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.

Showing posts with label 2012. Show all posts
Showing posts with label 2012. Show all posts

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Neptune the Mystic

Neptune's moon Triton is a dwarf planet, a captured body from the Kuiper Belt. The moon was photographed by Voyager 2 in 1989. Image Source: JPL/NASA.

Voyager 2 is the only spacecraft ever to visit Neptune and reached its closest point on 24 August 1989. The eighth planet was discovered on 23 September 1846 and was named for the Roman god of the sea. This gas giant has fourteen moons, all named after water nymphs and lesser sea deities. It has six rings, some of the fastest winds in the solar system, and a dark storm spot on its surface large enough to swallow the entire Earth. For the sound the planet makes from space, see my earlier post here.

Even today, astrologers maintain ancient religious values in their notions that Neptune dominates sleep and dreams, the imagination, ecstatic visions, mass entertainment, news as political theatre, and the 'eternal everything.' The planet can positively inspire the arts or negatively spin dark, mad fantasies. In his First World War Planets suite, composer Gustav Holst dedicated his musical poem to the planet as Neptune, The Mystic.

Image Source: Ruby Slipper.

Image Source: Illume Astrology.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Magic, Numerology and the IMF

Planning/Knowledge mural at Bank of America Corporate Center in Charlotte, North Carolina, USA. Painting by Ben Long. Image Source: Vigilant Citizen.

What does the year 2000 mean? What did it mean? Nothing. There is no innate significance about it, other than the cultural weight associated with the calendar and religious history. In reality, the passing from one year (1999) to another (2000) meant nothing. However, symbolically speaking, the arrival of the year 2000 was imagined as a huge moment of change.

The mass media, on the Internet, in news, politics, entertainment, and tech circles, convey fake symbolic assessments about the momentous shift to a new age. Moreover, entertainment figures and historic actors blur the line between fiction and fact around this mantra all the time. Other people do it too. Just as the years 1984 and 2012 and the day 9/11 became cultural artifacts, false significance is imposed upon the year 2000. What people do in real life, how and what they create, what they perceive and express, all become narratives constructed around the new Millennium. Thus, although the year 2000 was no more a turning point than the year 1996 or the year 2004, the stubbornly-held conviction that 2000 had to be an enormous moment of change is increasingly mischievous and pernicious.

The trend is evident all over popular politics and culture. The insistence that 2000 must have 'changed everything' means that people are now doing things in large and small ways to 'change everything.' In the artificial quest to change everything, an old visual and numerological lexicon has given the quest false meanings. Throughout the mass media, above all in the entertainment industry, marketers are borrowing symbols from an occult cultural heritage. They are using these symbols like loaded guns, pointing them at the year 2000, forcing that year and subsequent decades to become what they think this time period must become.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Look Skyward: Auroras to Equinoxes

A severe solar storm sent out two coronal mass ejections from the sun on 11 March (an enormous X-class flare) and 15 March 2015. The CMEs do not seem to have disrupted electrical grids or computers, although there have been electrical problems in Ontario, Canada, which may or may not have been caused by the storm. Power in Ontario went down for short periods last week and again on Sunday the 15th and has been flickering for about a week. Ontario's electricity provider, Hydro One, denied that the geomagnetic storm left thousands in the dark across the province; rather it was all due to "a broken insulator" or a "broken line." Discovery reported that the 11 March flare created a radio blackout in large parts of the globe, and scrambled the ionosphere:
Shortly after the huge eruption, that measured X2 on the scale of flare energy, Spaceweather.com reports a radio blackout was detected over large swathes of the globe, including much of the Americas.

“The X-flare scrambled the ionosphere thoroughly so that no decametric radio signals were supported in my part of the world,” said amateur radio astronomer Thomas Ashcraft. “The ionosphere started to reform after about fifteen minutes when stations began to reappear. (The stuff visible during the blackout was my own observatory electricity. Nothing exterior.)”

Based in New Mexico, Ashcraft reports that the blackout was most obvious in the frequency range of 15 MHz to 26 MHz.
A more serious scenario is a favourite with apocalyptic Millennial soothsayers: an X-class CME could wipe out the grid and all our technology. In the summer 2014, NASA admitted that this almost happened on 23 July 2012. Discovery:
Wrapped in a powerful magnetic field, CMEs consist of huge bubbles of energized gas from the sun’s superheated corona (the solar atmosphere). The speed at which the CME travels into interplanetary space and the alighnment of its magnetic field can severely influence that CME’s impact on Earth’s magnetic field. ...

Our planet has a global magnetic field called the magnetosphere, so should a CME hit the magnetosphere at just the right alignment, the CME’s magnetic field can reconnect, causing intense magnetic disruption, injecting the magnetosphere with huge quantities of plasma from the sun. In this situation, the CME is said to be “geoeffective” and the resulting geomagnetic storm can be extreme. Today’s storm is so intense that it far overshadows anything that has come before it in our sun’s current solar cycle. ...

The storm is still ongoing and space weather experts will be closely watching developments. Storms such as these can have global impacts — from overloading powergrids and causing communication outages to satellite damage.

On the night of March 17-18, these unusually strong CMEs reached earth, and created a G4 geomagnetic storm (the second highest level) and auroras across the northern and far southern parts of the earth. I just looked outside my northern window and saw the whole sky on fire, alight with a ghostly, night-vision-green mist. For the duration of this evening, there is a live feed from Yellowknife, Canada, here.

Other observers claim that severe geomagnetic storms spark extreme earthquakes. Yet others speculate that mass die-offs of fish and other water-dwelling animals and birds presage earthquakes. This, too, was in the news today and over the past week or so, on the coast of California, where some 35,000 sea lions lie dead on the beaches (reports here, here and here).

If you believe in these omens, then you may also have noted that this entire week is full of intense astrological predictions. Monday 16 March 2015 marked the last of seven Pluto-Uranus squares (see my earlier posts on the 2012-2015 squares here and here) which have been shocking the world (astrologers claim) with radical changes and conflicts. This square is followed by a total solar eclipse in Pisces and a supermoon spring equinox in Aries, both on 20 March 2015. Eclipses and Supermoons are also associated with earthquakes, by folklore, if not by hard science. AstroShaman reads the signs and portents:
The final Uranus-Pluto square (15°18′ Aries-Capricorn) is here at last on 3/16, number seven out of seven. But don’t [lie] down in your comfy hammock and heave a sigh of relief just yet. This aspect will continue to radiate revolutionary transformation for the rest of the 2010s!

This series of Uranus-Pluto squares is the astrological headliner of the decade, and could be considered the primary catalyst for all the rapid, radical change we’re experiencing. ...

The solar eclipse on 3/20 at 5:36 AM EDT is remarkable for three reasons. It’s in the final degree of Pisces, and occurs about an hour before the Spring Equinox. And it only aspects feminine planets: Venus and the four asteroid goddesses!

But let’s start with the basics. Any solar eclipse is like a supercharged New Moon, and its effects can last many months. Any Pisces New Moon is great for new beginnings in the areas of divine union practices and expressing your inspired creativity.

But, since it lines up at 29°27′ Pisces, this solar eclipse is right on the border of Aries. So for the third month in a row, we need to blend adjacent signs into a lunation interpretation. But how can you coherently combine the radically different energies of Aries and Pisces, the alpha and omega of astrological signs?

For starters, we have a common theme: both Aries and New Moons are about fresh starts, or applying new energy to existing projects. So this adds even more juice to the idea of kickstarting or rekindling spirituality and creativity. ...

[T]his solar eclipse only aspects feminine planets. To be specific, it trines Juno, sextiles Ceres, squares Pallas Athena and semi-sextiles Vesta and Venus. In this context, the superabundance of femininity is more important than the meaning of the specific aspects. In my opinion, this is an amazing opportunity for the divine feminine, already on the rise, to root itself even more firmly into Gaia’s energetic matrix.

The soul-crushing millennia of imbalanced patriarchy – domineering “power over” that selfishly exploits for greed and control – is ending. In order to stave off a horrific environmental catastrophe and restore respect for all of the earth’s living beings, we must embrace our feminine sides. ...

The principle of morphic resonance, also called the “hundredth monkey effect,” radiates the energy of everything you do out to the collective. When you embody these feminine qualities in graceful harmony with the masculine, you make it easier for everyone else to do so as well.
One could argue that all this talk of auroras, earthquakes, dead animals, eclipses, equinoxes, New Moons and ancient gods embodied in squared planets together makes an example of the Hundredth Monkey Effect. Regardless, the auroras are beautiful, with or without the superstitions that surround them.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

World War III of Material Consciousness

Image Source: Astroquest Astrology.

Some think history repeats itself; some think that it is a progress. Sometimes it involves transformation. Astrologers believe that we are undergoing the second last of seven fateful revolutionary celestial events, which have been jarring the world's destiny from 2012 to 2015. Specialists in this esoteric field refer to a so-called 'square' between mighty planets Pluto (underworld, reforged power, control, epiphanies and metamorphoses) and Uranus (invention, innovation, sudden change, surprises), which occurred on 15 December 2014.

Skyscript describes Pluto's symbolic energy as follows:
Sometimes considered a 'higher octave' of Mars, Pluto is similarly powerful and penetrating, but on an unconscious and psychological level. It gradually permeates the subconscious with its drives, leaving the conscious unaware until suddenly and explosively it emerges in an instinctive response that brings sweeping and often devastating change in the psyche and way of living. It can thus be a force for great personal good or ill. It evokes the principles of resurrection and determination, which when positively expressed bring resolution; when negatively expressed, coercion.

Pluto governs the conversion of apparent lost causes into successful projects, but at times the receding of objectives when their point of realisation seems imminent; cycles of death and rebirth; disregard for vested interests; extremes of good and bad (including luck); the frustration and annihilation of plans; idealistic socially motivated organisations; ideas ahead of their time; the inspiration to put an end to failing conditions; involvement in organised groups and movements desirous of social reconstruction, which may include altruistic interest groups, political parties and think tanks, professional associations and trade unions, and also gangs and underground organisations; the negation and transformation of conditions; non-recognition of the legitimacy or impositions of officially established authorities; righteous indignation on behalf of social causes; and the voluntary relinquishment of worldly interests in order to advance spiritual development, or of home, country or fortune for marriage. It manifests in writers and dramatists who seek to inculcate reformist doctrines into their literary works. It is compulsive, intense, and sometimes manipulative.
Click to enlarge. Image Source: Tarot.com.

Skyscript describes the significations of Uranus as follows:
Seen sometimes as a 'higher octave' of Mercury, Uranus enables communication without the conventional mechanism of speech and physical conduction methods. It is therefore associated with radio waves, electromagnetic radiation and electricity, and nuclear radiation. It evokes originality, which when positively expressed manifests as inventiveness; when negatively expressed, as deviance.

Uranus confers contempt for conventional conceptions of morality; distaste at being controlled and at arbitrary forms of outside authority; executive ability; flashes of intuition; perspicacious and reliable insight into others' personal motivations; interest in the principles of religion and science, and in scientific investigation of material phenomena; an inclination to part with customs; and mechanical ability that favours engineering. It is aloof; altruistic; cool; critical; crushingly assertive; conscious of personal authority and power; directed by inner impulses; eccentric; erratic; firm-opinioned; frequently fatalistic regarding personal destiny; heroic; iconoclastic; illuminating; imaginative; impersonal; impulsive; ingenious; insistent upon independence; innovative; inventive of new ideas, methods, moral codes and occupations; liberating; moved by new circumstances; off-hand; organising; peculiar; positive; persevering when faced with obstacles to surmount; power-conscious; promoting; prone to sudden changes of mind and view; prophetic; revolutionary; romantic; self-centred; self-reliant; spasmodic; spontaneous; unbendingly willful; unsentimental; variable; and violently reactive against potential privations of freedom of thought and action; but when restricted, potentially anarchistic; bohemian; eccentric; fanatical; and invective and sarcastic without provocation.

Uranus signifies everything anomalous or unconventional; and the sudden smashing and transformation of outdated established Saturnian structures and restrictions. It also signifies bereavements, blind impulses, catastrophes, changes (especially sudden changes), constructive and mechanical ability, enemies, estrangements, exiles, people in power or authority, public affairs, romances, sudden events, sorrows, suicides, tragedies, and uncertain fortunes.

The glyphs for Pluto and Uranus are noted at 90 degrees to one another in this depiction of the planetary square. Image Source: Lunar Planner.

Astrologers believe that the same aspect - a conflict between power and innovation - affected other revolutions in history: Latin American independence in the 1820s; the 1848 revolutions; the Boxer Rebellion in China at the turn of the 19th-to-20th centuries; the first airplane flight of 1903; the founding of the Bolshevik Party, 1903; the Theory of Relativity of 1905; the first IBM computers of 1965; the social revolutions of the 1960s. It also appeared during the 1929 financial crash.

Image Source: Astroquest Astrology.

The astrological aspects are the same today as they were during the onset of World War II. However, the conflict now takes place in the realm of money and material consciousness, and governments are related insofar as their power hierarchies and economic systems are concerned. FemCentral considers the 2012-2015 Pluto-Uranus squares to be a World War III of finances, economic systems, our whole way of understanding money, materialism, and from that - our encrypted consciousness of the dividing line between the material and immaterial, which can involve religion:
Uranus was last in Aries from 1928-1935. This was the time of the Great Depression. Hitler. Rumblings of World War. During that period, Pluto was also square Uranus, as it is now. However, at that time, Pluto was in the sign of Cancer. It is currently in the sign opposite Cancer, which is Capricorn. ... I’m not predicting World War III. Yes, Uranus is in the same place it was in World War II, and it’s square Pluto, as it was then. But, Pluto was in emotional Cancer at that time. Now, it’s in the sign of tradition. Establishment. Money. This is what people are rebelling against. This is what will change.
From Astroquest Astrology:
I would suggest that by the time Pluto leaves Capricorn in 2022 we will have witnessed an entire change in our understanding of what it is that defines us and what it is that we hold dear and give 'value' to in life. This is the time when decadent regimes collapse and new ruthless regimes rise from the ashes. In the business world, many upheavals take place, as new business strategies replace the old economic models and business practices.

Uranus another outer planet, impersonal and inevitable in Aries will in 2012 be moving in and out of a square with Pluto, triggering many changes on a global level. ... Uranus and Pluto last squared each other in 1929 and we all know what happened in Wall St. then. Interestingly Uranus was also in Aries while Pluto was in Cancer, the sign opposite Capricorn where it is now. The Great Depression of the 30's had its biggest impact on families (Cancer) the concerns this time round are about governments defaulting and perhaps more banks collapsing (Capricorn). Interesting times!
There is a 2012 book on how the square pertains to the early teens of the 21st century: Uranus Square Pluto by Wendy Stacey. You can see the financial crash of 2008 further related to the square at Astroquest Astrology, here. Tarot.com comments on the 2012-2015 series of squares:
Some large institutions may fail, while other big corporate interests may consolidate and increase their power. We may witness political uprisings and social and religious revolutions. It could, in fact, mark an evolutionary leap for our entire species in terms of social and technological advancements.
Image Source: Universal Life Tools.

Universal Life Tools speaks similarly of this revolutionary aspect:
PLUTO in CAPRICORN is about inspiring major transformations in the hierarchical structures of governments, corporations & all those in places of power. ... ‘Pluto holds the vibration of transformation and evolution and Capricorn is about rolling your sleeves up and getting down to work… and together they influence the very foundations of governments, financial institutions, medicine, education… structures are/will break down in order to be rebuilt through evolutionary change’.

URANUS in ARIES is about rebellion against old paradigms and revolutionary change. ... ‘Uranus is the shake up planet governing revolution and evolutionary change…. exhilarating people to rebel against old fear based paradigms’.

When both PLUTO in Capricorn and URANUS in Aries square each other (sit at 90 degrees of each other on a 360 degrees astrological wheel ...) we are feeling an intense desire to rebel, revolt and not sit back and take it anymore.  We are so dissatisfied with the lies, deceit and propaganda, we just want to jump ship and start a new.   Yet at the same time, we know from a higher consciousness that running away is futile, as we need to work pro-actively to dismantle & tear-down and then rebuild, restructure and transform from the ground up.

In Addition to the Pluto/Uranus Square, on the 15/16 December 2014 Uranus is in opposition (180 degrees) to the MOON in LIBRA, and hence Pluto in Capricorn is SQUARING the MOON in LIBRA which together creates a Cardinal T Square. ... [T]he 15/16 December 2014 Cardinal T-Square will potentially create much emotional volatility and a strong impetus to break free from the perceive limiting restrictions of our social, political, hierarchical structures.  It may feel like a volcano is building inside of your as the intensity of the T-Square peaks on the 15/16 Dec. If you can hang in there and focus/build this intensity within, as we then come into the Summer/Winter Solstice on 21/22 December as the Sun moves into Capricorn,  combined with Uranus moving direct in our celestial skies, this will be the most effective time to channel these newfound inspirations from the T-Square and implement authentic steps in your life for personal and evolutionary change.
Wisdom of Astrology comments on the personal impact on individuals here, claiming that this 6th square and the December solstice will call on people to find balance in this conflict. We have to change, but what does that mean, exactly? The astrological predictions are fanciful and symbolic ways of describing the social, political and economic processes of change as well as individual experiences of those processes. We are confronted with the question: are we puppets fated by the universe, or agents of our destinies? How we transform ourselves will begin with a challenge to the financial system, and end with a personal exploration of the transition from the material and immaterial. This marks a realignment of priorities and approaches to material problems. Wisdom of Astrology argues that the end outcome of these speculations must involve an individual adoption of responsibility, a broad atomization of leadership:
This is the challenge of our times—to open to our own brilliance and re-create the world.  We have to become conscious co-creators of life—we have to consciously evolve ourselves and our society to the next stage of human awareness.  Facing what’s going on can’t make us so depressed that we give up and opt out.  That’s what patriarchy hopes we’ll do.  That’s a failure to evolve, because the next step for humanity is conscious community in the Age of Aquarius. We have to be living examples of those principles for the future good of our world.

... We have to face what’s happening in our world—face our collective choices of war and fear and of giving over power to our ‘new kings’—the corporations and banks.  If we withdraw our support from those corporate entities as much as possible, they will die out from lack of life.
To live our spiritual values means that we have to become social activists and live out our beliefs.  And so we become leaders in our own small way.  That is the Aquarian ideal, you know—everyone at the Round Table is equal, free and responsible for the collective welfare.
Image Source: FemCentral.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Generation X Goes Back to the Future 13: NeverEnding Pasts and Futures

Barret Oliver, who played lead character Bastian Bux in The NeverEnding Story (1984). Image Source: Suzy Turner.

Yahoo, among other sites, has posted a 'where are they now?' article about former Hollywood child stars. Favourite targets of this unwanted attention include the actors who starred in the 1984 film, The NeverEnding Story, a late Gen X favourite based on the 1979 German fantasy book by the same name. Ah, for the pre-CGI days when puppets were serious effects creations on movie screens. You can hear the film's sugary pop theme song by Limahl, here.

Barret Oliver more recently. Image Source: Showbizgeek.

Then-and-now articles focus on Barret Oliver, one of the lead actors in the above-mentioned film, and Yahoo is dismissive in the most superficial way about Oliver's occupation today:
Barret Oliver
Better known as: Bastian Bux in The Neverending Story
Last seen: Working as an arty photographer specialising in 'historic techniques'.
I especially like the scare quotes around 'historic techniques,' as though it is bad enough that Oliver became an arty photographer, let alone one experimenting with a style that is not considered contemporary. But is he really so out of step with the times?

An example of Woodburytype in a late 19th century photograph: Woodburytype of Octave Feuillet (1876/84). Image Source: The Art Institute of Chicago via Wiki.

In 2007, Oliver published A History of the Woodburytype, about a photographic technique and style that is synonymous with our vision of the modern past. The book's blurb reveals the background on the technique and its creator, Walter Bentley Woodbury:
In 1864 Walter Bentley Woodbury introduced a process for mechanically reproducing photographs that changed forever the way the world looked at images. Aesthetically beautiful, permanent and infinitely reproducible, the Woodburytype was the first process used extensively to photographically illustrate books, journals, museum catalogues, magazines and even campaign materials. More than a century after its heyday the Woodburytype stands as a pinnacle of photographic achievement. This book traces the history of Woodbury's process from the early technology and experiments to its commercial success and domination of the illustration field, and further attempts to adapt it to industrialized methods, and finally, to its eventual disuse. Also covered is the story of how Woodbury overcame daunting personal odds to bestow this beautiful photographic process upon the world. ...
Though the process continued in use for several years, the key period of its popularity, especially in terms of later being replaced by the half-tone process, was the 25 years after 1870. The Woodburytype has been noted by curators and librarians for years, but very little has been published on it or about how to identify the prints. Oliver is an independent scholar, and this is the first in-depth study of this process and of Woodbury. ... This book, beyond its technical aspects, broadens understanding of how photography became a truly modem medium of mass cultural import.
A deeper look at Woodburytype reveals that Oliver's famous movie role and his recent artistic preoccupation reflect each other. Like the meta-story The NeverEnding Story, there are layers of reality in Woodburytype. Imitations of Woodburytype today create a 'historic' look: there are sepia-toned quasi-Woodburytype photo apps on smartphones, cameras and image manipulation software. In short, Woodburytype is today's meta-photographic style, signifying early photographic technology and past times.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

The Problem with Memory 8: Scientists use Magnets to Change Memories, Morals

Image Source: Kim Zetty.

In yesterday's post, I mentioned a reader's mysterious radical discrepancy in memory from the memories of those around him. Today, a natural but disturbing possible explanation for his experience comes from the field of medical research, where scientists are performing experiments on the effect magnets have on the brain.

Magnetic fields, when applied to the brain, can improve memory and video game play. But they can also change your moral compass. In other words, 'moral compass' is not just a figure of speech. It reflects a real relationship between human morality and magnetic fields.

A reporter's ability to speak is temporarily interrupted due to exposure to magnetic fields. Video Source: Mercola.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Pyramid Demolished in Belize

"In this image released by Jaime Awe, head of the Belize Institute of Archaeology on Monday May 13, 2013, a backhoe claws away at the sloping sides of the Nohmul complex, one of Belize's largest Mayan pyramids on May 10, 2013 in northern Belize. A construction company has essentially destroyed one of Belize's largest Mayan pyramids with backhoes and bulldozers to extract crushed rock for a road-building project, authorities announced on Monday. (AP Photo/Jaime Awe)" Image Source: J. Awe via Yahoo.

From Yahoo News, there is a report that a construction company in Belize has destroyed a Mayan pyramid for road fill:
BELIZE CITY (AP) — A construction company has essentially destroyed one of Belize's largest Mayan pyramids with backhoes and bulldozers to extract crushed rock for a road-building project, authorities announced on Monday.

The head of the Belize Institute of Archaeology, Jaime Awe, said the destruction at the Nohmul complex in northern Belize was detected late last week. The ceremonial center dates back at least 2,300 years and is the most important site in northern Belize, near the border with Mexico.

"It's a feeling of Incredible disbelief because of the ignorance and the insensitivity ... they were using this for road fill," Awe said. "It's like being punched in the stomach, it's just so horrendous."

Nohmul sat in the middle of a privately owned sugar cane field, and lacked the even stone sides frequently seen in reconstructed or better-preserved pyramids. But Awe said the builders could not possibly have mistaken the pyramid mound, which is about 100 feet tall, for a natural hill because the ruins were well-known and the landscape there is naturally flat.

"These guys knew that this was an ancient structure. It's just bloody laziness", Awe said.

Photos from the scene showed backhoes clawing away at the pyramid's sloping sides, leaving an isolated core of limestone cobbles at the center, with what appears to be a narrow Mayan chamber dangling above one clawed-out section.

"Just to realize that the ancient Maya acquired all this building material to erect these buildings, using nothing more than stone tools and quarried the stone, and carried this material on their heads, using tump lines," said Awe. "To think that today we have modern equipment, that you can go and excavate in a quarry anywhere, but that this company would completely disregard that and completely destroyed this building. Why can't these people just go and quarry somewhere that has no cultural significance? It's mind-boggling."

Belizean police said they are conducting an investigation and criminal charges are possible. The Nohmul complex sits on private land, but Belizean law says that any pre-Hispanic ruins are under government protection.

The Belize community-action group Citizens Organized for Liberty Through Action called the destruction of the archaeological site "an obscene example of disrespect for the environment and history."

It is not the first time it's happened in Belize, a country of about 350,000 people that is largely covered in jungle and dotted with hundreds of Mayan ruin sites, though few as large as Nohmul.

Norman Hammond, an emeritus professor of archaeology at Boston University who worked in Belizean research projects in the 1980s, wrote in an email that "bulldozing Maya mounds for road fill is an endemic problem in Belize (the whole of the San Estevan center has gone, both of the major pyramids at Louisville, other structures at Nohmul, many smaller sites), but this sounds like the biggest yet."

"In this image released by Jaime Awe, head of the Belize Institute of Archaeology on Monday May 13, 2013, a looks at the damaged sloping sides of the Nohmul complex, one of Belize's largest Mayan pyramids on May 10, 2013 in northern Belize. A construction company has essentially destroyed one of Belize's largest Mayan pyramids with backhoes and bulldozers to extract crushed rock for a road-building project, authorities announced on Monday. (AP Photo/Jaime Awe)" Image Source: J. Awe via Yahoo.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Favourite Journeys to Middle Earth

Legolas and Gimli on the cover, the 1978 J. R. R. Tolkien Calendar. Image © by the Brothers Hildebrandt via The Golden Age.

In 2012, the first part film version of J. R. R. Tolkien's The Hobbit, An Unexpected Journey, attracted less excitement than the LOTR a decade ago. I think that is because we are so used to CGI effects by now and the story was somewhat decompressed. I thought the whole cast was great - especially  Richard Armitage as Thorin Oakenshield. Audiences are jaded, because Hollywood has gorged on CGI.

Smaug from the 1977 J. R. R. Tolkien Calendar. Image © by the Brothers Hildebrandt via The Golden Age. 

Goldberry from the 1977 J. R. R. Tolkien Calendar. Image © by the Brothers Hildebrandt via The Golden Age.

After I learned to read, the first real book I read was The Hobbit. And long before Peter Jackson, when Boomers were still spraypainting Frodo Lives! on alley walls, there was a minor industry making paraphenalia around The Hobbit (1937), the Lord of the Rings (1954-1955) and The Silmarillion (1977).

The Ring of Galadriel from the 1976 J. R. R. Tolkien Calendar. Image © by the Brothers Hildebrandt via The Golden Age.
Bilbo at Rivendell from the 1976 J. R. R. Tolkien Calendar. Image © by the Brothers Hildebrandt via The Golden Age.

What nostalgia to see The Golden Age blog post all 36 paintings by the Brothers Hildebrandt from the 1976, 1977 and 1978 J. R. R. Tolkien calendars - here! I still have the original calendars tucked away. That post inspired me to scour the Web for some compelling depictions of Middle Earth; although my most recent favourite is the Middle Earth meditation series. I think the LOTR films likely influenced many Millennial artists whose work does not explicitly refer to Tolkien, such as Zoë Keating.

The Pillars of the Kings from the 1978 J. R. R. Tolkien Calendar. Image © by the Brothers Hildebrandt via The Golden Age.

Farmer Maggot's Hospitality from the 1978 J. R. R. Tolkien Calendar. Image © by the Brothers Hildebrandt via The Golden Age.

See my finds below the jump. They point one way or another to Tolkien's parables on good and evil, heroism and weakness, drawn partly from his musings on the past from prehistory, from ancient and medieval languages and cultures, and from World War I. With the exceptions below, I have yet to find convincing depictions of Orcs, a race of ruined and corrupted Elves. If you have a favourite depiction of Middle Earth you would like to suggest, write to me and I will post it in this collection.

Shelob from the 1978 J. R. R. Tolkien Calendar. Image © by the Brothers Hildebrandt via The Golden Age. 

Saruman and the Palantir from the 1978 J. R. R. Tolkien Calendar. Image © by the Brothers Hildebrandt via The Golden Age.

Beorn the Berserker from the 1978 J. R. R. Tolkien Calendar. Image © by the Brothers Hildebrandt via The Golden Age.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Retrofuturism 23: Baby Boomers and Alien Astronauts

The Galle smiley face crater on Mars. Other smiley face craters have been found elsewhere on Mars and Mercury. Image Source.

My blog series on Retrofuturism departs from the term's normal definition of past visions of the future. Here, I define the term differently to describe symbols from the past which are appropriated for the current purpose of painting pictures of the future.

In addition, one earlier post in this series returns to Baby Boomers' ideas in the 1960s as they were originally conceived. Occasionally, this blog will be examining ideas from that era and assessing their impact now.

One of the more curious corners of the often-stereotyped Boomer preoccupation with esoteric spiritualism in the 1960s and 1970s is the notion that that generation was somehow celestially blessed. Unseen worlds of magic, transcendental universes, and the very heavens lined up to bequeath a great destiny to them: from the Age of Aquarius to the alignment of the planets, to pseudo-science and astrology, a bizarrely egotistical mythology evolved that the universe recognized the brilliant fate of this generation.

NASA's Viking 1 Orbiter view of a face on Mars (1976). Image Source: NASA via Al Jazeera.

That mythology encompassed a host of 70s' fads: UFOs and aliens, ESP, telekinesis, the Bermuda Triangle, ghosts, exorcists and demonology, and New Age magic. These fads got mixed up with the popular understanding of space exploration. In 1976, a face on Mars, which disappeared when photographed from another angle and over time, was heralded in the tabloids as proof of an alien civilization.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Violence, Heartbreak, Change

Jyoti Singh Pandey, the girl who died after New Delhi's vicious gang rape on 16 December 2012. Image Source: The Poor Mouth.

2012 ended with savage violence: an Oregon shopping mall shooting on 12 December; the unspeakable 14 December Sandy Hook school massacre in Connecticut; also on 14 December, 22 children were slashed by a knife-wielding attacker in an elementary school in Chenpeng village, Henan province, China; and on 24 December, New York firefighters were shot by a suicidal arsonist.

The details of the Indian gang rape of 23-year-old Jyoti Singh Pandey continue to unfold day by day. The female victim's name was released on 5 January by her father, Badri Singh (Hat tip: The Poor Mouth). She was disembowelled during the rape on a bus. After the girl and her male friend were thrown into the street without their clothes and begged for help, passersby looked at them but did not help them (see my earlier posts on the bystander effecthere and my very first post on this blog, here). The police finally appeared and spent half an hour arguing over the correct hospital jurisdiction.

As Aristotle said, only beasts and gods live beyond the city walls. To cross the boundaries of what once defined civilization is to face an unthinkable choice between the two. The alternative is to step back and remember what makes us human beings.

Image Source: Mirror.

Friday, December 21, 2012

World's End

July 20, 1956 'Emergency Edition' of The Buffalo Evening News, a faux headline that was part of Operation Alert, a US civil defense exercise in the 1950s, was a dress rehearsal for potential nuclear annihilation. Image Source: Conelrad.

Why is the end of the world so popular? It is a resilient human expectation which has transcended all times, all cultures, all religions. If the end of the world weren't such a frightening message, it would amout to a comforting reminder of human commonality.

Image Source: Oxcgn.

Baby Boomer astrologer Rob Breszny, in his book Pronoia (p. 12) sums up the popularity of doom-saying:
As far back as 2800 BC, an unknown prophet wrote on an Assyrian clay tablet, "Our earth is degenerate in these latter days. There are signs that the world is speedily coming to an end." [See this story questioned here, here and here.] In the seventh century BC, many Romans believed Rome would suffer a cataclysm in 634 BC.

Around 300 BC, Hindus were convinced they lived in an "unfortunate time" known as the Kali Yuga - the lowest point in the great cosmic cycle. In 426 AD, the Christian writer Augustine mourned that this evil world was in its last days. According to the Lotharingian panic-mongers who lived more than 1,000 years ago, human life on earth would end on March 25, 970.

Astrologers in 16th century calculated that the city would be destroyed by a great flood on February 1, 1524.  American minister William Miller proclaimed the planet's "purification by fire" would occur in 1844. Anglican minister Michael Baxter assured his followers that the Battle of Armageddon would take place in 1868. The Jehovah's Witnesses anticipated the End of Days in 1910, then 1914, then 1918, then 1925. John Ballou Newbrough ("America's Greatest Prophet") promised mass annihilation and global anarchy for 1947.
Breszny directs his readers to the Website, A Brief History of the Apocalypse - here. On this site, compiled by Chris Nelson, you get a timeline of failed doomsday prophecies across the centuries. The timeline reveals that doom-sayers have predicted the end of the world more or less continuously every few years since ancient times.

November 2012 solar eclipse by Phil Hart. Image Source: Starship Asterisk.

World's end is one of the most profitable and popular film, genre fiction, and video game themes. In a lousy economy, entertainment about massive doom and destruction is guaranteed to make money. In marketing terms, scenes like the one below have more consumer appeal than any smiling flower or singing teddy bear.

Image Source: Bethesda Softworks via io9.

Since the turn of the Millennium, technological communication has multiplied the type and number of millenarian apocalyptic predictions to several per year - see here. What is interesting is the sheer number of coincidental fateful predictions set for the end of this year and into next year. Does the sun have a shadow twin (see here, here and here)? Have we reached the centre of the Milky Way Galaxy? Are we leaving the Age of Pisces and entering the Age of Aquarius? Have the Mayans read the heavens correctly to predict a new era (see here, here, here and here)? NASA is concerned enough to post articles and videos to reassure the public. Conspiracy theorists on the Internet have responded by arguing that NASA is keeping the 2012 disaster a secret!

People love to imagine the end of the world. Is it because it gets them off the hook from all their worries and responsibilities? Is it because promised apocalypses give dire meaning to things when the world seems wayward, misdirected, or in the grip of frightening change? Is it a most seductive way of falsely predicting the future? Does the prediction's attraction stem from the way it is used to justify requests for power and money from vulnerable people?

I would argue that the 2012 phenomenon stems from concerns far more profound than those associated with late capitalism. The 2012 phenomenon centres on today's solstice because it is a distillate of all our Millennial fears and anxieties, explained through the mythology and astronomy of the ancients.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Countdown to Hallowe'en 4: Messages from the Outer Darkness

Bode's Galaxy M81 and the Cigar Galaxy M82 [at top] as photographed by Michael Weiland of the Interessengemeinschaft Astronomie an der Universität Konstanz (Astronomy Interest Group at the University of Constance). Image Source: The Messier Catalog.

Mainstream thought easily laughs off UFOlogists. Some researchers have suggested that alien-seekers simply subconsciously mapped demonology and other spectral mythologies onto futuristic, faux scientific narrative tropes. Other commentators have been so literal-minded as to read that mapping backwards, and see (as Mac Tonnies partly did) in our superstitions about elves and fairies a cultural crypto-log of alien visitation. This so-called unified theory of strangeness is hard to believe.

"The type Ir-II galaxy, M82 (NGC 3034), also known as the Cigar Galaxy (top), shows the results of extreme rates of star birth and death. Supernovae, the death explosions of massive stars, contribute to a violent wind of material expelled from M82's central regions. The burst of star formation was likely triggered a mere 100 million years ago in the latest of a series of bouts with neighbouring large galaxy M81 (at bottom)." Image Source: *Astronomy.
Laughing off extraterrestrials was less easy to do in 2009, when radio astronomers received strange radio signals from the nearby Messier 82 galaxy in the constellation Ursa Major. The news, announced in 2010, immediately attracted conspiracy hounds of the Internet and 2012 Mayan enthusiasts. Taking a few sticks of detail from the story, they mused: 'are we being contacted by aliens?' 'Are they headed this way?'

Friday, October 26, 2012

Countdown to Hallowe'en 6: Mayan Dahlias

John Sowden House (at 5121 Franklin Avenue in the Los Feliz section of L.A.): "Old Hollywood glamour comes alive in Lloyd Wright's architectural masterpiece overlooking the best of Los Angeles shopping, dining, and nightlife." Image Source: Sowden House.

2012's Hallowe'en needs a Mayan theme, and today's Meso-American palace is just what the doctor ordered. I have done several posts on haunted real estate - here, here, here and here - and this article on House Hunting (the site annually posts an October list of the top ten American haunted houses currently for sale), reminded me of the John Sowden House in Los Angeles. House Hunting:
Designed by Lloyd Wright, the son of Frank Lloyd Wright, this 'Mayan Revival' styled home was the scene of the Black Dahlia murder. You read that right: decorated with artifacts that definitely came with evil spirits and the scene of an unsolved murder. The only thing this home is lacking: a good night's sleep for the sucker that buys it. Enjoy your Mayan death house.
This grim story is possibly true.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Countdown to Hallowe'en 17: River Phoenix, Dark Blood and a Falling Sky

River Phoenix in Dark Blood (1993). Image Source: Box Office Benful.

There is something odd about the fact that River Phoenix returns to us now, waiting for the end of the world. This post on Samantha Mathis at Are You There God? It's Me, Generation X, reminded me that the last film starring River Phoenix, Dark Blood (1993), has been finished by its director, George Sluizer. The film was incomplete when Phoenix died on Hallowe'en 1993, outside Johnny Depp's Hollywood club, The Viper Room (see my post on Phoenix's death here).  Sluizer is seeking wide release of the film after a few private screenings of his director's cut a couple of weeks ago. He filled in missing parts of the film with voiceovers. The Guardian reviews the 'finished' piece as "fragmentary, uneven and odd" but still compelling:
Imagine Polanski's Knife in the Water relocated to the Utah Desert and you'll come close to its essence. Jonathan Pryce and Judy Davis play Buffy and Harry, a Hollywood couple who have driven out into the desert (filmed with a grandeur reminiscent of old John Ford films by Ed Lachman) for a dirty weekend. Their Bentley breaks down in the middle of nowhere. Just before they die of thirst, they're rescued by Boy (River Phoenix), a loner who behaves like Huck Finn as played by Klaus Kinski. He is still in mourning for the death of his wife, whose cancer was caused by radiation poisoning from nuclear testing.

Boy is convinced the world is about to end. He also has a strong attraction toward Buffy and wants her to join him in his underground bunker. Unlike the pampered Hollywood star played by Pryce, he is in touch with nature. Living off rats and snakes, communing with his mongrel dog, he has a primal quality. Phoenix brings a wild physical energy to his role – in truth, his character verges on the preposterous but Phoenix tackles it with such commitment that he just about keeps absurdity at bay.

Pryce and Judy Davis are likewise impressive as a bickering couple utterly bewildered by the idiot savant who has kidnapped them. Davis, who reportedly didn't get on with Sluizer at all, combines prickliness, flirtatiousness and vulnerability to good effect. She shows her character's desire for Boy as well as her growing disgust at his behaviour. Pryce is the Brit abroad, growing ever more pompous as Boy keeps him in captivity and eventually discovering a capacity for violence.
Phoenix's family has reportedly refused to support the film.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Countdown to Hallowe'en 23: Conspiracy Horror

Image Source: Wiki.

The Countdown to Hallowe'en blogathon, with horror posts here related to different themes on this blog, continues today with 2010's Zenith, a dystopic thriller set in a post-apocalyptic 2044. For Zenith's film-makers, the Technological Singularity is the apocalypse. The movie additionally exploits the after-effects of 9/11, of medical and technological advancements, and of an explosion in communications, which have collectively led to unprecedented levels of public distrust of government authorities in the first decade of the new Millennium. The story concerns a man striving to solve a big conspiracy theory, based on research left to him by his father.

The film had limited release in theatres; it was also released in an open-licensed version online in a torrented format that bypassed growing debates over copyright. It also fostered an online alternate reality game that used interactive marketing techniques to drive the film's publicity and distribution:
On August 31, 2010, Above Top Secret posted a forum thread offering a $500 reward for the first individual to correctly identify the purpose behind the website for the fictitious company "Wadjet Industries." Through a maze of websites, users quickly discovered that Wadjet Industries was related to a new film by director Vladan Nikolic, and that the goal of the alternate reality game was to find online video clips of Ed Crowley's tapes, edit them together, and upload them via YouTube to the film's promotional website, stopzenith.com.
The film's conspiracy has the usual secret societies. It draws on the Millennial obsession with the Illuminati and Freemasons, with the CIA and burgeoning religions, drugs, sex and mysticism. The movie's tagline is: The film they do not want you to see. Zenith's invisible governments and new world orders intersect with a gigantic mess created by mass genetic and moral engineering. This is a desensitized future in which all language and values have been stripped of meaning because humans have been genetically engineereed to be happy. If current experiments are anything to go by, it is a future that is not all that far-fetched. See the film below the jump, which promises that progress in science, technology and communications will leave people convinced that nothing is as it seems, while they suffer from paresthesia and seek dysphoria as the ultimate solution to their never-ending happiness.