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.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Theophanic Hibernation

Grafton (1992) cover of P. K. Dick's Valis. Image Source: Esoteric Online.

Welcome to Epiphany. It is a celebration of a Theophany, a day when god appears to man. In the Christian tradition, Epiphany marks the Theophany of the Christ child as a god who appeared in human form and was baptised. Today follows yesterday's Twelfth Day of Christmas; it is also Orthodox Christmas Eve in the Julian Calendar.

Theophanies are mysterious, tricky events that have been recorded in religious texts and myths throughout human history. They pop up a lot in Greek myths. If you want to read a modern account of an 'actual' Theophany, consider reading (if you haven't already), Philip K. Dick's semi-autobiographical novel, Valis (1981), published just before he died.  In Valis, Dick claimed to depict his encounter with god on 3 February 1974. It can be pretty hard going, but it is fascinating: he describes a human grasp of the Gnostic divine mainly in temporal terms, a "loss of forgetfulness," a recovery of our hidden memory of life across the ages. To see god is to see time as it really is, the point at which time turns into space. Dick thought it meant living in 'orthagonal time,' and consciously existing in past and present lives simultaneously: "We are not 3D subjects trapped in linear time; we are 4D objects composed of hypertime." Where it goes from there, well, you have to read it to find out.  It presents an ancient subject, revealed in modern terms. Dick was absolutely fearless when it came to facing and conveying the mad twists and turns of the human mind grasping the ungraspable; there are some excerpts online here from the appendix.

Dick's famous, cryptic journal, Exegesis, which was a theophanic basis for Valis, is being published in two parts in 2011 and 2012, at well over 2,000 pages. Volume I, which was published on 7 November 2011, is available here.  Wiki: "Editor Jonathan Lethem described the ... [new Exegesis] publications as 'absolutely stultifying, brilliant, repetitive, and contradictory. It just might contain the secret of the universe.'"  Some sample Exegesis pages are online here.

On that note, the blog will be hibernating until Candlemas, aka Groundhog Day.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Atomic Bomb Cenotaph Vandalized

Image Source: Japan Probe.

Is nothing sacred?  The Japan Times reports that the A-bomb cenotaph in Hiroshima was vandalized last night (early January 4):
Hiroshima — The cenotaph for atomic bomb victims at Hiroshima's Peace Memorial Park was found defaced with what appears to be gold paint in the early hours of Wednesday, police said.

Paint was sprayed over part of the cenotaph's inscription, which reads, "Let all souls here rest in peace, for we shall not repeat the evil," the police said.

A security guard rushed to the cenotaph shortly before 1 a.m. after someone entered the site, setting off an alarm, police said.

According to a local security company, passersby saw a man with gray hair approach the cenotaph and use something resembling a spray can.

"I have come here every day to pray for peace over more than 30 years. It's a pity . . . that someone does a thing like this," said an 80-year-old woman.

Occupy 1848 and Millennial Mash-Ups

Barricade on the rue Soufflot, an 1848 painting of revolution in Paris by Horace Vernet. Image Source: Wiki. (Thanks to -J. for correcting this reference.)

Will European and global economic problems, combined with the Tech Revolution, give rise to new ideologies, new alliances and trading zones, and new forms of imperialism?  One of my friends who has been avidly following the Occupy movement recently asked me what I thought about its comparison to 1848, which comes straight from veteran Marxist historian Eric Hobsbawm. The 1848 revolutions constituted, in Wiki's words, "the first (and only) Europe-wide collapse of traditional authority." Hobsbawm makes this comparison because he sees the middle classes collapsing and throwing in their lot with the working classes, something that did briefly happen during the 1848 revolutions.  The assumed parallel also rests on economic problems, among them, a crisis with a common European trade zone in 1848 and 2011.  In both eras, trade zones provided problematic bases of political unification.  In addition, technological advances, respectively mass print and the Internet, sparked broad protest and demands for increased representation and accountability.

Occupy Protesters. Image Source: Brighter Life.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Fountain of Youth 12: Kurzweil on Cheating the Reaper

Image Source: Dark Roasted Blend.

This is a post on why Ray Kurzweil's immortal singularity will never happen.  Kurzweil claims we will obliterate ageing via technological advances. His Boomer sensibilities seek an eternal youth in which a combination of drugs, vitamin and diet therapies and the injection of cell-repairing nanobots will obliterate not just disease, but ageing itself, thereby jolting humanity to its next transhuman evolutionary level. You can see one of his discussions on this topic below the jump.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Samoa Jumps the International Date Line

Image Source: Hannah Johnston / Getty Images via MSNBC.

Last week, Samoa skipped a whole day, December 30, in order to jump across the international date line and move away from the American trading sphere. The Economist reported on the proposal earlier in 2011:
ECONOMIES can be revived from slump or slumber in a variety of ways. Policymakers are not limited to a forced choice between good old Keynesian stimulus or laissez-faire market mechanisms. A more unorthodox approach has been proposed by the prime minister of Samoa, Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi, who hopes to shift his Pacific island-state westwards in December—to reappear on the other side of the international date line. The better to trade with its neighbours of course. Since the international date line is defined only by the official time kept by the Pacific community, it will in effect shift, zigging and zagging to accommodate Samoa in a new, East-facing orientation.

There is nothing in Samoa's economic performance to suggest that it is falling out of line with the rest of the Pacific region, but its current chronological location is odd. The country is 24 hours ahead of neighbouring Tonga, despite lying almost due north. This means that Tonga is three hours ahead of eastern Australia and one hour ahead of New Zealand—yet Samoa is 21 hours behind Australia and 23 behind New Zealand. These numbers form the economic case behind Mr Tuilaepa's proposal.
Tuilaepa's proposal went ahead: "When the clock struck midnight Thursday, the country skipped over Friday and moved 24 hours ahead -- straight into Saturday, Dec. 31." The change also applied to the New Zealand-administered islands of Tokelau (population 1,400), pushing both islands west in temporal terms:
Samoans gathered around a main clock tower in the capital of Apia for the historic moment, applauding in celebration as the midnight hour struck to the wail of sirens and burst of fireworks. Drivers circled the clock tower blaring their horns, and prayer services were held across the country. Samoa aimed to align its time zone with key trading partners in the Asia-Pacific region by shifting west of the international date line.

Millennial Mysteries: 20 Tonnes of Dead Fish Wash onto Beaches at Kvaenes, Norway

Image Source: Washington Post.

Caption for the above photograph: (Jan Petter Jørgensen / Scanpix / Norway/Associated Press) - In this image taken Saturday Dec. 31, 2011 Molly the dog walks amongst the dead herring on a beach at Kvaenes northern Norway. Norwegians were puzzled on New Year’s Eve, tens if not hundreds of thousands of dead herrings carpeted a coastal stretch in northern Norway.

Here we are, ringing in the New Year with conspiracy theories, predictions about the end of the world, and dead animals, in this case thousands of dead fish in Norway which washed up on the beaches around Kvaenes on 31 December, and then disappeared (reports here, here, here, here).  For two of my earlier posts on this subject from 2012 and 2011, click here and this post has a list of all such incidents from 2010 into mid 2011.

Thousands of dead herring at Kvaenes beach (Credit: Jan-Petter Jørgensen). Image Source: The Watchers.
Dead fish were spotted by people walking their dogs on New Year's morning (Credit: Jan-Petter Jørgensen). Image Source: The Watchers.

Click to see all my posts on Millennial Mysteries.
See all my posts on Millennial Omens.

The Problem with Memory 4: The River

Thomas Cole: The Course of Empire: Desolation (1836).

Tara Mohr recently circulated the following metaphor about memories reappearing in daily life as huge events, crises or mistakes. She suggests they surge through our lives because they represent a correction, or some deeper pattern from the past, seeking a personal return to an innately-appointed path and perhaps greater destiny:
“You know, they straightened out the Mississippi River in places, to make room for [houses] and livable acreage. Occasionally the river floods these places. “Floods” is the word they use, but in fact it is not flooding; it is remembering. Remembering where it used to be. All water has a perfect memory and is forever trying to get back to where it was. Toni Morrison

... What “river” in you got straightened out somewhere along the way in life – changed from [its] natural form to accommodate practical realities or other people’s agendas? How is the river’s yearning to go back [its] original shape manifesting in your life right now?

Have you been calling it a flooding – a random and dangerous event? And what happens if you recognize it as a remembering?
The soulful affirmation aside, the metaphor conjures up a vision of the splitting of life, between individuals as living legacies of past centuries, incarnate in the present, and people who strain to evolve into the future.  These are two parts of consciousness, balanced (or imbalanced) in time.

Lars von Trier's Romantic doppelgänger imagery in Melancholia (2011).

Monday, January 2, 2012

Look Skyward: The Quadrantids

Quadrantid Meteor Through the Trees (2011) © Jeff Berkes. Image Source: Flickr.

Tonight and tomorrow night mark the peak of the first meteor shower of the year, the Quadrantids. They are visible from January 1 to 5. However, unlike other meteor showers that peak over a few days, the Quadrantids peak intensively in one 8 hour period; this year, the peak is on the night of January 3-4 and the best time to see them is after 4 a.m. when the waxing gibbous moon has set.  The source of the shower may be a minor planet or comet (astronomers are still debating): "The parent body of the Quadrantids was recently tentatively identified (in a paper by Peter Jenniskens) as the minor planet 2003 EH1, which in turn may be the same object as the comet C/1490 Y1 which was observed by Chinese, Japanese and Korean astronomers 500 years ago."

Spacedex 2011 Quadrantids guide. Image Source: Spacedex.

In the Northern Hemisphere, look North and search for the Big Dipper and Little Dipper. The meteors will originate just below them. In the Southern Hemisphere, it will be difficult to see them. You can see a worldwide map on where precisely to look, according to your location, here.

The meteor shower is named for the defunct 18th century constellation that once lay in its radiantQuadrans Muralis.  Look for the constellation of Boötes as the source of the meteors: "[In the Northern Hemisphere, i]t lies between the end of the handle of the Big Dipper and the quadrilateral of stars marking the head of the constellation Draco."

Boötes, the Plowman: the radiant constellation for the Quadrantids meteor storm. Image Source: Wiki.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Millennial Mysteries: Dead Birds Fall from the Sky in Arkansas and Weird Migrations

Bird kill reported in Arkansas, 1 January 2012. Image Source: AP via THV.

Early this morning, someone on Twitter said, "I can remember 2011 like it was yesterday." Here is another reminder of last year, this one inauspicious: 2011 began with the mass deaths of birds and fish (see here, here and here).  New reports are coming out of Arkansas today of a repeat case of dead birds:
Thousands of dead blackbirds rained down on a town in central Arkansas last New Year's Eve after revelers set off fireworks that spooked them from their roost, and officials were reporting a similar occurrence Saturday as 2012 approached.

Police in Beebe said dozens of blackbirds had fallen dead, prompting officers to ban residents from shooting fireworks Saturday night. It wasn't immediately clear if fireworks were again to blame, but authorities weren't taking a chance.

Officer John Weeks said the first reports of "birds on the streets" came around 7 p.m. as residents celebrated the year's end with fireworks in their neighborhoods.

"We started shutting down fireworks," he said. "We're working on cleaning up the birds now."

He said police were working with animal control workers and others to remove the birds and determine a death count.

"We're not sure if they're going to continue to fall throughout the night. I can't tell you," Weeks said.

Scientists say the loud cracks and booms from celebratory fireworks likely sent the birds into such a tizzy that they crashed into homes, cars and each other before plummeting to their deaths last New Year's Eve. The birds landed on roofs, sidewalks, streets and fields. One struck a woman walking her dog. Another hit a police cruiser.

The blackbird die-off, coupled with tens of thousands of dead drum fish that washed up on the shores of the Arkansas River, flung the state into the national headlines and drew conspiracy theorists and filmmakers to the town about 30 miles northeast of Little Rock that shares Arkansas Gov. Mike Beebe's last name.

Some people speculated that the birds had been poisoned; others said their deaths marked the beginning of the apocalypse.

2012: The Shift

Black hole at centre of the Milky Way Galaxy. Image Source: ESO via Wiki.

Happy New Year! 2012 will be a year filled with wild stories about cataclysm and renaissance.  Pop culture is going to have a field day. I'll follow these paths on this blog, but I want to be clear about one thing right at the beginning: just because I discuss this stuff does not mean I literally believe in it. Enormous amounts of information available online don't constitute facts, even if they look like they do.  Several facts can be strung together to form many amazing non-facts. They may indicate something else, fears, fads or conspiracy theories. I consider these things largely to be cultural phenomena, reflecting mentalities of the times in which we live. I suspect that 2012 will be a year when the tension between fact and fiction will be pretty relaxed. If you already have a highly developed metaphorical sense, this should be a great year.

To open the New Year, I bring you a nice word from the realm of astrology: the Yod. One thing I like about astrologers is their love of geometry, a mathematical field that lies at the heart of human civilization.  They take that geometry, read it astronomically, and endow it with mythical, narrative, imaginative and fantastic meanings.  The validity of this correlation is sort of irrelevant when you consider it is an expression of the profound human impulse toward making sense of chaos, of the unknowable, of completing the incomplete. This need to find the ultimate Gestalt may be laughable for some, but it is the basis of how our brain allows us to see the world, construct societies, and communicate through language. It also is the cerebral root of memory and thereby builds our awareness of time. As a species, we are universally driven to make the imperfect and fractured make sense.  This concerns the puzzling jump from the biomechanics of the brain as a bodily organ to the metaphysical and philosophical evolution of consciousness. Whether or not we should be anthropomorphizing the unsolved mysteries of perception and cognition and projecting them onto maps of the night skies is a subject for another post.

Anyway - the Yod. Right now, astrologers are fixated on a great big black hole in the centre of the Milky Way Galaxy, which they think symbolizes rebirth. In December of this year, they believe that this black hole, sometimes confused with the Galactic Great Rift, will either align or intersect with the plane of the ecliptic, the plane on which the planets revolve around the Sun.

Plane of the ecliptic "of the Earth's orbit around the Sun in 3d view showing Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars and Jupiter making one full revolution. Saturn and Uranus also appear in their own respective orbits around the Sun." Image Source: Lookang via Wiki.

For critical debunkings of this idea, regarding the ecliptic intersection with the Great Rift go here, regarding the December Solstice alignment go here, and regarding the Black Hole alignment go here. Proponent of the idea, astrologer R. de Looff, writes:
In 2012 the galactic equator cuts the ecliptic at 0 degree of the Western zodiacal sign Capricorn. 0 degree Capricorn is the point of the zodiac where the Sun is during the December solstice.

At December 21, 11.12 GMT during the December solstice the Sun touches the Dark Rift, which is located near the Galactic Center. According to the Mayas the Dark Rift is the cosmic womb: the place of dead, transformation, regeneration and rebirth. This moment shows the end of their calendar. ...

[Above] you see a picture of the center of the Galaxy. ... Th[e] dark part is a gigantic black hole which is the center of the Galaxy. This dark hole is a region of immense spiritual power.
A Quincunx
De Looff refers to the planets' apparent alignment with this thing as a Yod. A Yod is a letter in the Hebrew alphabet. It also refers to a rare astrological aspect when one planet forms a triangular shape (a 150 degree angle, also known as a quincunx) with two other, mythically incompatible, planets in the heavens (the latter have to be 60 degrees apart, also known as a sextile). On the Winter Solstice 2012, a Yod will appear in the skies (see a picture of it by scrolling down at this site).

Quincunxes are thought to be tough because you have to go through a change whether you like it or not - no retreat, no contemplation, no introspection - you have to act.  You have to go forward.  Quincunxes can feature in death charts or signify loss, crisis or fate. A Yod compounds the bottleneck idea because the triangle is created through two quincunxes, overlapping each other: it's incredibly hard, but you have to do whatever it demands in order to make further progress. To astrologers, it means: 'expansion through sacrifice.' De Looff remarks that the Yod is also known as the 'Finger of God,' a celestial angle that channels or points to huge painful metamorphoses, especially changes in our spiritual beliefs and philosophical systems.
A Sextile

Wiki on the Yod: "This aspect activates either a powerful conduit of energy, or a deeply-felt block, in the direction of the quincunxed planet." In 2012, there is a Yod - pictured in the chart below - formed on December 21 between Jupiter (expansion), Saturn (painful learning) and Pluto (radical change, death, rebirth).  Jupiter is the focal point of the strain.  There are other astronomical events and astrological theories that have 2012 watchers stirred up, such as galactic alignments, solstices, eclipses, and planetary transits, which I'll talk about in later posts. To understand the chart's astronomical and astrological symbols below, go here.

Image Source: Living Astrology Blog.

Romanian astrologer Dan Ciubotaru has checked how often this aspect has appeared in the past 400 years:
Once excepting 2012. In May 1989 when Jupiter was still focal point but Pluto was in Scorpio and Saturn in Capricorn. I’ve used [the] Configuration Hunter tool to perform the search – see here. This means that the 2012 Yod is a mirror [of the] Yod of 1989: Saturn and Pluto switch places. In 1989 the Yod took place on 13th degree while in 2012 will be on 8th degree. ... In my opinion the 2012 events are linked with the 1989 events – at least from political point of view. And 1989 was quite an important year for world politics: end of Cold War, end of Communism regime in Eastern Europe, Tiananmen Square protests of 1989 (took place on exact Yod configuration) etc. See Wikipedia for 1989 for full details.
Ciubotaru thinks the planets in the Yod represent the USA, Russia and China.

For 2012, De Looff has also drawn up a Chinese Four Pillars of Destiny chart, with the Four Pillars representing the Year, Month, Day and Hour.  To him, this chart speaks either of environmental disasters or of an analagous emotional struggle in the collective unconsciousness:
A meteorite falling in the ocean would be one expression of this chart. Or a vulcan (fire and earth) exploding and causing a tsunami (water). It could also indicate floods. Water and Earth the strongest elements of this charts are enemies to one another. Since Water is more powerful in the chart, this may indicate large-scale floods. Therefore of all the events possible large-scale floods are the most likely. ...

In my opinion what this chart indicates is that the polluted energy of the collective unconsciousness will turn against humanity. Whatever happens, it will be an expression of the energy that is radiated by a humanity that is unable to live in peace and to make the right choices (for peace, welfare, health and inner spirituality).
Below the jump: astrological predictions for 2012, from astrologer Diana Garland, ending with a video entitled 'The Shift.' In this video, she anticipates the mood for this year. She, too, draws from the symbolism of the Black Hole as womb of the Galaxy and assumes it translates into a story of 2012 birth - or rebirth.