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, December 23, 2016

Sleepers Wake, Christmas 2016

Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy (1809-1847) Christmas hymn: Vom Himmel hoch (1831). Video Source: Youtube.

Merry Christmas! Above, a Christmas hymn from Mendelssohn, a great 19th century admirer of Bach. See my earlier post on Mendelssohn, here. Below, Bach's cantata 140, Sleepers Wake, is properly played on the 27th Sunday after Trinity, or the last Sunday before Advent, in late November. Given the mood of Advent 2016 - gloom from the liberals, and glee, mixed with conspiratorial paranoia, from their opponents - the message of Sleepers Wake remains relevant this Christmas.

When every news headline today announces catastrophe, and people are bitterly divided over values and politics, it helps to remember what a real catastrophe is. Sleepers Wake is a much-loved piece for a very good reason, and it is not just Bach's music.

Philipp Nicolai (1556-1608), a Lutheran pastor and poet, wrote the chorale upon which Bach's 1731 cantata is based. Nicolai composed the original hymn after falling ill with the plague in the late 16th century. He expected to die, as did most people in his town. Instead, he recovered.

Today, we can cure the plague - barely. It takes all the powers of modern medicine, and weeks on life support in intensive care. How miraculous would it be, then, to survive the plague in the 16th century? Imagine Nicolai, waking in amazement from the bed he thought was his death bed. He thanked God for surviving the Black Death by writing two hymns. They became known as the King and Queen of Chorales: Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme (Awake, calls the voice to us, or, Sleepers Wake; 1599) and Wie schön leuchtet der Morgenstern (How lovely shines the morning star; pub. 1599).

These hymns became famous, and on penning them, Nicolai entered history. Sleepers Wake has apocalyptic themes and refers to the Parable of the Ten Virgins. But all aspects around the hymn really ask: how grateful would you be, if you faced your greatest fears, the most terrible test, and survived? If you survived the scourge? Sleepers Wake says, wake up, be glad, and be ready not for doom and death, but survival and a happy life instead. If you are so inclined, thank God for it. We live in secular times, when the religious message of Christmas is muted, and the holiday has been diminished by materialism and conspicuous consumption. It was never about that. For millennia, before Christianity and after, it was about the solstice, and reaching past darkness. I will say: thank you, thank you, thank you. Amen.

Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750) - Cantata 140: Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme, BWV 140 (1731). Video Source: Youtube.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Aleppo's Disinfo D-Day

Umayyad mosque photographed on 12 March 2009 and 17 December 2016. Image Source: The Atlantic.

The Guardian has today published photographs showing Aleppo, Syria as it appeared before the civil war started on 15 March 2011 and how it appears now. Photo credits: The Guardian/ Omar Sanadiki / Khalil Ashawi / Reuters.

The old city photographed on 13 December 2016.

The courtyard of al-Sheebani school photographed on 17 December 2016.

Blame over Syria's devastation intensifies after the murder of the Russian ambassador, Andrey Karlov, on 19 December 2016 at an art gallery in Ankara, Turkey. You can see the terrible, raw video, here. The Double-007-type assassin, Mevlut Mert Altıntas, was Aleppo's self-styled avenger. The Telegraph asserted the assassin was an élite policeman who had guarded President ErdoğanKremlin-sourced online rumour mongers believe the killer was an anti-Russian NATO agent. Raw Story:
"The footage also shows the assassin saying a religious verse in Arabic: a pledge for jihad for Muhammed moments after the attack. He also said in Turkish: 'Don’t forget Aleppo, don’t forget Syria. Until our towns are safe, you will not taste safety. Only death will take me away from here. Everyone who played a role in this cruelty will pay.'"
Several western MSM sources are accusing Syria, Russia and Iran of war crimes for bombarding civilians during a truce to evacuate the formerly-rebel-held city. You can see details at Human Rights Watch, hereWashington Times:
"Iran’s brutal Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Quds Force has played an extensive role in the rape of Aleppo, building a network of bases around the Syrian city and directing militiamen from Lebanon, Iraq and Afghanistan to do the killing, an Iranian opposition group says in a new intelligence report. 
'The fact is that Aleppo has been occupied by the IRGC and its mercenaries,' says the People’s Mujahedeen of Iran, or MEK, the largest opposition group to the Islamic mullahs who rule Iran. 'Mass executions, preventing the transfer of the civilians, including women and children, [and] attacking the civilians has all been done by the forces of the mullahs' regime.'"
Heart-rending photograph of 5-year-old Omran Daqneesh from Aleppo (August 2016). Image Source: CNN.

Smoke and mirrors: it is difficult to determine the nature of American and Russian involvement in Syria and the way ISIS was sponsored to destroy Assad's government. It is clear that ISIS got out of control.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

The Oldest Tree on Earth

A tree in the Methuselah Grove, California, USA. Image Source: Where Cool Things Happen.

Until 2012, the oldest confirmed tree in the world was 'Methuselah,' a Great Basin bristlecone pine (Pinus longaeva) tree growing high in the White Mountains of eastern California, USA. Methuselah is 4,848 years old. In 2012, a nearby tree of the same species was found to be 5,066 years old (germination in 3050 BCE). As you can see from the video below, hikers can visit the grove where Methuselah and other Great Basin bristlecones live, aged 1,000-5,000 years old, but the wardens will not identify Methuselah or its older relative for fear that the trees may be vandalized.