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 sorted by relevance for query "tree of life". Sort by date Show all posts
Showing posts sorted by relevance for query "tree of life". Sort by date Show all posts

Monday, October 22, 2012

Countdown to Hallowe'en 10: Horror's Skeleton Key

The Tarot's trumps, or Major Arcana, mapped onto a Kabbalistic Tree of Life. Image Source: Tarot Hermeneutics. (Click on the image to enlarge.)

Behind the tropes and clichés, what is horror? What purpose do horror stories serve? Horror reveals impulses in ourselves which we fear and do not understand, such as the savage motives behind murder. For example: 2006's Black Dahlia (directed by Brian De Palma) was based on the 1947 unsolved murder of Elizabeth Short, and was disturbing enough that writer James Ellroy (who famously wrote a quartet of novels about post-war L.A., and included the Dahlia case for his own reasonsnow asserts that he will never again publicly discuss Short (see my blog post on this case, here); or the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974; based on the 1950s' Ed Gein case in Wisconsin, see it below); or Henry, Portrait of a Serial Killer (1986; see it here; based on real life killers Henry Lee Lucas and Ottis Toole). In a week when the LAPD is reopening the Manson Family case to investigate 12 additional murders, the headlines remind us that reality is worse than any horror drama.

Horror additionally asks us to challenge what we understand to be real and then reaffirm it, according to our common values. A Catholic review from Jake Martin of a fictional account of a boy who kills his classmates, We Need to Talk about Kevin (2011), confirms this point:
the film is not "yet another installment in the pantheon of post-modern films intent upon assaulting the human desire to give meaning to the world." Instead, ... [Martin] says, We Need to Talk about Kevin in fact needs to be talked about, as what it is attempting to do by marrying the darkest, most nihilistic components of contemporary cinema with a redemptive message is groundbreaking."
In a third and related sense, some horror stories are actually morality tales. They show the path the protagonists must take out of darkness, once a violent act has ripped apart everything that makes reality sensible. This severe trope is often used by director David Lynch, whose forays into surreal horror involve a return back to a good piece of cherry pie and a great cup of coffee. Lynch will take his audiences to the edge and well beyond it, but he always insists on the final reassertion of sanity over insanity.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Awaken the Amnesiacs 7: The Economist Predicts the Year 2017


The Economist predictions for 2017, released November 2016. Image Source: The Economist.

When I saw that The Economist's tarot spread cover for its special issue predicting next year, my heart sank. After the American election, #proofoflife at WikiLeaks, and the impeachment of the South Korean president, I did not want to think about any more political weirdness. In case you have had enough too, here is my TL;DR on The Economist's message:

The cover may or may not predict a terror attack in Europe or a nuclear threat in Asia in the first quarter of the year, cementing Trump's presidency in the second quarter. Despite the fact that Trump will backtrack on promises, his ability to mesmerize the populist masses will grow. A huge upheaval is expected in the third quarter, with Merkel likely to lose the German election and Wilders and LePen gaining in earlier elections in the Netherlands and France. A divided body politic must find middle ground. After watching this unfold, the globalist liberal establishment will renew itself by December through the debut of exciting new technology, increased connectivity in developing countries, and a redoubled effort to control the public space, both online and off, with figures from government, banking, entertainment and academia entering online discourse in earnest. They will absorb formerly independent Internet enterprises, recapture lost ground, go on the attack, and flip the populist script.

On Youtube, I sensed the alt-right, alt-media types didn't want to look at The Economist. They are weary. "They do this to us every year," sighed one Youtuber after making three videos on the subject. Even the conspiracy theorists are sick of conspiracy theories. They only reviewed this Planet Trump thing out of a dogged sense of obligation to keep up their end - New World Order, Illuminati, Trump, Pizzagate, yadda yadda. They were all sure about one thing. The cover contains a hidden message.

I envy the flat rationalist, who would scoff before imagining anything arcane here. This is merely an illustrator's whimsical reference, as though the editors had chosen a picture of a woman reading the future in a crystal ball. I hope it is true.

Perhaps the editors did this as a tongue-in-cheek layout to bait crazy conspiracy theorists. Actually, I think the editors at The Economist do not care how the cover is received by the alt-media, who are beneath their contempt. If so, then this is another tone-deaf, top-down misconception of the impact of the Internet on the public debate. On the Internet, mimetics, semiotics, virality and truth excavations rule the day, not inside jokes and polished arguments to a select audience. A tarot spread confirms the worst conspiracy theories about magic infecting high politics. To give evidence of this - straight from the horse's mouth - strengthens the alt-media, which cannot be good for The Economist.

In an earlier post, Magic, Numerology and the IMF, I observed that Christine Lagarde did not realize that she now had to speak to two audiences. Every speech she made would be channeled into the old MSM theatre, as well as the alt-media. She plainly did not understand the latter at all. Her clever asides would be taken the usual way by the old establishment, but on Youtube, they would feed the independent machine of conspiracy theorizing and populism.

To make matters worse, she seemed to confirm the conspiracy theorists' fears about a magic-obsessed establishment. Lagarde was making predictions for the year 2014, peppering her predictions for the coming year with numerological nudge-nudge-wink-wink-hint-hints, which promised (precisely, down to the day) the manipulation of oil prices to hurt Russia. To the alt-media, this made it look like her policy speech had a magical subtext and potency. The liberal democracies are supposed to be secular, humanist, and rationalist; they should not be run by the rules of parlour games, or by people who believe that parlour games are real. I argued that parlour games should stay in the parlour.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

A Year in the Life of a Tree



The Denver Post reports on a man who photographed a Bur Oak every day for one year and posted the photos on Facebook; he started on 24 March 2012. His experience showed that the simple act of slowing down and carefully looking at one other living thing can change one's whole perception of the world:
There is a tree that stands alone among the cornfields - about 5 miles south of Platteville, Wisconsin in the southwest corner of the state. Photographer Mark Hirsch drove by it almost every day for 19 years and never once stopped to take a picture. Then one day, he did. ...
“It was never easy and it never came naturally,” writes Hirsch. “But when I found that scene, situation or moment that made me comfortable that I had made a worthy picture for the day, it was incredibly rewarding personally. At some point, I really began to appreciate the contemplative nature of my visits to that tree.”
At first mention, a year in the life of a tree might not immediately sound interesting, visually or otherwise. Hirsch’s pictures, however, uncover a complex web of life and color surrounding the tree.
“I would describe that Tree as I would a friend,” writes Hirsch. “My initial description a year ago would have been as simple as a tree in a corn field, but now I would describe it as a tree of life in its own realm.”
“I was never very good at slowing down but I am now. I’ve learned to see things differently. And I’ve embraced an incredible appreciation for the land in and around that tree.”
By the 365th day, the project had become so renowned on Facebook that "on March 23, 2013, Hirsch took the last official pictures of the project ... [and a]lmost 300 people (and 12 dogs) showed up for a group photo under the branches of that tree [below]. Some devoted fans even drove in from Milwaukee, Chicago and northern Minnesota to be in the picture." See some of the photos below the jump, more or less in chronological order from spring 2012 to spring 2013 (they are taken from the Denver Post report or from Facebook); and the Facebook page with the full album here. Hirsch also published his photos in a book. All photos are © Mark Hirsch and are reproduced here under Fair Use for non-commercial review and discussion.

Group photo (23 March 2013), last day of the project.

Saturday, December 28, 2019

Awaken the Amnesiacs 12: Kevin Spacey's Fourth Wall Christmas


Image Source: pinterest.

On Christmas Eve, the American actor Kevin Spacey posted a sociopathic video, entitled KTWK, on Youtube. He appeared in character as House of Cards' Jack Underwood and uttered veiled threats at unnamed nemeses.

KTWK (24 December 2019). Video Source: Youtube.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Countdown to Hallowe'en 1: Nature's Gods

Image Source: Nightmare Kingdom.

Hallowe'en is a reminder that the modern age swept aside beliefs in whole pantheons of natural deities, including some very frightening demons. One of the latter is the Kushtaka. This evil spirit, profiled on Brad Meltzer's Decoded episode about Alaska's mysteries, is so troubling to local native peoples that the site of television interview was purified after Meltzer's crew departed.

Kushtaka, or 'land otter man': "Canoe prow ornament representing Land-Otter-Man, Tlingit, from Sitka, Alaska, USA. Found at Nass River, British Columbia, Canada, in 1918." Image Source: Werner Forman via Heritage Images.

The Kushtaka is a soul-stealer, shape-shifter and otter-spectre feared by the Tlingit and Tsimshian peoples. These days, otters are viewed as people-friendly creatures. Perhaps it is their human expression that made them the subject of shape-shifting mythology. The Kushtaka is rather like the equally malevolent Native American monster, the Wendigo. Kushtakas are also sometimes likened to sasquatches.

It is believed that the Kushtaka lures people away to their deaths in deep waters. It usually takes the form of a person known to its victim, such as a kindly grandmother beckoning to her ill-fated grandchild from the edge of the forest. It will imitate the cries of a drowning woman or baby in waterways to lure would-be rescuers into treacherous rivers. It is also known to call sailors along Pacific American coasts to their deaths. Kushtakas are said to whistle in a telltale, low-high-low tone.

There are some Kushtaka stories online. Kushtakas make war on humans by spreading a plague amongst them in this legend from the Tlingit people. In this story, they take possession of women in a community and incite a bloody conflict. And in this story, a helpful but still spectral Kushtaka haunts a bereaved couple by appearing to them as their dead son and bringing them fish to eat. Those whom the Kushtakas help or harm run the risk of becoming Kushtakas themselves.

"Tlingit Native American, Land otter man, Clan: Ganaaxteidi. Place: Haines." Image Source: De Peper Muntjes Knipper.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Cosmic Reproduction


Pan Spermia In The Veil of Her Moon (2005) © Roger Ferragallo.

The new Millennium loves the cross-pollination of ideas, mainly because of the computing revolution in communications. An episode ("Is The Universe Alive?" 13 June 2012) of Through the Wormhole covers a Millennial theory in physics that the universe, or even the multiverse, may be alive. This theory, put forward by Lee Smolin, applies Darwin's idea of natural selection to the propagation of universes (see my earlier post on how physicists are appropriating Darwin's theory to their ends). Smolin argues that universes reproduce themselves through black holes and form attached daughter universes. Thus our universe may be "just one member in a giant family tree of cosmoses." Smolin finds many parallels and analogies between biological life processes and cosmic reproduction.

Theoretical physicists then ask whether this tree of cosmoses is alive, or possibly even sentient. They wonder whether we could find the brain of this living cosmic tree.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Love and the Underworld



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

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

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

Image Source: Art Chronicler.

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

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

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

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.).

Friday, December 10, 2010

Do Animals Sense Death?

Münster Zoo: The grieving gorilla Gana carried her dead baby on her back for several days. 2008 reports here and here.  Gana died in January of 2010.

In yesterday's post, I touched on the commonly-held assumption that one of the things long considered to separate humans from animals is our awareness of death.  This goes right back to the Book of Genesis, when Adam and Eve eat the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil; they gain insight that makes them see things in the way God does.  Yet they lack God's wisdom and judgment, possibly due to the fact that they did not also eat of the fruit of the Tree of Life, the other tree in the Garden of Eden.  As a result, animals come to fear humans, whereas at the beginning of Genesis, Adam names the animals, which suggests his initial ability to communicate with them (to read the text, go here).  In 2001: A Space Odyssey, Stanley Kubrick symbolically repeated that moment from a non-religious point of view when he showed apes making a jump in consciousness and killing tapirs with which they had previously lived peacefully.  This was shortly followed by the now-conscious apes murdering each other while wielding tools to do so, with the tool-making the key sign of awareness of causality.  Kubrick used an extra-terrestrial monolithic symbol as a catalyst for that jump in self-awareness.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

The Nile Dam and Unintended Consequences


Memento mori Pompeii mosaic (30 BCE - 40 CE). Image Source: Ancient Rome.

In June 2009, economists declared that the Great Recession ended. But to many people, it still does not feel that way. Perhaps that is because the global economy is undergoing a painful transition. The gears are grinding, but there is no sensation of everyone barreling forward. Progress reports coming from tech sectors are deceptive: the virtual economy massively expanded over the past twenty-five years. High tech computing - with hardware's planned obsolescence and non-physical wares like Facebook acquiring value, based on the marketing promises of Big Data - pumped up bubbles around illusions of productivity. Financial speculation in the 1990s and 2000s depended on the exponential expansion of our ability to speculate.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Awaken the Amnesiacs 3: The Hermetics


The hermetic principle of silence. Image Source: Lilipilyspirit.

Dark days behind us: today is the winter solstice in the northern hemisphere and the summer solstice in the southern hemisphere (04:49 UTC). The December solstice refers to birth or rebirth of the weakened sun in northern countries, often described in allegorical terms, as one New Age writer puts it: "The sun is dawning after the increasing darkness of winter. The Winter Solstice is nature’s physical equivalent of a spiritual awakening and enlightenment." From Theosophy Northwest:
At the winter solstice the universal currents of life help human consciousness to enter divine spheres. At the same time spiritual energy can descend from higher worlds into the human arena: the gods "descend into hell" to garner experience in their underworld -- our own world -- thereby bringing inspiration and enlightenment to humanity. At this time each of us also may undergo a new birth. Nature has opened the door, and it is up to us to recognize this and take a step further.
For denizens of the New Age Internet, this solstice is the culmination of 2015's online spiritual awakening, perhaps a Fifth Great Awakening in the United States, occasioned by a proclaimed end to the war between the sexes. When combined with hermeticism, discussed in today's post, the gnostic truce between the sexes attacks all polarized categorizations of identity. Online gurus argue that only hardened egoists prosper in an environment where inflexible categorizations of identity are the norm. Spiritual commentators prefer to cultivate a continuum of identities and they expect that spectrum to expand social compassion.

The winter solstice at Stonehenge. Image Source: Stonehenge Trips.

In the aftermath of the supposed collapse of egocentric western dualism, hermeticists pick up the pieces, to recover cultural memory and allow their amnesiac followers to 'remember' earlier ways of identifying with the physical, rational, emotional and spiritual aspects of existence. The hermetic part of this phenomenon makes the now-gender-neutral collective unconscious 'conscious' in practical senses, as with the establishment of new political movements. Of course, the shift in values is not widespread or universal. Nor are gnostic-hermetic solutions necessarily good ones, whatever their devotees may expect.

One must step back from the arcane language and beliefs to observe the actual trend behind them. Online debates on these subjects in mid-late 2015 indicate a tipping point, wherein interaction in virtual reality has begun to change behaviour and awareness on deeper levels. The Internet is breaking down and synthesizing demarcated experiences, whether between mind and body, between the genders, between the individual and the collective, or between the local and global. Perhaps hermeticism and gnosticism are the most durable ideas available in western culture to describe flexible identification, as individuals find themselves simultaneously immersed in virtual reality and 'real' reality.

China's One Belt, One Road Initiative (2015). Image Source: Roman Wilhelm/MERICS/The Diplomat.

One may ask how spiritual issues pertain to hard reality. Why does the New Age Internet matter, when China is building naval bases in the South China Sea, the Red Sea, and on the west coast of Africa? These online trends matter because societies rise and fall according to their adaptability when confronted with jumps in technology, social changes, and ensuing geopolitical conflicts. World War III, when (or if) it arrives, and everything that leads up to it, will depend on global connectivity. How our brains respond to connectivity and the ideas we discover or rediscover through that response may be essential to cultural resourcefulness and survival.

To ask these questions about western values now is akin to asking how the introduction of the printing press in Germany (1439-1440) led to the Protestant Reformation (1517-1617) and the Thirty Years' War (1618-1648). The spiritual and moral outlook of a society is indexed to its level of technology and prosperity. When the latter two factors change, so does the former. Anomie and aporia, experienced then as now, will lead to experiments to develop values better suited to new ways of living. But that process emerges through trial and error. Societies sometimes depend on war to determine a new dominant narrative.

My treatment of these topics comes with a caveat. While I may comment on unusual online material here, I do not personally identify with evidence I uncover. Hermetic traditions and politics can be weird, occult, radical, fringe or extremist. My comments in this series of blog posts do not constitute my endorsement of these beliefs. They are presented here as part of an examination of the cultural historical impact of the Internet on western values, under increasingly universalized, yet decentralized and chaotic conditions. I also do not personally agree with conspiracy theories mentioned here, but rather regard them as signs of contemporary mentalities.

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.'"

Monday, October 18, 2010

The Spectres on Thai Beaches


Ghostly image claimed to be take in Thailand after the tsunami, popped up MSNBC, where it was credited "Courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox."

Almost six years ago, on December 26, 2010, an earthquake of magnitude beween 9.1 and 9.3 struck in the Indian Ocean. It spawned a tsunami that killed almost a quarter of a million people in fourteen countries. Today, this diaster overshadows the region, and resort destinations once popular with foreigners are troubled by apocalyptic memories, in which survivors became the living dead, wading through a receding sea of death.  When something as terrible as this happens, many people deal with it by perceiving a 'thinning' of the wall between life and death; they see a paranormal dimension of the tragedy.  From 2005, reports came out of the region, and especially Thailand, that the area was haunted.  This is the premise of many horror stories, written on a gigantic scale: that people taken violently, wrongfully, and before their time will not rest, but will walk the earth to plague the living.  But the credibility of supernatural explanations is perhaps less important than what ghosts tell us about ourselves.  (The rest of the post contains graphic imagery.)

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

The Wrong Side of Enlightenment


"A Japanese student was allegedly kidnapped and gang raped by five Indian men near the Buddhist shrine Bodh Gaya for a month." Image Source: Daily Mail.

If you want a cataclysmic, in-a-nutshell example of what is wrong with the world today, read the news item from a few days ago about the Japanese student who was kidnapped and gang raped for a month near the site where Buddha attained enlightenment in India. Or: follow today's coverage of the Charlie Hebdo al Qaeda terrorist murders in Paris, in which twelve people died, including a policeman who was shot in the head at point blank range. The summary of those events is here. The two outrages bookended Christmas in December and Orthodox Christmas, which is celebrated on 7 January in the Julian calendar.

Al Qaeda terrorist murdered a policeman in Paris on 7 January 2015. Image Source: Mirror.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Bombs and Buddha's Enlightenment

Mahabodhi Temple, built by Emperor Ashoka around 260 BCE . Image Source: Wiki.

From The Times of India, via Digital Tibetan Buddhist Altar: there has just been a serial bombing  of the Mahabodhi Temple in eastern India and a bombing at or near the Bodhi tree, a descendant of the sacred fig tree under which Buddha reached enlightenment:
The site of the Bodhi tree at Bodhigaya is directly connected to the life of Buddha (566-486 BCE) ... [he] attained enlightenment or perfect insight when he was meditating under this tree. ... According to the Jatakas, it forms the navel of the earth, and no other place can support the weight of the Buddha's attainment. ... Buddhist mythology also states that when the world is destroyed at the end of a kalpa, the Bodhimanda is the last spot to disappear and is the first to appear when the world emerges into existence again. The myth also claims that a lotus will bloom there, and if a Buddha is born during that the new kalpa, the lotus flowers in accordance with the number of Buddhas expected to arise.
Further reporting from the Telegraph: a bomb was placed at the foot of the temple's 80-foot-tall (24-metre) statue of the Buddha, but did not go off.

"An injured Buddhist monk receives medical treatment at a hospital in Gaya, on July 7, 2013." Image Source: AFP.

"A Buddhist monk is carried on a stretcher after the attacks in Bodh gaya." Image Source: Manish Bhandari/AP via Daily Telegraph.

"A policeman looks at debris at the Bodh Gaya Buddhist temple complex, on July 7, 2013."  Image Source: AFP.

"The entrance to a Buddhist temple edifice at the Bodh Gaya temple complex was torn apart by the explosions." Image Source: Sky News.

Broken windows at the Bodh Gaya temple complex. Image Source: Sky News.

Bomb disposal personnel recover an unexploded bomb at the foot of the great statue of Buddha. Image Source: Sky News.

The Mahabodhi Tree in Bodh Gaya. Image Source: Wiki.

Monday, July 11, 2011

The Dark Matter World



One of the great mysteries of our times is Dark Matter. In various forms, it makes up most of reality, somewhere between 85 and 98 per cent, yet we know almost nothing about it, including the particles of which it is composed, because we can't see it (it neither emits nor scatters light). Scientists assume it exists because they can detect its mass and gravitational pull (see a piece at I09 on Dark Matter here and an explanation from Scientific American here). Now there are speculations that there might have been (might still be?) stars and potentially alternate, unseen galaxies, a coexistent unseen universe, composed of Dark Matter.

Friday, February 20, 2015

The Lunar New Year's Conformity and Gnostic Alienation


Gnostic symbols. Image Source: MISTÉRIOS DE RENES-LE-CHÂTEAU.

How are the astrological symbols and messages of Asia's Lunar New Year relevant to Millennial life? The Year of the Goat or Sheep encourages conformity and pacifism, conciliation and acceptance of authority, but allows for creativity and a healing of past wrongs. These values oppose the confrontational and competitive alienation of the Millennial mind, which calls for leaders, not followers.

What is the origin of this confrontational alienation? This spring, Pacifica Graduate Institute in California is pondering the central myth of our time in a debate on Carl Jung's Red Book. I would argue that the Millennial myth derives from the Enlightenment era's hyper-rationalism, and an associated arrogance inflated by mechanistic advances in industry, science and technology.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Countdown to Hallowe'en 2016: Bohemian Grove's Hoax Cult Exposures


Moloch. Image Source: Your Newswire. See the full image here.

How true conspiracy theories are depends on how much you are willing to believe. I consider conspiracy theories to be powerful fictions and mischievous propaganda. This post concerns the granddaddy of them all, the story of the Bohemian Grove, the conspiracy theory that launched a thousand ships on the Internet.

Image Source: WikiLeaks via Your Newswire.

On 16 March 2016, WikiLeaks released Hillary Clinton's hacked e-mails on the Internet. In an August 2009 e-mail lay 'evidence' of Clinton's connection to the Bohemian Grove and the Illuminati. In the leak, Lewis Amselem, US lead representative to the Organization of American States, joked about the Honduran coup (see criticism of Amselem here, and coup-related comments herehere, herehere, here, here, here and here); if everything there worked out as they hoped, Amselem would go out in the backyard and sacrifice a chicken to Moloch.

Perhaps Amselem actually mentioned Moloch to Clinton's staffers. However, several reports maintain that Russian hackers tampered with Clinton's and the Democratic party's e-mails prior to releasing them to WikiLeaksWikiLeaks has been blatantly anti-Clinton during the American election campaign. Even The Intercept and Edward Snowden criticized Julian Assange for his bias. Thus, this weird, tenuous connection between Hillary Clinton and Moloch could be fictitious. As WikiLeaks continues its suspect info dumps leading up to the US election, there is a lot of talk about the validity of the data they are revealing about a criminal and corrupted American establishment. Yet the question remains: who is Moloch? And why would Amselem, or Russian hackers, mention him?

Friday, October 21, 2016

Countdown to Hallowe'en 2016: New Atlantis at Denver International Airport


An enormous blue horse sculpture with glowing red eyes greets Denver International Airport entrants. During construction in 2006, part of the sculpture fell on the artist, Luis Jiménez and killed him. Officially dubbed Blue Mustang (2008), locals nicknamed the 9,000 pound stallion 'Blucifer,' and decided it looks like the pale demon horse carrying Death, one of the four horsemen of the Apocalypse. Others say it relates to the Blue Star Kachina in a Hopi prophecy of the destruction of the world. Image Source: flickr.

One of the pinpoints on the globe which conspiracy theorists associate with apocalypse and New World Order is Denver International Airport. The Committee for Skeptical Inquiry scoffs at this, but acknowledges that the airport has become a hub for conspiracy theories about how the world is changing.

Locals think the airport may be a secret shelter for the government, or a military base in the event of global conflict. Do this city and its airport have more strategic importance than we know? Some think the airport has underground tunnel connections to an official bunker further west. Truthers and New Age occultists suspect the airport is the Illuminati's site of 'New Atlantis' after World War III.

Image Source: flickr.

Millennial paranoids got this idea from a novel, New Atlantis, by Sir Francis Bacon, published in 1627, which you can read here. In the book, Bacon explained the driving motivation of secular rationalists:
"The end of our foundation is the knowledge of causes, and secret motions of things; and the enlarging of the bounds of human empire, to the effecting of all things possible."
Their foundational centre, the triumphant capital of enlightened intellectuals, would be named New Atlantis. Bacon situated this endgame metropolis in America:
"For the several employments and offices of our fellows; we have twelve that sail into foreign countries, under the names of other nations, (for our own we conceal); who bring us the books, and abstracts, and patterns of experiments of all other parts. These we call Merchants of Light. 

"We have three that collect the experiments which are in all books. These we call Depredators. 

"We have three that collect the experiments of all mechanical arts; and also of liberal sciences; and also of practices which are not brought into arts. These we call Mystery-men. 

"We have three that try new experiments, such as themselves think good. These we call Pioneers or Miners.

"We have three that draw the experiments of the former four into titles and tables, to give the better light for the drawing of observations and axioms out of them. These we call Compilers. 

"We have three that bend themselves, looking into the experiments of their fellows, and cast about how to draw out of them things of use and practise for man's life, and knowledge, as well for works as for plain demonstration of causes, means of natural divinations, and the easy and clear discovery of the virtues and parts of bodies. These we call Dowry-men or Benefactors. 

"Then after divers meetings and consults of our whole number, to consider of the former labours and collections, we have three that take care, out of them, to direct new experiments, of a higher light, more penetrating into nature than the former. These we call Lamps. 

"We have three others that do execute the experiments so directed, and report them. These we call Inoculators. 

"Lastly, we have three that raise the former discoveries by experiments into greater observations, axioms, and aphorisms. These we call Interpreters of Nature. 

"We have also, as you must think, novices and apprentices, that the succession of the former employed men do not fail; besides, a great number of servants and attendants, men and women. And this we do also: we have consultations, which of the inventions and experiences which we have discovered shall be published, and which not: and take all an oath of secrecy, for the concealing of those which we think fit to keep secret: though some of those we do reveal sometimes to the state and some not.
Critics argue that Bacon's vision closely describes modern international globalization's rampant science, technology, and materialist consumerism. Conspiracy theorists believe that Bacon's work inspired the Illuminati when they planned their future capital of the New World Order. When the theorists began to guess where that projected site might be, they focused on Denver, Colorado, USA.

In 2009, the Telegraph posted a curious slideshow of World War III comics, without attributed author or artist, entitled, "Operation Blackjack - the story of a series of terrorist nuclear attacks on major western cities and the aftermath." This series caught the attention of conspiracy theorists and became notorious on the Internet. In the slideshow, Denver becomes the capital of the future state of the Union of North America. In reality, 'Operation Blackjack' is a series of weekend wargames staged in locations in the USA; an affiliated UK site is here. Image Source: The Telegraph via Youtube.

The full Telegraph slideshow. Video Source: Youtube.

Monday, November 8, 2010

The Problem with Memory 2: The Science of Memory

Memory chip. Image Source: Venture Beat.

How do we remember?  What does the brain do, exactly, to create memories? What are we to make of a report like this one at Live Science, which states that memory is not just a product of brain cells forming connections - wherein nerves reorganize themselves and send messages between themselves to establish a memory; but individual brain nerve cells can also hold short-term memories?  There's a piece here from October 25 at Phys.org which further explains how memories are born.  A memory is created when our brain makes groups of its cells "fire in unison" - each memory has a different pattern.  Scientists are trying to find treatments or prevention for Alzheimer's and dementia by administering drugs to older rats which stimulate their neurotransmitters.  This research has been headed by Profesor Etan Markus at the University of Connecticut.  An earlier report from 2006 on memory creation in the brain is here.

Aside from the obvious fears of aging Baby Boomers, why is there pressure to figure out how memory works?  Consider that those who know exactly how neurobiology and neuropsychology overlap in order that we may comprehend differences in time will conceivably be able to control, manufacture and bend memories - in advertising, in cinema, in public life, on the internet, in the military.  Phys.org just came out with a report that scientists have discovered how to erase memory: "Researchers working with mice have discovered that by removing a protein from the region of the brain responsible for recalling fear, they can permanently delete traumatic memories."