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 18, 2012

Ancient Cities 5: Mirador, Cradle of Mayan Civilization

For the Mayans, the end of the world meant their ancient metropolis would be swallowed by jungle. Image Source: Ghost Hunting Theories.

The history of the ancient world is being rewritten by a spectacular archaeological find in Guatemala, at the lost city of Mirador, the cradle of Mayan civilization (Hat tip: Ghost Hunting Theories). El Mirador, home to the world's largest pyramid by volume (La Danta Pyramid) and thousands of still-buried pyramids (including Le Tigre pyramid), is larger than modern downtown Los Angeles.

The startling new find is a carved version of the Popol Vu, the creation story of the Mayan people. The frieze in question, dating back to 300 to 200 BCE, proves that Mayan mythology predates the cultural influence of Roman Catholicism by more than 1,000 years.

The city is hidden by a canopy of jungle, which swallowed it after the fall of Mayan society. For those fascinated by the Mayan 2012 predictions, Mirador reveals what the end of the world meant for its people. Descendants of the Maya still live on to this day, but their civilization is the stuff of archaeological digs. Imagine today's great metropolises - New York, London, Paris, Beijing, Buenos Aires, Delhi, Istanbul, Tokyo, Jakarta, Mexico City, Moscow - swallowed by forests. Then imagine what it would be like for the descendants of inhabitants of those centres to live on in relative obscurity. To contemplate surviving such a power shift is to understand the seeming implications of the 2012 Mayan prophecy.

Friday, August 17, 2012

The Evolution of Corporate Persons

"Placards and posters attached to crowd barriers outside the Ecuadorian embassy [in London] voicing support for Wikileaks founder Julian Assange." Image by Pete Riches (16/08/12); Image © Demotix; Image Source: Global Voices Advocacy.

One startling feature in Kim Stanley Robinson's sci-fi predictions for the future, which rang true in a most unsettling fashion, was the size of corporations in his Mars Trilogy. He imagined them as becoming more powerful than nation-states.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Comics Sonnets

Revival #1 (July 2012) © Image Comics.

Aw yeah! Kate Sherrod has started a new comics blog, Comics Time Sonnets, at which she posts a new sonnet review of a comic book every day. How does this girl do it? Elizabeth Barrett Browning meets rhymer demon Etrigan (only in Hell do you have to start speaking in poetry when you get promoted).

Given the way some publishers are behaving, I'm not entirely sure they deserve Sherrod's love letters to pulp culture. But then again, to her credit, she has not reviewed the usual suspects - so far.

Here is Kate's poetic review of the unsettling new Image zombie series, the rural noir, Revival. The premise of the book is that dead people in a small town have come back to life; yet they are more or less as they were when they were alive - talking, memories intact, still recognizable - but what with being undead and all, they are not quite right:

Farm noir, they say? So what's that even mean?
I'll tell you what. It's creepy on a scale
Both intimate and cosmic. There's a scene
Wherein a zombie grandma turns to flail
And kills with just a scythe sweep, doesn't care
Because her teeth keep growing back and she
Must yank them out, because she cannot bear
To be without her dentures. Which means we
Have not seen zombie horror quite like this.
The undead all remember, can still speak
And feel unholy. Meanwhile their small town
Is quarantined (but gorgeous!). Where it's weak
Is exposition dialogue. I frown
On this unsubtlety in what should be
The greatest zombie comic we may see.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Interview with Chris Flodberg: Apocalypses, Catharses and Serenity

Double Image Catharsis (2005).

It’s my pleasure today to interview a young Canadian painter, Chris Floodberg, whose work resonates with many of the concerns of our times. You can see the full gallery of his work at his Website here.

ToB: Chris, thank you for talking to Histories of Things to Come about your paintings from the past Millennial decade. You received a lot of attention for your 2004-2005 series, Matters of Denial. The painting above, Double Image Catharsis, is an example of apocalyptic scenes that you presented, of a devastated, haunted and gutted society. Many of the richly-coloured paintings feature opulent settings and half-eaten feasts, as the viewer comes to the leftovers after the party is done and nightmarish urban scenes have surrounded the table.

To start, I was thinking about the painting title, Double Image Catharsis. Is there a metaphorical duality embedded in the Matters of Denial series – two perceptions, two realities? I wondered if these pieces present a viewpoint from the other side of the looking glass. That is, are they mirrors, which, when held up to a brightly packaged reality, show ruined truths? And if the paintings do reflect an ‘other’ or alienated voice, was there an implied generational shift in perspective here?

Chris Flodberg: I don’t like to think of the paintings as having one fixed interpretation. I think of them as fin de si├Ęcle narratives; the picked over foods, messy tables, and destroyed backgrounds could be a collective metaphor for the end of abundance and optimism. The viewer is left to pick up the pieces so to speak, and consider how to find meaning, or at least negotiate a relevant position for themselves in a world ravaged by excesses carried over from the past. Giant oil paintings are inherently decadent as objects, and there is an unavoidable irony in the work. The pieces critique gluttony, but only the wealthy may own them. I find this really interesting, and often humorous. I’m surprised that anyone would hang such a negative indictment of themselves in their own home.

Freakish Acts of Nature and Other Distractions (2004).

ToB: Of course, you painted these pieces when a lot of people were still riding high and the early Millennial boom was on. Have you found that people look at your Matters of Denial series differently now, perhaps as prescient, given post-2008 Recession attitudes?

Chris Flodberg: The paintings definitely play into a particular paranoia and cynicism that evolved out of the geopolitical and economic conditions of the past 5 years. At the time they were painted, the images struck a chord in many viewers and seemed to echo their own post-911 anxieties. While the paintings poke at real, immediate events, I don’t think of them as being historically specific. The dramas that play out in the paintings are ancient and persistent. Hopefully the paintings will always be relevant.

Waiting for Simon (2007).

ToB: In your artist’s statement, you remark: “In a world where newness has become a value in and of itself, I am more moved by the compliment that what I am doing technically feels like something from the past, while embodying something that is currently relevant.” Your piece from 2003, ‘Fruit, From Orchard Trees and Other Myths,’ has a Renaissance quality, but the title disarms that stylistic choice. The Matters of Denial series offers late Renaissance still lifes against Baroque and Neoclassical versions of Postmodern backdrops. Did you ultimately merge artistic styles in a neo-historical way? Did your choices of styles from different eras intentionally portray a temporal disconnect?

Chris Flodberg: I’ve always loved old museum paintings. My impulse as a painter has been to emulate the bravura and painterly skill of the masters. In terms of style, the language is fundamentally descriptive and ultimately aligned with pre-impressionist 19th century painters. This kind of painting is showy direct, and flourishy, which I think suits the themes. I don’t think of the paintings as having mixed styles in so far as technique, but I do see various references to different historical subjects mashing together with entirely current images.