set inside a fake private gentlemen's club in London, he poked fun at class and wealth as sources of enduring historical and social authority. He thought it comical that those who acquire higher levels of class and wealth gain historical weight, no matter what their true value. And in F for Fake, he found that when liars move in these temporally-weighted circles, first to lie, then to 'come clean' and tell the 'truth' (even if they never really do), they gain even more false authenticity.

De Hory's art forgeries reflected that, because art masterpieces are part of wealthy settings. Great art is considered to be durable, a lasting testament; it has more temporal weight than wealth. Artworks are luxury items which allow collectors to augment their wealth and class status, to build identity through assertions of taste. With art ownership, collectors associate the constructed longevity of their identities with the longevity of the artwork. Today's art world has responded to this market by seeking new 'great master' prodigies, who must produce more 'great works' for a nouveau 'ageless canon.' New billionaires buy new 'masterwork' art pieces, and the billionaires and the art artificially inflate each other's perceived lasting value. In Welles's terms, they are all fakes. One painter in his film shrugged: "The fakes are as good as the real ones, and there is a market and there's a demand [for them]." Welles set out to resolve how money, fame, power and time were wrongly connected in people's minds.

F for Fake provoked introspection, since Welles was reminded of his own fake 1938 War of the Worlds radio drama performance about a Martian invasion, which people believed was real. F for Fake was further reminiscent of the film which made Welles's name at age 26, Citizen Kane, a fictional history of the character Charles Foster Kane, newspaper-magnate-turned-presidential-candidate. Kane was modeled on the real media tycoon, William Randolph Hearst. The last section of F for Fake includes some autobiographical asides, after which Welles deliberately transformed the documentary into a faux-documentary, starring his girlfriend at the time, Oja Kodar. He confessed in the last few minutes of the film that he had created a 'film forgery.' "Art," he said, "is a lie that makes us realize the truth." You can watch F for Fake here, while the link lasts.

To quote a reviewer: "So if you're keeping track, F for Fake is a fake documentary, about a fake artist, being described by a fake writer, and framed by a self-described fake super genius person." It is a difficult, scattered film, now dated, and was poorly received by critics. Others defend it, especially because the film hinged on a single scene of crystal clear truth. American media psychologist James Herndon deemed one clip (below) from F for Fake to be "the profoundest moment in all of cinema." In it, Welles suggested that every expression of genius, identity, or creativity is limited and fleeting. The director approached Chartres cathedral in France as the silent testimony of anonymous artists, whose greatness will transcend the mortal condition only for a few centuries or millennia. Any attempt at creativity, no matter how beautiful, masterful, or fraudulent, constitutes a futile effort to overcome death.


Top, from Citizen Kane, fictional Kane, running for president. The real man on whom Kane was based never ran for president, but was elected to the House of Representatives and made unsuccessful bids to become Mayor of New York City (1905 and 1909), Governor of New York (1906), and Lieutenant Governor of New York (1910). Hearst had to settle for manipulating politics through his newspapers. Images Source: Everything You Hate.

Welles as Kane in Xanadu, the fictional depiction of Hearst's San Simeon castle. Image Source: The Latest.

The real Hearst Castle in San Simeon, California, USA, built 1919 to 1947, is a monument to a megalomaniac ego seeking permanence; it is stocked with exotic animals, priceless art objects, and imported historical buildings. It is a national and California historical landmark. Image Source: Wiki.

The Gothic study and library in Hearst Castle. Image Source: Inside Inside.

The outdoor swimming pool at Hearst Castle features an actual ancient Roman temple which Hearst bought in Europe and imported to California. Image Source: Wiki.

As a comment on the futile quest for immortality, F for Fake was anti-master, anti-author, anti-expert, anti-wealth, anti-fabrication, but pro-authenticity. This film, Welles's last, is filled with the wreckage of Citizen Kane, with Chartres standing in as the universal artist's palace, confronting the billionaire's estate Xanadu, based on the real Hearst estate San Simeon. This time, Welles played Charles Foster Kane again, only 'for real.' Now, Welles was the supposedly rich man, riding on his reputation, clinging to his baubles and pretty young girls, knowing it was all bullshit; he distrusted hangers-on and friends who had also arrived at the top by dubious means. In his heart, he was haunted by the possibility that not a single thing he had done was worth anything. He wondered if his own work, already a rip-off, would be ripped off; maybe people would only know and recognize derivative Wellesian products, made by other people. With nothing left but his battered art, Welles sought sanctuary in the palace of Chartres. Where Chartres was a house of triumph, San Simeon was a monument to fraud.

Chartres clip from F for Fake (1974). Video Source: Youtube.

Welles was sure of one thing. When it comes to lasting greatness, the ego must die and all its pathetic trappings must go. The ego, aware that it will die and that wealth, fame, and reasonable accomplishments are insufficient builders of immortality, makes one last ditch, explosive effort to leave its permanent mark. Welles wanted to find something irreducible and moral beneath that. Surrounded by frauds and liars, the only integrity he could imagine was a confessional, of stating the truth that he was a fraud too. But coming clean with the truth was also an act of trickery, and so Welles was left with another layer of subterfuge. He concluded that, of all the areas in life in which one built credibility and reputation, only a creative endeavour - no matter how embattled - might come close to liberating humans from this disastrous loop of projected myth, believable lies, and hierarchies of liars.

Although art immersed the artist in falsehoods with its fake depictions of reality, when artists produced something like Chartres cathedral, the result was a fleeting reflection of eternity. This became true only when the art object was stripped of any pretension toward ego, reputation, projected value, collectable wealth, authority, control, or greatness. And for those who tried to buy, or falsely create, fake ageless identities associated with that final truth, F for Fake asserted that no matter how wealthy you are, you cannot buy time, and you cannot buy your place in history.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Major Tom, Coming Home


Gif Source: giphy.

David Robert Jones also known by his stage name, David Bowie, has died (8 January 1947-10 January 2016). In A Space Oddity (1969), Bowie introduced his astronaut character Major Tom, who appears in the later song Ashes to Ashes (1980), as well as songs by other artists: Peter Schilling (1983); Plastic Bertrand (1983) - his Schilling cover is here; the Pet Shop Boys (1996), in an adaptation of Bowie's Hallo Spaceboy (1995); At the Drive-In (2000); K.I.A. (2002), covered by Sheryl Crow in 2011; the Tea Party (2004); and Shiny Toy Guns (2009). Elton John's Rocket Man (1969) does not have a connection to Bowie's character although the themes are similar. The same can be said for Matthew Wilder's Bouncin' Off the Walls (1984). Wiki lists other artists and songs which refer to Bowie's astronaut:
Major Tom also has had and continues to have passing references in other popular songs, such as: Five Star's Rain or Shine (1986), Def Leppard's Rocket (1987), Marilyn Manson's Apple of Sodom (1997), Lorraine Bowen's Space (2002), The Mars Volta's live rendition of the song Cicatriz (2005) featuring a lengthy jam, which would evolve into the song Cassandra Gemini, Cold's Happens All The Time (also 2005), Alphabeat's Fantastic 6 (2007), The Cab's Angel with a Shotgun (2011) and Lana Del Rey's Terrence Loves You (2015).
In 2011, William Shatner produced an album, Seeking Major Tom, with tracks related to this evolving Bowie character. There are many Youtube playlists (like this one) with Major Tom tributes. The character has also been mentioned in video games, television shows, cartoons, novels, and online media, demonstrating how much of an influence just one of David Bowie's songs had on popular culture. A Space Oddity was previously mentioned in this post, and Dia Sobin's 2014 tribute with links to Mac Tonnies's posts on Bowie is here. Below the jump, see some of the main Major Tom videos.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Hallowe'en Countdown 2015: Enter the Underworld


Image Source: Saya in the Underworld.

Daily existence requires a tacit denial of death. When people do contemplate mortality, the denied Underworld offers up secrets. This is why all cultures have legends and rituals around facing that fear, crossing that line between life and death, and returning with knowledge that proves essential to a longer, better life. The 'Descent into the Underworld' is so universal that it is known as a mytheme, an irreducible, unchanging element of all stories.

This mytheme runs back thousands of years; there are actual geographic locations which are historically considered gates to the Underworld. Modern technology provides new portals. An autumn equinox wiccan ritual visits Persephone "in the time of global warming" and allows participants to exchange knowledge with "the darkness" of the Underworld through New Age meditation. One rumoured Japanese Millennial rite involves locking oneself in a darkened house and unlighted bathroom, calling spirits from the Underworld via the toilet or bathtub with one's mobile phone, and controlling them with salt.

Another Japanese creepy pasta (an online urban legend) claims people can enter the Underworld using an elevator. The elevator ritual instructs the individual to ride an elevator alone in a 10-storey building to floors 4 -> 2 -> 6 -> 2 -> 10. One is then supposed to take the elevator to the 5th floor, where a young woman will enter. This is the sign that things have gotten weird, since it is forbidden to speak to, or look at, the woman, who is supposedly not of this world. The principal then presses the button for the 1st floor, but if the ritual has worked, the elevator will instead go to the 10th floor. At that point, you are on your own. The elevator ritual has also appeared in South Korea, where there are instructions on how to return to reality. Below the jump, see videos of attempts at the elevator ritual, and a VICE report on how near death coffin experiences became a Millennial fad among careerists in South Korea.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Hallowe'en Countdown 2015: The Tunnel


The Pont de l'Alma tunnel in Paris, where Princess Diana died in 1997. Image Source (2009) © shirley77 at flickr.

Tunnels symbolize death, near death experiences, ascension to heaven, time travel, or a sealed fate. As Princess Diana lay dying in the Pont de l'Alma tunnel in Paris in 1997, police arrested seven photographers at the accident. A commenter under a video about the paparazzi who chased her car into the tunnel wrote:
"I can't imagine what it would be like breathing your last and all you can see is flash bulbs going off and knowing that people will make a mint out of your death. There's something eerily pornographic about the photographers standing there taking pictures and not helping."
Tunnels represent travel forward to a new or final destiny. In the French film Irréversible, Monica Bellucci's character Alex is raped in a pedestrian passage in Paris. The film's scenes run in reverse chronological order to connect her grim end to time travel:
In An Experiment with Time, which Alex is reading during the last (i.e. chronologically first) sequence in the film, J. W. Dunne postulates the existence of a "time-travelling observer", which in dreams can move backwards or forwards in time to actually observe events which may not have yet happened. These are the 'premonitory dreams' which Alex mentions to Marcus and Pierre. Alex earlier describes such a dream to Marcus, where she is in a 'red tunnel' which breaks in two.
You can read An Experiment with Time (1922), here. The theory of the book is that all points in time coexist simultaneously; due to human perception, we are only conscious of one forward stream of time. But the other events are there, including potentials. To indicate this, Alex discovers she is pregnant shortly before her rape in the tunnel. Those who claim to have had psychic or precognitive experiences would, in Dunne's terms, be people who tap the unconscious parts of their brains to see past, present and future. This is how Dunne would have explained precognitive experiences of fictional characters (or in Diana's case, of a real person), whose destinies end in a tunnel.

The subheading of the film title is 'Le Temps Detruit Tout' - 'Time Destroys Everything.' In the film, the tunnel Alex enters is analogous to the course of normal human perception, which rams forward to cut off all possibilities, except the one set of events we finally perceive as 'what happened.' The vicious creation of one path of consciously-seen outcomes, i.e. 'time,' is akin to a brutal rape and destruction of all other potential alternate futures.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Hallowe'en Countdown 2015: The Banality of Evil


Nazi Adolf Eichmann misused Kant's categorical imperative to defend himself at his 1961-1962 trial, stating that his atrocities were for his country's greater good, as legally defined by Hitler. Image Source: Wiki.

Welcome back after a blog break. At present, I am completing several projects, including a work of fiction. I want to thank readers of this blog who generously sent donations to support my attendance at the Bread Loaf Sicily writers' conference in September, as well as regular readers who support my writing here. Bread Loaf confirmed to me the value of the arts in times of transformation; when values change, traditions are overturned, and old political schools collapse, the arts find a new baseline in the chaos. The Italian Renaissance proved that an economy can expanded through renewed cultural vision; and thus the jump from prosperity to even greater prosperity depends upon perspectives enhanced by the arts. Critics have dismissed the arts and humanities as worthless luxuries in the past few years, but practitioners in these fields defeat misery, strife and exploitation by constantly seeking truths in the unknown.

Today, HoTTC starts another Countdown to Hallowe'en, the annual online event in which hundreds of blogs join together to count down the days of the harvest season in the northern hemisphere to mark the spooky end of October. In this fifth year that Histories of Things to Come joins the blogathon, the blog's ghosts and vampires will not always be present in their familiar forms. A ghost today might be a war zone freedom fighter, a political refugee, or a super soldier programme drop-out. A vampire could be a glamorous celebrity. A werewolf might manifest as an ISIS executioner. Most of my 2015 posts as Cryptkeeper - every third day this month - will examine darker sides of the commonplace. These are areas where the mundane drops away into uncertainty and fear. To start, here are some stories about the banality of evil from yesterday and today.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Blue Moon Past: To Reincarnate, To Forgive?


The Omnipresence or Transcendent Reincarnation (2014) by George Grie. Image Source: neosurrealismart.

You cannot move into the future without first dealing with the past. And sometimes, you can only do that once in a blue moon. The glittering technology of the twenty-first century makes the past a persona non grata. It is a full time job to keep track of data in the present while dreaming of the future. There is no time to digest or assimilate past information and sort out how it relates to real life. Keep moving forward! Move into the eternal Now and discard the past as useless commodity, a broken toy. Even if that past was last week's past, get rid of it, dump it in the unsorted junkyard.

A blue moon refers to an extra full moon in the year. Twelve months normally have twelve full moons, but a blue moon (like tonight's) is a thirteenth moon in the calendar. In folklore, these moons are considered rare events which invite reflection, release and wishes. The 'blue' designation comes not from the colour, but from the Old English term 'belewe,' which meant 'blue' or 'to betray,' promising an intercalary or additional month, where there is none. Nevertheless, the appeal of the blue moon's pocket of hidden, extra time persists. Image Source: wallpapersinhq.

In the name of progress, the past is demonized and feared as a repository of unsolved or buried problems, atavism, regressive beliefs and reactionary politics which damage the Self and others. In the 1990s, it was popular for psychiatric patients to undergo therapies in which they suddenly remembered suppressed memories, manifested in the form of taboos such as incest. That anti-historical fashion 'proved' that the past is full of demons which bar our way forward; it is best to deny, erase and purge them so that we may constantly reinvent our identities en route to becoming shinier versions of ourselves.

No matter what future sirens call, you cannot reach them without facing the past. If you don't do the stock-taking and change course where necessary, human psychology has its little ways of transporting you back to the junkyard. The past will come alive again and pull you back on an eternal loop until you learn its lessons. The Hindus, Buddhists and Taoists call that loop Saṃsāra. The Christians call it Hell. The journey on the wheel rises or falls but always returns to square one: time becomes nihlistic, a flat circle. In the eastern tradition, iniquities repeat across many lifetimes. In the Christian view, iniquities repeat through the course of one life. In these belief systems, there are only two ways out of the loop: to reincarnate, or to forgive, in enlightened ways.

Monday, July 6, 2015

ISIS and Post-Diluvian Amnesia


A sphinx on the seafloor off the shores of Alexandria, Egypt. Image Source: All That is Interesting.

The Middle East is the source of all civilization on this planet. Any conflict there stirs the shared memory of all human beings. On 3 July 2015, days after ISIS or ISIL called for a jihad in the Balkans and declared caliphates in the Caucasus and GazaBreitbart reported that the radical Islamic movement has announced it will destroy the Egyptian sphinx and pyramids as a sacred duty:
ISIS “caliph” Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi told followers of his terror group that destroying Egypt’s national monuments, such as the pyramids and the sphinx, is a “religious duty” that must be carried out by those who worship Islam, as idolatry is strictly banned in the religion, according to reports. UK radical Islamist Anjem Choudary echoed Baghdadi’s sentiments, telling The Telegraph: “When Egypt comes under the auspices of the Khalifa [Caliphate], there will be no more pyramids, no more Sphinx, no more idolatry,” saying that the ancient statues’s destruction “will be just.” Another Islamist preacher, Ibrahim Al Kandari, agrees that the cultural monuments need to be destroyed to comply with the Shariah. “The fact that early Muslims who were among prophet Mohammed’s followers did not destroy the pharaohs’ monuments upon entering Egypt does not mean that we shouldn’t do it now,” he told Al-Watan.
ISIS has already made its name destroying the older ruins of ancient Mesopotamia. Why is ISIS so threatened by these ruins? As the video lecture below the jump makes clear, the 5,000-year-old Sumerian Epic of Gilgamesh is sexually intense, even by today's standards (read it here). Gilgamesh is also the foundation myth to end all foundation myths - it is the core story of our common civilization. It is the source material for our very understanding of organized social life. The opening lines to the 15,000 word work read:

"He who saw all, who was the foundation of the land,
"Who knew (everything), was wise in all matters.
"Gilgamesh, who saw all, who was the foundation of the land,
"Who knew (everything), was wise in all matters."

While there undoubtedly were many other epics sung in humanity's 100,000 to 50,000 years of prehistory, Gilgamesh is the earliest example we have. Its language marks the start of written history and that history begins with a cataclysm, a 'time before' and 'time after.' The story of all peoples is one of this terrible disaster, where great societies had arisen and then been destroyed by an archaic Flood. Most famous among these legendary antediluvian societies is Atlantis. J. R. R. Tolkien constructed part of his Middle Earth stories around an Atlantis idea, in which his hero, Aragorn, is descended from antediluvian superpeopleGilgamesh describes that watershed, that moment at which people still remembered what was before, and what came after. It is likely that Gilgamesh's antediluvian and post-diluvian claim to primacy constitutes the indelible and eternal cultural threat which so unsettles the ISIS zealots.








It unsettles - but also inspires them! The Millennial mind fixates on the turn of ages, and no such time is more fundamental than the Flood, which was likely (if you believe quasi-historical theorists like Graham Hancock) an account of the ending of the Ice Age. If you wanted to understand ISIS's motives in a nutshell, look at their obsession with the Flood. They constantly borrow from the Flood myth, meaning that they intend to create a new watershed moment with a flood of blood to wash the world and erase its memory of what came before. They want to construct a new turning point and create a new reality. Directly below and after the jump, hear the opening of the Epic of Gilgamesh sung in its original language and hear it recited in English.

Peter Pringle performs. "By 2000 B.C., the language of Sumer had almost completely died out and was used only by scholars (like Latin is today). No one knows how it was pronounced because it has not been heard in 4000 years. What you hear in this video are a few of the opening lines of part of the epic poem, accompanied only by a long-neck, three-string, Sumerian lute known as a "gish-gu-di". The instrument is tuned to G - G - D, and although it is similar to other long neck lutes still in use today (the tar, the setar, the saz, etc.) the modern instruments are low tension and strung with fine steel wire. The ancient long neck lutes (such as the Egyptian "nefer") were strung with gut and behaved slightly differently. ... The location for this performance is the courtyard of Nebuchadnezzar's palace in Babylon. The piece is four minutes long and is intended only as a taste of what the music of ancient Sumer might have sounded like." Video Source: Youtube.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Time and Politics 14: Who Now Remembers the Annihilation of the Armenians?


Image Source: BBC.

Wer redet heute noch von der Vernichtung der Armenier? Who now still speaks of the annhilation of the Armenians? These were Hitler's words to the German military forces on 22 August 1939. In this speech, he ordered them to invade Poland and exterminate the Polish people. He insisted that the Poles were expendable, not just at that moment in an act of war, but that they could be completely wiped from the pages of history. The monstrous idea behind Hitler's imperial vision - he who writes history controls politics, society and the future - applied deadly lessons from World War I; it was recognized by other world leaders and thinkers at the time. In one sentence, the German leader summarized his clear, conscious awareness that history could be altered, and it was on that basis that one could do anything to anyone to achieve near-infinite aims.

Today is the 100th anniversary of the start of the Armenian genocide. Source: imgkid.

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.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Tomb of a Sleeping Queen?


Image Source: AP via National Geographic.

From Marie Antoinette, a modern Austrian princess, we go back through time to another queen, Olympias. We go back through Austria, or Österreich (the 'Eastern Reich,' the modern remnant of the Eastern Roman Empire), and before Rome, back to Greece. In Greece, archaeological circles are buzzing about a newly-discovered burial chamber from the time of Alexander the Great (Hat tip: Graham Hancock). It is 2,300 years old and is the largest ancient tomb in northern Greece.

The burial mound stands near ancient Amphipolis, 600 kilometers (370 miles) north of Athens. The tomb inside the mound is massive, marble-walled and ornately decorated, and must house the body of a royal personage, perhaps Alexander's mother or wife.

It is unlikely to be the tomb of the famous king himself, whose grave is lost somewhere in Egypt - another mystery waiting to be solved. The site is dated after his death, in the latter quarter of the 4th century BC, approximately between 325 and 300 BCE. Alexander died in 323 BCE. A member of the Argead dynasty ('from Argos'), Wiki describes him simply: "The most notable ancient Greek King and one of the most celebrated strategists and rulers of all time. Alexander at the top of his reign was simultaneously King of Macedonia, Pharaoh of Egypt, King of Persia and King of Asia." Because of his blinding legacy, still evident today, Alexander's impact arguably surpasses that of any other leader of the ancient world, including the Persian kings, the Egyptian pharaohs, and successive Roman emperors. Unsurprisingly, that interpretation is disputed by modern Iranian scholars. Legacies aside, the tomb dates from ancient Greece's highest moment of glory and power before the flowering of a multicultural Hellenistic imperial culture, which eventually led to the emergence of the Roman Empire after the Battle of Actium in 31 BCE.