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, November 6, 2010

The Problem with Memory 1: The Memory Boom

The Protector: Siste, Viator (2010). © By Juniae. Reproduced with kind permission.

Like any profession, academia has its fads.  Over the past several years, Cultural Studies departments have focussed on memory - how it works, what it means.  Politicized debates have sprung up over how to interpret the past, whether some areas of the past (such as the histories of the World Wars) are the preserves of particular political camps.  That is not new.  Nor is it completely new that techniques and theories previously developed in cultural historical studies - are now applied in branding strategies and social networking, along with some psychological and anthropological data.  Intrusive marketing methods already attempt to find out what makes us tick in order to target us with products.  For example, there is a report out (here) that movie screens will be equipped with infra-red cameras to gauge people's reactions to advertising and probably the film itself.  The cameras will scan audience members' faces and record their emotions.  What is new is that marketers also aim to get into our past personal histories - and change them.

There is a post on Read Write Web (here) that suggests that Facebook will likely start product placements in people's private photographs. Our memories and our pasts constituted marketable territory.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Guy Fawkes Night

V's hideout preserved the wreckage of the historical past. V for Vendettta. Art: David Lloyd. © DC Comics.

We've reached the end of a cycle that makes a transition from anarchy to remembrance, from Hallowe'en to All Souls' Day.  In Britain, these festivals build up to Guy Fawkes Night, which is usually preceded by a few nights of fireworks, with a bonanza on November 5th.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Look Skyward

Comet Hartley 2 (November 4, 2010). Image: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UMD.

Today, at 10:01 EDT, NASA's Deep Impact spacecraft successfully approached and photographed Comet Hartley 2, which is currently flying near earth.  The comet is about a mile wide and named for Australian astronomer Malcolm Hartley.  I'm sure he must be having a pretty good day today!  He's at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory right now, observing the closeup pictures of the comet he discovered.  The main NASA page on the EPOXI mission is here.  More photos just released are hereYou can follow a live press conference about this mission on the internet today.  From the NASA site: "A post-encounter news conference will be held at 1 p.m. PDT (4 p.m. EDT) in the von Karman auditorium at JPL. It will be carried live on NASA TV. Downlink and schedule information is online at http://www.nasa.gov/ntv. The event will also be carried live on http://www.ustream.tv/nasajpl2."

Dreams within Dreams

Catalyst Theatre's Nevermore.  Image: Catalyst Theatre.

Edgar Allan Poe: "All that we see or seem is but a dream within a dream."  Thanks to my friend T. for telling me about an award-winning production called Nevermore developed and performed by the Catalyst Theatre in New York.  She was so impressed by the Canadian company that she's going back to see it again before it closes on November 7th.  Nevermore is a fantastical gothic dramatization of the life of Edgar Allan Poe.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Music for the Thin Wall between Life and Death

El Diá de los Muertos, St. Miguel Cemetery, Oaxaca, Mexico. © Suzanne Barbezat. Image Source: gomexico.about.com.

Autumn is mired in the contemplation of the past. The festivals roll in one after another (see BBC's report here): Asia's Hungry Ghost Month (which I covered here) gives way to the Druids', witches' and pagans' Samhain and Hallowe'en.  Then we have the Catholic faithful praying for the dead on November 1 and 2, with noted observances such as the Día de los Muertos in Mexico and other parts of Latin America on November 2. For an amazing Day of the Dead photo from Mexico, go here.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

All Souls' Day

All Souls' Day (1859). By William-Adolphe Bouguerau. Image: Wiki.

Today is All Souls' Day in the Catholic and some other Christian calendars, which commemorates the faithful departed.  The day involves prayer to help those trapped in Purgatory find their way to Heaven.  In Mexico, a parallel ritual is held, called Day of the Dead and in Brazil, people observe Dia de FinadosAll Souls is an ancestral festival, somewhat akin to Hungry Ghost month in parts of Asia, which I have blogged about here.

Monday, November 1, 2010

All Saints' Day

All Saints' Day in Poland. Candles in Rakowicki Cemetery light dead loved ones' way through the darkness. Image: Escape to Cracow.

The transition.  It is not without some relief that I leave the Hallowe'en blog themes behind.  The first rush of autumn that runs up to Hallowe'en anticipates catharsis, derived from ancient autumn harvest festivals.  In Britain, the madness continues for a few more days, up to Guy Fawkes Day on November 5.  The mood is evident in stories such as the narrative for the ballet Giselle, which takes place during the French-German grape harvest and leads to the death of a village girl, who becomes a Slavic spirit.  In this story as well, there is a wild release of supernatural forces, followed by a race toward daybreak as the cock crows and all is returned to normal again.  I've blogged about Giselle here.

Because so many people focus on Hallowe'en these days, they forget that the Church intended this festival to be a two-parter.  Hallowe'en is of course, All Hallows' Eve, when all the ghosts and evil spirits get to have their romp before being tucked away back in the afterworld for another year.  In the Roman Catholic Church, November 1st is All Hallows' Day or All Saints' Day, also called Hallowmas.  It is celebrated in the Eastern Catholic Church on the first Sunday after Pentecost.  As its name implies, all the Catholic saints are honoured on this day.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Hallowe'en - Tales from the Crypt

Astonishing #24 (Atlas Comics, Apr. 1953)

Happy Hallowe'en!  Here's a selection of some of the scariest horror comic covers I could find.  Uncensored, super-scary horror comics of the 1950s inspired the creation of the Comics Code Authority.  I read a few of those 1950s' era, nightmare-inspiring comics when I was a kid - they were up in the attic at my grandparents' house (from my mother's old comics collection).  Several were recently reprinted and collections are available online at Amazon.  One look at them tells you - the 1950s were not all about stereotyped perfect nuclear families.  In fact, the message over and over in pulp fiction was that horror did not come from ghosties and ghoulies but from other people.  EC Comics (later absorbed by DC) put out three big horror series in the 1950s: The Vault of Horror (1950-1955), Tales from the Crypt (1950-1955), and The Haunt of Fear (1950-1954).  By the mid-1950s, Senate hearings forced EC to cease publication, not because of its stories about the occult or supernatural, but because of its pulped stories about real horror out in the real world.