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 sorted by relevance for query cause and effect. Sort by date Show all posts
Showing posts sorted by relevance for query cause and effect. Sort by date Show all posts

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Cause and Effect: Time and Western Civilization?

Time as a chessboard, not an arrow. Ballet on Time Chessboard by Lawrence Alfred Powell.  Image Source: Redbubble.

In my post from November 25th, I discussed Stephen Hawking's assumption that time travel backwards is impossible. From MSNBC's report: "'Down at the smallest of scales, smaller even than molecules, smaller than atoms, we get to a place called the quantum foam. This is where wormholes exist. Tiny tunnels or shortcuts through space and time constantly form, disappear, and reform within this quantum world. And they actually link two separate places and two different times. The tunnels, unfortunately, are far too small for people to pass through — just a billion-trillion-trillionths of a centimeter -- but physicists believe it may be possible to catch a wormhole and make it big enough for people, or spaceships, to enter,' Hawking writes. 'Theoretically, a time tunnel or wormhole could do even more than take us to other planets. If both ends were in the same place, and separated by time instead of distance, a ship could fly in and come out still near Earth, but in the distant past. Maybe dinosaurs would witness the ship coming in for a landing. ... Ultimately, scientists may find that only travel into the future is possible, as the laws of nature may make travel to the past impossible so the relationship between cause and effect is maintained.'"

I noted Hawking's reservations in my earlier post, "that time, the entire Fourth Dimension, must follow the rules of cause and effect.  Incidentally, the principle of causality underpins the entire conception of western civilization, so it's interesting that Hawking has run headlong up against that brick wall and steadfastly backed away from it."  Two things struck me here: first, that Hawking's assessment is so dependent upon the notion of this causality that he had to invent a wall of radiation or similar force to prevent the universe from acting in a way that he considers to be illogical.  It looks like there is room for a blind spot here.  Second, the principle of causality underpins practically every area of human inquiry, especially in the Western tradition, in everything from theology to the scientific method.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Putin's Paradox


Image Source: Nine Inch News.

When there is a crisis of values, when consensus around a dominant narrative begins to dissolve, the world seeks an anti-hero. Vladimir Putin would like to be that anti-hero. This is a leader whose survival and success depend on ruthlessness, combined with a counter-factual gloss that obfuscates his darker acts (see the sobering details here, trumping the alleged Clinton body count (listed here, discredited here)). Where else could opposition leader Boris Nemtsov be shot this past February in Moscow's midnight, while business goes on as usual? That is the tip of the iceberg of the story of this man who is willing to do what others will not to steer Russia toward sole superpower status, combining with a friendly China in the race to the top, and supplanting the USA.


Putin is overtly a pragmatist and a strongman, and covertly a strategist and visionary. He uses whatever is useful from the western lexicon. For the rest of it, he speaks as the leader of the anti-western world. Putin's paradox depends on two psychological factors. First, western powers are blind to how and why opposition to the liberal democratic project works. Second, western powers depend on values of rationalized contracts, law and order, word of honour, rule of law. They have serious problems dealing with Putin's appetite for the counter-intuitive and anti-logical. In that realm, he can become a kind of Erlking, speaking the language of sane men in a primal context where such words have lost their meaning. Many of Putin's anti-logical acts make perfect emotional sense to his admirers. By any means, Putin intends to restore the international power of Russia and the dignity of the Russian people. Or so this counter-narrative alternate reality would have the people believe.

Erlking/After the Shower (2011) © Dominque Rey via SAAG. Image Source: Southern Alberta Art Gallery.

The Second World War and end of the Cold War established a now-contested consensus. These were western victories, only partly Russian. They created democratic liberal window dressing for global capitalism, combined with multicultural social welfare. Former Allies - including Russia - fought genocidal and tyrannical forces. Because the Nazi and Japanese acts to support imperial expansion were so horrific, it is inconceivable in the western mind that anyone would want to follow that path ever again. And because any alternative to this single-story consensus raises the Nazi spectre, the consensus created a bright, hard blindness about other ways of doing things. There is one way for civilized countries: the consensus. Anything else is beyond the limits. As Chimamanda Adichie explains in her TED talk linked above, a single story is dangerous and becomes oppressive, even when the story is benevolent (or thinks it is) and anti-oppressive. A single story demands other stories for balance. When a single story becomes dominant, like the western consensus narrative, then its dominance invites rebellion. And the rebellious story, even if it is tyrannical and murderous, will sound like a anti-oppression narrative.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Super Moon

The Dark Side of the Moon. LROC WAC orthographic projection centered at 180° longitude, 0° latitude. Image Source: NASA/Goddard/Arizona State University.

Caption for the above photograph: Because the moon is tidally locked (meaning the same side always faces Earth), it was not until 1959 that the farside was first imaged by the Soviet Luna 3 spacecraft (hence the Russian names for prominent farside features, such as Mare Moscoviense). And what a surprise -­ unlike the widespread maria on the nearside, basaltic volcanism was restricted to a relatively few, smaller regions on the farside, and the battered highlands crust dominated. A different world from what we saw from Earth.

Today marks the last full moon of winter.  It's special in that it is unusually close to the Earth.  The Farmers' Almanac terms the March full moon as the Full Worm Moon:
As the temperature begins to warm and the ground begins to thaw, earthworm casts appear, heralding the return of the robins. The more northern tribes knew this Moon as the Full Crow Moon, when the cawing of crows signaled the end of winter; or the Full Crust Moon, because the snow cover becomes crusted from thawing by day and freezing at night. The Full Sap Moon, marking the time of tapping maple trees, is another variation. To the settlers, it was also known as the Lenten Moon, and was considered to be the last full Moon of winter.
A few days ago, in the wake of the huge Japanese earthquake, a commentator on CNN remarked that the proximity of the Moon to the Earth can affect tsunamis and earthquakes.

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, December 29, 2015

Quasi Morto


"The arrest of older Camorra bosses has 'created a power vacuum,' allowing younger, less disciplined men to recruit Kalashnikov-wielding youngsters who 'follow absolutely no rules.'" Image Source: The Independent.

On 28 December 2015, BBC's programme Hard Talk broadcast an interview between Stephen Sackur and writer Roberto Saviano. In 2006, Saviano became famous for his non-fictional account of the mafia of Naples, the Camorra, entitled Gomorrah; he was an average Neapolitan citizen who exposed the crime syndicate which plagues his city. In the BBC interview, he claimed that average citizens must not ignore, or pretend to ignore, crime and brutality. He observed that the Russian mafia has eaten up Greece, and in this, as in its spread elsewhere, "We are complicit."

"Roberto Saviano claims the war against drugs is 'unwinnable.'" Image Source: The Telegraph.

Saviano and his family paid a price for his exposé. He goes everywhere surrounded by armed guards and his family lives in hiding. Writer Salman Rushdie, who hid and moved constantly for years after a fatwa was issued against him, counseled Saviano; the latter described Rushdie's advice on Facebook:
«Devi riprenderti la tua libertà. Ricordati che la libertà è nella tua testa. Ti diranno che siccome sei vivo e non ti hanno ucciso allora sei una bufala. Diranno i più stolti che se ti vogliono morto sei morto e quindi sono i tuoi nemici a volerti vivo. Idiozie. Ti costringeranno a vivere come un quasi morto. Non farlo: la tua vita è la prova della tua vittoria. Divertiti, vivi, scrivi.» Salman Rushdie aveva passato più di dieci anni a nascondersi dal regime di Khomeini prima di trasferirsi a New York. Mi disse queste e altre parole d'incoraggiamento. Ancora oggi non so dirvi quanto profondamente abbiano segnato la mia esistenza.
"You must take back your freedom. Remember that freedom is all in your head," Rushdie told him. To live in fear is to live as one who is quasi morto - a 'near dead.' With that term, these writers summarized what is evident but less understood. That crime, addiction, violence, and brutality exist because of the broader population's allergies to truth and courage. The former problems are an index of the latter. When Saviano talks about the mafia, he is not talking about the mafia. He uses them to hold a mirror up to the mentalities of law-abiding citizens.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

The Trap of Prometheus


Section from Nocturnal Figure Composition (2004) by George Condo.

In the American television show, Rectify (2013), one character describes the basic instincts of human nature which endure across thousands of years, "Just don't let all this technology lull you, son. If you think we're in modern times, watch yourself." Those of you clutching your glowing iPhones, beware the undertow, because some things don't change. From the Russian film Nightwatch (Ночной дозор 2004): "It is easier for a man to destroy the light inside himself than to defeat the darkness around him."

That film depicts a comforting mythical battle between light and dark; but the more common Millennial experience is shades of grey. Even when progress is progressive, it comes at a terrible cost. The price is paid at unexpected moments, because everywhere there is a gap between action and consequences.

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Symbols of Immortality 4: The Fake Human Burger



No sooner did labs begin developing the ability to 3D print a fake hamburger, than Oxford-based evolutionary biologist, Richard Dawkins, stampeded straight for the less obvious question: why not 3D print a burger made of artificial human meat?

Inside the Quest to Make Lab Grown Meat | WIRED (16 February 2018). Video Source: Youtube.

Give him the benefit of the doubt for a moment. It may have been a Swiftian joke. Maybe it was clickbait. Dawkins was Oxford's professor for the 'Public Understanding of Science' until 2008, so he must know about outreach.

A 3D printer creating fake meat. Image Source: ByFlow via BBC.

Over the past few years, the major news outlets have promised that lab grown meat is coming to your table and that this is a good thing: Washington Post, BBC, Bloomberg, The Economist, Reuters. Motherboard and the BBC have covered the topic since the new year. BBC reported that Dutch firm ByFlow has started selling its 3D meat printers to restaurants. ByFlow's motto is: "Think. Design. Eat." Memphis Meats (backed by Bill Gates) and Mosa Meat are two artificial meat start-ups which will start selling fake meat for public consumption by 2021. Another cellular agriculture company is New Harvest.

In the third week of February 2018, news outlets reported that the US Cattlemen's Association filed a petition to the US Department of Agriculture, Food Safety and Inspection Service (USDA) against the Silicon Valley start-ups which are creating lab-grown meat. You can read their petition here. They focused primarily on the definition of real meat as created from animals which have been raised and slaughtered, so that fake meat cannot be labeled as genuine meat, thereby misleading consumers.

The Meat of the Future: How Lab-Grown Meat Is Made (2 October 2015). Video Source: Youtube.

Lab meat, also known as clean meat, is touted as cruelty free, especially to vegetarians. Vegan Insight reported on 16 March 2018 that 41 per cent of Britons will eat "lab-grown clean meat and fish" in the next decade.

Image Source: Belchonock/Depositphotos via New Atlas.

It is one small step to Dawkins' fake human meat. Fake cannibalism will probably get a lot of support. Under the video below the jump, one girl commented: "As a vegan, I'd be happy to eat cultured human meat. I'm actually very curious and not grossed out at all."

Joe Rogan's interviewee in this video, Sam Harris, said (here) that there was "zero ethical problem ... if this was never attached to an animal, we're dealing with concepts here," that is, the vegan girl would be eating an object cultivated in a vat of human cells.

This issue highlights a moral blind spot in technological progress; it proves that technology is skewing the human ability to judge right from wrong.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Alan Moore's Space-Time Gods

William Blake, Jerusalem (1804-1820; Plate 100). Image Source: Jechidah.

In the latest issue of The Believer*, Alan Moore was interviewed about his forthcoming novel, Jerusalem, which will be around 600,000 words long when completed. It will likely be finished by the end of this year. Part social realism, part fantasy, Moore described his book not in terms of genre, but in terms of time and its relation to godhood and art. In Moore's terms, time is magic, and magic is art. Therefore, time is art, and both are semi-divine. This may explain why we regard the greatest artworks as 'timeless'; and why a god can be defined as an entity that exists beyond time. Here is an excerpt from the Believer's interview, wherein Moore talks about these ideas and unsurprisingly turns the commandment against graven images on its head when he ties these ideas to art:

AM: Pretty much all of the book is predicated upon the assumption, which seems to be implicit in the work of most modern physicists since Einstein, that we inhabit a universe that has at least four spatial dimensions. There are three dimensions that we are conventionally aware of, and there is a fourth dimension, which is also a spatial dimension, but we don't perceive it as that. We perceive the distances of the fourth dimension as the passage of time. If I understand it correctly, I believe our entire continuum is at least a four-dimensional solid in which time is not passing, where every moment that ever existed or will exist is suspended, forever unchanging, from within this immense solid of space-time. And therefore the passage of time is an illusion that is only apparent to us as we move through this huge solid along what we perceive as the time axis.

BELIEVER: Where do you think human consciousness fits into that? Is it somehow separate from it?

AM: If time is an illusion, then all movement and change are also illusions. So the only thing that gives us the illusion of movement and change and events and time is the fact that our consciousness is moving through this mass along the time axis. If you imagine it as a strip of celluloid, each of those individual cells is motionless. If they each represent a moment, they're unchanging. They're not going anywhere, but as the projector beam of our consciousness passes across them, it provides the illusion of movement, and narrative and cause and effect and circumstances.

BELIEVER: You also believe that we can change the aperture of that projector through various processes like magic or other ways of shaping consciousness.

AM: Yeah, our view of reality, the one we conventionally take, is one among many. It's pretty much a fact that our entire universe is a mental construct. We don't actually deal with reality directly. We simply compose a picture of reality from what's going on in our retinas, in the timpani of our ears, and in our nerve endings. We perceive our own perception, and that perception is to us the entirety of the universe. I believe magic is, on one level, the willful attempt to alter those perceptions. Using your metaphor of an aperture, you would be widening that window or changing the angle consciously, and seeing what new vistas it affords you.

BELIEVER: Is magic's most authentic expression through the creative imagination?

AM: Actually, art and magic are pretty much synonymous. ... The central art of enchantment is the creation of gods and the creation of mythology, or the kind in the practice of magic, what I believe one is essentially doing is creating metafictions. It's creating fictions that are so complex and so self-referential that for all practical intents and purposes they almost seem to be alive. That would be one of my definitions of what a god might be. It is a concept that has become so complex, sophisticated, and so self-referential that it appears to be aware of itself. We can't say that it definitely is aware of itself, but then again we can't really say that about even our fellow human beings.

BELIEVER: But we can tell stories about the god being aware of itself.

AM: Yes, and to some degree, ontologically, the creation of a metaphysical being actually is that metaphysical being. If gods and entities are conceptual creatures, which I believe they are self-evidently, then the concept of a god is a god. An image of a god is the god - a little closer at hand.


*Alan Moore Interview: "Hey, You Can Just Make Stuff Up," The Believer #99 (13 June 2013): pp. 46-53.

Friday, September 22, 2017

If Sin was Visible: An Interview with Dan Vyleta



Today, I am very pleased to interview novelist Dan Vyleta about his 2016 novel, Smoke; the Canadian paperback edition was released in July 2017.

Dan grew up in Germany after his family left Czechoslovakia in the late 1960s. He holds a doctorate in history from King’s College, Cambridge and has written three previous novels, Pavel & I (2008), The Quiet Twin (2011), and The Crooked Maid (2013). The Quiet Twin was shortlisted for the Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize. The Crooked Maid was a finalist for the Scotiabank Giller Prize and won the 2014 J. I. Segal Award. Dan currently teaches creative writing at the University of Birmingham.



Dan’s novel Smoke is a magical historical story of Victorian England. The novel will remind readers of Charles Dickens, especially Oliver Twist, Hard Times, and Dombey and Son. As with Dickens’s novels, Smoke is a social novel which reaches a conclusion about what is wrong in society and what is right.

There is a contrast between the country and the city during the Industrial Revolution, reminiscent of Blake’s “dark Satanic mills,” except in this novel, the Victorian smoke in question comes not from factories but from people! Smoke begins at an élite school, with nods to later works: The Catcher in the Rye, A Separate Peace, and The Secret History.

There, the similarities with other authors end. Smoke begins with a quote from Dombey and Son (1848) – what if sin was visible?
“Those who study the physical sciences, and bring them to bear upon the health of Man, tell us that if the noxious particles that rise from the vitiated air were palpable to the sight, we should see them lowering in a dense black cloud above such haunts, and rolling slowly on to corrupt the better portion of a town. But if the moral pestilence that rises with them … could be made discernible too, how terrible the revelation!”
In Smoke, a fictionalized Victorian concern for morality conceals today’s obsession with transparency, truth, and corruption. As with other 21st century works, the historical setting really addresses Millennial problems. And the way Vyleta does this defies all expectations.

Note: All page references below are from the UK 2016 hardcover edition, published by Doubleday.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Countdown to Hallowe'en 2016: The Slender Man, An Internet Monster


A Slender Man Hallowe'en costume (2012). Image Source: imgur via Twisted Sifter.

On the Internet, a Web-based horror folklore is called a 'creepypasta.' Among creepypastas, the creepiest of all is the Slender Man. Slender Man is a monster invented in 2009 on the 'create paranormal imagesphotoshop thread at the site Something Awful; he is a Millennial spectre, invented by Eric Knudsen (pseud. Victor Surge) to give the Web a virtual haunter of children and young teens. Know Your Meme:
"Slender Man (a.k.a Slenderman) is a mythical creature often depicted as a tall, thin figure wearing a black suit and a blank face. According to the legend, he can stretch or shorten his arms at will and has tentacle-like appendages protruding from his back. Depending on the interpretations of the myth, the creature may cause memory loss, insomnia, paranoia, coughing fits (nicknamed 'slendersickness'), photograph/video distortions and can teleport at will. The urban legend has inspired fan arts, fictional creepypastas and a mockumentary series in the style of the 1999 indie horror film Blair Witch Project. As the character has grown in popularity, he’s gained a number of other nicknames including The Operator, Der Großmann, Mr. Slim, The Administrator, Daddy LongLegs, Mr. Thin, The Tall Man, The Thin Man and Slendy."
In the evidential narrative style of X-FilesBlair Witch Project, and RinguKnudsen added to his Slender Man photographs, and in forum posts began to create false 'true story' cases on the thread. These details put fake historical meat on Slender's bones; other contributors added scraps to the fake casebook:
  • “We didn’t want to go, we didn’t want to kill them, but its persistent silence and outstretched arms horrified and comforted us at the same time…” – 1983, photographer unknown, presumed dead.
  • One of two recovered photographs from the Stirling City Library blaze. Notable for being taken the day which fourteen children vanished and for what is referred to as “The Slender Man”. Deformities cited as film defects by officials. Fire at library occurred one week later. Actual photograph confiscated as evidence. – 1986, photographer: Mary Thomas, missing since June 13th, 1986.
  • 5/24/95**1994: Wilks Estate. One subject reported nothing out of the ordinary before taking photograph. Lower stairs area was said to be very dark. Subject states that after the camera flash she heard a sound like a watermelon being *unable to understand subject*.
  • 5/25/93**Subject unable to recall events after manor power failure. Unable to question other two identified subjects. Camera and film acquired from Gloria Cready, current resident of Woodview Mental Hospital and Psychological Rehabilitation Clinic. Film mostly uncontaminated despite mass of blood and human tissue present on camera. No positive ID on anomalous tall and slender subject. Facial blur caused by possible contamination.
  • 6/7/93**Early digital analysis indicates tall subject may have no eyes. Anomalies, previously thought to be film errors and flash artifacts, now thought to be appendages.
  • 6/10/93**Final identified subject reported missing along with other thirty-three patients and staff of Woodview Mental Hospital and Psychological Rehabilitation Clinic south wing.
  • 6/18/93**Further inquiry to cease immediately. (see report No.3339-2)
  • This first photo was given to me by my uncle, a police officer who was part of the investigation trying to find nine missing teens who had gone camping in the local mountains six years ago. It was developed from a disposable camera found at the campsite. None of the missing teens have ever been found, and all their possessions were still at the campsite. He was pretty drunk and shaken up when he gave me this, and made me promise I'd never show anyone else.
  • The second photo is of an elementary school fire in 1978. No official cause was ever found. Seven students and a teacher became trapped and died before firefighters could respond. Many of the students and teachers from the time have a history of anxiety disorders and panic attacks, even those who weren't at the school on that day. At least one has since committed suicide, and several others legally changed their names once they reached adulthood and have disappeared.
  • **Alert**Alert**Deployment Request**ANTI-S WALKER UNIT to deploy to --Wichita--Kansas--
  • Steinmen Woods**Both subjects were hunting in the Steinmen woods four hours before sundown. Surviving subject states that while hunting both men grew uneasy as fog levels rapidly increased. A constant murmuring sound accompanied by a low hum eventually became apparent to the two men an hour after the fog increased. An object falling out of tree stuck one of the men in the left shoulder causing him to discharge his weapon. Object said to be the body of a man of unknown age. It was very precisely dissected, with major internal organs still contained within the rib cage in what looked to be clear bags. Surviving subject placed organ bag within backpack. Attack followed several minutes later after a "low children's laugh, like a giggle". Surviving subject ran until he reached his vehicle. Subject then drove to assumed safety. Backpack destroyed. Surviving subject is classified as a B7 witness. B7 witness to be placed in quarantine "Blind Box" until resolution.
  • 2007:Investigation team discovered twenty-two bodies of both genders and various ages impaled on broken tree branches in a radiating circle pattern with chest mutilation as often noted with Slender Man. Upon confirmation, lead investigator ********* called for an immediate evacuation of investigation team at 1700 hours. Bodies first discovered at 1100 hours. Deadline for safe evacuation of team with only viewed physical evidence of Slender Man approximately 1730. Lost contact of team at 1725. Safety procedures fell well within established protocols. Reason for abnormality is unknown. Second team recovered camera equipment one week later. Slender Man safety procedures require this incident's physical photographic evidence to be disposed of by no later than 10/20. I honestly don't get what half this poo poo means. I'm done with this Slender Man stuff. It's starting to make me uneasy. It's like reading the GBS ghost story threads before I go to bed. Why do I have to look at this stuff while it's super late? Luckily, my friend is coming over.
Everyone chatting in the Something Awful forum agreed that Knudsen had created something frightening and original, a big monster begging for a bigger story. One commenter thought Slender Man reminded him (or her) of the scary (and true) 1959 Dyatlov Pass incident in Russia. Another wrote:
"Slender Man would make a pretty nice horror novel in the lines of House of Leaves. Essentially, make the novel a collection of witness statements, newspaper clippings, pictures, drawings, articles discussing evidence for an against the slender man and, to tie it all neatly together, a few stories of people who want to track the slender man, unravel the mystery, [a]nd the kicker would be the last 20 or so pages would be missing, with only scraps of paper left, arranged as logically as possible, just excerpts, words, rips, ink stains, etc."
Another said, "Slender Man is scaring the crap out of me for some reason." Others thought that Slender Man would be great subject for a movie. When you go back and read the forum thread now, you can see how the Internet can be a hotbed of genuine creativity, as it was supposed to be. This was folklore, generated in a brand new way. The Something Awful forum offered a new narrative form, an organic, virtual reality story-telling standing on the shoulders of oral tradition, fairy tales, urban legends, spiritual mythologies, religious texts, and ghost stories. That, in itself, is fascinating and culturally significant. Scholars of mythology have deemed Slender Man to be an authentic example of digital folklore: he is open-sourced, communally-created, variable in form, and audience-response-driven. Commentators have since remarked that Slender Man's appeal exploits the fears of the Digital era:
"Shira Chess describes the Slender Man as a metaphor for 'helplessness, power differentials, and anonymous forces.' Peck sees parallels between the Slender Man and common anxieties about the digital age, such as feelings of constant connectedness and unknown third-party observation. Similarly, Tye Van Horn, a writer for The Elm, has suggested that the Slender Man represents modern fear of the unknown; in an age flooded with information, people have become so inured to ignorance that they now fear what they cannot understand. Troy Wagner, the creator of Marble Hornets, ascribes the terror of the Slender Man to its malleability; people can shape it into whatever frightens them most. Tina Marie Boyer noted that 'The Slender man is a prohibitive monster, but the cultural boundaries he guards are not clear. Victims do not know when they have violated or crossed them.'"
This faux-real authenticity, as the directors of the 2016 Blair Witch sequel will tell you, is extremely hard for artists to achieve; sometimes a fable's original power only strikes full force in a particular time and place. This happened with Slender Man. What the Something Awful forum members did not reckon on was that Slender Man would inspire a real horror in real life.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Awaken the Amnesiacs 3: The Hermetics


The hermetic principle of silence. Image Source: Lilipilyspirit.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, May 29, 2010

DCU Continuity for Terra: Part 3.4 - A Remade Reboot of the Original: Terra in the 2000s

 
Terra 3 is a perfect genetic match with Terra 2, who was a perfect genetic match with Terra 1.  Terra #1 (Jan. 2009)

2000s Continuity concluded.

Geo-Force: Walking a mile in his sister’s shoes? 2001-2010.
The seductive injustice of scapegoating goes a long way to explaining why Brion Markov’s unwavering loyalty to his sister is justified. If Brion is still in Tara’s corner after all this, even if it means his destruction as a hero, then we may have to ask again who Tara really was. We may have to look beneath the cardboard-cut-out ‘traitor-who-deserved-to-die’ label that’s been slapped on her, and question the double standard that condemned her, while forgiving others who have done the same or worse. DC is currently making Geo-Force, a clearly heroic character, relive his sister’s hellish descent. We have to go back to Markovia and ask: who are the Markovs and what is their legacy?

Through this period, Brion shows growing signs of mental instability followed by a frightening decline into madness. He has blackouts and acquires Terra’s powers. His wife Denise has already died under unknown circumstances. He begins wearing the same uniform that both siblings wore when they first appeared, signifying his growing identification with Terra 1. The same themes begin to surround him: insanity, drugs, Deathstroke, mental manipulation, brainwashing, memory wipes, and a loss of moral direction combined with a massive increase in his geo-powers.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

The Art of the Retcon 3: Time and Heroism in the Multiverse


Morrison's 18 Days retells the great Mahabharata in an animated CGI drama on Youtube (you can watch it here). 18 days is the length of the battle in the Mahabharata. Image Source: Broken Frontier.

The wavering fictional reality of DC Comics resembles theories from today's quantum physicists.  A comic book fantasy of multiple Earths and multi-dimensional universes aligns with contemporary scientific ideas of a fractured multiverse and mysterious dark matter.  It makes one wonder: if our physicists are right and the multiverse is real, what sort of creatures are we because of it, and how do we feel its effects?

Multiversity #1 (October 2014). "Every comic you ever read is real." – Grant Morrison. Behind the Panels review: "Morrison directly challenges the reader. 'Whose voice is speaking in your head anyway? Yours?' The same narration urges us to stop reading. That’s when things get beautifully weird."

Are we pawns of a larger order we will never perceive? Scottish writer Grant Morrison would say: yes. He is delivering his long-promised crossover, Multiversity, right now via DC Comics, and a glance at the multiversal map below shows that he is combining years of esoteric interests - mind expansion through drug dreams, a fascination with ancient Indian epics and religions, and a belief (expressed in 2012's Supergods) that modern superheroes are manifestations of ancient gods. More importantly, in Multiversity, the heroes exist along a metafictional continuity with our reality and time. They are part of humankind's long quest to define the line between creation and destruction, from which everything else follows in this world, and other worlds too.

DC's map of the Multiversity (August-September 2014; click to enlarge). Image Source: DC Entertainment.

From 2009 to 2013, Morrison worked with Dynamite Entertainment and Liquid Comics to produce 18 Days, a retelling of the Mahabharata, in which a classic Indian battle sees the age of gods give way to the age of men. Two of the founders of Liquid Comics are author Deepak Chopra and his son, Gotham Chopra. Deepak Chopra famously discussed these ideas with Morrison at several comics conventions; the Chopras also published a book about it, The Seven Spiritual Laws of Superheroes (2011). CBR reported on one such discussion in 2006 in San Diego:
Superheroes, in Chopra's view, are not external beings. "These are archetypal beings that stoke the fire of life and passion in our own souls. These are potentials that exist within us, and by creating these superheroes through our own collective imagination, we are in a way serving our deepest longings, our deepest aspirations, and our deepest desires to escape the world of the mundane and the ordinary and do things that are magical."
Morrison draws from Indian traditions to marry that consciousness to the cosmos of existence. Thoughts become physical substances in other dimensions. The great epic of the multiverse involves the genesis of values in that consciousness through dharma and karma, action and negative action, creation and destruction, good and evil. In our reality, mythical heroes are legendary archetypes. But Morrison insists that these paragons embody physical forms in other times and places.








18 Days concept art by Mukesh Singh. Images Sources: Decode Hindu Mythology, Comic Vine, Concept Art, Dynamite Comics, Planet Damage, Mukesh Singh.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Memes in the Chaos: The Plastic Landscape of Reality Journalism



One of the hotbeds where a new technological ideology is forming is alt-journalism. Alt-journalists operate with a post-tabloid, kinetic style which exploits that consciousness and assaults the senses. This blowhard style - exemplified by pro-Trump Periscoper and Youtuber Mike Cernovich - wins alt-journalists popularity among their Youtube, Reddit, Twitter, Gab, and 4chan fans. Cernovich sure doesn't have any fans at liberal outlet Media Matters! You can read their coverage of his work here; and similar hatred for him is here and here. When attacked, Cernovich gives as good as he gets.

In a 2 April article and 3 April 2017 videoCernovich asserted that Susan Rice was at the centre of the Russian-Trump wire-tapping intelligence scandal. It was Cernovich's scoop, not because others did not also have the information, but because others in the MSM chose not to report it.

In appealing to his youthful audience, Cernovich made much of both points. His message: watch him to get the lowdown first on what is happening; and watch him because he has the guts to tell you what others won't. He also builds his brand through bragging, bluster, and brawling with other social media personalities in ways that wear down resistance to him as an unknown quantity:
"I'm starting to like this mythos created about me. The media has turned me into this James Bond villain who has connections to Russian hackers and foreign governments, and can lead hacking campaigns across the world and influence elections. I'm not even going to argue with that shit. I'm going to be like, 'Yeah, you caught me. You're right. I'm a fucking James Bond villain, you know? Thank God.'" 
He introduces his audience to his wife and daughter, and discusses random topics on Friday evening Youtube cigar nights from his patio. Compare this to Anderson Cooper at CNN or Stephen Sackur at the BBC, and you see Mike Cernovich - a late Gen Xer - operates in a Brave New World.

A caveat: my discussion of controversial symbols and ideas in this post in no way indicates my personal belief in, or endorsement of, those symbols and themes. This is an apolitical blog, and my intent in the current series of posts is to uncover the nature of an emerging technological ideology, not to take sides in political debates or support offensive content.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Entropy and Immortality: An Interview with Miguel Coelho


Dr. Coelho at the Murray Lab, Harvard University. Image Source.

Today, Histories of Things to Come is very pleased to interview biochemist Dr. Miguel Costa Coelho, a Postdoctoral researcher at Harvard University, who has done ground-breaking research in the field of ageing. He is based at the Lab of Professor Andrew W. Murray and the FAS Center for Systems Biology at Harvard; and he is also affiliated with the Human Frontier Science Program.

Coelho's doctoral research at the Max Planck Institute in Germany traced the way a type of yeast actually gets younger as it ages. He found that when a stressed mother cell divided, it passed on all cellular junk associated with accumulated damage (the process we know as ageing) to one daughter cell, which died shortly thereafter. This left the other daughter cell pristine. Normally, both daughter cells would inherit cellular junk, allowing damage to accumulate in both over time. Coelho likened the outcome in this study to "the eternally young and beautiful Dorian Gray, and his corrupt and damaged portrait in the attic" (public access here; the full article is here).

There we have it, published 17 June 2014: under certain conditions, these yeast cells can grow toward immortality via compartmentalization, segregation and consequent elimination of progressive cellular damage as they divide over time. This finding was widely reported in the international press.

Friday, January 4, 2019

Your Friends, The Dark Overlord


If you want to see the Dark Overlord files, go here. Image Source: Time.

A group called the Dark Overlord claimed responsibility for the 2017 Netflix hacks. They have also lately hacked London Bridge plastic surgery clinic and released celebrities' medical files onto the Web. On 31 December 2018, they rang in the New Year with the announcement that they had breached a law firm and stolen 10 Gigabytes (18,000 documents) of legal papers, video, and audio files relating to 9/11 insurance claims with Hiscox Group. The trolls at 4chan were unimpressed:
"Q: who did 9/11 in your opinion based on the docs?

A: We don't really give a fuck. We want internet money.

We've already released a select few documents to serve as proof of our claims. We're about to change the fucking world. Edward Snowden's NSA leak will be pale in comparison."
And:
"We are all broke and also we don't feel like going to jail as we are all just 16yo virgin keyboard worriers. How come you couldn't find someone to give you a suitcase of money?"
And:
"Q: Hi, thedarkoverlord, Have you considered that information may well be used crash the monetary system you hope to be compensated in?

A: Fantastic question, mate. We're not concerned about that as we receive our payments only in internet money like Bitcoin. The monetary crash will be your problem. We always advise our clients to diversify and acquire different convertible currencies."
Some trolls were less skeptical. After viewing the document below, which was released on 4chan, one noted that 'Iron Mountain' documents had been shredded:
"HEY GUYS THIS IS SOMETHING!!!!

Flight 93 was shot down by National Guard because it was heading to Iron mountain, a military base.

Shredding documents related to that seems like a crime/treason!"


In fact, Iron Mountain is a Boston-based data management company; their history is here. But the company has also partnered with the US government and maintains an underground data storage facility called Iron Mountain in Pennsylvania, USA. They have a staff of 2,700 and they do hold Flight 93 evidence.

Saturday, May 23, 2020

The Birth of the Totalitarian Technocracy: Would You Like to Know More?


Still from Starship Troopers (1997) © Sony / Buena Vista. Reproduced non-commercially under Fair Use.

There are people on the Internet who are already building the anti-technocracy. Among these is a New Age, back-to-the-land commentator, Celeste Bishop Solum. I haven't investigated her background, but she is listed as having worked for decades for the US Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and other US government agencies. She speaks with assurance and claims to be a whistleblower. Her profile statement is here. Her Website is here. I will address her New Age attitudes and anti-technocracy projects in a separate post.

Solum has summarized the birth of the totalitarian technocracy, in the form of an ever-changing, enormous plan for all sectors of the economy, society, politics, and all countries - by perusing the World Economic Forum's (WEF) Website.

COVID Action Platform; the blueprint of the New World Order explained (2 April 2020). Video Source: Youtube.

Even if you doubt Solum's statements, opinions, and credibility, the WEF's statements are there for you to read for yourself, and you should read every last word on the WEF Website, if you want to know what is planned for you.

According to Solum, these pages explain how the technocracy will be birthed on the back of the pandemic and where all this is going. You have to create an account and sign in to see this information. Obviously, if you trust the authorities, you will not agree with Solum’s interpretation of WEF planning.

The planners' big picture for the pandemic:

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Hawking's Party for Time Travellers

Is time travel possible? Image Source: Just 5 Minutes.

In his Discovery Channel series, Into the Universe, Stephen Hawking recently hypothesized that if time travel to the past is possible, then he could throw a party to welcome chrononauts from the future.  He would publicize the invitation, and wait.  Daily Galaxy provides a transcript of his comments on the result: "Let's imagine I'm throwing a party, a welcome reception for future time travellers. But there's a twist. I'm not letting anyone know about it until after the party has happened. I've drawn up an invitation giving the exact coordinates in time and space. I am hoping copies of it, in one form or another, will be around for many thousands of years."

Friday, December 21, 2012

World's End

July 20, 1956 'Emergency Edition' of The Buffalo Evening News, a faux headline that was part of Operation Alert, a US civil defense exercise in the 1950s, was a dress rehearsal for potential nuclear annihilation. Image Source: Conelrad.

Why is the end of the world so popular? It is a resilient human expectation which has transcended all times, all cultures, all religions. If the end of the world weren't such a frightening message, it would amout to a comforting reminder of human commonality.

Image Source: Oxcgn.

Baby Boomer astrologer Rob Breszny, in his book Pronoia (p. 12) sums up the popularity of doom-saying:
As far back as 2800 BC, an unknown prophet wrote on an Assyrian clay tablet, "Our earth is degenerate in these latter days. There are signs that the world is speedily coming to an end." [See this story questioned here, here and here.] In the seventh century BC, many Romans believed Rome would suffer a cataclysm in 634 BC.

Around 300 BC, Hindus were convinced they lived in an "unfortunate time" known as the Kali Yuga - the lowest point in the great cosmic cycle. In 426 AD, the Christian writer Augustine mourned that this evil world was in its last days. According to the Lotharingian panic-mongers who lived more than 1,000 years ago, human life on earth would end on March 25, 970.

Astrologers in 16th century calculated that the city would be destroyed by a great flood on February 1, 1524.  American minister William Miller proclaimed the planet's "purification by fire" would occur in 1844. Anglican minister Michael Baxter assured his followers that the Battle of Armageddon would take place in 1868. The Jehovah's Witnesses anticipated the End of Days in 1910, then 1914, then 1918, then 1925. John Ballou Newbrough ("America's Greatest Prophet") promised mass annihilation and global anarchy for 1947.
Breszny directs his readers to the Website, A Brief History of the Apocalypse - here. On this site, compiled by Chris Nelson, you get a timeline of failed doomsday prophecies across the centuries. The timeline reveals that doom-sayers have predicted the end of the world more or less continuously every few years since ancient times.

November 2012 solar eclipse by Phil Hart. Image Source: Starship Asterisk.

World's end is one of the most profitable and popular film, genre fiction, and video game themes. In a lousy economy, entertainment about massive doom and destruction is guaranteed to make money. In marketing terms, scenes like the one below have more consumer appeal than any smiling flower or singing teddy bear.

Image Source: Bethesda Softworks via io9.

Since the turn of the Millennium, technological communication has multiplied the type and number of millenarian apocalyptic predictions to several per year - see here. What is interesting is the sheer number of coincidental fateful predictions set for the end of this year and into next year. Does the sun have a shadow twin (see here, here and here)? Have we reached the centre of the Milky Way Galaxy? Are we leaving the Age of Pisces and entering the Age of Aquarius? Have the Mayans read the heavens correctly to predict a new era (see here, here, here and here)? NASA is concerned enough to post articles and videos to reassure the public. Conspiracy theorists on the Internet have responded by arguing that NASA is keeping the 2012 disaster a secret!

People love to imagine the end of the world. Is it because it gets them off the hook from all their worries and responsibilities? Is it because promised apocalypses give dire meaning to things when the world seems wayward, misdirected, or in the grip of frightening change? Is it a most seductive way of falsely predicting the future? Does the prediction's attraction stem from the way it is used to justify requests for power and money from vulnerable people?

I would argue that the 2012 phenomenon stems from concerns far more profound than those associated with late capitalism. The 2012 phenomenon centres on today's solstice because it is a distillate of all our Millennial fears and anxieties, explained through the mythology and astronomy of the ancients.