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, October 13, 2012

Countdown to Hallowe'en 19: Return of the Dead

Image Source: Byte Size Biology.

For this month's Countdown to Hallowe'en blogathon, I am writing horror posts which relate to themes on this blog. However, some Millennial Bad Ideas I cover are so horrific in their own right that they are a horror story or film waiting to happen. No one has fictionalized them yet.

Some archaeologists and Prehistory theorists imagine that the history of advanced humans runs back tens of thousands of years earlier than thought, with environmental disasters such as Ice Ages and Atlantean flood events periodically wiping humankind's collective memory of what came before. (See my regular posts on Prehistory here.)

Others, however, look to a future in which the secrets of the deep past may simply be brought back to life and studied. I09 recently dismissed the cloning of Woolly Mammoths, but with new specimens turning up in Russian permafrost, that possibility persists. The horrific Millennial reality for today is the debate on the DNA research on, and potential cloning of, the Neanderthal. Apparently, the feat could be accomplished for about $30 million. By contrast, sending astronauts to Mars would cost somewhere between $40 and $80 billion.

This is a Millennial take on already popular zombies and immortality of the resurrected: a separate human species became extinct, but could be revived by modern science. While there is nothing wrong with the work to decode the Neanderthal genome, the misapplication of that knowledge would be another matter.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Countdown to Hallowe'en 20: Putting the Natural Back into Supernatural

Image Source: Ian Miles.

Today, the Countdown to Hallowe'en blogathon continues with a spooky post on the environment, a topic I normally cover here. All Hallows' Eve overemphasizes the supernatural: it is a Christian night of purgatorial observance, coming before All Saints' Day (November 1) and All Souls' Day (November 2). But Hallowe'en is also a celebration of the power of the purely natural world, because it incorporates pagan elements, pre-Christian traditions around the harvest, and northern autumnal festivals. These latter aspects draw from the Roman feast of Pomona; the Celtic festival of Samhain; the Welsh Nos Galan Gaeaf; and the German Martinisingen. Below the jump, some unsettling calls from birds and animals (some are speculative).

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Countdown to Hallowe'en 21: Horror is (Not) Knowing the Future

Image Source: Jefferson's Rebels.

Today's Hallowe'en Countdown continues with predictions about the future that eerily come true. Out of all the future predictions made by authors in novels from the 1940s to the 1970s, only one author was nearly perfect in his accuracy: George Orwell. He based his dystopian future in the novel Nineteen Eighty-Four on his experiences fighting in the Spanish Civil War, where he saw history twisted and rewritten in the name of power and politics, with no reference to reality.

For Orwell, the moment we could no longer recognize the difference between reality and a virtual world crafted by media hype or special interest rhetoric was the moment when fascism would arrive in free societies. In his view, one of the cardinal signs of that arrival was the implementation of a universal surveillance system, with two-way screens in all private rooms and on every street corner (Orwell did not anticipate that people would happily carry their Big Brother screens around with them in the form of the iPhone 5).

The only thing that Orwell predicted that has not (yet) come to pass is a state-enforced mindless acceptance of Big Brother culture, along with the establishment of unrecognizable Thought Police, the prosecution of Thought Criminals and evil children who spot those disposed toward Thought Crime. Nor has a shadow leader emerged to pen a counter-manifesto against the régime.

On the other hand, plenty of Winston Smiths on the Internet would dispute that. The Web's conspiracy theorists are convinced that a system akin to what Orwell fictionalized already exists. Then again, that would bring us full circle to the issue of not being to distinguish between reality and unreality. Ironically, rampant Millennial rumours about an impending Illuminati New World Order create a grand online fantasy, which leaves its believers vulnerable to the very real fascist turn that Orwell predicted.

In other words, Orwell's biggest warning sign is here, and it is not the real threat of Illuminati overlords. The most frightening sign that Orwell's future is here is the real popular belief in imaginary secret cabals. The moment when the paranoid masses cannot distinguish between fiction masquerading as fact and actual fact is the most frightening moment of all.

The gnostic problem of the Millennial skeptic who seeks the 'real truth' inside the 'real truth' inside the 'real truth' reproduces itself in horror films through the presence of layers and layers of ironic self-aware metafictions. Film characters chatter openly inside the horror drama about dodging horror clichés. Perhaps the most cynical recent example of self-irony in a horror movie is the Gen Y vehicle, The Cabin in the Woods (2012). Another aspect of the confused Millennial mentality is the horror film 'based on a true story.'

See all my posts on Horror themes.
See all my posts on Ghosts.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Countdown to Hallowe'en 22: Your Job or Your Ghost Story

Still from the 1989 Granada Television production of The Woman in Black. Image Source: The Movie db.

This month, Histories of Things to Come presents spooky posts on general themes often covered by this blog as part of the Countdown to Hallowe'en blogathon. Today, the topic is the spectre of unemployment, which haunts so many people during the lingering recession.  Regular posts relating to the economy, industry, marketing, finance or business are here.

Today's ghost story opens when a junior solicitor is threatened with losing his job by the head of his law firm, unless he takes on an unpleasant task which his boss is curiously reluctant to do personally. The young lawyer must head out to settle a dead woman's affairs in a small market town on England's east coast. The town just happens to be haunted by a vengeful spectre.  As the protagonist continues to engage with the ghost, readers or the audience might ask one question: what would you do to keep your job?

Still from the 2012 Hammer film production of The Woman in Black. Image Source: Theiapolis Cinema.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Countdown to Hallowe'en 23: Conspiracy Horror

Image Source: Wiki.

The Countdown to Hallowe'en blogathon, with horror posts here related to different themes on this blog, continues today with 2010's Zenith, a dystopic thriller set in a post-apocalyptic 2044. For Zenith's film-makers, the Technological Singularity is the apocalypse. The movie additionally exploits the after-effects of 9/11, of medical and technological advancements, and of an explosion in communications, which have collectively led to unprecedented levels of public distrust of government authorities in the first decade of the new Millennium. The story concerns a man striving to solve a big conspiracy theory, based on research left to him by his father.

The film had limited release in theatres; it was also released in an open-licensed version online in a torrented format that bypassed growing debates over copyright. It also fostered an online alternate reality game that used interactive marketing techniques to drive the film's publicity and distribution:
On August 31, 2010, Above Top Secret posted a forum thread offering a $500 reward for the first individual to correctly identify the purpose behind the website for the fictitious company "Wadjet Industries." Through a maze of websites, users quickly discovered that Wadjet Industries was related to a new film by director Vladan Nikolic, and that the goal of the alternate reality game was to find online video clips of Ed Crowley's tapes, edit them together, and upload them via YouTube to the film's promotional website, stopzenith.com.
The film's conspiracy has the usual secret societies. It draws on the Millennial obsession with the Illuminati and Freemasons, with the CIA and burgeoning religions, drugs, sex and mysticism. The movie's tagline is: The film they do not want you to see. Zenith's invisible governments and new world orders intersect with a gigantic mess created by mass genetic and moral engineering. This is a desensitized future in which all language and values have been stripped of meaning because humans have been genetically engineereed to be happy. If current experiments are anything to go by, it is a future that is not all that far-fetched. See the film below the jump, which promises that progress in science, technology and communications will leave people convinced that nothing is as it seems, while they suffer from paresthesia and seek dysphoria as the ultimate solution to their never-ending happiness.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Countdown to Hallowe'en 24: Bergman's Hour of the Wolf

Still from Hour of the Wolf (Vargtimmen) © United Artists/MGM. Image Source: Photobucket.

My October 4th post was devoted to the witching hour, also called the 'hour of the wolf.' This is the time between night and dawn - 3 a.m. to 5 a.m. - when wolves are said to lurk outside people's houses in wild areas. Below the jump, one of renowned Swedish director Ingmar Bergman's most famous and frightening films, The Hour of the Wolf (Vargtimmen – 1968), a surreal piece about a secretive artist who keeps waking up in the middle of the night, and who disappears after several disturbing run-ins with his strange, aristocratic patrons.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

SpaceX Falcon 9 Launch Today

Watch the launch live here.

Countdown to Hallowe'en 25: Wars, Spirits and the Canadian Woods

Kingsmere's fake ruins.
One of the themes of this blog is the technological and spiritual impact of war. One of the strangest ghost stories around that theme concerns Canada's longest serving Prime Minister, William Lyon Mackenzie King.  He headed the country for a total of 21 years, intermittently from the 1920s to the 1940s, including the whole World War II period. He never married; a dear friend had died in 1900 (Mackenzie King had his dead friend used as the model for a statue of Sir Galahad, which stands at the entrance to Canada's Parliament Buildings), and most of his family died through the First World War.

In the post-WWI-era, he became interested, as many grieving people did, in spiritualism. He is known to have hired mediums to speak regularly to his dead family, especially his mother, and other departed spirits. He used spirtiualist techniques such as table-rapping, and was given a crystal ball by an English psychic. He was also fascinated by numerology and dreams, and kept extensive diaries about his spiritual impressions. This was, again, unorthodox and kept secret during his period in office. But it was not entirely out of step with the times.