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, September 22, 2017

If Sin was Visible: An Interview with Dan Vyleta

Today, I am very pleased to interview novelist Dan Vyleta about his 2016 novel, Smoke; the Canadian paperback edition was released in July 2017.

Dan grew up in Germany after his family left Czechoslovakia in the late 1960s. He holds a doctorate in history from King’s College, Cambridge and has written three previous novels, Pavel & I (2008), The Quiet Twin (2011), and The Crooked Maid (2013). The Quiet Twin was shortlisted for the Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize. The Crooked Maid was a finalist for the Scotiabank Giller Prize and won the 2014 J. I. Segal Award. Dan currently teaches creative writing at the University of Birmingham.

Dan’s novel Smoke is a magical historical story of Victorian England. The novel will remind readers of Charles Dickens, especially Oliver Twist, Hard Times, and Dombey and Son. As with Dickens’s novels, Smoke is a social novel which reaches a conclusion about what is wrong in society and what is right.

There is a contrast between the country and the city during the Industrial Revolution, reminiscent of Blake’s “dark Satanic mills,” except in this novel, the Victorian smoke in question comes not from factories but from people! Smoke begins at an élite school, with nods to later works: The Catcher in the Rye, A Separate Peace, and The Secret History.

There, the similarities with other authors end. Smoke begins with a quote from Dombey and Son (1848) – what if sin was visible?
“Those who study the physical sciences, and bring them to bear upon the health of Man, tell us that if the noxious particles that rise from the vitiated air were palpable to the sight, we should see them lowering in a dense black cloud above such haunts, and rolling slowly on to corrupt the better portion of a town. But if the moral pestilence that rises with them … could be made discernible too, how terrible the revelation!”
In Smoke, a fictionalized Victorian concern for morality conceals today’s obsession with transparency, truth, and corruption. As with other 21st century works, the historical setting really addresses Millennial problems. And the way Vyleta does this defies all expectations.

Note: All page references below are from the UK 2016 hardcover edition, published by Doubleday.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

How Much Truth Can You Take?

Tears of the Sky. Promo image from digital music LP Ichi (One) (2012) by Prosodi J.

Today's post asks: how much truth can you take? How many leaks, revelations and exposés can you endure before you realize that the world is not what you think it is - and it never was? The post is up at Vocal Media:
In an earlier post, Reflection Reversal, I asked how and what we choose to see in the Internet's house of mirrors. This is a meditation on freedom, to consider what options we will have as surveillance capitalism, the Internet of Things, and artificial intelligence collectively get off the ground. I'll continue this thread later in my series, Awaken the Amnesiacs, on technology, perception, and the soul.

Cassini's End at Saturn

"This image of Saturn's northern hemisphere was taken by NASA's Cassini spacecraft on Sept. 13, 2017. It is among the last images Cassini sent back to Earth before its mission-ending plunge into Saturn’s atmosphere on Sept. 15, 2017." Image Source: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute via Space.com.

Launched 15 October 1997, NASA's Cassini–Huygens mission ended on 15 September 2017 as Cassini - the Saturn orbiter - entered Saturn's atmosphere at 11:53 UTC (7:53 a.m. EDT or 4:53 a.m. PDT). In 2005, the Huygens probe landed on Saturn's moon, Titan, on a beach which had the consistency of crème brûlée. From Stargazer's Nation:
"As planned, the Cassini spacecraft impacted the upper atmosphere of Saturn on September 15, after a 13 year long exploration of the Saturnian System. With spacecraft thrusters firing until the end, its atmospheric entry followed an unprecedented series of 22 Grand Finale dives between Saturn and rings. Cassini's final signal took 83 minutes to reach planet Earth and the Deep Space Network antenna complex in Canberra Australia where loss of contact with the spacecraft was recorded at 11:55 UT. For the spacecraft, Saturn was bright and the Sun was overhead as it plowed into the gas giant planet's swirling cloud tops at about 70,000 miles (113,000 kilometers) per hour. But Cassini's final image shows the impact site hours earlier and still on the planet's night side, the cloud tops illuminated by ringlight, sunlight reflected from Saturn's rings."
NASA's full gallery from Cassini's grand finale is here. You can see highlights of Cassini's photos of Saturn and its moons, herehere, here, and here. It is the end of a scientific era and the start of a new one. After twenty years of exploration of Saturn, attention now turns to Jupiter.

Cassini's last photo shows Saturn's atmosphere. Click to enlarge. Image Source: NASA, JPL-Caltech, Space Science Institute via Gizmodo.

Video Source: NASA via Weather Network.