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.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Time and Politics 13: Je Suis Charlie: Blood and Silicon

#JeSuisCharlie became one of the most popular hashtags in Twitter's short history, according to The Telegraph.

In the past days, photographs were released of the murder scene at the Charlie Hebdo offices in Paris.

Charlie Hebdo offices murder scene. Image Source: Mirror.
Also, a Saudi Arabian blogger was flogged with fifty lashes for criticizing Islam on his liberal blog. He will receive 20 weekly whipping sessions until his sentence of one thousand lashes is carried out. The Canadian Press via Yahoo:
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates - A Saudi blogger convicted of insulting Islam was brought after Friday prayers to a public square in the port city of Jiddah and flogged 50 times before hundreds of spectators, a witness to the lashing said. The witness said Raif Badawi's feet and hands were shackled during the flogging but his face was visible. He remained silent and did not cry out, said the witness, who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity fearing government reprisal.

Badawi was sentenced last May to 10 years in prison and 1,000 lashes. He had criticized Saudi Arabia's powerful clerics on a liberal blog he founded. The blog has since been shut down. He was also ordered to pay a fine of 1 million riyals or about $266,600.

Rights activists say Saudi authorities are using Badawi's case as a warning to others who think to criticize the kingdom's powerful religious establishment from which the ruling family partly derives its authority. London-based Amnesty International said he would receive 50 lashes once a week for 20 weeks. Saudi Arabia's close ally, the United States, had called on authorities to cancel the punishment.

Despite international pleas for his release, Badawi, a father of three, was brought from prison by bus to the public square on Friday and flogged on the back in front of a crowd that had just finished midday prayers at a nearby mosque. His face was visible and, throughout the flogging, he clenched his eyes and remained silent, said the witness. The witness, who also has close knowledge of the case, said the lashing lasted about 15 minutes.

Badawi has been held since mid-2012 after he founded the Free Saudi Liberals blog. He used the blog to criticize the kingdom's influential clerics who follow a strict and ultraconservative interpretation of Islam known as Wahhabism, which originated in Saudi Arabia. He was originally sentenced in 2013 to seven years in prison and 600 lashes in relation to the charges, but after an appeal, the judge stiffened the punishment. Following his arrest, his wife and children left the kingdom for Canada.

Ensaf Haidar, Badawi's spouse, was devastated after learning the flogging had gone ahead, a person close to the family told The Canadian Press.

Haidar was so distraught she couldn't send her kids to school in Quebec, where she is currently living with them, the person said in an email exchange.

She fled to Egypt in April 2012 with their two daughters, Najwa and Miryam, and son, Tirad, according to Amnesty International Canada spokeswoman Anne Sainte-Marie. The family moved to Quebec in November 2013.

Rights groups argue that the case against Badawi is part of a wider crackdown on freedom of speech and dissent in Saudi Arabia since the 2011 Arab Spring uprisings. Criticism of clerics is seen as a red line because of their prestige in the kingdom, as well as their influential role in supporting government policies.

According to Amnesty, the charges against Badawi mention his failure to remove articles by other people on his website. He was also accused in court of ridiculing Saudi Arabia's morality police.

In a statement after the flogging, Amnesty called the flogging a "vicious act of cruelty" and said Badawi's "only 'crime' was to exercise his right to freedom of expression by setting up a website for public discussion."

State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki has called the punishment an "inhumane" response to someone exercising his right to freedom of expression and religion.
The Charlie Hebdo murders and Badawi flogging reconfirmed a radical Islamic mandate to kill or destroy blasphemers. These are not just attacks on freedom of speech. This censorship is different from violent censorship in oppressive régimes, where state critics might disappear, be tortured, and be silenced in a prison work camp or mass grave.

These acts of censorship are broadly theatrical (as are others). They seek to enforce surreal new boundaries of a community using brute force and fear. These were town-style enforcement performances, projected on a global scale. Like the fatwa against Salman Rushdie, the murder of Theo van Gogh, and the Jyllands-Posten Muhammad cartoons controversy, the Charlie Hebdo terrorist attack particularly presented the world with a grim future plan for society. And, MI5 states, more attacks are to follow.

Before the murders, the last Charlie Hebdo cover featured French novelist Michel Houellebecq. Houellebecq's latest book predicts a future arch-Islamic France and was released on 7 January 2015.

The most recent Charlie Hebdo cartoon before terrorists murdered the newspaper's main staff - poked fun at a novel about a future radically Islamic France, written by novelist Michel Houellebecq: In 2015 I lose my teeth. In 2022, I celebrate Ramadan. Image Source: Gulf News.

Caption for the above image from Reason.com: "On the day of the Charlie Hebdo massacre, the magazine's cover featured a caricature of controversial French author and provocateur Michel Houellebecq sporting a wizard's hat. 'Predictions of the seer Houellebecq,' reads the cover copy. The Houellebecq cartoon offers a pair of predictions: 'In 2015, I'll lose my teeth,' and, 'In 2022, I'll observe Ramadan.'

What's going on? Houellebecq's new novel, Soumission (Submission) is set in a near-future France ruled by a Muslim political party. Scheduled to be published in France on Wednesday [7 January 2015], it had already inspired some highly charged controversy over whether its message—and its author—was Islamophobic. According to Laurent Joffrin, the editor in chief of the leftist paper Liberation, the book's publication 'will mark the date in history when the ideas of the far-right made a grand return to serious French literature.' (Joffrin refers to Houellebecq as 'serious' because he is the winner of several French literary awards.)" [See the Guardian's review of Soumission here. It is available on Amazon here.]

When it comes to tyranny, you don't need to fear jihadists to fear the future. Globalization, combined with communications innovations, created vast new potentials for authoritarian power and profit. The Internet could become the skeleton of a totalitarian superstate or superstates. It is not a question of fearing only jihadists. It is a question of fearing the potential for tyranny everywhere, whether it comes from extreme traditionalists, from radical progressives, or from the middle of the road.

The Web could still remain a seat of freedom. But from the point of view of future authoritarians, initial freedoms on the Internet gave anyone online enough rope with which to hang themselves. Everything you write on the Internet, reacting in the now, can be dredged up and used to judge you later.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

The Wrong Side of Enlightenment

"A Japanese student was allegedly kidnapped and gang raped by five Indian men near the Buddhist shrine Bodh Gaya for a month." Image Source: Daily Mail.

If you want a cataclysmic, in-a-nutshell example of what is wrong with the world today, read the news item from a few days ago about the Japanese student who was kidnapped and gang raped for a month near the site where Buddha attained enlightenment in India. Or: follow today's coverage of the Charlie Hebdo al Qaeda terrorist murders in Paris, in which twelve people died, including a policeman who was shot in the head at point blank range. The summary of those events is here. The two outrages bookended Christmas in December and Orthodox Christmas, which is celebrated on 7 January in the Julian calendar.

Al Qaeda terrorist murdered a policeman in Paris on 7 January 2015. Image Source: Mirror.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Colour of the Year: Marsala

Images Source: Pantone.

Global cultural uniformity derives from marketing decisions which dictate the aesthetics of our lives. One such decision is the colour of the year, determined by New Jersey corporation Pantone, which tells all interior, events, makeup and clothing designers what palettes to use in the coming months. 2015's hue sits somewhere between cacao nibs and oxblood and is called 'Marsala.' Pantone has been choosing the colour of the year since 2000. You can see a video (here) of Pantone executive director Leatrice Eiseman describing why Marsala was chosen, mainly to answer a 'public need for nurturing and earthy rootedness.'

2014's colour: Radiant Orchid. Image Source: Pantone.

2014's Radiant Orchid palette supposedly drew from Indian influences. In fact, this purple palette is not typical of many Indian regional traditional palettes: see here, here, here, here, here, here, here and here. Image Source: Indian Wedding Site.

Image Source: Lamps Plus.

Last year's colour was 'Radiant Orchid.' In December 2013, polls greeted Radiant Orchid with mixed results. One poll respondent commented: "Let's just say subtlety is not Pantone's strong suit. No interest in using either of [Radiant Orchid or the 2013 colour of the year, Emerald Green]." And another: "How do they determine the color of the year? It never seems to be that popular in the Midwest. I remember a few years ago honeysuckle was the color of the year. So I stocked my store with honey colored accessories. Had to clearance them out. :)" Yet another: "Not a nice color. Can't imagine where I would use it." Another: "I'd like to be part of the panel that picks these 'color(s) of the year'. It appears the criteria include ... 'what is the craziest thing we can come up to see how many sheep follow us over the cliff.' In my mind, the color of the year should be one that is either (1) a color most used in the paint industry or (2) an innovative but usable combination for the majority of the populace. I realize that home décor colors typically follow fashion trends but I'm not quite ready to 'wear' my clothes on my walls."

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Ursula Le Guin's New Year

Image Source: South Willard.

The new year celebrates new beginnings as one casts the past aside. It is a difficult to judge how to do this. With every passing year, Millennial conditions diverge more radically from the past. Perceptions must expand to deal with the global exchange of knowledge and technological and scientific advancements. We must find new ways to understand the world, to interpret the cloud of data.

Reality and the larger reality: courtesy of Graham Hancock's Daily Alternative News Desk, recent headlines herald one discovery after another. Every day, new boundaries are breached. Scientists explore the mysteries of matter to the point where matter disappears. Look again at something mundane, and it reveals a trove of secrets, while past certainties crumble in confusion:
  • Russia Today: 'Noah's Ark': Russia to build world first DNA databank of all living things (26 December 2014)
  • Hurriyet Daily News: Massive ancient underground city discovered in Turkey's Nevşehir (28 December 2014): "With 2014 soon coming to an end, potentially the year’s biggest archeological discovery of an underground city has come from Turkey’s Central Anatolian province of Nevşehir, which is known world-wide for its Fairy Chimneys rock formation. The city was discovered by means of Turkey’s Housing Development Administration’s (TOKİ) urban transformation project. Some 1,500 buildings were destructed located in and around the Nevşehir fortress, and the underground city was discovered when the earthmoving to construct new buildings had started. TOKİ Head Mehmet Ergün Turan said the area where the discovery was made was announced as an archeological area to be preserved. 'It is not a known underground city. Tunnel passages of seven kilometers are being discussed. We stopped the construction we were planning to do on these areas when an underground city was discovered,' said Turan. The city is thought to date back 5,000 years and is located around the Nevşehir fortress. Escape galleries and hidden churches were discovered inside the underground city."
  • Newsweek: The campaign to prove Shakespeare didn't exist (29 December 2014)
  • PhysOrg: Scientists race to save 'books' in the burning 'library of life' (29 December 2014)
  • Wired: Machine intelligence cracks genetic controls 29 December 2014): "Most genetic research to date has focused on just 1 percent of the genome—the areas that code for proteins. But new research, published Dec. 18 in Science, provides an initial map for the sections of the genome that orchestrate this protein-building process. 'It’s one thing to have the book—the big question is how you read the book,' said Brendan Frey, a computational biologist at the University of Toronto who led the new research."
  • The Independent: Large Hadron Collider ready to delve even deeper than 'God particle' as it switches back on at double power (29 December 2014)
  • PhysOrg: Study reveals new half-light half-matter quantum particles (29 December 2014): "In a pioneering study, Professor Menon and his team were able to discover half-light, half-matter particles in atomically thin semiconductors (thickness ~ a millionth of a single sheet of paper) consisting of two-dimensional (2D) layer of molybdenum and sulfur atoms arranged similar to graphene. They sandwiched this 2D material in a light trapping structure to realize these composite quantum particles. 'Besides being a fundamental breakthrough, this opens up the possibility of making devices which take the benefits of both light and matter,' said Professor Menon."
Technocrats and scientists are blindly confident as they manipulate and extend our knowledge of reality. But they often lack the training, intuition or perspective to assess the human consequences of their protean experiments.

The tools we use to understand the expanding world are out of date. The best of the past departs in the blink of an eye. Yet the worst of the past lives on, zombified, in political ideologies, pop philosophies, corporate strategies and contemporary world views. How did this mismatch between reality and perception happen? In the latter half of the 20th century, reality became a commodity, subject to the demands of corporate profit and organization, of advertising and of disaster capitalism. Marketing agendas restrict reality's accepted boundaries and punish activity which defines reality beyond those agendas.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Christmas Snow Queen

Video Source: Youtube.

This is the Snezhnaya Koroleva [The Snow Queen] a 1957 Soviet animated film directed by Lev Atamanov. It was produced at the Soyuzmultfilm studio in Moscow and is based on the story of the same name by Hans Christian Andersen (Hat tip: Gina Theou).