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 Franz Kafka. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Franz Kafka. Show all posts

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, 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.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Happy Birthday, Franz

Image Source: Google via Time.

Time reports that today is the birthday of the wonderful Czech Jewish writer, Franz Kafka; Google has commemorated the 130th anniversary of Kafka's birth:
Today’s Google Doodle celebrates a man who didn’t see much to celebrate during his short life. Today, July 3, 2013, would have been the 130th birthday of literary titan and eternal pessimist Franz Kafka.

The Doodle pays homage to The Metamorphosis, one of Kafka’s best-remembered novellas. The dark piece features a traveling salesman who has the unfortunate and unexplained fate of turning into some sort of giant bug — the actual German “ungeheueren ungeziefer” ambiguously translates to “monstrous vermin.” The drawing shows a lighter take on Kafka’s absurdist work, portraying a cockroach coming home from a day at work. The Doodle even includes a nod to the plot by including a small, sepia-toned apple, referring to the apples that the poor salesman’s father threw at him when he found his son transformed into the creepy-crawler.

The Prague native and tormented soul has since been hailed as one of the greatest literary giants, especially for his contributions to existentialism. While his body of work, also including The Trial and The Castle, doesn’t make cozy bedtime reading with its overtones of alienation and grotesqueness, it’s contributed to the timeless collection of literature that forces us to question the human condition. “One of the first signs of the beginning of understanding is the wish to die,” Kafka once wrote in the Blue Octavo Notebooks. Tuberculosis granted his wish at the young age of forty.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Walking Shadows

Image Source: MySpace.

"To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow, Creeps in this petty pace from day to day, To the last syllable of recorded time; And all our yesterdays have lighted fools The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle! Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player, That struts and frets his hour upon the stage, And then is heard no more. It is a tale Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, Signifying nothing."
Macbeth (Act 5, Scene 5, lines 17-28), By William Shakespeare.

One thing the rapid rise of technology has made me intensely aware of is the time bleed.  If Shakespeare could immortalize this problem four hundred years ago when he wrote Macbeth, what would he have made of 'walking shadows' and 'brief candles' now?  The Technological Revolution, which supposedly is bringing us ever closer to anti-ageing and extended lives, constantly reminds us that we are but shadows and dust.  It feels like we are living in some Monty Python cartoon by Terry Gilliam, where we're all on a commuter train speeding us straight into our graves.  Multi-tasking whittles away our humanity.  And being forced to choose to do certain things and not others in the limited time we have radically alters our lives, sometimes irrevocably.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Travelling to Elysium? Don't Forget Your Blackberry

MSNBC reports that people are asking to be buried with their cell phones, Blackberries and Gameboys:
"'It seems that everyone under 40 who dies takes their cell phone with them,' says Noelle Potvin, family service counselor for Hollywood Forever, a funeral home and cemetery in Hollywood, Calif. 'It’s a trend with BlackBerrys, too. We even had one guy who was buried with his Game Boy.' Anecdotal evidence suggests being buried with a favorite tech device is on the upswing. The Future Laboratory, a London-based think tank, commented on the behavior, noting it in places like the United Kingdom, Australia and South Africa."
Perhaps tech gadgets will be incorporated into sacred last rites, like Kafka's short short short story about the leopards:
Leopards break into the temple and drink the sacrificial chalices dry; this occurs repeatedly, again and again; finally it can be reckoned upon beforehand and becomes part of the ceremony.”

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Times Outside History 1: Humanity Operating on 100,000-year Cycles

Reuters is reporting on a July 7 article in Nature about palaeontological findings that early humans settled Britain 800,000 years ago, at least 100,000 years earlier than originally thought. Artifacts found by palaeontologists from the British Museum include "78 knapped flint artefacts that the research team think were used by hunter-gatherers to pierce and cut meat or wood" (Parfitt, S. A. et al. Nature 466, 229-233 (2010)). 

There is a film about the dig in Happisburgh, East Anglia here. Scientists at the Natural History Museum have been X-raying the flint tools found at the site to establish that they are human-made.  For the first time in this field, they are using computed tomography to analyze stone tools and produce 3-D computer models of each artifact.  At the site, palaeontologists are also finding fossilized hyena droppings, mammoth teeth, jawbones of semi-aquatic rodents, and almost-million-year-old pine cones that point toward these Stone Age Britons surviving winters in coniferous forests as cold as present-day Scandinavia.

But what really caught my eye was the Reuters passage: "The ancient human populations were small, made up of a few hundreds, or possibly thousands, and would either be driven out or severely reduced due to the cold climate, only to repopulate approximately every 100,000 years, the scientists said."  This means that "Britain has been subject to at least nine distinct human colonisations in history."