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, August 20, 2011

Away from Blog

Oberon.  "Flying between the cold moon and the earth." By William Heath Robinson. Hat tip: The Pictorial Arts.

This is as close to my planned summer hiatus as I'll get; I have some deadlines next month.  I'll be away from the blog for three weeks. But never fear, I'm planning a terrifying monster blogathon in October in association with the Countdown to Halloween cryptkeepers, a collective blogging event already anticipated elsewhere.  

I'll be back at the blog on September 11th, the tenth anniversary of 9/11 - and the 6 month anniversary of the Japanese tsunami and nuclear disaster.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

There Is No Going Back

I am currently writing stories for a collection, and a line popped out at me last night while revising, in which one of the characters insists on living in the present:
He only cared about the present, “Because that’s all we have. You have to face the facts: it is too late. We are in the next thousand years already.There is no going back.”
While a mere calendar date (calendars are a science and a metafictional and metahistorical world in their own right) actually does not reflect anything other than how we count time, the Information and Technological Revolutions are real. And they just happened to overlap with a significant transition in the Gregorian calendar. The massive transformation of technology is making the turn of the Millennium significant; it is even making secular eschatologies, like Y2K or 2012, real.

I've written a lot on this blog about moral vacuums, aporia, and the Millennial collapse of values. But what is around the corner? Where are we going? What will replace the values and norms that are dying? Sub-cultures everywhere are channeling change and some are pointing toward a presumed future. See below the jump for a few examples.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Thanatophobia and Chronophasia

Trevor Goodchild, chairman, scientist, dictator, military leader, romantic antagonist, paternal idealist ...

Life, morality, free will - and mortality.  Peter Chung's 90s' MTV series, Aeon Flux, was a study in these and other themes that have become important in the new Millennium. Terrorism, burgeoning political control behind benevolent slogans, video surveillance, media manipulation, mass politics, instrumental patriotism, moral values crushed and infinitely rebranded, integrated tech-organics, epidemics and genetic manipulation.  Chung projected this whole mess of ideas onto subversive sexual themes and one grand romance between an anarchic heroine, Aeon Flux, and her silver-tongued nemesis, Trevor Goodchild.  These characters originate in two countries, permissive Monica and repressed-yet-decadent Bregna, separated by an armed wall.  Chung claimed people often assumed that he was referring to East and West Berlin.  In fact, his inspiration was North and South Korea. Chung plainly gave Aeon the role of protagonist, but he never quite pinned down which side was right.  The two contending sides in this great Millennial argument - whether expressed morally, sexually, mentally or spiritually - could be embodied in two ideas of time that were used as titles of two Aeon episodes: fear of death (Thanatophobia) and time confusion (Chronophasia).

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

A Shooting Star from Outer Space

Image Source © Ron Garan (13 August 2011) via Twitpic.

Astronomers and star gazers have been disappointed over the past few days about glimpsing the Perseids, since they were blocked by the full moon. You can still see them for the next few days in the northern skies, but the peak has passed. To make up for it, here is a photograph taken from the International Space Station by NASA astronaut Ron Garan three days ago, of a Perseid meteor as it entered Earth's atmosphere and became a shooting or falling star.

Monday, August 15, 2011

The Art of the Retcon 2: DCnU's Orwellian Timecrunch

The DCnU panel at the 2011 San Diego Comic Con.  Image Source: Grizzly Bomb.

I've already commented on DCnU in terms of the demographics of anticipated readers here, and comics archetypes here. DCnU also reveals a disturbing, and very Millennial, treatment of history and time. The Internet has completely transformed our understanding of both.  This is because computer systems allow any historical source to be ripped out of context and juxtaposed with something that popped up yesterday.  Even before the Tech Revolution, the idea grew in the 20th century. 

The most famous use of real life retcons is in Stalinist-era USSR, when apparatchiks who fell out of favour were erased from photographs, which I have blogged about here.  It was used in South America in the 1970s, when political dissidents 'disappeared' and their identities were wiped off the face of the earth, as though they had never existed.  In Nineteen Eighty-Four, Orwell had his protagonist employed in rewriting old newspaper articles to erase records of people later deemed undesirable by the state.  This critique of oligarchical collectivism spawned his famous INGSOC line: "Who controls the past controls the future; who controls the present controls the past."

Now, I'm not saying that the core messages in DC's fictions have anything in common with murderous dictatorships. Rather, I am suggesting that the use and abuse of history has become widespread across cultures and political spectrums in the 20th and 21st centuries.  It used to be that the past was sacred.  What had been done could not be undone.  It could be reinterpreted by historians, but only within reason and in well-sourced and well-defended arguments.  Given Orwell's communist critiques, it's tempting to put a political spin on this - socialists call for revolutions, liberals like change, conservatives cling to the past.  But the dangerous Postmodern notion that rewriting or erasing history brings money and power is seductive to all who seek them.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Late Summer Interlude

Still from Summer Interlude (1951), directed by Ingmar Bergman. Image Source: Harvard Film Archive.

Fall is around the corner, and all left undone in spring and summer is knocking on the door.  Here's a moment departing from the pressure, in lavender fields with some electronica for late summer reveries.

 Lavender fields in Darenth Valley, UK. Image Source: Pixdaus.
 Image Source: izismile.com.
 Image Source: izismile.com.
Image Source: izismile.com.