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 Gnosticism. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Gnosticism. Show all posts

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Hallowe'en Countdown 2018: The Skeleton Key

Olga Neuwirth, Lost Highway opera stills (2003), based on the 1997 film by David Lynch.

In this year's Hallowe'en countdown, I have been describing a malaise that unnerves us. There is a collective sense that things have gone wrong and somewhere, there is an answer why. Somewhere, there is a skeleton key. If you had it, you could unlock all the problems, find their solutions, and blink yourself awake into a better world.

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.

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Hallowe'en Countdown 2018: The Illuminati and the New Vampire Ouroboros

The Papal Audience Hall, Rome, Italy. Partly situated in Vatican City, the Paul VI Hall was designed by architect Pier Luigi Nervi and completed in 1971. The mouth of the serpent features an alien-looking sculpture of Jesus resurrecting from nuclear-bomb-created slag. Conspiracy theorists believe that the hall proves that the Vatican is secretly presiding over a neo-Babylonian Satanic sect of serpent-worshipers. Image Source: wykop.

Today's Hallowe'en countdown continues Monday's post on the ouroboros, the symbol of immortality behind the vampire story. The ouroboros myth reveals why populists and New Agers pair the reptile with the vampire in conspiracy theories about lizard aliens and blood-drinking élites.

David Icke is the main popularizer of the lizard alien hypothesis. David Icke: Conspiracy of the Lizard Illuminati (Part 2/2) (24 August 2012). Video Source: Youtube.

British ex-footballer David Icke is at the forefront of describing this new version of the ouroboros vampire, starting in his 1999 book, The Biggest Secret. Despite denials, he has laced his account of reptilian humanoid élites with anti-Semitism. He repackages anti-Semitism as anti-evil-space-alien, anti-Kabbalist, anti-Zionist, anti-Khazarian, anti-Babylonian Brotherhood, anti-moon-Death-Star, and anti-Saturn-worship. He claims that he opposes 'false Jews,' Freemasons, and Illuminists.

Icke was ridiculed throughout the 1990s and early 2000s. He only gained a following after the rise of social media and the concurrent 2008 recession, which was blamed on banking institutions and saw a corresponding explosion of anti-Semitism.

At the same time, graphics editing software became broadly available which was capable of subtly altering images and videos to create 'evidence' of lizard people. As a result, Icke now travels the world, talking for up to eleven hours at a stretch to packed audience halls. It is a new form of entertainment, and thousands of vloggers, bloggers, New Agers, and conspiracists have followed suit. They have expanded Icke's hypothesis to produce an enormous Millennial cosmology. Vox called it "the greatest political conspiracy [theory] ever created."

But the point is that it is not original. I think Icke derived his lizard people hypothesis from the ancient Egyptian mystery of the ouroboros, in which serpents were believed to be bound to the souls of kings and queens.

Monday, October 1, 2018

Hallowe'en Countdown 2018: The Order of the Dragon and the Vampire Ouroboros

Vampires are connected to the ouroboros, an ancient Egyptian symbol linking life and death. This is "an engraving of a woman holding an ouroboros in Michael Ranft's 1734 treatise on vampirrs." Notice the hourglass balanced on its edge in the bottom left corner, and the satyr playing the triangle above the woman. Click to enlarge. Image Source: Wiki.

Welcome to the month of October! Every year, this blog joins dozens of other blogs to count down to Hallowe'en (check out other participants here). I reserve this countdown for topics which are too weird, frightening and creepy to cover during the rest of the year. This month, I will be publishing new Hallowe'en posts every Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

Vampires open the countdown this year. Vampire and other horror stories tie in strongly to modern conspiracy theories. During this countdown, I cover strange and sometimes offensive material. That doesn't mean I personally believe in, or endorse, those ideas.

The Old Vampire Ouroboros: The Order of the Dragon

The German poet and diplomat, Oswald von Wolkenstein (1376-1445), wearing an Order of the Dragon brooch with the serpent eating its tail. Portrait from the Innsbrucker Handschrift (1432). Notice the closed right eye, now a common gesture in photographs of celebrities. Image Source: Portrait in the Innsbruck manuscript of 1432 (Liederhandschrift B)/Wiki.

Serbian performance artist Marina Abramović using two snakes to cover her right eye and neck. Image Source: e-flux conversations.

The word 'Dracula' comes from the title granted the Wallachian rulers of Transylvania who were members of the chivalric Order of the Dragon, a group founded in 1408 to keep the Turks out of Europe.

The order started in Germany and Italy, but spread to the princely houses of Central Eastern Europe. Members of the order carried the signum draconis, the sign of the dragon, later displayed on the coats of arms of certain Hungarian noble families: Báthory, Bocskai, Bethlen, Szathmáry, Benyovszky, Kende and Rákóczi.

Engraving of an ouroboros by Lucas Jennis, in the 1625 alchemical tract, De Lapide Philosophico. Image Source: Wiki.

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Time and Politics 26: The Age of Divergence

Image Source: 8 tracks radio.

Last week, Michael Morgenstern intellectualized disinformation at The Chronicle of Higher Education: Dear Humanities Profs: We Are the Problem. Dismayed about American politics? Look in the mirror.

Morgenstern stated that postmodern theorists attacked the canon in the second half of the 20th century. According to these theorists, the western canon in arts and literature (and science) was a story of oppression, often intended, sometimes unconscious. This dominant account was written by Dead White Males. The period from the 1970s to 2010s was spent dismantling that canon, attacking power and privilege in the name of liberal civil rights and equality.

This approach extolled cultural relativism: there was no objective truth, no higher class of knowledge, no text, no vision of cultural superiority which could be offered as a mode of control (subtext: unless it was the new, divergent, relativist, postmodernist canon).

The Age of Divergence

Morgenstern has realized that this attack on cultural and intellectual convergence brought about our present circumstances. Postmodern literary critics had stated that every text was equal. Every text had its own 'civil rights.' Boomer intellectuals and their Gen X students recovered silenced voices, women writers, slave poets, indigenous histories, minority views. This was understandable and justified, because so many people had been mistreated and oppressed for decades, centuries, millennia. Without their voices, our histories were incomplete and our whole understanding of reality would be based on injustice and immorality.

However, this recovery of lost texts was also done in the name of undermining established experts and authorities. This was really a generational power struggle inside the academic profession, but it was dressed up in and justified with theory. Old tenured professors were unseated, early-retired, or pushed out. The aim was to supplant the older generation of intellectuals (viewed as 'the 1950s') with a radical new generation (defined as '1968'). But time has finally caught up with the 1968ers, who are now retired or retiring.

It's not as simple as this, but broadly speaking, this is Morgenstern's summary of how radical liberals attacked conservative authorities of the 1950s and built new intellectual value systems from the 1970s onward.

Morgenstern concluded that the liberals were successful. As a result, we now live in a world where no text is taken as true or accepted solely on the basis of the authority of its author or publisher. Unfortunately for this stratum of intellectuals, they now claim expertise, and by their own logic find themselves attacked, just as they once dismantled the institutional and cultural structures which came before them. Only one Chronicle reader, rebek13, pinned down Moregenstern's idea:
"I'm confused by other commenters who seem to have missed the main points I took from this, which were not so much about 'the canon' at all, which the author admits had exclusionary tendencies (though it need not).

What I see here is a critique of our abdication of the very idea of expertise, excellence, and beauty--literary studies serving as a prime example, but only that. We have in a postmodern haze suggested that tweets are just as good as texts, and that anyone's opinion on literature, philosophy, or history is really probably just as good as the expert who has spent years studying these fields. In doing so, we have made ourselves absolutely pointless and suggested the uselessness of our very fields.

Isn't it very odd that professors of literature have such poor defenses of the study of long, dense literary texts? Isn't it odd that many of my colleagues have turned to facebook comments and recipe books as objects of study (not scrutiny, ever, but study) as though these articles were just as precious as a novel? Why should students understand the value of a long text if we are saying 'everything is literature; nothing is any more worthwhile than anything else'?

It's funny. Colleagues with creative writing backgrounds seem to have a much more profound and certain appreciation of literature than those who spend their lives studying it. They would never suggest that a tweet could achieve the same things as a book. They are not that far gone.

The solution as I see it is not a return to canon as much as a return to the idea that some modes of thought and expression ARE better than others, and that experts are in a pretty good position to tell people how and why. Then we need to be those experts."
In short, due to the Internet, we are awash in oceans of information; and the very people who were supposed to decide what information was authoritative staked their own authority over the past fifty odd years on the deconstruction of privilege around information. This overhaul was supposed to offer new freedom for disempowered liberals in the old, conservative system. It was not supposed to spell freedom for disempowered conservatives in the new, liberal system.

Monday, April 9, 2018

Losing Our Addiction

Mark Zuckerberg in 2009: Facebook privacy is central - BBC News (21 March 2018). Video Source: Youtube.

The endgame of social media is becoming clear. The exciting 2000s and early 2010s were the heyday of the Creative Commons. A beautiful ideal established in 2001, the Creative Commons refers to the free-sharing of information, the democratization of data.

The Commons made way for cyber-variants of political ideologies, which attempted to describe and defend new virtual freedoms. Social media seemed to offer soapboxes and development venues for tech-savvy individuals. Some of these individuals became hacktivists and citizen journalists, who used search engines and video platforms like Youtube to expose the power structures of the world. They fell for the tempting promise that the little person could finally be empowered, independent, and free. Having identified themselves in the system as potential leaders, they are now being censored. Each new liberty in this testing ground has led social media users ever deeper into a matrix of control.

It is evident that early Millennial spaces of free discussion, sexual libertinism, and politically liberated behaviour, alongside honeypot offers of cheap hardware and open source toolkits, were always controlled environments. Think of Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, Google and even the chans! - as Petri dishes and you start to get a better idea of what has been happening. As I stated in an earlier post about the Dark Web, anonymity is a myth. These free spaces were merely opportunities to gather vast amounts of human data for future AI systems, dedicated to social control and surveillance.

"Sean Parker, 38, claims social media sites like Facebook are 'exploiting vulnerabilities in human psychology' and said social media pioneers like himself 'understood this consciously and we did it anyway.'": Facebook founder warns of social media addiction (10 November 2017). Video Source: Youtube/ABC News.

Last year, VICE talked to Google ex-designer and ethicist Tristan Harris. Harris confirmed that social media platforms were deliberately designed to addict their users and employed tricks used in casinos, such as intermittent variable rewards. Social media platforms use social reciprocity, social approval, fear of missing out, and fear of social exclusion to trick users into sharing their personal data and their emotional sensibilities around that data. It's all done in a climate of fake positivity, driven by an undercurrent of addiction, social threat, and fear.

Social media platforms also employ principles of deception because they only offer users certain courses of behaviour, with few considering the choices which were not made available. You can read Harris's essays on this topic here.

Facebook's ex-president Sean Parker confirmed the founding principles of the platform in a series of interviews last year; from Slate:
"The thought process was all about, 'How do we consume as much of your time and conscious attention as possible?', he said. 'And that means that we need to sort of give you a little dopamine hit every once in a while, because someone liked or commented on a photo or a post or whatever, and that’s going to get you to contribute more content, and that’s going to get you more likes and comments. It’s a social validation feedback loop. … You’re exploiting a vulnerabilty in human psychology.'"
Parker's revelations mean that in the 2009 interview at the top of this post, Mark Zuckerberg was outright lying to the BBC about Facebook's endgame. Today's Silicon Valley marketing is reminiscent of cigarette ads from the 1950s through the 1980s, which deliberately misled consumers about the terrible health effects of smoking.

Monday, November 27, 2017

Prepare for the Saudi Singularity

I have published a new post (here) at Vocal Media, which argues that the upheavals in Saudi Arabia are symptomatic of a massive shift from economies based on oil, to economies based on the next stage of technology.

I argue that events in Riyadh's Ritz-Carlton suggest that the Singularity is coming, but not the way we expected. The Singularity will be commandeered by the Saudis, meaning that the dominant cultural tone of the Singularity will not be California Silicon Valley culture, or Asian culture, or German Tech-Kultur, or even Silicon Britain - or other global cultures you might expect.

Rather, the Singularity will be dominated by Wahhabist Islam.

The situation is far more complex than I have outlined in that Vocal piece; for more details, see James Corbett's summaries below. I don't always agree with Corbett's interpretations and opinions, but he has put together a decent overview of the situation, albeit from an alt-media perspective. He includes reasons why the Crown Prince may not succeed in commandeering the Singularity, much less Saudi Arabia.

Regardless, Corbett recognizes the basic new truth of our lives: Data is the New Oil. Erected before us like an unavoidable totem, this truth is not just economic or technological. Despite the scientific bent of technology, I maintain that the primary impact of this truth will be cultural and especially religious. We are at the exact moment that will determine which culture dominates and shapes the post-carbon era of the Singularity, related technocratic governments, and their official religions.

The Saudi Purge is a Global Crisis (17 November 2017). Video Source: Youtube.

Why Big Oil Conquered The World (6 October 2017). Video Source: Youtube

How Big Oil Conquered the World (27 December 2015). Video Source: Youtube.

Data is the New Oil (24 November 2017). Video Source: Youtube

Friday, June 23, 2017

Anniversaries: Monumental Masonry

Image Source: The Hedge Mason.

The 24th of June 2017 is the 300th anniversary of the founding of Freemasonry, more precisely, the first collective of organized Masonic lodges. On the Feast of St. John the Baptist in 1717four London lodges met at the Goose and Gridiron ale-house, and formed the Grand Lodge of London and Westminster; later it became the Premier Grand Lodge of England. The four lodges were named for the pubs where they normally met: the Goose and Gridiron; the Crown; the Apple-Tree tavern; and the Rummer and Grapes tavern.

Image Source: Time Out London.

To celebrate, London's Grand Lodge is opening for the public for a few hours. If you are in town, not a member, and would like to look inside, now is your chance:
Freemasons’ Hall, 60 Great Queen St, WC2B 5AZ will be open from 10am to 5pm on June 24. Entry to the building and ‘Rough to smooth: Art inspired by Freemasonry’ (Jun 24-Jul 1) is free.

Friday, June 2, 2017

Red Pill, Blue Pill, Green Pill, Black Pill

Forbidden fruit: The Apple logo is commonly considered to make an occult reference to the Garden of Eden and relates computer use to forbidden knowledge, information, and soul-testing enlightened liberation. Image Source: The Open Scroll.

Before 1999, there was no word in English, as far as I know, to describe information which shatters one's world view. Techno-political ideologies evolve from an overdose on information and subsequent, broken views of the world.

Information as Forbidden Fruit

The first cyber-ideology to describe the disillusionment of the Information Age was called the red pill, or being red-pilled. The term comes from the film, The Matrix (1999) and Morpheus's speech on how to deal with knowing something you can't explain:
"This is your last chance. After this, there is no turning back. You take the blue pill—the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill—you stay in Wonderland, and I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes. Remember: all I'm offering is the truth. Nothing more."
Red pilling starts with the feeling that there is something wrong in the world, and you don't know what it is. Everywhere you look, things have gone wrong.

The splinter, driving you mad, is that you are a slave, born into bondage in an invisible prison: The Matrix (1999) © Warner. Reproduced non-commercially under Fair Use. Video Source: Youtube.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Twin Peaks Returns

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

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

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Awaken the Amnesiacs 7: The Economist Predicts the Year 2017

The Economist predictions for 2017, released November 2016. Image Source: The Economist.

When I saw that The Economist's tarot spread cover for its special issue predicting next year, my heart sank. After the American election, #proofoflife at WikiLeaks, and the impeachment of the South Korean president, I did not want to think about any more political weirdness. In case you have had enough too, here is my TL;DR on The Economist's message:

The cover may or may not predict a terror attack in Europe or a nuclear threat in Asia in the first quarter of the year, cementing Trump's presidency in the second quarter. Despite the fact that Trump will backtrack on promises, his ability to mesmerize the populist masses will grow. A huge upheaval is expected in the third quarter, with Merkel likely to lose the German election and Wilders and LePen gaining in earlier elections in the Netherlands and France. A divided body politic must find middle ground. After watching this unfold, the globalist liberal establishment will renew itself by December through the debut of exciting new technology, increased connectivity in developing countries, and a redoubled effort to control the public space, both online and off, with figures from government, banking, entertainment and academia entering online discourse in earnest. They will absorb formerly independent Internet enterprises, recapture lost ground, go on the attack, and flip the populist script.

On Youtube, I sensed the alt-right, alt-media types didn't want to look at The Economist. They are weary. "They do this to us every year," sighed one Youtuber after making three videos on the subject. Even the conspiracy theorists are sick of conspiracy theories. They only reviewed this Planet Trump thing out of a dogged sense of obligation to keep up their end - New World Order, Illuminati, Trump, Pizzagate, yadda yadda. They were all sure about one thing. The cover contains a hidden message.

I envy the flat rationalist, who would scoff before imagining anything arcane here. This is merely an illustrator's whimsical reference, as though the editors had chosen a picture of a woman reading the future in a crystal ball. I hope it is true.

Perhaps the editors did this as a tongue-in-cheek layout to bait crazy conspiracy theorists. Actually, I think the editors at The Economist do not care how the cover is received by the alt-media, who are beneath their contempt. If so, then this is another tone-deaf, top-down misconception of the impact of the Internet on the public debate. On the Internet, mimetics, semiotics, virality and truth excavations rule the day, not inside jokes and polished arguments to a select audience. A tarot spread confirms the worst conspiracy theories about magic infecting high politics. To give evidence of this - straight from the horse's mouth - strengthens the alt-media, which cannot be good for The Economist.

In an earlier post, Magic, Numerology and the IMF, I observed that Christine Lagarde did not realize that she now had to speak to two audiences. Every speech she made would be channeled into the old MSM theatre, as well as the alt-media. She plainly did not understand the latter at all. Her clever asides would be taken the usual way by the old establishment, but on Youtube, they would feed the independent machine of conspiracy theorizing and populism.

To make matters worse, she seemed to confirm the conspiracy theorists' fears about a magic-obsessed establishment. Lagarde was making predictions for the year 2014, peppering her predictions for the coming year with numerological nudge-nudge-wink-wink-hint-hints, which promised (precisely, down to the day) the manipulation of oil prices to hurt Russia. To the alt-media, this made it look like her policy speech had a magical subtext and potency. The liberal democracies are supposed to be secular, humanist, and rationalist; they should not be run by the rules of parlour games, or by people who believe that parlour games are real. I argued that parlour games should stay in the parlour.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Time and Politics 21: Visits from the Dark-Haired Girl

The Dark Haired Girl by Philip K. Dick (published posthumously in 1989). In his Exegesis (published posthumously 2011), Dick admitted that the dark-haired girl who showed him the larger frame of spacetime and predicted totalitarian America was his dead twin sister. Image Source: Wiki.

This post follows on my post on Wuthering Heights, The Brontë Effect (16 September 2016), to explore the implications of inhabiting time as it really as, not as we perceive it. The 'Brontë Effect,' as I coined the term with reference to Dia Sobin's words, describes the 'reverberating Gestalt' one experiences after reading a work of powerful fiction such as Wuthering Heights, which makes one aware of compressed or overlapping time, temporal identities, and spacetime continua in different perceived realities.

To cross the boundaries, first of immediate, everyday perception, then of whole dimensions, then of multiverses, sounds far-fetched, but I have discussed what it means to live in reality while perceiving time in its whole dimensionality, and not as an arrow, here. From the 19th to the 20th centuries, the fourth dimension has been portrayed by writers elsewhere - by Fyodor DostoyevskyOscar WildeH. G. WellsJoseph ConradMarcel ProustRobert Heinlein, among many others - and notably by Philip K. Dick in "A World of Talent" (1954), which I have described hereIn that story, a precognitive boy is terrified by appearances of 'others.' At first, the reader assumes the boy is schizoid and hallucinating, but these are in fact other versions of himself at different ages. He can see all versions of himself, past, present and future.

A single event in time, perceived by an observer: "Subdivision of Minkowski spacetime with respect to an event in four disjoint sets. The light cone, the absolute future, the absolute past, and elsewhere. The terminology is from Sard (1970)." Image Source: Wiki.

Multiple events in time, perceived by an observer who is moving through spacetime. In the fourth dimension, an 'event' is an intersection between space and time, following a continuum, with each event causally relative to the next: "In modern physics, space and time are unified in a four-dimensional Minkowski continuum called spacetime, whose metric treats the time dimension differently from the three spatial dimensions." The above gif shows "[t]he momentarily co-moving inertial frames along the trajectory ('world line') of a rapidly accelerating observer (center). The vertical direction indicates time, while the horizontal indicates distance, the dashed line is the spacetime of the observer. The small dots are specific events in spacetime."

Our souls know a larger experience of space and time; and stories about souls raise perceptional and ethical questions about that larger experience. In an interview, one of Dick's ex-wives, Kleo Mini, stated that all of Dick's novels concerned the "internal workings of the soul .... He wrote about people's souls, not a word I use lightly."

Dick was fascinated by self-alienation and social alienation, the blind spot when you recognized neither your own soul, nor your place in the world. To survive that moral test, he considered how characters' souls might be externalized and projected back at them as different characters - exactly as Catherine and Heathcliff are projected upon one another in Wuthering Heights. In Dick's view, if your soul was personified outside you, you might fall in love with it, but you would not necessarily accept everything about it. You might hate it and not reconcile with it, which would be heart-breaking, torturous, and tragic.

Image Source: Frith Luton.

Image Source: Carl Jung.

Dick was influenced by unsolved soul puzzles with numinous qualities, which he first encountered in the work of science fiction writer, A. E. van Vogt, and later in the writings of Swiss psychiatrist, Carl Jung, who thought that people were haunted by the shadow sides of their souls. Jung argued that for people to become psychologically and socially healthy, they must reconcile with their shadow. He further claimed that these shadows could embody an outer experience with the opposite gender in the anima or animus.

In Jung's hetero-assumed schema, when men and women went out into the world seeking love, they encountered opposite-gendered characterizations of their own souls. Jung theorized that men projected their soul's inner female back upon themselves; and women projected their inner male back upon themselves. Better love relationships depended on an ability to reconcile with one's opposite-gendered soul mirrors, such that one found increasingly sophisticated versions of one's mirror in the world. Men could progress through four anima soul shadow archetypes: Eve (the object of desire, who also reflects the security or insecurity around the man's mother); Helen (a woman who is externally able and beautiful, but internally lacking in virtue, faith, or imagination); Mary (a virtuous woman, who differentiates between lust and love); and Sophia (a woman of wisdom, who encompasses positive and negative qualities without being condemned). For women, the challenge was develop her inner masculine, so that she would externally find a man of physical power; then a capable man of action, a war hero or hunter; then a man of the mind, a professor, clergyman or orator; and finally, a man of hermetic enlightenment, one who could awaken in the woman a spiritual reconciliation between her soul's conscious and unconscious.

Image Source: Find a Grave.

In Jungian terms, the love relationship was a moral path in which a human being developed his or her own soul. Love was always self-referential, a struggle to improve and expand oneself spiritually, while other people became external reflections of, and catalysts in, the individual's internal process. All of this hinged on coping with the unseen, and interacting concretely or nebulously with elements of ourselves which exist beyond our linear experience of time. For Dick, the shadow anima was embodied not in a lover or wife, but in his twin sister, Jane Charlotte Dick, who died in infancy. Her presence haunted him all his life. She took form in characters in his work; he granted her far-seeing and Deus ex Machina roles. He further considered temporal aspects of the projected soul because Jane was dead. She was Philip's phantom agent, reporting from the other side. Because of Jane's influence on the famous author, she also inspired other writers. Perhaps this was why Dick considered the anima-animus not in terms of romance - as in Wuthering Heights - but in terms of society and politics.

Friday, September 16, 2016

The Brontë Effect

Image Source: Opheliac Madness.

At the great blog, Trans-D, Dia Sobin finds artistic connections between layers of time and dimensional existence. Recently, she dug through a trove of old books - with initial posts here and here - and settled on a 1943 edition of Emily Brontë's Wuthering Heights (1847). She wrote an incredible post on how Catherine's and Heathcliff's love reveals the blurred boundaries of reality. I commented, because she described something one might call 'the Brontë Effect'; the italicized text cites Dia's post, with my comments in non-italics:
"'And, there is also the transdimensional aspect of the story: the odd way in which Emily presented her narratives, from several different points of view, intertwining numerous points in time, thereby, creating a weird, reverberating gestalt as opposed to a linear chronicle.' ... [I responded:] I felt that there was an indistinctness, especially because the characters give their kids the same names. Past, present and future are jumbled together. ...

I wonder if Emily Bronte was exposed via her father to Scottish freemasonry? Because when you look at the story in the sense of two souls in an alchemical marriage, the story becomes much more clear. Maybe she intuitively 'reached for' alchemical concepts without knowing them. I am sure someone has researched it. A lot of the primal gothic takes on the trans-dimensional or multi-dimensional aspects ... if you consider the alchemical. Across time, space, in new incarnations, like the two lovers embody a conflicting spirit of humans on the moors, but [also on] Jacob's Ladder ... ."
First, regarding Dia's observation that Wuthering Heights is trans-dimensional and multi-temporal, one senses this less in reading the novel, and more in the lingering impression after one reads it. The story leaves one with a feeling of time smashed together through characters' blurred and overlapping identities; their names and roles repeat, and generational tweaks are permitted over decades. The novel goes on forever, but Catherine is only about 18 years old when she dies at Thrushcross Grange. The 2009 dramatization had her die at age 25; either way, she remains eternally young and a persistent force.

ITV 2009 adaptation of Wuthering Heights, starring Tom Hardy as Heathcliff and Charlotte Riley as Catherine. Image Source: Elementary.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Awaken the Amnesiacs 6: Mona Lisa's Trump Card

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Triumphal Victory Parades

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

The triumph of Love.

The victory of Chastity.

The march of Death.

The parade of Fame.

The procession of Time.

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

Tarot Card Trumps

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

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

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

Monday, February 22, 2016

Fifth Dimensional Memory and the Fortress of Solitude

Image Source: engadget.

In the quest to store information permanently, the University of Southampton has developed a memory chip so durable that it will last until after our sun burns out:
Using nanostructured glass, scientists from the University’s Optoelectronics Research Centre (ORC) have developed the recording and retrieval processes of five dimensional (5D) digital data by femtosecond laser writing. ...

Coined as the ‘Superman memory crystal’, as the glass memory has been compared to the “memory crystals” used in the Superman films, the data is recorded via self-assembled nanostructures created in fused quartz. The information encoding is realised in five dimensions: the size and orientation in addition to the three dimensional position of these nanostructures.

Professor Peter Kazansky, from the ORC, says: “It is thrilling to think that we have created the technology to preserve documents and information and store it in space for future generations. This technology can secure the last evidence of our civilisation: all we’ve learnt will not be forgotten.”

The researchers will present their research at the photonics industry's renowned SPIE Photonics West—The International Society for Optical Engineering Conference in San Francisco, USA this week. The invited paper, ‘5D Data Storage by Ultrafast Laser Writing in Glass’ will be presented on Wednesday 17 February [2016]. The team are now looking for industry partners to further develop and commercialise this ground-breaking new technology. Contact Professor Peter Kazansky to find out more. Learn more about the SPIE Photonics West conference and exhibition. Read about the special legacy gift presentation made to UNESCO in celebration of the IYL2015 [International Year of Light and Light-Based Technologies 2015].
In a related report from 17 February 2016, Engadget revealed Southampton's curious mixed impulse toward the ultra-new and ever-permanent:
Researchers at the University of Southampton's Optical Research Center announced on Tuesday that they've perfected a technique that can record data in 5 dimensions and keep it safe for billions of years. The method etches data into a thermally stable disc using femtosecond laser bursts. The storage medium itself holds up to 360 TB per disc, can withstand temperatures up to 1000 degrees C and are estimated to last up to 13.8 billion years at room temperature without degrading.

Each file is comprised of three layers of nanoscale dots. The dots' side and orientations, as well as their position within the three standard dimensions, constitute its five dimensions. These dots change the polarization of light travelling through the disc which is read using a microscope and polarizer.

... In the three years since their first demonstration, they've ... recorded the entirety of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), Newton's Opticks, Magna Carta and Kings James Bible.

"It is thrilling to think that we have created the technology to preserve documents and information and store it in space for future generations," Professor Peter Kazansky from the ORC said in a statement. "This technology can secure the last evidence of our civilisation: all we've learnt will not be forgotten."
To make their research accessible to the public, scientists exploit popular culture and so must not complain when the masses comprehend science with pseudoscientific labels and mystical weirdness. Tagging this memory chip with fifth dimensional capabilities shows the University of Southampton's media-savvy, and they have asked us to respond with one big "quantum wow." Anything in '5D' is incredibly popular right now; it is a pseudoscientific catch phrase, like 2016's anti-ageing creams, which claim to work by altering your DNA. Invoking the fifth dimension in a press release alludes to a gnostic vault up to a supra-spiritual existence. 5D is a loosely-grasped point of perspective, above regular three-dimensional reality and the fourth dimension of spacetime. I have previously alluded to 5D concepts herehere, here and here.

Superman in his polar citadel, the Fortress of Solitude, stocked with memory crystals. Image Source: Superman Homepage.

Southampton's optics researchers do not show much interest in the deeper meaning of durable memory, of what it means to preserve knowledge until after our sun burns out. If they knew anything about the Superman story, they would understand that crystallized memory implies a push beyond the normal human capacity to remember, toward the alienated superhuman, into the moral and physical challenges of permanent isolation.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Photo of the Day: Fresh Off the 3D Powder Press

"Sneak preview: Portrait of Chelsea Manning (one of a diptych) hot off the powder printing presses. Courtesy of Mariana Pestana." Image Source: Heather Dewey Hagbourg.

Thanks to artist Heather Dewey-Hagbourg, previously featured in this post, who just sent me a press release about her upcoming exhibition, featuring a genetically-sourced 3D printed portrait - also known as a forensic DNA phenotype - following the gender transformation of whistleblower Bradley Manning aka Chelsea Manning. Manning released information on the US military in 2010 to WikiLeaks. Manning, a former US Army soldier, was convicted in 2013 and then changed his gender to become a trans woman, joining a gnostic bandwagon previously discussed in this post and this post. Dewey-Hagbourg was interviewed about this project at Paper in September 2015, here.

The exhibition, Radical Love: Chelsea Manning,
"will premiere at the World Economic Forum in Davos [on 20-23 January 2016], as part of the Victoria and Albert exhibition This Time Tomorrow curated by Mariana Pestana. ... This is the first time the 3d prints of the DNA portraits generated from her hair and cheek swabs will be seen publicly." 
I think you've covered every last possible base from the Zeitgeist, Heather. The exhibition will explore the quest for self in the Millennial mish-mash: "Is it radical to seek justice? Is it radical to be rescued by love? Is it subversive to be sweet? Is it radical to be true to yourself?"

Monday, December 21, 2015

Awaken the Amnesiacs 3: The Hermetics

The hermetic principle of silence. Image Source: Lilipilyspirit.

Dark days behind us: today is the winter solstice in the northern hemisphere and the summer solstice in the southern hemisphere (04:49 UTC). The December solstice refers to birth or rebirth of the weakened sun in northern countries, often described in allegorical terms, as one New Age writer puts it: "The sun is dawning after the increasing darkness of winter. The Winter Solstice is nature’s physical equivalent of a spiritual awakening and enlightenment." From Theosophy Northwest:
At the winter solstice the universal currents of life help human consciousness to enter divine spheres. At the same time spiritual energy can descend from higher worlds into the human arena: the gods "descend into hell" to garner experience in their underworld -- our own world -- thereby bringing inspiration and enlightenment to humanity. At this time each of us also may undergo a new birth. Nature has opened the door, and it is up to us to recognize this and take a step further.
For denizens of the New Age Internet, this solstice is the culmination of 2015's online spiritual awakening, perhaps a Fifth Great Awakening in the United States, occasioned by a proclaimed end to the war between the sexes. When combined with hermeticism, discussed in today's post, the gnostic truce between the sexes attacks all polarized categorizations of identity. Online gurus argue that only hardened egoists prosper in an environment where inflexible categorizations of identity are the norm. Spiritual commentators prefer to cultivate a continuum of identities and they expect that spectrum to expand social compassion.

The winter solstice at Stonehenge. Image Source: Stonehenge Trips.

In the aftermath of the supposed collapse of egocentric western dualism, hermeticists pick up the pieces, to recover cultural memory and allow their amnesiac followers to 'remember' earlier ways of identifying with the physical, rational, emotional and spiritual aspects of existence. The hermetic part of this phenomenon makes the now-gender-neutral collective unconscious 'conscious' in practical senses, as with the establishment of new political movements. Of course, the shift in values is not widespread or universal. Nor are gnostic-hermetic solutions necessarily good ones, whatever their devotees may expect.

One must step back from the arcane language and beliefs to observe the actual trend behind them. Online debates on these subjects in mid-late 2015 indicate a tipping point, wherein interaction in virtual reality has begun to change behaviour and awareness on deeper levels. The Internet is breaking down and synthesizing demarcated experiences, whether between mind and body, between the genders, between the individual and the collective, or between the local and global. Perhaps hermeticism and gnosticism are the most durable ideas available in western culture to describe flexible identification, as individuals find themselves simultaneously immersed in virtual reality and 'real' reality.

China's One Belt, One Road Initiative (2015). Image Source: Roman Wilhelm/MERICS/The Diplomat.

One may ask how spiritual issues pertain to hard reality. Why does the New Age Internet matter, when China is building naval bases in the South China Sea, the Red Sea, and on the west coast of Africa? These online trends matter because societies rise and fall according to their adaptability when confronted with jumps in technology, social changes, and ensuing geopolitical conflicts. World War III, when (or if) it arrives, and everything that leads up to it, will depend on global connectivity. How our brains respond to connectivity and the ideas we discover or rediscover through that response may be essential to cultural resourcefulness and survival.

To ask these questions about western values now is akin to asking how the introduction of the printing press in Germany (1439-1440) led to the Protestant Reformation (1517-1617) and the Thirty Years' War (1618-1648). The spiritual and moral outlook of a society is indexed to its level of technology and prosperity. When the latter two factors change, so does the former. Anomie and aporia, experienced then as now, will lead to experiments to develop values better suited to new ways of living. But that process emerges through trial and error. Societies sometimes depend on war to determine a new dominant narrative.

My treatment of these topics comes with a caveat. While I may comment on unusual online material here, I do not personally identify with evidence I uncover. Hermetic traditions and politics can be weird, occult, radical, fringe or extremist. My comments in this series of blog posts do not constitute my endorsement of these beliefs. They are presented here as part of an examination of the cultural historical impact of the Internet on western values, under increasingly universalized, yet decentralized and chaotic conditions. I also do not personally agree with conspiracy theories mentioned here, but rather regard them as signs of contemporary mentalities.