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 Frank Miller. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Frank Miller. Show all posts

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Clay Tablet News Flash

Image Source: British Museum via news.com.au.

At the British Museum, Irving Finkel, the museum's assistant keeper of the Middle East, has deciphered a 4,000 year old clay tablet, on display as of 24 January 2014, which refers to ancient flood preparations. The tablet came to Britain via an RAF airman's Second World War service in the Middle East. The tablet predates Biblical sources by several centuries:
The tablet gives a version of the ark story far older than the biblical accounts, and Finkel believes the explanation of how "holy writ appears on this piece of Weetabix", is that the writers of the Bible drew on ancient accounts encountered by Hebrew scholars during the Babylonian exile [in the 7th-6th centuries BCE].
The tablet originated in Mesopotamia; its 60 lines of text are written in cuneiform:
The text describes god speaking to Atram-Hasis, a Sumerian king who is the Noah figure in earlier versions of the ark story.
He says: 'Wall, wall! Reed wall, reed wall! Atram-Hasis, pay heed to my advice, that you may live forever! Destroy your house, build a boat; despise possessions And save life! Draw out the boat that you will built with a circular design; Let its length and breadth be the same.'

The ancient Babylonian text describes the ark as a round 220-ft diameter coracle with walls 20-ft high.

According to the tablet, the ark had two levels and a roof on the top.

The craft was divided into sections to divide the various animals into their own sections.

The 60 lines of text, which Dr Finkel describes as a 'detailed construction manual for building an ark', claims the craft was built using ropes and reeds before being smeared with bitumen to make it waterproof.
Because the tablet stipulates that this 'ark,' or 'coarcle' was round, a new unusual detail has been added to the family of flood myths.

Finkel has penned a book and is preparing a television show around his translation of the tablet and the folk memory it relates, The Ark Before Noah (brought to you by the same people who published Teach Yourself: Complete Babylonian). CNN:
The newly decoded cuneiform tells of a divinely sent flood and a sole survivor on an ark, who takes all the animals on board to preserve them. It even includes the famous phrase “two by two,” describing how the animals came onto the ark. ...

We have known for well over a century that there are flood stories from the ancient Near East that long predate the biblical account ... .

What’s really intriguing scholars is the description of the ark itself. The Bible presents a standard boat shape long and narrow. The length being six times the measure of the width, with three decks and an entrance on the side. The newly discovered Mesopotamian text describes a large round vessel, made of woven rope, and coated (like the biblical ark) in pitch to keep it waterproof.

Archaeologists are planning to design a prototype of the ark, built to the specifications of this text, to see if it would actually float. Good luck to them in trying to estimate the weight of its cargo. So, why does this new discovery matter? It matters because it serves as a reminder that the story of the Flood wasn’t set in stone from its earliest version all the way through to its latest incarnation.

The people who wrote down the Flood narrative, in any of its manifestations, weren’t reporting on a historical event for which they had to get their facts straight (like what shape the ark was). Everyone reshapes the Flood story, and the ark itself, according to the norms of their own time and place.
Coincidentally, the British Museum translation, book, and Channel Four TV show are being released just before the CGI-300-style, ancient-prepper film, Noah, starring Russell Crowe. The film will premiere on 28 March 2014. See the trailer below the jump. In the same vein, the sequel to 300, which deals with ancient Babylonia in the 5th century BCE, will be released earlier in March.

"Irving Finkel poses with the 4000-year-old clay tablet containing the story of the Ark at the British Museum in London on Friday." Image Source: The Hindu.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Frank Miller's Persian God-King

Still from 300: Rise of an Empire (2014) © Warner Bros. Pictures.

A trailer has just been released for the 300 sequel, 300: Rise of an Empire (2014). It is based on Frank Miller's graphic novel, Xerxes (2011). Miller presents a clichéed east-versus-west conflict with cultural and racial images which are sure to upset people and generate controversy. Miller's tone aside, it is true that the Persian Wars helped to shape the western cultural memory. Miller's story is more representative of the myth-making of memory around history, than it is about history.

Friday, December 21, 2012

World's End

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

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

Image Source: Oxcgn.

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

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

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

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

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

Image Source: Bethesda Softworks via io9.

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

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

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

Saturday, July 21, 2012

DC's Batman Shooter: The Day Evil Won

Cover art for DC Comics' Final Crisis (2008) by J. G. Jones © DC Comics. Image Source: Wiki.

In 2008, DC Comics, publishers of Batman, continued a pattern of pumping dwindling sales by publishing a crossover multi-title event called Final Crisis. The publicity motto for that series was: the day evil won. Top editor and now Co-Publisher of DC Comics, Dan Didio, commented that the series examined the question: "What happens when evil wins?" It is a good question, and an ironic one for Mr. Didio to ask. The answer appears to be: evil wins the day that DC's Millennial virtual fantasies become a reality. What happens on the pulp pages and the movie screen now happens in the cinema itself. Reality has become just like a graphic novel.

In an Aurora, Colorado shooting 20 July 2012 at the Batman: The Dark Knight Rises midnight movie première, 12 people died and 70 were tragically injured. Predictably, America's media have launched into a heavily politicized and polarized debate about the right to bear arms, the Second Amendment to the US Constitution.

But this election-related argument will take public discussion far off track from the meaning and origins of this tragedy. Guns were not the only weapons used here, since Holmes lobbed tear gas grenades at the crowd, and his apartment is still sealed and under investigation by bomb experts. The apartment is booby-trapped and full of jars of liquid, mortar rounds, trip wires, bombs and incendiary devices, which Holmes likely learned how to make by searching for information on the Web. He also purchased his ammunition over the Internet. Thus, some commentators might begin to ask if we should censor the Internet as we control guns. In this crime, guns and bombs and the information on the Web were not the purpose, but means, to an end.

That end is a social malaise which saw the suspected shooter, James Holmes, tell police that he was "the Joker." And in fact, everything, from the gas lobbed into the cinema prior to the shooting, to Holmes's booby-trapped apartment, is very Joker-like.

The governor of Colorado, John Hickenlooper, sees this crime as an act of "senseless violence." But labeling 24-year-old Holmes, a graduate student who was in the process of abandoning his PhD in Neuroscience at University of Colorado, as 'insane' does not help to explain this crime. How did someone who was described by his old California neighbours as "clean cut, responsible and studied hard," and who graduated at the top in his undergraduate class in Neuroscience at University of California, Riverside, become someone who said he was "the Joker"?

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

The Internet's Drug of Choice

Image Source: Spin.

Just as the Internet can exponentially create new markets and networks overnight, it can create shadow economies with equal speed. This week, Spin pubished a report on bath salts, the synthetic drugs which recently caught the attention of the MSM, when Rudy Eugene fell on a homeless man, Ronald Poppo, in a cannibalistic attack in Miami on 26 May 2012. The Miami Herald bizarrely released security cam footage of the crime, taking place in the distance under an overpass, here. The crime happened next to a busy thoroughfare, as Eugene tore off his own and the other man's clothes and began eating Poppo's face in full view of several passersby and cars.

This public display is reminiscent of the 1964 murder of Kitty Genovese in New York City, except that there does not seem to be too much soul-searching in the Miami aftermath. Eugene was shot and killed by police who arrived 18 minutes into the attack. The victim, Ronald Poppo, is alive, and will likely be permanently blinded by the attack, since Eugene had eaten away half of Poppo's face, including his left eye. There is a report on Poppo's care and recovery here. The Miami hospital treating him has launched a fund-raising drive to cover the homeless man's medical bills, here.

Image Source: MSN.

Suddenly, bath salts have become the MSM bogeyman of the moment. And not without cause: another bath salts-related biting attack took place in Missouri this past week. Also last week, a woman in New York attacked her three year old son and strangled her dog while on bath salts, ran naked down the street, growled at police and tried to bite one officer, whereupon she was tasered and died. In Illinois last week, a naked man jumped onto the hood of a moving car and clung to it for four miles while on bath salts. He thought he was running away from people who were trying to eat him.

Bath salts are Millennial drugs, manufactured through ever-changing chemical recipes spread on the Web and sold over the Internet. Like the horrific Russian synth drug, krokodil, or another synthetic drug, spice aka K2, bath salts are the kind of drugs which make dystopian futures come true. And it isn't just because of what they do to the people who take them. They are one of several interrelated Millennial mass media phenomena.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

DCnU: End of the Modern Age

Animal Man #5 (March 2012).

DC Comics' deeper descent into anti-heroic darkness is strangely opening moral doors.  DCnU has reinforced some problems that became endemic during Dan Didio's era.  However, the new Animal Man and Swamp Thing series are exceptions, due to the reintegration of Vertigo themes and characters into mainstream DC cape comics.  These two books started by humming along in Hellblazer/Swamp Thing/Sandman/Animal Man mode circa the late '80s and '90s.  I initially greeted the familiar motifs with skepticism, but in January, the nu Swamp Thing and nu Animal Man exploded up to must-read status (see almost-unanimous praise for Animal Man #5, which came out in early January, here, here, here, here, here and here).

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Reflections on the Revolving Door of Death 4: New Heroes for a New Millennium

Wonder Woman cast outside her regular reality and possibly time stream. Wonder Woman #606 (February 2011; originally listed as variant cover for WW #604 December 2010).

In 2010, DC celebrated its 75th anniversary. DC has long been the premier American comics company that is devoted to the modern perpetuation of classic myths. Where Marvel set itself up in the 1960s as a platform for social commentary, DC dealt with eternal archetypes. For an entire generation, DC has explored the disintegration of heroism: those archetypes have been dismantled by the very company that is supposedly committed to preserving them.  What does this mean for American heroism?

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

DC Comics that Made Me a Fan

Wonder Woman's Golden Age Invisible Plane came when she called it.

Over at the DC message boards, someone just asked: "What story made you a DC Comics fan?"  I've been reading comics since the 1970s, and have a collection that runs from the 1940s up to the present.  It's interesting to ask what stories really stand out in my mind through all that pulp and all that fiction.  There are lots of great stories of course - the New Teen Titans arcs The Hunt for the Killers of the Doom Patrol and The Judas Contract are part of one of my main comic reviews on this blog - so I won't mention them here.  This isn't a 'best stories' list.  The question involves stories that really left an initial, indelible, lasting impression, the very first ones that grabbed my imagination and that I still remember before all others after almost forty years.  I'll save my non-DC fan inspirations for another entry.