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, September 24, 2011

The Golden Age

Image Source: De gouden eeuw 3D.

Rarely has history been rendered so accessible - and beautiful.  Check out these incredible video previews, from the Dutch project The Golden Age 3D (De Gouden Eeuw 3D). (Thanks to -B.) 'The Golden Age' here refers to the great period of expansion of the Dutch Empire in the 16th and 17th centuries, including the activities of the Dutch East India Company (the VOC).  Just to give you an idea of how important it was, Wiki mentions:
By 1669, the VOC was the richest private company the world had ever seen, with over 150 merchant ships, 40 warships, 50,000 employees, a private army of 10,000 soldiers, and a dividend payment of 40% on the original investment.
Boy, I'd like to get 40% return on investment today (legally)!

CGI animation for this project recreates one Dutch town, the major Dutch East India home port of Hoorn, as it existed at that time.  The Golden Age site explains:
Founded in 716, Hoorn rapidly grew to become a major harbour town. During Holland's 'Golden Age' (or 'Golden Century'), Hoorn was an important home base for the Dutch East India Company (VOC) and a very prosperous centre of trade. The Hoorn fleet plied the seven seas and returned laden with precious commodities. Exotic spices such as pepper, nutmeg, cloves, and mace were sold at vast profits. With their skill in trade and seafaring, sons of Hoorn established the town's name far and wide.
Another important town showcased is Enkhuizen.  More towns are promised.  Ironic, that it takes futuristic computer technology to let us see the past so clearly.  See some clips from the project - incredibly lifelike animation - below the jump. You can see that this is a work in progress, with some repeats, but it's still amazing.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Millennial Extremes 6: Breaking the Light Barrier

Image Source: I09.

It looks like one of the great barriers, the fastest speed possible, has been broken. I09 is reporting: "Looks like Einstein may have been wrong — An international team of scientists at CERN has recorded neutrino particles traveling faster than the speed of light."

Welcome the Autumnal Equinox: Twelve by Twelve Hours in Two Countries

A rarely seen portrait that captured Eastern Canada in autumn at the start of World War I: Frederick Varley, Indian Summer (1914-1915).

Welcome the Autumnal Equinox - and Vernal Equinox in the Southern Hemisphere! This is the day when the number of hours of light and dark - 12 to 12 - are roughly equal. In Eastern Canada, it is perhaps the nicest time of year. 

Two paintings here show Canada and America in the same season, within a generation of one another. The aesthetic difference between the two cultures is immediately obvious. There is a subtle difference of stance and attitude here - two kinds of New World independence. Unfortunately, I cannot find a high resolution image of the painting by the renowned Canadian artist Fred Varley (1881-1969), which is kept in a private collection. This online reproduction has a stipple effect, but you can still see how Varley captured the glow of autumnal sunlight and brilliant blue skies peeking through the birch trees.

The painting below by the American artist Winslow Homer (1836-1910) was featured on the Norton Anthology of American Literature (3rd ed. shorter, 1989). It is such an arresting painting - such independent pride!

 Winslow Homer, Autumn 1877.

An Autumn Evening, by Lucy Maud Montgomery

Dark hills against a hollow crocus sky
Scarfed with its crimson pennons, and below
The dome of sunset long, hushed valleys lie
Cradling the twilight, where the lone winds blow
And wake among the harps of leafless trees
Fantastic runes and mournful melodies.

The chilly purple air is threaded through
With silver from the rising moon afar,
And from a gulf of clear, unfathomed blue
In the southwest glimmers a great gold star
Above the darkening druid glens of fir
Where beckoning boughs and elfin voices stir.

And so I wander through the shadows still,
And look and listen with a rapt delight,
Pausing again and yet again at will
To drink the elusive beauty of the night,
Until my soul is filled, as some deep cup,
That with divine enchantment is brimmed up.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

UFO Sightings on the Increase

The iconic bicycle moon scene in E.T. Image Source: Universal via Wiki.

According to the HuffPo, UFO sightings have increased 67 per cent in the USA over the past three years.  The History Channel is investigating.  A casual glance at the many blogs devoted to UFOs confirm that they are busier than usual.  5 per cent of reported sightings are not easily explained; most sightings turn out to have clear explanations (like this one in Kansas City - which was in fact "the Army Golden Knights parachuting team, performing a nighttime jump").  An August 23 report in Laredo Texas still has no explanation.  Although it turns out Laredo happens to be hosting a UFO conference in November.

Alien ships in Childhood's End (1953) were inspired by WWII barrage balloons floating over London. Image Source: Wiki.

As for believing UFOs are real, the possibility, while it exists, is likely to be really unpleasant. I've read Childhood's EndAlthough the aliens there were supposedly benevolent, I found them creepy.

The other night, E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial (1982) was on, one of the few movies where aliens are depicted as friendly creatures.  What a magical film - it still brings back American childhood at that time, overshadowed by divorce and 80s' consumption, but perhaps for that reason all the more surrounded by withdrawn fantasy, tucked away in the rec rooms of Californian suburbia.  It carried a powerful message about overcoming alienation, within oneself, and from others.  I'd like to believe in that!  E.T., a pivotal film associated with Gen X youth, celebrated its 25th anniversary in the summer of 2007.  And now, in a bad recession, Gen X keeps looking skywards.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

History of a Colour: Red

Wool Merchant, Germany, 15th century. Image Source: Marchand de vêtements de laine. Tacuinum sanitatis, Ibn Butlân, Taqwim es Siha. Allemagne, Rhénanie, XVe siècle BNF, Département des Manuscrits, Division occidentale, Latin 9333, Fol. 103.

The Bibliothèque nationale de France (BnF) has a great online exhibition right now, based on documents it holds that show the history of the colour Red. (Thanks to -B.)  Red was highly prized in the Middle Ages as the colour which provided earliest demonstration of technical knowledge and skill in dyeing fabrics.

Adoration of God. Image Source: Adoration de Dieu. Vincent de Beauvais (1190?-1264?) Speculum historiale (traduction Jean de Vignay), Miroir historial. Maître François, Enlumineur. France, Paris, 1463. BNF, Département des Manuscrits, Français 50, Fol. 13.

From the site: In most Indo-European societies, red, along with white and black, formed a three-centred system, around which, until the middle of the Middle-Ages, all social codes were organised.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

History of a Colour: Haint Blue

Image Source: Curious Expeditions.

I thought it would be nice to start a series of posts on sites on the Web which give the histories of particular colours. A few years ago, the wonderful blog, Curious Expeditions, had a post up on the history of a famous colour of America's Old South, Haint Blue.  This is a special blue that is meant to confuse evil spirits and keep them at bay:
Haint Blue originated in the deep American South. Today, in cities and towns throughout the south, one will find these blues and greens tints on shutters, doors, porch ceilings and windowsills, gracing many historic homes. The pretty blues and greens compliment any grand old Victorian mansion, but the first painted strokes of Haint Blue adorned not the homes of the rich, but the simple shacks of African slaves.

Known as the Gullah or Geechee people, the original Haint Blue creators were descendants of African slaves who worked on rice plantations in South Carolina and Georgia. Many of their ancestors came from Angola, which may be where the name Gullah originated. They are well-known for preserving their African heritage more than any other African American community. They kept alive the traditions, stories, and beliefs of their ancestors, including a fear of haints.

Haints, or haunts, are spirits trapped between the world of the living and the world of the dead. These are not your quiet, floaty, sorrowful ghosts, they are the kind you don’t want to mess with, and the kind you certainly don’t want invading into your humble abode looking for revenge. Luckily, the Gullah people remembered an important footnote to the haint legend. These angry spirits have a kryptonite: they cannot cross water. The safest place would be in an underwater bubble, or perhaps to surround your house with a moat. But the Gullah people had a much more elegant solution. They would dig a pit in the ground, fill it with lime, milk, and whatever pigments they could find, stir it all together, and paint the mixture around every opening into their homes. The haints, confused by these watery pigments, are tricked into thinking they can’t enter.
This belief was a key component in Washington Irving's tale of the Headless Horseman - and a common European superstition - that malevolent spirits cannot cross water.

Hunnewell School, Wellesley, MA, USA. Image Source: Tilly's Cottage.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Where (Not) To Go In 2012

The mayor of Bugarach, Jean-Pierre Delord, poses at the village entrance. Image Sources: Time / Pascal Pavani / AFP / Getty Images.

Time recently reported that a viral Web rumour claims that after the theoretical end of the world, or apocalypse, on 21 December 2012, the only place left standing will be the mountain village of Bugarach in France:
Hundreds of websites are claiming that after an apocalypse on December 21, 2012, only the small village of Bugarach, at the foot of this rocky citadel, will be left standing. ... Apart from the free publicity, one of the first effects of the end-of-the-world prediction was a boost to the village's real estate market. "Fifteen houses are currently for sale. I have been mayor of Bugarach for 34 years, and I have never seen this before," says Jean-Pierre Delord. The prices asked are four to five times higher than usual.
The tourists in the area have shifted radically in character from what locals call 'ramblers' to 'esoteric visitors,' many of whom occupy space around the town, chanting and meditating.  The mayor has threatened to call in the army to protect Bugarach (population 200) through the last two weeks of 2012, in case 10,000+ people show up.  The town has a long, peculiar history in this regard. 

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Germany's Anti-Gravity Machine

Image Source: Topyaps.

The Guardian reported this past spring on an anti-gravity machine built in Bremen that allows users to experience weightlessness and measure its effects while still on Earth for 9.3 seconds.  For a video of the experiments in the 146-metre high Drop Tower, see below the jump.