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, October 3, 2015

Hallowe'en Countdown 2015: Post-it Note Enantiodromia

Images Source: tickld and John Kenn.

Danish children's television producer John Kenn Mortensen draws monsters on Post-it notes in his spare time under the alias Don Kenn. Obviously influenced by Edward Gorey, Mortensen's monsters are not Victorian or Edwardian, rather they are situated in the unconscious of the Millennial world, around suicide, child abuse, bullies, nightmares, a vengeful natural environment, ghosts of the past, and dreamlike beasts. Mortensen has a talent for capturing moments of extreme vulnerability and isolation in mundane circumstances, whether that involves nosy neighbours or a hike up a mountain. He also depicts situations in the everyday world where dangerous energy has accumulated. Some of Mortensen's Post-its remind me of Final Destination films, in which scares depend on hair-trigger coincidences, a vase left by a windowsill, a kettle boiling over near a sparking plug, the conversion of potential energy into kinetic energy.

To shed light on the messages behind Mortensen's doodles, consider the great Viennese psychoanalysts from the turn of the last century. Sigmund Freud (1856-1939) argued that most horrors stemmed from repressed sexuality. Alfred Adler (1870-1937) claimed they came from the will to power as an individual violently molded his or her personality. Adler's ideas inspired a typology to classify personalities as 'getters and learners'; 'avoiders' who are overtly successful but never take risks; 'leaders or dominants'; and the 'socially useful.'

Finally, Carl Jung (1875-1961), founder of the school of analytical psychology, believed that monsters emerged from conflicting opposites in our natures, some of which were confined to individual perception, some of which were universally shared. Jung defined these opposites as the conscious and unconscious, and hypothesized that in western culture, consciousness (associated with Freud's Ego) was dominated by thinking and sensory sensation. The remaining two impulses - emotional feelings and intuition - were repressed and driven underground into the western unconscious. In this way, a stark line was drawn in the west between body and heart. Even now, decades after Jung's death, those who bring elements of the psyche into the material world are deemed in the west to be artistic (at best) or insane (at worst). This was not the case, according to Jung, in eastern cultures. He ignored the "modernized east," but his work on traditional eastern religions and texts led him to conclude that the eastern cultures widely accept "psychic reality."

The unconscious - a pool of symbols shared by all cultures - became a paradox in the west. It could be harnessed and applied to creative endeavours and innovation. Or it could be repressed and unleashed to deal with threats. The Jungian western unconscious turned upon itself during the two World Wars; aimed outward, it could prove a hidden reserve of violent ruthlessness to ensure the survival of western societies. Either way, Jungian theory indicated that westerners remain obsessed with exploiting the constructive and destructive power of polarities. They define themselves in terms of inclusion and exclusion, in terms of an inner world and an outer world, ever mindful of the walls between.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Hallowe'en Countdown 2015: The Banality of Evil

Nazi Adolf Eichmann misused Kant's categorical imperative to defend himself at his 1961-1962 trial, stating that his atrocities were for his country's greater good, as legally defined by Hitler. Image Source: Wiki.

Welcome back after a blog break. At present, I am completing several projects, including a work of fiction. I want to thank readers of this blog who generously sent donations to support my attendance at the Bread Loaf Sicily writers' conference in September, as well as regular readers who support my writing here. Bread Loaf confirmed to me the value of the arts in times of transformation; when values change, traditions are overturned, and old political schools collapse, the arts find a new baseline in the chaos. The Italian Renaissance proved that an economy can expanded through renewed cultural vision; and thus the jump from prosperity to even greater prosperity depends upon perspectives enhanced by the arts. Critics have dismissed the arts and humanities as worthless luxuries in the past few years, but practitioners in these fields defeat misery, strife and exploitation by constantly seeking truths in the unknown.

Today, HoTTC starts another Countdown to Hallowe'en, the annual online event in which hundreds of blogs join together to count down the days of the harvest season in the northern hemisphere to mark the spooky end of October. In this fifth year that Histories of Things to Come joins the blogathon, the blog's ghosts and vampires will not always be present in their familiar forms. A ghost today might be a war zone freedom fighter, a political refugee, or a super soldier programme drop-out. A vampire could be a glamorous celebrity. A werewolf might manifest as an ISIS executioner. Most of my 2015 posts as Cryptkeeper - every third day this month - will examine darker sides of the commonplace. These are areas where the mundane drops away into uncertainty and fear. To start, here are some stories about the banality of evil from yesterday and today.