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Could consciousness be uploaded?


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Star Wars a modern myth


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Donnie Darko – Review

So it took me a while to get around to watching this movie. I suppose the promo image for Donnie Darko was a bit of a turn off. Someone in a hoodie looking ominous with fire in the background. I imagined it was like Firestarter (which I haven’t seen… but you get the idea).

Image via Deviant Art

All I knew about Donnie was that it had something to do with alleged psychic abilities and time travel, and that it was a bit dark. Even the opening scenes are a bit dark (exposure-wise). This made me think I’d be suffering through the grainy bummer of old movie prints that aren’t remastered. But I persevered and after a few minutes was pleasantly surprised. In fact, Donnie kept growing on me, right up to the grand, freaked out finale.

Set in 1988 but filmed in 2001, this is an interesting time loop in itself. The past looking at the past. On the whole the retro fit is done well. Rounded CRT TVs. VHS tapes. That era. The only anachronism I might have detected is the Panasonic Ball Radio. I owned one of those, and that was the 1970s, not the late 80s. Oh well. I guess you could say the character who owns the radio gets it from her parents.

Donnie Darko (soundtrack)

Donnie Darko soundtrack (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This film touches on several key issues without going overboard on any of them. Time travel, premonition, the idea of mental illness, bullying, racism, child pornography, the hypocrisy of some self-help gurus. All these provocative themes are wrapped up into a tight ball that steadily unravels as the film progresses.

The acting is pretty much fabulous throughout. I didn’t see any weak performances and lots of strong ones.

Rather than break it down (you can get that at more conventional sites), I suggest watching this film with as few preconceptions as possible. Wikipedia helps make sense of it. But I wouldn’t read that until after seeing this skirmish into darkness, light and emerging new ideas about space, time and alternate universes.

Sometimes mystery is good, and spelling it all out beforehand can detract from the magic.

MC


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Pixels – DVD Review

Official poster for Columbia Pictures’ film “Pixels” – Wikipedia

Last night I returned some library material to a branch that I don’t visit too often. Browsing the DVD section I saw a fresh copy of Pixels. I’d been curious about it, so checked it out.

I was drawn into the film fairly quickly. Being about 20 yrs in 1982, where the movie begins, it brought back a host of memories. Some good, some not so good.

Adam Sandler plays Sam Brenner, a “loser” working as a tech installer. His orange outfit even has the word “nerd” in the corporate logo. Sort of a cliche these days, one which I doubt actual tech installers would appreciate.

On the other hand, Sam takes on an attractive “snob” (Michelle Monaghan) who wouldn’t kiss him because of his lowly status. And he does it well. So the film is a bit more complicated than merely perpetuating harmful stereotypes.

What really grabbed me in this movie was its integration of early video games, 80s pop culture, and the idea of an ET invasion. If you extend your imagination a bit, I think this movie is pretty good. I laughed here and there. Yes, drifted a few times… but one can always hit the pause button and get a coffee or snack when that happens.

On the whole, I felt that Sandler and the supportive cast did a good job. I wouldn’t say “great” but again, it was the synthesis of old, new and the beyond that made the difference.

More or less panned on other web sites. I think this film was just a bit too clever for some learned “critics” whose minds are too regimented to appreciate a flick that doesn’t fit into the current sci-fi box.  True, it appears stupid and silly. One reviewer just called it “tediously bad.”¹ But something higher was going on. At least, it was for me.

Final word – Pleasantly surprised.

MC

¹ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pixels_%282015_film%29#Reception


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Star Trek Memories – Thanks Spock!

Vulcan (Star Trek)

Vulcan (Star Trek) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

By Michael Clark

Born in 1962, I was almost too young to really appreciate Star Trek by the time it had run its course from 1966-69. Seven years old, and Star Trek had been cancelled.

My first memories of watching Star Trek are in the basement on Saturdays. It might have been a black and white or maybe a fairly primitive color TV. I can’t remember. What I do remember, though, is that the picture was pretty snowy. So it could have been a Buffalo NY channel. Or possibly a Hamilton ON channel. A snowy picture wasn’t uncommon back in the 60s and early 70s—if a household didn’t have cable, that is.

Even though the picture was fuzzy, I was captivated by Trek‘s faraway ambiance. It was low tech, for sure. But very high on the imagination. And that’s what really counts in storytelling, sci-fi or otherwise.

A few years later, the show came back as daily reruns. My friends and I would watch Trek, almost like an after school congregation. Sometimes we’d watch two episodes a day. The reruns were that popular.

Star Trek – “City on the Edge of Forever” – via Wikipedia

One of my favorite childhood episodes took place on a planet similar to Nazi Germany. Another great episode saw Kirk being accused of witchcraft on a planet similar to Earth’s European Middle Ages. And then there was Trelane, that Renaissance spoilsport who played the harpsichord, mostly concerned with his own pleasure.

There are several other outstanding episodes. Some explore the notion of parallel universes. Others, the merging of fantasy and reality. And others, the pitfalls of gangland violence or hippie idealism. But my all-time favorite, “City on the Edge of Forever,” won a Hugo award.

In this episode, Kirk, Spock and Dr. McCoy (Bones) travel back in time through a doughnut shaped portal to America’s Dirty Thirties. Kirk falls in love with the beautiful and insightful Edith Keeler. Unfortunately, she dies at the end of the episode. So Kirk must return to the Enterprise, to his own time, and suppress his feelings in order to command the starship.

It was a brilliant episode about time travel. One of the first to blend metaphysics and human emotion.

English: Jolene Blalock in Cairo

Jolene Blalock in Cairo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As for Leonard Nimoy, he was forever clever, funny and played the role of Spock perfectly. Jolene Blalock, who expertly portrayed the Vulcan T’Pol in Enterprise, once said that Nimoy was a hard act to follow.

Spock was groundbreaking because he was, perhaps, the first ET on TV with a full personality. As a self-proclaimed Vulcan, he was also half-human, a being who’d been taught as a boy to bury his emotions. That’s what Vulcans did. But the inner conflict was always lurking, just waiting to rise to the surface.

Despite his apparent rationalism, Spock would fall in love. He’d be reckless. He’d exhibit great valor. And when teased by Bones and Kirk, Spock would coolly rationalize his underlying emotionalism, in true Vulcan style.

Nimoy certainly was the man for the job. He played the innovative, complex character of Spock to a T. So Mr. Nimoy, thanks for the memories. And to you in the next life:

LIVE LONG AND PROSPER! :)

About the Author

Mike Clark earned his Ph.D in Religious Studies from the University of Ottawa. He’s an ardent supporter of dialogue and free-thinking. Not one to uncritically accept the latest politically correct, scientific, religious or trendy opinions, Mike wants to get at truth. But as a limited human being, he realizes he’ll probably always have to settle for (hopefully better and better) theories about truth.


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Time Travel Novels : Arguably The Most Fascinating Topic

Time dilation in transversal motion. The requi...

Time dilation in transversal motion. The requirement that the speed of light is constant in every inertial reference frame leads to the theory of relativity (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

By Gary J. McCleary

Time travel is arguably the most fascinating topic in all of science fiction. If you are a fan of science fiction consider for a moment your favourite movies, books and episodes of television shows.

Which were the best episodes of Star Trek for example in all of its incarnations? Which episode would you consider to be the absolute best out of all the series? Think about your favourite movies and decide which is best out of straight adventure and exploration, fighting off monsters or the mind bending stories involving time travel.

There are two directions of possible travel, namely into the future or into the past. The truth is that travel into the future is not a problem and can be accomplished in a number of ways some of which are practical and others which are theoretically possible given future advances in technology.

We have…

Time dilation as proposed by Einstein as velocity approaches the speed of light. This has been verified even here on Earth by clocks travelling in high speed flight or in orbit and also by observing cosmic rays.

Suspended animation by freezing or even hibernation which the bears regularly do.

The normal aging process which takes our consciousness into the future at the steady rate of one second per second.

Now factor in things like black holes, wormholes, folded space, string theory etc and we have many possibilities to consider.

time travel using parallel universe.

time travel using parallel universe. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Now time travel into the past looks on the surface to be impossible because of the many paradoxes that it implies. However the laws of Physics are symmetrical and there is actually nothing in the laws that prohibits backward travel in time.

It is the exploring of the paradoxes that breathes life into the whole concept of time travel. The best known one is of course any variation on the so called ‘grandfather paradox’. This is where the time traveller goes back in time and murders his own grandfather before he gets around to fathering his father which means that the time traveller was never born which means that he never went back in time which means that he never killed his grandfather which means…well you get the picture.

In my Time Travel Novels I have explored many variations on this paradox and others. One explanation is that there are an infinite number of universes so every possibility is allowed for. Another is the theory that an event becomes its own cause so that whatever the time traveller does in the past it was meant to happen in the first place in order to set his existence in motion.

Think about any time travel story that you have ever seen or read and you will realise that they all involve a giant circle which appears to close on itself. The trick is in trying to pick where the break is in the circle.

Article Source: http://www.articlesbase.com/new-age-articles/time-travel-novels-arguably-the-most-fascinating-topic-7134323.html

About the Author

I had a good childhood as childhoods go. I didn’t like school very much and yet I went on to become a high school Maths teacher. After five years of that I returned to university to finish my own full-time study in Applied Mathematics IV. Around this time I began a part-time career as a lecturer in Engineering Studies at the University of Western Sydney.

The groundwork for the person that I am today was always there though because I have always had a love for anything to do with science fiction. After Life Novels


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Elements of prophecy – reflections and new directions

The Sibyl (1891), Paul Ranson via Tumblr

Steven Spielberg’s sci-fi film Minority Report (2002) is soon to be re-imagined as a TV series by Fox.

In the original Minority Report three clairvoyants called Precogs (precognitives) spend their days in deep meditation, afloat in water. Their job is to predict murders that could take place in the future. Tom Cruise, a good and honest cop, relies on the Precogs to arrest would-be criminals just before they commit a homicide.

Minority Report puts an interesting twist on the idea of precognition because, in real life, individuals claiming to possess this ability are often treated with suspicion, even derision. But the Precogs’ abilities are highly valued and they are given a kind of eerie reverence.

True and False

As the administrator of Earthpages.org, I’ve met many complex and fascinating seekers, on and offline. Some claim that spirit beings appear or speak to them. Others believe they have seen objects, places or souls during their astral travels. Several allegedly read minds; and some say they’ve had a vision of Christ or the Holy Trinity. And like the PreCogs, others claim to foresee the future.

Dealing with alleged psychics and mind-readers is both rewarding and challenging. If psychic abilities are real, it seems there’s no guarantee they’ll be applied ethically. For instance, those who haven’t dealt with personal pain could take a compensatory turn toward self-aggrandizement.¹

Clearly, some folks do take a wrong turn in the spiritual life, and a few might be repeatedly deceived and paranoid. Interior perception is an exacting process and not everyone does it well.

Leading writers on mysticism like Evelyn Underhill say that sincere mystics strive to be humble and analytical in order to avoid deception by the imagination or by negative spiritual influences (traditionally viewed as “demons,” “tramp souls” and “ghosts”).

St. Thomas Aquinas (c. 1225-1274), the eponym ...

St. Thomas Aquinas (c. 1225-1274), the eponym of Thomism. Picture by Fra Angelico (c. 1395-1455). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

But this is the ideal. In reality, many alleged psychics and prophets seem pretty out to lunch. They speak in such roundabout terms that their predictions could mean a thousand different things. And when flat wrong, some of them just fudge it. False prophecies are quickly swept under the rug or recast as “symbolic” predictions.

Philosophers call this the ad hoc hypothesis or possibly ex post facto reasoning. Rather than openly admitting mistakes (as an honest researcher would) sham mystics do their best to cover them up.

Christian Response

Christian theologians say that genuine prophecy is revealed or infused from a supernatural source. They also tend to believe that God is omnipotent. This means God could use weak and sinful personalities for genuine prophecy, even for a short while. According to this view, one doesn’t have to be a holy guru to be a prophet. For Christians, no one is perfect. And to claim otherwise is misguided.

In Catholicism, personal revelations are called private revelations. Private revelations occurring after the time of Christ are said to add nothing to the faith as defined by the Church. But private revelations declared authentic may have inspirational or cultural value.

Throughout the ages, there have been so-called “private” revelations, some of which have been recognized by the authority of the Church. They do not belong, however, to the deposit of faith. It is not their role to improve or complete Christ’s definitive revelation, but to help live more fully by it in a certain period of history. Guided by the magisterium of the Church, the sensus fidelium knows how to discern and welcome in these revelations whatever constitutes an authentic call of Christ or his saints to the Church. Christian faith cannot accept “revelations” that claim to surpass or correct the revelation of which Christ is the fulfillment, as is the case in certain non-Christian religions and also in certain recent sects which base themselves on such “revelations”²

New Directions

Of course, many modern people question the authority of a traditional religious body that, in he past, has proved to be just as susceptible to temptation and error as anyone else. Historically, the Catholic Church has made gruesome mistakes, only to apologize hundreds of years later.

It’s also entirely possible that even the best of prophets distort their revelations through their unique personalities. That is, they interpret according to who they are at a given moment in history. According to the view, much of the Bible is laced with cultural bias and political infighting. That hardly sounds like the “Word” of God.

Guercino, The Persian Sibyl, 1647-48 via Tumblr

So where does this leave us? And by what standard do sincere seekers judge interior perceptions?

I think the answer might be found in a cross fertilization of psychology and spirituality. Einstein once said “science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind.”³  Perhaps we could adapt that to something like, “psychology without spirituality is superficial, spirituality without psychology is questionable.”

Only then can we move forward to a spirituality suitable for the 21st century and beyond.


¹ Many saints say that vanity and jealousy figure prominently in the spiritual life. The more we open to spiritual realities, the more vulnerable we are to temptation and deception.

² Catechism of the Catholic Church, par. 67. Catholic theology looks at prophecy in its own unique way. St. Thomas Aquinas is often cited in Catholic discussions about prophecy. But we’d do well to remember that after having a direct encounter with God, toward the end of his life, Aquinas apparently said his writings were like a “house of straw.”

³ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Religious_views_of_Albert_Einstein

Copyright © Michael W. Clark 2014

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