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, February 28, 2015

Memespace Hyperventilation

Palaces in the sky: Dark Roasted Blend recently celebrated the incredible visions of French science fiction comics from the 1970s, which American and British directors mimicked in comics and cinema in the 1980s and 1990s. Image Source: Jean-Claude Mézières via Dark Roasted Blend (Hat tip: Me and You and a Blog Named Boo).

On 27 February 2015, Richard Branson encouraged entrepreneurs to come forward to share and expand new ideas. That's great, although some of the big biz riffing around the future celebrates the new idea of the new idea. One never actually gets to a new idea. The out-of-control lingo-about-lingo about the newness-of-newness reminds me of the explosion of Postmodern Expert Speak in the 1990s, which constructed new foundations of intellectual cultural authority.

The Valérian and Laureline "series focuses on the adventures of the dark-haired Valérian, a spatio-temporal agent, and his redheaded female companion, Laureline, as they travel the universe through space and time." Above, "Baroque spaceships (complete with ghost-ridden halls and gargoyles sticking out into the void of space)." Image Source: Dark Roasted Blend.

Mr. Branson quoted commenter Jason Silva, a photogenic Gen Y guru, who is a one-man meme generator and Singularity freestyle philosophical poet. He is compelling and makes good points, but there is something weird about the way he takes the Tech Revolution so literally and with such breathless utopian fervour. His clever rants reach height after height against IMAX effects. His videos are fantastic, if you like the Singularity Themepark Channel. His Youtube commentaries are part of the TestTube Network, which shares an unreflective undergraduate confidence that its contributors can fix the world, or at least understand it, if they edit it and add a soundtrack to it.

Silva's enthusiasm reminds me of the glassy-eyed idealism around the founding of America, or the Revolution in France. He joyously accepts the demolition of temporal boundaries and celebrates breaches of physical and cognitive limitations. He lacks a sense of Techno-Irony about the separate virtual lives enjoyed by his Online Language and Online Ego. To illustrate how Silva can be pithy yet simultaneously hollow, compare his Existential Bummer (the last video below) about death and a life beyond with another writer on similar topics. See Kate Sherrod's Story Sonnets: Infected (24 February 2015) and Who's the Real Crook Here? (23 February 2015).

Friday, February 27, 2015

Godspeed to the Stars, Mr. Nimoy

Image Source: Star Trek.

Leonard Nimoy (1931-2015), who played Mr. Spock on Star Trek, has died, aged 83. He played a half-alien, always relying on cold logic, but saved by his capacity for human empathy and emotion. Nimoy's final tweet, telling his followers to 'Live Long and Prosper' (Hat tip: The Verge):

Clip from Star Trek III: The Search for Spock (1984). Video Source: Youtube.

Long Lovejoy and Little Dumbell. NASA's astronomy picture of the day, 27 February 2015. Image Source and © Rolando Ligustri (CARA Project, CAST) NASA APOD.

Caption for the above photograph: "Buffeted by the solar wind, Comet Lovejoy's crooked ion tail stretches over 3 degrees across this telescopic field of view, recorded on February 20. The starry background includes awesome bluish star Phi Persei below, and pretty planetary nebula M76 just above Lovejoy's long tail. Also known as the Little Dumbbell Nebula, after its brighter cousin M27 the Dumbbell Nebula, M76 is only a Full Moon's width away from the comet's greenish coma. Still shining in northern hemisphere skies, this Comet Lovejoy (C/2014 Q2) is outbound from the inner solar system some 10 light-minutes or 190 million kilometers from Earth. But the Little Dumbbell actually lies over 3 thousand light-years away. Now sweeping steadily north toward the constellation Cassiopeia Comet Lovejoy is fading more slowly than predicted and is still a good target for small telescopes."

Return to the Tea House

Dolls for the Japanese Hinamatsuri festival at Minamoto Kitchoan in San Francisco, California (2015): The traditional imperial court doll festival and tea ceremony "arose in the Heian era when people used dolls to ward off evil spirits and ensure their daughters' health and happiness." As the Japanese cherry blossom festivals begin in March, tea parties mingle with spring rites on Hinamatsuri, or Girls' Day, celebrated on March 3 with saki and sweets; the day is followed by other celebrations. Image Source: C. Dorosz.

In the 1990s, coffeehouses became the stamping ground of professionals and hipsters. A great American adaptation from Central Europe and the Near East promised to invigorate North America beyond shopping malls and fast food chains. Within a decade, Starbucks became the kind of place where J. K. Rowling could write her first Harry Potter novel when she was broke.

At the global coffeehouse, the emphasis is no longer on cultural growth, despite what some undergraduates think. The coffeehouse sits on points on the grid along which the jolt-o-rama of Millennial life surges. We are always in an airport, always on the clock, always in a rush. You can travel around the world, and wherever you go, the same coffee haze and sticky chairs, misted with hazelnut syrup, will greet you. In the exhausting atmosphere of the coffee-information drip feed, it would be impossible even to digest your Grande, much less write a novel on your laptop while you're doing it. It is this fraught relationship with time, deadlines, with breathless seconds ticking by, which is driving people back to the tea house, where the rule of thumb is slowing down, not speeding up.