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 Genetics. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Genetics. Show all posts

Friday, October 19, 2018

Hallowe'en Countdown 2018: The Formula for Consciousness

To unlock the mysteries of today's technology, some say you would have to start your investigation on the ballet stages of the 1840s. To get a flavour of European dance from that revolutionary period, today's post features some scans from a little book I own, published in 1948 by Batsford, entitled The Romantic Ballet. A centennial edition, it reprinted 1840s' coloured prints of prima ballerinas who were celebrated from 1840 to 1850. Click the images to enlarge.

These reprinted images from the 1840s display an occult visual vocabulary. For example, the three graces are three Greek goddesses - culture, beauty and creativity - later translated into the Christian theological virtues of faith, hope and charity. They are represented in the tarot deck as the Three of Cups.

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Countdown to Hallowe'en 2017: Latent Feline Infection

This meme dates from 2010. Image Source: Know Your Meme.

Today's post concerns how cats influence human health, based on the article: Influence of latent Toxoplasma infection on human personality, physiology and morphology: pros and cons of the Toxoplasma–human model in studying the manipulation hypothesis. That article concerns the often asymptomatic or latent disease, toxoplasmosis, caused by an intercellular parasite which is passed through cats to humans and is related to human depression, autism, cerebral calcification, sex addiction, and schizophrenia. It is a disease that affects rodents and makes them lose all fear of cats; this has allowed the parasitic protozoan to return to feline systems, where it can complete its life cycle. The parasite also affects the rodent brain's sexual impulses and reward centres.

Toxoplasma gondii parasitic protozoa. Image Source: Ke Hu and John Murray via Business Insider.

Scientists believe that toxoplasmosis infection similarly makes humans attracted to cats. The disease affects an enormous number of people, which may incidentally ensure the survival of the domestic cat, while also safeguarding the protozoan. Wiki:
"Up to half of the world's population are infected by toxoplasmosis but have no symptoms. In the United States about 23% are affected and in some areas of the world this is up to 95%. About 200,000 cases of congenital toxoplasmosis occur a year. Charles Nicolle and Louis Manceaux first described the organism in 1908. In 1941 transmission during pregnancy from a mother to a child was confirmed."
Perhaps those Walking Dead zombie stories are telling you the truth about a reality you suspect, but cannot see. If you think everyone around you is infected by some mysterious bug that makes them crazy, you may not be paranoid. You may be right. From Florence Robert-Gangneux and Marie-Laure Dardé in American Society for Microbiology (2012):
"Low seroprevalences (10 to 30%) have been observed in North America, in South East Asia, in Northern Europe, and in Sahelian countries of Africa. Moderate prevalences (30 to 50%) have been found in countries of Central and Southern Europe, and high prevalences have been found Latin America and in tropical African countries."
Approximate rates of infection by country below are almost all based on tests of pregnant women. Some studies only focus on particular regions, and the numbers change from year to year. Follow the links for years and details; not all countries conduct studies or keep statistics. Note that these statistics tend to show infection passed from mother to child in the womb. They do not include post-natal infection, in which people are infected directly by handling cats or eating raw or rare meat:
  • Argentina: sources for Buenos Aires 45.6%-57.2% infected
  • Australia: 28% infected; 23% found infected in pregnant women from Melbourne
  • Bahrain: 22.3% tested positive, from pregnant women in Manama only
  • Belgium: 48.7% infected
  • Brazil: 66.9% infected; other sources range 55.6%-77.8%, depending on region
  • Canada: unknown; extrapolated estimate 14%-22% infected
  • Chile: 40%-90% of the population, depending on region
  • China: Changchun only, 10.6% infected among pregnant women
  • Colombia: 43.1%-66.7%, different sources, depending on region
  • Costa Rica: approximately 55%, increases in rural areas and with poverty
  • Croatia: 38.1% infected
  • Cuba: different studies from Havana areas, 44%-66.3%
  • Czech Republic: 30%-40% infected; in Prague, 19.8% infected
  • Denmark: statistics for Copenhagen, 27.8% infected
  • Egypt: measured in women only, 46.5% in urban areas, 57.6% in rural areas
  • France: 45% infected
  • Germany: Western Pomeranian statistics only, 63.2% infected
  • Greece: depending on different studies and different regions, 20%-36.4% infected
  • Grenada: 57% infected, nationwide estimate
  • India: 11.6%-45%, depending on class and region
  • Iran: 29.4%-63.9%, depending on class and region
  • Iraq: 49.2% infected, statistics for pregnant women tested in Basra
  • Italy: 17.5%-34.4%, a range of averages, from different studies and different regions
  • Ivory Coast: 60% infected among pregnant women from Abidjan
  • Jordan: 47.1% infected in Amman
  • Kuwait: 45.7% infected among pregnant women
  • Malaysia: 49% infected among pregnant women from Kuala Lumpur
  • Mexico: extrapolated estimate 22% infected; another source found 6.1% of pregnant women infected in Durango
  • Morocco: Rabat statistics only, among pregnant women, 50.6% infected
  • Netherlands: 35.2% nationwide
  • New Zealand: statistics for pregnant women from Auckland, 35.4% infected
  • Poland: 35.8%-43.7% infected, based on pregnant women only in three cities, Warsaw, Lodz, Poznan
  • Romania: 57.6% infected in women of child-bearing age, Timisoara only
  • Serbia: 33% infected nationwide
  • Singapore: 17.2% infected among pregnant women
  • Slovakia: 22.1% among pregnant women, Bratislava data only
  • Slovenia: 34% infected nationwide
  • South Korea: 4.3% infected; other sources range 0.8%-3.7% infected in Daejeon and Suwon
  • Spain: 18.8%-43.8% infected, averages from certain regions only
  • Sudan: Khartoum and Omdurman only, pregnant women tested, 34.1% infected
  • Sweden: 18% infected from Stockholm and Skane only
  • Switzerland: 8.2%-35% infected, based on data from Lausanne, Geneva, Basel only
  • Thailand: 5.3%-21.5% infected among pregnant women from different regions
  • Turkey: 30.1%-60.4% average infected among pregnant women, from different classes and regions, impacted by regional culinary traditions (consumption of raw meat)
  • United Kingdom: 31% infected, 20 million people in 2012, with 80% of these asymptomatic; East Kent statistics for pregnant women showed 9.1% infected
  • USA: 15%-22.5% of the population, depending on demographic, 60 million+ infected; another source states 11% nationwide, with 7.76% for US-born and 28.1% for foreign born
  • Venezuela: 38% infected among pregnant women from Lara State
  • Vietnam: from Nha Trang only, 11.2% of pregnant women infected
In humans, the disease can remain latent until adulthood, or until the body experiences weakened immunity due to other causes. The non-latent form of the disease can feel like the 'flu' and spreads to the brain, eyes, and other organs; it creates cysts in the amygdala and nucleus accumbens, and changes the connections inside the brain which deal with fear responses, sexual attraction, decision-making and memory. The parasite also increases dopamine production, altering brain chemistry in the same ways cocaine - and schizophrenia - do. Those who are infected post-natally and directly through handling cats after birth are affected more severely than those who are infected congenitally.

Image Source: Twitter.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Countdown to Hallowe'en 2017: The Famine of Memory

This is an early incarnation of the villain, Sauron, when he was known as Mairon. Image Source: The Land of Shadow.

One of the premises of Tolkien's Lord of the Rings is that the characters live in a perilous time when real history has been lost. Thus, mortal danger arises not from the arch-villain, exactly, but from the abandoned vigilance of memory.

A later incarnation of Sauron, when he was known as Annatar. Image Source © Angel Falto/Tolkien Gateway.

Another conception of Annatar, who deceived the elves in the Second Age. Image Source © Alaïs/deviantART/Tolkien Gateway.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Last of Their Kinds: On and Off the Red List

Image Source: Sebastian Kennerknecht/PantheraCats/Twitter.

This year, the blog keeps returning to the Himalayas, and there must be something to that: see my earlier posts on the Himalayas here, here, and a 2015 post, here.

Today's post concerns the BBC report from 14 September 2017 that the snow leopard (Panthera uncia), the great cat of the Himalayas, has been removed from the endangered list, and is now classified as vulnerable. Scientists argue that the reclassification could place these cats at greater risk, but it is still good news that their population has improved.

As the snow leopard departs the endangered list, more than 150 species have been added to it. The ash trees of North America, a population of 9 billion trees, have been classified on the brink of extinction, due to an invasive Asian insect, the emerald ash borer (Agrilus planipennis). In the past few years, all the beautiful ash trees around my home in eastern Canada have died or started dying.

The Christmas Island pipistrelle bat was declared extinct this month. Image Source: Lindy Lumsden/Mongabay.

The Christmas Island Pipistrelle vesper bat of Australia (Pipistrellus murrayi) was declared extinct in September 2017. I have previously written on extinctions as less-recognized moments in history and as turning points in time. I have also discussed efforts to use genetic manipulation and cloning to bring back extinct species, as scientists work against the course of time and evolution; this is most noticeable when they plan to revive prehistoric species.

Image Source: BBC.

Image Source: BBC.

Image Source: Scott Olson/Getty Images/NPR.

Snow Leopard: First Intimate Images In The Wild - Planet Earth - BBC Earth (12 March 2017). Video Source: Youtube.

See all my posts on Extinction.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Countdown to Hallowe'en 2016: Americans, Aliens and Area 51

A lamp post in Roswell, New Mexico, USA. Image Source: Houstonia.

The American election campaign has reached the 'aliens are real' stage. Given WikiLeaks' latest (and possibly Russian-sourced) UFO leaks (herehere, here and here) relating to Hillary Clinton's campaign chairman, John Podesta, today we head to Area 51 for all things X-Files, Roswell, aliens, and flying saucers. According to WikiLeaks, US government staffers relayed the following information to John Podesta in an e-mail from December 2008:
"Add this to John Podesta's pile: A 'million fax on Washington' directed by the head of the Extraterrestrial Phenomena Political Action Committee (X-PPAC) to demand that Obama 'demand a full briefing from your military services and intelligence agencies regarding what they know and what they are doing about extraterrestrial related phenomena' and 'formally acknowledge the extraterrestrial presence and finally end the truth embargo after 61 years.'

X-PPAC's executive director, Stephen Bassett, writes in his own open letter that he believes that the transition chief is a secret ally in this:

If you are in need of counsel to assist you in these matters, you have but to turn to your transition co-chair, John Podesta. His efforts to end the truth embargo and release all relevant government documents date back to at least 1993 and the Rockefeller Initiative. PRG believes he is fully aware of the extraterrestrial presence and is committed to creating more open, transparent governance. In this he is in sync with the chief financial backer of his Center for American Progress think tank, George Soros.

This is not a new theory. The response to Clinton Library Freedom of Information Law requests was delayed because the UFO people got there first, FOIAing, among other things, 'All files on UFOs, Roswell New Mexico, flying saucers, Area 51 or the TV show X-Files in the files of John Podesta'

X-PPAC reportedly is further heartened, this time around, by the likely presence of Bill Richardson in the new administration; during one debate, he called on the federal government to 'come clean' on Roswell, though he later said he hadn't meant to suggest he's a believer."
Russia Today claims the leaks prove that the American government knows that aliens exist, and the aliens want to help us with "zero point energy," or "free energy," which would change the whole history and development of the world. The fact that 'energy' is the aliens' main concern should be a telltale sign in all this Russian mischief. According to the leaks, the aliens are unwilling to share their technology unless 'we' overcome our violent, war-mongering tendencies. The leaks also 'prove' the Vatican's awareness of extraterrestrials. You can see these bizarre revelations summarized here. See more reports here, here, here, here, here and here. Critics argue that these leaks and Russian propagandistic interference in American affairs herald a new era of "false stories" and "weaponized information."

This image was attached to a 26 October 2015 e-mail purportedly from Tom DeLonge to Hillary Clinton's campaign manager, John Podesta; it was leaked by WikiLeaks on 10 October 2016. It and other attached images relate to a Hollywood-sourced novels, films and 'non-fiction' works to be released about the existence of aliens. Image Source: WikiLeaks via CBS.

Image Source: PBS.

From the Prelinger Archives: "Color footage of atomic bomb tests with active duty military personnel at Camp Desert Rock, Nevada Test Site, Nevada. Shows soldiers in foxholes as nuclear detonation occurs nearby; light and shockwaves; blowing dust; soldiers climbing out of foxholes and running towards mushroom cloud." Video Source: Youtube. This film is in the public domain.

The Russians are cleverly exploiting a famous corner of American mythology to demoralize and confuse the Americans, turn them against their own system, and disrupt the USA's democratic process. Russian tactics are working because the adolescent republic reflexively reverts to revolutionary mode when considering any undue government influence - and because ancient superstitions married high technology in Nevada's now-toxic desert. Talk of flying saucers and aliens has long circled Area 51, a restricted facility, where the US Air Force tests experimental aircraft and weapons. According to Wiki, rumoured events in Area 51 include:
  • "The storage, examination, and reverse engineering of crashed alien spacecraft (including material supposedly recovered at Roswell), the study of their occupants (living and dead), and the manufacture of aircraft based on alien technology."
  • "Meetings or joint undertakings with extraterrestrials."
  • "The development of exotic energy weapons for the Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI) or other weapons programs."
  • "The development of means of weather control."
  • "The development of time travel and teleportation technology."
  • "The development of unusual and exotic propulsion systems related to the Aurora Program."
  • "Activities related to a supposed shadowy one world government or the Majestic 12 organization."
My 2012 post, Mutants, After the Apocalypse, contended that atomic bomb tests, nuclear accidents, and radioactive leaks on domestic soil constituted the fallout equivalent of a North American nuclear war. In other words, the nuclear apocalypse had already occurred but was not openly acknowledged. The subliminal fear of cancer and mutations became internalized through cultural metaphors, many of which were spiritual, religious or magical. Abduction narratives and alien conspiracy theories involve the internalization, impregnation, or hybridization of humans by insidious, non-human elements. A subplot in these stories includes world domination or military worries. These ideas symbolize the fear that deadly poisons have been absorbed inside physical human systems, with health and land compromised in the name of science, technology, defense and progress.

While aliens are mathematically likely to exist, the Fermi Paradox asks why they have not unquestionably arrived on earth. Believers say they have, but their logic bears all the remnant trademarks of the medieval religious and occult imagination. Where once Catholic Europe, threatened by bubonic plague, feared demonic possession, and the ghosts and vampires arising from a pandemic period of mass death - now technological Millennial America, unnerved by the radioactive source of her own superpower, fears alien invasion.

On 10 October 2016, the European Space Agency sent 3,775 messages toward the Pole Star Polaris, in a numerologically-laden 11-11-11 statement. Irish-born artist Paul Quast entitled the project, A Simple Response to an Elemental Message, in which the interstellar conversation with aliens was supposed to start around the question: "How will our present environmental interactions shape the future?" The messages will take 400 years to arrive. Image Source: Daily Galaxy.

When one considers unacknowledged fallout in the already-nuked homeland, American citizens become the real victims, alien to themselves, shambling around a ruined and polluted environment. Nor are they alone. By 2012, over 2,000 nuclear tests had been conducted around the world. For a map of where those tests occurred (assume far-reaching, global fallout), go here. Among the five top nations to conduct tests, only the British and French did not use their homeland territories. The British tested their bombs in Nevada, Australia, on islands in the Pacific, and in the atmosphere. The French conducted their tests in Algeria, the Pacific, and in the atmosphere.

Paul Hellyer statement on a covert alien invasion, supposedly kept secret by top governments as part of the New World Order conspiracy (May 2013). Video Source: Youtube.

Before the October 2016 WikiLeaks revelations, the most high profile official to claim that aliens and related military conspiracies are real was the Canadian ex-Minister of Defence, Paul Hellyer. Hellyer remains hazy about whether he actually read secret governmental reports about UFOs while in office. His cited information comes from UFO writers, enthusiasts, and convention attendees. He implies that the Canadian government received reports of UFOs. But Canadian governmental neglect of those reports does not constitute a cover-up or proof of UFOs. Due to his former cabinet rank, Hellyer looks like a government UFO whistle-blower, even if he is not one.

Of course, as WikiLeaks shows, whistle-blowing carries a lot of momentum and perceived ethical weight in Millennial social media. Telling a suppressed secret in the name of a higher truth to protect the beleaguered public is a now-classic Millennial meme, which transforms the whistle-blower into a nearly-irreproachable, self-sacrificing holy man. It must be tempting to play the role of gnostic truth-teller, to become a prophet unveiling real reality in the nascent Age of Information. Only recently have netizens and hacktivists begun to ask about their sources' motivations.

Hellyer gains social media traction by mashing up two Millennial memes: aliens and whistle-blowing. Playing the whistle-blower gives Hellyer a carte blanche to say nearly anything and to occupy a projected space of moral rectitude in the UFO subculture. As a result, Hellyer is now a darling of these circles. He is spending his retirement touring alien conferences and conspiracy theorist conventions. He wants governments to give a "full disclosure" on UFOs to their citizens. He apparently believes the entire Millennial alien mythology: aliens in the ancient world, Atlantis, the Illuminati, the Bilderbergers, the shadow government, the anti-banking movement, the New World Order plot, and human genetic manipulation orchestrated by alien interlopers.

Yet Hellyer's most poignant desire in resolving these perceived threats reveals a man struggling with a deeper problem. He says: "In a word, we have to become spiritual beings." As with the Russian-inspired aliens who are focused on energy, this is the giveaway. Although Hellyer would deny it in his quest for the truth, perhaps the problem he faces is one of alienation, not aliens, in society. The spiritual path typically begins by smashing the truth one takes for granted.

For Hellyer, that truth is obviously the integrity of western governments. His deeper spiritual concern chimes with a story of Area 51 which asks how love, community, and soul-based morality contend with fear of a contaminated landscape, rapid technological change, and death-dealing power. Hellyer's Nevada odyssey hints that in the era of mass communications, social media, and big data, the central challenge to the individual is how one decides to know information, and how one connects that 'way of knowing' to moral and political value systems. His interests also echo the New Age end of the aliens-are-here spectrum, where belief in aliens is associated with spiritual enlightenment and higher awakening.

Below, see an urbex video from urban explorer Dan Bell for a real, recent view of the region; and from across the Web, see some of the best alien Hallowe'en costumes. These days, most Millennial UFO reports hail from Central and South America rather than Nevada, although this US state still guards many mysteries: the most recent known nuclear test in Nevada was a 2012 underground plutonium bomb, Pollux.

From the 1950s to the present, 928 atomic bomb tests were conducted in the Yucca flats and surrounding areas at the Nevada Test Site, 65 miles northeast of Las Vegas. Mushroom clouds could be seen from Las Vegas's downtown hotels and became tourist attractions. This is the 1 November 1951 'Dog' test from Operation Buster-Jangle, the first to include live troops manoeuvring on Frenchman Flat while the bomb went off. Image Source: Wiki.

Dan Bell's urbex video of an abandoned complex, 30 minutes from the alien gas station and celebrity-connected Heidi-Fleiss-owned brothel at Amargosa, Nevada, adjacent to the infamous Area 51 and equally infamous Yucca Mountain (17 August 2016). Bell mentions gold and silver mining, but regions to the north, south and southwest also featured uranium mines. Video Source: Youtube.

Brothel adjacent Area 51 at Amargosa, Nevada (Yucca Mountain Travel Center): "This is a legal brothel, or 'Cathouse' (whorehouse?) at the intersection of the Veterans Memorial Highway (US 95) and State Highway 393 in Amargosa, Nevada. Dennis Hof (owner of a successful brothel in Carson City) and Heidi Fleiss (the former Hollywood Madame who was arrested in the '90s for running a high-price prostitution ring) own and operate the place, respectively." (31 July 2012) Video Source: Youtube.

Image Source: Wiki.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Open Source Code: Cross-Pollination and Consensus

If you want to find people who are truly finding new ways to understand the world - society, the economy, politics, law, governance - in light of technological advances, look to the best thinkers in cryptocurrency circles. On 10 June 2016, Andreas Antonopoulous posted this tweet and video from Milan regarding evolutionary and anthropological similarities to open source code:
"The interest of anthropologists drawing similarities between evolutionary biology and market economies. Cross-pollination/ cross-genetic lines or horizontal transfer of DNA between species vs. the open source environment. Different cryptocurrency developers exchanging code ('DNA blueprints') and adopting it. Bitcoin is rapidly progressing. Concepts of basic income. Identity and reputation works best in small communities. They are difficult to scale without collapsing. We can scale reputation but should we or do we want to? Rigid mechanistic reputation systems don't have the the flexible human capability to forget. Scaling consensus through collaboration. The problem of control by the few."

Video Source: Youtube.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

The Tornado

A tornado in Colorado, USA (7 May 2016). Image Source: Tori O'Shea.

This blog is skeptical of conspiracy theories because they are not consistent with the way reality is created. Conspiracy theories about current events - for example, regarding the disastrous situation in Syria - are examples of modern urban folklore, which impose exactly the same superstitious, deterministic logic onto the world that an established religion would. Many of today's orthodoxies are nominally secular, but they are no less based in blind faith. Actors on the international scene do try to impose strategic control on the world's hot spots; the media come to these hot spots with spin, preconceived ideas and even false flag agendas. However, the notion that anyone - governments, politicians, banks, shadowy cabals, unseen actors, evil establishments - controls the reality that ensues from fluid conditions is incorrect.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Nuclear Leaks 36: Chernobyl, the 30th Anniversary

Video Source: VICE via Youtube.

On 26 April 2016, VICE commemorated the 30th anniversary of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster by sending reporter Simon Ostrovsky to visit the area outside the sarcophagus and nearby Pripyat. His report revealed how little his fellow tourists understand radiation. The video explains that those exposed to fallout changed at the genetic level, and those changes were passed on to their children. VICE deemed Chernobyl still to be the world's worst nuclear accident, although since Fukushima that is disputed. One thing in the report was clear, in advice from Dr. Larysa Yanovych at the National Research Center for Radiation Medicine in Kiev, Ukraine: Don't go off the path. For some current photos of Pripyat, go here, here and here.

"Amateur British photographer Michael Day, 29, an air traffic controller from London who works in Aberdeen, Scotland, visited the disaster scene with a Ukrainian government escort to photograph the ghost town." Images Source: Michael Day / Barcroft USA via Telegraph.

Image Source: NBC.

See all my posts related to Chernobyl.
See all my posts on Nuclear topics.
Click here for all my posts on Urban Exploration.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Awaken the Amnesiacs 4: The New Millennium's Gothic Moment

BBC Four's show, The Art of Gothic: Britain's Midnight Hour (6 November 2014) explained how the 18th and 19th century explosion of science and industry inspired a Gothic counter-movement, a critical moral debate on the implications of unbridled rationalism. The BBC show highlighted the English painting, An Experiment on a Bird in the Air Pump (1768) by Joseph Wright of Derby (1734-1797), which portrayed the Gothic fear of scientists' experiments. Rationalists' destruction of spiritual concerns created horror. In the painting, the scientist is slowly pumping air out of a bell jar, in which a bird (symbolizing the Holy Spirit) is trapped. The scientist is suffocating the bird to demonstrate its dependence on oxygen. Image Source: Wiki.

The Awaken the Amnesiacs series on this blog explains why and how the human interaction with high technology is taking on spiritual dimensions. In today's post, I discuss the Gothic moment at which undue rationalism carries within itself the seeds of its own undoing. The rational, when overindulged, becomes anti-rational.

Any undertaking, done in the name of 'cutting edge change' will involve a confident, progressive agent. It is easy to criticize our forebears for their blind spots, and more difficult to see our own. In an earlier post, The Night of First Ages, I quoted an adaptation of Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness (1899) in the 2005 King Kong screenplay. The characters in King Kong are on a voyage to make a movie on a remote island. On the way, Jimmy, the ship's boy, reads Heart of Darkness, narrated by Conrad's protagonist, Charles Marlow. Marlow is on a journey to find an ivory trader, Kurtz, on the Congo River. Jimmy asks: "Why does Marlow keep going up the river? Why doesn't he turn back?"

The Heart of Darkness scene from King Kong (2005) © Universal Pictures depicts the wall between ego and id, or between the conscious-rational and unconscious-anti-rational parts of the human mind. Reproduced under Fair Use. Video Source: Youtube.

The ship's first mate remarks that Marlow keeps searching for Kurtz, without realizing how deep he is getting into the dark side of human nature, because Marlow believes he is civilized. 'Civilized' characters like Marlow and Kurtz are amnesiacs, who think their own savagery is no longer a threat, something from a long lost, bygone era of sticks and stones. In their hubris, they unconsciously become more savage as they push forward as self-appointed bearers of 'progress': "We could not understand because we were too far ... and could not remember ... because we were traveling in the night of first ages ... of those ages that are gone ... leaving hardly a sign, and no memories. We are accustomed to look ... upon the shackled form of a conquered monster ... but there ... there you could look at a thing monstrous and free."

Jimmy realizes, "It's not an adventure story ... is it Mr. Hayes?" To which the first mate responds, "No Jimmy, it's not." The nested novel-to-movie-to-film metafiction in King Kong should be a message to its audience; as is the metahistorical fact that Heart of Darkness was based on a true story and the character Kurtz was based on a real person. The metafiction and metahistory of Heart of Darkness, embedded inside King Kong, reveal our amnesia. In blindly pursuing the singularity, why don't we turn back? Why don't we see that the history of the new Millennium is not an adventure story? It is because we expect the monster inside ourselves to be shackled. On the Internet and in research labs, the monster is not shackled.

Scientists and technologists have reached a Gothic moment because there is a gap between their practice and the way they are perceived in mass media as progressive actors. When they work with the scientific method, they live with uncertainty. They test hypotheses which, if proven, are accepted until falsified or refined. At the same time, we live in a period when a cult of secular rationalism has supplanted mass religions to furnish the prevailing story of global civilization. Scientific method and rationality are equated with humanism, enlightenment, advanced education, and hyper-progress. Scientists and technologists occupy exalted social positions as perceived experts. In this capacity, they are less cautious. They are little aware that when they become public gurus or market their findings with mythical labels, they tap into that part of secular rationalism that functions like a religion, rather than a considered quantification of reality.

Despite recent triumphs and headlines, there are signs of amnesia among today's scientists, technologists, and technophiles. They press ahead as experts and progressive actors, even when their impact on society starts to become surreal, or when their followers become cultish. They do not stop to reconsider their position, even when, as I put it in this post, "a nearly-unstoppable faith in, and optimism about, rampant technology" gives rise to "a heart-tearing soul-sickness which emerges from that intermingling of the virtual and the real."

Scientists are frank about how much they do not and cannot know. The Guardian: "It is perhaps a sign of the health of modern science that the harbingers of so much doubt have met with such acclaim." The current situation is serious: physicists have reached the analytical limits of scientific inquiry for two reasons. They discovered that they can only observe and measure the tiny part of the universe which absorbs light radiation. When they do measure that tiny portion, they have confirmed that they change it at the sub-atomic level. We can only see a tiny portion of reality, and we change that reality when we look at it. Together, these issues trap us in a self-referential bubble of perception.

When physicists determined that 96 per cent of the universe is unobservable and exists in the forms of dark matter and dark energy, scientists at CERN and other labs set out to breach those limits. Particle physicists, who deal with measurable knowns, stand at the edge of the methodological line, with a high point being their 4 July 2012 discovery of the Higgs Boson or 'God particle.' In 2012, Russia Today interviewed Aleksey Filippenko, an astrophysicist and Professor of Astronomy at the University of California, Berkeley, who admitted that the 'God particle' raised more questions than answers:
"Let me start by saying that I am going to discuss the universe only from the perspective of a scientist, from an intellectual perspective. I am not going to be talking about whether there is spiritual God or a personal God or a purpose to the universe – these are questions that scientists can’t address. My own belief is that once you have the laws of physics the universe just keeps going on its own. And it could even be that the laws of physics are all that you need in order to get the universe to start from the very beginning – the “Big Bang”. ...

The Higgs boson helps to complete what is called the Standard Model of particle physics. There is a way we have to try to understand – electrons and quarks and neutrino and other kinds of particles. And Higgs boson was kind of a missing piece of the puzzle. Which, if it were not there, would mean that we would have to kind of start over. But the fact that it appears to have been found completes our picture of the Standard Model of particle physics. That is not to say that we understand everything. We don’t yet understand how gravity fits in with particle physics. Other than the fact that gravity pulls particles together. We also do not understand things like dark energy. The universe seems to be filled with a dark energy that is expanding the universe faster and faster – I helped to discover that. And the 2011 Nobel Prize in physics was given to the team leaders last year for that discovery.

So, we don’t understand the dark energy. There is also something called dark matter. It may or may not be some kind of fundamental particles that could be part of the Standard Model – we don’t yet understand. The Higgs boson is a very important discovery. But it does not solve all the questions that remain in physics. But it is a very important discovery. In a sense, it would have been more exciting as a scientist to me if it were not there because it would mean that we were not correct in our view of the universe. The surprises are more fun than the expected discoveries. ...

I don’t think scientists will ever truly understand creation because I don’t think we will know where the laws of physics came from. But given a universe, given a universe can arise I think some day we may well understand dark energy and dark matter and the other constituents of the universe. We only discovered dark energy 14 years ago – the accelerating expansion of the universe. So it is no surprise that we don’t yet fully understand dark energy. Dark matter was only conceived a few decades ago. So again, we don’t yet fully know what dark matter is. But we have not been investigating it for very long. I mean, in hundreds of years who knows what we will know. We might have a full inventory of what is in the universe and how everything behaves. So we will know a lot. But we won’t quite know why it all happened and why there is something other than nothing.

Why are there any mathematical laws of physics rather than just nothing at all? I don’t know whether we will ever understand that. Scientists are only well-aware of 4 per cent of the universe – that is, we understand pretty well the nature of 4 per cent of the universe. The stuff that is made of atoms. Ninety-six per cent of the universe is made out of dark matter and dark energy. And although we know they are present we don’t know what their detailed properties are or why they are there. Or what exactly is going on."
On the other side of the line stand theoretical physicists, who deal with unmeasurable unknowns using mathematics. Astrophysicists stand, somewhat unhappily, on both sides of the line. A 2011 book by Richard Panek, The 4 Per Cent Universe, emphasized that scientific measurements begin to break down at dark energy and dark matter. The conventional wisdom is that as discoveries, knowledge, and tools improve, the scientific method will expand and continue. But this underestimates the problem of scientific methodological analyses - and for researchers in all disciplines who use them. It is not just a question of having insufficient tools to measure and quantify reality. It is a question of not being able to comprehend the findings. The Smithsonian: "'We have a complete inventory of the universe,' Sean Carroll, a California Institute of Technology cosmologist, has said, 'and it makes no sense.'"

Apollo 18 (2011) faux found footage movie explained why 'we've never gone back to the moon.' The film was a huge box office hit. The real reasons for canceled Apollo missions were political, technical and funding challenges. Image Source: Movie Blogger.

Just as physicists hit a wall, big science stumbled elsewhere as well. In one generation, the space age promised and failed to produce space station cities, moon pod villages, and colonists on Mars. Lunar settlements remain technical concepts, and China's 2013 landerYutu, made the first soft landing on the moon since 1976. On the Internet, lunar exploration has become the dismal stuff of conspiracy theory and cinematic legend. Nor did the atomic age solve the energy crisis, or bring us cold fusion. Instead, it vomited up the radioactive fallout of nuclear disasters and inexplicable dark matter. Geneticists were supposed to cure cancer and the common cold, not produce human-animal hybrid chimeras which scare the public. These generalizations do not account for the realities of research and funding; but they explain why mass sympathy and confidence in big science waned over the past generation.

Another day at Boston Dynamics. Image Source: RAND Corporation.

Where big science stumbled, big tech was supposed to bail us out. In the public mind, if not in reality, the torch passed in the 1990s from big science to big technology. Over the past fifteen years, interest shifted from space exploration and cosmology - to computers, gadgets and the Internet. Technologists promised transhumanism, posthumanism, artificial intelligence, and the Singularity. This was why 'singularity' became the evangelical buzzword of technophiles between 2003 and 2012, and remains fashionable with its own cluster of personalities. Silicon Valley became one of the most powerful places on earth. High tech would launch us exponentially toward a gnostic, mind-opening, theophanic moment of transcendence.

Enter the computer programmers, designers and engineers. We would remake ourselves on the clock, rework our societies and the whole world, and finally efficiently manage resources. The Internet, conceived by the scientists at CERN, was rationalistic in its construction. Unfortunately, it is anti-rational in its execution; it exploits users' unconscious impulses and forms a giant collective mind. We did not get a robot-supported Valhalla. Instead, we got 9-million-hit Roomba cat videos, cyber-bullies, social-media-supported home invasions, remote-controlled brain-to-brain interfaces, and Boston Dynamics cheerfully preparing its Second Variety military hardware for World War III. The technological revolution began to give way to the surveillance revolution.