TIMES, TIME, AND HALF A TIME. A HISTORY OF THE NEW MILLENNIUM.

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 Comics. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Comics. Show all posts

Sunday, November 10, 2019

New Post at The Dragonfly: The Joker as a Third Way Villain


Image Source: The Independent.

I have a new post up at The Dragonfly:

The Joker as a Third Way Villain

The post considers how psychologists replaced priests and why negative depictions of mental illness have supplanted demonology. This year's Joker film attempts to build on modern views of mental illness by reconciling rational and emotional aspects of villainy.


Friday, October 19, 2018

Hallowe'en Countdown 2018: The Formula for Consciousness




To unlock the mysteries of today's technology, some say you would have to start your investigation on the ballet stages of the 1840s. To get a flavour of European dance from that revolutionary period, today's post features some scans from a little book I own, published in 1948 by Batsford, entitled The Romantic Ballet. A centennial edition, it reprinted 1840s' coloured prints of prima ballerinas who were celebrated from 1840 to 1850. Click the images to enlarge.


These reprinted images from the 1840s display an occult visual vocabulary. For example, the three graces are three Greek goddesses - culture, beauty and creativity - later translated into the Christian theological virtues of faith, hope and charity. They are represented in the tarot deck as the Three of Cups.

Friday, February 9, 2018

Flights of the Immortals


RTA and Volocopter operate Autonomous Air Taxi (AAT) in Dubai (19 June 2017). Video Source: Youtube.

Flying cars have arrived, so the future is officially here. The new socio-economic divide will be evident to those still stuck in ground traffic, as they gaze high above their heads. A BBC World News television interviewee stated this week that the aim for these "future mobility ecosystems" was to,
"ease us into this before we go completely pilotless."
In the United States, regulators are currently opening up lower air space to drones and air taxis. The past few years have seen American property rights activists battling for citizens to retain some control over the airspace around and above them as an extension of private property they own - and of their own individual autonomy. After all, how low is 'lower airspace' when it comes to an unmanned aircraft system that is an ultra-tiny drone smaller than a gnat? Two inches above your head? Inside your ear canal? But really, like all the rest of hyper-accelerated technology, humankind seems helpless to resist the inevitable.

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Awaken the Amnesiacs 9: A True Mirror of a Better World



The preface to this post is a new piece I have published at Vocal Media:


Part of my series, Awaken the Amnesiacs, involves coming to terms with life in a surveillance state, where privacy has been lost. My earlier post, Reflection Reversal, introduced the idea that computer screens and monitors act like mirrors which turn viewers into objects, rather than subjects.

The core of this idea is the fact that we think we are in control of technology. Tools are objects and we are subjects. Right? We think we are using computers to empower and express ourselves. But there is a warning sign in our addiction to technology.

Our technology is constantly subliminally objectifying us, enslaving us, and siphoning off our energy. This unconscious inversion of individual integrity is creating underlying cognitive dissonance, tension, anxiety, and stress. As a result, we are absolutely convinced that 'something is wrong' with the whole world. There is endless harping, conflict and confusion over 'who is to blame' for this grating distress. It never occurs to us that 'what is wrong' is the lens we are using to view reality, not reality itself, nor the people [insert annoying/threatening group here] who bother us.

Thus, part of resolving 'what is wrong' with the world is not to: ramp up our attacks on the annoying people who bother us; or to withdraw into depressive, individual introspection; or to get lost in wacky spiritual practices or cults; or to become engrossed in conspiracy theories as a comforting alt-reality; or to lose yourself in virtual reality environments like Facebook or video games; or to heal what is wrong by self-sacrificing to aid the world and help others; or to immerse yourself  completely in the real world, like work, job, bank account, and hard, cold facts no matter what ...

Part of resolving 'what is wrong' with the world involves reconsidering the art of perception and self-perception in the turbulent times of the nascent surveillance state.

So how should we define ourselves? As we see ourselves, as others see us, or as technology sees us? The conventional self-help wisdom these days is to define ourselves from the inside out, not the outside in. We are counseled to know ourselves, and to go forth in the world in an authentic and grounded way.

The Limits of Consciousness

Your brain hallucinates your conscious reality | Anil Seth (18 July 2017). Video Source: Youtube.

Good luck with that! Before you can get past the social contract, the job, the expectations, the cv - before you can tame your ego and become a soulful human being through internal consciousness and then try to awaken beyond consciousness - and before you can even get to the fact that computers are constantly undermining that process - there is another problem.

Consciousness -- the final frontier | Dada Gunamuktananda | TEDxNoosa 2014 (16 April 2014). Video Source: Youtube.

The True Mirror

We almost never see ourselves accurately, at least physically. Because we primarily have used mirrors to see ourselves, we do not see ourselves correctly, nor do we know how others see us.

Robbie Burns Day just passed, and the great Scottish poet wrote in his 1786 poem, To a Louse:
"in the original Scottish, 'O wad some Power the giftie gie us, to see oursels as ithers see us!' Or, in modern English, 'Oh would some Power the gift give us, to see ourselves as others see us.'"

Sunday, November 5, 2017

The Irony of Anonymity


Image Source: Alamy.

Today is the 5th of November, and so the blog is devoted to the Million Mask March and snapshots of the Guy Fawkes mask from Alan Moore's V for Vendetta, which has become a worldwide symbol of hacktivism.

Last year, a variation of the mask was sold by Venetian maskmakers, joining the medieval with the Millennial. The Mascherade confirms that, in Venice, the mask freed people from the strictures on social identity:
"Venetian masks are a centuries-old tradition of Venice, Italy. The masks are typically worn during the ... Carnival of Venice ... but have been used on many other occasions in the past, usually as a device for hiding the wearer's identity and social status. The mask would permit the wearer to act more freely in cases where he or she wanted to interact with other members of the society outside the bounds of identity and everyday convention. It was useful for a variety of purposes, some of them illicit or criminal, others just personal, such as romantic encounters."
One blog, Licence to Mask, examines this old Venetian idea, proving that anonymity is not new; that blog also connects the Bauta mask to today's anonymity on the Internet:
"The mask was standardized and its use was regulated by government to give Venetian citizens the freedom to do business, to pursue interests on their own and to take part in political activities without being identified while still being recognized and respected as legitimate and honorable members of the Venetian society.

I would like to find out if this concept could be a paradigm for internet identity management and anonymity concepts."
Of course, Bauta masks figured prominently in Stanley Kubrick's Eyes Wide Shut, which is based on Arthur Schnitzler's Traumroman (Dream Story). Kubrick's film fueled conspiracists' speculations about the Illuminati. It is supremely ironic that the anti-establishment online movement is masked as well, and using the same principle of anonymity that the current western establishment employed when it was in its youth, at the onset of the modern era.

Image Source: Licence to Mask.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

You Can't Go Home Again: DC Judas Contract Review


Still from Teen Titans: The Judas Contract (2017) © DC/Warner. Reproduced non-commercially under Fair Use. Image Source: The Good Men Project.

Some of the most popular posts I ever wrote on this blog took me back to the summer before I left home for the first time to go away to school. I was 14. In that period before first independence, I read DC Comics' The Judas Contract. This is a story about a 16-year-old girl, Tara Markov, who tries to kill her boyfriend and friends to please a much older man with whom she is having sex. When she fails, she kills herself.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Image of the Day: Godzilla: Rage Across Time


Image Source: Nerdist.

Now trending on Twitter, THAT is a comic book cover! This is IDW's Godzilla: Rage Across Time #1, written by Jeremy Robinson, with art by Matt Frank, published 24 August 2016. The book sees the giant lizard transported to different time periods, and is getting rave reviews from sites such as The Moon is a Dead World. Outright Geekery explains how a 1950s' nuclear monster has traveled in this first issue back to the 13th century:
"In 1954 Ishiro Honda unleashed his atom bomb allegory Gojira on the world. In the sixty years that followed the titular character of that terrifying monster-noir has been many things; archetypal force of nature, protector of children, even a militant environmentalist (Gojira vs Hedorah aka Godzilla vs The Smog Monster). ... Beyond all of that however, the irrepressible king of all daikaiju has become a beloved international cultural icon. In his homeland, the big guy has become something akin to a traditional folktale.

It is this aspect of Godzilla that is at the forefront of this first issue of IDW’s Godzilla Rage Across Time. A new mini-series that puts everyone’s favorite radioactive giant badass lizard into various historic periods. ... [In the first issue,] writer Jeremy Robinson and artist Matt Frank ... set this first installment in the land of Godzilla’s birth during the first Mongol invasion of 1274.

Kublai Khan’s horde, along with two evil kaiju, have arrived at Hakata Bay under the command of 'Dragon Master' Zhenjin Khan. Two feuding heroes, samurai Gorou Suda and ninja Akio of the Bamboo Forest must go on a quest to save Japan by awakening a mighty champion who will vanquish the invaders."
Godzilla: Rage Across Time #1 (page 1) © IDW. Click to enlarge. Image Source: deviantART. Full opening page preview at SciFi Japan.

See all my posts on Nuclear topics.
See all my posts on Time Travel.
Click here for my posts on Comics.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Mind and Government, Terror and Ideology: Reframed


1907 photograph of an 1872 Leon Berger model guillotine, stored with its body basket. The photograph was reproduced by someone who currently makes historic replicas of guillotines. There had to be someone out there doing this. Oddly, there is more than one. Some people make mini-guillotines as a side hobby. The 1792 French Revolution guillotine mini-model plans are offered to aspiring carpenters on the Internet for USD $38, here. The finished mini-model (perfect for your back yard?) is here; the full-sized 1792 model, five times larger, built from the same plans for a Belgian museum, is here. Image Source: Bois de Justice.

This post was written before the terrorist attacks in Nice (14 July 2016) and Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray (26 July 2016). With regard to those attacks, no disrespect is intended in discussing today's anniversary of the end of the Terror during the French Revolution. To be clear, although this analysis runs up to the present, it does not source radical Islamic terrorism in the western political system. I would argue that jihadism has its own specific origins, although it ironically mirrors as nemesis a western concern with the relationship between fear and control in psychology and politics.

This post on politics is the second of three on how perceived understanding or framing of reality diverges from hard facts, and creates problems in the historical narrative. I have a theory that when human beings build governments and devise theories of government, they project outwardly their awareness of the inner structure of the human psyche. That is, when we build and control society in the outer world, we embed how we think, perceive and feel into those constructions. And if there are parts of ourselves we would rather not face, we embed the suppression, too.

On a basic level, it makes sense. We fear our capacity for savagery and bloodshed, and know that the hell-pit at the dark end of the behavioural spectrum is something we ought to avoid. That is why the idea of climbing toward something higher through renewed social order is so appealing. The initial drive begins with a justified fear of the demons inside us and a moral journey to find the "better angels of our nature."

The French Revolution presents a powerful example of that journey and its challenges. Today marks the 222nd anniversary of the end of the Terror (6 September 1793 - 28 July 1794), a period of mass execution of enemies of the Revolution. It is ironic that 'terror' - described today as the greatest nemesis of global civilization - played a critical part of the establishment of modern western politics. Although there were revolutionary precursors in England and America, the founding moment began with the French Revolution. Everything we take for granted, from left-wing and right-wing politics, to the basic rights of human beings, was most clearly expressed there.

Today's post reconsiders the circumstances in which the west's current political ideologies developed, to see how the story of rational modern politics diverged from its reality. The French Revolution came dressed in the rhetoric of liberty, equality and fraternity, respectively sources of liberalism, socialism and nationalism. Revolutionaries changed how we measure time, months, hours, days. 18th century perceptions of time were different from post-revolutionary modern ones. The revolutionaries standardized weights and measures - previously a privilege of the nobility - with the creation of the metric system. They developed the modern media in their propaganda. They overturned a corrupt and bankrupt absolutist monarchical system, a privileged nobility and aristocracy, and a dominant clergy.

They did it through a commitment to rationalism. 1789's Tennis Court Oath was a pledge to develop a constitution, made in the spirit of earlier writings from the empiricist political philosopher and father of modern liberalism, John Locke (1632-1704). Locke's plan for government derived from his view of psychology. With his certainty that the mind was a tabula rasa, Locke insisted on experiential and logical systems of governance. He espoused the natural rights of man, of life, liberty, and property. He protected those innate values was through the social contract, imposed from outside upon the consenting individual in an embrace of nuture over nature. But starting with man's natural rights, he maintained that no one is innately superior to anyone else. He removed God and superstition from human politics, government and law, by stating that all men were divinely appointed to their state in nature. There was no divine right of kings: all people are equal.

From that natural and secular socialist equality, Locke derived fraternity and liberty as human beings left the pure state of nature and entered the body politic. As far as fraternity was concerned, toleration depended on having sufficiently enlightened, educated and morally informed citizens, who understood that some surrender of liberty was necessary to maintain a commonwealth. That social contract, if properly ordered, would clearly broadcast the principles and preconditions of mutual tolerance inside a nation. Within those non-totalitarian bounds, liberal citizens were free.

Locke influenced the French philosophes, notably Voltaire (1694-1778) and Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712-1778). Further principles of liberty and separate powers came from other Enlightenment thinkers such as Montesquieu (1689-1755) to form the familiar 18th century values of the American constitution and the French Revolution. These thinkers drew the line between a divine source for the unified Church and State in absolutist monarchical systems and enlightened, secular, humanist, rationalist, democratic republics, with a separated Church and State. According to Montesquieu, there were underlying collective psychological trends in political development toward victory or defeat. Different types of government used varying core principles to drive those trends. The transition from monarchy to republic marked a shift in principles from honour to public virtue. But what must be avoided above all was a loss of liberty through fear. Wiki:
"[T]here were three main forms of government, each supported by a social 'principle': monarchies (free governments headed by a hereditary figure, e.g. king, queen, emperor), which rely on the principle of honor; republics (free governments headed by popularly elected leaders), which rely on the principle of virtue; and despotisms (enslaved governments headed by dictators), which rely on fear."
Thus, removing God from everyday government had created an interesting philosophical gap in the conception of modern politics. The unknown and unknowable had to be understood in new rational ways, or they would give rise to fear and dictatorship. In Some Thoughts Concerning Education (1693), Locke cautioned against raising children by intimidating them with fear. He warned against servants filling children's heads with fear of the dark, or goblins and monsters. Infantile superstition and threats bred subjection in grown men:
"Such bug-bear thoughts once got into the tender minds of children, and being set on with a strong impression from the dread that accompanies such apprehensions, sink deep, and fasten themselves so as not easily, if ever, to be got out again; and whilst they are there, frequently haunt them with strange visions, making children dastards when alone, and afraid of their shadows and darkness all their lives after. I have had those complain to me, when men, who had been thus used when young; that though their reason corrected the wrong ideas they had taken in, and they were satisfied that there was no cause to fear invisible beings more in the dark than in the light, yet that these notions were apt still upon any occasion to start up first in their prepossessed fancies, and not to be removed without some pains. ...

And to let you see how lasting and frightful images are, that take place in the mind early, I shall here tell you a pretty remarkable but true story. There was in a town in the west a man of a disturbed brain, whom the boys used to teaze when he came in their way: this fellow one day seeing in the street one of those lads, that used to vex him, stepped into a cutler’s shop he was near, and there seizing on a naked sword, made after the boy; who seeing him coming so armed, betook himself to his feet, and ran for his life, and by good luck had strength and heels enough to reach his father’s house before the mad-man could get up to him. The door was only latch’d; and when he had the latch in his hand, he turn’d about his head, to see how near his pursuer was, who was at the entrance of the porch, with his sword up ready to strike; and he had just time to get in, and clap to the door to avoid the blow, which, though his body escaped, his mind did not. This frightening idea made so deep an impression there, that it lasted many years, if not all his life after. For, telling this story when he was a man, he said, that after that time till then, he never went in at that door (that he could remember) at any time without looking back, whatever business he had in his head, or how little soever before he came thither he thought of this mad-man."
Locke's rational suppression, denial and dismissal of fear remained a weak alternative to the absolutist monarch's God. Given his denial of a priori knowledge and insistence on a posteriori knowledge, Locke faced the dilemmas of the rationalist, locked inside his own mind, guided only by his sense impressions of the world. Locke did consider what lay beyond empirical experience. In chapter 27 of An Essay Concerning Human Understanding (1689), he argued that worldly identity depended on an eternal, immaterial soul, incarnated in a physical body in the real world. In one example, that notion led him to suggest that a human being's worldly personal identity was distinct from the soul's consciousness. Worldly personality did not extend beyond the individual's rational thoughts, memories and life experiences. An eternal soul would have had past human lives, but a temporal individual personality housing that soul would have no memory of those past lives. In other words, Locke admitted that there were things beyond a posteriori awareness, but we have no rational access to them. Our only access to consciousness when building our personal identities would be through real life experiences and the memory of real life experiences. And that was the rock on which modern political order must be built.

However, when it came time to build the rational project during the French Revolution, to bring down the absolutist monarchy and remove God from government, the unknown manifested in the undertaking, in the form of the irrational element of fear. The rationalization of western politics depended on the Terror, on force as an instrument of fear to impress conformity to those ideals. Modern politics sealed a commitment to high intentions, rejected superstition and hereditary inequality; but it did so through mass intimidation and mass killing. From a psychological point of view, this means that when we strive toward highest purpose, we are still enmeshed in lowest impulses. The history of the French Revolution reflects a conscious-unconscious duality, as western political ideals emerged from bloodshed. The complete formula of the French Revolution would have been: liberty, equality, fraternity - and terror.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Rickrolling ISIS


Image Source: Academia Obscura.

In 2007, a bait-and-switch meme started on the Internet that tricked users into watching Rick Astley's 1987 hit Never Gonna Give You Up (hear it here). The meme is called 'Rickrolling' and while it has brought Astley back into the spotlight, by August 2015 he had earned only $12 from the prank because he has performer's rights to the song; profits from Rickrolling went to the very fortunate song-writing trio, Stock Aitken Waterman. Astley remains sanguine: "Listen, I just think it’s bizarre and funny. My main consideration is that my daughter doesn’t get embarrassed about it." Above, from Academia Obscura, a student's physics paper on Niels Bohr. Bohr, the 1922 Nobel Prize winner in Physics, modeled the atom in the 1920s, helped refugees flee the Nazis in the 1930s, worked at the Manhattan Project in the 1940s, and helped establish CERN in the 1950s.

Anonymous cyber-revenge campaign after the 13 November 2015 Paris attacks. Video Source: RT via Youtube.

The Young Turks opinion on Anonymous campaign against ISIS (16 November 2015). Video Source: Youtube.

The Rickrolling meme is resilient. A day after the Paris attacks on 14 November 2015, Anonymous began to spam and troll Twitter users with pro-ISIS terrorist hashtags by diverting their traffic to Rick Astley's video. This Rickrolling performs as a type of data-mining, in which Anonymous hackers keep track of those diverted to the video and mark them for cyber-attacks. The hackers use social media information to steal ISIS Bitcoin cryptocurrency holdings and they attack them on the Dark Net. They renewed this effort after the Brussels attacks on 22 March 2016. This is the hackers' reverse humour against ISIS operatives and sympathizers: never gonna give you up.

However, as I have commented before on this blog, it would be naïve to imagine Anonymous as purely heroic actors, after one has had a taste of their New World Order and World War III conspiracy theories, here, here, here and here. The campaigns against ISIS are related to Anonymous cyber-attacks on the Belgian government under hashtag #DownSecBelgium. On their announcement that they will rally at Place de la Concorde in Paris, France on 10 June 2016, one Youtuber was skeptical: "rien à voire avec Anonymous, c'est un fake."

Anonymous hacker campaign announced in French against ISIS one day after the Paris attacks (14 November 2015). Video Source: Youtube.

Anonymous hacker campaign announced in French against ISIS on the same day as the Brussels attacks (22 March 2016). Video Source: Youtube.

Friday, April 15, 2016

The Canals of Earth


A great cover for Martian Comics #5 (2016) with art by David A. Frizell is a homage to the classic film, A Voyage to the Moon (1902). Image Source: Martian Lit.

See images today from a Kickstarter campaign for a comic book about Martians' view of Earth, The Canals of Earth!
"Humans have long looked to the sky and wondered about Mars. What if someone was looking back? The Canals of Earth is the story of how Mars sees Earth, running from Martian prehistory to its space age. We begin in Martian prehistory, when Martians looked to the skies and imagined Earth as a goddess. We see some of the Martian mythology about Earth, tied to the invention of writing. We then see Martian science-fiction, in which they imagined aliens in their own image."
This comic, fifth in the series Martian Comics (2014-present; details here) is written by Julian Darius, with art by Mansjur Daman and colours by Diego Rodriguez. Darius has a doctorate in English Literature and founded the Sequart Organization, which promotes sequential artwork in graphic novels and comic books as a legitimate art form. You can still support the Canals of Earth project here until 27 April 2016.

While the imagery of the comic's cover is taken from the turn-of-the-century French film, A Voyage to the Moon (see it below), the book's title is taken from late 19th century studies that there were canals on Mars, based on observations of the Red Planet by astronomers Giovanni Schiaparelli (1835-1910), Percival Lowell (1855-1916), and Charles E. Burton (1846-1882).

First page (click to enlarge). Image Source: Martian Lit.

Martian Comics #5. Image Source: Kickstarter.

Kickstarter promo video, Martian Comics #5, The Canals of Earth!

The iconic image of the Man in the Moon from Le Voyage dans la Lune (1902). Image Source: Wiki.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Fifth Dimensional Memory and the Fortress of Solitude


Image Source: engadget.

In the quest to store information permanently, the University of Southampton has developed a memory chip so durable that it will last until after our sun burns out:
Using nanostructured glass, scientists from the University’s Optoelectronics Research Centre (ORC) have developed the recording and retrieval processes of five dimensional (5D) digital data by femtosecond laser writing. ...

Coined as the ‘Superman memory crystal’, as the glass memory has been compared to the “memory crystals” used in the Superman films, the data is recorded via self-assembled nanostructures created in fused quartz. The information encoding is realised in five dimensions: the size and orientation in addition to the three dimensional position of these nanostructures.

Professor Peter Kazansky, from the ORC, says: “It is thrilling to think that we have created the technology to preserve documents and information and store it in space for future generations. This technology can secure the last evidence of our civilisation: all we’ve learnt will not be forgotten.”

The researchers will present their research at the photonics industry's renowned SPIE Photonics West—The International Society for Optical Engineering Conference in San Francisco, USA this week. The invited paper, ‘5D Data Storage by Ultrafast Laser Writing in Glass’ will be presented on Wednesday 17 February [2016]. The team are now looking for industry partners to further develop and commercialise this ground-breaking new technology. Contact Professor Peter Kazansky to find out more. Learn more about the SPIE Photonics West conference and exhibition. Read about the special legacy gift presentation made to UNESCO in celebration of the IYL2015 [International Year of Light and Light-Based Technologies 2015].
In a related report from 17 February 2016, Engadget revealed Southampton's curious mixed impulse toward the ultra-new and ever-permanent:
Researchers at the University of Southampton's Optical Research Center announced on Tuesday that they've perfected a technique that can record data in 5 dimensions and keep it safe for billions of years. The method etches data into a thermally stable disc using femtosecond laser bursts. The storage medium itself holds up to 360 TB per disc, can withstand temperatures up to 1000 degrees C and are estimated to last up to 13.8 billion years at room temperature without degrading.

Each file is comprised of three layers of nanoscale dots. The dots' side and orientations, as well as their position within the three standard dimensions, constitute its five dimensions. These dots change the polarization of light travelling through the disc which is read using a microscope and polarizer.

... In the three years since their first demonstration, they've ... recorded the entirety of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), Newton's Opticks, Magna Carta and Kings James Bible.

"It is thrilling to think that we have created the technology to preserve documents and information and store it in space for future generations," Professor Peter Kazansky from the ORC said in a statement. "This technology can secure the last evidence of our civilisation: all we've learnt will not be forgotten."
To make their research accessible to the public, scientists exploit popular culture and so must not complain when the masses comprehend science with pseudoscientific labels and mystical weirdness. Tagging this memory chip with fifth dimensional capabilities shows the University of Southampton's media-savvy, and they have asked us to respond with one big "quantum wow." Anything in '5D' is incredibly popular right now; it is a pseudoscientific catch phrase, like 2016's anti-ageing creams, which claim to work by altering your DNA. Invoking the fifth dimension in a press release alludes to a gnostic vault up to a supra-spiritual existence. 5D is a loosely-grasped point of perspective, above regular three-dimensional reality and the fourth dimension of spacetime. I have previously alluded to 5D concepts herehere, here and here.

Superman in his polar citadel, the Fortress of Solitude, stocked with memory crystals. Image Source: Superman Homepage.

Southampton's optics researchers do not show much interest in the deeper meaning of durable memory, of what it means to preserve knowledge until after our sun burns out. If they knew anything about the Superman story, they would understand that crystallized memory implies a push beyond the normal human capacity to remember, toward the alienated superhuman, into the moral and physical challenges of permanent isolation.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Figures and Fantasies



Congratulations and props to Thomas Haller Buchanan, who crowdfunded USD $19,343 on Kickstarter in January 2015 to publish his book of art and illustrations, Facts. Figures. Fantasies. His book arrived today in the mail. Thom was valiant through the whole huge journey, starting with the funding campaign, when some big backers pulled out at the last minute. On Kickstarter, if you do not meet your goal, you lose all pledges. Other donors stepped in to ensure the campaign was successful and Thom's sketches and personal story as an artist, along with his finished Pre-Raphaelite- and Art-Nouveau-styled works, saw print. This is what the Internet was supposed to be about.

Renpet - Egyptian Goddess of Eternity.

Thom runs the beautiful blog, The Pictorial Arts, which follows the fin-de-siècle style, circa 1890-1930, through the 20th century and into the 21st century. In reading Thom's blog, I have better understood the historical continuity in illustration. Images from 19th century artists like Arthur Rackham and Henry Justice Ford became the dominant visual style in marketing and mass media, and influenced architecture, interior design, automobile design, garden layoutsfashion, magazine ads, calendarscomic book art, cinema, photography, sculptures - and even stylized popular behaviour - up to the present day.  In 2013, I interviewed Thom (here) about an arts and culture journal he is developing. Thom was the second person to become a regular follower of Histories of Things to Come, for which I am most grateful.

Allegory of Conscious Time.


Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Providence


Providence #6 (released 25 November 2015), art by Jacen Burrows. The cover depicts Alumni Hall at Saint Anselm College in Goffstown, New Hampshire, USA. Image Source: Avatar Press. (Hat tip: Facts in the Case.)

The sixth issue of Alan Moore's Providence, which revives the visceral horror of H. P. Lovecraft, hits shops today. I am still recovering after reading the first five issues. It is a harrowing series, in which a post-World War I journalist is lured into a meta-historical New England underworld that is terrifying, disturbing, taboo and disgusting.

Moore often addresses questions long before they enter common consideration. Ironically, this is because of his deeply historical perspective of human nature. In 2006, the Guy Fawkes mask worn by Moore's anarchist terrorist character in his 1980s' comic series V for Vendetta became the face of global hacktivism and later, of the Occupy movement. Moore hails from Northampton and his outlook is partly shaped by that city's fateful support of Parliament against King Charles I during the English Civil War. The Gunpowder Plot in which Fawkes figured in November 1605 prefaced the Civil War (1642-1651). Late last year, Moore finished his magnum opus about Northampton. It is entitled Jerusalemhis final manuscript was sent off to his publisher with a final word count of over one million words. The editors will want him to cut it, but as he put it, "that's not going to happen." He stated the novel is, "longer than the Bible ... and with a better afterlife scenario." Moore confirmed that Jerusalem is a giant meditation on how the arcane world combines a resistance to fate and government; he deals with mathematics, the English Civil War, predestination and Cromwell; and "I realized [it] would [also] be about the development of economic policy, since Isaac Newton was put in charge of the mint." This year, in Providence, Moore has turned from politics to themes relevant in today's struggle against terrorist violence: what we fear and how we deal with it.

Saint Anselm College, Alumni Hall. Image Source: flickr.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Bloom County is Back


Image Source: Facebook.

Bloom County, the beloved 1980s' American alt-politics comic strip that out-alted them all has returned after 25 years. Cartoonist Berkeley Breathed announced the return, which may or may not have had something to do with Donald Trump's presidential candidacy, on Facebook on 13 July 2015. Bloom County grew out of a late 1970s' comic, The Academia Waltz, from Breathed's student days and inspired sequels Outland (1989-1995) and Opus (2003-2008).

Laugh of the Day: Minute by Minute



The cartoon above is from Gary Clement at Canada's National Post (27 December 2014). Clement pokes fun at the six-volume autobiography of Norwegian novelist Karl Ove Knausgård, My Struggle (Min kamp), known for its minute-by-minute examination of all minutiae of the author's life. It was a publishing sensation. Unlike Clement's cartoon, there was nothing funny about the personal outcome. Knausgård admitted that in exposing so many intimate details about himself and those close to him, he committed an "unmoral" act and gave away his soul. But he said: "The point was not to please. It was to speak the truth. To write reality." The first volume was published in 2009, the last in 2011; the whole series is 3,600 pages long.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Memespace Hyperventilation


Palaces in the sky: Dark Roasted Blend recently celebrated the incredible visions of French science fiction comics from the 1970s, which American and British directors mimicked in comics and cinema in the 1980s and 1990s. Image Source: Jean-Claude Mézières via Dark Roasted Blend (Hat tip: Me and You and a Blog Named Boo).

On 27 February 2015, Richard Branson encouraged entrepreneurs to come forward to share and expand new ideas. That's great, although some of the big biz riffing around the future celebrates the new idea of the new idea. One never actually gets to a new idea. The out-of-control lingo-about-lingo about the newness-of-newness reminds me of the explosion of Postmodern Expert Speak in the 1990s, which constructed new foundations of intellectual cultural authority.

The Valérian and Laureline "series focuses on the adventures of the dark-haired Valérian, a spatio-temporal agent, and his redheaded female companion, Laureline, as they travel the universe through space and time." Above, "Baroque spaceships (complete with ghost-ridden halls and gargoyles sticking out into the void of space)." Image Source: Dark Roasted Blend.

Mr. Branson quoted commenter Jason Silva, a photogenic Gen Y guru, who is a one-man meme generator and Singularity freestyle philosophical poet. He is compelling and makes good points, but there is something weird about the way he takes the Tech Revolution so literally and with such breathless utopian fervour. His clever rants reach height after height against IMAX effects. His videos are fantastic, if you like the Singularity Themepark Channel. His Youtube commentaries are part of the TestTube Network, which shares an unreflective undergraduate confidence that its contributors can fix the world, or at least understand it, if they edit it and add a soundtrack to it.

Silva's enthusiasm reminds me of the glassy-eyed idealism around the founding of America, or the Revolution in France. He joyously accepts the demolition of temporal boundaries and celebrates breaches of physical and cognitive limitations. He lacks a sense of Techno-Irony about the separate virtual lives enjoyed by his Online Language and Online Ego. To illustrate how Silva can be pithy yet simultaneously hollow, compare his Existential Bummer (the last video below) about death and a life beyond with another writer on similar topics. See Kate Sherrod's Story Sonnets: Infected (24 February 2015) and Who's the Real Crook Here? (23 February 2015).

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Freezing Time Before the Watershed


The Ballad of Narayama (1958) concerns the Japanese legendary practice of ubasute, or, abandoning the elderly in the mountains to die. Different characters obediently accept the practice or violently reject it. Image Source: QBranch.

In story-telling, there are several famous characters who try to freeze time before a watershed moment changes everything. They are traumatized by the moment of change and their rigid attachment to the past is almost always self-destructive. Perhaps this is a way of defining a ghost, someone who acts against the course of the world's destiny and becomes trapped in one frame of time, rather than moving along through many frames of time.

The need to accept change  in order to live in a healthy manner is the larger reason for the ancient injunction: Don't look back. This is the message in myth and religion, as with Orpheus and Eurydice or Lot's wife. Fables, ghost stories and superstitions are full of warnings against mirrors that can capture a hostile past, reflect it back at you, and trap you forever.

"Lot's Wife" pillar, Mount Sodom, Israel. Image Source: Wiki.

Sodom's destruction. Lot and his daughters escape, while his wife turns to a pillar of salt. 12th century mosaic, Duomo di Monreale, Sicily. Image Source: Wiki.

Lot leaving Sodom, with his wife looking back. Woodcut from the Nuremberg Chronicle (1493) by Michel Wolgemut and Wilhelm Pleydenwurf.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

The Cultural Footprint of Jodorowsky's Dune


Image Source: Amazing Stories.

For every generation, there is a window of opportunity to create what Chilean director Alejandro Jodorowsky's son Brontis called, "a dreamed life." This is the Beautiful Alternative, the path not followed, the epitome of achievement not attained due to failure, impediments, lack of resources or similar circumstances. In cinema, Jodorowsky's 1970s' adaptation of Frank Herbert's Dune (1965) is considered by director Richard Stanley as "the greatest movie never made." A 2013 documentary on the subject argues that, at a critical time in the 1970s, this film marked the dividing line between what really matters artistically and real world limitations. And the fact that this particular film was not made because of monetary problems, and the unwillingness of the studios to bring such a radical vision to popular audiences, changed Hollywood and the entertainment industry forever.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Counting Down to Hallowe'en: Jonestown - Altruism, Violence, Fear


Testimony on Jonestown? (Look at her right hand.) BCW-944-BS Photo of Jim Jones Cult People's Temple Jonestown Guyana. Image Source © Tribune Photos Archive / Baltimore Sun Photo Archive / Wire Photo.

Caption for the above photograph: "This WIREPHOTO is straight from the newspaper's historical photo archive. Wirephotos are different than traditional photographic prints!  This print is the result of what used to be breakthrough technology (now completely obsolete) that allowed a photographic image to be scanned, transmitted over 'the wire' (telegraph, phone, satellite networks) and then printed at the receiving location.  They are often on thinner, slick paper (very similar to old thermal roll fax paper) and often fade or become sepia toned quicker than traditional silver halide prints.  Long removed from commercial use, these artifacts represent an important era in the history of news media."

Before 9/11, the largest loss of civilian American lives due to a deliberate act was the Jonestown Massacre of 18 November 1978. This pacifist American cult committed mass suicide under psychological duress exerted by their psychopathic priest, Reverend Jim Jones. The cult, the Peoples Temple, had been developing under Jones's leadership for some twenty years prior to their migration to Guyana, where they died after drinking cyanide-laced Kool-Aid. The act passed into public consciousness and generated an American expression describing how someone fully and foolishly accepts ideas which are fatally wrong: "He drank the Kool-Aid."

Before their mass suicide, the cult's guard squad hunted down and murdered an American Congressman and NBC news team who visited them on behalf of cultists' family members. An account of the grisly events is here.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Quote of the Day: Alan Moore on Editors


Image Source: Wired.

The quote of the day comes from Alan Moore, via Rob Brezsny's advice to Aquarians for the week of 25 September 2014:
Alan Moore is the British author who wrote the graphic novels Watchmen and V for Vendetta. He is now nearing completion of Jerusalem, a novel he has been working on for six years. It will be more than a million words long, almost double the size of Tolstoy's War and Peace, and 200,000 words bigger than the Bible. "Any editor worth their salt would tell me to cut two-thirds of this book," Moore told the New Statesman, "but that’s not going to happen." Referring to the author of Moby Dick, Moore adds, "I doubt that Herman Melville had an editor. If he had, that editor would have told him to get rid of all that boring stuff about whaling: 'Cut to the chase, Herman.'" Let's make Moore and Melville your role models in the coming week, Aquarius. You have permission to sprawl, ramble, and expand. Do NOT cut to the chase.
The Guardian reported that Moore finished Jerusalem a week and a half ago. The book explores a tiny area of Northampton, where Moore grew up, through stories of his family's past. The bearded sage will undoubtedly reach universal transcendence with this work: it spans many different radical writing styles, genres and ideas. Jerusalem is now with the copy-editors.

Moore has repeatedly argued that gods, as the products of our imaginations, are real entities, produced by the magic of artistic creativity. He became a ceremonial magician on his fortieth birthday as "a logical end step to my career as a writer." That didn't happen. Wiki:
"I believe that magic is art, and that art, whether that be music, writing, sculpture, or any other form, is literally magic. Art is, like magic, the science of manipulating symbols, words or images, to achieve changes in consciousness ... Indeed to cast a spell is simply to spell, to manipulate words, to change people's consciousness, and this is why I believe that an artist or writer is the closest thing in the contemporary world to a shaman."
See my earlier post on Moore's June 2013 interview with The Believer, on the subject of gods, art and magic, here.