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, May 4, 2013

Boomer Legacies: The Employee-less Society

James Altucher: "People with jobs are like 'the walking dead.'" (2013) Video Source: Youtube.

The Baby Boomers inspire a long list of social and economic generational legacies which they do not care to acknowledge. As mentioned in this post, On Declaring Moral Bankruptcy, one of these legacies is the gutting of the liberal professions and the move to an employee-less society, in which employers feel no moral obligation or loyalty to their workers. The old concept of professional decency never worked very well, often was patriarchal or sexist and encouraged nepotism and other forms of patronage. Despite these deep flaws, there was at least a culture of professional behaviour which suggested loyalty ran up and down the workplace hierarchy. Increasingly, we see the opposite; workers are held to ever higher and more demanding standards, while employers wash their hands of responsibility to their underlings.

From Yahoo: the Daily Ticker's Aaron Task talks to James Altucher about why you should quit your job. See Altucher's site here, and his view in the video above that across all sectors in the economy, employers are moving toward temporary employees with no job security and no benefits. When employment numbers finally improve significantly, what you will not see in the stats is that we will be living in a new economy. In that new economy, there will be no job security.

The Great Recession, Altucher maintains, was just an excuse to get rid of expensive permanent employees whom employers wanted to remove anyway, due to outsourcing, technology and globalization. Your permanent job (if you (still) have one), Altucher insists, is going to disappear anyway, so start looking at what your parallel alternatives are as a solo-entrepreneur.

For the Baby Boomers who are seeking to cut costs, this is a remarkably short-sighted policy. It grounds the entire economy in the bottom dollar and ruthless soulless efficiency. But anyone could tell you that money is just an idea, and as such it reflects a philosophy of existence. Remove the humane aspects from the very human act of work and the society will overall become less humane. Could we not have made the transition to a more mobile and globalized economy without pulling the temple down upon our heads? That choice, which Baby Boomer employers made and are still making in the 2000s and 2010s, will have long term implications.

After being treated like this, I really wonder how eager Generations X, Y and Z will be to support Baby Boomers' exploding pension, health and other social welfare costs over the coming decades. Isn't there a chance that these generations might remember the 2000s-2010s, when they were casually fired and the culture of workplace concern for their welfare and futures was destroyed without a second thought? See my posts on Boomer workplace legacies with regard to Gen X here and here; Gen Y here and here and here; and Gen Z here.

For all my posts on 60s Legacies, go here

Friday, May 3, 2013

Blocked: Tower Block Neo-Noir

Rotting tower block neo-noir. Image Source: Andrew Laenen Photography.

Today, see a British neo-noir short film about heirlooms and how the past can come back to haunt you. The writer/director is London film-maker Billy Mullaney, who describes his work: "I write, direct, shoot and edit all my short movies on a low to no budget utilizing what I have around me, creativity and imagination. My production company is called Clingy Films Productions, visit my site: www.clingyfilms.co.uk." (Hat tip: Trigger Street.) The film is Blocked (2012): "The Man is asked to find his neighbor's heirloom after being robbed by a few of the housing estate's hoodlums." The film stars Michael Southern and Alexis Peterman. The film's sparse dialogue offers layers of secrets, memories and pitfalls. The lost heirloom, an obscure pendant, is the cryptic key to everything. Like many things of immense value, its true worth is nearly impossible to recognize.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Time Capsule Real Estate

1920 Montreal house: Front hallway.

Is it the recession, or simply the turn of generations that sees old houses released onto the market? Yahoo has lately run a lot of real estate stories, which makes one wonder whether the agencies are paying for online exposure. Journalistic standards aside, unrefurbished houses are living time capsules, and show how much life has changed in the past hundred years.

In many of these real estate advertisements, 'haunted' is now shorthand for 'old' or 'not renovated,' and seems to add sensation to sale value. Hand-crafted and hand-carved aspects of old houses, evidence of lost or dying traditions of craftsmanship, are considered to have a 'ghostly' aura in our pre-fab days of machine-made mod cons. Similarly, in the photos from a Montreal house shown here, the shadows of religious worship on the bedroom wall, which once gave people comfort against night evils, are now the source of Millennial superstitions. See more photos of this extraordinary house below the jump.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Nuclear Leaks 24: Hanford's Seeping Sludge

Video Source: King 5.

Cold War legacies: there is a serious ongoing nuclear waste leak at the Hanford facility (see my earlier post on Hanford here) in America's Washington State. In the local news report (here) from Seattle's television station King 5, a Hanford worker, Mike Geffre, describes the indicators of the leak that have confronted contracted monitors over the past year. (Hat tip: ENE News.)

Click here for all my posts on nuclear themes.

Wonders of the Millennial World 5: Sehnsucht and Written Dreams

Recently, John Hornor tweeted: "When I was in my 20s, every guy I met played guitar and was in a band. Now I'm 40, and everyone I meet is a novelist." Yesterday's post on saudade as a nostalgia for a lost, pre-tech world continues with a similar kind of longing today, Sehnsucht. This is the longing to be, or be part of, something larger than ourselves.

Wiki quotes psychologists' definitions of Sehnsucht:
Psychologists have worked to capture the essence of Sehnsucht by identifying its six core characteristics: “(a) utopian conceptions of ideal development; (b) sense of incompleteness and imperfection of life; (c) conjoint time focus on the past, present, and future; (d) ambivalent (bittersweet) emotions; (e) reflection and evaluation of one's life; and (f) symbolic richness." ... Some researchers posit that Sehnsucht has a developmental function that involves life management. By imagining overarching and possibly unachievable goals, individuals may be able to create direction in their life by developing more tangible goals, or “stepping stones” that will aide them on their path toward their ideal self." [Sehnsucht has] important developmental functions, including giving directionality for life planning and helping to cope with loss and important, yet unattainable wishes by pursuing them in one's imagination." It can also operate as a self-regulatory mechanism.
Sehnsucht was an important type of idealism for English writer C. S. Lewis:
Lewis described Sehnsucht as the "inconsolable longing" in the human heart for "we know not what." In the afterword to the third edition of The Pilgrim's Regress he provided examples of what sparked this desire in him particularly: That unnameable something, desire for which pierces us like a rapier at the smell of bonfire, the sound of wild ducks flying overhead, the title of The Well at the World's End, the opening lines of "Kubla Khan", the morning cobwebs in late summer, or the noise of falling waves.
In Lewis's terms, Sehnsucht resembles a yearning similar to that evoked in this post about the world created by Lewis's friend, J. R. R. Tolkien. It is the ineffable call of 'home,' expressed through emotion and metaphor. Tolkien was interested in creating a fantasy world which brought to life our original hopes and dreams, as well as our consciousness of a lost, great land which existed in mythical terms before memory and before history.

In the western imagination, that lost land lies further in the west, and is often embodied in rumours of Atlantis. In the eastern imagination, a similar lost land lies further in the east and is described in myths of Fusang. In India, the lost continent of myth is Lemuria, which lies to the imaginary south. Most major civilizations have this common thread of displaced yearning and memory, often expressed in symbolic terms as a lost land.

Our lost lands now are virtual. The Web is effectively the terra incognita, and there is a desperate push to find its limits, its outward borders. Once thus encapsulated by our understanding, perhaps the Web will become the new Promised Land. To get back to John Hornor's comment about novelists, the explosion of written output on the Internet might be a response to the Sehnsucht that has arisen in the hearts of countless small authors. If the Millennium is characterized by the destruction and reworking of old values, a confusion about the old order and loss of norms, there is a push in equal measure to find sources of inspiration. In other words, civilization is not teetering on the brink of implosion. It is not a black hole about to swallow itself. The vacuum is being filled, at an incredible rate.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Saudade for the Pre-Tech World

Youtube has a lot of great twentieth century media, which let us know just how different things were only 15 years ago.  One Youtube channel called Retrontario plays snippets from television shows and advertisements played locally in the Canadian province of Ontario in the 1970s, 80s and 90s. For those familiar with the area and time, Retrontario particularly conjures up the way Toronto used to be, when it still deserved the nickname 'Toronto the Good' (see my related post here).

Retrontario also carries several examples of TVOntario's public television offerings. Founded in 1970, TVOntario was and is Ontario's answer to America's PBS. It flourished in the 1970s and 1980s, when public TV was at its height. For decades, TVO's Elwy Yost hosted popular highbrow chatter about cinema and movie-making on Magic Shadows (1974-mid-1980s; see the opening here) and Saturday Night at the Movies (Yost hosted SNAM from 1974-1999; the show will be cancelled at the end of the 2012-2013 season due to budget cuts).  The end of a show like this symbolizes the end of an era on public television, pioneered by the so-called Silent Generation.

The province of Ontario has sometimes epitomized a negative stereotype of the Canadian character: stodgy, stuffy, earnest, traditional. The mentality of Toronto's sober, cautious, polite and well-fed burghers prompted Jan Morris to call ending up in Toronto, "second prize in life" in her book, Among the Cities.

However, on the positive side, it was that same stolid propriety that saw TVOntario cultivate in Ontario's public TV audience a civic attitude and responsibility toward intellectual engagement with culture. In a way similar to some efforts in the United States at this time, on PBS, and notably by Bill Cosby on The Cosby Show, TVO saw television as a medium of education. The aim was to depict a desired, prosperous and cultivated society. Television programs which dealt with popular and mainstream culture were crafted toward this larger purpose of higher culture.