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.

Friday, October 22, 2010

The History of the Past Week in Meta-Tweets

Image: Is that Wacked/Bruce Marlin (Chicago).

According to Multiversity Comics (here), the Mother Ship has landed and Grant Morrison joined Twitter (here) on the 13th of October. This got me wondering about the tweets I saw in the past week that really captured (for me) how people are thinking about what is going on. In reviewing them beyond the constant reading flow that is normal for Twitter, the tweets produced a picture of the fractured landscape and fragmented reality that the Internet is constantly making out of discussions on various topics. The sense of the tweets comes not just from the single tweets themselves, but from the connections between tweeters, the reactions they have to one another's posts, and the retweets they make. Together, these messages form a loosely-knit lattice that creates a larger, collective meaning. But because Twitter is so dynamic, that form and meaning are constantly changing. It would be impossible to pin down or document, in a traditional historiographical sense, the general way tweeters are thinking about a certain range of topics at a given time. It could only be done by storing all the messages and sorting them with computer algorithms, analyzing them linguistically according to the use of certain words and the date. Is this how the history of our times and future times will be written in the distant future? Who will have access to the information amassed by sites like MySpace, Twitter and Facebook? And how will they analyze it? And with what tools?  And how will that affect how future people understand our incredibly important era, the dawn of the Technological Revolution?  Will the history of our present be written by the corporate ancestors of marketing and branding agencies?  It's something that professional historians in the universities should contemplate.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

2012 Apocalypse Postponed due to Calendar Mix-up

Live Science is running a piece by Stephanie Pappas about new research that the fabled Mayan calendar date for the Apocalypse, December 21, 2012, is wrong: "It's a good news/bad news situation for believers in the 2012 Mayan apocalypse. The good news is that the Mayan 'Long Count' calendar may not end on Dec. 21, 2012 (and, by extension, the world may not end along with it). The bad news for prophecy believers? If the calendar doesn't end in December 2012, no one knows when it actually will - or if it has already."

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

On Distant Horizons: The Anti-Tech Backlash

Image © Josh Neuman.

For those of us who feel a sense of unease about the exponential pace of technological change, the relentless pressure to absorb the flood of blinking information, to respond to the plugged-in socializing, there is a question as to whether some quieter aspects of life from the past are being irretrievably lost.  One of my friends recently commented on people who are old enough to remember life before the Tech Revolution hit full force, which is the common experience of anyone belonging to Generation X or older.  He remarked that life before technology hit in earnest had a certain tempo and mood, and computers came along like two uninvited guests at the end of a dinner party, who spoil the dynamic.  He said that some people who remember the way things were before computers hit have 'drunk the Kool Aid' and are now hardcore tech enthusiasts; they seem to have forgotten the completely different pace and quality of life that once existed.  Knowledge, even about things like pop culture, was once hard won and required real dedication.  Even now, topics that require deep, quiet and focussed contemplation over time in order for their truths to come to light are swamped by a daily ocean of shallow facts that take up a lot of our time, concentration and energy.  Are our simian brains even able to engage in addictive, repetitive behaviour like this - indulging in these elaborate proxies for living - over long periods without sustaining damage?

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Brother, Can You Spare a Dime, a Condo or some Viagra? Ghosts and Ancestry Festivals

Detail from Gaki-Zoshi, the Scroll of Hungry Ghosts: Ghosts devouring dead bodies in a graveyard. © Tokyo National Museum.  Image via Wisdom Quarterly and Mind on Fire blogs.

From the fifteenth to the thirtieth days of the seventh lunar month in many parts of Asia, festivals are celebrated to honour the spirits of people's ancestors who have been briefly released from the afterworld to walk the earth.  In Chinese lore, Ghost Day is the fifteenth day of the seventh lunar month, and the whole month is considered to be 'Ghost Month.'  This year, Ghost Day was August 24 and Ghost Month ran into September.  Ghost Day and Ghost Month are sometimes likened to Hallowe'en, but they are more like a combination of western Hallowe'en and All Souls' Day, which were coverted from older, pre-Christian rituals. 

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.)

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Stonehenge Skeleton

Photo: AP Photo (2010) © Wessex Archaeology, Ho.

Associated Press recently circulated a story from Wessex Archaeology that a Mediterranean skeleton has been found at Stonehenge: "this image provided by Wessex Archaeology on Wednesday Sept. 29, 2010 shows the remains of an early bronze age burial. Although it cannot be seen in this photograph, this person was buried wearing a necklace made from amber beads. The body is in a flexed position, reminiscent of a sleeping pose. A wealthy young teenager buried near Britain's mysterious Stonehenge monument came from the Mediterranean, scientists say, proof of Stonehenge's international importance even in prehistoric times."  Wessex Archaeology's homepage is hereIn an earlier post,  discussed research that postulates that Stonehenge had a neighbouring wooden henge; it may even have been surrounded by wooden henges.  These may have been houses of the living, while Stonehenge may have been a house of the dead.

See my other posts on Stonehenge.