The Pulse of Awakening – Part 2

A few months ago a friend asked me to take some pictures of his girlfriend for her acting portfolio. The weekend before the ‘shoot’ I realised I hadn’t used my camera for some time and headed off to take some pictures. Back home, I decided to post one of the pictures to my Facebook ‘timeline’. I uploaded the image and clicked the Post button. Virtually no time elapsed between clicking Post and seeing the picture appear on my timeline. Yet when the picture appeared I realised that my friend’s girlfriend had somehow managed to ‘Like’ it. I brooded over this for about an hour. Information may travel at light speed but humans are not supposed to. In the blink of an eye it took to see the image appear I can think of no way this person could have seen the image on her timeline and reacted so fast that the image and her ‘like’ registered as a single event at my end. I was so suspicious I questioned her later to confirm she’d liked the picture. It was, quite simply, impossible even for someone with the reactions of a fighter pilot.

Information travelling at light speed is the ‘ground’ part of Marshall McLuhan’s ‘figure-ground’ relationship, a refinement of his earlier mantra ‘The Medium is the Message’. In saying ‘the medium is the message’ McLuhan is drawing our attention to the massive psycho-social impact of technologies or, as he called them, mediums. That is to say, the actual effect of a medium far outweighs the impact of the content it carries. In fact, McLuhan regarded ‘content’ as a ‘juicy piece of meat’ carried by a burglar for the purpose of ‘distracting the watchdog of the mind’. Content is the distraction which blinds us to the psycho-social effects of the medium itself. The content of a medium is another medium. The content of a film is a screenplay, the content of a book is speech. Preoccupation with content is a misdirected reaction to the novelty of the medium itself, a reflection of our inability to see the environment it creates.

Goldfish in bowl
The fish is never aware of the environment – the water – in which it swims

In order to fully understand this we have to recognise that all technologies or mediums are extensions of the human senses. The club extends the arm, the wheel extends the foot, and so on. The creation of a new medium is usually associated with a pressing need to solve a problem. McLuhan conceptualises this in terms of stress or irritation. The wheel emerges as a ‘counter-irritant’ to the problem of stress placed on the foot, the club emerges to extend the reach and power of an aching arm. In this sense, technological development is a dialectic process whereby a source of irritation demands a counter-irritant and the counter-irritant, over time, becomes a new source of irritation that requires a new counter-irritant. New technologies tend to ‘heat up’ societies by altering the scale, pattern and pace of human association. Eventually, the ‘relief’ provided by a medium becomes a new source of irritation as it struggles to cope with the demands of the environment it brought into being.

Mirror, mirror on the wall, who is the fairest of them all?
Mirror, mirror on the wall, who is the fairest of them all?

The effects of all this on the human organism are dramatic. A technological extension can also be thought of as an auto-amputation of the sense it enhances. The most obvious recent example is the rise of the computer. Back in the Middle Ages, memories were prodigious enough to memorize entire volumes of texts. Today, smart-phones and Siri remember on our behalf. The are two important points here. First, that new technologies alter the balance or ratio among the senses and result in a diminishing or ‘closing down’ of consciousness. A medium that prioritizes the eye will reduce the importance or ‘stress’ placed on the other senses and cause the forms of consciousness associated with these senses to atrophy. Second, that our response to the psycho-social ‘shock’ of a new medium is one of numbness. New technology has an anaesthetic effect which McLuhan termed the ‘Narcissus Narcosis’. In Greek mythology, Narcissus became transfixed by his own reflection. He did not, as is commonly thought, fall in love with himself. Rather, he failed to recognise himself in the reflected image. So it is with our own technologies, which seem to have a life all of their own.

Once it is understood that the hidden ground of our time is information moved at the speed of light, then it becomes easy to see why schooling is changing so drastically.

— Marshall McLuhan

School of Fish
The One from the Many seems to function as an organism with a hypnotic life all of its own

McLuhan’s refinement of the above states that the true meaning of a figure (a person, a technology, an organisation, an event, a text, etc.) can be ascertained only in relation to its ground. The ground (medium) forms an environment which shapes and changes the content (message). This is evident in the transformation of the internet from Information Superhighway (a Roman Road of hyper-text leading to a digital Library of Alexandria) to the all-singing all-dancing Web we know today. Here, the medium’s message is both figure (content) and the ground (environment) it creates for that content. However, the ground is not an object. It is a process or a living organism, hence it remains below the threshold of consciousness and becomes visible only when rendered obsolete by a new medium/ground/environment. At this point the old environment changes from process to object and springs into view. The wasteland of obsolete media litters the landscape like the ruins of Hiroshima. Unable to see the new, we superimpose the old forms on top of it. We are always looking at and into the past.

The figure is what appears and the ground is always subliminal. Changes occur in the ground before they occur in the figure. We can project both figure and ground as images of the future using the ground as subplot of subliminal patterns and pressures and effects which actually come before the more or less final figures to which we normally direct our interest

— Marshall McLuhan

The question to be asked is this: if our technologies re-prioritise our senses, causing some to atrophy, then what happens to the ‘unprocessed’ sensory inputs that bypass consciousness? McLuhan believed that the unconscious mind ‘discovered’ by Freud and Jung was a slag-heap of rejected consciousness, a dumping ground for that which falls beneath the current threshold of consciousness. It has to be said that McLuhan’s overwhelming pre-occupation here was the key role afforded to the eye in relation to the creation of the alphabet, and later the printing press, as mediums. The printed word is a visualisation of speech and Gutenberg’s printing press created an environment that provided the basic template (linear sequence, mechanised repeatability) for the Industrial and Electric Revolutions. The dominance of the eye paved the way for the translation of the non-visual into visual form and a preoccupation with a form of order, standards and morality predicated on visual appearances: cleanliness is next to Godliness, children should be seen but not heard, etc.

Lined up in rows, in sequence, like characters in a typesetting machine. We want in formation!
Lined up in rows, in sequence, like characters in a typesetting machine. We want in formation!

McLuhan contrasted the visual Gutenberg technologies with the electronic age. The electric telegraph and morse code began the process of exteriorising the human central nervous system. In 1945, with the creation of the digital computer, we ‘outered’ the brain itself. We literally turned ourselves inside out and exposed our raw nerves and grey matter to the elements. Yet despite McLuhan’s attempt to draw a dividing line between the two, contrasting the visual industrial age with the tactile electronic age, the electronic age is an age of information or in-formation. The in-formation age is still preoccupied with characters, lines, rows, precise organisation. The eye still has the upper hand – we still reduce the non-visual oral/aural/tactile senses to purely visual phenomena. McLuhan’s promise of tribal unity, a Global Village of interdependence and a harmony of the senses, has yet to emerge. The in-formation age is still in formation.

Why? Well, it’s something to do with grounding. Something to do with our connection to Earth. Something to do with – and here’s where the madness starts – the need to become Neo-Not-Sees…

The Neo-not-see didn't need his eyes to see the Source Code because he relied on another sense altogether.
The Neo-not-see didn’t need eyes to see the Source Code.

…the need to close our eyes and start to listen. Why? Because the myth of Narcissus is inseparable from that of Echo. How many of us ever really listen? I mean really listen? Have we forgotten our on-board Echo locater?

Ecco the Dolphin

We started well in the 1960s, but as Hunter S. Thompson observed, those with the right kind of eyes could actually see where the crest of the counter-cultural wave finally broke and rolled back. Here in what remains of the tribal Jungle we’re in desperate need of a new sense of porpoise.

Jungle_Demolition

Last week, the local government in Calais announced that a third of the camp, an area home to some 1,500 of the camp’s 6,000 residents, was to be destroyed, and those living in the area moved to purpose-built housing.

Meanwhile other refugees were pictured gathering up all their possessions including mattresses and cooking equipment in bags and backpacks ready for the move. The migrants have been offered places in new refitted shipping containers, equipped with heating and sockets for electricity.

— Source: Daily Mail

Refitted shipping containers as porpoise-built homes? That sounds like the sort of thing I’d expect to hear from an Eye Robot…

i-robot-movie-screenshots22

A joke perhaps? Another recently deceased victim of Cancer, Motorhead’s Lemmy, reminds us not to forget The Joker. Here he is presenting his calling card to the Mob, a.k.a. Organ-eyes Crime. They’re the Goodfellas, the W-eyes Guys. You might have come across them before in Ka-see-no.

MyCard_The_Joker

But I digress. The In-formation Age affects us totally. It works and moulds us in its own image. The visual stress, the focus on specialisation, the rigid hierarchy of sequences and rows marching along in ordered precision, explains how China’s Long March

LongMarch1

…turned into China’s Long March

LongMarch2

The basic problem here can be explained thus…

New media literally lay waste to their predecessors, but as we’re unable to discern the ground created by the new media we continue to superimpose the images of the ruins of the old over the new. China’s Long March to Long March is a textbook example of what happens when we lack the right kind of eyes: we carry images from one era over into another. The images don’t fade away so our finger is continually hovering over the rewind button.

If you read one of my previous posts, Ra-dio-active, then you’ll appreciate that it’s a shame to waste good Scotch. Oh, and that the latest gadget from Q Branch is called a radio…

In the eye’s case, the Earth itself seems to be sending us a message in the form of the visualisation of sound. The message is that the natural formation is in-formation. The Earth – the ground – is an active process, not a thing.

NASA expert discovers alphabet letters hidden on the face of our planet

Source: Mirror Online

space-alphabet

Here, it’s worth noting that one of the key features of Gutenberg’s printing press is repeatability. Provided one master copy of a text is extant, multiple exact duplicates can be generated or ‘cloned’. McLuhan found another mythological counterpart to this feature in the Lernaean Hydra. The Hydra had many heads, and each head that was chopped off grew multiple replacements. In this sense – in relation to print’s overwhelming influence in prioritising the eye over all the other senses, we’re all Children of the Hydra-gen. In psycho-social terms, the effects of the printing press were no less devastating than that of a nuclear blast.

Children of the Hydra from the 1963 film version of Jason and the Argonauts
Children of the Hydra from the 1963 film version of Jason and the Argonauts

While we’re on the subject of NASA and matters nuclear, Major Tom has made another appearance in the form of Deutschland 83 currently showing on Channel 4 here in the UK. The theme song used for the opening credits is Major Tom (Coming Home) by German synth-pop musician Peter Schilling. The series is set during the Cold War and, as you’d expect, the subject of nuclear weapons (specifically Pershing or ‘Perishing’ missiles) is the centre of attention.

Meanwhile, above our heads in low-earth orbit, Major Tim was obliged to cut short his spacewalk after his colleague’s spacesuit sprung a leak. Again, as in Part 1, I’ve now come full circle back to the subject mentioned at the beginning of this post.

One small selfie for man, one giant tweet for mankind: Major Tim Peake takes cheeky snap just before his space walk is cut short after his American colleague’s helmet starts filling up with WATER

Flight Engineer Kopra got a feeling of dampness around helmet absorption pad, before reporting a golf ball-sized water bubble spreading across his visor quickly.

Source: Mail Online

The ‘selfie’ in question is, for me at least, an absolute jaw dropper.

major tim 2

Major Tim (the figure) shoots his camera as the whole/holy Earth (the ground or ‘ground control’) is reflected in his visor. For me, there’s no other way to put this than to say we are being spoken to. If you look at the image and think about the source (i.e. the camera he’s holding) then the message is clear.

Major Tim/Tom is the Star Child freed from his umbilical, cut from the womb, floating free, unattached to the ground. He no longer needs eyes to see. Everything is a Silver Screen projection. And we’re the content.

Prometheus stole fire from the Gods and created humanity. He created the first Adam or Atom and Eve. In the below image, an Artificial Intelligence, David, holds the whole world in his hands.

Prometheus

Prometheus didn’t go unpunished. He was chained to a rock – to the ground – and an eagle was despatched to feed on his liver.

Major Tom, David Bowie-man the Star Child, died of liver cancer.
Houston, The Eagle has landed!

It’s a movie folks, or rather a musical. If you’re still a bit BMEWSed then let me offer some clues.

The first ever music video. You could blame it on Mercury, but it’s best not to shoot the messenger.

In Puccini’s La Boheme, Mimi (me-me) dies of consumption.

la-boheme-pictures-013

Excess consumption results in Fallout, which in nuclear terminology is the product of a Ground Strike. A diet of eye-scream ain’t good for a growing Star Child.

The ground is The Social Medea.
Because All The World’s A Stage – it never happened.
The Golden Globe is Ra-Dio-Gaga.

Open your ears, close your eyes, and enjoy the Tribal Echo Chamber!

In the meantime, here’s a little something to prep you for re-entry.

Advertisements

The Pulse of Awakening – Part 1

As time passes – or as what passes for time passes – I’m finding that my attention is increasingly drawn to matters nuclear. This week I began work on a scriptwriting project centred on a site I’ve mentioned in previous posts: Hack Green nuclear bunker. Hack Green as a site has origins in World War II and was heavily modified in the early 1980s at the height of the so-called ‘Second Cold War’, i.e. when Reagan-era America redesignated the USSR as the ‘Evil Empire’. The site was designed to serve as a Regional Government Headquarters (RGHQ) in the event of a nuclear strike on the UK and the subsequent (and probably inevitable) collapse of central government. As such, it was fortified against the effects of a nuclear blast and given enhanced protection against fallout and Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP). Theoretically, this would enable its full complement of 135 personnel (a mix of government ministers, civil servants, and scientific, technical and military staff) to survive for a period of 45 days before emerging to sift through the radioactive sludge like the rest of us poor mortals.

A HANDEL Carrier Control Point (CCP) at Hack Green. CCPs received Attack Warning Red alerts from the BMEWS system.
A HANDEL Carrier Control Point (CCP) at Hack Green. CCPs received Attack Warning Red alerts from the BMEWS system.

After being decommissioned in 1992 Hack Green became a museum. The current owner has managed to acquire an impressive stock of decommissioned nuclear weapons (the story goes that if they retained their warheads then Hack Green would be the world’s seventh largest nuclear power) and a host of monitoring and warning equipment from the UK’s Regional Air Operations Command based at RAF Fylingdales. This equipment formed part of the Ballistic Missile Early Warning System (BMEWS) used to issue the national Air Attack Warning, as immortalised in the song “Two Tribes” by Frankie Goes to Hollywood. BMEWS (let’s call it bemuse or be muse) was linked to a network called HANDEL, which would issue the Attack Warning Red alert via 250 Carrier Control Points (CCPs) located at major police headquarters. In turn, the CCPs would alert thousands of Carrier Receivers at other strategic locations and activate sirens giving us the infamous “Four Minute Warning” to fuck ourselves silly.

In any event, just hours after I started researching Hack Green the usual madness began. It started with an attack on Hack Green’s website. One minute Google was listing the site as usual, the next a message appeared stating “This site may harm your computer”. According to Google’s Transparency Report “www.hackgreen.co.uk is not safe to visit right now” as it may attempt to install malicious programs, which typically take the form of a Trojan Horse. The obvious conclusion is that Hack Green has been hacked! Then, from out of nowhere, the media broke the story of the sudden deaths of David Bowie and Alan Rickman and…OK, let me explain…

What immediately struck me about the deaths of Bowie and Rickman is how much they remind me of the death of Freddie Mercury. Mercury’s illness, like that of Bowie and Rickman, was known within the industry and presumably to the media, who managed to exercise an uncommon and uncharacteristic restraint in not reporting it. The kind of restraint that was noticeable only for its absence in relation to, for example, the recent ‘outing’ of Charlie Sheen’s HIV status. Bowie and Rickman’s struggle with cancer seems to have been similarly shrouded in secrecy, as if subject to a media blackout. The Mercury connection (and its links to Mercury/Hermes as the winged messenger of the Gods) was picked up over at Merovee, where I linked it to NASA’s Mercury space program from the 1960s. Lest we forget, David Bowie was the Starman, not to mention The Man Who Fell to Earth. He was deliberately and consciously a Space Oddity.

The song is about the launch of Major Tom, a fictional astronaut, and was released during a period of great interest in space flight. The United States’ Apollo 11 mission would launch 5 days later, and would become the first manned moon landing another 5 days later. The lyrics have also been seen to lampoon the British space programme, which had only launched rockets at that time and has never attempted a moon landing. Besides its title, which alludes to the film 2001: A Space Odyssey, the introduction to the song is a barely audible instrumental build-up that is analogous to the deep bass tone in Also sprach Zarathustra that is prominently used in the film.

Source: Wikipedia

Building on the Starman reference, it’s worth noting that both Bowie and Rickman died of cancer at the age of 69. If we rotate the number 69 through 90 degrees then we’re left with the symbol for the star sign Cancer.

Cancer

That both stars died of the same disease at exactly the same age brings our attention to another star sign: Gemini or The Twins. Co-incidentally, Gemini was the name of NASA’s second space program. The basic purpose of the Gemini program was to perfect the rendezvous and fucking docking procedures required to fulfil John F Kennedy’s vision of a moon landing before the end of the 1960s. Essentially, Mercury gave birth to Gemini and Gemini gave birth to Apollo. The twins of Gemini are Castor and Pollux, mortals who were elevated to the status of Gods after death and placed in the sky to become the brightest stars in the constellation Gemini. The mythological Apollo was a sun-god and the sun is also a star. When we consider what a star is and how it shines we’re brought full circle to the topic introduced at the beginning of this post.

A star is a luminous sphere of plasma held together by its own gravity…a star shines due to thermonuclear fusion of hydrogen into helium in its core, releasing energy that traverses the star’s interior and then radiates into outer space.

Source: Wikipedia

At this stage it’s important to note that the history of space flight is inseparable from the history of nuclear weapons. The ‘nose cone’ in which today’s astronauts ‘ride the lightning’ was designed to house Multiple Independently Targetable Re-entry Vehicles rather than a life-support system for human beings. The ‘space rocket’ is simply a re-tasked ballistic missile. Its nose cone cover is referred to as a ‘shroud’.

On the subject of chain reactions and star signs, another Zodiac-themed story emerged this week about Leo-nardo DiCapri(corn)io at the Golden Globes.

Leonardo DiCaprio embarrassed after his priceless reaction to Lady Gaga barging past him goes viral…

The Mail Online proceeds to describe how Leo ‘rolled his eyes’ at the ‘platinum’ blonde (and totally oblivious) Gaga. The point – or rather the pun – being that platinum is the least reactive of all metals.

At this point, it’s impossible not to mention the film Capricorn One. Anyone familiar with Stanley Kubrick and “2001: A Space Odyssey” will be aware of the conspiracy theory surrounding his role in the supposed faking of the Apollo moon landings. The suggestion is that NASA fulfilled Kennedy’s vision as Hollywood dream rather than reality. Capricorn One is a thinly veiled allusion to this, with the astronaut’s destination switched to Mars (think Ziggy Stardust) rather than the moon.

The Space Odyssey/Oddity theme is currently playing out above our heads in the cold vacuum of space. It seems that ‘Major Tim’ has cut the umbilical cord and freed himself from the womb of the ISS (i.e. ISIS) in order to change a ‘Sequential Shunt’ power unit.

MajorTom

This story mirrors a sequence from Kubrick’s film where HAL fakes a failure in the AE-35 control unit and astronauts David Bowman and Frank Poole are obliged to perform a spacewalk in order to replace it. Crucially, it’s the AE-35 unit that enables Discovery to remain in contact with Mission Control on Earth.

Additionally, a Bowie-Mercury theme can be found in the same story in relation to the song Under Pressure. The song later appeared on the Queen album Hot Space.

Major Peake and Flight Engineer Kopra began their preparations more than an hour ago by ‘prebreathing’ which means inhaling pure oxygen, to purge their bodies of nitrogen. The process stops astronauts getting a serious condition known as decompression sickness or ‘the bends’ when they leave the high pressure environment inside the ISS – which is similar to the Earth – to the lower pressure spacesuit.

The reference to breathing pure oxygen refers us to the Apollo 1 disaster caused by a stray spark in the capsule’s pure oxygen environment. The subsequent fire resulted in the death of all three astronauts and raised serious questions about NASA’s ability to achieve Kennedy’s goal.

The Mission Control theme appears in another story related to Bowie’s death. Specifically, to Madonna’s grief-stricken on-stage collapse, making her Bowie’s concubine as ‘The Woman Who Fell to Earth’. The location of her fall? Houston. The significance? NASA Mission Control is based at the Johnson Space Centre and is commonly referred to by the site’s location – Houston.

The Madonna incident comes as no surprise given that Bowie’s death coincided with the release of his latest single, Lazarus. The Raising of Lazarus is a key event in the life of Jesus, one that seems to pre-empt or foreshadow his own subsequent death and resurrection. There is a link here to ISS or ISIS and her husband Osiris, the ‘Green Man’, a dying/rising God associated with the cycle of birth-death-rebirth. The Christian Madonna and Child has its origins in the much earlier mother-child relationship of Isis and Horus. Again, another Space Odyssey theme can be seen here in the death of David Bowman and the subsequent birth of the Star Child at the very end of the film.

StarChild

The iconography of Bowie’s Lazarus is very revealing. In the video, Bowie is shown as if being raised from the dead, but with his eyes buttoned shut. This echoes “Eyes Wide Shut”, Kubrick’s final film before his death in 1999 following a massive heart attack.

bowie-lazarus

Another story that emerged after Bowie’s death seems to play with this theme.

Teacher who took class on black run faces investigation after two pupils among three dead in French avalanche

If there are three pupils and two are dead and unseeing then the other must be the Third or All-Seeing Eye…

Third Eye Chakra

All very well and good, but what of Bowie’s twin, Alan Rickman? Like Bowie, it seems that Rickman remained active throughout his illness and his latest film is due to be released in April. It’s all about Islam (eye slam) and the Electric Eye (or ‘I’) in the Sky.

Which is curious because the Electric Eye appears prominently in Bowie’s Moonage Daydream…

And Bowie’s son, Duncan Jones, provided us with a Moonage Daydream in film form. In Moon, a clone named Sam Bell is responsible for harvesting helium-3 from the lunar surface. As mentioned above, helium is the by-product of a star’s thermonuclear fusion.

The Electric Eye is also a major theme in a certain Stanley Kubrick film…

HAL_Eye_2

There’s yet another link here between the ‘Major Tim’ ISS story and Kubrick’s Space Odyssey. The Mail Online article shows the below picture with the caption “This shot shows Major Peake grasping a tool in his gloved hand. It’s possible to see the Earth beneath him”.

major tim

In Kubrick’s Space Odyssey there’s a dramatic transition scene from the Dawn of Man to the modern era. The scene involves one of the apes learning how to use a bone as a tool, as a weapon. After using the tool to kill his mirror image from a rival ‘tribe’, the ape throws the bone into the sky where it turns into a satellite orbiting the earth. The film only alludes to the nature of the satellite in question, i.e. in relation to tensions between the US/USSR superpowers. However, Arthur C Clarke’s book makes it clear that the satellite is in fact an orbiting nuclear weapons platform in the vein of Reagan’s Strategic Defence Initiative, colloquially referred to as…Star Wars.

bone-to-satellite

And if you read my previous post then the question I’ll leave you with at this point is: “Have you grasped the Tool yet…?”

Are you beginning to feel the electromagnetic pulse of Ra-dio-activity?

Part Two coming soon!