An Irreversible Fact

Added on by Vivian Wong.

"The Sadeian libertine cannot forgive the mother, not for what she is, but for what she has done – for having thoughtlessly, needlessly inflicted life upon him. Therefore he conducts his irreconcileable existence entirely upon a metaphysical plane; his whole life is a violent protest against an irreversible condition because, though it is easy to stop living, it is impossible to erase the fact of one's birth. One may not remove oneself from history, though Sade tried to do it. His will directs he should be buried in a ditch, and 'the ditch, once covered over, about it acorns shall be strewn, in order that the spot become green again, and the copse grown back thick over it, the traces of my grave may disappear from the face of the earth, as I trust the memory of me shall fade out of the minds of all men.'"

–"The Sadeian Woman: An Exercise in Cultural History" by Angela Carter

Now that's nihilistic, even for me. 

Inner Space 11: Violent subversion of the room

Added on by Vivian Wong.

"In torture, the world is reduced to a single room or set of rooms. Called “guest rooms” in Greece and “safe houses” in the Philippines, the torture rooms are often given names that acknowledge and call attention to the generous, civilizing impulse normally present in the human shelter. They call attention to this impulse only as prelude to announcing its annihilation. The torture room is not just the setting in which the torture occurs; it is not just the space that happens to house the various instruments used for beating and burning and producing electric shock. It is itself literally converted into another weapon, into an agent of pain. All aspects of the basic structure— walls, ceiling, windows, doors— undergo this conversion. Basques tortured by the Spanish describe “el cerrojo,” the rapid and repeated bolting and unbolting of the door in order to keep them at all times in immediate anticipation of further torture, as one of the most terrifying and damaging acts. Found among PIDES’ paraphernalia in Portugal were manuscripts of gibberish which, according to the men and women brutalized there, were read at the doors of prisoners deprived of sleep for days. Solzhenitsyn describes how in Russia guards were trained to slam the door in as jarring a way as possible or to close it in equally unnerving silence. Former prisoners in the Philippines report having had their heads repeatedly banged into the wall. Israeli soldiers held in Syria describe being suspended from the ceiling in a tire that was swung as they were beaten, or having one’s genitals tied by a string to a door handle and having the string beaten. According to the testimony of Greeks tortured under the Colonels’ Regime, the act of looking out a window was made the occasion for beatings ...

The room, both in its structure and its content, is converted into a weapon, deconverted, undone. Made to participate in the annihilation of the prisoners, made to demonstrate that everything is a weapon, the objects themselves, and with them the fact of civilization, are annihilated: there is no wall, no window, no door, no bathtub, no refrigerator, no chair, no bed."

The Body in Pain: The Making and Unmaking of the World by Elaine Scarry. Chapter "The Structure of Torture: The Conversion of Real Pain into the Fiction of Power", section II "The Objectification of the Prisoner's World Dissolution".

Inner Space 10: Room

Added on by Vivian Wong.

"In normal contexts, the room, the simplest form of shelter, expresses the most benign potential of human life. It is, on the one hand, an enlargement of the body: it keeps warm and safe the individual it houses in the same way the body encloses and protects the individual within; like the body, its walls put boundaries around the self preventing undifferentiated contact with the world, yet in its windows and doors, crude versions of the senses, it enables the self to move out into the world and allows that world to enter. But while the room is a magnification of the body, it is simultaneously a miniaturization of the world, of civilization. Although its walls, for example, mimic the body’s attempt to secure for the individual a stable internal space— stabilizing the temperature so that the body spends less time in this act; stabilizing the nearness of others so that the body can suspend its rigid and watchful postures; acting in these and other ways like the body so that the body can act less like a wall— the walls are also, throughout all this, independent objects, objects which stand apart from and free of the body, objects which realize the human being’s impulse to project himself out into a space beyond the boundaries of the body in acts of making, either physical or verbal, that once multiplied, collected, and shared are called civilization."

The Body in Pain: The Making and Unmaking of the World by Elaine Scarry. Chapter "The Structure of Torture: The Conversion of Real Pain into the Fiction of Power", section II "The Objectification of the Prisoner's World Dissolution".

Time travel is already possible

Added on by Vivian Wong.

1. From the official NASA Hubble telescope website: 

"To examine the way the universe behaved in the past, astronomers look at extremely distant objects, such as supernovae in galaxies billions of light-years away. But how does that work? How can astronomers look out into space and see the universe back in time?

The answer lies in the speed of light. Light waves move very fast, about 186,000 miles per second (300,000 km/s). Light moves so fast that as you go about your daily life, it appears to travel instantaneously from one place to another ... 

In space, however, the distances are so immense that the time that light takes to travel is noticeable ...

Across our Milky Way galaxy, distances are measured in terms of how many years it takes light to travel. The nearest star is over four light-years away. So when we look at that nearest star, we see it not as it is today, but as it was four years ago. We are seeing the light that left that star four years previously and is just reaching us now ...

Very distant galaxies are billions of light-years away. At that distance, their light tells what the universe was like billions of years ago. Since the age of the universe is about 14 billion years, these distant observations allow astronomers to measure changes over the lifetime of the universe. So when astronomers look out into space, they are essentially also looking back into time."

2. International Space Station:

"To get ahead in life, spend some time on the International Space Station. Why? Well, according to the theory of relativity, astronauts on the ISS age more slowly due to the spacecraft’s high orbital speed. It’s called time dilation, and it means that when they return they’re a bit younger than they would have been—as if they’ve traveled into the future. (The effect is very small—it would take more than 100 years on the ISS to warp ahead by just one second.)" 

My head just exploded twice

Added on by Vivian Wong.

"Inflation holds that our universe experienced a sudden burst of rapid expansion an instant after the Big Bang, blowing up from a infinitesimally small speck to one spanning a quarter of a billion light-years in mere fractions of a second.

Yet inflation, once started, tends to never completely stop. According to the theory, once the universe starts expanding, it will end in some places, creating regions like the universe we see all around us today. But elsewhere inflation will simply keep on going eternally into the future.

This feature has led cosmologists to contemplate a scenario called eternal inflation. In this picture, individual regions of space stop inflating and become “bubble universes” like the one in which we live. But on larger scales, exponential expansion continues forever, and new bubble universes are continually being created. Each bubble is deemed a universe in its own right, despite being part of the same space-time, because an observer could not travel from one bubble to the next without moving faster than the speed of light. And each bubble may have its own distinct laws of physics. 'If you buy eternal inflation, it predicts a multiverse,' Peiris said."

–"Multiverse Collisions May Dot the Sky"

Even if the neighboring universe is just a void, if this proves to be true then the existence and knowledge of multiverses will change our bubble forever. 

MIND BLOWN: Multiverses might be testable

Added on by Vivian Wong.

Up until now, the theory of multiverses was thought to be untestable. But they might have just come up with something: 

"If the universe that we inhabit had long ago collided with another universe, the crash would have left an imprint on the cosmic microwave background (CMB), the faint afterglow from the Big Bang. And if physicists could detect such a signature, it would provide a window into the multiverse ... 

In the years since their initial meeting, Peiris and Johnson have studied how a collision with another universe in the earliest moments of time would have sent something similar to a shock wave across our universe. They think they may be able to find evidence of such a collision in data from the Planck space telescope, which maps the CMB.

The project might not work, Peiris concedes. It requires not only that we live in a multiverse but also that our universe collided with another in our primal cosmic history. But if physicists succeed, they will have the first improbable evidence of a cosmos beyond our own."

–"Multiverse Collisions May Dot the Sky"

Many discoveries in the universe were initially made by inference not observation, such as black holes and dark matter. 

"These are their stories." Dun-Dun.

Added on by Vivian Wong.

"In the criminal justice system, Sexually based offenses are considered especially heinous. In New York City, the dedicated detectives who investigate these vicious felonies are members of an elite squad known as the Special Victims Unit. These are their stories." (sfx Dun-dun). 

–"Law & Order: SVU" opening. 

"When a show ends, there’s a social demand to find meaning in it: some vanguard quality, some dramatic paradigm shift. But Law & Order was not the kind of show most people will collect on DVD, or go to fan conventions for, or analyze frame by frame. It inspired a different kind of passionate fanhood—solo, hard-core rerun-watching. Sheer watchability, the formula that somehow works every single time, is a kind of greatness, too."

–"These Are Their Stories: The pleasing again-and-again of Law & Order."

I'm a hardcore SVU fan who watches the infinite re-runs on various TV channels during the weekends. In between these "reenactment" loops, you begin to develop surrogate relationships with these characters and you start filling in their spaces off camera ...

Trauma: Temporal disruption

Added on by Vivian Wong.

"Trauma creates a self-perpetuating mechanism that appears as a seemingly endless feedback loop and thus becomes, by definition, antinarrative. Once triggered, the traumatic memory takes over reality to the extent that the subject imagines herself in the same situation she was when the actual event occurred, then responds accordingly. This, in turn, alters her current reality to the degree that 'real' time does not pass. Paradoxically, the trauma victim always lives in the 'present' (of the original event), yet is unable to experience the actual present as a temporal dimension – there is a sense of stasis, as if time did not pass. This stasis manifests itself in a constant need to seek out what is perceived  as a 'safe space.' Patients suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) repeat the original 'fight-or-flight' reaction they haves used to protect themselves at the initial scene; yet they suffer from a lack of perspective, due to their lack of a sense of chronology, which causes them to never feel safe. No matter how much they work at trying to find that 'safe space,' they always feel under siege. And even if an immediate threat no longer exists, traumatized persons always imagine themselves to be in a situation of mortal danger."

–"Womb Fantasies: Subjective Architectures in Postmodern Literature, Cinema, and Art" by Caroline Rupprecht

Representing trauma by using conceptual leaps in time. Marguerite Duras and Alain Resnais often explore this in their work through non-linear narratives and temporal ambiguity.  

Interesting in terms of past trauma always being "present", a space of constant reenactment. 

Cult career goals

Added on by Vivian Wong.

"I wish I were Johnny Mathis. So mainstream. So popular. So unironic, yet perfect. Effortlessly boyish at over seventy years old, with a voice that still makes all of America want to make out ... Is it because Johnny Mathis is the polar opposite of me? A man whose Greatest Hits album was on the Billboard charts for 490 consecutive weeks. Versus me, a cult filmmaker whose core audience, no matter how much I’ve crossed over, consists of minorities who can’t even fit in with their own minorities."

–John Waters. "Role Models". 

Sounds like success to me. I secretly spend most days daydreaming to be some kind of subculture leader and provacateur. #subculture #zenith #discerningtaste

Inner Space 8: Inner Emptiness

Added on by Vivian Wong.

" ... If Hiroshima mon amour is about history and places, both disintegrate within the traumatized subject. And if trauma is an inability to find safe space (including the woman's inability to inhabit the space she's in), the film depicts the characters' emotional inability to relate to one another. Resnais's camera depicts architectural and urban environments as empty, which resonates with the affective numbness of the characters' mental states.

... By making lack of perspective part of the woman's memory of the aftermath of World War II, Resnais depicts the emotional numbness caused by trauma on several levels, but mostly in terms of space: the emptiness the woman encounters in the buildings and streets of Hiroshima is representative of her own inner emptiness, her inability to connect to another human being."

–"Womb Fantasies: Subjective Architectures in Postmodern Literature, Cinema, and Art" by Caroline Rupprecht

The exploration of spatial trauma through subjective environments in Alain Resnais' Hiroshima mon amour

Womb Space

Added on by Vivian Wong.

"As an imaginary image, the womb can be a cave, a room, a house, or a city; as well as a seemingly boundless geographic or architectural space in which a subject experiences a sense of loss of perspective ('agoraphobia' is the fear of wide-open spaces)."

–"Womb Fantasies: Subjective Architectures in Postmodern Literature, Cinema, and Art" by Caroline Rupprecht

Why is there something rather than nothing?

Added on by Vivian Wong.

"It has been said that the question Why is there something rather than nothing? is so profound that it would occur only to a metaphysician, yet so simple that it would occur only to a child."

"What options do you have for resolving the mystery of existence once you let go of the God hypothesis? Well, you might expect that science will someday explain not only how the world is, but why is it. This, at least, is the hope of Dawkins, who looks to theoretical physics for an answer. “Maybe the ‘inflation’ that physicists postulate as occupying some fraction of the first yoctosecond of the universe’s existence will turn out, when it is better understood, to be a cosmological crane to stand alongside Darwin’s biological one,” Dawkins has written. 

Stephen Hawking, who is actually a practicing cosmologist, takes a different approach. Hawking came up with a theoretical model in which the universe, though finite in time, is completely self-contained, without beginning or end. In this “no-boundary” model, he argued, there is no need for a creator, divine or otherwise. Yet even Hawking doubts that his set of equations can yield a complete resolution to the mystery of existence. “What is it that breathes fire into the equations and makes a universe for them to describe?” he plaintively asks. “Why does the universe go through all the bother of existing?

–"Why Does the World Exist? An Existential Detective Story" by Jim Holt

I'm about to begin this existential story. Science is still trying to figure "how" the universe came to exist but what came before the Big Bang?

In between the TV static

Added on by Vivian Wong.

"If you turn on your television and tune it between stations, about 10 percent of that black-and-white speckled static you see is caused by photons left over from the birth of the universe. What greater proof of the reality of the Big Bang— you can watch it on TV."

–"Why Does the World Exist? An Existential Detective Story" by Jim Holt

Inner/Outer Space: An ideal Heterotopia

Added on by Vivian Wong.

"Brothels and colonies are two extreme types of heterotopia, and if we think, after all, that the boat is a floating piece of space, a place without a place, that exists by itself, that is closed in on itself and at the same time is given over to the infinity of the sea and that, from port to port, from tack to tack, from brothel to brothel, it goes as far as the colonies in search of the most precious treasures they conceal in their gardens, you will understand why the boat has not only been for our civilization, from the sixteenth century until the present, the great instrument of economic development (I have not been speaking of that today), but has been simultaneously the greatest reserve of the imagination. The ship is the heterotopia par excellence. In civilizations without boats, dreams dry up, espionage takes the place of adventure, and the police take the place of pirates."

–Michel Foucault, "Of Other Places, Heterotopia".

Heterotopias are spaces/places of necessity, its otherness facilitating escapes from societal structure and authoritarian repression.