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, July 6, 2013

An Elegy for Time and Care

Richard Bentley, Designs by Mr. R. Bentley for Six Poems by Mr. T. Gray. London: R Dodsley, 1775. Reprint of the 1753 edition (reprinted 1775), cropped and modified. Image Source: Wiki.

Craftsmanship and artwork once took a great deal of time, care, and skill and were highly prized. In this week's horoscopes, New Age philosopher and Boomer astrologer Rob Brezsny addresses this point:
Thomas Gray was a renowned 18th-century English poet best remembered for his Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard. It was a short poem -- only 986 words, which is less than the length of this horoscope column. On the other hand, it took him seven years to write it, or an average of 12 words per month.
You could argue that anyone could produce Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard, produced between 1742 and 1750, at the rate of twelve words per month. But when I read it, I do not think so. Few people achieve immortality, let alone with 128 lines of written text. Almost no one these days would be willing to spend the time at it.

"Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard:—The lowing Herd wind slowly o'er the Lea" by John Dawson Watson and the Dalziel Brothers (1862). Image Source: dmvi.

Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard

1 The curfew tolls the knell of parting day,
2 The lowing herd wind slowly o'er the lea,
3 The ploughman homeward plods his weary way,
4 And leaves the world to darkness and to me.

5 Now fades the glimmering landscape on the sight,
6 And all the air a solemn stillness holds,
7 Save where the beetle wheels his droning flight,
8 And drowsy tinklings lull the distant folds;

9 Save that from yonder ivy-mantled tower
10 The moping owl does to the moon complain
11 Of such, as wandering near her secret bower,
12 Molest her ancient solitary reign.

13 Beneath those rugged elms, that yew-tree's shade,
14 Where heaves the turf in many a mouldering heap,
15 Each in his narrow cell for ever laid,
16 The rude forefathers of the hamlet sleep.

17 The breezy call of incense-breathing morn,
18 The swallow twittering from the straw-built shed,
19 The cock's shrill clarion, or the echoing horn,
20 No more shall rouse them from their lowly bed.

21 For them no more the blazing hearth shall burn,
22 Or busy housewife ply her evening care:
23 No children run to lisp their sire's return,
24 Or climb his knees the envied kiss to share.

25 Oft did the harvest to their sickle yield,
26 Their furrow oft the stubborn glebe has broke;
27 How jocund did they drive their team afield!
28 How bowed the woods beneath their sturdy stroke!

29 Let not Ambition mock their useful toil,
30 Their homely joys, and destiny obscure;
31 Nor Grandeur hear with a disdainful smile,
32 The short and simple annals of the poor.

33 The boast of heraldry, the pomp of power,
34 And all that beauty, all that wealth e'er gave,
35 Awaits alike the inevitable hour.
36 The paths of glory lead but to the grave.

37 Nor you, ye proud, impute to these the fault,
38 If Memory o'er their tomb no trophies raise,
39 Where through the long-drawn aisle and fretted vault
40 The pealing anthem swells the note of praise.

41 Can storied urn or animated bust
42 Back to its mansion call the fleeting breath?
43 Can Honour's voice provoke the silent dust,
44 Or Flattery soothe the dull cold ear of Death?

45 Perhaps in this neglected spot is laid
46 Some heart once pregnant with celestial fire;
47 Hands that the rod of empire might have swayed,
48 Or waked to ecstasy the living lyre.

49 But Knowledge to their eyes her ample page
50 Rich with the spoils of time did ne'er unroll;
51 Chill Penury repressed their noble rage,
52 And froze the genial current of the soul.

53 Full many a gem of purest ray serene,
54 The dark unfathomed caves of ocean bear:
55 Full many a flower is born to blush unseen,
56 And waste its sweetness on the desert air.

57 Some village-Hampden, that with dauntless breast
58 The little tyrant of his fields withstood;
59 Some mute inglorious Milton here may rest,
60 Some Cromwell guiltless of his country's blood.

61 The applause of listening senates to command,
62 The threats of pain and ruin to despise,
63 To scatter plenty o'er a smiling land,
64 And read their history in a nation's eyes,

65 Their lot forbade: nor circumscribed alone
66 Their growing virtues, but their crimes confined;
67 Forbade to wade through slaughter to a throne,
68 And shut the gates of mercy on mankind,

69 The struggling pangs of conscious truth to hide,
70 To quench the blushes of ingenuous shame,
71 Or heap the shrine of Luxury and Pride
72 With incense kindled at the Muse's flame.

73 Far from the madding crowd's ignoble strife,
74 Their sober wishes never learned to stray;
75 Along the cool sequestered vale of life
76 They kept the noiseless tenor of their way.

77 Yet even these bones from insult to protect
78 Some frail memorial still erected nigh,
79 With uncouth rhymes and shapeless sculpture decked,
80 Implores the passing tribute of a sigh.

81 Their name, their years, spelt by the unlettered muse,
82 The place of fame and elegy supply:
83 And many a holy text around she strews,
84 That teach the rustic moralist to die.

85 For who to dumb Forgetfulness a prey,
86 This pleasing anxious being e'er resigned,
87 Left the warm precincts of the cheerful day,
88 Nor cast one longing lingering look behind?

89 On some fond breast the parting soul relies,
90 Some pious drops the closing eye requires;
91 Ev'n from the tomb the voice of nature cries,
92 Ev'n in our ashes live their wonted fires.

93 For thee, who mindful of the unhonoured dead
94 Dost in these lines their artless tale relate;
95 If chance, by lonely Contemplation led,
96 Some kindred spirit shall inquire thy fate,

97 Haply some hoary-headed swain may say,
98 "Oft have we seen him at the peep of dawn
99 Brushing with hasty steps the dews away
100 To meet the sun upon the upland lawn.

101 "There at the foot of yonder nodding beech
102 That wreathes its old fantastic roots so high,
103 His listless length at noontide would he stretch,
104 And pore upon the brook that babbles by.

105 "Hard by yon wood, now smiling as in scorn,
106 Muttering his wayward fancies he would rove,
107 Now drooping, woeful wan, like one forlorn,
108 Or crazed with care, or crossed in hopeless love.

109 "One morn I missed him on the customed hill,
110 Along the heath and near his favourite tree;
111 Another came; nor yet beside the rill,
112 Nor up the lawn, nor at the wood was he;

113 "The next with dirges due in sad array
114 Slow through the church-way path we saw him borne.
115 Approach and read (for thou can'st read) the lay,
116 Graved on the stone beneath yon aged thorn."

The Epitaph

117 Here rests his head upon the lap of earth
118 A youth to fortune and to fame unknown.
119 Fair Science frowned not on his humble birth,
120 And Melancholy marked him for her own.

121 Large was his bounty, and his soul sincere,
122 Heaven did a recompense as largely send:
123 He gave to Misery all he had, a tear,
124 He gained from Heaven ('twas all he wished) a friend.

125 No farther seek his merits to disclose,
126 Or draw his frailties from their dread abode,
127 (There they alike in trembling hope repose)
128 The bosom of his Father and his God.

"Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard:—Muttering his wayward Fancies, would he rove" by John Dawson Watson and the Dalziel Brothers (1862). Image Source: dmvi. 

Image Source: ifeelmyworld. 

Friday, July 5, 2013

Recessions, the Lipstick Effect and Neo-Grunge

Women buy more lipstick during recessions. Image Source: Wealth Wire.

The recession has affected human relationships and associated fashions. Business Insider and Wealth Wire report on the 'lipstick effect':
Many years ago the chairman of Estee Lauder, Leonard Lauder, claimed that during tough economic times, lipstick sales rose. He said that it was a countercyclical economic indicator. The claim came backed with minimal research, so recently a study was conducted. It turns out the “effect” proved that not only was Lauder accurate, but – according to the researchers— is “deeply rooted in women’s mating psychology.”
According to an article by Scientific American, women buy more luxury beauty products during recessions and work harder to attract a mate with more resources. Researchers claim that women do this, regardless of their own individual buying power. The article also argues that:
Recession cues increased women’s desire to buy high-end cosmetics and designer clothing, but not to buy budget-line beauty products, which were rated less effective at improving one’s appearance.
Similarly, Wealth Wire notes that men will tend to buy suits during a recession in order to get a job.

I am not sure whether this trend has lasted as the recession has dragged on. I see more disaffected, nihilistic rebellion in the face of all this striving desperation. Aren't women turning to cheaper cosmetics now? Or no cosmetics (see also here)?

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Fourth of July Flags and Heroes

Image Source: Chris Murray via ScreenCrush.

Happy Independence Day! Here are two of the best cosplays I could find of Captain America and Wonder Woman.

Image Source: meagan marie at deviantArt via Post Game Lobby. See her full costume here.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Happy Birthday, Franz

Image Source: Google via Time.

Time reports that today is the birthday of the wonderful Czech Jewish writer, Franz Kafka; Google has commemorated the 130th anniversary of Kafka's birth:
Today’s Google Doodle celebrates a man who didn’t see much to celebrate during his short life. Today, July 3, 2013, would have been the 130th birthday of literary titan and eternal pessimist Franz Kafka.

The Doodle pays homage to The Metamorphosis, one of Kafka’s best-remembered novellas. The dark piece features a traveling salesman who has the unfortunate and unexplained fate of turning into some sort of giant bug — the actual German “ungeheueren ungeziefer” ambiguously translates to “monstrous vermin.” The drawing shows a lighter take on Kafka’s absurdist work, portraying a cockroach coming home from a day at work. The Doodle even includes a nod to the plot by including a small, sepia-toned apple, referring to the apples that the poor salesman’s father threw at him when he found his son transformed into the creepy-crawler.

The Prague native and tormented soul has since been hailed as one of the greatest literary giants, especially for his contributions to existentialism. While his body of work, also including The Trial and The Castle, doesn’t make cozy bedtime reading with its overtones of alienation and grotesqueness, it’s contributed to the timeless collection of literature that forces us to question the human condition. “One of the first signs of the beginning of understanding is the wish to die,” Kafka once wrote in the Blue Octavo Notebooks. Tuberculosis granted his wish at the young age of forty.

Times Outside of History 10: De-Extinctioning at Pleistocene Park

Omission: The Fossil Record (1991) © by Alexis Rockman.

The news was recently full of the discovery of the best-ever preserved woolly mammoth, which raised cloning hopes. CNN:
Researchers from the Northeast Federal University in Yakutsk found the 10,000-year-old female mammoth buried in ice on the Lyakhovsky Islands off the coast of northeast Russia.

Scientists say they poked the frozen creature with a pick and dark liquid blood flowed out.

"The fragments of muscle tissues, which we've found out of the body, have a natural red color of fresh meat. The reason for such preservation is that the lower part of the body was underlying in pure ice," said Semyon Grigoriev, the head of the expedition and of the university's Mammoth Museum, in a statement on the university's website. ...

Grigoriev told The Siberian Times newspaper it was the first time mammoth blood had been discovered and called it "the best preserved mammoth in the history of paleontology."

"We suppose that the mammoth fell into water or got bogged down in a swamp, could not free herself and died. Due to this fact the lower part of the body, including the lower jaw, and tongue tissue, was preserved very well," he said.

Grigoriev called the liquid blood "priceless material" for the university's joint project with South Korean scientists who are hoping to clone a woolly mammoth, which has been extinct for thousands of years.

The controversial Sooam Biotech Research Foundation is headed up by Hwang Woo-suk -- the disgraced former Seoul National University scientist who claimed in 2004 that he had successfully cloned human embryonic stem cells before admitting he had faked his findings.

Typically, researchers contemplating revival of an extinct species do not think about the species but about human motivations. We are 'atoning for past sins,' or 'proving what we can do' if the money is right.

Is seems less challenging, morally speaking, to resurrect relatively recently extinct species, such as the aurochs, the baiji dolphin, the Japanese sea lion, the Caribbean monk seal, the thylacine, the passenger pigeon, or the dodo bird. In 2000, the last Pyrenean ibex died. In 2009, a clone brought the species back from extinction for the seven minutes that it remained alive.

Forty Year Yearbook Outfit

Images Source: MSN.

Yahoo reports that a Dallas teacher who just retired wore the same outfit to every yearbook photo for forty years:
Dale Irby is retiring after 40 years. And so is his yearbook outfit.

For his entire career at Prestonwood Elementary in the Richardson school district in Texas, the physical education teacher wore the same disco-era shirt and dirt-colored sweater each year for his yearbook picture.

At first, Irby told the Dallas Morning News, it was an accident when he wore the same outfit in the yearbook two years in a row.

“I was so embarrassed when I got the school pictures back that second year and realized I had worn the very same thing as the first year,” he said.

Then his wife, Cathy, dared him to make it three.

“After five pictures, it was like: ‘Why stop?’”

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Steampunk Swallow and Other Typewriter Sculptures

Image Source: Facebook. All images © Jeremy Mayer.

Today, a steampunk swallow, and other creations made from typewriter parts by Jeremy Mayer (-Thanks to -J.). You can see Mayer's other amazing artworks and illustrations at his Website here and his tumblr here.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Canada Day, Gangland Style

Prime Minister Chrétien choking a protester in 1996 in what became known as the Shawinigan Handshake, named after Chrétien's home town. Image Source: Ugly Hockey Sweater.

Today is Canada Day. I ran across a dumb video of a parrot singing the national anthem. But the result was just disturbing. I tried to find something happy, but the first thing that came up was former PM Chrétien strangling a protest in a famous encounter from 1996 (above).

The photo recalls recent Canadian news, which lately has been awful.

Large sections of Calgary and other Alberta communities were washed out last week by apocalyptic floods. You can see footage of Calgary's flooded downtown centre below the jump.

In Montreal, the third mayor in less than eight months has been sworn in, due to rampant city corruption. Also in Montreal, the language police have been out in force lately, and linguistic strife has been building since last fall's election of the separatist Parti Québécois led to an intensified effort to stamp out non-French languages (see a related video here). The language police are banning all non-French words from Montreal's restaurant menus, including words such as 'pasta.'

There is another story about a teenager working in a grocery store on the South Shore of the city who was forbidden from talking in English, even to Anglo customers who asked her questions in English on the store floor; she was also prohibited from speaking English to fellow Anglo co-workers while working with them or during work breaks. An Anglo political counter-movement is starting to gain momentum, and some of its proponents are not much better than the people they are criticizing.

An unreleased video of the mayor of Toronto, Rob Ford, purportedly shows him smoking crack. After Gawker leaked the story, Ford's popularity jumped. The case is getting more convoluted, and now involves a loosely connected murder trial.

News of a video of Toronto mayor Rob Ford smoking crack was recently leaked. His popularity rose after the scandal, which is still unfolding. Image Source: Gawker.

Montreal's interim mayor Michael Applebaum resigned amid corruption allegations in June 2013. Image Source: Sun News.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

The Nile Dam and Unintended Consequences

Memento mori Pompeii mosaic (30 BCE - 40 CE). Image Source: Ancient Rome.

In June 2009, economists declared that the Great Recession ended. But to many people, it still does not feel that way. Perhaps that is because the global economy is undergoing a painful transition. The gears are grinding, but there is no sensation of everyone barreling forward. Progress reports coming from tech sectors are deceptive: the virtual economy massively expanded over the past twenty-five years. High tech computing - with hardware's planned obsolescence and non-physical wares like Facebook acquiring value, based on the marketing promises of Big Data - pumped up bubbles around illusions of productivity. Financial speculation in the 1990s and 2000s depended on the exponential expansion of our ability to speculate.