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.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Ancient Cities 1: Leukaspis Rises from the Sea

Past and Present: Leukaspis, with a five-star hotel in the background. AP Photo.

Associated Press circulated a story on September 7 about the ancient Egyptian city of Leukaspis or Antiphrae, a former Greco-Roman town.  It is now situated under the northern resort of Marina, and will be opened in mid-September to visitors. 2,000 years ago, it was a thriving little port until it was destroyed by an earthquake and related tsunami in the fourth century.

Friday, September 17, 2010

The Wonderful World of Retro Dining Clubs

History lives on in the world of Retro Dining Clubs in California.  The blog Obvious Winner recently carried a story about a group in LA called the Norse Hollywood Dining Vikings.  According to the piece: "A man named Tony Swatton is the leader of the brigade and says 'Vikings eat pirates and shit ninjas!'"  The group has a facebook page here, with many more photos of their exploits. Evenings include Hammerfest XIV, hosted by the California Blacksmith Association, where dinner and pillage are combined with demonstrations by master Hollywood props and swordsmakers, who preserve near-lost traditions of craftsmanship.  Oktoberfest is also big on the social calendar. The Dining Vikings are only the tip of the iceberg.  There is a burgeoning set of American Viking festivals, such as the Ashville Viking Festival in Ohio; Vista, California; and Central California; most seem to have grown out of local Scandinavian folkfests.  AOL has also covered the group here.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Retro-Futurism 7: Beauty from Barcelona

Babylon Cast into Hell, f. 65r (Ap. 18, 22b-24). Image from The Apocalypse of 1313 by M. Moleiro.  (Original: Bibliothèque nationale de France, Paris)

On this blog, I've been discussing Retro-Futurism in terms not normally used by bloggers.  Retro-Futurism typically refers to depictions of the future which were conceived up to the 1980s.  I'm using the term to describe this idea as well as a similar time-twisting concept: the regeneration of very old tropes, images, symbols and stories in the present day.  The Tech Revolution has ensured that many of the things we once associated with the future- such as video phone calls in Blade Runner - are now part of our daily reality.  But the more we achieve that future, the more another, unexpected pattern has occurred, wherein older historical artifacts or antiquarian customs are reproduced or reworked in ways that fit in with the Space Age.  Herein lies the genesis of retro-movements such as Cyberpunk and Steampunk.  But the trend is everywhere, this treasuring and rediscovery of the past.  Part of this depends on the development of new technologies of historical reproduction.  The past can be brought back to life with more immediacy than ever before. Thus, the Millennium is characterized by a mysterious and radical blending of the past and present.

Great examples can be found in the beautiful Spanish city of Barcelona, where the remarkable company M. Moleiro reproduces medieval books, or codices (codices were bound books that replaced scrolls, with each book written out by scribes entirely by hand, prior to the invention of the printing press).  The company's homesite (here) declares M. Moleiro as: "the most prestigious company in the world specialised in the reproduction of codices, maps and works of art usually made on parchment, vellum, paper, papyrus… between the 13th and 16th centuries in the form, in most instances, of illuminated books. The techniques employed in reproducing the codices, combined with the wisdom and skilled craftsmanship of our trade, enable us to remain very faithful to the original. Bound in leather tanned used the methods of years past and reproduced on special, hand-made paper, our codices reproduce all the nuances of the paintings, parchment, gold and silver leaf."  Go look at Moleiro's site, and be amazed at how the Middle Ages have been reincarnated in the Tech-riddled present. The Biblical reproduction section includes a number of medieval depictions of Apocalypses.  If money is no object, you can order reproductions from Moleiro; and then you too can own your very own perfect medieval Bible or medical manual.  They also have a free catalogue, which you can order here.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Love in the New Millennium 1: No Sex Please, We're Virtual

Plan your weekend getaway with your imaginary girlfriend. LovePlus+ © Konami.

The Wall Street Journal is reporting (here) that the town of Atami, a city just outside Tokyo once popular for weekend getaways, is now doing everything possible to attract a new breed of tourist.  With real marriages dwindling, Atami is "trying to attract single men—and their handheld devices. In the first month of the city's promotional campaign launched July 10, more than 1,500 male fans of the Japanese dating-simulation game LovePlus+ have flocked to Atami for a romantic date with their videogame character girlfriends. The men are real. The girls are cartoon characters on a screen. The trips are actual, can be expensive and aim to re-create the virtual weekend outing featured in the game, a product of Konami Corp. played on Nintendo Co.'s DS videogame system."  LovePlus+ offers players a variety of virtual female high school students to romance. The first version of LovePlus was published in 2009.  The game attracted attention when one of its players married one of the characters.  Reuters has a video report on the wedding here.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Mars Exploration Sci-Fi Cover Art

レッド・プラネット, Red Planet (1985). By Robert A. Heinlein.

Via Lee Hamilton's blog, here is a link to an amazing collection of international book covers for sci-fi novels that deal with Mars exploration.

NASA Plans Trip to Sun

Photo Credit: JHU/APL

NASA has announced that it will be sending an unmanned spacecraft to examine the Sun at close quarters by 2018.  This will be "our first visit to a star." Reports at Time magazine here and at NASA's Solar Probe Plus site is here.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Retrocognition, or, Psychic History

Matter of Time (2009). © By lone-momo.  Reproduced with kind permission.

The turn of the Millennium is a relentless, clichéed reality, important only because of how we set up our calendar.  We expect these years to be significant, even if they're not.  And if they're not, we have to make them important with strange ideas. Today's fringe theory is Retrocognition or Postcognition.  This is a fad from the turn of the last century, wherein people claim to be able to see past events psychically, and experience trapped pockets of former times.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Psychometric Assessments Meet Precrime - and the Zodiac?

London Fields at twilight, 2005.

ABC News is carrying a report that Professor Richard Berk of the University of Pennsylvania has developed "software ... already used in Baltimore and Philadelphia to predict which individuals on probation or parole are most likely to murder and to be murdered. In his latest version, the one being implemented in D.C., Berk goes even further, identifying the individuals most likely to commit crimes other than murder."  The critical factor for future predictions depends on the age at which an individual first previously committed certain crimes.