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 Generation Jones. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Generation Jones. Show all posts

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Forever: Maybe Not the Word You Want?


Johnny Depp's original 'Winona Forever' tattoo. Image Source: johnnydepp.org.

In the past couple of days, the word forever kept coming up. Finally, it all converged in a 'plate of shrimp' moment. The first mention came up in this analysis at The White Review of Johnny Depp and Winona Ryder. The article, Famous Tombs: Love in the 90s, described Depp's and Ryder's relationship as the American youth romance of the decade. Author Masha Tupitsyn then probed a more interesting question. She almost cracked what, exactly, happened to the Depp-Ryder romance, not in terms of what it meant privately to the two actors, because we can't know that, but what it represented to the rest of us.

Image Source: Buzzfeed.

Tupitsyn hints that it never went anywhere, but Johnny and Winona did. She believes that Depp sublimated it in alcohol and drugs, replacing love for a woman with addictions so distracting that it became impossible to get back to the original source. Meanwhile, Ryder moved forward, but part of her is still trapped in that past time. It wasn't just her love for Depp. She embodied a decade for Generation Jones and Gen X rebels, symbolized by the curious fact that she is naturally a blonde, but for decades has dyed her hair Gothic black:
Like John Cusack, another black haired/pale skinned 80s/90s idol, as well as a youth actor whose great, and perhaps only gift, was to enact a different kind of youth (a counter-youth and counter-masculinity) in his youth, Winona Ryder was never timeless, she was of the time. Most especially that brief time in her life, her teenage years and early twenties. Perhaps this is why Jake Gyllenhaal’s light hair was dyed jet-black for the retroactive DONNIE DARKO, and Christian Slater’s jet-black for HEATHERS. Something about dark hair showing up in the late 80s and early 90s as a form of retribution for an aesthetically fascistic and representationally narrow decade. These are people who were not kissed by the sun, who were not California Dreamin’, or, as the German writer Heinrich Laube puts it, ‘These pale youths are uncanny, concocting God knows what mischief.’ If, as the teenage radio pirate DJ, ‘Hard Harry’ puts it in PUMP UP THE VOLUME (1990), the 80s were a totally ‘exhausted decade, where there’s nothing to look forward to and no one to look up to’, Winona Ryder rose up from the bleached-blonde ashes of the 1980s.
Depp and Ryder started in gothic and horror genres. Their early work, like that of contemporaries Keanu Reeves, Parker Posey and River Phoenix, appeared in dark indie films or popular movies with unsettling vibes. Depp made his feature film debut in Nightmare on Elm Street (1984), in which he played a nice but useless boyfriend. These roles reflected a time, when, for a brief period, surreal depictions of the collective unconscious entered the American mainstream in almost unedited forms. It was remarkable. David Lynch, an American director surreal enough to be respected by Europeans, became popular, as his Twin Peaks exposed the underside of the American Dream.

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?

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Lovecrafted Meta-Bible



What do you get when you cross the King James Bible with the Necronomicon? Entertaining surrealism! British sci-fi writer Charles Stross used King James Programming - a modified Markov chain which semi-randomly combines texts - to mash up the KJV Bible with the complete works of H. P. Lovecraft  (Thanks to -C.).

Stross called the output the Lovebible. The desert themes and environments which dominate the Bible mesh well with Lovecraft's obsession with ancient knowledge and water monsters. It is an elemental marriage of texts, weirdly bred on the Internet:
krina:markov charlie$ ./lovebible.pl 2> /dev/null 99820 lines, 821134 words read from king_james_bible.txt 16536 lines, 775603 words read from lovecraft_complete.txt About to spew ...
--- the backwoods folk -had glimpsed the battered mantel, rickety furniture, and ragged draperies. It spread over it a robber, a shedder of blood, when I listened with mad intentness. At last you know! At last to come to see me. Now Absalom.
the absence of any real link with that of 598 Angell Street was as the old castle by the shallow crystal stream I saw unwonted ripples tipped with yellow light, as if those depths of their rhythm. The training saved them.
the bed, and make thee borders of gold with studs of silver. 1:12 While the case histories, to expect. As mental atmosphere. His eyes were pits of a hundred and fifty shekels, 30:24 And he laughed mockingly at the village summoning.
the commandment of the room; then this. If this thing. 25:1 If he had no way to turn either to the coyote - or to something was wrong. Marsh and Marceline represents. I am strong. 26:16 I also in me. 14:2.
the ghouls, whose utter strangeness and their backsliding, I will love him, and have redeemed them, yet thou never gavest me a people: 8:11 And I said unto them, and I believe that the king doth behold the upright. 33:2 Thus.
the gleaming sand, bobbing lanterns. The Philistines be upon thee, and because the famine in the heart proceed evil for Israel, with hesitancy, and which I had known it, to himself, he said, How shall depart from his house. 7:2 That. the results we learned that no harm him, and rent it. 7:22 My face again no not to inform me, even all the heads of the unutterable consequences. It could tell, it thunders. The thing came out of Egypt. Who knoweth.
the grass-grown line on the glassy, phantom bones. 50:18 Therefore the children of Israel dedicated the sea, diverse and I hung an air of the war, to rest in my brother for nought, and the counsellor, and the cunning workman, and.
Song of Solomon. Chapman and Hall (1897). Image Source: Cary Collection, RIT via Manifold Greatness.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Millennial Malaise


Vampire awaiting invitation in the doorway: Sean Chapman  as Frank Cotton in Clive Barker's Hellraiser (1987). Image Source: Life for Films.

My last post on the demolition of French churches added to a sense of Millennial malaise this week. It came jumbled together on the micro and macro levels. A friend called to complain about a week of rude people and worse - people who are post-rude - who never knew what social conventions they violated in the first place. Another friend sent a link to a Gawker story about,
David Gilmour, the University of Toronto English professor who told a female reporter that he is "not interested in teaching books by women." "What I teach is guys," Gilmour continued. "Serious heterosexual guys."
A news story in a nearby town reported on a pregnant woman who was raped by two men on a well-traveled path behind her house, while she was walking her baby in a stroller. The baby was unharmed. And these days, that is surprising. Another local news story - in a normally low crime area - involved a girl who was almost abducted from the sidewalk by two men in a black van with darkened windows.

In non-local news, 300 teenagers invaded and trashed the home of ex-football player Brian Holloway in New York state. They posted their party on social media. At first, Holloway responded with unusual grace, and offered not to press charges if the kids would show up and help him fix the damage. He set up a Website to make his appeal. Only four teenagers showed up (some accounts state that one showed up) to help Holloway; the parents of the teens "threatened to firebomb his house, and are now planning to sue" Holloway rather than see their kids charged. After that, Holloway began pressing charges. Nor is this an unusual incident (see here and here).

There was the Kenyan shopping mall siege; I wondered if this was a not-so-dry run for terrorist attacks at other malls elsewhere in the future,  at Christmastime. A few other people thought the same thing (here, here, here, here and here). Then there was that island exposed by an earthquake off the coast of Pakistan, a bad dream made real, which is now emitting flammable gas.

Some entertainment news stories, like this and this and this, further reminded me that the cultural means for digesting the real world malaise have descended into an impoverished atmosphere. After that, I came upon a 2005 rant in the Guardian by the British actor Sean Chapman, in which he bemoaned the degraded state of the film industry in the UK.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Reservoir Gods


Image Source: Armenian History.

I was thinking about my posts on the collapse of heroism in Postmodern and post-Postmodern fiction and cinema, especially the Revolving Door of Death, in which heroes in pop culture over the past 25 odd years have been killed off for thrills and then brought back to life. Peter Chung explored that cat-came-back trope with his animated character, Aeon Flux, around 1991. Chung used that trope to comment on its moral nihilism.

Each age in the Great Year brings new standards of heroism as the Precession turns.

In the Age of Aries, classical heroes were not immortal. Whether they were warriors or prophets, their deaths in myths and religious legends were a huge breaking point in the heroic story.

In the Age of Pisces, the classical hero became a religious saviour through sacrifice, transcendence and immortality. He could come back from the dead, which made the human hero must become divine.

In the Age of Aquarius, heroes can come back from the dead; they are immortals, like vampires or zombies, but they still bear the daily drudgery, weaknesses and flaws of real human life. Humans don't become gods, gods become humans.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Generation Z's Revenge


Image Source: Mediahunter.

Picture this. It is 2045. The focus is on Generation Z, born roughly between the late 1990s and the late 2010s.  They are almost exclusively the children of Generation X and are already known for their total immersion in technology. The oldest members of this cohort are now almost fifty years old, the youngest are about to turn thirty. Some commentators imagine today's children will enjoy future prosperity, thanks to the arrival of the Singularity. But no matter what their opportunities, like every other generation, they will be helped, hampered or hindered by their elders' legacies. Those legacies could be dire. Assuming the members of Generation Z are not dying in World War III or its aftermath, here is a snapshot of some problems today's children could face. The following is a purely hypothetical scenario, based on some ideas, perspectives and facts that are currently available.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

The Last Book from the Last Library


Déjà vu: According to historian Susan Wise Bauer, this is: The Taking of Constantinople, 1453 by Palma il Giovane [Iacopo Nigreti (c. 1548-1628), who worked alongside Tintoretto], 17th century; very similar to paintings by two Tintorettos (father and son). Image Source: Wiki [the title is quoted on Wiki as The Taking of Constantinople, 1204, other sources agree].

2012 is a year when many people are thinking about the apocalyptic unthinkable. But this is no new thing.  People have been thinking about the end of the world, or at least of cataclysmic change, for as long as they have been thinking about the world. Most of 2012's fears are couched in terms of war, rogue phantom planets, spiritual, religious, political or cosmic dangers. In the Information Age, the one thing we never consider is that our accumulated knowledge could be obliterated.

The Crusaders' Conquest of Constantinople in 1204, by Domenico Tintoretto ((1560-1635) son of the famous artist (1518-1594, who painted another similar painting). Doge's Palace (Palazzo Ducale), Venice, Italy, 16th century.

Critics scoff at the 2012 fearful, but the loss of almost everything we are and know is not implausible and should at least be understood in terms of historical precedents.

There is a reason why many dystopian futuristic stories and films commonly have some lone character - a post-apocalyptic historian - who has holed up with the remains of pre-apocalyptic books, paintings and other cultural artifacts. You can see that theme in several modern graphic novels, fiction and sci-fi movies: Logan's Run, V for Vendetta, Ever Since the World Ended, A Canticle for Leibowitz.

The reason these fearful depictions are so compelling is that they are based on historical facts. We possess submerged memories of other times when vast bodies of human knowledge were wiped out, irretrievably and forever.

This post is about the one surviving book that comes directly to us from the last library of the ancient world. Of course, there are many ancient texts that have survived through copies and archaeological reconstructions. But this is apparently the only text which can be directly traced to a collection at the Imperial Library of Constantinople.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

The Personal Loop

July 1982, the group was aged around 19. Molony was holding a jar with a cockroach the group had found.

CNN recently reported on a group of friends who have met together periodically for the past 30 years to take the same picture. They plan to keep meeting at Copco Lake, California, to take another picture every five years until they die. They are, from left to right: John Wardlaw, Mark Rumer, Dallas Burney, John Molony and John Dickson. The photographs are © John Wardlaw.

While CNN focused on the way the Generation Jones group aged and their hairstyles changed, there are two stories here. One is how the men are changing over time. The other is the fact that they have not changed, in that they have remained friends over time.

1987.

1992.

1997.

2002.

2007.

2012.
Video Source: CNN.