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Sunday surprise: Synchronize watches!

Sunday, June 26th, 2016

[ by Charles Cameron — from science and religion, two prime resources for scenario planners ]
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Here are two versions of how close we may be to The End of Story. In the upper panel, a glimpse of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists’ Doomsday Dashboard, representing their version of the scientific view:

DQ Doomsday Rapture

In the lower panel, the current state of the Rapture Index, representing the view of a Christian website dedicated to reading the signs and keeping us updated on our proximity to a day that, per scripturam, “knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only.”

**

Sources:

  • Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, Doomsday Dashboard
  • The Rapture Index, updated June 20, 2016

  • Matthew 24.36 (KJV), But of that day and hour knoweth no man
  • Subzin movie quotes, Synchronize watches
  • **

    Who you gonna believe?

    As Tim Furnish might say, BREXIT is not the Apocalypse, not even close — it hasn’t even merited an uptick in the Rapture Index.

    Apocalpyse, not!

    Friday, June 24th, 2016

    [ by Charles Cameron — in using the word apocalyptic to describe mundane (or zombied) disturbances such as Brexit, we lose sight of the beauty and mystery it conceals & reveals ]
    .

    In fact, not so much as a whiff of fresh napalm in the morning.

    Tim Furnish has been on a mini-crusade recently against the misuse of the word apocalypse, tweeting examples along with this meme-image:

    Furnish Apocalypse N0

    **

    Here are two examples of the genre. which Tim featured last night because each comments on Brexit in apocalyptic terms:

    Apocalypse No

    Sources:

  • Financial Post, Trump, Clinton and Brexit — the three horses of democracy’s Apocalypse
  • Japan Times, Brexit: The Apocalypse … or not
  • **

    Tim is right.

    The word apocalypse properly refers the vision John, the seer of Patmos, had, tearing away of the veil which so often hides the divine glory from mortal eyes: the Greek word apokalypsis is appropriately translated revelation, and the first verse of the book called The Apocalypse by Catholics and The Revelation of John in the King James Version runs as follows:

    The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to shew unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass; and he sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John.

    **

    Consider the beauty — and the otherworldiness — of this image from Albrecht Durer. illustrating the “woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars” of Revelation 12.1

    :Virgin-Sitting-In-Crescent-Moon

    **

    The imagery of this final book of the Bible does not show us the usual world of our senses, but a realm of great symbolic beauty, far beyond the reach of unaided eye or camera — as the great literary critic Northrop Frye notes, when he calls the book “a fairy tale about a damsel in distress, a hero killing dragons, a wicked witch, and a wonderful city glittering with jewels” in his Anatomy of Criticism, p 108.

    Like the works of the English visionary William Blake, Revelation is more poetic than literal, visionary in the best sense — and it is hardly surprising that Blake is among its foremost illustrators:

    The_Four_and_Twenty_Elders_(William_Blake)
    Blake, Four and Twenty Elders Casting their Crowns before the Divine Throne, The Tate Gallery

    Brexit simply cannot match the darkness of Revelation’s Babylon in its final throes, nor the “new heaven and new earth” that succeed it — “for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away”.

    Dune, Islam, Jihad, and the perennially missing Mahdi

    Friday, June 17th, 2016

    [ by Charles Cameron — on the proleptic brilliance of Frank Herbert’s 1965 novel, Dune ]
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    who's your mahdi
    image via Ian Rountree

    **

    In Arabic and Islamic themes in Frank Herbert’s “Dune”, the writer Khalid admits “I did not read the original novels. I have watched and enjoyed the movie and the mini-series, and read summaries of the novels” — but he’s an Arabic speaker, and offers us an annotated list of Arabic bterms and phrases he encountered in his necessarily limited exposure to the Dune novels. One term which he does annotate is “Mahdi” — about which he has this to say:

    In the Fremen messianic legend, ‘The One Who Will Lead Us to Paradise.’ Paul Atreides, the central figure in the Dune novel is the son of the murdered Duke, he is exiled with his mother, manages to escape, and after a confrontation with the Fremen, gains their respect, and becomes their leader in their struggle against the evil Harkonen. He is called the Mahdi. In Islam, the Mahdi (“The Rightly Guided One”) is an all human Messianic figure, who comes to “fill the world with justice” after much of the opposite. The views of Sunni Islam differ quite a bit from Shia Islam on this, but they both at least agree on this part. Mahdi si a much more central figure in Shia Islam than it is in Sunni Islam, where the concept is often denied and attributed to legends and myths.

    And that’s it.

    **

    lya Somin‘s Volokh Conspiracy piece, Radical Islamism and Frank Herbert’s Dune doesn’t mention Mahdism. Wikia’s Muad’Dib’s Jihad doesn’t either — but Wikia is a fan outlet, and fandom can be excused if it is only occasionally scholarly, it’s a form of devotion, and worthy in its own right. There’s no mention of the Mahdi in Liel LeibovitzTablet review of Jodorowsky’s failed but fascinating attempt to film Dune, What science fiction tried to teach us about Jihad, and why no one listened.

    Oy: my own equivalent would be titled What science fiction tried to teach us about Mahdism, and why no one listened!

    Indeed, one might hope that Ashley Andrews Learn PhD, in her Jihad: Comparing the Fremen Revolt to Contemporary Islamic State, would at least briefly mention the Mahdi, given that IS refers to the Mahdi by name in their magazine Dabiq issue 3:

    And he [the Prophet] (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) linked this blessed land with many of the events related to al-Masih, al-Mahdi, and the Dajjal.

    and featured a hadith expressly about the Mahdi, though it does not name him, on the final page of issue #5:

    Ibn Mas’ud (radiyallahu ‘anh) narrated that Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said, “If there were not left except a day from the dunya, Allah would lengthen that day to send forth on it a man from my family whose name matches my name [Muhammad] and whose father’s name matches my father’s name [‘Abdullah]. He will fill the Earth with justice and fairness as it was filled with oppression and tyranny.” [Sahih: Reported by Abu Dawud]

    But no.

    **

    Why do we so often miss the Mahdi?

    There’s space available for a serious look at Dune in light of today’s jihadism and Mahdism, and I’d fill it if I could find the time. I thought space-time was supposed to be a single continuum, though — how come there’s space but no time?

    You’ll seldom find time with no space, except when attempting to park a car..

    On the felicities of graph-based game-board design: eight

    Tuesday, June 7th, 2016

    [ by Charles Cameron — omega worms in science and scripture ]
    .

    As regular readers know, I am interested in Omega — the End, in “alpha and omega” terms — so I was naturally intrigued by this tweet, with Adam Elkus kindly put in my twitter feed and those of others who follow him:

    I’m not a “worm scientist” but wanted to know what an omega turn is, so I browsed around a bit and found this diagram:

    journal.pbio.1001529.g007
    Donnelly et al, Monoaminergic Orchestration of Motor Programs in a Complex C. elegans Behavior

    **

    Now please don’t imagine I know what that means to a worm scientist — I was expecting something more like the worm in the lowest section of thIs Beatus Apocalypse:

    B_Facundus_230v

    or maybe this:

    Beatus worm turns

    from a different Beatus manuscript, where it appears the worm has turned quite a few times.

    **

    In the unlikely event that I should attempt a translation of St John‘s revelatory vision on the Isle of Patmos into science fiction, be assured that I shall include a reference to that image among my illustrations, with a footnote perhaps, pointing to Mark 9.48:

    Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.

    Today, however, my appreciation for all things apocalyptic must give way to another interest of mine, that of the pervasive use of [node and edge] graphs in our contemporary world. Here again is the central column of that image:

    journal.pbio.1001529.g007-middle

    It interests me here as yet another illustration of the degree to which graphs serve as a fundamental substrate of our understanding of the world — and hence my continuing interest in their use in game board design — both of which I’ve been exploring in other posts in this series:

  • On the felicities of graph-based game-board design: preliminaries
  • On the felicities of graph-based game-board design: two dazzlers
  • On the felicities of graph-based game-board design: three
  • On the felicities of graph-based game-board design: four
  • On the felicities of graph-based game-board design: five
  • On the felicities of graph-based game-board design: six
  • On the felicities of graph-based game-board design: seven
  • **

    After the glamour of Beatus manuscripts and PLOS worm diagrams, it may seem almost a let down to turn to irregular polyhedra — but the move from two-dimensional graphs to their three-dimensional cousins is a short one, and since we live in what at least appears to be a (spatially) three-dimensional world, one which should also be considered in terms of game board and concept-modelling design.

    The following illustration —

    irregular_polyhedron3

    — and accompanying video, from Filip Visnjic, Irregular Polyhedron Study #1 – Vertex, edge and volume, may accordingly be of interest:

    Irregular Polyhedron Study #1 from Bjørn Gunnar Staal on Vimeo.

    Announcing ! BLOOD SACRIFICES

    Wednesday, May 25th, 2016

    [by Mark Safranski / “zen“]

    Blood Sacrifices: Violent Non-State Actors and Dark Magico-Religious Activities edited by Robert J. Bunker

    I’m very pleased to announce the publication of Blood Sacrifices, edited by Robert J. Bunker, to which Charles Cameron and I have both contributed chapters. Dr. Bunker has done a herculean job of shepherding this controversial book, where thirteen authors explore the dreadful and totemic cultural forces operating just beneath the surface of irregular warfare and religiously motivated extreme violence.

    We are proud to have been included in such a select group of authors and I’m confident that many readers of ZP will find the book to their liking . If you study criminal insurgency, terrorism, hybrid warfare, 4GW, apocalyptic sects, irregular conflict or religious extremism, then the 334 pages of Blood Sacrifices has much in store for you.

    Available for order at Amazon


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