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 Dreams. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Dreams. Show all posts

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Talismans


Image Source: pinterest.

"How does a man come to know the unknowable?" He can do it through pushing the boundaries, or through some philosophical bridge. Maybe he does it through a woman, or a leap of faith, or a contemplation of the order of the universe that he cannot see. In these respects, I want to thank Dia Sobin at Trans-D Digital blog for permitting me to quote her 20 March 2016 post, The Language of Birds & the Alchemy of Love: The Music Box. She wrote a beautiful passage about the way in which girls keep talismans from their pasts to preserve memories and conjure up love. Women,
"have a peculiar predilection for keeping memorable items in special boxes, especially as young girls. Our little magic boxes ... full of talismanic detritus we've collected over the years ... a coin, jewelry, a shred of hair, a crumbling flower head, a photo, a signature, stones, bones ... whatever. Generally the tokens are kept to remind us of lovers or loved ones ... small trophies for experiences that may eventually retreat into a mental shadowland in the same way the objects themselves have retreated into the shadowy recesses of the box. But, no matter. The box becomes a sort of artificial memory bank... a collection of three-dimensional objects representing transdimensional events in the same way a collection of symbols do. In the end, whether we're talking about musical codes, alchemical codes, or the enigmatic chemistry of love and attraction, some type of hidden language is involved ... as is some kind of communication that lies outside the bounds of what is consciously understood."
Studies confirm that women remember events, especially emotional ones, better than men. Not only is the part of the brain which deals with memory larger in women, but that brain difference prompts female behaviour dedicated to maintaining memory through the organization of material objects. This tendency to tuck away bits of sacred junk in drawers and boxes demonstrates women's semi-conscious need to connect the emotional world and past memories to the tangible world in the present and future in direct ways. Women habitually manipulate time to turn the unreal side of life into something real. With these little anchors, they navigate the course of their lives. If you remember who you were, you don't lose track of who you are, and of the person you will become.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Organize the Non-Obvious


Image Source: Asymco/Black Rock via Twitter.

Yesterday, Florent Crivello tweeted the above graph while pondering theories in the famous book, Diffusion of Innovations by the late Everett M. Rogers, Professor of Communication and Journalism at the University of New Mexico, who analyzed how new technology spreads through cultures. Rogers divided society into five new technocratic classes: innovators; early adopters; early majority; late majority; laggards. Rogers sought to understand technological development by relating it to a social relationships. He died in 2004, before sites like Facebook took off, although he plainly anticipated social media. Perhaps it is better to consider not so much the bonds and relationships which drive social networks, as the underlying trends which drive the bonds and relationships. It's not who you know, it's why you choose to know them. Every social bond reinforces a particular view of the world.

Broadly speaking, there are two ways of understanding the world. You can turn dreams into reality. Or you can turn reality into dreams. Sigmund Freud observed this after meeting Theodor Herzl in Vienna. Where Freud analyzed the latter process, Herzl set out to accomplish the former possibility. But universal mastery resides with those who can do both. One may master the world of the self-evident to the highest degree, but still be defeated by the comatose.  A quotation, wildly attributed to Marcus Aurelius and Oswald Spengler: "The secret of all victory lies in the organization of the non-obvious."

Millennial business preaches a one-way trip: turn your dreams into reality. This professional mantra is profoundly materialistic. The chart above shows that Millennial business leaders and professionals are working against the nature of the global communications trend and misunderstand the endgame of high technology. Every technological innovation in the graph moves us in the other direction, from reality into virtual reality. That mixed message creates the confusion, the frustration, the procrastination of people enmeshed at cross-purposes in a paradox: high tech societies demand that their citizens build more and more little realities, with tools plainly designed to immerse them in dreams.

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.

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, 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.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

The Not-So-Discreet Charm of Lateral Thinking


Meanwhile, in Vienna: David LaChapelle's dual poster, Once in the Garden 1 & 2, features American transgender model Carmen Carrera playing Eve in one poster and Adam in the other (May 2014). I can't show the whole poster due to Blogger's policies. Image Source: Out.com.

There are a lot of wannabe artistes out there in the online world. But you cannot mistake the genuine type. Only Ms. Dia Sobin at Trans-D Digital Art could find the link between bird song, medieval-derived 3-D geometric art, and lucid dreams about the mathematics of nature. Somehow, she recognizes the buried associations that "decode the living matrix." And I have to thank her for marrying bird song to the underlying art of the universe, because she identified a bird that warbles beautifully outside my window.

I've tried for ages to find its identity. It is not quite the wood thrush Sobin describes: "the song of the male is often cited as being the most beautiful in North America." She cites a 20th century naturalist who wrote: "As we listen we lose the sense of time—it links us with eternity…Its tones…seem like the vocal expression of the mystery of the universe, clothed in a melody so pure and ethereal that the soul still bound to its earthly tenement can neither imitate nor describe it. 

The bird outside my window is a hermit thrush, sampled for the Mockingjay's song in the 2012 film, The Hunger Games. The Globe and Mail writes of the hermit thrush:
A Fluttering of Wings to Lift the Heart: The hermit thrush ... spends its summers in the cool woods of the north. You rarely see it then, because its brown-grey back and speckled white breast are perfect camouflage in the dappled light of the forest.

You know it is there only by its haunting song, perhaps the most beautiful of any North American bird. One ornithology site calls it a “clear, flute-like note followed by a series of ethereal, bell-like ascending and descending tones,” but words can’t really do it justice.
You can hear the hermit thrush's song here and here. These are only partial samples of what it can do. Juvenile birds learn songs from their parents, and the one in my yard is a virtuoso, pealing waterfalls of cascading bell notes. It really is unbelievable. The bird sings in stereo.

This point brought me to another surprising fact: American robins are thrushes, whereas European robins look completely different and belong to the flycatcher family. This means the need to preserve robins in the culture was strong enough - it was seen as a bird that sang to Christ on the cross and fetched water for souls in purgatory - that colonists pressed the symbolic role on another bird when they arrived in North America.


Getting to the point, somehow, some day: proponents claim that lateral thinking is synonymous with creative thinking. Critics disagree and call lateral thinking 'divergent.' Image Source: Lateral Action.

Some argue that to think artistically is to think laterally, not linearly. Lateral thinking is defined on Wiki:
Lateral thinking is solving problems through an indirect and creative approach, using reasoning that is not immediately obvious and involving ideas that may not be obtainable by using only traditional step-by-step logic. The term was coined in 1967 by Edward de Bono.
In this theory, lateral thinkers differ from linear thinkers. Chuck's Lamp gives a simple contrast:
[M]uch of our world is indeed structured upon the concept of logic (very basic logic at least). We learn math, deductive reasoning, and tend to apply these logical processes to our everyday life. Our drive to do so comes from our inherent need, as cognitive humans, to categorize our experiences in our minds and make projections about what the outcome of an action will be. We compare our expectations with our experience, weigh the similarity, and adjust our thought processes as needed. Linear thinkers are very much the same. They start at step one and usually do a good and efficient job of completing the task before moving on to step two. They are driven, focused, and don’t easily get off topic. ...
[By constrast, in lateral thinking h]uman thought [is] characterized by expansion in multiple directions, rather than in one direction, and based on the concept that there are multiple starting points from which one can apply logic to a problem. Non-linear thought increases possible outcomes by not being so certain about the starting point for any logic process. Non-linear thinkers tend to jump forward, and from side to side through the steps of a project, in an effort to see the big picture and tackle those areas where they have the most interest. Where non-linear thinking falters is in finally carrying out the required action, because as a thought process it often encourages a user to agonize incessantly over where to start (that agreed upon truth, from which logic can be applied and action can be taken).
Systemic problems diminish the performance value of the status quo. And this theory suggests that lateral thinkers are better at breaking current thinking patterns or overturning the status quo to solve problems. They ask why accepted values or systems exist. Or to solve a given problem, they engage in
provocation techniques—wishful thinking, exaggeration, reversal, escape, distortion, or arising. The thinker creates a list of provocations and then uses the most outlandish ones to move their thinking forward to new ideas.
It seems that lateral thinkers and linear thinkers are arrayed, facing each other across a great divide of Millennial change. The lateral side is immersed in infinite chaos and displays occasional redemptive epiphanies. For the most part, lateral thinkers gain their insights because they are alienated from the forward march of technological progress qua 'progress.' And the other, linear, side stolidly clings to what remains of stable ideas and pushes relentlessly forward, logically, sometimes with brute force, through tabulation and data management to control, authority and power.

In the push and pull between these mentalities, the future technocracy is up for grabs. Will it, or will it not, become a police state? To put it in a less dire way, consider the words of Dr. James H. Billington, Librarian of the United States Congress, who was quoted in a recent documentary: "Stories unite people. Theories divide them." What arcane mix of these two manners of thought will take us down the better path?

LaChapelle's artwork defaced at a Viennese bus stop. Image Source: BBC.

I was reminded of all this on 9 June 2014, when BBC's Hard Talk broadcast an interview between Stephen Sackur and world famous photographer David LaChapelle. Sackur was the voice of inquiring reason. He asked about the uproar caused this spring in Vienna by LaChapelle's transgendered poster for the HIV/AIDS benefit event, Life Ball (31 May 2014) and associated exhibition at Ostlicht Photography Gallery (2 June - 14 September 2014).

LaChapelle is known for his kitsch pop surrealism (see his website portfolio here); his splashy portraits of celebrities are dreams on the verge of nightmares. Think: Bubblegum Salvador Dalí meets Vogue in the subdivision - or the rain forest.

Stephen Sackur wanted to know whether LaChapelle thought it was appropriate to have Carmen Carrera's transgendered nudity simultaneously playing Adam and Eve this spring in Vienna's streets. He asked about small children who could see the poster and ask questions, which they reportedly did, about Carrera, who has male genitalia and female breasts.

LaChapelle dismissed this in the interview, but he did in fact worry about backlash. Both he and his model increased their security during their visit to the city. From Page Six:
“David and Carmen both had four bodyguards each from the minute they landed in Vienna until the minute they left,” said a rep for the photographer, who had an exhibition at a Vienna gallery this week following the Life Ball, which included nude images of Carrera.
The FPO had filed suit against the Life Ball, and its spokesperson claimed that LaChapelle’s work “[doesn’t] just cross the boundaries of good taste…but…also the limits of criminal law.” But the posters, LaChapelle pointed out, had been ­approved as art by the city before they were hung in train stations and other public places.
Some who objected to the images began defacing them by covering up Carrera’s exposed parts with spray paint. One 70-year-old woman, who graffitied the posters after dark, in a local report said of the images of busty Carrera with a penis: “My 4-year-old grandson asked me while walking if I actually also have a spatzi.” (We’ll let you figure out the translation on that one.)
In the end, all the controversy only amped up interest in the LaChapelle work. An original ­image titled Once in the Garden, on which the posters were based, was expected to sell for $41,000 at the Life Ball’s auction, but went for a record-breaking $245,500. An Audi car designed by LaChapelle sold to members of the Missoni family for $136,400.
“Art was victorious…it was all love,” LaChapelle told Page Six of the event, where Ricky Martin and Kesha performed, and guests included Bill Clinton and Courtney Love.
LaChapelle passionately pleaded that his work is not pornographic, that Once in the Garden is a Botticelli-esque expression of unfettered beauty. Once marginalized sexual imagery is no longer marginal but mainstream. In response, Sackur asked about LaChapelle's furry-oriented photo of a half-nude Angelina Jolie having her breast nuzzled by a horse. Is that mainstream too?

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Wonders of the Millennial World 7: New Millennial Humanism


Image Source: The Pictorial Arts.

Some of you may remember this interview at HOTTC about Thom Buchanan's new magazine, The Pictorial Arts Journal. The interview coincided with the release of a sampler or preview issue of the magazine, which grew out of Buchanan's blog, The Pictorial Arts. The magazine allows longer articles and deeper explorations than the blog. In this larger project, Buchanan, and other artists, designers, illustrators and writers seek to define new humanist values.

It's so easy to concentrate on dystopias, but this is a positive and nuanced understanding of our times, a search for the wonders of the Millennial world. Thom's project is a reminder of what the Web was supposed to be about. From its inception, the Web was supposed to be the home of unfettered grassroots creativity. The Pictorial Arts blog and magazine remind me of one of the most innovative sites I ever saw on the Web in its earliest days (until Mac Tonnies came along with Posthuman Blues). That early site was called The Strip. I will never forget The Strip or Posthuman Blues - or more recent projects like Kate Sherrod's Suppertime Sonnets, Paul Laroquod's Extratemporal Perception, and Dia Sobin's Trans-D Digital art blog. These people express what the Web is supposed to be about. It is not supposed to be about Facebook, Anonymous and the NSA.

Today, Thom announced a new Kickstarter campaign to support the launch of the magazine's first issue:
https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1126292849/first-flight-for-premiere-issue-of-pictorial-arts
I have 28 days to raise the needed funds to publish the premiere issue of PAJ. I will be posting pictorial updates with developing details along the way.
See the promotional video below the jump. The promo widget will be up in the sidebar here while the Kickstarter campaign runs. The smallest donation is USD $1 for this amazing new project. If you contribute at the higher levels, check out the Kickstarter page for some of the bonus prints you can get along with the magazine.

Image Source: Kickstarter.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Companions Dream of Home


All images © Sarolta Bán.

Yahoo reports on a photo-allegory project dedicated this month to finding homes for homeless pets in many countries: 
Self-taught Hungarian photographer Sarolta Bán is best known for her surreal landscapes, which have been displayed in galleries across Europe. She creates dreamlike scenes, often populated by magical beasts, with photo manipulation software, and tells Yahoo Shine that she sometimes layers as many as 100 individual images to create a final product. She says she doesn't title her images so people can use their own imaginations to find personal meanings in each picture. Bán recently started using her skills to help real-life abandoned animals around the world find homes. She invited her more than 100,000 Facebook fans to submit photos of homeless pets, and she is transforming them into evocative, majestic portraits. Bán has received dozens of photos from Spain, Argentina, India, France, Hungary, and the United States in the two weeks since she posted the invitation and expects to get many more after she reaches out to shelters. "Abandoned dogs sadly have really few chances to appear on a photo that will help them get out of the shelter... [one] that stands out from the crowd, and 'speaks' to a person," she writes on the project page. ... The project ends in mid-April, and anyone who adopts one of the dogs or cats will receive a signed portrait of the new pet.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

A Millennial Artist: Jee Young Lee's Stage of Mind


Resurrection. Image Source: My Modern Met.

Caption for the above photograph: "Inspired by the Story of Shim Cheong, a Korea folktale as well as by Shakespeare’s Ophelia, Lee JeeYoung made this installation by painting paper lotus and flooding the room with fog and carbonic ice in order to create a mystic atmosphere.
 
Lotus flowers grow from the impure mud to reach for the light and bloom to the rise and fall of the sun; in Asia, it bears various cultural symbolisms such as prospects and rebirth. It is also known for its purifying function. The presence of the artist in the heart of such flower is meant to convey her personal experience. 'I was born again by overcoming negative elements that had dragged me down and cleansed myself emotionally. The figure within a lotus blooming implies a stronger self who was just born again and is facing a new world'. It is this is very moment when one reaches maturity and full-potential that Lee illustrates in 'Resurrection', and, more generally speaking, throughout the entirety of her corpus."

My Modern Met reports on a South Korean Gen Y artist, Jee Young Lee, who creates beautiful interiors (hat tip: Ken Kaminesky):
Jee Young Lee creates highly elaborate scenes that require an incredible amount of patience and absolutely no photo manipulation. For weeks and sometimes months, the young Korean artist works in the confines of her small 360 x 410 x 240 cm studio bringing to life worlds that defy all logic. In the middle of the sets you can always find the artist herself, as these are self-portraits but of the unconventional kind. Inspired by either her personal life or old Korean fables, they each have their own backstory, which of course, only adds to the intense drama. From February 7 to March 7, 2014, OPIOM Gallery in Opio, France ... present[s] a selection of Lee's ongoing body of work called Stage of Mind.
Further from Brain Factory:
This exhibition introduces seven new photographic works ... a project on which the artist has been working continuously since 2007. Jee Young Lee “constructs” scenes for her camera rather than employing the traditional method of “taking” images such as still lifes, figures, or landscapes. ...
Lee's artistic motivation derives from her quest for personal identity. In each of Lee's stories, the artist is the protagonist. At times facing away from us, at other times showing only part of her body or reclining, she quietly and mysteriously inhabits her dream-like realms. Through their bold materials and patterns, dramatic colors, and intriguing narratives, Lee's new works signal maturity, coherence, and sophistication. The legends of East and West, Korean proverbs, personal childhood experiences, and immediate realities provide the motifs for her creations. ...
Lee's constructed realities belong to the “directorial mode,” employed since the 1980's by Postmodernist photographers in repudiation of the Modernist practice that sought truth in the everyday world. Lee's “constructed image photography” may be compared to the works of German sculptor and photographer Thomas Demand, who builds life-sized models he intends to demolish after photographing them. Her “staged photography” brings to mind tableaux vivant not unlike U.S. installation artist and photographer Sandy Skoglund's orchestrated room-size installations. But in contrast to these earlier artists, Lee's subjects are deeply personal and intensely psychological.
See more of Jee Young Lee's works below the jump and at this site. All works are copyrighted by the artist and are reproduced here under Fair Use.

Childhood. Image Source: Bored Panda.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Generation X Goes Back to the Future 12: Danny Torrance Grows Up


From Kubrick's The Shining (1980) © Warner Bros. Image Source: Feel Guide.

It's strange, being a near-exact contemporary of a famous fictional character. The five-year-old child, Danny Torrance, in Stephen King's 1977 horror novel, The Shining, and depicted in Stanley Kubrick's immortal 1980 film of the same name, grew up this fall. King's sequel, Doctor Sleep, depicts Dan Torrance as an adult. The book debuted on 24 September 2013, and immediately became a best-seller.

Shelley Duvall as Wendy with Danny Lloyd as Danny Torrance in The Shining. In this scene, Danny Torrance wears an Apollo sweater which fueled Illuminati conspiracy theories that director Kubrick had participated in a moon landing media hoax. Image Source: Warner Bros. via NY Daily News.

I just finished reading The Shining and Doctor Sleep. I was struck by Dan Torrance, a character whose cultural world was almost exactly contemporary to my own Gen X experience; and I was impressed by how Stephen King made him grow up. The first book is pure 1970s. And, as several characters in its sequel state, 'we're in the twenty-first century now.'

Artwork for Doctor Sleep. by Glenn Chadbourne. Image Source: The Overlook Connection.

King states in the afterword of Doctor Sleep that he changed a great deal in the thirty odd years between writing these two novels; he is also preoccupied with how his characters change, and how the world changed in that time. This is horror for the new Millennium.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Setting the Clocks Back to Winter's Unconscious


The girl's clown eye makeup is inverted so that her symbolic tears run upwards. Image Source: eyeshadowlipstick.

Here are a few images I've come across of late.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

All Hallows' Eve Countdown: The Girl Who Survives

Image Source: Djano23 at deviantART via In the Mouth of Dorkness.

In Halloween II (1981), Donald Pleasence's psychiatrist character mumbles about the meaning of Hallowe'en. He says it really refers to the pagan Gaelic festival of Samhain, the start of the darker half of the year. This seasonal shift provides an elemental connection to the other world, to memory, death, and ancestors. The spiritual dimension is also an elaborate folkloric metaphor for access to the darker parts of ourselves. The screenplay combines Christian symbolism with these ideas:
Samhain, it means the loft of the dead. The end of summer. The festival of Satan. ... In order to please the gods, the druid priests held fire rituals. Prisoners of war, criminals, the insane, animals were burned alive. By observing the way they died the druids believed they could see elements of the future. 2000 years we've come no closer. Samhain is not spirits, it's not goblins, ghosts or witches. It's the unconscious mind. We're all afraid of the darkness inside ourselves.
Dr. Loomis says repeatedly that Michael Myers is not human; he is "pure evil." Michael is a violent supernatural force, an instinct to kill that never stops, which is why he can be shot repeatedly and not die. Of the first 1978 Halloween film, director John Carpenter said, "The movie's about the 'revenge of the repressed' and Jamie Lee has a connection with the killer because she's repressed too."

Horror films are morality plays. The horror stems from some transgression or violation through indulgence of the unspeakable. The story is about a collapse due to that degradation and the effort to correct the problem, to return to safety and security, to survive.

A collection of African horror stories on Wattpad offer typical examples. Swish, Swish! is a warning against laziness, vanity, selfishness, shortcuts around hard work, and hurting others to get ahead. Another, The Witch's Mist, is a grisly injunction against black magic and vampirism (here the literally cannibalistic form, not the soul-sucking variety). Cannibalism, the ultimate horror, is never far away, as the current lifestyle and tribal subculture of human-blood-drinking vampires show.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

All Hallows' Eve Countdown: Mark Twain's Young Satan


Mark Twain depicted Lucifer as ambiguous, attractive and psychopathic. Image Source: The House of Vines.

October marks the start of harvest season in the Northern Hemisphere. Hallowe'en is just around the corner. Every year, the site Countdown to Halloween runs a blogathon so that interested blogs can comment on the season in any way they see fit (I highly recommend Gothtober). This blog participated in 2011 and 2012 (see those posts here); this year I am participating again.

2013's All Hallows' Eve Countdown at Histories of Things to Come will offer horror-themed posts with a twist. These posts will mostly address how horror straddles the dotted line of acceptability: how horror can have non-horrific origins; how horror's marginal aspects become mainstream (not always in a good way); how horror carries mixed messages; or how horror stories convey moral messages. Posts in the countdown will be more or less every other day; there will also be some regular, non-countdown posts this month.

Mark Twain (pen name of Samuel Langhorne Clemens (30 November 1835-21 April 1910)). Image Source: University of California Press.

Today's post concerns some of the darker writings of the famous American writer Mark Twain. Twain's real name was Samuel Clemens; he took his pseudonym from sailing Missouri steamboats on the Mississippi river in the late 1850s, where mark twain was the call which meant 'safe water' at two fathoms, or twelve feet deep.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Symbols of Immortality 4: Snake



On 12 September 2013, HuffPo reviewed a new book of poetry, "that could very well reinvent how the world may now view poetry as an art form." That is high praise for poet Gary Lemons, and his new volume, Snake. His poems concern one character, Snake, who is the last creature left on earth after the apocalypse. According to the Amazon blurb about Lemons's book, Snake embodies everything that has gone before; and Snake reaches toward everything that will come after. The character marks the changing of an aeon (a gnostic idea, where time and existence unite in one semi-divine principle). Snake also represents the changing of an aeon's reality:
In Snake, Snake is the last thing left alive. He’s all that remains of our voices. The bodies of all living animals and plants have escaped down the Dreaming Way, leaving behind a residual ego trapped inside Snake: the sole survivor the Earth must destroy to complete the cleanse and start over. All that is gone—all that has been reduced by fire and ice and the other dynamic retributive forces of Earth—lives on in Snake. Snake is the extracted limbic brain removed from the collective consciousness and hunted across an emptied landscape. Snake is the bad ass reptile holding back the end of time by sticking himself into the spokes of Samsara. Snake is a single narrative sequence, a frontline account of pursuit, avoidance, and even friendship, forged in the heat of struggle.
The HuffPo interview with Lemons confirms the poet's awareness of contemporary Millennial themes, especially rapid change, altered values and shifting consciousness. His post-apocalyptic character is a Phoenix-like symbol; Snake describes our awareness of the significance of the turn of the Millennium and our related sense that everything will be smashed in order to create an incontrovertible transformation of the world:
[HuffPo:] Despite its post-apocalypse setting, Snake's reflections on the human condition feel thematically urgent to our rapidly changing times. What was the basis of creating a story from a far-future Earth where humanity has long been vanquished?

[GL:] ... I've come to realize ... that the narrative--or the message coming through--is about the line between life and death--how it isn't carved in stone, and how graves aren't any more than wounds that heal on a larger body--and how what we call spirit is the dream around whatever the current reality seems to be. In other words--the future that Snake describes--where life forms on Earth are destroyed in a final cleansing--is not about the death of those forms but the transformation into a new reality. Like a quantum loop world. Uncertainty rules and realities are probabilities contained inside of one another. Events hatch out of events. What dies isn't important--what can't die is.

The character Snake at times ... behaves like a physical entity, preoccupied with food and other basic needs. It also seems like a complicated stream of leftover consciousness, an artificial intelligence drawing upon leftover big data to contemplate its existence. What was the basis for creating the background for a character so difficult to pin down?

This is Snake describing itself--its physical needs are memories of the time it spent as a human being--a time when it had a wife or husband, and a child--a time when it filled the car with a fuel made from ancestors and tasted the bright flesh of cherries on its tongue--these still live in Snake and often in its exile--in the billion years of desolation--as it roams the atomized flesh of creation. It sucks on its memories like a brief neon sign flashing on the lost tavern of its tongue--memories drift into reality like they do all the time. And in Snake's world they become indistinguishable--like protons wandering into the field of electrons--new shapes emerge from this random coupling.

So though Snake is the composite of everything that is gone--the infinite hard drive where the missing data is embedded--waiting for retrieval--it's also the world around the leftover world the hard drive of humanity holds its secrets--it's the dream of the hard drive out of which the hard drive appears--and Snake is the current that runs between them, powering both of them. When it returns to the dream, and when he goes back to Berlin and watches the people walking the streets continuing their lives as if they still exist--Snake's actually present there because that world is also real--curled into the emptiness like an imaginary number inside the mind of the unborn. Snake is real everywhere--like we are--even as we hold to the conviction there is a single reality and the belief we can die in that reality forever.

Intelligence that risks everything is the entrance into creation--or one of them--according to Snake. Everything flowers out of our willingness to risk everything we know for the next step. In any direction.
See my other posts on Immortality.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Fountain of Youth 17: A Dream of Ageing

Poster for Arrugas (2011). Image Source: Wiki.

Today, see a clip from the Spanish animated film Arrugas (Wrinkles; 2011), based on the comic book of the same name by Paco Roca. The clip offers a touching vignette of the dreams which surround ageing. You can see the film trailer here. See the clip below the jump. (Hat tip: Gina theou.)

Friday, June 21, 2013

Midsummer's Lust for Life


Image Source: Fides via Gnawing Bones.

Today marks the summer solstice in the Northern Hemisphere, at 5:04 a.m. UT, the longest day of the year. In the planet's northernmost cities, the sun sets around 10 p.m. locally today (in Helsinki, sunset occurs at 10:50 p.m.), while in the southernmost cities, sunset is around 4 p.m. (Ushuaia's sunset occurs at 5:12 p.m. today) and Antarctica is shrouded in darkness.

Midsummer celebrations once culminated with the Christian feast day on June 24 (six months before Christmas) of the Nativity of John the Baptist. Before that, the solstice featured pre-Christian and pagan bonfire celebrations, which still occur and stretch back to Neolithic times.

Traditionally in northern climes, Midsummer is a season of dreams, illusions and enchantment, the pleasant side of delusion. Astrologer Rob Brezsny recently made a comment that suits the spirit of Shakespeare's famous comedy from the 1590s. Appearances are deceiving when it comes to love and magic. But part of the charm of this time of year is believing in those illusions, however briefly:
"I was often in love with something or someone," wrote Polish poet Czesław Miłosz. "I would fall in love with a monkey made of rags. With a plywood squirrel. With a botanical atlas. With an oriole. With a ferret. With the forest one sees to the right when riding in a cart. With human beings whose names still move me." Your task ... is to [s]ee how often you can feel adoration for unexpected characters and creatures. Be infatuated with curious objects . . . with snarky Internet memes . . . with fleeting phenomena like storms and swirling flocks of birds and candy spilled on the floor. Your mission is to supercharge your lust for life.
William Shakespeare's play involves love, discord and magic around the marriage of the Duke of Athens, Theseus, and the Queen of the Amazons, Hippolyta; the plot is described here.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

A World of Dreams


Balolokong by Chris Wayan (1984). Image Source: World Dream Bank.

If you've ever wondered what other people dream about, check out the World Dream Bank (here). It is a fascinating online diary where people catalogue their dreams and sometimes illustrate them. Documented dreams relating to historic figures are included (like this one). Dreams are organized according to a great variety of topics, including lucid dreams and nightmares about war, aliens,  spirituality, flying, death, sex, heaven, hell and last but not least, San Francisco. See the subject index here.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Who Can Stand and Dare to Dream?


I Dreamed of a Crocodile by Eyes-of-Sol. Image Source: Redbubble.

Check out this teaser for an epic fantasy novel, by writer D. Caldarelli aka Lorronzo. His work touches on the need to weaken ego to cope with changing times:

Challenge of the Seasons by D. Caldarelli

For every season there is a trial, and for every trial a hardship. Many do not pass such times, but many others do. So what is the trick? Do we take like the rocks, both stubborn and strong, and fight the seasons one by one? Do we take to the wisdom of the trees who mould to every change? Or the vast expanses of the timeless rivers? All have survived the age of seasons and are masters in their own ways, but none have truly mastered the might of the seasons. With time even the largest of rocks can crumble and break. A single tongue of flame can consume entire forests. And a dry age can devour the largest of rivers. So what hope do we mere specks of dust have to fight the struggle of the ever changing age of trials?

To survive the test of the seasons you must take to the wisdom of all the masters around you. You must unyielding, stubborn and strong like the rock. You must be wise and as adaptable as the tree. And you must flow as easy as the river. But more than this, you must adopt the greatest lesson life has to teach you, numbers. There is no I, only we. A rock that stands alone, as strong as it may be, will falter and chip away with time until it is but a grain. But together with the help of their brethren one rock can help to form a mountain, vast and immovable to stand against the test of time. Even the countless grains of sand that stand together can hold back the wrath of the thundering sea. A tree that stands alone falls alone to the harsh weather, but together they can form the greatest of forests, stretching as far as the eye can see, protecting each other in many ways. And though a single stream may thin and loose its way, when built with another a river can be forged. An alliance of power and might, standing against even the harshest of heats and strong enough to clear any obstacle that stands in its way. But it doesn't stop there. There are many masters in life that can teach us if we are willing to listen. My heart and ears are open, and my hand is held to you: my ally, my brethren, my friend.

-- © D. Caldarelli

"When Shadows hunt and nightmares scream, who can stand and dare to dream?" © D. Caldarelli

Hat tip: Youtube and dA.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Ego, Time and Digital Narcissisms


Gravitation © Jean-Pierre Alaux (1925-). Image Source: Surrealism and Visionary Art.

It is a sad comment on our times that one of today's greatest challenges is how to think and act without ego. Marketing depends on fake ego-building, and it permeates nearly everything that relates to consumption and perception and therefore, to consciousness. As one friend put it last week, "even the news reports are informercials now."  On social networks and elsewhere online, highly integrated personalized branding mobilizes our lives, our birthdays, and our friends from yesterday to deliver vast economic and political potential for new business interests. Our complacency and unconsidered vanities have made this so. Every Facebook page twists the formerly reasonable human activity of socializing into an ego broadcast. Twitter is the advertising stage for countless activists, hopeful e-novelists, gurus building their names on our well-being (or lack thereof), news-monger personalities, Kickstarter entrepreneurs, and bloggers with axes to grind ...

Prisonnière des glaces © Jean-Pierre Alaux. Image Source: AMAC.

It is the Cyber-Ego, whether it is trapped in the past, obsessed with the future, or narcissistically feeding of the present, which makes it so hard to concentrate. How do we detach the ego from the way we perceive ourselves moving through time? These two issues - ego and time - are commonly discussed separately in relation to the impact of the Technological Revolution on global cultures, but rarely as two, related concerns.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Elon Musk Plans Retirement on Mars


Image Source: Wired.

Elon Musk, Gen X founder of PayPal and SpaceX, wants to retire on Mars and live as the poster boy for his next big business: colonizing Mars as a profitable venture. From a 2010 Guardian report:
The fresh-faced 39-year-old man, in a dark T-shirt and jeans, is talking about travelling to Mars. Not now, but when he's older and ready to swap life on Earth for one on the red planet. "It would be a good place to retire," he says in all seriousness. Normally, this would be the time to make one's excuses and leave the company of a lunatic. Or to smile politely and humour a space nerd's unlikely fantasies. But this man needs to be taken seriously for one compelling reason: he already has his own spaceship.
Musk is planning to fund the first round of Mars missions with his personal fortune and spend his old age building the first Mars colony, anticipated population 80,000.