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 Time Capsules. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Time Capsules. Show all posts

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Talismans


Image Source: pinterest.

"How does a man come to know the unknowable?" He can do it through pushing the boundaries, or through some philosophical bridge. Maybe he does it through a woman, or a leap of faith, or a contemplation of the order of the universe that he cannot see. In these respects, I want to thank Dia Sobin at Trans-D Digital blog for permitting me to quote her 20 March 2016 post, The Language of Birds & the Alchemy of Love: The Music Box. She wrote a beautiful passage about the way in which girls keep talismans from their pasts to preserve memories and conjure up love. Women,
"have a peculiar predilection for keeping memorable items in special boxes, especially as young girls. Our little magic boxes ... full of talismanic detritus we've collected over the years ... a coin, jewelry, a shred of hair, a crumbling flower head, a photo, a signature, stones, bones ... whatever. Generally the tokens are kept to remind us of lovers or loved ones ... small trophies for experiences that may eventually retreat into a mental shadowland in the same way the objects themselves have retreated into the shadowy recesses of the box. But, no matter. The box becomes a sort of artificial memory bank... a collection of three-dimensional objects representing transdimensional events in the same way a collection of symbols do. In the end, whether we're talking about musical codes, alchemical codes, or the enigmatic chemistry of love and attraction, some type of hidden language is involved ... as is some kind of communication that lies outside the bounds of what is consciously understood."
Studies confirm that women remember events, especially emotional ones, better than men. Not only is the part of the brain which deals with memory larger in women, but that brain difference prompts female behaviour dedicated to maintaining memory through the organization of material objects. This tendency to tuck away bits of sacred junk in drawers and boxes demonstrates women's semi-conscious need to connect the emotional world and past memories to the tangible world in the present and future in direct ways. Women habitually manipulate time to turn the unreal side of life into something real. With these little anchors, they navigate the course of their lives. If you remember who you were, you don't lose track of who you are, and of the person you will become.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Gilgamesh War Plunder


New tablet from the Epic of Gilgamesh. Image Source: Open Culture.

September 2015 reports confirmed that November 2011 war plunder in Iraq turned up an additional tablet from the Epic of Gilgamesh, adding twenty lines to the fifth tablet of the great story, in which the hero Gilgamesh and his friend Enkidu feel guilty about killing the Cedar Forest King, Humbaba. The Cedar Forest is the domain of the gods; the added lines describe the beauty and noise of the forest and the creatures that live there.

The new lines also explain that only after Humbaba is dead do our heroes realize that they made a mistake, and he is more a god-king than a monster. Gilgamesh and Enkidu also kill Humbaba's sons and burn down the forest, and they regret that too. Added to this there is a nuance of wrongful revenge, since we discover that Enkidu and Humbaba were friends in their youths. There is an article about this find from researchers at the University of London, here, in which scholars ponder the epic's famous grasp of human psychology; they especially note its lessons on how heroism and civilization are always built on morally-conflicted destruction of an older order.

Video Source: Youtube.

Caption for the above video (31 July 2015): "Miss Hazha Jalal, manager of the tablet's section of the Sulaymaniyah Museum of Iraqi Kurdistan speaks (using Kurdish language) about the newly discovered tablet V of the Epic of Gilgamesh, which is housed in the Sulaymaniayh Museum; 'The tablet dates back to the Old-Babylonian period, 2000-1500 BCE. ... It was acquired by the Museum in the year 2011 and ... Dr. Farouk Al-Raw transliterated it. It was written as a poem and many new things this version has added, for example Gilgamesh and his friend met a monkey.'"

Gilgamesh, a mythical hero, was probably based on the fifth king of Ukuk, who reigned at some point between 2800 and 2500 BCE over the ancient city, located in what is now Iraq. In its heyday in 2900 BCE, Uruk was likely the largest city in the world, with a population between 50,000 to 80,000 people. The epic was written between 2150 and 1400 BCE. The story is considered to be the oldest written epic in western literature, and a milestone in the transition from oral to written tradition. For detailed reports, see Open Culture and History Blog.

See all my posts related to the Epic of Gilgamesh.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Nuclear Leaks 35: Fukushima Five Years On


Fukushima Reactor #3 (10 February 2016). Image Source: Reuters.

11 March 2016 is the fifth anniversary of the Tōhoku 9.0 earthquake and tsunami and subsequent level 7 nuclear disaster at Fukushima Daiichi power plant. I have discussed these events here, here, and here. Over 220,0000 people have been displaced; officially, almost 16,000 people died, with over 2,500 missing. It is a catastrophe which tests political and moral attitudes, values and perceptions. It depends how you interpret the information, because Fukushima sits right where the line of confident science and powerful technology breaks down, because everyone agrees that cleaning up the mess is beyond our current knowledge and capabilities. Unfortunately in Japan, there is also a conflation between showing a correct patriotic attitude and acknowledging a technological and environmental breakdown that affects us all.

RT (23 September 2015): The Fukushima disaster was preventable, and came about due to poor planning and engineering failures. Video Source: Youtube.

Despite Fukushima, there is an increased global commitment to nuclear electric power, due to increasing demands for electricity to run the Internet and to drive global development. In researching one related post for this blog, I found that several contracts were concluded in 2012 to build new nuclear plants around the world. The money is made now in short term business deals. When things go wrong with this technology, we pay the price for thousands of years. One could argue that the plant personnel were blameless, because the accident was caused by the horrific earthquake and tsunami. But the Japanese government showed distinct lack of foresight 45 years ago, when its officials decided to build rows of nuclear reactors, on unstable ground, by the sea, right on a giant earthquake fault. After Fukushima, only Germany instituted an Energiewende and stepped back from nuclear power, and their Chancellor is a physicist.

On 18 April 2015, Tokyo Electric (TEPCO) sent a robot into Reactor #1 to investigate, but the machine broke down due to radiation. Image Source: TEPCO via Fukushima Diary.

20 March 2015: Reactor #1 muon photography of the Reactor Pressure Vessel, with corium missing. Image Source: TEPCO via Extreme Tech.

The Japanese government is actually considering burying exposed coriums in the seabed, about eight miles off the coast of Japan; this is a bad idea, aside from the fact that it is impossible to do, because it is in an active seismic zone. In 2015, several reports surfaced that China Syndromes occurred at Fukushima, with three coriums from the first three Daiichi units melting through containment into the soil. TEPCO published muon photography at Reactor #1 in 2015 which confirmed that the corium 'had disappeared.' The corium at Reactor #2 is also 'missing,' confirmed by muon photography in 2015. On 28 October 2015, TEPCO found radiation levels at 9.4 sieverts per hour outside Reactor #2's containment vessel; a person directly exposed to that level of radiation will die in 45 minutes. Several other reports since 2011 have speculated where the molten coriums of Reactors #1, #2, and #3 are. At a 2012 IAEA meeting, Harri Tuomisto of Finland's Fortum Power commented that pools of molten coriums beneath the reactors are up to 2 storeys (20-23 feet) high each, although that should have made them easier to locate.

14 March 2011: The famous explosion at Reactor #3. Image Source: Japan's NTV network via Fox News.

Reactor #3 is the most worrisome, because it used plutonium-based MOX fuel. Reactor #3 exploded on 14 March 2011, and a plume appeared above it, inspiring further questions. More steam clouds were emitted from the ruins of Reactor #3 in July and December 2013. On 6 August 2014, TEPCO changed its November 2011 estimations about Reactor #3, admitting that the molten fuel had escaped containment and reached the concrete floor of the reactor:
"According to the new estimate, all the melted fuel penetrated the pressure vessel, fell onto the bottom of the containment vessel and melted about 68 cm into the concrete."
On 20 October 2015, TEPCO sent a robot into Reactor #3 to find out what had happened to the Primary Containment Vessel. The robot - a 3D-printed one with a smartphone attached, no less - gave limited results, here; its photos are below. On 17 December 2015, TEPCO finally admitted that from 14 to 16 March 2011, radioactive steam from Reactor #3 and MOX fuel leaked into the environment after a melt-through of the Primary Containment Vessel. They also confirmed that they observed "black smoke" rising from Reactor #3 from 21 to 23 March 2011.

Helicopter footage from  March 2011, supposedly of exposed molten corium flowing from Reactor #2, circulated widely on anti-nuclear Websites. The explosion at Reactor #2 took place on 15 March 2011. Video Source: Youtube.

Full helicopter footage from which the above clip was taken, uploaded to Youtube on 17 March 2011. Video Source: Youtube.

Still from the above video. Image Source: Ah, Mephistophelis.

Move past the purposefully muddled and delayed information on the crippled power plants and beyond the human interest stories, and there is no clear estimation of how many people have died, or will die, due to radioactive fallout, contaminated agriculture and fisheries, pollution of soil and groundwater, and continuous radioactive leaks into the Pacific. It is impossible to determine the meaning of weird reports, such as the 8 February 2016 explosion near Iwaki city in the Onahama area, 60 kilometres from the Fukushima Daiichi plant, which shook buildings and windows. The impact on pregnant women and unborn children is unknown. Unlike Belarus, Russia and Ukraine, where (despite many problems) post-Chernobyl foetuses were carried to full term and deformed infants subsequently raised by heroic nurses and surrogate care-givers in special hospice facilities, there are rumours - unconfirmed, and often denied or dismissed - that post-Fukushima foetuses have been aborted. The government struggles to decontaminate large areas and make them habitable again, with workers and volunteers scrubbing houses and removing layers of topsoil in the exclusion zone.

16 October 2015: "Investigation Results inside Unit 3 Spent Fuel Pool using a Waterproof Camera in Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station." Image Source: TEPCO.

20 October 2015: "Investigation Results of the Inside of Unit 3 Primary Containment Vessel (PCV) at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station." Image Source: TEPCO.

22 October 2015: "Investigation Results of the Inside of Unit 3 Primary Containment Vessel (PCV) at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station." Image Source: TEPCO.

Greenpeace via RT (10 February 2016): "Fukushima causes mutations & DNA damage with 'no end in sight.'" TEPCO workers outside Fukushima Reactors #3 and #4. Image Source: RT.

Mikhail Gorbachev, when discussing Chernobyl, described the possibility of a China Syndrome and contamination of the Black Sea as something that had to be prevented at all costs. At Chernobyl, it was prevented because the Soviet government brought in Siberian miners on a suicide mission to build a huge concrete barrier underneath the plant, to block the corium's path. At Fukushima, China Syndromes were not prevented. On 26 October 2015The Japan Times reported that 400 tonnes of radioactive water were being dumped into the Pacific Ocean every day.

The reports of mysterious wildlife die-offs in the Pacific go on, and on, and on, and on, and on, and on, and on, and on, and on, and on, and on. Reputable sources deny that there is any connection between these mortality events and Fukushima; other reputable sources are not so sure. California air samples from 2014 detected plutonium 239 and 240, likely from Fukushima. The historic levels of marine animal deaths and marine organism population depletion on the Pacific west coast of North America may be related to Fukushima but are sometimes blamed on global warming. The warm water explanation may come from the anti-carbon lobby, and is more political than real when government tests show the presence of Fukushima-sourced radiocesium in marine life. Attempts to play down the severity of contamination in Japan may be motivated by more than pro-nuclear business interests or anti-global-warming environmental politics. The muted media treatment of Fukushima may reflect serious concerns to maintain global stability and prevent conflict in the entire surrounding region. On 6 March 2016, RT reported that Naoto Kan, Japan's former Prime Minister, admitted that Tokyo was almost evacuated in 2011, which would have displaced 50 million people and destabilized Asia.

Ōkuma in 2012. Image Source: The Yomiuri Shimbun/AP via MIT Technology Review. 

4 March 2016: "Workers get changed into their protective clothing inside the anti-seismic building before working on the radiation decontamination process." Image Source: Gizmodo.

There are several films about the disaster, including Fukushima Never Again (2012); Fukushima: A Nuclear Story (2015); and Greetings from Fukushima (2016; Grüsse aus Fukushima). Meanwhile, there are currently serious ongoing incidents in America, with an "unusual event" fire at Oconee Nuclear Station in South Carolina; "uncontrollable radioactive flow" from Indian Point Energy Center in New York; and there was an "unusual event" fire at Watts Bar Nuclear Plant, Tennessee overnight on 8-9 March 2016. In September 2015, horrible reports came out of Kazakhstan near a nuclear testing site, where a mass die-off of local antelopes started in the spring and persisted all year; that incident was attributed to bacteria. In future posts, I will summarize the Japanese situation, its impact on Japan's neighbours, and its international implications. Today's post shows recent photos and images associated with the Fukushima disaster.

22 April 2013: "Dead Mice Found in the Outdoor Transformer Box for Unit 2 Spent Fuel Pool Alternative Cooling System at Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station." Image Source: TEPCO.

Citizen-Scientist International Symposium on Radiation Protection November 2014 closing remarks. Posted on Youtube on 23 October 2015; at time stamp 36:15 hear comments from Keith Baverstock, former World Health Organization regional adviser for radiation and public health: "I am really appalled by how the international system has failed. ... Quite frankly, we don't get anything through the media. ... There is no general understanding of the situation ... here in Europe because the media are not putting this view forward. In fact, I think many people would be very surprised that it was still a matter for discussion. And they would be even more surprised to learn that it was still an ongoing accident and that it hasn't terminated yet. And they would be even more surprised that nobody has any good ideas on how to stop it." He argued that the IAEA faces a conflict of interest when investigating nuclear disasters and that Japan is breaking international laws by dumping radioactive material into the ocean. Video Source: Youtube.

Monday, January 4, 2016

Ancient Cities 6: The Underwater Gods of Thonis-Heracleion and Canopus


Eighteen feet tall: "A red-granite statue of the [Nile] god Hapy at Aboukir Bay in Egypt. The five-metre statue will feature in an exhibition at the British Museum opening in May [2016]." Image Source: Franck Goddio / Hilti Foundation via Independent.

The British press are reporting that underwater excavations of the ancient Egyptian cities of Thonis-Heracleion and Canopus have yielded incredible artefacts which will be on display at the British Museum this year. Sunken Cities, which runs in London from 19 May to 27 November 2016, had related previous shows in Egypt and Paris. The cities were likely swallowed by the Mediterranean after a catastrophic earthquake in the 8th century CE. The British Museum released the following statement on the forthcoming exhibition:
300 outstanding objects will be brought together for the exhibition including more than 200 spectacular finds excavated off the coast of Egypt near Alexandria between 1996 and 2012. Important loans from Egyptian museums rarely seen before outside Egypt (and the first such loans since the Egyptian revolution) will be supplemented with objects from various sites across the Delta drawn from the British Museum’s collection; most notably from Naukratis – a sister harbour town to Thonis- Heracleion and the first Greek settlement in Egypt.

Likely founded during the 7th century BC, Thonis- Heracleion and Canopus were busy, cosmopolitan cities that once sat on adjacent islands at the edge of the fertile lands of the Egyptian Delta, intersected by canals. After Alexander the Great’s conquest of Egypt in 332 BC, centuries of Greek (Ptolemaic) rule followed. The exhibition will reveal how cross-cultural exchange and religion flourished, particularly the worship of the Egyptian god of the afterlife, Osiris.

By the 8th century AD, the sea had reclaimed the cities and they lay hidden several metres beneath the seabed, their location and condition unclear. Although well-known from Egyptian decrees and Greek mythology and historians, past attempts to locate them were either fruitless or very partial. ...

Thanks to the underwater setting, a vast number of objects of great archaeological significance have been astonishingly well preserved. Pristine monumental statues, fine metalware and gold jewellery will reveal how Greece and Egypt interacted in the late first millennium BC. These artefacts offer a new insight into the quality and unique character of the art of this period and show how the Greek kings and queens who ruled Egypt for 300 years adopted and adapted Egyptian beliefs and rituals to legitimise their reign.

The exhibition will feature a number of extraordinary, monumental sculptures. A 5.4 m granite statue of Hapy, a divine personification of the Nile’s flood, will greet visitors as they enter the space. Masterpieces from Egyptian museums such as the Apis bull from the Serapeum in Alexandria will be shown alongside magnificent recent finds from the sea. One such piece is the stunning sculpture from Canopus representing Arsinoe II (the eldest daughter of Ptolemy I, founder of the Ptolemaic dynasty). The Greco-Macedonian queen became a goddess beloved to both Egyptians and Greeks after her death and is depicted here as the perfect embodiment of Aphrodite, a goddess of beauty ‘who grants fortunate sailing’.

The exhibition will also cover the arrival of Greeks in Egypt, when they were hosts and not rulers; privileged but controlled by the pharaohs. A complete stela from Thonis-Heracleion advertises a 380 BC royal decree of the Egyptian pharaoh Nectanebo I. It states that 10% of the taxes collected on all goods imported from the ‘Sea of the Greeks’ into Thonis-Heracleion and on all trade operations at Naukratis were to be donated to an Egyptian temple.

A wide range of objects, from modest to grand and costly, bears witness to the piety of both inhabitants and visitors at these major religious centres. Lead models of barges uncovered in the sacred waterway linking Thonis-Heracleion to Canopus are unique and moving finds. They are associated with the Mysteries of Osiris, the most popular festival celebrated annually across Egypt during the month of Khoiak (mid-October to mid- November). Ranging in size from 6 to 67 cm, these reproduce in metal a flotilla of 34 papyrus barges that would have been displayed on a waterway to celebrate the first sacred navigation of the festival. According to religious texts, each barge was to measure 67.5 cm and to bear the figure of an Egyptian god, and would have been illuminated by 365 lamps. The lead barges are lasting testimonies possibly left by people who, long ago, celebrated this festival in the Canopic region.
A "5.4m red granite statue of the god Hapy, which decorated the temple of Thonis-Heracleion." Image Source: Evening Standard.

Submerged statue of the god Osiris. Image Source: Archaeology News Network.

CNN reported on the related Paris exhibition to describe the importance of the god Osiris in these lost cities:
The exhibition in Paris [8 September 2015 - 31 January 2016], entitled Osiris, Sunken Mysteries of Egypt, explores the importance of the Egyptian god to people of these cities, which are thought to have been places of pilgrimage.

The story of Osiris tells of how he was murdered and cut up by his brother Seth before being resurrected by his wife (and possibly sister) Isis, with whom he had a son, Horus.

[French archaeologist Franck] Goddio says: "It's about good defeating evil but not conquering it completely. Every year they had to renew Osiris, who brought the cycle of abundance, the stability of the cosmos and the continuity of the dynasty. In every temple a priest would represent the pharaoh and relive the murder, dismemberment and rebirth of Osiris. We knew that there was something special in Heracleion thanks to the stele rediscovered in 1881 which bore the decree of Canopus.

"It said that in the celebration of the Mysteries of Osiris, the great god leaves from the temple of Amon-Gereb in the town of Heracleion to perform a processional navigation to his sanctuary of Canopus. We found the canal along which the god sailed. We found artifacts in bearing witness of this celebration."
The statue of Osiris, in situ, from a distance. Image Source: CNN.

Monday, July 6, 2015

ISIS and Post-Diluvian Amnesia


A sphinx on the seafloor off the shores of Alexandria, Egypt. Image Source: All That is Interesting.

The Middle East is the source of all civilization on this planet. Any conflict there stirs the shared memory of all human beings. On 3 July 2015, days after ISIS or ISIL called for a jihad in the Balkans and declared caliphates in the Caucasus and GazaBreitbart reported that the radical Islamic movement has announced it will destroy the Egyptian sphinx and pyramids as a sacred duty:
ISIS “caliph” Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi told followers of his terror group that destroying Egypt’s national monuments, such as the pyramids and the sphinx, is a “religious duty” that must be carried out by those who worship Islam, as idolatry is strictly banned in the religion, according to reports. UK radical Islamist Anjem Choudary echoed Baghdadi’s sentiments, telling The Telegraph: “When Egypt comes under the auspices of the Khalifa [Caliphate], there will be no more pyramids, no more Sphinx, no more idolatry,” saying that the ancient statues’s destruction “will be just.” Another Islamist preacher, Ibrahim Al Kandari, agrees that the cultural monuments need to be destroyed to comply with the Shariah. “The fact that early Muslims who were among prophet Mohammed’s followers did not destroy the pharaohs’ monuments upon entering Egypt does not mean that we shouldn’t do it now,” he told Al-Watan.
ISIS has already made its name destroying the older ruins of ancient Mesopotamia. Why is ISIS so threatened by these ruins? As the video lecture below the jump makes clear, the 5,000-year-old Sumerian Epic of Gilgamesh is sexually intense, even by today's standards (read it here). Gilgamesh is also the foundation myth to end all foundation myths - it is the core story of our common civilization. It is the source material for our very understanding of organized social life. The opening lines to the 15,000 word work read:

"He who saw all, who was the foundation of the land,
"Who knew (everything), was wise in all matters.
"Gilgamesh, who saw all, who was the foundation of the land,
"Who knew (everything), was wise in all matters."

While there undoubtedly were many other epics sung in humanity's 100,000 to 50,000 years of prehistory, Gilgamesh is the earliest example we have. Its language marks the start of written history and that history begins with a cataclysm, a 'time before' and 'time after.' The story of all peoples is one of this terrible disaster, where great societies had arisen and then been destroyed by an archaic Flood. Most famous among these legendary antediluvian societies is Atlantis. J. R. R. Tolkien constructed part of his Middle Earth stories around an Atlantis idea, in which his hero, Aragorn, is descended from antediluvian superpeopleGilgamesh describes that watershed, that moment at which people still remembered what was before, and what came after. It is likely that Gilgamesh's antediluvian and post-diluvian claim to primacy constitutes the indelible and eternal cultural threat which so unsettles the ISIS zealots.








It unsettles - but also inspires them! The Millennial mind fixates on the turn of ages, and no such time is more fundamental than the Flood, which was likely (if you believe quasi-historical theorists like Graham Hancock) an account of the ending of the Ice Age. If you wanted to understand ISIS's motives in a nutshell, look at their obsession with the Flood. They constantly borrow from the Flood myth, meaning that they intend to create a new watershed moment with a flood of blood to wash the world and erase its memory of what came before. They want to construct a new turning point and create a new reality. Directly below and after the jump, hear the opening of the Epic of Gilgamesh sung in its original language and hear it recited in English.

Peter Pringle performs. "By 2000 B.C., the language of Sumer had almost completely died out and was used only by scholars (like Latin is today). No one knows how it was pronounced because it has not been heard in 4000 years. What you hear in this video are a few of the opening lines of part of the epic poem, accompanied only by a long-neck, three-string, Sumerian lute known as a "gish-gu-di". The instrument is tuned to G - G - D, and although it is similar to other long neck lutes still in use today (the tar, the setar, the saz, etc.) the modern instruments are low tension and strung with fine steel wire. The ancient long neck lutes (such as the Egyptian "nefer") were strung with gut and behaved slightly differently. ... The location for this performance is the courtyard of Nebuchadnezzar's palace in Babylon. The piece is four minutes long and is intended only as a taste of what the music of ancient Sumer might have sounded like." Video Source: Youtube.

Monday, April 6, 2015

New Movies in Old VHS Cases



New wine in old bottles. From the French satirical site, golem13, via The Poke, here's what Millennial movies would look like if packaged in the old 1980s-1990s VHS cases. It shows how graphic art and marketing have moved from the static to the kinetic in 15-20 odd years.


Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Tibet's Lost Time Capsule


The Lost World of Tibet (2006) © British Film Institute. Video Source: Youtube.

In the interim while this blog is sleeping, see a beautiful film about pre-occupation Tibet, with rare historic footage from the British Film Institute. Before the Chinese occupation of Tibet in 1950, Tibet's situation in a bowl in the Himalayas ensured that the great powers left it untouched, a medieval time capsule preserved across centuries. The most distinctive aspect of that time capsule was the persistence of a living state religion, in which 20 per cent of the male population became monks. The current Dalai Lama, Jetsun Jamphel Ngawang Lobsang Yeshe Tenzin Gyatso, born Lhamo Dondrub,  was chosen as the state's God King.

Present-day autonomous Tibet. Image Source: Rolf Gross.
 
Tibetan cultural area. Image Source: Tibetan Trekking.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Freezing Time Before the Watershed


The Ballad of Narayama (1958) concerns the Japanese legendary practice of ubasute, or, abandoning the elderly in the mountains to die. Different characters obediently accept the practice or violently reject it. Image Source: QBranch.

In story-telling, there are several famous characters who try to freeze time before a watershed moment changes everything. They are traumatized by the moment of change and their rigid attachment to the past is almost always self-destructive. Perhaps this is a way of defining a ghost, someone who acts against the course of the world's destiny and becomes trapped in one frame of time, rather than moving along through many frames of time.

The need to accept change  in order to live in a healthy manner is the larger reason for the ancient injunction: Don't look back. This is the message in myth and religion, as with Orpheus and Eurydice or Lot's wife. Fables, ghost stories and superstitions are full of warnings against mirrors that can capture a hostile past, reflect it back at you, and trap you forever.

"Lot's Wife" pillar, Mount Sodom, Israel. Image Source: Wiki.

Sodom's destruction. Lot and his daughters escape, while his wife turns to a pillar of salt. 12th century mosaic, Duomo di Monreale, Sicily. Image Source: Wiki.

Lot leaving Sodom, with his wife looking back. Woodcut from the Nuremberg Chronicle (1493) by Michel Wolgemut and Wilhelm Pleydenwurf.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Tomb of a Sleeping Queen?


Image Source: AP via National Geographic.

From Marie Antoinette, a modern Austrian princess, we go back through time to another queen, Olympias. We go back through Austria, or Österreich (the 'Eastern Reich,' the modern remnant of the Eastern Roman Empire), and before Rome, back to Greece. In Greece, archaeological circles are buzzing about a newly-discovered burial chamber from the time of Alexander the Great (Hat tip: Graham Hancock). It is 2,300 years old and is the largest ancient tomb in northern Greece.

The burial mound stands near ancient Amphipolis, 600 kilometers (370 miles) north of Athens. The tomb inside the mound is massive, marble-walled and ornately decorated, and must house the body of a royal personage, perhaps Alexander's mother or wife.

It is unlikely to be the tomb of the famous king himself, whose grave is lost somewhere in Egypt - another mystery waiting to be solved. The site is dated after his death, in the latter quarter of the 4th century BC, approximately between 325 and 300 BCE. Alexander died in 323 BCE. A member of the Argead dynasty ('from Argos'), Wiki describes him simply: "The most notable ancient Greek King and one of the most celebrated strategists and rulers of all time. Alexander at the top of his reign was simultaneously King of Macedonia, Pharaoh of Egypt, King of Persia and King of Asia." Because of his blinding legacy, still evident today, Alexander's impact arguably surpasses that of any other leader of the ancient world, including the Persian kings, the Egyptian pharaohs, and successive Roman emperors. Unsurprisingly, that interpretation is disputed by modern Iranian scholars. Legacies aside, the tomb dates from ancient Greece's highest moment of glory and power before the flowering of a multicultural Hellenistic imperial culture, which eventually led to the emergence of the Roman Empire after the Battle of Actium in 31 BCE.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Remembrance Day Irreducible


Portsmouth Naval War Memorial, Hampshire, UK. Image Source: Commonwealth War Graves Commission.

A common inscription on 20th century war memorials is taken from Ecclesiasticus 44:7:
"All these were honoured in their generations, and were the glory of their times." 
The quotation, used in this context as opposed to its original biblical chapter, recalls that war is a bloody moment of transformation, which freezes in time because of the sacrifices of its participants. It suggests that war serves, in a terrible way, a social purpose which is poorly understood, and that social purpose, or change, comes at a cost. Rituals around Remembrance Day focus on values, veterans and memories. Behind that, there is the irreducible truth of episodic and savage convulsions in history, which force transformation.

Remembrance: First World War French Officer's Time Capsule


Hubert Rochereau’s room in a house in Bélâbre, France. Images Source: Bruno Mascle/Photoshot Images via the Guardian.

The Guardian recently reported on a time capsule which preserves a French soldier's room exactly as he left it before he left for the front during the First World War. It haunts the viewer and brings back to life a European domestic world that would be forever transformed by the war. The family stipulated that the room should not be changed for 500 years:
The name of dragoons officer Hubert Rochereau is commemorated on a war memorial in Bélâbre, his native village in central France, along with those of other young men who lost their lives in the first world war.

But Rochereau also has a much more poignant and exceptional memorial: his room in a large family house in the village has been preserved with his belongings for almost 100 years since his death in Belgium.

A lace bedspread is still on the bed, adorned with photographs and Rochereau’s feathered helmet. His moth-eaten military jacket hangs limply on a hanger. His chair, tucked under his desk, faces the window in the room where he was born on 10 October 1896.

He died in an English field ambulance on 26 April 1918, a day after being wounded during fighting for control of the village of Loker, in Belgium. The village was in allied hands for much of the war but changed hands several times between 25 and 30 April, and was finally recaptured by French forces four days after Rochereau’s death.

The parents of the young officer kept his room exactly as it was the day he left for the battlefront. When they decided to move in 1935, they stipulated in the sale that Rochereau’s room should not be changed for 500 years.

Image Source: HuffPo.



Photos from HuffPo include a photo portrait of the officer. Images Source: Matthieu Bock of Europe1 via HuffPo.

Image Source: news.com.au.

Image Source: tumblr. 

Image Source: tumblr. 

Friday, April 11, 2014

Living in the Past, by Millennial Choice


Jo Hedwig Teeuwisse lives by choice in the year 1938 as much as possible. Images Source: Yahoo.

Dutch Gen Xer Jo Hedwig Teeuwisse runs an Amsterdam-based historical consultancy, HAB 30-45, which provides advice about everyday life from 1900 to 1950. You can see their Flickr album from the work they do here. Teeuwisse also has chosen to live in conditions from the 1930s as much as possible. From Yahoo:
In a small apartment in the modern center of Amsterdam, Jo Hedwig Teeuwisse parties like it’s 1938.
The owner of a historical consultancy company, Teeuwisse, 41, lives her work, forgoing most modern belongings and conveniences of the 21st century in favor of a life straight out of the 1930s.
“The only modern thing I have in my house is my computer; I need it for my work,” she said. “I also have a modern fridge, but only because I haven’t found a nice 1930s one yet and they no longer deliver ice for ice boxes.” ...
“As a student, my house was a mix of all sorts of old things, but slowly I started to focus it all and eventually I decided to just go for it and aim for the lifestyle of a lower-middle-class woman in Amsterdam in the late 1930s,” she said. “I felt right at home.”
Her favorite year, specifically, is 1938, because in addition to being a great example of the time she loves – the “golden age” of architecture, design, fashion and movies – it was also before the start of World War II and Nazi Germany’s invasion of the Netherlands.
In her apartment on the second floor of a building constructed in 1918, Teeuwisse lives with all the “modern” amenities of a 1930s woman. She describes her space as “a typical working-class house with a front room, back room, bedroom, ‘wet room’ (bathroom) and kitchen.”
The cozy apartment is filled with Dutch furniture from the 1920s and 30s, with a fireplace and radio and no television. ...

Even the way Teeuwisse keeps house is old-fashioned.
She runs a 1920s vacuum cleaner over the rugs, and washes the floors with vinegar, scrubbing on her hands and knees. She does all her laundry by hand using a washboard, a block of soap, bleach and a brush – “the smell is lovely,” she said. ...

“I just started doing it as an experiment to see what it was like, to learn about the past, and then I realized that I liked doing it that way and saved lots of money, that it was better for the environment, and that I didn’t have to put a big ugly white metal or plastic noisy box in my house,” Teeuwisse said, referring to modern appliances like washers and dryers.
Teeuwisse spends many of her mornings getting to know neighbors, going to a flea market in her neighborhood with her dogs and chatting about “the good old days” with seniors.
But because she has a company to run, she also spends part of her day with her laptop, doing research, “so that part is not very 1930s,” she said. However, she does use a Bakelite phone, introduced in 1931, instead of a cell phone to conduct business.
And when the workday is done, she spends her evenings listening to old music, reading magazines or books, or playing board games with friends.
“And of course sometimes I have to darn stockings,” she said.
Despite all this, Teeuwisse said she’s not particularly nostalgic. After all, she didn’t live through the era she mimics.
“I combine the best of the past with the best of the present to create a new tomorrow,” she said. “I don’t hide from reality. I do not pretend it is the 1930s. I do not ignore what goes on in the modern world. In the end, it is just a lifestyle.”
One might say that the way Teeuwisse has generated publicity with her time pocket lifestyle shows considerable Millennial media savvy. See more images of Teeuwisse and her apartment, filled with 1930s' furniture and books, below the jump.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Time Capsules Inside Time Capsules: Paris, 1942


Marthe de Florian (1898), by Giovanni Boldini (1842-1931). Image Source: The Meta Picture.

In 1942, a French socialite, Madame de Florian, fled her apartment on Paris's Right Bank near the Opéra Garnier. She paid rent on it until her death in 2010, but never returned (hat tip: The Meta Picture). The apartment has sat, sealed and untouched, with nothing moved since the Second World War, gathering dust.

After 2010, the estate opened the apartment and began selling the contents. They included the portrait (above) of the apartment's absent tenant's grandmother. It was painted by Italian portrait painter Giovanni Boldini, and recently sold at auction for €2.1 million. From AnOther:
Florian resided in a breath-taking apartment on Paris' Right Bank, which she left to her granddaughter, Madame de Florian. At the age of 23, amid the chaos of the Second World War, Madame de Florian fled Paris for the South of France, apparently never to return, but she continued to pay rent on the building until her death at the age of 91. From 1942 then, until a wintery December afternoon in 2010 – when it was entered by auctioneer Olivier Choppin-Janvry – the decadent apartment remained frozen in time, a time capsule recording the precise moment of de Florian's sudden flight.

Amid the luxurious if dusty furnishings, the wizened taxidermy and mountains of ephemera ranging from dressing tables to Disney toys, Choppin-Janvry came across a mesmerising Boldini portrait of a beautiful woman wearing a pink muslin dress, accompanied by a stack of ribbon bound love letters, including some from Boldini himself, addressed to Marthe de Florian. It became clear she was both his lover and the beauty in the painting. A reference found in Boldini’s wife's records has confirmed the identity of the portrait's subject, dating it to 1898, when de Florian was just 24 years old.
There is some historical confusion in how this story has been reblogged across the Web. The apartment was already outdated during the 1940s, having been passed to the tenant (Madame de Florian) from her grandmother (a different Madame de Florian). The apartment still had love letters on the premises to Marthe de Florian (the grandmother) from the artist Boldini. It actually reflects a frozen 1900 carried to 2010 by the wartime conditions of the mid-20th-century. The now-famous Boldini fin-de-siècle portrait above of the tenant's grandmother is a time capsule inside a time capsule. It is one turn of the century relayed to our turn of the century by an auction house at the end of the tenant's life at age 91.

Nevertheless, this time capsule is a reminder of how much 19th century was still alive and well at the mid-20th century. It gives a glimpse of the world that was swept away during World War II and was subsequently replaced by suburbs, cineplexes, shopping malls, travel points, credit cards and iPhones.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Antarctic Time Capsule


Never before seen: from Shackleton's Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition. Image Source: Antarctic Heritage Trust New Zealand via Petapixel.

Happy New Year! The blog starts 2014 with a hundred-year-old time capsule. On 10 December 2013, the Antarctic Heritage Trust published photographs from negatives discovered in Captain Scott's expedition base at Cape Evans (images of Scott's hut are here). The found photos were taken on Ernest Shackleton's famous and ill-fated Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition of 1914-1917:
The Trust’s conservation specialists discovered the clumped together cellulose nitrate negatives in a small box as part of the Ross Sea Heritage Restoration Project which has seen more than 10,000 objects conserved at Scott’s Cape Evans hut. The negatives were removed from Antarctica by the Trust earlier this year [2013]. Detailed conservation treatment back in New Zealand separating the negatives has revealed twenty-two images. The photographs are from Ernest Shackleton’s 1914-1917 Ross Sea Party, which spent time living in Scott’s hut after being stranded on Ross Island when their ship blew out to sea.
One of the most striking images is of Ross Sea Party member Alexander Stevens, Shackleton’s Chief Scientist, standing on-board the Aurora.
Although many of the images are damaged, the Antarctic Heritage Trust was able to recognise landmarks around McMurdo Sound, although the identity of the photographer remains unknown.
Shackleton's Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition marked the end of the Heroic Age of Antarctic Exploration. Two ships served on this expedition, the Endurance and the Aurora; they had separate missions.

While the Aurora sailed to the other side of the continent, Endurance became trapped in ice in the Weddell Sea; it broke apart and sank. Shackleton and five of his crew sailed a life boat to South Georgia, climbing a mountain once he landed ("the first-ever confirmed land crossing of the South Georgia interior"). Shackleton found help and saved his whole crew. T. S. Eliot immortalized this incredible story in his 1922 poem, The Waste Land (see my earlier post here).

As the press release mentioned, the found photos below the jump are from the Aurora's leg of the expedition. The whole collection is here.