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, April 11, 2014

Living in the Past, by Millennial Choice

Jo Hedwig Teeuwisse lives by choice in the year 1938 as much as possible. Images Source: Yahoo.

Dutch Gen Xer Jo Hedwig Teeuwisse runs an Amsterdam-based historical consultancy, HAB 30-45, which provides advice about everyday life from 1900 to 1950. You can see their Flickr album from the work they do here. Teeuwisse also has chosen to live in conditions from the 1930s as much as possible. From Yahoo:
In a small apartment in the modern center of Amsterdam, Jo Hedwig Teeuwisse parties like it’s 1938.
The owner of a historical consultancy company, Teeuwisse, 41, lives her work, forgoing most modern belongings and conveniences of the 21st century in favor of a life straight out of the 1930s.
“The only modern thing I have in my house is my computer; I need it for my work,” she said. “I also have a modern fridge, but only because I haven’t found a nice 1930s one yet and they no longer deliver ice for ice boxes.” ...
“As a student, my house was a mix of all sorts of old things, but slowly I started to focus it all and eventually I decided to just go for it and aim for the lifestyle of a lower-middle-class woman in Amsterdam in the late 1930s,” she said. “I felt right at home.”
Her favorite year, specifically, is 1938, because in addition to being a great example of the time she loves – the “golden age” of architecture, design, fashion and movies – it was also before the start of World War II and Nazi Germany’s invasion of the Netherlands.
In her apartment on the second floor of a building constructed in 1918, Teeuwisse lives with all the “modern” amenities of a 1930s woman. She describes her space as “a typical working-class house with a front room, back room, bedroom, ‘wet room’ (bathroom) and kitchen.”
The cozy apartment is filled with Dutch furniture from the 1920s and 30s, with a fireplace and radio and no television. ...

Even the way Teeuwisse keeps house is old-fashioned.
She runs a 1920s vacuum cleaner over the rugs, and washes the floors with vinegar, scrubbing on her hands and knees. She does all her laundry by hand using a washboard, a block of soap, bleach and a brush – “the smell is lovely,” she said. ...

“I just started doing it as an experiment to see what it was like, to learn about the past, and then I realized that I liked doing it that way and saved lots of money, that it was better for the environment, and that I didn’t have to put a big ugly white metal or plastic noisy box in my house,” Teeuwisse said, referring to modern appliances like washers and dryers.
Teeuwisse spends many of her mornings getting to know neighbors, going to a flea market in her neighborhood with her dogs and chatting about “the good old days” with seniors.
But because she has a company to run, she also spends part of her day with her laptop, doing research, “so that part is not very 1930s,” she said. However, she does use a Bakelite phone, introduced in 1931, instead of a cell phone to conduct business.
And when the workday is done, she spends her evenings listening to old music, reading magazines or books, or playing board games with friends.
“And of course sometimes I have to darn stockings,” she said.
Despite all this, Teeuwisse said she’s not particularly nostalgic. After all, she didn’t live through the era she mimics.
“I combine the best of the past with the best of the present to create a new tomorrow,” she said. “I don’t hide from reality. I do not pretend it is the 1930s. I do not ignore what goes on in the modern world. In the end, it is just a lifestyle.”
One might say that the way Teeuwisse has generated publicity with her time pocket lifestyle shows considerable Millennial media savvy. See more images of Teeuwisse and her apartment, filled with 1930s' furniture and books, below the jump.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Anniversaries: Start of the Rwandan Genocide

The Rwandan machete pile. Image Source: Iconic Photos.

Today marks the 20th anniversary of the start of the Rwandan genocide, when, in the course of 1994's bloody summer, nearly 1 million Tutsi and moderate Hutu people were killed. 80 per cent of the population massacred the remaining 20 per cent of the country with machetes. In most cases, the killers personally knew their victims and were their neighbours. The knives were sold by the Chinese to the Hutu government at ten cents apiece, for an estimated total cost of USD $750,000. The genocide ended on 15 July 1994. (Warning: explicit images below the jump.)

Lost Cities: Kowloon Walled City, the Faux and the Real

From Yahoo and WSJ Live, a retrospective on Hong Kong's infamous Kowloon Walled City, which was demolished 20 years ago:
The Kowloon Walled City in Hong Kong was once the densest place on earth, a virtually lawless labyrinth of crime, grime, commerce and hope. A Wall Street Journal documentary tracks its colorful legacy 20 years after its demolition.
For nearly a century, Kowloon Walled City was a gang-ruled place of low rents, no licences or taxes, drug trades, brothels and illegal dentists. Somehow, it gained further mystique because it sat across the street from an international airport, and landing jets notoriously scraped just over the slum's rooftops. The fascinating culture of this city-inside-a-city has been represented across eastern and western pop culture in video games, mangas and movies. Known as the City of Darkness in Cantonese, it particularly resonates with depictions of gritty urban landscapes in the 1980s and 1990s, and served as an inspiration for Ridley Scott's futuristic Los Angeles in Blade Runner. It recently inspired designers of Gotham sets for the British-American movie, Batman Begins (2005). City of Darkness Revisited notes only two films were actually shot inside the real Kowloon Walled City (see a clip of footage from the real city shown in Bloodsport below the jump):
only two films were actually shot within the confines of the Walled City, the Jean-Claude van Damme vehicle, Bloodsport [1988], and the far superior Johnny Mak film, Long Arm of the Law [1984]. In fact, the Walled City and one of its alleys only make a short appearance in Bloodsport, when the Jean-Claude character and his Chinese minder are making their way to an illegal fighting venue supposedly located there.
An interior facade reveals the city's staggering honeycombed character, built up without any architects. Image Source: La boite verte



Images Source: Greg Girard see more of his photos of the real Kowloon Walled City here. Other photos of the city are here and here.

Former inhabitants testify to Kowloon's tight-knit society:
"We all had very good relationships in very bad conditions. Even now, many people stay in touch with each other even though some old friends are overseas," Shum said. "People who lived there were always loyal to each other. In the Walled City, the sunshine always followed the rain."
Such is the nostalgia for this grim yet fascinating slum, that Japanese business interests have built a reproduction of Kowloon Walled City as an arcade and theme park south of Tokyo (see the theme park's main site here). The development blog, here, insists on historic faithfulness ("all materials produced from the scratch"; "real garbage from Hong Kong were sent by parcel"). HuffPo:
Kowloon Walled City, an infamous now-demolished Hong Kong slum, is enjoying new life as a three-storey Japanese arcade and theme park just south of Tokyo.
David Gilbert, a digital product manager, posted photos of the Kawasaki Warehouse on his blog, documenting stunning details of the resurrected Walled City – in all its dark and rusty glory – save for hints of modernity in its restrooms.

"The juxtaposition of a high-tech Japanese toilet in an authentically grimy bathroom had to be seen to be believed," described Gilbert.

Set designer Taishiro Hoshino, the mastermind behind the arcade theme park's time-bending alchemy, paid close attention to details from the actual slum city.

Hosino and his team examined photographs and video of the Walled City, retraced Chinese calligraphy on signage, tracked down Hong Kong mailboxes, balcony bird cages, and reproduced its neon signs.

Striving for full authenticity, he even persuaded a friend in Hong Kong to mail him her family's trash.
"I was later told that they were totally confused about my request," explained Hoshino in a detailed "Behind The Scenes" post on his website.
This development echoes other odd Millennial efforts to transform famous ruined (and not-ruined) locations of the 20th century into 21st century entertainment centres - a tourist-industry trend notably evident at Chernobyl and formerly-shuttered asylums and prisons in the United States. More images of the original city are below the jump.

The outside facade of the Japanese Kowloon Walled City theme park, which has been artificially aged and grimed up.  Image Source: HuffPo.

More images from Japan's faux Kowloon Walled City theme park, complete with faux brothels, fake open air meat markets, real Hong Kong mailboxes which were shipped to Japan as props - and grimed-up toilets, whose conveniences are actually clean and hyper-modern.  Images from HuffPo.


One of the meticulously-created Japanese faux-Kowloon mock-ups. Image Source: Hoshinogumi

"A slight departure from the theme park's authenticity, those wishing to leave must walk through a red-lit hexagon passageway, stepping over stones set over an illuminated pool toward a circular ying-yang door." Image Source: HuffPo.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Timeline of the Far Future

Click on the image to enlarge. Image Source: BBC.

The BBC has posted a timeline of the distant future, which includes the assumption that almost all buildings now standing will have collapsed by the year 3000. By that time, the BBC hypothesizes, all words from present-day languages will also be extinct, given the current rate of linguistic evolution.