The Colossus of Roads Pt1

I think it’s safe to say that over the past few years, and the last twelve month’s in particular, I’ve made a friend of what to most would seem like utter madness. I had a very strange childhood, so I’m perhaps more open to the bizarre, unusual and ‘irrational’ than is typical. Less prone to shrug off life’s peculiarities as mere ‘coincidence’ or file them away as ‘impossible’. My own life has been full of incidents science would refuse to touch with a ten-foot pole. By way of example, one of my earliest memories is of being led through my parent’s house at night by a small, rectangular object that hovered and emitted a red light. About twenty years ago, two small balls of light appeared in my bedroom and, after performing a short series of synchronised loops in front me, entered my body and disappeared. A decade ago, I was driving in broad daylight and watched a huge fireball tear across the sky and vanish over the horizon. It must have been visible to thousands of people for miles around, yet local and national media failed to report it. Last year, I had a surreal and dream-like experience walking the Seven Sisters on the UK’s south coast, where I saw three different lighthouses on the walk to Beachy Head and only two on the return journey. This kind of stuff just seems to happen to me.

Last year, I quit a dead-end tech job and disappeared down a rabbit hole of ‘impossible’ synchronicity. I started another tech job soon after, resigned a week later, and tumbled even further down the rabbit hole. The contents of my bookshelf and film collection began to talk to me. Not literally, but in the sense that their stories and themes seemed to reflect events in my own life. I noticed that articles in the mass media and YouTube videos also reflected these themes, along with my own thoughts and actions and those of regular commentators on Merovee. Historical events from the past seemed to repeat themselves in ‘updated’ 21st Century form. I thought I was losing my mind, and after watching Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar, which features a ‘talking’ bookcase, I almost did. I had to take my car out for a fast drive as a means to focus on something else and hold on to my sanity. Later, I realised that my actions duplicated a storyline found in Retreat Syndrome, a short story by Philip K Dick. Here, a man living in a delusional reality takes a high-speed drive in an attempt to convince himself that his world is real.

Last month, I started another job, which I quit a fortnight later. I wasn’t entirely surprised to find that things immediately became even weirder. They became stranger still when a friend sent me a link to the below video via Twitter. The first of the ‘top five’ is about the construction of the Nazi’s network of roads or high-speed Autobahns.

What immediately struck me was the use of the term ‘network’ and the phonetic connection between roads and Rhodes. For me at least, it’s impossible to think of Rhodes without having the Colossus of Rhodes, one of the Seven Wonders of The Ancient World, spring to mind.

The-Colossus-of-Rh_3534739b

The Colossus of Rhodes was a statue of the Greek titan-god of the sun Helios, erected in the city of Rhodes, on the Greek island of the same name, by Chares of Lindos in 280 BC.

Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Colossus_of_Rhodes

I was unsurprised to find that, when I searched for an image to use for this post, the first to appear was that of a supercomputer named (totally coincidentally of course) Titan. The link between the two is a little-known science fiction film from the late 1960s called Colossus: The Forbin Project. This remarkably prescient film (which I referred to in Gods and Daemons) preempted most of the themes that appeared in ‘The Terminator’ franchise, ‘War Games’, ‘I, Robot’, and pretty much all other films and games that feature a rogue supercomputer. In this particular case, Colossus becomes self-aware, drops the bomb on Russia, and informs humanity that it intends to exercise absolute power in order to save humanity from itself.

Those familiar with Cold War technology will be aware that the US nuclear deterrent of this era was based on the Titan ICBM

Titan_II_launch

Similarly, those over the age of 30 will no doubt recall that the early internet was once heralded as the…

popularmechanics_informationsuperhighway

I spent the next day pondering the meaning of the Nazi/Rhodes/Colossus theme and wondering exactly what sort of ‘network’ was created by ‘the Nazis’ and when. The film In Time, starring Justin Timberlake, had popped into my head in relation to this. In any case, I was so engrossed that I decided to skip a planned run with a friend. I sent him a Facebook message and this was his reply.

Just In Time

He understood his little joke without realising it’s significance for me, or its wider significance vis-a-vis the ‘machine world’.

Man becomes, as it were, the sex organs of the machine world, as the bee of the plant world, enabling it to fecundate and to evolve ever new forms. — Marshall McLuhan

After…ahem…mopping up with my friend, I popped out to my local Co-Op to buy some milk. I was still mulling over the implications of the above while standing in the queue waiting to pay. This is what I overheard in front of me:

Shop assistant: That’ll be 9.39 please.
Customer: How much?
Shop assistant: 9.39.
Customer: Oh, I thought you said it’s 19.39

The history books tell us that World War II began in 1939, and those familiar with the history of the computer will know that the very first digital computer was developed during World War II. It too was called Colossus. Needless to say, I paid for my carton of milk and exited the store in a daze, with The Matrix on my mind…

Colossus was designed by the engineer Tommy Flowers to solve a problem posed by mathematician Max Newman at the Government Code and Cypher School (GC&CS) at Bletchley Park.

Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Colossus_computer

Cypher_(Matrix)

The prototype, Colossus Mark 1, was shown to be working in December 1943 and was operational at Bletchley Park on 5 February 1944. An improved Colossus Mark 2 that used shift registers to quintuple the processing speed, first worked on 1 June 1944, just in time for the Normandy Landings on D-Day.

Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Colossus_computer

nebuchadnezza

The Matrix is one of a number of films that just keeps following me around everywhere I go. At the end of February, I received an email containing this image from the…

Oracle

…asking me to renew a subscription I didn’t even know I had. It seems they got hold of my email address after I entered it in order to download a database required by a COBOL compiler I use now and again. I did at one time entertain the idea of becoming a COBOL software engineer…

But I digress…

About ten months ago, I was hit by a wave of information about nuclear war. To this day, I have no idea where it came from. Suffice to say that everything I now know about the mechanics and technology involved I learned during this process. Prior to this, I had no real interest in the subject, although I was interested in the politics of the era, having studied the Cold War at university. I found myself compelled to post about it on Merovee incessantly, and at some point someone remarked that I must believe that a full-scale nuclear war was imminent. My reply – which even I found odd at the time – was that I thought a full-scale nuclear war had already happened. Perhaps the best way to explain it is like so:

Britain v Germany, Empire v Reich…

The ‘incredible true story’…

Rush_UK_poster

The ‘attack warning red’…

USA v USSR, manifested in 3D no less…

Clash of the Titans movie poster 3D
Clash of the Titans movie poster 3D

Madness you say?

…the Titans most famously included the first twelve children of the primordial Gaia (Mother Earth) and Uranus (Father Sky). They were giant deities of incredible strength, who ruled during the legendary Golden Age, and also composed the first pantheon of Greek deities….[they]…were overthrown by Cronus’ children (Zeus, Hades, Poseidon, Hestia, Hera and Demeter), in the Titanomachy (or “War of the Titans”)…

The classical Greek myths of the Titanomachy fall into a class of similar myths throughout Europe and the Near East concerning a war in heaven, where one generation or group of gods largely opposes the dominant one.

Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Titan_%28mythology%29

In my view, the entire Cold War period is a retelling of this mythology in our 3D ‘reality’. A battle for supremacy between two giant powers, both sides wielding an elemental force – nuclear power, the power of the atom or ‘Adam’, control over the basic building blocks of ‘reality’ itself – that is simultaneously a destroyer and creator of life. Did they not rule the earth and sky with their political, economic and military might? Were they not godlike in their power? Did they not hold the keys to heaven and hell? Are they not in some way reflections of the original two superpowers, Atom and Eve?

The storyline of Colossus: The Forbin Project takes the above and gives it a twist, one that seems to predict the outcome of the Cold War itself. Here, the two superpowers are supercomputers: Colossus on the American side, Guardian on the other. After becoming operational, Colossus deduces that the Soviet’s have built their own supercomputer and blackmails both sides, forcing them to establish a permanent link between them. The two devise an entirely new computer language and merge to become a single system that controls the whole planet, offering humanity two possibilities: the peace of plenty or the peace of unburied death.

Colossus, along with its more recent counterparts, is both a modern and totally outdated retelling of the War in Heaven. Here, the Greek pantheon of gods is replaced with a single godhead along Judeo-Christian lines. Like the god of the Old Testament, Colossus is a tyrant who offers a ‘free’ choice between binary opposites: do not eat the apple and live, eat the apple and die, obey the Ten Commandments and live, disobey and die, etc., etc. This is a reflection of the human mindset: the fear of letting go, losing control, needing to control. Colossus was the ‘child’ of humankind. Sometimes a child inherits a parent’s personality, and sometimes the resemblance is only skin deep. With this in mind, I wonder what a New Age retelling of the myth will look like?

Did the Clash of the Titans happen? Is it happening now? Will it continue to happen in the future? Has anything ever really happened? What is our 3D ‘reality’? What is IT?

It’s 8am, I’ve just finished writing and opened the curtains to find myself in the grip of a nuclear winter.

snow1

I can’t say I’m surprised… 😉