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 Fantasy. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Fantasy. Show all posts

Saturday, February 23, 2019

Terminalia: Boundaries in Space and Time


Click to enlarge. The Feast Before the Altar of Terminus. (c. 1642) By Giovanni Benedetto Castiglione (1609 - 1664). Print, Italian, 17th century etching. 23 x 18.4 cm (9 1/16 x 7 1/4 in.) B.16. Harvard Art Museums / Fogg Museum, Louise Haskell Daly Fund, S6.97.1 Department of Prints, Division of European and American Art. Image Source: Wiki.

There is a saying in the country that "good fences make good neighbours." The origin of that sentiment comes from the ancient worship of the Roman god, Terminus.

Text Source. From: Samuel Ball Platner, Thomas Ashby, "Terminus, Fanum" in A Topographical Dictionary of Ancient Rome (London: Oxford University Press, 1929), p. 512.


Image Source: Particulations.

Click to enlarge. "Terminus is often pictured as a bust on a boundary stone, here the concedo nvlli or concedo nulli means 'yield no ground.'" Design for a Stained Glass Window with Terminus. (31 December 1524) By Hans Holbein the Younger. Pen and ink and brush, grey wash, watercolour, over preliminary chalk drawing, 31.5 × 25 cm, Kunstmuseum Basel. Holbein designed the window for the scholar and theologian Desiderius Erasmus of Rotterdam. Image Source: Wiki.

Today, February 23rd, was once a holiday known as Terminalia, when landowners in the Roman Republic, and later, the Empire would meet at fence lines and renew the boundaries of communities. They would decorate their property lines with flowers and offer food to Terminus. They might also sacrifice a baby animal to him. Accounts of the ritual vary. From Carnaval:
"On this day, landowners would honor the boundaries of their land at the bound[a]ry markers. Garlands were placed over the bound[a]ry stones, and altars were built near them. Offerings of grain and ho[n]ey were given by the children, and the adults would offer wine. Everyone was dressed in white, and were required to keep silent throughout the offerings. A picnic feast was held at the end of the ritual."
From Agile Complexification Inverter:
"The festival of the Terminalia was celebrated in Rome and in the country on the 23rd of February. The neighbors on either side of any boundary gathered around the landmark [the stones which marked boundaries], with their wives, children, and servants; and crowned it, each on his own side, with garlands, and offered cakes and, bloodless sacrifices. In later times, however, a lamb, or sucking pig, was sometimes slain, and the stone sprinkled with the blood. Lastly, the whole neighborhood joined in a general feast."
L'Avenaz Roman boundary marker in La Giettaz - French Alps. Image Source: Savoie Mont Blanc.

Busts of Terminus form a boundary. Image Source: Rome Across Europe.

Hadrian's wall just east of Cawfields quarry, Northumberland, UK in October 2005. Image Source: Velella / Wiki. See also: the Antonine Wall. The Wall in the Song of Ice and Fire books and Game of Thrones TV series by George R. R. Martin is based on these structures.

Public festivals for Terminus marked the limits of Rome, be it the city or the empire. At this point, agrarian life collided with military culture. The offerings were a celebration of division between people:
"The rites of the Terminalia included ceremonial renewal and mutual recognition of the boundary stone, the marker between properties. A garland would be laid on this marker by all parties to the land so divided."
After the offerings, neighbours would sing to the god and hold a feast together. It was a complex set of ideas, honouring being cut off from each other and yet being unified in that experience. The poet Ovid described the solemn atmosphere and the larger Roman military context in his poem, Fasti (On the Roman Calendar; read it here or here), translated in 2004 by A. S. Kline:
"When night has passed, let the god be celebrated
With customary honour, who separates the fields with his sign.
Terminus, whether a stone or a stump buried in the earth,
You have been a god since ancient times.
You are crowned from either side by two landowners,
Who bring two garlands and two cakes in offering.
An altar’s made: here the farmer’s wife herself
Brings coals from the warm hearth on a broken pot.
The old man cuts wood and piles the logs with skill,
And works at setting branches in the solid earth.
Then he nurses the first flames with dry bark,
While a boy stands by and holds the wide basket.
When he’s thrown grain three times into the fire
The little daughter offers the sliced honeycombs.
Others carry wine: part of each is offered to the flames:
The crowd, dressed in white, watch silently.
Terminus, at the boundary, is sprinkled with lamb’s blood,
And doesn’t grumble when a sucking pig is granted him.
Neighbours gather sincerely, and hold a feast,
And sing your praises, sacred Terminus:
'You set bounds to peoples, cities, great kingdoms:
Without you every field would be disputed.
You curry no favour: you aren’t bribed with gold,
Guarding the land entrusted to you in good faith.
If you’d once marked the bounds of Thyrean lands,
Three hundred men would not have died,
Nor Othryades’ name be seen on the pile of weapons.
O how he made his fatherland bleed!
What happened when the new Capitol was built?
The whole throng of gods yielded to Jupiter and made room:
But as the ancients tell, Terminus remained in the shrine
Where he was found, and shares the temple with great Jupiter.
Even now there’s a small hole in the temple roof,
So he can see nothing above him but stars.
Since then, Terminus, you’ve not been free to wander:
Stay there, in the place where you’ve been put,
And yield not an inch to your neighbour’s prayers,
Lest you seem to set men above Jupiter:
And whether they beat you with rakes, or ploughshares,
Call out: "This is your field, and that is his!"'
There’s a track that takes people to the Laurentine fields,
The kingdom once sought by Aeneas, the Trojan leader:
The sixth milestone from the City, there, bears witness
To the sacrifice of a sheep’s entrails to you, Terminus.
The lands of other races have fixed boundaries:
The extent of the City of Rome and the world is one."
There is a sense that in Rome, worship of Terminus's boundaries became more aggressive over time. The boundary line had to be decked with sacrificial blood, whereas in an earlier, gentler period, it was enough to burn grain and honeycombs to appease the stubborn god. Perhaps there is a tiny kernel in the changing mood of Terminalia in the contemporary debate over nationalism and immigration, borders, border zones, and border fences and walls. Perhaps not. Regardless, attitudes to boundaries do vacillate over time, between openness and closure.

The US-Mexico border wall in Tijuana, Mexico. Image Source: NYT.

Hungary's border fence. Image Source: euronews via republic buzz.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Welcome the December Solstice 2017


Stones of Stenness, Orkney, Scotland, UK. Image Source: pinterest.

Welcome the December Solstice. It arrives at 16:28 UTC, heralding the arrival of winter in the Northern Hemisphere and of spring in the Southern Hemisphere.


Today, the blog belatedly observes this year's 80th anniversary of J.R.R. Tolkien's classic, The Hobbit, which was first published on 21 September 1937. Above, for the solstice, hear Tolkien read a section from The Hobbit (hat tip: Brain Pickings via Sound Cloud).

Mystery of the Universe: "This ancient building is called Fornace Penna. It was an ancient fabric of bricks destroyed because of bombing in the second world war. Behind this beautiful historic wreck you can see the milky way in all its magnificence." (Sicily, Italy; 23 May 2015) Image © Salvatore Cerruto via TWAN.


Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Countdown to Hallowe'en 2017: The Famine of Memory


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

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

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

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

Friday, August 25, 2017

In Millennial Eyes 8: Poland, the European Union, and the Game of Thrones


Image Source: Ancient Origins.

The blog is on a break, but I am happy to announce that I have been invited to submit pieces to Vocal Media. Today's post continues my discussion on fake news. Please click below to read it:
This piece explains why false, fictional or quasi-historical narratives become powerful in changing times, in spite of their flawed factuality or rationality.

The post concerns a secret history of a Polish empire, bolstered by fake maps and false or exaggerated contemporary documents. You can see Ancient Origins defend that alt-history, based on medieval chronicles, here.

The blog where I found this Turboslav vision of Europe faithfully reproduces the anti-Masonic, anti-Illuminati, anti-Semitic, New Age, health-food, anti-vaccine, extra-terrestrial, populist, neo-Nazi conspiracy theories which are so familiar on alt-sites on the Internet now.

When discussing history, most Websites of this type leave accepted scholarly history more or less intact. But they offer an additional 'insider's' history we don't know. This is a gnostic view - like the one described in my post on the alt-history of Quebec and the French Revolution - which adds enough information to break through to a new level of 'privileged' awareness.

An altered perspective is one thing; but this lost Polish empire is another matter. It transports today's believer into a completely different Europe. That is why it is too simplistic to assume that nationalists are motivated only by racism. They actually inhabit another reality. It is through this lens that we must understand their quarrels with EU leaders.


See all my posts on Millennial views of past events.

Friday, June 2, 2017

Red Pill, Blue Pill, Green Pill, Black Pill


Forbidden fruit: The Apple logo is commonly considered to make an occult reference to the Garden of Eden and relates computer use to forbidden knowledge, information, and soul-testing enlightened liberation. Image Source: The Open Scroll.

Before 1999, there was no word in English, as far as I know, to describe information which shatters one's world view. Techno-political ideologies evolve from an overdose on information and subsequent, broken views of the world.

Information as Forbidden Fruit

The first cyber-ideology to describe the disillusionment of the Information Age was called the red pill, or being red-pilled. The term comes from the film, The Matrix (1999) and Morpheus's speech on how to deal with knowing something you can't explain:
"This is your last chance. After this, there is no turning back. You take the blue pill—the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill—you stay in Wonderland, and I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes. Remember: all I'm offering is the truth. Nothing more."
Red pilling starts with the feeling that there is something wrong in the world, and you don't know what it is. Everywhere you look, things have gone wrong.

The splinter, driving you mad, is that you are a slave, born into bondage in an invisible prison: The Matrix (1999) © Warner. Reproduced non-commercially under Fair Use. Video Source: Youtube.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Stargate Tweets, Mysteries and Rumours


A Stargate? Image Source: Twitter / iReport/CNN.

At present, there is a very strange dis/information eruption on Twitter, coming from a single account, KibBitzLaw. Whoever is running this account is mingling a giant conspiracy theory with current affairs at breakneck pace (hat tip: The Outer Light). This person is threatening top level officials with information leaks of the most outlandish kind. WikiLeaks is mentioned, as is Chelsea / Bradley Manning. The Tweeter also apparently visited 4chan today, archived here, and stated: "This is not a joke." Tonight's tweets were dedicated to Seth Rich, the murdered Democratic National Committee staffer.


There are weirdos all over the Internet, so one more ranting conspiracy theorist should not matter. The only problem is that this account - which was created in March, 2009 - for some time had, as its first and only follower, former president Barack Obama. The account was previously followed by members of the mainstream media and Democrats running for Congress. It lay quiet for some time, with some tweets during the US election in 2016, and suddenly exploded with activity this month. The account was mentioned today (14 May 2017) on Reddit, here.

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.

Monday, May 2, 2016

Generation X Goes Back to the Future 12: Bitcoin's Unself Revealed


Image Source: Mark Harrison via The Economist.

Craig Steven Wright has revealed himself on his blog today, and in an exclusive scoop to the BBC, The Economist and GQ, that he is Satoshi Nakamoto, creator (with undisclosed other(s)) of Bitcoin. Wright claims he has the private key to Satoshi's digital signature for the first generated Bitcoin. Wright told the BBC that he was forced to come forward because rumours that he is Satoshi are affecting people in his personal life. He stated he is appearing before a camera once, and after today, he never, ever, ever wants to talk to the media again. But his weird choice to include GQ in the scoop equates the invention of Bitcoin with a male-centric fashion statement.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Talismans


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.

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.


Saturday, January 9, 2016

Names of the Prehuman World


Hypothetical image of earth during its earliest Precambrian Hadean eon. Image Source: pinterest.

Palaeontologists describe the prehuman world, a desolate and unrecognizable planet. Our beloved and enslaved earth had a secret, prehuman life. Not only did we not exist, but neither did our countries, continents or oceans. The territorial bases of humans and their nations and identities, geopolitics and religions, which we take so seriously now, were either primordial or absent. Modern humans are so self-involved that they forget that the planet once belonged to itself, a place we would find frightening, an antecessor that pre-existed everything our exploits might control.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

So Passed the Queen of the Black Coast


3 December 2015: "A professor at Texas A&M University posted these photos to Facebook. 'There has been a dead cockroach in the Anthropology building's stairwell for at least two weeks. Some enterprising person has now made her a little shrine.'" Images and Text Sources: Facebook via imgur.

In November, a cockroach died in the Anthropology stairwell at Texas A&M University. Then Facebook took over after the Anthropology Department went all Princess Diana-Burning Man to bid the cockroach goodbye in December.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Lovecraft's Crusaders and Saracens



Austrian illustrator and fantasy cartographer Robert Altbauer circulated these cartoons of Lovecraftian monsters tangling with Crusaders and Saracens on 20 November 2015 at ArtStation:
This is a series of illustrations that imitates the style of old medieval paintings and adds a macabre flavour by incorporating some of H.P. Lovecraft's famous monsters. The text is mostly medieval Middle High German.
See more illustrations here (Thanks to -J.).




Saturday, June 13, 2015

The New Age of William Butler Yeats


W. B. Yeats by John Singer Sargent.

Today is the sesquicentennial 150th anniversary of the birth of the great Irish poet, William Butler Yeats (1865-1939). Many modern poets have captured the spirit of our times. But Yeats stands out as a Romantic Modernist whose work most clearly described the great transition of our times, from one age to another. In his works, he depicted periods of time as sharply-dermarcated sections of human experience during which certain symbolic, spiritual, moral, occult or magical ideas gained total dominance. Thus the passage of time and the turn of ages was imagined by the poet as a violent, ongoing battle between contending philosophies and ways of being. Yeats equated the passage of time with millennia-long developments in collective human psychology. To understand how and why Yeats depicted the current Millennial transition so rarely and perfectly, we need to travel backward through his life, from the end of his days when his visions of the future were most pronounced, to the influences of his early childhood (Thanks to -C.).

Sunday, May 31, 2015

No Dislike Button: Social Media's Utopian Judgements and Misjudgements


Image Source: RLBPhotoart via Ghost Hunting Theories.

The blog is back! You know that gradual sense of erosion, the haunting of a Millennial mind as it over-surfs through a day that starts with optimism and ends with futility? How do social media contribute to a day's drift toward despair? In a New Yorker article from October 2014, Joshua Rothman criticized Facebook's fake optimism, its missing 'dislike' button, its relentless insistence that we like everything and constantly cough up happy thoughts and accomplishments to build a smiley online community (Hat tip: Daniel Neville). Rothman sees Facebook as an arena, where participants compete as greatest contributors to collective happiness, equated with a complex of good attitudes and real outputs as proof that good attitudes work. Beneath that, there is a misjudgement of those who are not sharing enough good attitude tidbits, or enough evidence of personal success. Rothman thus concludes that Facebook is one of the Web's Kafkaesque lower courts of judgement:
Facebook, like much of the Web, is officially designed to encourage positivity; there is no “dislike” button, and the stated goal is to facilitate affiliation and belonging. But, over time, the site’s utopian social bureaucracy has been overwhelmed by the Kafkaesque churn of punishment. ... Facebook has become a dream space of judgment—a place where people you may know only in the most casual way suddenly reveal themselves to be players in a pervasive system of discipline. The site is an accusation aggregator, and the news feed is the docket—full of opportunities to publicly admire the good or publicly denigrate the bad, to judge others for their mistakes or to be judged for doing it wrong.

Not all of Facebook is devoted to overt judgment and punishment, of course; there are plenty of cute family photos and fun listicles floating around. But even superficially innocuous posts can have a hearing-like, evidentiary aspect. (Paranoia, unfortunately, is inevitable in a Kafkaesque world.) The omnipresent “challenge”—one recent version, the “gratitude challenge,” asks you to post three things you’re grateful for every day for five days—is typically Kafkaesque: it’s punishment beneath a veneer of positivity, an accusation of ingratitude against which you must prove your innocence. ... Occasionally, if you post a selfie after your 10K or announce a new job, you might be congratulated for “doing it right.” But what feels great in your feed takes on, in others’ feeds, the character of what evolutionary psychologists call “altruistic punishment”—that is, punishment meted out to those who aren’t contributing to the good of the community.
Social media's stick-wielding positivity is divorced from human experience, while constantly appealing to experience as proof of its viability. You had better build the happiness of your online community, little Boot-camper. Or else. Positive cultural motivation supposedly drives productivity; except it doesn't. In this fake positive culture, dominated by Facebook's small egotists, success becomes meta-performance, which does not mirror the protracted work and grit needed to accomplish anything substantial. Anyone remotely sensitive to actual positives and negatives is left enervated, isolated, alienated, depressed.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Modernity, Myth and the Scapegoat: Martin Heidegger, J. R. R. Tolkien and ISIL


Heidegger, at the centre of the photo, in the era of Nazi academia. Image Source: Le phiblogZophe.

Two paths diverged in the wood. I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference. In 2014, the private notebooks of German philosopher Martin Heidegger (1889-1976) - muse of Jean-Paul Sartre, Jacques Derrida and Hannah Arendt - saw print. The publication of the so-called Black Notebooks confirmed that Heidegger's philosophy grew out of support for the Nazis and an essential anti-Semitism. Oceans of ink have been spilt over what Heidegger meant by Dasein, or Being-in-the-World (his union of subjective, objective and conscious perspectives with the world at large), but this elaborate existential debate completely misses the historical context which informed Heidegger's thought. Heidegger associated his cherished idea of Authentic Existence with the values of agrarian Europe. For the German philosopher, rootless Jews were part of a new, supranational world of corporate industry, banking and trade. Jewish precursors of globalization contributed to an inauthenticity of being, a life whereby everyday people, distanced from the soil, became phantom slaves in a technology-driven world that destroyed traditional culture.

The Scapegoat by William Holman Hunt (1854-1856). Image Source: Wiki.

It is too simplistic to dismiss Heidegger's thoughts on being and time as aspects of the Nazi narrative. But it is also wrong to say that his ideas can be read separately from their Nazi context. Heidegger was in the same ballpark, and that demands a serious reappraisal of his ideas.

In building their Aryan mythology against the Jews, the Nazis ironically appropriated the Hebraic concept of scapegoating. The scapegoat was originally an early Archaic, pre-Classical improvement (dating from around the seventh century BCE) on the sacrificial rites of other ancient societies. Scapegoating, a mental gambit which is alive and well today, occurs when one projects one's sins onto a goat and sends it off into the desert to die; this leaves one free from blame and responsibility, and able to get on with life without feeling guilty for one's wrongdoings.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Ursula Le Guin's New Year


Image Source: South Willard.

The new year celebrates new beginnings as one casts the past aside. It is a difficult to judge how to do this. With every passing year, Millennial conditions diverge more radically from the past. Perceptions must expand to deal with the global exchange of knowledge and technological and scientific advancements. We must find new ways to understand the world, to interpret the cloud of data.

Reality and the larger reality: courtesy of Graham Hancock's Daily Alternative News Desk, recent headlines herald one discovery after another. Every day, new boundaries are breached. Scientists explore the mysteries of matter to the point where matter disappears. Look again at something mundane, and it reveals a trove of secrets, while past certainties crumble in confusion:
  • Russia Today: 'Noah's Ark': Russia to build world first DNA databank of all living things (26 December 2014)
  • Hurriyet Daily News: Massive ancient underground city discovered in Turkey's Nevşehir (28 December 2014): "With 2014 soon coming to an end, potentially the year’s biggest archeological discovery of an underground city has come from Turkey’s Central Anatolian province of Nevşehir, which is known world-wide for its Fairy Chimneys rock formation. The city was discovered by means of Turkey’s Housing Development Administration’s (TOKİ) urban transformation project. Some 1,500 buildings were destructed located in and around the Nevşehir fortress, and the underground city was discovered when the earthmoving to construct new buildings had started. TOKİ Head Mehmet Ergün Turan said the area where the discovery was made was announced as an archeological area to be preserved. 'It is not a known underground city. Tunnel passages of seven kilometers are being discussed. We stopped the construction we were planning to do on these areas when an underground city was discovered,' said Turan. The city is thought to date back 5,000 years and is located around the Nevşehir fortress. Escape galleries and hidden churches were discovered inside the underground city."
  • Newsweek: The campaign to prove Shakespeare didn't exist (29 December 2014)
  • PhysOrg: Scientists race to save 'books' in the burning 'library of life' (29 December 2014)
  • Wired: Machine intelligence cracks genetic controls 29 December 2014): "Most genetic research to date has focused on just 1 percent of the genome—the areas that code for proteins. But new research, published Dec. 18 in Science, provides an initial map for the sections of the genome that orchestrate this protein-building process. 'It’s one thing to have the book—the big question is how you read the book,' said Brendan Frey, a computational biologist at the University of Toronto who led the new research."
  • The Independent: Large Hadron Collider ready to delve even deeper than 'God particle' as it switches back on at double power (29 December 2014)
  • PhysOrg: Study reveals new half-light half-matter quantum particles (29 December 2014): "In a pioneering study, Professor Menon and his team were able to discover half-light, half-matter particles in atomically thin semiconductors (thickness ~ a millionth of a single sheet of paper) consisting of two-dimensional (2D) layer of molybdenum and sulfur atoms arranged similar to graphene. They sandwiched this 2D material in a light trapping structure to realize these composite quantum particles. 'Besides being a fundamental breakthrough, this opens up the possibility of making devices which take the benefits of both light and matter,' said Professor Menon."
Technocrats and scientists are blindly confident as they manipulate and extend our knowledge of reality. But they often lack the training, intuition or perspective to assess the human consequences of their protean experiments.

The tools we use to understand the expanding world are out of date. The best of the past departs in the blink of an eye. Yet the worst of the past lives on, zombified, in political ideologies, pop philosophies, corporate strategies and contemporary world views. How did this mismatch between reality and perception happen? In the latter half of the 20th century, reality became a commodity, subject to the demands of corporate profit and organization, of advertising and of disaster capitalism. Marketing agendas restrict reality's accepted boundaries and punish activity which defines reality beyond those agendas.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Christmas Snow Queen


Video Source: Youtube.

This is the Snezhnaya Koroleva [The Snow Queen] a 1957 Soviet animated film directed by Lev Atamanov. It was produced at the Soyuzmultfilm studio in Moscow and is based on the story of the same name by Hans Christian Andersen (Hat tip: Gina Theou).

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Counting Down to Hallowe'en: Sasquatch Screams in the Forest


Trailcam, probably bovine, but found on a sasquatch site. Image Source: Bigfoot Hunt.

I don't believe in sasquatches, but I don't go camping in distant woods with recording equipment, either. Lots of people do; bigfoot is big business. The cryptid primate is also attracting the attention of big science. Finding another great primate species is not inconceivable, as this 2004 report on a newly-discovered species of giant, 2-metre-high chimpanzees from the Congo testifies. The Royal Society went so far this year as to do DNA testing on what might be bigfoot hair samples. You can see the July 2014 publication on their results here. Their oddest finding was that one of their hair samples came from an extinct polar bear:
"Sequences derived from hair sample nos. 25025 and 25191 had a 100% match with DNA recovered from a Pleistocene fossil more than 40 000 BP of U. maritimus (polar bear) but not to modern examples of the species."
They concluded that some hair from the Himalayas came not from a yeti, but from a "previously unrecognized bear species." The study further remarked that the samples presented simply did not come from any unknown primate:
With the exception of these two samples, none of the submitted and analysed hairs samples returned a sequence that could not be matched with an extant mammalian species, often a domesticate. While it is important to bear in mind that absence of evidence is not evidence of absence and this survey cannot refute the existence of anomalous primates, neither has it found any evidence in support. Rather than persisting in the view that they have been ‘rejected by science’, advocates in the cryptozoology community have more work to do in order to produce convincing evidence for anomalous primates and now have the means to do so. The techniques described here put an end to decades of ambiguity about species identification of anomalous primate samples and set a rigorous standard against which to judge any future claims.
For recent BFRO bigfoot encounter records in North America, go here. For 2014 news reports on bigfoot sightings, go here, here, here and here.

Bigfoot videos also spawn hybrids with Millennial media genres: the law enforcement dashcam video (closer look here); the 911 call; the outdoors adventure TV show video; trail cams (see also here, here and here); tourist footage (shows the comic ingenuity of a British Columbian town when gophers and Bighorn Sheep just weren't cutting it in terms of bringing in Chinese tourists); community TV shows; and the paranormal research teams with night vision equipment. There is of course no real 'found footage,' but 2013's film Willow Creek filled that gap.

Purported audio recordings of sasquatches (listen to them here) are more frightening than faked photographs of people loping around the bush in ape suits. Sasquatch Canada has an account from a witness who heard screams in the British Columbian forest:
Man Recalls Experience He Had in July 1998, Near Hope B.C., [Canada] 2:30 a.m.
I was I think maybe 17-18 years old. Myself and two friends were walking up Kawkawa Lake road, from first beach (where I lived), to second beach(where my buddy lived). It's important to me that you know I WAS quite drunk, and moderately stoned at the time(My parents had left me at home alone for a week for the first time). Anyway, it was about 2:30AM and we were making our way up the hill. We were hooting and hollering quite loudly as 3 drunk 17 year olds are want to do, being pretty immature. We came to a point where the road forks; the right takes you towards the Othello Tunnels and the Coquihalla highway via back roads and trails, and the other carries on towards second beach. On the left was a rocky bluff covered in trees and on the other side of the bluff would be Kawkawa Lake. We were just coming up on the bluff when the night was ripped apart by a scream/shout/growl the likes of which I had never heard before, or since. It was primal and it ranged from a deep roar to a high pitched screaming. It was like king cong, roy orbison and axle rose screaming in rage but SO LOUD. The vocal range was stunning. You felt it in your bones. I feel it is really important to tell you how overwhelming to the senses the sounds was. Anyway the trees on the bluff(cedar I believe), began to rock and shake like they were made of paper mache'. These were not small trees, but branches and needles were raining down on us and the road. Have you ever heard the expression "scared sober"? I am not at all ashamed to tell you that I lost some control of my bowels, I was so scared. The whole thing was certainly no more than 2 minutes, but probably less than that. I am old enough to know that time does funny things to your memory. I have never forgotten that incident. As time goes on I feel more and more strongly that it was a sasquatch I witnessed that night. I am open to suggestion as to what else could have made such a sound, and caused large trees to shake. I have heard suggestions of bear, but I doubt it. It was very dark and there were not many streetlights back then on that road. I strongly suspect that our "hooting and hollering" caused something to give us a strong warning to piss off.
Youtube proves that sasquatches become something else on the Internet, whatever they may or may not be in reality. Bigfoot is a centre of online community building. This is true in general: the weirder the draw, the more enjoyable (at least initially) the community can become for its sheer craziness. People love congregating around insane bullshit. Take this excerpt from a 'squatch' argument, where online squatch authorities battle with skeptics:
  • "That's a really big load of BS you just dumped on us. I've never seen a dead chimp, therefor I have no alternative accept to believe you when you say you know where the sasquatch cemetery is? BTW, nothing says loser quite so much as using the term 'squatch.'"
  • "Sick of fucking morons commenting on Sasquatch related videos. Do a fuck load of research lime I have then come back ,and I'll respect your opinions more. And saying squatch says I'm a loser does it? And why is that? Please do tell. I'm all ears. Nothing says loser more than a comment lime yours. Listen to every damn episode of Bigfoot hotspot radio on here. That's your first task. Especially the episode with coombo. Particularly EPs 18 to 35."
  • "Thanks for the suggestions, but I prefer a reality based life."
  • "'A park ranger saw a burial happening through his binoculars the day after a big squatch was shot by a camper'  what's your source?  The Weekly World News?"
  • "It is reality. Just a part of reality you yourself haven't witnessed yet. Spend a few weeks on a Sasquatch hotspot at the right time of year then come back here. Remember, just because you haven't seen something, doesn't mean thousands of other people haven't. You think you know everything about this planet. Think again."
  • "Thousands of 'new' species are discovered each year in jungles, wildernesses, deep forests etc. Did they exist before they were 'discovered' by humans? Even if you only count the land which is able to support humanoid life (ie don't include deserts, ice caps etc) then humans still only occupy HALF the habitable land on earth. 6 billion humans live on half the land on earth. The rest is still wilderness. And most of that land has never even been foot surveyed by humans because it is just too impenetrable. If you cannot drive a car or ride a horse through dense woods or rough terrain then you cannot carry food/ water or equipment. So you must walk. That means you cannot go more than a few miles - especially if you have to machete your way through thick bush which is slow and exhausting work. This means there are millions of acres that are effectively free of humans. And that is where most of the bigfoots live. A few stray close to human settlements and that is when they get filmed. Is it not conceivable that a few hundred thousand or even a few million bigfoots might exist in all that untouched land?"
  • "'It is reality.' No. It is fantasy. "Just a part of reality you yourself haven't witnessed yet.' Neither has anyone else. 'Spend a few weeks on a Sasquatch hotspot at the right time of year then come back here.' And perhaps eat some of the local wild mushrooms? ... 'Remember, just because you haven't seen something, doesn't mean thousands of other people haven't.' That's true. But just because thousands of people THINK they have seen something, (or merely claim they did) does not mean that they really saw what they think."
The dynamic is similar to online communities everywhere; a pecking order depends upon the duration and intensity of the member's communal involvement. You have to do your time in the trenches, or you can forget about being respected. At this point, these people could be talking about anything, from nuclear warheads, to terrorism, financial investment, corporate takeovers, cryptocurrencies, football, video games, space aliens or leprechauns. It really doesn't matter. The real, human action lies in the development of the community, not in discovering the true nature of sasquatches. And so, the more popular Bigfoot becomes, and the more humans congregate around Bigfoot, the more the elusive cryptid remains a complete mystery.