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 Dante. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Dante. Show all posts

Friday, May 11, 2018

The Artificial Intelligence Nemesis


Image Source: thebodhitrees.

The creation of AI is a story of humanity. It will end where it begins, with a nemesis that will test humankind. This is because human beings grapple with inner knowing on ever more profound levels, driven by self-engineered crises.

Artificial Intelligence: The Nemesis in the Mirror

Anonymous - This Shocking Footage Should Worry You! (2018-2019) (13 January 2018). Video Source: Youtube.

AI is a big mirror. As Google's Cloud Lead Dr. Fei-Fei Li stated, AI began with the question, "Can machines think?" Engineers began building machines to mimic human thinking, to reason, see, hear, think, move around, manipulate. That was AI's foundational dream. In the 1980s, machine learning was born, followed by deep learning, which is rooted in neuroscience. This young discipline is set to explode, due to the exploitation of big data, harvested from around the globe. Thus, no matter how the machines end up evolving, it is worth asking now what we are doing with AI and why we doing it. There are unconscious human impulses that are informing AI design.

Find your museum Doppelgänger: some people have found themselves in paintings at art museums. Image Source: Kottke / My Modern Met / Davidurbon.

This mirror will test a psychological mode which human beings have used to build, change, create: the obsession with the nemesis, the other, the twin, the Doppelgänger.

The nemesis psychological complex works by externalizing something we cannot manage inside our own natures. Once the thing is externalized, we interact with it to create new ways of understanding and operating in the world. One of my posts, I Will Teach You Infinities, described how the nemesis complex informed the structure of language, because language progressively builds away from the starting point of selfhood, or 'I.'

Friday, March 30, 2018

Luther's Time Outside Time: An Interview with Andrew Wilson Part II


The hill town of Bobbio near La Spezia. All photos are © Andrew Wilson and Sarah Hinlicky Wilson. Please write to them for permission if you want to reproduce these photographs.

Happy Easter! Today, I am very pleased to continue my interview with Andrew Wilson about his book, Here I Walk: A Thousand Miles on Foot to Rome with Martin Luther. The first part of the interview is here.

This post and related articles are published here to observe the 500th anniversary of 31 October 1517, when Martin Luther nailed the Ninety-five Theses to the door of All Saints’ Church in Wittenberg. See other posts on this topic, here and here.

Andrew and his wife Sarah retraced Luther’s journey on foot from Erfurt to Rome. Luther's Roman trip occurred six or seven years before the famous events in Wittenberg. By following Luther's footsteps, the Wilsons attempted to trace his experiences prior to his involvement in the Reformation.

While the first part of the interview deals with the Wilsons’ journey on foot in Germany, this interview covers the second half of the book and Andrew’s travels with his wife in Italy.

Note: All quotations are from the paperback edition: Andrew L. Wilson, Here I Walk: A Thousand Miles on Foot to Rome with Martin Luther. Afterword by Sarah Hinlicky Wilson. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Brazos Press, 2016.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Awaken the Amnesiacs 6: Mona Lisa's Trump Card


The famous Mona Lisa or La Gioconda (1503-1506), 'lady of light' or 'light-heartedness'; Lisa sits between two columns, with only their bases barely visible. Image Source: Wiki.

In an earlier post, I argued that scientists and technologists ironically inspire the primal and anti-rational because they are transforming life, breaching boundaries, and not always weighing long term consequences of their innovations. To understand that process, one must analyze it with ideas from the arts and humanities. With regard to the impact of the Internet, part of the answer comes from visual artists, who are preoccupied with how we see the world and how the world sees us. In my previous post in this series, I discussed Gerhard Richter's mirror paintings and their resemblance to computers as mirrors.

Perhaps the most famous symbolic depiction of the mirror looking at us is Leonardo da Vinci's Mona Lisa (1503-1506). Mona Lisa is smiling so mysteriously because the painting may not be about its enigmatic subject, Lisa del Giocondo (née Gheradini), at all. The symbolism in the Mona Lisa indicates that the portrait represents an archetypal mirror, which is actively watching you. Understand the Mona Lisa, and one starts to understand our present circumstances on the Internet. The next few posts in this series describe how the symbolism of the Mona Lisa provides clues to our Millennial mentality. Given the uproar over Donald Trump's presidential candidacy, it is fitting that today's post also explains the meaning of the word 'trump' in Renaissance card games, and it discusses why the Mona Lisa depicts a trump card and concept.

For a taste of medieval walled town life from Leonardo da Vinci's time, this is Pérouges, France, built in the 14th and 15th centuries around wine and weaving industries in the Ain River Valley, near Geneva; it is a seven hour drive by car to Florence, Italy. Video Source: Youtube.

The medieval town of Gradara is known for a castle which was finished in the 15th century, and would have been new in Leonardo da Vinci's youth. The castle features in the fifth canto of Dante's Divine Comedy, at the climax of the adulterous love story between Francesca da Rimini and Paolo Malatesta. Video Source: Youtube.

Florence in da Vinci's time, in a 1493 woodcut from Hartmann Schedel's Nuremberg Chronicle. Image Source: Wiki.










Interiors of Palazzo Davanzati, a restored medieval-Renaissance Florentine palace, built in the late 14th century. The palace reveals a claustrophobic, walls-within-walls mentality, with everything being enclosed: towns, compounds, houses, inner houses, locked rooms, hidden chambers, and secret passages. Inhabitants sought ever greater security from outside conflicts, which became more elaborate and complex. Images Source: Walks Inside Italy and Sailko/Wiki and Museums in Florence. 

Da Vinci painted the Mona Lisa at the turn of the 15th-to-16th centuries during the transition from the Middle Ages to the Renaissance. The Mona Lisa contains triumphal allegorical symbolism which was very popular at the time. These allegories were everywhere. They were a cultural shorthand for a whole range of accepted ideas about the way the world worked. At this time, noble families and guilds presided over life inside walled towns. Constantly in conflict to amass power and consolidate control, they revived the old Roman tradition of triumphal processions to celebrate victories in battles. The Renaissance, according to Joseph Manca, was "the age of the trionfo." Parades took on symbolic qualities to enable noble families to assert their historical continuity with the greatness of imperial Rome.

Triumphal Victory Parades

Thus, 'triumphs' were parades, which became associated in the late Middle Ages and early Renaissance with spiritual allegories. This transition from a real military victory march to a symbolic parade to celebrate certain social values is evident in Francesco Petrarch's poem, I Trionfi (1356-1374), written mainly at the Visconti Court in Milan. Petrarch's love poems describe his unrequited love for Laura de Noves (1310-1348). In I Trionfi, Petrarch (1304-1374) claims his love for Laura made him face ever more demanding physical, emotional, philosophical, and spiritual challenges. At each stage, a higher virtue or stronger allegorical figure triumphed and held a victory march. Peter Sadlon:
"In the first triumph, Love as Cupid conquers the gods and men (including Petrarch). In the second triumph, Chastity defeats Love, reflecting Laura's ladylike rejection of Petrarch's advances. In the third triumph, Death defeats Chastity (Laura was a victim of the Black Death). In the fourth, Fame defeats Death (her reputation lives after her). In the fifth triumph, Time defeats Fame, and finally (sixth), Eternity conquers Time (with the promise that Petrarch and the object of his love will be united at last in the afterlife)."
The poem, in Italian and English, is here. The victories of ever-higher allegorical figures are depicted in the illustrations below.

The triumph of Love.

The victory of Chastity.

The march of Death.

The parade of Fame.

The procession of Time.

The victory march of Eternity. Images Source: Peter Sadlon. ("The images shown here are from Bernard Quaritch's edition of Works of The Italian Engravers of the Fifteenth Century, with introduction by G. W. Reid. Reid denies the credit for the Petrarch prints to Nicoletto da Modena and supports the authorship of Fra Filippo Lippi.")

Tarot Card Trumps

Triumphant allegorical figures, or 'trumps,' were then included in the invention of the tarot deck, a kind of Game of Thrones card game for nobles. The earliest tarot cards look a lot like medieval illuminated manuscripts, but were adapted to woodblock printing, introduced in the 15th century. The Visconti di Modrone deck of tarot cards, which is officially dated around 1466, but may date from the 1440s, is one of the most prized possessions of Yale University's library.

The first established tarot card decks were created in the 1400s through the early 16th century. The Florentine Minchiate deck of 97 cards, developed in the early 1500s when Leonardo da Vinci lived in the city, was used to play a game with a catalogue of hermetic archetypes. 'Minchiate' means 'nonsense' or 'bullshit'; so this was a 'fool's game,' a bit like chess, and a bit like early poker, with some allegorical lessons, astronomical archetypes, and fabulistic morals thrown in for good measure. The World of Playing Cards:
"The game, like other Tarot games, is a trick taking game in which points are scored by capturing certain cards and sets of cards. However, the deck has also been popular with card readers who see it as a variant of the esoteric tarot because of the allegorical and symbolical content. The Cavaliers [knights or jacks] are man/beast creatures. The Valets (or Pages) are male for clubs and swords, and female for cups and coins. Further features include the replacement of the Papess, Empress and Pope by the Western Emperor, the Eastern Emperor and the addition of the Grand Duke. Some scholars believe that these cards may have served as teaching aids, because several trump allegories (Virtues, Elements, Zodiac signs) belong to categories upon which classical learning was based at that time."

This is a 1995 Lo Scarabeo limited 'Etruria' edition reproduction of a 1725 version of the Florentine Minchiate tarot deck. There was also a 1996 mass-produced deck and a 2011 reprint. According to Tarot Heritage, the first mention of a 'tarot' deck, comes from a 1440 Florentine diary. Video Source: Youtube.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Did Someone Say ... Apocalypse?

Image Source: I09.

The Necropolis blog just said it all: "I picture the end of the world, whenever that may be, to look something kind of like this." (Hat tip: I09.) Puyehue volcano in Chile has erupted on 4 June.  These unbelievable photographs reveal a rare phenomenon called a dirty thunderstorm, also known as volcanic lightning, when lightning is produced in a volcanic plume.  I'm more inclined to think of the medieval nightmares of Dante or Bosch's early Renaissance than straight old Armageddon.

Lightning strikes over the Puyehue volcano, over 500 miles south of Santiago, Chile, Monday June 6, 2011. Image Source: AP via NPR.
Locals stay in front of their home as ash and steam rise from the Puyehue-Cordon Caulle volcanic chain near Osorno city in south-central Chile June 5, 2011. Image Credit: Reuters/Ivan Alvarado.
Ash and steam erupti from the Puyehue-Cordon Caulle volcanic chain near Osorno city, Chile, on June 5, 2011. Image Credit: Reuters/Air Force of Chile/Handout.
Lightning flashes amid a cloud of ash billowing from Puyehue volcano near Osorno, Chile, on June 5, 2011. Image Credit: Claudio Santana/AFP/Getty Images.
Lightning bolts strike around the Puyehue-Cordon Caulle volcanic chain in the Patagonia region June 4, 2011. Image Credit: Reuters/Carlos Gutierrez.
Lightning bolts strike around the Puyehue-Cordon Caulle volcanic chain on June 5, 2011. Image Credit: Reuters/Ivan Alvarado.
Volcanic lightning is seen over the Puyehue volcano, on Sunday June 5, 2011. Image Credit: AP Photo/Francisco Negroni, AgenciaUno.
A car, completely covered in volcanic ash, on Sunday June 5, 2011. Image Credit: AP Photo/Alfredo Leiva.

Most of the above pictures and captions were taken from The Atlantic (which lists full image credits); there are more photographs of the eruption in that report.

For my earlier posts on Storms, go here and here; and for all my posts on the Environment, go here.


Saturday, April 30, 2011

Millennial Extremes 1: Mysteries of the Oort Cloud

Image Source: NASA/JPL via Wiki.

The Daily Mail recently carried a report on growing speculation that our solar system may have a new planet on the edge of our solar system, Tyche, which could be a gas giant four times the size of Jupiter.  Tyche, named for the petty deity that protected the fortunes and destinies of ancient Greek cities, is the pet project of astrophysicists John Matese and Daniel Whitmire of the University of Louisiana at Lafayette.  They believe that irregularities in comet paths could prove the existence of Tyche within two years: "[Whitmire] told the Independent: 'If it does, [... Matese] and I will be doing cartwheels. And that's not easy at our age.'"  They have been searching for Tyche since Matese proposed its existence in 1999.

Monday, November 8, 2010

The Problem with Memory 2: The Science of Memory

Memory chip. Image Source: Venture Beat.

How do we remember?  What does the brain do, exactly, to create memories? What are we to make of a report like this one at Live Science, which states that memory is not just a product of brain cells forming connections - wherein nerves reorganize themselves and send messages between themselves to establish a memory; but individual brain nerve cells can also hold short-term memories?  There's a piece here from October 25 at Phys.org which further explains how memories are born.  A memory is created when our brain makes groups of its cells "fire in unison" - each memory has a different pattern.  Scientists are trying to find treatments or prevention for Alzheimer's and dementia by administering drugs to older rats which stimulate their neurotransmitters.  This research has been headed by Profesor Etan Markus at the University of Connecticut.  An earlier report from 2006 on memory creation in the brain is here.

Aside from the obvious fears of aging Baby Boomers, why is there pressure to figure out how memory works?  Consider that those who know exactly how neurobiology and neuropsychology overlap in order that we may comprehend differences in time will conceivably be able to control, manufacture and bend memories - in advertising, in cinema, in public life, on the internet, in the military.  Phys.org just came out with a report that scientists have discovered how to erase memory: "Researchers working with mice have discovered that by removing a protein from the region of the brain responsible for recalling fear, they can permanently delete traumatic memories."

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Generation X Goes Back to the Future 4: I'm Still Here


OK, once in awhile something pops up that really says 'new Millennium.'  I think Casey Affleck's new mocudrama/performance art film, I'm Still Here, falls into that categoryThe New York Times is reporting that Gen Xers Affleck and Joaquin Phoenix have pulled off the first major reality-fiction bait-and-switch in pop culture of the Teens decade.  As I mentioned in yesterday's post about Reality Horror, part of the problem with criss-crossing the lines between reality and fiction is the audience's increasingly cynical refusal to suspend disbelief.  How do you make a film real enough that the audience believes it's real, only to discover it's not?

It turns out that Phoenix lived for almost two whole years in the spotlight as an addled basketcase celebrity - in a real-fake take-off of all the real addled basketcase celebrities!  And even when those in the know claimed it was a hoax, no one believed them. Needless to say, the Boomer press hates the film, and they are remarkably literal-minded about it.  The critics don't see the huge, patented Gen X irony at work, even when they get the press release explaining it carefully.  Wow.  Phoenix's appearance on David Letterman in 2009 as a half-mad, bearded drugged-up lunatic was what Affleck is calling "a terrific performance, it’s the performance of his career.”