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 Doppelgangers. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Doppelgangers. Show all posts

Friday, August 16, 2019

Jeffrey Epstein: You'll Find a God in Every Golden Cloister


Notice that in this cross-dressing portrait, Bill Clinton has six fingers on his right hand (close up). Parsing Bill by Australian-American artist, Petrina Ryan-Kleid. The painting sits in Epstein's Manhattan mansion. Image Source: Daily Mail.

Coverage of Jeffrey Epstein's demise reminds me of the disappearance of Flight MH370 (see my posts here and here). This is a moment, as I put it, when everyday reality "goes off script" and we begin to perceive a gross drama, a terrible, epic story that serves as a backdrop to, and drives, our little lives.

Which of these stories contains the real truth? One is the mundane truth of small individuals. Voltaire celebrated this reality at the end of Candide (1759). You could venture out into the tempestuous world and encounter imperial intrigues, the fall of princes, natural disasters. But at the end, you would be lucky to sit at your front door, grow flowers and eat strawberries, candied citron and pistachios:
"You are perfectly right, said Pangloss; for when man was put into the garden of Eden, he was put there ut operaretur eum [to serve him], so that he should work it; this proves that man was not born to take his ease. —Let’s work without speculating, said Martin; it’s the only way of rendering life bearable. The whole little group entered into this laudable scheme; each one began to exercise his talents. The little plot yielded fine crops . . . and Pangloss sometimes used to say to Candide: —All events are linked together in the best of possible worlds; for, after all, if you had not been driven from a fine castle by being kicked in the backside for love of Miss Cunégonde, if you hadn’t been sent before the Inquisition, if you hadn’t traveled across America on foot, if you hadn’t given a good sword thrust to the baron, if you hadn’t lost all your sheep from the good land of Eldorado, you wouldn’t be sitting here eating candied citron and pistachios. —That is very well put, said Candide, but we must go and work our garden."

Night (7 August 2019). Video Source: Youtube. See other videos of Epstein's islands by Rusty Shackleford, here.

The other truth is one of murderous and hungry golden gods. It is an inconvenient truth about the world's politicians, celebrities, academics, scientists, and philanthropists, best described in the lyrics from One Night in Bangkok, sung in 1984 by Murray Head, written by Tim Rice and Björn Ulvaeus:

Time flies doesn't seem a minute
Since the Tirolean spa had the chess boys in it
All change don't you know that when you
Play at this level there's no ordinary venue

It's Iceland or the Philippines or Hastings or
Or this place!

One night in Bangkok and the world's your oyster
The bars are temples but the pearls ain't free
You'll find a god in every golden cloister
And if you're lucky then the god's a she
I can feel an angel sliding up to me ...

Tea, girls, warm, sweet
Some are set up in the Somerset Maugham suite ...

One night in Bangkok makes a hard man humble
Not much between despair and ecstasy
One night in Bangkok and the tough guys tumble
Can't be too careful with your company
I can feel the devil walking next to me

Siam's gonna be the witness
To the ultimate test of cerebral fitness
This grips me more than would a
Muddy old river or reclining Buddha
And thank God I'm only watching the game controlling it

I don't see you guys rating
The kind of mate I'm contemplating
I'd let you watch, I would invite you
But the queens we use would not excite you

So you better go back to your bars, your temples
Your massage parlours

One night in Bangkok and the world's your oyster
The bars are temples but the pearls ain't free
You'll find a god in every golden cloister
A little flesh, a little history
I can feel an angel sliding up to me

One night in Bangkok makes a hard man humble
Not much between despair and ecstasy
One night in Bangkok and the tough guys tumble
Can't be too careful with your company
I can feel the devil walking next to me







Arthur Shapiro homicide investigation (1985-1990). Image Source: 4chan. Click to enlarge.

Epstein was set up as a billionaire. He got much of his money managing the fortune of Leslie Wexner (owner of Victoria's Secret, among other companies and foundations, also a noted philanthropist), who is connected to the 1985 murder of attorney Arthur Shapiro. Online bloggers and reporters now suspect Epstein's involvement in the 1997 murder of Wexner's attorney. Epstein was rumoured to be an intelligence agent, whether for the CIA, MI6 or Mossad (see here, here and here). He lured state leaders and societies' leading lights into compromising positions with trafficked underaged sex workers. He then blackmailed his associates. He also cleared their financial debts.

Image Source: 4chan.

Jeffrey Epstein - Palm Beach House Raid Police Video (10-20-2005) (14 August 2019). Video Source: Youtube.

The Epstein case reveals how whole societies can be manipulated through the exploitation of their leaders' shadow sides. These are the burdens of power: sadistic sex, drug addictions, cult fetishes, secret obsessions. We know that there is still decency left, because these people fear exposure, and have blind spots, although they probably believe that decency is for the suckers on Main Street. Everything depends on deceit. The whole MSM is tasked with convincing the public that their top stratum is sane.

Epstein May Be Just One Part of an Intricate Network of Sex and Power (15 August 2019). Video Source: Youtube. For journalist Whitney Webb's research on this network, go here.

QTR #139 - Whitney Webb Goes Deep: Blowing Open The Jeffrey Epstein Scandal (15 August 2019). Video Source: Youtube.





This week, Epstein's friend, associate and co-conspirator Ghislaine Maxwell appeared in Los Angeles while reading a book about CIA agents, implying that Epstein was part of the system that supposedly protects us. In other words, we are the sheep who need herding and we - not they - are unknowing hypocrites when we draw a line between our leaders and ourselves.

Image Source: 4chan.

Maxwell seemed to be saying: Jeffrey was Everyman. He was Everyone. He was 'one of us.' This is a fallacy which helps murderers sleep at night. Contrary to what our leaders think, they are not indispensable, nor is the order they have created. Their corruption, hidden by compromised individuals, ruined institutions, proxies, shell companies, and a theatre of philanthropic (or terraforming) virtue, are not necessary conditions for our collective survival.

Not fiction, not fake news: Keyser Soze is real, and 'committed suicide' last week. Keyser Soze (The Story) (24 July 2007). From The Usual Suspects (1995) © Gramercy Films/Spelling Films. Directed by Bryan Singer, who has been accused several times of underage sexual assault in Hollywood. Reproduced non-commercially under Fair Use for educational purposes. Video Source: Youtube.

This is a world of pleasure, exploitation, corruption, private islands, tax evasion and silenced victims. Obsessed with protecting their positive reputations, these Pinhead Hellraisers have a strange sense of regret and sadness. They lament over their debts and the constant need to maintain fake public personas. You can hear it in songs like Adele's Skyfall.


Their twisted dream is dying, although they feel like they are on the verge of victory. Their narcissistic lies have begun to dissolve. Their rotten materialism is failing them; fewer and fewer people want to buy into their illusions. Karma and Justice are coming for them. They are living on borrowed money and borrowed time.

How Jeffrey Epstein became the richest pedophile in the world | CDAN Ep. 284 (9 July 2019). Video Source: Youtube.

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.'

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Awaken the Amnesiacs 9: A True Mirror of a Better World



The preface to this post is a new piece I have published at Vocal Media:


Part of my series, Awaken the Amnesiacs, involves coming to terms with life in a surveillance state, where privacy has been lost. My earlier post, Reflection Reversal, introduced the idea that computer screens and monitors act like mirrors which turn viewers into objects, rather than subjects.

The core of this idea is the fact that we think we are in control of technology. Tools are objects and we are subjects. Right? We think we are using computers to empower and express ourselves. But there is a warning sign in our addiction to technology.

Our technology is constantly subliminally objectifying us, enslaving us, and siphoning off our energy. This unconscious inversion of individual integrity is creating underlying cognitive dissonance, tension, anxiety, and stress. As a result, we are absolutely convinced that 'something is wrong' with the whole world. There is endless harping, conflict and confusion over 'who is to blame' for this grating distress. It never occurs to us that 'what is wrong' is the lens we are using to view reality, not reality itself, nor the people [insert annoying/threatening group here] who bother us.

Thus, part of resolving 'what is wrong' with the world is not to: ramp up our attacks on the annoying people who bother us; or to withdraw into depressive, individual introspection; or to get lost in wacky spiritual practices or cults; or to become engrossed in conspiracy theories as a comforting alt-reality; or to lose yourself in virtual reality environments like Facebook or video games; or to heal what is wrong by self-sacrificing to aid the world and help others; or to immerse yourself  completely in the real world, like work, job, bank account, and hard, cold facts no matter what ...

Part of resolving 'what is wrong' with the world involves reconsidering the art of perception and self-perception in the turbulent times of the nascent surveillance state.

So how should we define ourselves? As we see ourselves, as others see us, or as technology sees us? The conventional self-help wisdom these days is to define ourselves from the inside out, not the outside in. We are counseled to know ourselves, and to go forth in the world in an authentic and grounded way.

The Limits of Consciousness

Your brain hallucinates your conscious reality | Anil Seth (18 July 2017). Video Source: Youtube.

Good luck with that! Before you can get past the social contract, the job, the expectations, the cv - before you can tame your ego and become a soulful human being through internal consciousness and then try to awaken beyond consciousness - and before you can even get to the fact that computers are constantly undermining that process - there is another problem.

Consciousness -- the final frontier | Dada Gunamuktananda | TEDxNoosa 2014 (16 April 2014). Video Source: Youtube.

The True Mirror

We almost never see ourselves accurately, at least physically. Because we primarily have used mirrors to see ourselves, we do not see ourselves correctly, nor do we know how others see us.

Robbie Burns Day just passed, and the great Scottish poet wrote in his 1786 poem, To a Louse:
"in the original Scottish, 'O wad some Power the giftie gie us, to see oursels as ithers see us!' Or, in modern English, 'Oh would some Power the gift give us, to see ourselves as others see us.'"

Saturday, July 15, 2017

The Emperor's Scribe has No Clothes


Video Source: Youtube.

It is no secret that the recession sparked a huge backlash against the establishment. It does not help that there are legitimate reports of a "global scourge" of high level corruption. Royal families are lightning rods for projected anger and distress, channeled through fake news stories which blame them as grand masters of everything that has gone wrong. As democracies slip into fascism, frightened citizens fear the resurgence of old monarchical absolutism, in the same way they fear a phantom limb. Do they really need to fear, when many royals have become commoners, like Korea's forgotten prince, who ran a liquor store in Los Angeles?

One fake example which targets the British royals is the February 2015 video above, which circulated online in 2016 and 2017. This Buckingham Palace video was dismissed in the alt-media and the mainstream media as a CGI hoax after comparison with Google's street view of the same location. A commenter on the debunking of the Buckingham Palace video remarked:
"I have done CGI compositing for broadcast, using live footage and 'fake' elements blended to look like one shot. As a professional I can confirm that this is a studio quality job and I would strongly disagree with those who claim it is 'obviously' fake on the basis of the visuals alone. You have done your homework and established it as a fake by cross referencing the footage with verifiable reference photos. Given the expertise and resources required to fake this so well, the fact that reference to the architecture of Buckingham Palace quickly proves this to be a fake would lead me to agree with you that this could well be a psyop designed to muddy the waters for all researchers."
Conspiracy theorists would probably distrust Google's street view and insist the footage was real. This video was linked to the Pedogate conspiracy theory, implying that the royals are involved in child sex slavery rings, or worse.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Twin Peaks Returns


Twin Peaks was full of occult imagery, signifying a battle between the forces of Jupiter (positive) and Saturn (malefic). My comment on the symbols in this scene is here. Image Source: The Dissolve.

David Lynch's and Mark Frost's acclaimed series Twin Peaks, which changed television in two seasons in 1990 and 1991, returns on 21 May 2017. The original series, and the 1992 prequel film, was a mystery about a murdered American homecoming queen, Laura Palmer. It unraveled in the second season into soap opera surrealism after Lynch stepped away from the project. But the first season was a landmark moment in popular entertainment and is widely considered one of the best television series ever made. It inspired many other ground-breaking series. My comments below the jump contain spoilers, so if you haven't yet seen the original series and want to, read no further until you have done so.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Hallowe'en Countdown 2015: Post-Apocalypse Rehab


Image Source: Archillect.

Some readers may have noticed a shift in attitudes, mood and consciousness since the summer. Several people have commented to me that they feel as though this year was split down the middle. The first half was what you thought reality was, and the second half is what reality really is. The evidence is anecdotal, but I explain that common feeling in terms of piling technological change upon global change, until what we experience does a somersault and collapses over upon itself to become something else. It is as though we became addicted in the first fifteen years of the 21st century to eradicating the 20th century. And now, after all the hammer blows, we are finally succeeding.

The 2nd century BCE Temple of Baalshamin in Palmyra blown up by ISIL in July or August 2015. Image Source: Wiki.

Not so fast - the 20th century dies hard. Every attempt to erase its history promises a return of its worst excesses. Holocaust denial, 9/11 denial, this denial, that denial. This summer, ISIS beheaded Palmyra's lead archaeologist and blew up temples in Palmyra's ruins. You can see lists of cultural heritage sites destroyed by ISIS herehere and here. These sites were the pride of 20th century archaeologists and represented the common history of humanity:
In the midst of this eradication of history, deniers say: 'get informedYou need to know the real truth.' US critics claim that the American administration funded ISIS to topple the Assad régime. Meanwhile, Vladimir Putin has stepped forward to defend what remains of Syria's government. At the UN on 28 September 2015, Putin, KGB-turned-environmentalist-soothsayer, demanded of western leaders: "Do you realize what you've done?" It was a masterful speech, because a lot of it was true, but it was true in a way that played to competing cultures of truth. In late 2014, Putin argued that the Americans engaged in "unprofessional politics," by continuing their Middle East objectives through ISIS proxies. One cannot deny the Americans' dismal half-baked imperialism, implemented through isolationist and exceptionalist navel-gazing, but none of that makes Vladimir Putin the pacifist voice of reason. Nor does it make ISIS into the capitalist mercenaries which Putin claims them to be.

Machinations in international affairs are an odd form of denial, too. However the dominoes fall, no Realpolitik truth about ISIS brings anyone closer to preparing for the hardcore reality ISIS is conceiving, the one in which, following bloodshed across the Levant, they blow up the Egyptian pyramids, assassinate the Pope, and destroy the Vatican in RomeISIS plans to take over India by 2020 in an effort to spark a world war. One commenter below a Times of India report did not believe a word of it. Why would ISIS invade India? "They are planning to wash clothes haha."

The new media men. Image Source: Business Insider.

The ISIS reality - in which beheadings are the norm and most of Syria flees the ISIS advance, while ISIS fighters cross the Sinai Peninsula, other ISIS groups close in on Jordan and Lebanon, and the Saudis build a giant anti-ISIS wall along their border with Iraq - brings 20th century lessons back to the table. The question is not where ISIS came from, who funded them, or who can destroy or control them. The question is: what is ISIS? The Islamic State is bigger than the great power politics out of which it grows. ISIS turns the post-apocalypse into a pre-apocalypse. Their colourful armageddon includes a baby cyclops Antichrist and a Jesus who will supposedly resurrect to help them fight Israel, although the story ignores bits of Islamic prophecy they do not like. So - they are not as doctrinaire as all that. ISIS fighters represent something larger than an internal Islamic Sunni revolution. The medium is the message: their mythological doomsday brand is a perfect commodity to go viral in the market of global communications. What is ISIS? The Islamic State's media men are anti-history pioneers, who explore how far they can go, now that history - at least in the virtual realm - is dead. The Islamic State fills the gaps between the state-centric real world and virtual anti-statism.

Technology and the Internet allow any history to be rewritten, erased or disbelieved, and in the resulting environment, anyone can do anything. There are no limits. Pro-ISIS Websites dismiss reports of ISIS atrocities as online fakes. Malleable history initiates a power game around the creation of reality and enables a resurgence of violence. Malleable history awakens the shadow self in human nature.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Hallowe'en Countdown 2015: Post-it Note Enantiodromia


Images Source: tickld and John Kenn.

Danish children's television producer John Kenn Mortensen draws monsters on Post-it notes in his spare time under the alias Don Kenn. Obviously influenced by Edward Gorey, Mortensen's monsters are not Victorian or Edwardian, rather they are situated in the unconscious of the Millennial world, around suicide, child abuse, bullies, nightmares, a vengeful natural environment, ghosts of the past, and dreamlike beasts. Mortensen has a talent for capturing moments of extreme vulnerability and isolation in mundane circumstances, whether that involves nosy neighbours or a hike up a mountain. He also depicts situations in the everyday world where dangerous energy has accumulated. Some of Mortensen's Post-its remind me of Final Destination films, in which scares depend on hair-trigger coincidences, a vase left by a windowsill, a kettle boiling over near a sparking plug, the conversion of potential energy into kinetic energy.


To shed light on the messages behind Mortensen's doodles, consider the great Viennese psychoanalysts from the turn of the last century. Sigmund Freud (1856-1939) argued that most horrors stemmed from repressed sexuality. Alfred Adler (1870-1937) claimed they came from the will to power as an individual violently molded his or her personality. Adler's ideas inspired a typology to classify personalities as 'getters and learners'; 'avoiders' who are overtly successful but never take risks; 'leaders or dominants'; and the 'socially useful.'

Finally, Carl Jung (1875-1961), founder of the school of analytical psychology, believed that monsters emerged from conflicting opposites in our natures, some of which were confined to individual perception, some of which were universally shared. Jung defined these opposites as the conscious and unconscious, and hypothesized that in western culture, consciousness (associated with Freud's Ego) was dominated by thinking and sensory sensation. The remaining two impulses - emotional feelings and intuition - were repressed and driven underground into the western unconscious. In this way, a stark line was drawn in the west between body and heart. Even now, decades after Jung's death, those who bring elements of the psyche into the material world are deemed in the west to be artistic (at best) or insane (at worst). This was not the case, according to Jung, in eastern cultures. He ignored the "modernized east," but his work on traditional eastern religions and texts led him to conclude that the eastern cultures widely accept "psychic reality."

The unconscious - a pool of symbols shared by all cultures - became a paradox in the west. It could be harnessed and applied to creative endeavours and innovation. Or it could be repressed and unleashed to deal with threats. The Jungian western unconscious turned upon itself during the two World Wars; aimed outward, it could prove a hidden reserve of violent ruthlessness to ensure the survival of western societies. Either way, Jungian theory indicated that westerners remain obsessed with exploiting the constructive and destructive power of polarities. They define themselves in terms of inclusion and exclusion, in terms of an inner world and an outer world, ever mindful of the walls between.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Twin Peaks Déjà Vu and the World Economy


Image Source: Daily Mail.

In November 2014, Brooke Shields released a memoir, in which she reminisced about a few dates she shared with George Michael in the 1980s. The iconic photo of them brought back a decade, filled with glitz, glamour, and the high price of both. It is a world away from today's tricky global economies and crumbling infrastructure, where everything is deadly serious. Nevertheless, it feels like something of the 80s is returning and that time is coming full circle. Sadly, Whitney Houston's daughter has reminded me of the 1980s; so does Dakota Johnson, daughter of Melanie Griffith and Don Johnson, in her breakout role in cinemas in Fifty Shades of Grey. There were many more nuances to that time, more profound than the ones selected here below the jump. But what is shown here was a major American theme: high living with beautiful people and smooth operators in the sunshine.

Dakota Johnson. Image Source: The Wrap.

One of the videos below the jump is from 1982: Eminence Front from The Who's studio album It's Hard:
In the song, Townshend sings about the delusions and drug use of the wealthy and hedonistic. The lyrics describe a party in which people hide from their problems behind a facade. Townshend has introduced the song in live performances with: "This song is about what happens when you take too much white powder; it's called 'Eminence Front.'"
The 80s promised wealth and all its sins to the masses of the United States (and to her allies who were invited to the party). Today, wealth is exclusive again in America. Capital as Power speaks of the 2010s' New Gilded Age for the Plutonomy. The United States sports a handful of home-grown billionaires. But riches are no longer promised democratically and freely to the general population of the country. That is what the exuberance, styles and expectations of the 1980s were about. The door to a big, prosperous middle class was wide open. An entire nation would become wealthy. No child left behind. Everyone would be wealthy. In 2015, Americans know better; they are abandoning the glossy, marbled shopping malls, the proletarian palaces of 80s' spending. Conspicuous consumption and money's excesses have moved on: in the late 90s, they finally arrived in London; then they flew to Dubai; to Hong Kong and Singapore; then Mumbai; by 2012, they roared through SeoulGangnam Style, and now, money is flooding the Asia-Pacific region, in cities like Jakarta. Don't believe the beautiful illusions, people. The crash always follows.

Some don't learn. Some surf the wave, moving from place to place, following the money, and never learning the full lesson. If you want to do that, pack your bags for sub-Saharan Africa, and get there before the 2030s. Or you can follow where the Internet of Things will take you, although according to CompTIA tech analyst Seth Robinson, "There's no map" for that.

Image Source: Hypable.

Some do learn. Sobered Americans, like the JapaneseGreeks and other peoples who blew all their money, are ahead of the curve, not behind it. They rose to the height of prosperity based on industry and trade. They shared the unambiguous virtues of engineers and builders of society. It's like that line in Citizen Kane: "It's not hard to make a lot of money, if all you want to do is make a lot of money." The real psychological and moral challenges come from squandered riches. As money trickles back to America and other once-ultra-prosperous nations, the cautionary tales which explored those challenges in the 1980s and 1990s return. This is because the challenges posed by spent money are fully digested in culture, not in the economy, politics or society. That is why Twin Peaks, David Lynch's perilous 1990-1991 journey into the American soul, is set to return in 2016:
In May 2013, cast member Ray Wise stated what Lynch had said to him regarding a possible reboot: "Well, Ray, you know, the town is still there. And I suppose it's possible that we could revisit it. Of course, you're already dead ... but we could maybe work around that."
Image Source: Before the Bombs Fall.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Counting Down to Hallowe'en: Through the Cat's Eye


.Gif Source: Z. Scott / We Invent You.

If Dogecoin is anything to go by, dogs are the new cats of the Internet, except in October, when cats are the cats of the Internet.

Cats are prominent in stories in which human and animal senses overlap. The cat symbolizes an unaccountable metamorphosis from animal to human and back again, and is often used as a metaphor for the transition from wilderness to civilization and the precariousness of civilization. The symbol of that transition must be ancient, because the earliest known example of domesticated felines dates from 9,500 years ago.

Bakeneko are Japan's feline answer to werewolves: "Bakeneko prostitutes [who could take near-human form] were a common urban legend / folklore during the Edo period." Image Source: 百物語怪談会 Hyakumonogatari Kaidankai.

Among the Japanese yōkai, or supernatural creatures, one finds the demonic bakeneko (化け猫, "changed cat"). The bakeneko symbolizes this transition from wilderness to civilization because, as Wiki puts it,
"Cats in particular ... have acquired a great number of tales and superstitions surrounding them, due to the unique position they occupy between nature and civilization. As cities and towns were established and humans began living farther apart from nature, cats came with them. Since cats live close to humans yet retain their wild essence and air of mystery, stories grew up around them, and gradually the image of the bakeneko was formed."

Monday, October 6, 2014

Counting Down to Hallowe'en: Dark Seed's Other Dimension


The librarian from Dark Seed (1992). Image Source: Red and White Kop.

One of the most famous early horror video games, Dark Seed, was released by Cyberdreams in 1992. It is noted for its haunting artwork by the late Swiss artist, H. R. Giger, and its ground-breaking high resolution graphics. Unusually for its format, the game heightened stress by forcing the player to complete tasks within a limited time. Otherwise, the player had to start again. This is because an alien-like 'dark seed' has been implanted in the protagonist, who must solve several interrelated real world and other dimensional puzzles before the embryo is born and kills him and all of humankind. The protagonist can only last three days in his newly-purchased, otherworldly house!

Giger's contribution lays out an ever-worsening excursion into an unforgivingly crazy and monochromatic subconscious. It's so frankly and unflinchingly portrayed that at times you can't help but laugh at how dreadful it all is. The plot opens as a man moves into a dilapidated mansion, where his nightmares and daily routine begin to converge:
Mike Dawson is a successful advertising executive and writer who has recently purchased an old mansion on Ventura Drive (named after Ventura Boulevard) in the small town of Woodland Hills. On his first night at the house, Mike has a nightmare about being imprisoned by a machine that shoots an alien embryo into his brain. He wakes up with a severe headache and, after taking some aspirins and a shower, explores the mansion. He finds clues about the previous owner's death, which reveal the existence of a parallel universe called the Dark World ruled by sinister aliens called the Ancients.
Because today's games are so advanced, it is easy to overlook this early horror gem. Watch the extended gameplay below the jump. Have the patience to follow it through, and it delivers an abiding, nasty creepiness, frayed nerves, and a nagging, subliminal uncertainty about reality. Wiki: "In 2006 Gametrailers.com named [Dark Seed] the seventh scariest game of all time, ranking it above Clock Tower, System Shock 2, and Eternal Darkness: Sanity's Requiem."

Game conception drew from H. P. Lovecraft and from Giger's designs for the 1979 film, Alien. Watch for the reference to 'Joe Tuttle,' the gardener, who appears as well in the The Changeling (1980; see it here or here) and The Others (2001). A sequel, Dark Seed II (1995; gameplay here), was influenced by David Lynch's Twin Peaks (1990-1991), and also featured horror lurching between two worlds. H. R. Giger did not participate directly in making the sequel. For that reason, the first game remains the unsettling classic.

Still from Dark Seed (1992). Image Source: Red and White Kop.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Lost Cities: Kowloon Walled City, the Faux and the Real



From Yahoo and WSJ Live, a retrospective on Hong Kong's infamous Kowloon Walled City, which was demolished 20 years ago:
The Kowloon Walled City in Hong Kong was once the densest place on earth, a virtually lawless labyrinth of crime, grime, commerce and hope. A Wall Street Journal documentary tracks its colorful legacy 20 years after its demolition.
For nearly a century, Kowloon Walled City was a gang-ruled place of low rents, no licences or taxes, drug trades, brothels and illegal dentists. Somehow, it gained further mystique because it sat across the street from an international airport, and landing jets notoriously scraped just over the slum's rooftops. The fascinating culture of this city-inside-a-city has been represented across eastern and western pop culture in video games, mangas and movies. Known as the City of Darkness in Cantonese, it particularly resonates with depictions of gritty urban landscapes in the 1980s and 1990s, and served as an inspiration for Ridley Scott's futuristic Los Angeles in Blade Runner. It recently inspired designers of Gotham sets for the British-American movie, Batman Begins (2005). City of Darkness Revisited notes only two films were actually shot inside the real Kowloon Walled City (see a clip of footage from the real city shown in Bloodsport below the jump):
only two films were actually shot within the confines of the Walled City, the Jean-Claude van Damme vehicle, Bloodsport [1988], and the far superior Johnny Mak film, Long Arm of the Law [1984]. In fact, the Walled City and one of its alleys only make a short appearance in Bloodsport, when the Jean-Claude character and his Chinese minder are making their way to an illegal fighting venue supposedly located there.
An interior facade reveals the city's staggering honeycombed character, built up without any architects. Image Source: La boite verte

 

 

Images Source: Greg Girard see more of his photos of the real Kowloon Walled City here. Other photos of the city are here and here.

Former inhabitants testify to Kowloon's tight-knit society:
"We all had very good relationships in very bad conditions. Even now, many people stay in touch with each other even though some old friends are overseas," Shum said. "People who lived there were always loyal to each other. In the Walled City, the sunshine always followed the rain."
Such is the nostalgia for this grim yet fascinating slum, that Japanese business interests have built a reproduction of Kowloon Walled City as an arcade and theme park south of Tokyo (see the theme park's main site here). The development blog, here, insists on historic faithfulness ("all materials produced from the scratch"; "real garbage from Hong Kong were sent by parcel"). HuffPo:
Kowloon Walled City, an infamous now-demolished Hong Kong slum, is enjoying new life as a three-storey Japanese arcade and theme park just south of Tokyo.
David Gilbert, a digital product manager, posted photos of the Kawasaki Warehouse on his blog, documenting stunning details of the resurrected Walled City – in all its dark and rusty glory – save for hints of modernity in its restrooms.

"The juxtaposition of a high-tech Japanese toilet in an authentically grimy bathroom had to be seen to be believed," described Gilbert.

Set designer Taishiro Hoshino, the mastermind behind the arcade theme park's time-bending alchemy, paid close attention to details from the actual slum city.

Hosino and his team examined photographs and video of the Walled City, retraced Chinese calligraphy on signage, tracked down Hong Kong mailboxes, balcony bird cages, and reproduced its neon signs.

Striving for full authenticity, he even persuaded a friend in Hong Kong to mail him her family's trash.
"I was later told that they were totally confused about my request," explained Hoshino in a detailed "Behind The Scenes" post on his website.
This development echoes other odd Millennial efforts to transform famous ruined (and not-ruined) locations of the 20th century into 21st century entertainment centres - a tourist-industry trend notably evident at Chernobyl and formerly-shuttered asylums and prisons in the United States. More images of the original city are below the jump.

The outside facade of the Japanese Kowloon Walled City theme park, which has been artificially aged and grimed up.  Image Source: HuffPo.

More images from Japan's faux Kowloon Walled City theme park, complete with faux brothels, fake open air meat markets, real Hong Kong mailboxes which were shipped to Japan as props - and grimed-up toilets, whose conveniences are actually clean and hyper-modern.  Images from HuffPo.


 





One of the meticulously-created Japanese faux-Kowloon mock-ups. Image Source: Hoshinogumi

"A slight departure from the theme park's authenticity, those wishing to leave must walk through a red-lit hexagon passageway, stepping over stones set over an illuminated pool toward a circular ying-yang door." Image Source: HuffPo.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Reason, Judgement and the Age of Information


Madonna dressed as the Whore of Babylon and/or Baphomet at the Superbowl half time performance (2012); first depicted on this blog here. Image Source: Reuters via Stuart Wilde.

In the mid-16th century, Martin Luther attacked the use of reason in the absence of faith. He also abhored the idea that reason and faith were at odds. He felt that when reason was used in opposition to faith, reason became the 'Devil's harlot.' When reason was divorced from faith, she could deceive men into believing anything - any terrible idea - while thinking that they were acting with good sense. The famous remark is widely quoted on the Web; from Whole Reason:
Reason is the Devil’s greatest whore; by nature and manner of being she is a noxious whore; she is a prostitute, the Devil’s appointed whore; whore eaten by scab and leprosy who ought to be trodden under foot and destroyed, she and her wisdom … Throw dung in her face to make her ugly. She is and she ought to be drowned in baptism …. [Martin Luther, Works, Erlangen Edition, vol. 16, pp. 142-148. (I haven't confirmed the footnote; see a comment about the Erlangen Edition here.)]
A now-common misunderstanding of Luther's argument. Image Source: Ideation.

These comments were part of Luther's attack on what he saw as a resurgence of pagan Aristotelianism in the Catholic Church and the early universities. Today, Luther's attack on faithless reason is often misquoted as an attack on all reason. This misreading supports a contemporary rift between atheism and religion.

The point to this post is not to get into that Millennial feud. Rather, it is to seize on the larger value of Luther's allegory. This larger meaning also appears in the metaphor of the Whore of Babylon. She is described in the Bible as πόρνη (pronounced porna),  which can be translated as 'Idolatress.' Moral failure as it descends into pure evil - symbolized in this misogynistic narrative by a fallen woman - simultaneously equates with bad judgement, intellectual arrogance, and the worshiping of false idols.