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 Ars Amatoria. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Ars Amatoria. Show all posts

Monday, March 16, 2020

New Post at The Dragonfly: Coronavirus, An Offer You Can't Refuse

Image Source: Conscious Life News.

To follow up on my February 2020 posts, If There Was No More Time and The Coronavirus Consciousness, I am doing a series of posts at my other blog, The Dragonfly, with cryptic testimonies to and about particular people and situations. My theory was that part of prepping is making your peace with your past so that you can confront the present and the future without fear. The first post:

Given the nCov pandemic, there are some things I should say, in case the clock is ticking more quickly than usual. If it isn't, these posts can be taken as some personal statements about themes in my work.

This post also sheds light on a much bigger discussion currently being held on social media about the value of martial law as the coronavirus spreads.

See all my posts on Epidemics here and here.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Love in the New Millennium 12: The Song of Songs

ANCIENT EGYPTIAN LOVE SONG (19 November 2012). Video Source: Youtube.

For Valentine's Day, hear Canadian musician Peter Pringle perform an Ancient Egyptian love song. Pringle specializes in building and playing recreations of historical instruments. He sings in old languages and tries to reimagine the music of our ancestors as closely as possible. He explains how he constructed this Ancient Egyptian harp, here. My earlier post on Pringle is here.

Sunday, April 10, 2016


Image Source: pinterest.

"How does a man come to know the unknowable?" He can do it through pushing the boundaries, or through some philosophical bridge. Maybe he does it through a woman, or a leap of faith, or a contemplation of the order of the universe that he cannot see. In these respects, I want to thank Dia Sobin at Trans-D Digital blog for permitting me to quote her 20 March 2016 post, The Language of Birds & the Alchemy of Love: The Music Box. She wrote a beautiful passage about the way in which girls keep talismans from their pasts to preserve memories and conjure up love. Women,
"have a peculiar predilection for keeping memorable items in special boxes, especially as young girls. Our little magic boxes ... full of talismanic detritus we've collected over the years ... a coin, jewelry, a shred of hair, a crumbling flower head, a photo, a signature, stones, bones ... whatever. Generally the tokens are kept to remind us of lovers or loved ones ... small trophies for experiences that may eventually retreat into a mental shadowland in the same way the objects themselves have retreated into the shadowy recesses of the box. But, no matter. The box becomes a sort of artificial memory bank... a collection of three-dimensional objects representing transdimensional events in the same way a collection of symbols do. In the end, whether we're talking about musical codes, alchemical codes, or the enigmatic chemistry of love and attraction, some type of hidden language is involved ... as is some kind of communication that lies outside the bounds of what is consciously understood."
Studies confirm that women remember events, especially emotional ones, better than men. Not only is the part of the brain which deals with memory larger in women, but that brain difference prompts female behaviour dedicated to maintaining memory through the organization of material objects. This tendency to tuck away bits of sacred junk in drawers and boxes demonstrates women's semi-conscious need to connect the emotional world and past memories to the tangible world in the present and future in direct ways. Women habitually manipulate time to turn the unreal side of life into something real. With these little anchors, they navigate the course of their lives. If you remember who you were, you don't lose track of who you are, and of the person you will become.

Friday, February 12, 2016

Love in the New Millennium 11: An Indigo-Anonymous Valentine

Image Source: Beneath Blindfold.

A surprise Valentine's post was inspired by a search on computer hackers and Julian Assange's latest media scrum. Some days, writing the cultural history of the new Millennium is like being on a game show. Do a search on a random topic and find a giant world mushrooming behind the label. "What's behind Door Number 6, Bob?" Then you look, and you're sorry you did.

Today, behind Door Number 6, we find Indigo Children. This is one of those 1970s' Baby Boomer spiritual entertainment franchises which got out of control and has now created a New Age revolution in parent-child consciousness. With apologies to all those who positively self-identify as Indigo Children, the term came from books written by three Silent Gen and Boomer authors: Nancy Ann Tappe, Jan Tober, and Lee Carroll. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, Tappe combined visual arts colour theory with eastern spiritual ideas about coloured chakras and auras. She claimed that a new type of people were appearing on the planet, and their indigo-coloured auras revealed their soul missions. Sometimes, they were infused with alien spirits from the stars; either way, they were meant to change the world with superhuman psychic abilities. This was a profitable mash-up of many ideas from that time, and adapted the egomania of the Me Generation.

The Indigo Child combined the 1970s' extra-sensory perception fad with space aliens (a quasi-futuristic update of Roman Catholic demonology), sexual liberation, angel worship, New Age occultism, Wicca, and environmental eco-faith. In Tappe's mythos, Indigo people now walking the earth were and are on a gnostic spiritual path. Tappe warned that as heralds and iconoclasts of the Age of Aquarius, Indigo Children might be hard to take!
Top Indigo Characteristics:
  • Brilliant with technology
  • Relaxed and casual
  • Peer-oriented
  • Love junk food
  • High energy
  • Bored in school and easily distracted
  • Multi-task effortlessly
  • Blunt in communication
  • Unswayed by previous social norms
  • View entitlement as a right
  • Androgynous
Indigo Children were and are rebellious non-conformists, but we have to forgive them for it, since they are destined to unite us all in peaceful, loving understanding of ever-broader realities and dimensions of existence. From Tappe's Website:
Indigos is a label associated with recent generations of individuals born around the globe. They were originally seen and identified by Nancy Ann Tappe (1931-2012) as a part of the color system which evolved from her synesthetic perceptions. Nancy's lifetime work with the science of color has persuaded her and thousands of others that color is one language that can be used to distinguish and identify elements of the human personality.

Indigos bring change to every level of the human experience through their universal task: to globalize humanity through technology. Their energy today is constantly changing and fast, almost hyperactive. Technology is an innate talent and skill for them; cellphones are an extension of their body.

There are four groups or types of Indigo: Humanists, Artists, Conceptualists, and Catalysts. ...

Indigo was only one of twelve life colors that Nancy Tappe has seen her entire life in the human electromagnetic energy field. Originally Nancy saw eleven colors, but that changed in the late 1960's and early 1970's when she noticed another color among infants. She called it indigo, a color between blue and violet in the color spectrum. It took her forty years to identify and clarify consistent patterns of Indigo behavior and influence. Her information system about life colors came from her study of color and the human personality.
Over the subsequent decades, the idea of Indigo Children influenced the Boomer credo that their children were special, unique and gifted. This was particularly the case if the children suffered from learning disabilities or behavioural problems, many of which had been newly conceptualized as well.

For Gen X parents, Indigo Child spiritual parenting techniques have evolved as part of so-called 'meta-gifted education.' Little did Tappe realize that the Me Generation's ego worship would create a new generation of people who worshipped their own souls, to become demi-gods in the new Millennium's online spiritual explosion. In March 2012, Cracked numbered Indigo Children among one of the "five creepiest progressive parenting fads": "Declaring Bratty Kids to Be Magical Superhumans." Indigo Children inspired a film in 2012 and resonates strongly with people who have grown up with, and are living much of their lives in, the dream spaces of virtual reality.

Anonymous Message to the Indigo Children of the world (28 January 2015). Video Source: Youtube.

None of this has escaped the attention of computer hackers, who spend a lot of time online and know virtual cultures well. In 2015, an Anonymous hacker posted a video with a proposal to Indigo Children. "Look, you Indigo Children [girls]," the hacker said, "it's time for us to join forces." From the video description:
"Attention Indigo, crystal, and rainbow children of the world. Greetings from anonymous. We are contacting you today as there are those who say you and those like you are here to usher in the new era. An era of peace and enlightenment. It has been said you are here to challenge the tyranny that has so long plagued our world. To rise up against injustice and make way for a new, harmonious world.

However, the planet seems to be going in the other direction. Corporations have corrupted nearly every government in the world. Our politicians our controlled by money. The people who are sworn to protect us are now beating and killing us. Greed and indifference are glorified while generosity and tolerance are mocked. The media are nothing more than pawns in a world where our fundamental right to knowledge and expression are being censored. Children are starving in the streets. The elderly are homeless, cold and hungry. Things are only going to get worse.

the time for talking is over. It is time for action. No longer can we turn a blind eye to uncensured greed and corruption. No longer can we afford the luxury of not paying attention to the world around us. Our futures, and our childrens futures depend on it. We must act now. We must take to the streets, we must take to the internet. We must let the powers at be know that this is our world and will will not sit idly by as they enslave and destroy it.

Many believe Anonymous is nothing more than a group of hacker activists. This is not exactly true. Anonymous is not a group or organization per say. There is no central leadership. There is no membership. There is no one sole purpose behind our actions. Rather, we are a movement. An idea. We are everyone and we are no one. We are anyone who wishes to stand up against injustice. We are the passerby who records police brutality on their phone. We are the reporter who exposes a corrupt politician, we are your friend that constantly posts activists posts and news stories on social media, we are the protesters in the streets and, yes, sometimes we are the hackers taking down terrorist websites. We believe that the indigo children can add greatly to our movement. To help us achieve a better world for everyone. Join the cause today."
Anonymous lads: young hacker vigilantes. Image Source: Hacker News Bulletin.

I suspect this has less to do with toppling the Illuminati and more to do with getting laid. This goes to show that no matter how crazy the crazy gets, nature finds a way. But it's not going to be that easy (the follow-up video is here). One Indigo girl who commented on the Anonymous guy's video was skeptical:
"I am indigo and I get a negative vibe from them. Its like they are the face of what right sounds like but isn't. The change is not about fighting. It's about loving. Indigo children are free spirits. They do not have one solid belief or group or thought for which they support. They simply act on what feels right inside. I am suspicious of this post. Police brutality isn't even a major issue. There's brutality everywhere in every race and occupation in the world. There is nothing wrong with police or blacks or whites. We as a people are the problem. we each have two wolves. one of love and one of hate. the one that wins the fight is the one you feed. stop labeling police and groups and people. take self responsibility and stop encouraging the media. treat each negative case as an individual issue. stop playing victim. do not wine because the milk has spilled. feed it to the cat so that you can save a days worth of cat food and in turn a days worth of money. see the positive and feed the positive."
Perhaps Indigo Children should just lie back, close their third eyes, and think of England. More likely, the hackers will be ensnared in their Indigo lovers' harrowing spiritual awakenings and ascensions to the fifth dimension of existence.

Image Source: tumblr.

See all posts on Love in the New Millennium.
Click here for my posts on 60s' Legacies.
Posts on spiritual technology in the New Millennium are here.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Hallowe'en Countdown 2015: Ashley Madison's Fembot Mirrors

Image Source: Ashley Madison via All the Hits 107.3.

The Ashley Madison adultery site hack was a surreal lesson in cyberethics. The weirdest fact to emerge was that most of the women on the site were not real. To sign up for these online "guaranteed affairs," many male users were deluded enough to romance Matrix-like illusions driven by computer programs. That meant that they were really only engaging with themselves. These men may not have had real affairs. That does not make the situation better, because what they did was worse. They lost their grip on reality in exchange for a fantasy about their erotic selves. They paid to make love to bots constructed to reflect their own fantasies back at them, while they created the potential to ruin their reputations, their morality, their families and their marriages. In this regard, this site is and was an elaborate machine for erotic-ego-auto-response. Ashley Madison is and was a big, horrible mirror which has allowed its deceived male users to use fembots in an act of self-annihilation. The hackers, Impact Team, had this to say:
Avid Life Media has failed to take down Ashley Madison and Established Men. We have explained the fraud, deceit, and stupidity of ALM and their members. Now everyone gets to see their data. Find someone you know in here? Keep in mind the site is a scam with thousands of fake female profiles. See ashley madison fake profile lawsuit; 90-95% of actual users are male. Chances are your man signed up on the world's biggest affair site, but never had one. He just tried to. If that distinction matters. Find yourself in here? It was ALM that failed you and lied to you. Prosecute them and claim damages. Then move on with your life. Learn your lesson and make amends. Embarrassing now, but you'll get over it.
Image Source: Motherboard.

According to this report from Bustle, Impact Team seemed to target Ashley Madison vengefully, as though the hackers had a private reason to attack the company. A BBC report quoted the former Avid Life Media CEO, Noel Biderman, who speculated that at least one of the hackers had had some connection with the company. The hack may have been a vendetta, since the hackers remarked that they would target any company or politician making "100s of millions profiting off pain of others." They told Motherboard that they started the hack a long time ago, and they regarded the site's customers as addicts:
We were in Avid Life Media a long time to understand and get everything. Finally we watched Ashley Madison signups growing and human trafficking on the sites. Everyone is saying 37 million! Blackmail users! We didn't blackmail users. Avid Life Media blackmailed them. But any hacking team could have. We did it to stop the next 60 million. Avid Life Media is like a drug dealer abusing addicts.
It looks like the hackers were not dealing out abstract hacktivist justice but had personal reasons to bring down this Website. At least the Impact Team could rely on a public backlash against Ashley Madison. Adultery with bots is still shocking, so this example tells us where we are at the moment in terms of cyber-ethics and cyber-consciousness.

Ashley Madison was planning a new app called, 'What's Your Wife Worth?' Image Source: Boing Boing.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Forever: Maybe Not the Word You Want?

Johnny Depp's original 'Winona Forever' tattoo. Image Source: johnnydepp.org.

In the past couple of days, the word forever kept coming up. Finally, it all converged in a 'plate of shrimp' moment. The first mention came up in this analysis at The White Review of Johnny Depp and Winona Ryder. The article, Famous Tombs: Love in the 90s, described Depp's and Ryder's relationship as the American youth romance of the decade. Author Masha Tupitsyn then probed a more interesting question. She almost cracked what, exactly, happened to the Depp-Ryder romance, not in terms of what it meant privately to the two actors, because we can't know that, but what it represented to the rest of us.

Image Source: Buzzfeed.

Tupitsyn hints that it never went anywhere, but Johnny and Winona did. She believes that Depp sublimated it in alcohol and drugs, replacing love for a woman with addictions so distracting that it became impossible to get back to the original source. Meanwhile, Ryder moved forward, but part of her is still trapped in that past time. It wasn't just her love for Depp. She embodied a decade for Generation Jones and Gen X rebels, symbolized by the curious fact that she is naturally a blonde, but for decades has dyed her hair Gothic black:
Like John Cusack, another black haired/pale skinned 80s/90s idol, as well as a youth actor whose great, and perhaps only gift, was to enact a different kind of youth (a counter-youth and counter-masculinity) in his youth, Winona Ryder was never timeless, she was of the time. Most especially that brief time in her life, her teenage years and early twenties. Perhaps this is why Jake Gyllenhaal’s light hair was dyed jet-black for the retroactive DONNIE DARKO, and Christian Slater’s jet-black for HEATHERS. Something about dark hair showing up in the late 80s and early 90s as a form of retribution for an aesthetically fascistic and representationally narrow decade. These are people who were not kissed by the sun, who were not California Dreamin’, or, as the German writer Heinrich Laube puts it, ‘These pale youths are uncanny, concocting God knows what mischief.’ If, as the teenage radio pirate DJ, ‘Hard Harry’ puts it in PUMP UP THE VOLUME (1990), the 80s were a totally ‘exhausted decade, where there’s nothing to look forward to and no one to look up to’, Winona Ryder rose up from the bleached-blonde ashes of the 1980s.
Depp and Ryder started in gothic and horror genres. Their early work, like that of contemporaries Keanu Reeves, Parker Posey and River Phoenix, appeared in dark indie films or popular movies with unsettling vibes. Depp made his feature film debut in Nightmare on Elm Street (1984), in which he played a nice but useless boyfriend. These roles reflected a time, when, for a brief period, surreal depictions of the collective unconscious entered the American mainstream in almost unedited forms. It was remarkable. David Lynch, an American director surreal enough to be respected by Europeans, became popular, as his Twin Peaks exposed the underside of the American Dream.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Love and the Underworld

Years ago, I attended a high school of the arts and studied Visual Arts. One day, our teacher presented the unruly, noisy class with Jan van Eyck's The Arnolfini Portrait (1434). "Shut up and look at it!" he yelled, "What do you see?" The portrait depicts a couple getting married. But the more you look at the painting of this happy day in Bruges, the more it appears that something is very wrong. What, for example, is that little horned and hoofed gremlin thing sitting right over the wife's right wrist? Or the animal - a cat? - below her wrist?

The man, Giovanni Arnolfini, was thought to be holding the hand of his second Flemish wife, Giovanna (Jeanne) Cenami. Arnolfini is holding his wife's hand with his left hand, suggesting that this was a morganatic marriage and she was of lower social rank. Image Source: Wiki. The painting is in the National Gallery, London.

"She's pregnant." someone said. "Yeah." our teacher said, "What else?" I remember that we spent some time discussing it and could not find an answer. The portrait is full of messages, all pointing to something cryptic. The wedding to a pregnant bride makes no sense, since at that time, for people of this class, a woman would fall visibly pregnant well after marriage. Why would a respectable, wealthy businessman pay the artist to depict him and his wife in a shotgun wedding? And who gets married in their bedroom? Even more oddly, Arnolfini died without an heir.

Image Source: Art Chronicler.

Indeed, the portrait is screaming something at the viewer; but van Eyck (1390-1441) hid its message in plain sight. This is because when we see a couple in love, we project all kinds of expectations and stories onto their united image. We expect the symbols - a mix of secular and religious ideas - to add up to a message about love. But here, they do. And they don't.
  • The shoes are symbols of the soul.
  • The man's shoes are outdoor shoes. The woman's shoes are indoor shoes.
  • The toes of the man's shoes point outdoors and out of the picture. The heels of the woman's shoes point into the picture, at the couple.
  • The woman's presumably bare feet are symbols of fertility
  • The composition divides the picture down the middle between the couple.
  • The dog further divides the couple and is thought by some to represent fidelity or sexual tension.
  • The writing on the wall, a signature of the artist, states, "Jan Van Eyck was here, 1434."
  • The mirror shows the painting inside the painting, creating a nested view. There are several views: the viewer looking at the painting (crossing the 4th wall of the onlooker, i.e. our world); the original real world view of van Eyck as he painted the picture (4th wall of the artist, outside the world created by the painting); the conventional portrait (the basic happy picture as presented looking forward, the apparent reality of the wedding depicted inside the painting); the view of the portrait from inside the mirror (a darker view, looking backward through the scene, observed from inside the painting), which is also a self-portrait of the artist. The symbols add additional layers of reality to the picture.
  • The mirror shows two figures you can't otherwise see, who are facing the couple. One is the artist - and one is someone or something else dressed in red, peeking over the artist's shoulder.
  • The couple are taking their oath before the artist and another figure, not a minister.
Close-up of the mirror. Image Source: Kenney Mencher.

Portraiture is a genre of painting that creates expectations from viewers. Even from van Eyck's time, the late Middle Ages on the cusp of the Renaissance, the painting already has conveyed a modern message of realism. For example, the fact that the lady is shown as pregnant in a wedding composition is considered very modern, a step away from the idealized medieval images. Some art historians have argued that she is not pregnant and it is merely the style of her dress, but that seems counter-intuitive.

Many websites on the Internet attempt to decode this masterpiece. My friend, C., brought up this portrait again recently because he saw a BBC video about it. I remembered that class where we walked away without an answer. And now, thanks to an art historian, this painting may be solved. Because the wife in this portrait is not only pregnant - she is also dead.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Love in the New Millennium 10: Tainted Love Reloaded

Image Source: DEG.

The blog is on a break now, but to celebrate Valentine's Day, below the jump, hear Soft Cell's 1981 classic, Tainted Love (originally composed in 1964), as played by thirteen archaic computer floppy disk drives and one hard drive (Hat tip: Science Channel). You can see all my posts on love, here.

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, February 14, 2013

Valentine's Day

By Robert Herrick (1591-1674)

CHERRY-RIPE, ripe, ripe, I cry,
Full and fair ones ; come and buy.
If so be you ask me where
They do grow, I answer : There,
Where my Julia's lips do smile ;
There's the land, or cherry-isle,
Whose plantations fully show
All the year where cherries grow

Herrick is renowned for his poetry in the carpe diem genre. Wiki: "The over-riding message of Herrick’s work is that life is short, the world is beautiful, love is splendid, and we must use the short time we have to make the most of it."

His poem, "To the Virgins, to Make Much of Time," was quoted in the film, Dead Poets Society (1989) to illustrate seize the day sentiment. You can see that scene in my post here.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Countdown to Hallowe'en 13: Gothic Love, Romantic Death

Heathcliff on Cathy's grave. Image Source: Macmillan's Children's Publishing Group.

Gothic. Goths were eastern Germans who populated Central, Northern and Western Europe during the Roman period. Viewed by the Romans as barbarians, they were in fact sophisticated tribes. Early Gothic style, especially in architecturepejoratively recalled these peoples' cultures in France in the 12th century, and evolved into an eponymous late medieval style by the 16th century.

The reason the term 'Gothic' became synonymous with today's counter-culture was precisely because it was originally considered to be the barbarous or rude northern and western 'other,' contrasting with the persistent influence of Romans' Mediterranean classicism. The latter was especially popular in its revived forms through the Renaissance and again through the 18th and 19th centuries. In other words, these two strands in European culture - the Gothic alternative and the Roman mainstream if you will - are perpetually brought back into fashion to compete with one another, in different ways and ever-new forms.

By the 18th and 19th centuries, a Gothic Revival recalled medieval times and merged with the Romantic naturalist reaction against the cerebral, secular and neo-classicist Enlightenment.

From that time until today, love stories have lent themselves to contemplation of these trends, because the lovers and supporting characters represent opposing sides to these arguments. The pinnacle of English Gothic Romanticism must be the moment in  Emily Brontë's 1847 novel Wuthering Heights when Heathcliff embraces Cathy after death. Heathcliff represents raw, unbridled, violent and alien Romanticism. Cathy is a hybrid character who embodies Enlightenment ambitions and tastes, but she has a Romantic heart and soul. She dies as a result of her inability to reconcile these forces, her doomed love of Heathcliff becomes darkly Gothic.

Our contemplation of these forces continues. It is hard (and sad) to believe, but the lovers in Twilight and that series' sado-masochistic fanfic derivative, Fifty Shades of Grey, are the Millennial incarnations of Brontë's wild amorous protagonists.

Today, the Countdown to Hallowe'en continues exploring horror angles of this blog's themes, from love in the new Millennium, to the revival of 1920s' and 1930s' ideas during the 2000s and 2010s respectively. Below the jump, a clip from a film which presents the lovers of the Gothic Romantic, recast through the surreal lens of the 1930s. The film quoted is director Luis Buñuel's Spanish-Mexican version of Wuthering Heights, Abismos de Pasión. Buñuel originally adapted Brontë's novel in 1931.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Love in the Old Millennium

Crow and Heron, or Young Lovers Walking Together under an Umbrella in a Snowstorm, ca. 1769.  Suzuki Harunobu (Japanese, 1725–1770; Polychrome woodcut print on paper). Image Source: Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Time and romance: a topic of reverie, memory and contemplation. In another post, I mentioned a quote from the film, Crimes and Misdemeanors:
"You will notice that what we are aiming at when we fall in love is a very strange paradox. The paradox consists of the fact that, when we fall in love, we are seeking to re-find all or some of the people to whom we were attached as children. On the other hand, we ask our beloved to correct all of the wrongs that these early parents or siblings inflicted upon us. So that love contains in it the contradiction: The attempt to return to the past and the attempt to undo the past."
For love's paradox with the past, here are some words from one of the greatest modern Japanese poets, Kitahara Hakushū (pen-name of Kitahara Ryūkichi, born 5 January, 1885; died 2 November, 1942).  There is a review of a recent book about him, here (Hat tip: Michael Steger).  The review has a translation of one of Kitahara's tanka poems, which are masterworks of simplicity:

Tsume no urumi ni
Ochishi miruku mo
Natsukashi to minu
The drop of milk
Which had fallen
On the light red polish
Of her nails
Made me yearn for the past

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Love in the New Millennium 9: Love Them Robots

Robots that love you back. Image Source: Lovotics.

Happy Valentine's Day! For my earlier posts on Millennial romance, see my post on love and the Millennial male (here) and love and the Millennial female (here).  For today, here's something in between.  According to Slate, robotics researchers at the National University of Singapore have solved one of the peskiest problems of Millennial virtual romance: the lack of a physical connection. They have developed mechanical avatars that can transmit physical movements on either side of an Internet link. See below the jump for the robot that physically connects people via Skype, called the Kissinger.

Kissinger is made by the same lab staff who are developing something called the Mini Surrogate. I'll leave you to find out what that is. The researchers are also designing a robot, Lovotics, which can reciprocate human love.  I especially like the white plush hat they gave it. Oh, and the artificial endochrine system they're cooking up for it:
The novel advanced artificial intelligence system of Lovotics includes an Artificial Endocrine System (based on physiology of love), Probabilistic Love Assembly (based on psychology of love) and Affective State Transition (based on emotions) modules.

Psychological unit of the Lovotics artificial intelligence calculates probabilistic parameters of love between humans and the robot. Various parameters such as proximity, propinquity, repeated exposure, similarity, desirability, attachment, reciprocal liking, satisfaction, privacy, chronemics, attraction, form, and mirroring are taken into consideration.

Physiological unit of the Lovotics artificial intelligence employs artificial endocrine system consisting of artificial emotional and biological hormones. Artificial emotional hormones include Dopamine, Serotonin, Endorphin, and Oxytocin. For biological hormones Melatonin, Norepinephrine, Epinephrine, Orexin, Ghrelin, and Leptin hormones are employed which modulate biological parameters such as blood glucose, body temperature and appetite.
Warning: some of the activities below are simulated.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Love in the New Millennium 8: What Women Want

Aishwarya  Rai: Often considered the most beautiful woman in the world.

What do women want? Forgive the rhetorical generalizations, but lots of people would like to know, including many women.  This post is a companion piece to my post on men and love and the Internet, here. In that post, I concluded that one of the reasons men invented the Internet was because it was a great democratic equalizer when it comes to pursuing women. Also, the Internet allows men to resolve discrepancies between dissatisfaction in their current situations and their desired situations. They can do this fairly seamlessly - until they have to make their online virtual reality match up with their everyday reality. Despite these wrinkles, the masculine desires for freedom and equality when searching for a mate appear to be two of the driving forces behnd the Tech Boom.

But how do the Internet, and technology in general, reflect and reveal women's greatest desires?

Back in high school, my insane English teacher said: "Don't be fooled, Boys! Women say they want love! But what they really want is powerrrrr." He said he figured this out one day when he found himself peeling a grape for his granddaughter.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

There Is No Going Back

I am currently writing stories for a collection, and a line popped out at me last night while revising, in which one of the characters insists on living in the present:
He only cared about the present, “Because that’s all we have. You have to face the facts: it is too late. We are in the next thousand years already.There is no going back.”
While a mere calendar date (calendars are a science and a metafictional and metahistorical world in their own right) actually does not reflect anything other than how we count time, the Information and Technological Revolutions are real. And they just happened to overlap with a significant transition in the Gregorian calendar. The massive transformation of technology is making the turn of the Millennium significant; it is even making secular eschatologies, like Y2K or 2012, real.

I've written a lot on this blog about moral vacuums, aporia, and the Millennial collapse of values. But what is around the corner? Where are we going? What will replace the values and norms that are dying? Sub-cultures everywhere are channeling change and some are pointing toward a presumed future. See below the jump for a few examples.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Love in the New Millennium 7: Love on Your Own Terms

The Old Spice guy. Image Source: Geeksugar.

There is a great line in Citizen Kane: "A toast, Jedediah, to love on my terms. Those are the only terms anybody ever knows - his own." The movie was an early portrayal of malignant narcissism. Who could know that it would become the mantra of Internet dating in the new Millennium, 70 years later?

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Love in the New Millennium 6: Summer Solstice Stardust Reveries

Image Source: Glogster.

Welcome Summer!  Today marks the summer solstice in the northern hemisphere.  With it, a buzzing haze descends amid dreamy reminiscences.  Hoagy Carmichael's Stardust is one of the greatest songs ever written when it comes to capturing the way love leaves an indelible memory. Carmichael wrote it in Bloomington, Indiana in 1927. The lyrics were added in 1929 by Mitchell Parish.

Stardust (Carmichael/Parish 1927-1929)

And now the purple dusk of twilight time
Steals across the meadows of my heart
High up in the sky the little stars climb
Always reminding me that we're apart

You wandered down the lane and far away
Leaving me a song that would not die
Love is now the stardust of yesterday
The music of the years gone by

Sometimes I wonder why I spend
The lonely nights dreaming of a song
The melody haunts my reverie
And I am once again with you

When our love was new
And each kiss an inspiration
But that was long ago
And now my consolation
Is in the stardust of a song

And beside a garden wall
When stars are bright
You were in my arms
Nightingale tells it's fairy tale
Of paradise where roses grew

Though I dream in vain
In my heart it always will remain
My stardust melody
The memory of love's refrain

When our love was new
And each kiss an inspiration
Oh, but that was long ago
And now my consolation
Is in the stardust of a song

Beside a garden wall
When stars are bright
You were in my arms
The nightingale tell its fairy tale
Of paradise where roses grew

Though I dream in vain
In my heart it will remain
My stardust melody
The memory of love's refrain

The song always makes me think of a 1920s-Fitzgerald age immortalized in The Great Gatsby and its famous line regarding Gatsby watching the green light at the end of Daisy's dock:
"Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgiastic future that year by year recedes before us. It eluded us then, but that's no matter - tomorrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther … And one fine morning -

So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past."
Star-crossed love bends our understanding of time, mixing intense memories with hope - it's a state of mind that clings to past and future.  There's a nice post at The Great Jay Gatsby about the green light in that novel (that post is the source of the image below).  Below the jump, a famous rendition of Stardust by Nat King Cole.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Love in the New Millennium 5: Valentine's Day, Love and Time

Craig Thompson's Blankets.

It's Valentine's Day. A day, as Lisa Simpson might say, honouring a saint who was gruesomely killed then buried by the side of the road. Perhaps fittingly, St. Valentine refers to three different people, a priest, a bishop and a martyr who was lost in Africa. Pick your poison. The messiness of the holiday may derive from the fact that the Catholic Church probably superimposed the holiday over the ancient pastoral health and fertility festival of Lupercalia, which was observed in Roman and pre-Roman civilizations.  This festival was later dressed up in courtly love conventions derived from the late medieval and early Renaissance periods. Those conventions are now tied to marketing and spending money.  So how do we get back to the fundamentals and remember what love is all about?

Whether you are happily paired off, or single and eating chocolate and doing your best to ignore this day, almost everyone can agree on that little corner of memory they keep reserved for the one that got away or for 'the one.'  One of the best recent and most touching tributes to this kind of first love that I've seen is Craig Thompson's 2003 graphic novel, Blankets. Wiki gives details on the critical acclaim and prizes which the graphic novel received; it has been translated into several languages:
Thompson has said that the novel grew out of a simple idea: to describe what it feels like to sleep next to someone for the first time. In 2005, Time chose it as one of the 10 best English language, graphic novels ever written. ... Most critics considered it a milestone in the progress of the American graphic novel, not only in length but also in visual grace and technique. Critics have further hailed it as one of the best graphic novels in recent years, claiming that the book will be remembered for its superb execution a decade after publication. The Bloomsbury Review called it "a superb example of the art of cartooning: the blending of word and picture to achieve an effect that neither is capable of without the other." Time stated that Thompson's work "has set new bars for the medium not just in length, but breadth."
When I read it, I felt that Blankets got it right.  And the reviewers were correct.  The blend of image and narrative created a momentum that gave the very act of reading a sensation paralleling the unfolding of love.  The strip conveyed how love develops and easily exposes lovers' vulnerabilities.  It let the reader grasp the fear and pockets of uncertainty, the ebb and flow of communication that build intimacy and trust.  Ultimately, the story captured the riveting, transformative, breathless beauty of first love, a fleeting and riveting experience that is never lost.  It is also dedicated to showing how love transforms lovers - changing them, pulling them out of their worlds, turning them into different people.  If you want to contemplate love, read Blankets.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Love in the New Millennium 4: Lost and Secret Loves

Love and time. Love and politics. Our personal love stories are the little melodramas which furnish microcosmic backdrops for the sweep of world affairs.  They colour our individual memories of particular periods and signficant historical events. This might explain why novels like War and Peace and A Tale of Two Cities, which are about wars and revolutions, are anchored in romance.  The personal absence, loss or collapse of love in arts and literature can define the collapse of political or social order. The Neo-Classical painting above by Godward uses the loaded moment when two lovers are lolling in each other's presence to capture a parallel moment now lost to our civilization - an imagined golden arcadia in antiquity.

The 2006 remake All the King's Men , based on the famous 1946 American novel of the same name by Robert Penn Warren explored the dystopic alternative - Warren used love gone wrong as a metaphor for times gone wrong. Both the book and the film have a strong romantic subplot. The story is a fictitious account of the populist Huey Long. Long is now cited on political blogs as saying: "When Fascism comes to America, it will come under the guise of anti-Fascism." But that drama about the spread of mass politics and the election of the new populist governor depends heavily on a subplot about the romance of the narrator, Jack Burden, with the previous governor's daughter, Anne Stanton.

The romantic subplot follows Burden's larger problem with truth and time. Wiki: "Jack's overall character development might be roughly described as a journey away from an amoral perspective on human history as a chain of uncontrollable events, toward a belief in the fundamental interconnectedness of all of history. In other words, he might be said to trace a path from refusal to acceptance of personal responsibility. On the other hand, one defining trait that remains a constant throughout Jack's development is a passion for discovering the truth of history. [Jack says:] 'And all times are one time, and all those dead in the past never lived before our definition gives them life, and out of the shadow their eyes implore us. That is what all of us historical researchers believe. And we love truth.'"

You can read Robert Penn Warren's novel posted from Google Books, below the jump. On pages 311-312, Burden confronts his childhood sweetheart, Anne Stanton, about how their love affair went wrong.  He asks if the past they shared was so wonderful, why did it give way to this time, a time when he and the people he comes from are falling into decline.