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 Infinity. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Infinity. Show all posts

Saturday, June 20, 2015

True Detective: Time is a Flat Circle

Poster for True Detective season 1 (2014) is set in Louisiana. Image Source: HG Girl on Fire. The show's poster spawned a spoof meme, see: here, here, here.

America loves a morality tale, the deeper and darker, the better. Just as the '70s had Serpico, Mean Streets and Chinatown, the '80s had Blade Runner, Blue Velvet and Angel Heart, the '90s had L.A. Confidential and The Usual Suspects, and the '00s had No Country for Old Men and The Dark Knight as the definitive neo-noirs of those decades, the 2010s have Winter's Bone and the HBO television series True Detective. True Detective debuted in the USA and Canada on 12 January 2014 and debuted in the UK on Sky Atlantic on 22 February 2014. The second season begins in North America on 21 June 2015. Season 2 is set around the Los Angeles transportation system and involves a murder at the heart of a giant conspiracy.

The writing and vision for this series is incredible. True Detective makes the parallel UK drama, Broadchurch, pale in comparison. Broadchurch is strong in its own right and has somewhat similar initial premise: two quarreling detectives seek a murderer. But Broadchurch does not take the same risks.

True Detective season 2 (2015) is set around the Los Angeles transportation system, the venal conduit into the dark heart of the City of Angels. Season 2 stars Rachel McAdams, Vince Vaughn and Colin Farrell. Image Source: Mashable.

True Detective does exactly what a noir should do. The tension mounts, and as the characters' flaws deepen, the plot gets more feverish. The Toronto Sun remarks that True Detective, "makes every other police procedural drama seem faint and quaint by comparison. How are we supposed to watch 'regular' TV if HBO keeps dropping these sorts of live grenades in our laps?"

True Detective is not just a genre-hopping cop drama trying to shock its viewers, as with another Millennial series, The Fall. Like Twin Peaks, season 1 of this Lynchian show started off as police noir and ended up as a horror story. There are references in True Detective to H. P. Lovecraft's works and Blair Witch, which similarly involve rational investigations dragging the investigators' subconscious into a confrontation with an immense, malevolent, supernatural being or force.

There is a monster here, behind the police explorations of gritty streets and haunted bayous. The monster inhabits the dreams of this mundane world, but unfortunately for the characters, the monster has legs. It has a history. The Gen X writer of True Detective, Nic Pizzolatto, gives his horror deep roots. He presents this TV series as one story in a long line of stories about a much, much larger legend. True Detective is a metafictional continuation of the multi-authored Carcosa mythos, which started with an Ambrose Bierce short story, "An Inhabitant of Carcosa" also known as "Can Such Things Be?" (1891; read it here) and The King in Yellow (1895) by Robert W. Chambers. You can read The King in Yellow online here. For more on The King In Yellow and the Carcosa story: go here, here, herehere and here. You can see this series' connection with Chambers's stories drawn here and here. The metafiction continuity inspired so much chatter that some critics claimed that Pizzolatto had plagiarized, rather than continued, other authors' works.

In other words, True Detective is supposed to be part of, and continue, a fictional mythology about something terrible that once happened in an ancient lost city. In Bierce's work, that city, Carcosa, is described by someone who once lived there:
Along the shore the cloud waves break, The twin suns sink behind the lake, The shadows lengthen In Carcosa.

Strange is the night where black stars rise, And strange moons circle through the skies, But stranger still is Lost Carcosa.

Songs that the Hyades shall sing, Where flap the tatters of the King, Must die unheard in Dim Carcosa.

Song of my soul, my voice is dead, Die thou, unsung, as tears unshed Shall dry and die in Lost Carcosa.

—"Cassilda's Song" in The King in Yellow Act 1, Scene 2

Monday, June 8, 2015

I Will Teach You Infinities

Burton reciting present indicative of the English verb, 'to be.' He skips 'it is.' Video Source: Youtube.

Simple observations can be gateways to profound knowledge. Actor Richard Burton (1925-1984) recited the present indicative tense of the verb 'to be' as the greatest poem in the English language. This clip is from In from the Cold: The World of Richard Burton (see it here while the link lasts). A Youtuber dismisses this video: "The man speaks well, of course, but this is pretentious nonsense." Another one says: "Richard Burton believes in aliens--look at his eyes when he says 'they are.' Weird, right?"

That is an interesting remark, because verbs begin by propelling their subjects through the world. With 'they are,' Burton was pondering 'others,' those furthest removed from one's existence. Burton showed here that the simple present tense conjugation of 'to be' indicates a journey from the immediacy of the individual self outward into the world, with decreasing levels of intimacy. Starting with the self as centre point ('I am'), one moves to the next closest person outside of one ('thou'). From there, 'she,' then 'he,' and so on. The progress of the verb through the present ends by taking the speaker to subjects placed at furthest degree of external existence away from the self. That is, 'they are' is a plural, outside, group and implies: 'they exist.' This is how the verb indicates how close the speaker is or is not to the subjects he or she (or it) is discussing.

After that, the verb explains how the speaker relates to time, then reality, and then the flow of time. In other words, the verb must switch temporal tenses (past, present, future) and modal relations to reality (signifying how closely the speaker does or does not connect to reality via the nature of an action taken - a fact, a desire, a command, a conditional, etc.).

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Amazonians Challenge the Universal Time-Space Hypothesis

The Amondawa were first "discovered" by anthropologists in 1986. Image Source: V. da Silva/Sinha/BBC.

In an earlier post, I described the South American Aymara people who think backwards when they conceive of time.  The Telegraph recently reported on the Amondawa people of the Amazon, who apparently have no concept of time. This challenges some of the core theories of linguistics and human psychology, which assume that time is innate to humans, their cultures and societies. In fact, time is not universal. And those who live without it are strangely free:
The Amondawa people who live deep in the Amazonian rainforests of Brazil have no watches or calendars and live their lives to the patterns of day and night and the rainy and dry seasons.

They also have no age – and mark the transition from childhood to adulthood to old age by changing their name.

The team of researchers, led by University of Portsmouth, said that it is the first time they have been able to prove time is not a deeply entrenched universal human concept, as previously thought.

Professor Chris Sinha said: 'We can now say without doubt that there is at least one language and culture which does not have a concept of time as something that can be measured, counted or talked about in the abstract."

"This doesn't mean that the Amondawa are "people outside time", but they live in a world governed by events rather than the passing of time."

Only discovered in 1986, the Amondawa, about 150 strong, continue their traditional way of life, hunting, fishing and farming.

They also have their own language which have a number system but it only goes up to four.

Prof Sinha and his team, including a linguist and anthropologist, spent eight weeks with the Amondawa researching how their language conveys concepts like "next week" or "last year".

There were no words for such concepts, only divisions of day and night and rainy and dry seasons.

They also found nobody in the community had an age.

Instead, they change their names to reflect their life-stage and position within their society.

A little child will give up their name to a newborn sibling and take on a new one.

Prof Sinha said: "We have so many metaphors for time and its passing – we think of time as a 'thing' – we say 'the weekend is nearly gone', 'she's coming up to her exams', 'I haven't got the time', and so on, and we think such statements are objective, but they aren't.

"We've created these metaphors and they have become the way we think. The Amondawa don't talk like this and don't think like this, unless they learn another language.

"For these fortunate people time isn't money, they aren't racing against the clock to complete anything, and nobody is discussing next week or next year; they don't even have words for 'week', 'month' or 'year'. "You could say they enjoy a certain freedom." 
This research was published in Language And Cognition (see the abstract here).  As a result of this research, the research team proposes "a Mediated Mapping Hypothesis, which accords causal importance to the numerical and artefact-based construction of time-based (as opposed to event-based) time interval systems."  In other words, according to a BBC report, the team assumes that the lack of a concept of time comes from a lack of technology to measure time.

The BBC report also reports on other researchers who have criticized these findings.  Another academic comments that these people may in fact experience time in the way we do. However, this similar experience may not reflect in their language, which is how researchers generally peg human apprehension of time in different societies:
These arguments do not convince Pierre Pica, a theoretical linguist at France's National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS), who focuses on a related Amazonian language known as Mundurucu.

"To link number, time, tense, mood and space by a single causal relationship seems to me hopeless, based on the linguistic diversity that I know of," he told BBC News. ...

Small societies like the Amondawa tend to use absolute terms for normal, spatial relations - for example, referring to a particular river location that everyone in the culture will know intimately rather than using generic words for river or riverbank.

These, Dr Pica argued, do not readily lend themselves to being co-opted in the description of time.

"When you have an absolute vocabulary - 'at the water', 'upstream', 'downstream' and so on, you just cannot use it for other domains, you cannot use the mapping hypothesis in this way," he said.

In other words, while the Amondawa may perceive themselves moving through time and spatial arrangements of events in time, the language may not necessarily reflect it in an obvious way.
Citation Information. Language and Cognition. Volume 3, Issue 1, Pages 137–169, ISSN (Online) 1866-9859, ISSN (Print) 1866-9808, DOI: 10.1515/LANGCOG.2011.006, /May/2011

Thursday, December 16, 2010

The Only People in the World Who Look Forward to the Past and Leave the Future Behind Them

Image Source: Face the Climate.

Phys.org.com is reporting that "[n]ew analysis of the language and gesture of South America's indigenous Aymara people indicates they have a concept of time opposite to all the world's studied cultures -- so that the past is ahead of them and the future behind."  (Hat tip: @swadeshine).

Friday, September 3, 2010

Time and the Philosophers 3: Quentin Smith on Immanuel Kant and the Beginning of the Universe

Today's blog post title is taken from a paper that caught my eye by Professor Quentin Smith, who works in the fields of the philosophies of time, language, physics, religion and cosmology. He's also a painter in his spare time. The paper concerns whether or not the beginning of time coincided with the beginning of the universe. Smith has papers up on the Web here, here and here. His article, Kant and the Beginning of the World (orig. pub.: The New Scholasticism, Vol. 59, No. 3, Summer 1985, pp. 339-346) opens with a question about how time may or may not have been defined prior to the beginning of time.  This question also deals with the beginning of time to test the existence of God.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Time is Running Out? Time is Multi-Dimensional?

Image by David Hellman for the video game Braid © Microsoft Game Studios and Number None Inc.

Scientists have found that the expanding universe is speeding up at its outer edges, rather than slowing down as would be expected from a cosmos moving outward and away foom the source of the Big Bang.  At first, astronomers and physicists attributed this strange phenomenon to the influence of Dark Matter.  But since Dark Matter is an unknown quantity, cosmologists find themselves turning to quantum physicists, whose research with particle accelerators like the Large Hadron Collider are trying to find evidence for Dark Matter at the sub-atomic level.  When publicity over the LHC was heating up in 2007, some scientists announced alternate explanations for the accelerating edge of reality.  According to this report from the Telegraph and this article at the New Scientist, one team suggested that time is slowing down and will eventually run out, stopping the entire universe in a single, freeze-frame final moment (Professor José Senovilla, Marc Mars and Raül Vera of the University of the Basque Country, Bilbao, and University of Salamanca, Spain).  Another scientist (Itzhak Bars of the University of Southern California in Los Angeles) has suggested that there are two or more dimensions of time.  For an explanation of Two-Time Physics, a theory which has been developing since 1995, go here.  Bars's work is another attempt to explain the Theory of Everything.

Monday, July 5, 2010

The Oldest Light in the Universe

Planck Telescope Photograph: ESA.

BBC is reporting that the European Space Agency's Planck telescope has captured a picture of our universe.  Astronomers' intention is to peel away layers of time in the above picture like peeling way layers of a cosmic onion until they can see the oldest light in the universeThey will strip away images of the newer light until they can see only the Cosmic Microwave Background, which is the first light to appear in the universe after the Big Bang, 13.7 billion years ago.  Other reports here, here and here.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Quantum Physics, Quantum Biology, Quantum Computers, Quantum Consciousness ... Are We There Yet?

Large Hadron Collider.

On June 5, Deepak Chopra tweeted about meeting Stuart Hameroff in Vancouver:
“Stuart Hameroff came to my talk in Vancouver. He says that quantum possibilities, cosmic consciousness, non locality, are the same phenomena. Planck scale geometry is what the universe is made of, 25 times of the order of magnitude smaller than the atom. Platonic values - truth, goodness, beauty, evolution, are embedded in Planck scale spin networks.”
What? Chopra’s Ayurveda medical traditions mingled with Buddhism somehow match Hameroff’s theories of consciousness, which depend upon non-algorithmic processes that can be understood through Quantum Physics, creating a field Hameroff calls ‘Quantum Consciousness.’ Some of Hameroff’s ideas are based on a controversial 1989 book by Sir Roger Penrose, The Emperor’s New Mind: Concerning Computers, Minds and The Laws of Physics. Penrose’s argument that Artificial Intelligence could therefore not be built with computers that depended upon algorithmic computations did not take into account the later development of – yes – Quantum Computers.