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.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Countdown to Hallowe'en 2017: The Famine of Memory

This is an early incarnation of the villain, Sauron, when he was known as Mairon. Image Source: The Land of Shadow.

One of the premises of Tolkien's Lord of the Rings is that the characters live in a perilous time when real history has been lost. Thus, mortal danger arises not from the arch-villain, exactly, but from the abandoned vigilance of memory.

A later incarnation of Sauron, when he was known as Annatar. Image Source © Angel Falto/Tolkien Gateway.

Another conception of Annatar, who deceived the elves in the Second Age. Image Source © Ala├»s/deviantART/Tolkien Gateway.

In Tolkien's Third Age, just before The Hobbit/LOTR storylines, Sauron reappears from earlier defeat as a shadowy entity called the Necromancer, a form he occupied for about 1,200 years. Image Source: Gus Hunter/Arthur Alan/WETA Workshop and The Land of Shadow.

Tolkien's arch-villain takes advantage of that lost knowledge; he has preserved information and remembers what others cannot. In Tolkien's mythos, the protagonists are saved initially because their number includes some few immortals who were actually alive in the distant past and retain events from those times in their living memories.

In his final incarnation, Sauron evolves or devolves into a single eye of fire that watches everything in the world with total knowledge. Image Source: Gus Hunter/Arthur Alan/WETA Workshop and The Land of Shadow.

Even then, those immortals were born after the cataclysmic events which directly concern the present crisis. Oldest among them is the elf queen, Galadriel, who is over 7,000 years old. But Sauron, the arch-villain, was created at the beginning of time, and is a demi-god older, higher in power, and greater in stature than the elves in Tolkien's Middle Earth during its Third Age.

The wizards - who are sent by Tolkien's angels to block Sauron's influence - derive from the same race of demi-gods as Sauron himself. However, they have spent less time on Middle Earth and their direct experience with its reality is more limited. Therefore, the back story of this mythology is a race against time, with Sauron's knowledge, a dark rationalism based on his actual memories and experiences spanning many millennia, pitted against the Free Peoples' more limited knowledge and intuitive awareness of what is right.

LOTR The Fellowship of the Ring - Galadriel's prologue - Blu Ray HD (2013) from The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001) © New Line Cinema. Reproduced non-commercially under Fair Use. Video Source: Youtube.

Galadriel's opening narration from The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001) states this problem clearly; she is the oldest, wisest creature among the Free Peoples, and even she does not know what is happening:
"I amar prestar aen. The world is changed. Han mathon ne nen. I feel it in the water. Han mathon ne chae. I feel it in the earth. A han noston ned gwilith. I smell it in the air. Much that once was is lost, for none now live who remember it.

It began with the forging of the Great Rings. Three were given to the Elves; immortal, wisest and fairest of all beings. Seven to the Dwarf Lords, great miners and craftsmen of the mountain halls. And nine, nine rings were gifted to the Race of Men, who above all else desire power. For within these rings was bound the strength and will to govern each race. But they were all of them deceived, for another ring was made. In the land of Mordor, in the fires of Mount Doom, the Dark Lord Sauron forged, in secret, a Master Ring to control all others. And into this Ring he poured his cruelty, his malice and his will to dominate all life. One Ring to rule them all.

One by one, the Free Lands of Middle-Earth fell to the power of the Ring. But there were some who resisted. A last alliance of Men and Elves marched against the armies of Mordor. And on the slopes of Mount Doom, they fought for the freedom of Middle-Earth. Victory was near, but the power of the Ring could not be undone. It was in this moment, when all hope had faded, that Isildur, son of the king, took up his father's sword. Sauron, enemy of the free peoples of Middle-Earth, was defeated. The Ring passed to Isildur, who had this one chance to destroy evil forever, but the hearts of Men are easily corrupted. And the Ring of Power has a will of its own. It betrayed Isildur, to his death.

And some things that should not have been forgotten were lost. History became legend. Legend became myth. And for two and a half thousand years, the Ring passed out of all knowledge. Until, when chance came, it ensnared a new bearer."
In LOTR, even legends, conveyors of oldest oral histories, are on the verge of disappearing. The hobbits can barely remember eight or nine generations back. When cataclysms of the past fade completely from memory, the only way to retain knowledge gleaned from past disaster is through a gut instinct that something is terribly wrong.

There are many examples in the LOTR of the value of history as a repository of knowledge which can be a bulwark against evil, or something which can be exploited to destroy everything. To even recognize the One Ring for what it is, the first place Gandalf has to go is the library.

LOTR The Fellowship of the Ring - The Account of Isildur (2013) from The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001) © New Line Cinema. Reproduced non-commercially under Fair Use. Video Source: Youtube.

The reason Tolkien's fantasy stories remain so substantial was that he gave his works a deep history and invented fictional ancient and modern languages to support that history. Tolkien's stories were fanciful, his histories artificial, but he was teaching a serious lesson, based on his scholarly research of ancient languages and epics.

The lesson Tolkien was teaching is obvious in real examples. Our species, the modern human, Homo sapiens sapiens, is about 200,000 to 100,000 years old. Of that incredible time span, we only have a grasp of our collective history in written records covering the most recent 5,000 years.

Archaeologists can take that back through our species and its progenitors in bits and pieces to one million years ago; 500,000 years ago; 176,500 years ago; 44,000 years ago; 17,300 years ago; 10,000 years ago; and 4,000 years ago. Less explored is the fact that aside from paleontologists and archaeologists, the world's more far-reaching historians are geneticists, because DNA is a book of evolutionary history.

Beyond archaeology, genetics, etymology, and formal history, there are only oral tradition stories and written epics, often revived and preserved in modern constructions. Their common patterns repeat across all times and cultures, explained in the archetypes and collective unconscious of Carl Jung. Jung argued that the repeating patterns of fiction are humanity's skeleton key to unlock deep memory. It is with these tools of fiction-writing that we extrapolate around scraps of knowledge and embark into the unknown in an eternal quest to learn that which we have forgotten about ourselves.

It is incredible how short historical memory is: even medieval events are barely accessible. Relatively faithful histories quickly give way to legends and ghost stories. I covered this problem in my 2011 post on the 14th century history of the Black Death on Italy's plague island, Poveglia. To see how we remember another 14th century example, consider the Great Famine of 1315 to 1317. It was only 700 years ago. The Germanic fairy tale, Hansel and Gretel, is based on this famine and plainly describes desperate cannibalism among the populace due to starvation.

Top 5 | Folklore and Fairy Tales with Dark Twisted Origins #CreepyPasta #fairytales #GreatFamine (2016). Video Source: Youtube.

This is why we remain a mystery to ourselves, and too often, that mystery consumes us. The oldest living languages have a life span of about 5,000 years: Tamil; Sanskrit; Kannada; Aramaic; Greek; Hebrew; Persian Farsi; Lithuanian; Chinese; Basque; Arabic; Icelandic; Macedonian; and Irish Gaelic. The most durable political forms for governments last about 1,000 years, with some extending to 1,800 years. The Empire of Japan is the oldest continuous polity on earth (with some blips), aged about 2,600 years to 1,700 years since its inception.

In 2012, scientists recognized the problem of humankind's brief memory in relation to the maintenance of nuclear waste caches. They understood that the 20th century's most lasting legacy will be nuclear waste, not its ideas or technology. These caches must be maintained for the next one million years. They determined that warnings against radioactive material must be inscribed on sapphire tablets, the most durable material which can withstand time. But they do not know what languages to use to warn our successors about the 20th century's toxic repositories. None of the languages we use today will survive past the year 7000 CE.

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Posts on the Occult are here.
Click here for my posts on Ghosts.

Check out other blogs observing the Countdown to Hallowe'en!
Image Source: 4Chan.

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