TIMES, TIME, AND HALF A TIME. A HISTORY OF THE NEW MILLENNIUM.

Comments on a cultural reality between past and future.

This blog describes Metatime in the Posthuman experience, drawn from Sir Isaac Newton's secret work on the future end of times, a tract in which he described Histories of Things to Come. His hidden papers on the occult were auctioned to two private buyers in 1936 at Sotheby's, but were not available for public research until the 1990s.



Showing posts with label Stanley Kubrick. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Stanley Kubrick. Show all posts

Sunday, November 5, 2017

The Irony of Anonymity


Image Source: Alamy.

Today is the 5th of November, and so the blog is devoted to the Million Mask March and snapshots of the Guy Fawkes mask from Alan Moore's V for Vendetta, which has become a worldwide symbol of hacktivism.

Last year, a variation of the mask was sold by Venetian maskmakers, joining the medieval with the Millennial. The Mascherade confirms that, in Venice, the mask freed people from the strictures on social identity:
"Venetian masks are a centuries-old tradition of Venice, Italy. The masks are typically worn during the ... Carnival of Venice ... but have been used on many other occasions in the past, usually as a device for hiding the wearer's identity and social status. The mask would permit the wearer to act more freely in cases where he or she wanted to interact with other members of the society outside the bounds of identity and everyday convention. It was useful for a variety of purposes, some of them illicit or criminal, others just personal, such as romantic encounters."
One blog, Licence to Mask, examines this old Venetian idea, proving that anonymity is not new; that blog also connects the Bauta mask to today's anonymity on the Internet:
"The mask was standardized and its use was regulated by government to give Venetian citizens the freedom to do business, to pursue interests on their own and to take part in political activities without being identified while still being recognized and respected as legitimate and honorable members of the Venetian society.

I would like to find out if this concept could be a paradigm for internet identity management and anonymity concepts."
Of course, Bauta masks figured prominently in Stanley Kubrick's Eyes Wide Shut, which is based on Arthur Schnitzler's Traumroman (Dream Story). Kubrick's film fueled conspiracists' speculations about the Illuminati. It is supremely ironic that the anti-establishment online movement is masked as well, and using the same principle of anonymity that the current western establishment employed when it was in its youth, at the onset of the modern era.

Image Source: Licence to Mask.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Nuclear Culture 18: The Lynch Atomic


All still from Twin Peaks: The Return, Episode 8 (25 June 2017). All images here are © Showtime. Reproduced under Fair Use. Image Source: Vulture.

On 18 May 2017, I asked whether David Lynch and Mark Frost could bring Twin Peaks into the Internet Era. The answer is: yes. The show is already generating memes. So far, the series has proved a culmination of all of Lynch's work and surreal noir style, a synthesis of his ideas from Eraserhead (1977), through Dune (1984), Blue Velvet (1986), Wild at Heart (1990), Lost Highway (1997), The Straight Story (1999), Mulholland Drive (2001), to Inland Empire (2006). Even bits of The Elephant Man (1980) arrive in dated, other-worldly dream parlours.

Image Source: Entertainment Weekly.

I could gush about all the actors' stellar performances, especially catatonic/evil Kyle MacLachlan and 'we-are-the-99-per-cent!' Naomi Watts. But if I had to sum up the execution of the whole artistic vision in one word, it would be, 'fearlessness.' There is not one iota of artistic compromise and no apology, as Lynch, Frost and the cast push everything over the edge and keep going.

Atom bomb clip from Twin Peaks: The Return, Episode 8 (25 June 2017). Reproduced under Fair Use. Video Source: Youtube.

As for the most recent episode, leave it to the legendary director to create the best hour to air in the history of television. One Youtuber called it the "Best 1950s Retro Horror Film Ever." The reviewers are united in praise, because this episode explained the origins of evil; it revealed how the monster in the original series (BOB) was created, as well as his victim, Laura. From one Youtube commenter:
"This was essentially the birth of BOB and the other evil spirits that entered America (due to the atomic age). All done in a 2001 A Space Odyssey-esque style. Laura was created by the Giant as a counter to BOB I guess. The young couple might be Leland and Sarah? All in all, this might be the most surreal episode ever in the history of television. I can't believe Lynch got away with it. This was pure, unadulterated art man."

Image Source: W Magazine.

Image Source: The Australian.

Image Source: Vanity Fair.

Image Source: Nerdist.

Woodsmen clip from Twin Peaks: The Return, Episode 8 (25 June 2017). Reproduced under Fair Use. Video Source: Youtube.

Woodsman at the radio station clip from Twin Peaks: The Return, Episode 8 (25 June 2017). Reproduced under Fair Use. Video Source: Youtube.

Vulture's reviewer concurred that Lynch encapsulated the post-atom bomb reality:
"'Part 8' allows the series to present an elaborate, visually and sonically dazzling origin story, not so much for the demon BOB (represented by stylized images of the face of Frank Silva, the late actor who played him in the original series) but for the postwar United States of America. That’s not all it’s doing — I would not be surprised if entire books were written about this one hour."

Image Source: Vanity Fair.

The turning point which set the 'before' and 'after' of the Atomic Age was the United States' test of the Trinity bomb on 16 July 1945 at 5:29:45 a.m. In this episode, the repercussion arrives on 5 August 1956; a monster hatches from an egg in the desert, and crawls forth to unleash a nightmare, starting with rambling, charred woodsmen. One of these spectral figures breaks into a radio station and interrupts the broadcast with a sickening spell which puts everyone to sleep:
This is the water, this is the well, drink full and descend; the horse is the white of the eyes and dark within.

- Man Wanting A Light
There are several artistic influences here. The episode reminded me of many American horror-genre depictions of nuclear weapons and warfare, including the video games, It Came from the Desert and Fallout. There was a lot of Kubrick in this, too. The Nine Inch Nails provided the nuclear soundtrack. But only David Lynch could perfectly capture it all, in a one-hour dream that tells you everything that is wrong with our world.

Image Source: W Magazine.


See all my posts on Nuclear topics.

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, October 6, 2016

Countdown to Hallowe'en 2016: Urbex in Your Mind


Dan Bell explores an abandoned house, site of a tragic 1983 crime in Randallstown, Maryland, USA, when Craig Johnson decapitated his baby son, possibly while under the influence of drugs. (Video published 8 May 2015.) Video Source: Youtube.

For today, see some videos from American urban explorer Dan Bell, who visits abandoned properties and films them with camerawork and subtle editing reminiscent of horror movies. He is not a ghost hunter or paranormal believer; his interest merges the artistic with the historic to create unnerving video experiences on his Youtube channels (here and here). Beyond urban exploration, he could be an aspiring feature film director with an uncanny knack for locating disturbing places.

Above, a house outside Baltimore, site of a 1983 Christmas Day beheading of a child by a father. Some Youtubers dismiss Dan Bell's work as sensationalist; some like his added effects, including music from Stanley Kubrick's The Shining (1980). All commenters debated whether the evil of the 1983 crime remained in the building; part of the Youtube experience involves their collaborative reactions:
  • "Here's what I found and Researched on the man named Steven Craig Johnson the Drug addict. A Baltimore-area man, who police say thought his son was Jesus Christ and had to die for the sins of the world, was denied bail Monday after being charged with first-degree murder in the decapitation of his 14-month-old boy.Baltimore County police said Stephen Johnson, 28, was charged with first-degree murder and held at police headquarters in Towson."
  • "Creepy music and a house slowly falling into ruin does NOT make a house evil. Sheesh. The PCP caused the man to hallucinate that his son was Jesus, and for whatever his drug-addled mind thought, the son wound up dead at the hand's of his own father. That was HUMAN EVIL ... not some house. PCP is evil!"
  • "You miss the point here. Dan Bells videos are his art and he obviously likes to bring horror movie elements to his videos. Its his point of view and a genre he has chosen. Its totally irrelevant weather the house truly is evil or not."
  • "Stories like this destroy the real estate market. Not Dan's fault. I'm glad that history leaks. I rent-to-own an apartment and when I had tile installed the tile company told me the place is contaminated. I got out of the contract. Two people were murdered in the bedroom and the carpet foam had blood in it. Now I know the patched up holes weren't picture holes. They were bullet holes."
  • "Both my parents died in our family home. They were in their 90's, on hospice and died peacefully. We did not have to declare it, nor did it ever occur to us that we should. The people who bought the house after a company bought the house seemed to get upset when I went over there and took them a framed artist's drawing of the house that I had had done for Daddy for Father's Day one year. I'm not sure how it came up in the conversation but I gave the man and his daughter a little history of the house. It was built by my grandfather for my grandmother, then she died and my parents bought it from him and they lived in it for almost their entire 71 year marriage. The man seemed shaken up that my parents died IN the house, so I wish I hadn't told him, but it's not like there was a murder. However, not long after that, the house disappeared. I asked the neighbors and they said a crane woke them up one morning and by noon, the house was gone. There doesn't even look like a house was ever even there. Very sad. I would have loved to have lived there, but I couldn't afford to buy out my sister's half."
  • "Another problem with this type of places is that when something like that happened in there (murder, witchcraft, playing with ouija), they're usually haunted, I had to move out of a house because of that shit."
  • "I wouldn't say its so much evil I would call it a complete wreck but the one odd thing that stood out to me if anyone else caught it. This house is in complete ruins with what looks like a brand new energy star hot water heater in the basement and the paint is still glossy while everything else is severely weathered. I don't think the house is as evil as the water heater."
  • "All those flies are a classic sign that the house is demon possessed. It's very dark and oppressive atmosphere. It's damp negative lowly energy. And it's perfectly clear that something is very very wrong. It takes a brave person to go into a place such as this, because it's facing our inner fears. A film or documentary would be interesting. Did any one hear voices on this footage? or were they part of the musical background? Thanks for sharing."

Occupant's keepsake, occult prop, or message from a previous visitor? The curious note next to remnants of a woman's dress, found in the Johnson closet, reads: "About luck thats good for us. I don’t know what made thy house evil, I only know that thee begs thy help of whatever within here can help with. Undo." Image Source: Dan Bell via BlumHouse.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Unhacking the Reality of Russia's Troll Farms


Image Source: ritabrezkolin.

Recent posts on this blog have pointed to debates about how to verify memory, truth and reality. These are pressing questions. Mistaken arguments based on online information lead to outrageous conspiracy theories. These theories masquerade as products of verified data-gathering. Many people online are travelling further and further from truth, rationality and reality, while thinking they are doing exactly the opposite.  Can we map the philosophical distinctions and debates made between subjective perception and objective reality onto the distinctions between virtual reality and meatspace? How do we determine reality, based on evidence and experience from online communication and relationships? How do we write news and real-time history, and confirm events in reality, when all information, sources and historical authorities are suspect?

Image Source: Buzzfeed.

Later posts will seek to answer these questions. Today's post explores how dangerous continued confusion on these questions can be, starting with Russian leader Vladimir Putin's quest to rewrite post-Cold War history. One of the primary tools used in this regard is the establishment of so-called 'troll farms,' groups of social media actors employed by the Russian state to spread anti-American real- and faux-news that appears to come from domestic American man-on-the-street sources. This is an example of Stalinist disinformation techniques and the Russian state-media apparatus, targeting a rival national audience rather than its own.

Of course, in the Communications Revolution, everyone in governments, corporations, hackerspace and social media circles is gathering and playing with information. Today's focus on the Russian case does not deny the existence of trolls and hackers working for other powers and businesses. The point is to understand the dangers of Millennial propaganda - which is always cloaked in the pretense of its targets' commonly-held virtues - with this example. Trolls and troll farms can alter public opinion; worse: they can change their targets' perceptions of reality. They can change memory. They can change history. A great informational power struggle is taking place. The winners will define reality. On those foundations, anything can be built.

Vigilance in this regard means not just finding the evidence online which confirms the message with which you agree politically, or hearing the message you want to hear. It means hearing the message you do not want to hear, and considering it to be plausible. Unfortunately, healthy skepticism is now a breeding ground for anti-reality trolls, so caution is required on that front too. Algorithms on search engines now tailor our results based on earlier search histories, narrowing our worlds into smaller and smaller solipsistic bubbles, exposing us only to those with whom we easily agree. Rationalists believe that logically-aligned data provide solid conclusions to support their arguments. They do not, because all data are malleable. Hackers and whistleblowers supposedly topple evil authoritarian power structures by blowing them away with the cold, hard truth. Well, even if they do, does that mean that these actors are automatically 'good'? To what service do they put their revelations? And as with the links listed below about Russia troll farm whistleblowers, how can we be sure they are telling the truth?


The recent Pluto flyby revealed how instantaneous media have confused people about the real accomplishments of Big Science and space exploration. Some thought the flyby was faked, echoing the moon landing conspiracy theory and indicating a lack of confidence in information authorities and in photographs and videos as evidence. Some complained that there was no live feed from Pluto, showing zero understanding the immense distances involved and the related scientific challenges. The vast supply of online information on these subjects has provided no online education. Instead, it has provided a false sense of confidence about being 'right' in quasi-rationalized, self-righteous and communal ways.

Image Source: CStar.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Magic, Numerology and the IMF


Planning/Knowledge mural at Bank of America Corporate Center in Charlotte, North Carolina, USA. Painting by Ben Long. Image Source: Vigilant Citizen.

What does the year 2000 mean? What did it mean? Nothing. There is no innate significance about it, other than the cultural weight associated with the calendar and religious history. In reality, the passing from one year (1999) to another (2000) meant nothing. However, symbolically speaking, the arrival of the year 2000 was imagined as a huge moment of change.

The mass media, on the Internet, in news, politics, entertainment, and tech circles, convey fake symbolic assessments about the momentous shift to a new age. Moreover, entertainment figures and historic actors blur the line between fiction and fact around this mantra all the time. Other people do it too. Just as the years 1984 and 2012 and the day 9/11 became cultural artifacts, false significance is imposed upon the year 2000. What people do in real life, how and what they create, what they perceive and express, all become narratives constructed around the new Millennium. Thus, although the year 2000 was no more a turning point than the year 1996 or the year 2004, the stubbornly-held conviction that 2000 had to be an enormous moment of change is increasingly mischievous and pernicious.

The trend is evident all over popular politics and culture. The insistence that 2000 must have 'changed everything' means that people are now doing things in large and small ways to 'change everything.' In the artificial quest to change everything, an old visual and numerological lexicon has given the quest false meanings. Throughout the mass media, above all in the entertainment industry, marketers are borrowing symbols from an occult cultural heritage. They are using these symbols like loaded guns, pointing them at the year 2000, forcing that year and subsequent decades to become what they think this time period must become.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Forever: Maybe Not the Word You Want?


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

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

Image Source: Buzzfeed.

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

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Counting Down to Hallowe'en: Illuminati Eyes


.Gif Source: Z. Scott / We Invent You.

The New World Order plot of the Illuminati is one of the most popular conspiracy theories on the Internet. Did gossip on the Web foster this myth, mixing it with Freemasonry, black magic and the Protocols of the Elders of Zion? One can scoff at the paranoid pyramid seekers, but they have a point: popular culture, institutions, corporations and political groups have incorporated so-called Illuminati messages for decades, and even centuries. That said, anti-Illuminati conspiracy theorists are often anti-Semitic and counter-factual, suggesting the Illuminati story in fact conveys those attitudes.

After the First World War, occult divination through ouija boards gained popularity as the bereaved sought to talk to their lost loved ones. At the same time, magical secularism which had enjoyed a vogue before the war lingered and combined with Satanic and Wiccan ideas. The outcome in a place like Hollywood, which already had (and has) a loose grip on reality, was grim. Perhaps certain cults gained a fatal foothold there. Odd evidence occasionally broke through the tinsel: ghosts of the 1920s; surrealism of the 1920s through the 1940s; the 1947 Black Dahlia murder, which may have involved a sacrificial black magic ritual; and many unsolved deaths from the 1930s to the present. Orson Welles, David Lynch and Stanley Kubrick are three of the most famous directors who explored this dark history.

Anne Hathaway flashed Mano Cornuto or El Diablo hand signs before she claimed her award at the 2013 Golden Globes for Les Misérables (2012). Image Source: AFP/Getty via Daily Mail.

These symbols have dominated entertainment, politics and advertising since the Second World War. Did politicians, business leaders, Hollywood and music industry moguls strike fateful bargains, applying occult practices and esoteric beliefs to the business of taming the newly-prosperous public? Did rising individuals, as director Roman Polanski may have suggested, join insider cults and labour under the illusion that their successes were and are due to arcane rituals, rather than their own talents and abilities?

Or perhaps occult and Masonic symbols offered an exciting visual lexicon for marketers in the post-World-War-II consumer culture. Just because a photographer, handler or stylist tells a celebrity to cover his or her eye, or make a cryptic hand gesture, it doesn't mean the individual is a cultist. This might simply be a marketing ploy, part of the art of public persona creation; the celebrity becomes a larger than life figure, the superficially-powerful pawn who sells entertainment media and consumer goods.

Image Source: Above Top Secret.

Are these Illuminati cults real or imagined? This blog is very skeptical of conspiracies, but this is the Hallowe'en countdown, so let us see. The Masonic all-seeing eye of God (or Lucifer?), also known as the Eye of Horus or the Eye of Providence, is a primary symbol purportedly associated with this world-dominating secret society. Below the jump, today's countdown to Hallowe'en presents a sobering overview of the prevalence of the Illuminati eye in the entertainment industry.

Chatter on the David Icke message board (for more on Icke's wild suspicions of world conspiracies, go here and here) debates the significance of a celebrity's illuminated left versus right eyes; the commenter additionally believes that there is a difference between those who encircle their eyes with their fingers or another gesture (the controllers) and those who cover their eyes (the controlled):
Handlers are those celebrities who willingly push the Agenda of the Illuminati. They can be identified by the "all-seeing eye" symbol. As handlers are often consistent with which eye they choose to "illuminate," I believe that a distinction can be made by observing which eye is favored. Though I have not been able to determine which is which, I believe that one eye indicates those who sympathize with the cause, and the other indicates those who agreed to push forth the agenda after being bribed (Please note that these individuals push the Agenda to reap its spoils, rather than doing so out of fear.) ... The Handled are those individuals who have been forced to push the Agenda. The individuals may have been opposed to the Illuminati from the start, or are former supporters who have finally had enough. Either way, these individuals are forced to cover one eye to represent that they are being oppressed; that they are the submissive. ... MK Ultra victims are viciously tortured, and when they attempt to escape within their minds, an alter-ego is put into place. Please note that many of those who have their right eye covered have referred to themselves as having alter-egos. ... Some photos may be written off as just someone winking or rubbing stuff out of their eye. However, it cannot be denied that the Illuminated eye symbol is everywhere in the celebrity community! Those who use these symbols are usually very consistent with which eye is covered, and which remains illuminated.
In addition, the left-right distinction may refer - so the conspiracy theorists say - to dominant character or talent through an indication of brain function.

Image Source: David Icke chatboard.

None of those speculations is confirmed here, but the Illuminati theory is clearly a mish-mash of pop psychology, anti-government sentiment, anti-Semitism, suspicion of the mass media, the spread of the occult and the impact of confirmed cults (you can see a daily rundown of real life cult headlines here). The theory of the Illuminati is more of a metanarrative which ensnares conspiracy theorists (online gnostic seekers constantly proclaim they have found the so-called 'real truth' above the evident truth) in their own fears of enslavement. Thus, conspiracy theorists ironically actually participate in, and constitute, the very community of believers that they project on public circles. Does that mean that public figures don't join higher cults? Not necessarily. More likely, the fears and symbols telescope the higher one goes in any area of endeavour: illumination is universally in Millennial fashion. It is a sign that the revived pre-Christian and Christian heresy of gnosticism is rampant today.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Celebrity Inquisition


Still from Kubrick film, Eyes Wide Shut (1999). Image Source: Slums Bowden.

Nothing warms the heart these days like a totally batshit crazy conspiracy theorist, connecting the dots between mass pop culture and the evil, secret cabals which supposedly rule the world.

Conspiracy theorists are the new Millennium's online Van Helsings, self-appointed guardians of the Web's forums, social networks, image-sharing sites and Youtube. The Internet gives them endless varieties of weirdness from which to choose. Lately, they have focused on material pumped out by the American entertainment industry, which is awash in pre-Islamic pagan occult symbols. In fact, one might say that America is the world's biggest exporter of early Near Eastern and Arabian neo-mythologies. But none of these folkloric symbols has any value without the purely American invention of the celebrity inquisition.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, May 10, 2013

Home Invasions: The Millennial Crime


Image Source: Tactical Life.

Today's post concerns a very post-Postmodern crime: the home invasion. Like the new, terrifying criminal who is a baffling, brutal and unstoppable force of nature in the Coen Brothers' 2007 film, No Country for Old Men, home invasion crosses lines which criminals of the past would not cross. Home invasion is a new type of ferocious act, committed by a new breed of criminal. It terrifies because it comes rampaging right to the last stronghold of security in a frightening world: the private dwelling, the final sanctum. This is a crime which shatters an already atomized order.

Image Source: Winnipeg Police Services.

Responses to this crime, like other unimaginable violations such as 2012's school or cinema shootings or the 2012 gang rape case in India, are politicized. But are the answers to a widening gap between the rich and the poor, tech-driven brutality, and an increase in savage crime simply political? Questions about these issues, surely, come from problems that are beyond politics.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Time and Politics 6: Dr. AntiSec, Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Internet

X-Files, Tagline from Season 1, Episode 24, "The Erlenmeyer Flask" (1994). Image Source: The X-Files Taglines.

The political and governmental capacity of the Internet is evolving so rapidly that it outpaces all the analysts currently acknowledged as experts in the fields of international relations, political economy and foreign policy.  Every world trade meeting, high end newspaper editorial, and talking head session coming out of the MSM outlets looks moribund and woefully out of touch. Acknowledged authorities on these matters go on about the gold bubble and the price of oil, unemployment and the Arab Spring. A China slowdown and tax policy. Nuclear Japan and nuclear Iran. Analyses are politically skewed, and the audience is expected to be passive.  Viewers and readers are meant to believe what they are politically inclined to be told, whether or not those politics still reflect reality. 

No one in the halls of power observes that the pitched (and remarkably boring) right-left battle between global elites simply does not address current conditions.  To start, take the growing gap between rich and poor, the growing sections of a crumbling, alienated middle class in developed countries, and the disenfranchised everywhere else. The broad consensus attained through prosperity (or its promise) has been pulverized. The old Roman trick of bread and circuses no longer keeps the mob pacified. The Internet itself became part of a series of marketed distractions, petty consumerist addictions, and cheap sham equalities.  A gadget in every hand. But after the recession hit, neither right nor left formulas could hasten recovery, and the popularity of hacktivism increased dramatically. The online distraction became an obsession, and then almost overnight, the foundation of a new world.

Image Source: Ars Technica.

Meanwhile, the factor that authorities and commentators should try to understand, Cyberpolitics, is acknowledged by pundits via a superficial acquaintance with Julian Assange's shenanigans; or it is skimmed over out of ignorance; or it is derisively poo-pooed as the preserve of basement-dwellers and politically naive computer freaks, whose facility with the mysteries of technology is at worst unnerving. Since the province of computer hacktivism is virtual, it is deemed far removed from the gritty, physical day-to-day modern governmental realities of political parties, fund-raising, friendly think tanks and partial NGOs, lobby groups, private interests, intelligence reports, and back room deals. Instead of looking at and encouraging the positive governmental potential of the Internet, Cyberpolitics has been treated negatively as a security issue.

Being a hacker target had, until recently, been deemed by firms simply to be a security problem for their in-house IT staff or for an out-of-house IT security contractor (that is, until the security contractors got hacked - it was embarrassing). In that climate, hackers become king.

One glance at Twitter's #antisec feed, and anyone schooled in the history of politics, and more importantly, the structure of government, would start to wonder whether movements on the Internet could become the Millennial power groups. Beyond their pet causes, hacktivists might reshape democracy and anti-democracy, as well as the very form of the state.

On the one hand, I see why someone would tweet: "The time to act is now. If youre waiting for November, then you still buy into the lies. There r no political parties."  It is not just disenchantment and a bad economy.  It is not just - as some critics have said - bad character of entitled youth. The Internet is changing the fabric of statehood itself.

On the other hand, the blind support hacktivists receive is troubling.  They adore Orwellian language: LulzSec and Anonymous have joined forces for Operation Antisec. The forces marshaled under this banner are following a pretty straightforward radical political agenda that appeals to any angry youth culture. On Friday, Anonymous targeted a private prison Website in Florida. Another attack took down an Ohio-based FBI affiliate, with its compromised site playing the 1995 Dangerous Minds Soundtrack hit, the Coolio redux of "Pastime Paradise" (incidentally, the song is based on J. S. Bach's Prelude No. 2 in C minor (BWV 847): listen here and here, and compare here and here - the provenance of modern media is amazing).  WikiLeaks and Anonymous are promising more big announcements this week: "There's some massive win heading our (and your) way. We we we so excited! In the meantime we continue to root & leak & rm."

Hackers have been steadily ramping up their rhetoric and actions from pranks to serious threats. It is already Monday 27 February in the UK, and while America watches the Oscars, WikiLeaks have begun publishing the Global Intelligence Files and over 5 million confidential e-mails of the Texas-based security company, Stratfor. It looks like Stratfor's site has been hacked at the same time as well, since they currently have a 14 February 2012 page up advertising: "Jihadist Opportunities in Syria."

Tweets in the past few hours give the tone: "We aren't born under the law. Laws don't apply upon us.. we are legions."

And: "Yikes RT : A wild wiki leak appears: | Bringing emails right in your face! "

And: " to publish security think tank | "

And: "Greece Ministry of "Justice" Website has been Hacked and Defaced by Always Expect Us."

And: "Something dark is churning in my heart. I like it. "

And: ": Academia de Cine / ... YOU´ BEEN HACKED!! We do not forgive."

And: "Federal Trade Commission Server Breached By Anonymous ( Protest)"

And: " University of Washington hacked by xdev "

As the actions escalate and the evolution takes hold, you have to wonder where this will all go. I sure miss the 80s, when we looked at tech with wide-eyed wonder and boundless optimism. The mood of the 1990s, the decade when popular access to the Internet was born, was awash in paranoia.  This was the Dawn of the Paper Shredder, when the X-Files ruled the television. With its smoke and mirrors, virtual Potemkin Villages, invisible hierarchies, unknown authorities and special-access-class of users, I'm not sure the Internet was ever free, or ever lent itself to freedom.  The Internet is very good at setting up online institutions that look like they are dealing with freedom when they are in fact dealing with its opposite.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Danse Macabre at the Grammys

Nicki Minaj and an actor impersonating the Pope at the Grammys. Image Source: Divided States.

The American entertainment industry did not need to fuel the widespread rumours - many of which are viciously racist and anti-Semitic - that top industry people are somehow connected to the Illuminati, Satanic worship and unfolding plots for world domination. The 54th Grammys became a classic example of how a row of events and images can be lined up online to look like the Prince of Darkness has come to visit.  Following on Candlemas (aka Imbolc), and the already unsettling symbols used in Madonna's Superbowl extravaganza, wild chatter now suggests that the Grammys were the second in a series of giant public Satanic ceremonies heralding the end of the world. Because Whitney Houston's cause of death is still not determined, and the star was seen alive and well about an hour before her death, her sudden demise is now being linked to the dark symbolic content of the Grammy Awards ceremonies.  Conspiracy theories that generally swirl around the entertainment industry merged quickly with theories about Houston's death.  Hybrid conspiracies appeared overnight, like a new crop of mushrooms.

Over yesterday, some of the really intense chat forums even went so far as to claim that Houston was a sacrificial lamb, a critical lynchpin in some dark Illuminati ritual, bizarrely enacted in plain sight.  One forum commenter plainly felt that bad magic had been set in motion: "Anyone else feeling depressed since last night. I could only watch the grammy's for a short time, it was too strange for me to sit through. Went to bed early, could not sleep, then when I did I had weird dreams. Today I am almost suicidal. Really horrible vibes going on....."  For those debating conspiracy theories around Houston's death, even LL Cool J's prayer at the opening of the Grammys took on a sinister tone: "Heavenly Father, we thank You for sharing our sister Whitney with us." Yesterday, Chaka Khan claimed that the music industry was "demonic" in a Piers Morgan interview on CNN, which has fueled more Internet talk.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

We're Going to Mars

Image Source: I09.

As one era of space exploration ended with the retirement of the Space Shuttles, so a new one begins.  NASA is saving face following the end of the Shuttle program with a flurry of bright announcements.  I09 is reporting on NASA's press release yesterday about a giant rocket they are building - the largest in all of human history.  This is the launch vehicle that will take us to Mars:
Say hello to NASA's Space Launch System (SLS) — it's about to become the largest, most powerful space rocket we've ever built. The Agency announced a design for the rocket earlier today, saying it will be a "safe, affordable and sustainable means of reaching beyond our current limits and opening up new discoveries from the unique vantage point of space." Buckle up, everybody — we're going to Mars.
The crew capsule is the Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle - also just announced.  See the bottom right of my blog page for a selection of NASA's main headlines.  See below the jump for the promotional videos.

Open the pod bay doors, please Hal. Will there be leaps in Artificial Intelligence to accompany our reach for the stars?  The Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle. Image Source: NASA.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

End of an Era: Discovery's Last Launch Today

NASA Tribute to Discovery with the insignia of all her missions.  Image Source: Wiki.

A spacecraft that has been vitally important to the history of human exploration is about to be retired.  Up to the last minute, it wasn't clear if the Space Shuttle Discovery would make her launch today.  First flown in 1984, this will be her 39th and final mission.  The Shuttle retires amid discussion that NASA's space program is giving way to private space firms, such as Elon Musk's SpaceX.  According to The Space Review, other companies in the running for significant commercial participation in the American space program are Boeing, Orbital Sciences Corporation, Sierra Nevada Corporation, and United Launch Alliance (ULA).

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Last Night's Lunar Eclipse

Image © NASA/Bill Ingalls. Image Source: Flickr.

NASA's just posted a picture of the lunar eclipse from last night that would make Stanley Kubrick proud. This is the moon passing the Washington Monument.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Do Animals Sense Death?

Münster Zoo: The grieving gorilla Gana carried her dead baby on her back for several days. 2008 reports here and here.  Gana died in January of 2010.

In yesterday's post, I touched on the commonly-held assumption that one of the things long considered to separate humans from animals is our awareness of death.  This goes right back to the Book of Genesis, when Adam and Eve eat the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil; they gain insight that makes them see things in the way God does.  Yet they lack God's wisdom and judgment, possibly due to the fact that they did not also eat of the fruit of the Tree of Life, the other tree in the Garden of Eden.  As a result, animals come to fear humans, whereas at the beginning of Genesis, Adam names the animals, which suggests his initial ability to communicate with them (to read the text, go here).  In 2001: A Space Odyssey, Stanley Kubrick symbolically repeated that moment from a non-religious point of view when he showed apes making a jump in consciousness and killing tapirs with which they had previously lived peacefully.  This was shortly followed by the now-conscious apes murdering each other while wielding tools to do so, with the tool-making the key sign of awareness of causality.  Kubrick used an extra-terrestrial monolithic symbol as a catalyst for that jump in self-awareness.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Kubrick's Lost Concept Art


New York under water: Concept art for A.I. by Stanley Kubrick.

I09 is reporting that concept art by Stanley Kubrick has surfaced for the movie on artificial intelligence that he never made.  Steven Spielberg finished the film, A.I. in 2001.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Fountain of Youth 1: Why is Noir the Style of the Future and Immortality?

Blade Runner (1982).

Why are there so many films about the future that depend upon a resuscitation of film noir style? Neo-noir has been a revived favourite standard for thrillers from the 1980s to the 2000s, but why is science fiction a flourishing noir sub-genre? Is it just the huge impact of cyberpunk, related to the Tech Revolution? Perhaps science fiction from the 1950s to 1970s, like Philip K. Dick’s neo-gnostic and post-apocalyptic works fed readily into neo-noir styled films based on his work, like 1982’s Blade Runner? Or is there something about noir style specifically that speaks to how we think of the future and Blade Runner's concepts of mortality and conflicted humanity?

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Answers in the Chaos

Fox Mulder's office poster.

The exponential momentum of the technological revolution is radically transforming social values and behaviour in ways we can’t understand. An avalanche of data is now generating chaos through its speed, sheer quantity and wild variations of quality. So much for the idealistic Web anarchists who hoped that natural order would emerge on the Net spontaneously. This was the sort of breathless prediction made by Wired in the early 1990s! The darkest corners of the internet are now as barbaric as anything on a clichéed medieval battlefield. But what’s even more scary are the sites that propose to offer ‘answers’ in the chaos.