Preventing time travel: Time Paradoxes

Added on by Vivian Wong.

"Traditionally, another reason physicists dismissed the idea of time travel was because of time paradoxes ... This is important, because science is based on logically consistent ideas; a genuine time paradox would be enough to completely rule out time travel. These time paradoxes can be grouped into several categories: 

Grandfather paradox. In this paradox, you alter the past in a way that makes the present impossible. For example, by going back into the distant past to meet the dinosaurs, you accidentally step on a small, furry mammal that is the original ancestor of humanity. By destroying your ancestor, you cannot logically exist. 

Information paradox. In this paradox, information comes from the future, which means that it may have no origin. For example, let’s say a scientist creates a time machine and then goes back in time to give the secret of time travel to himself as a youth. The secret of time travel would have no origin, since the time machine the youthful scientist possesses was not created by him but was handed to him by his older self. 

Bilker’s paradox. In this kind of paradox, a person knows what the future will be and does something that makes the future impossible. For example, you make a time machine to take you to the future, and you see that you are destined to marry a woman named Jane. However, on a lark, you decide to marry Helen instead, thereby making your own future impossible. 

The sexual paradox. In this kind of paradox, you father yourself, which is a biological impossibility. In a tale written by the British philosopher Jonathan Harrison, the hero of the story not only fathers himself, but he also cannibalizes himself. In Robert Heinlein’s classic tale “All You Zombies,” the hero is simultaneously his mother, father, daughter, and son—that is, a family tree unto himself. (See the notes for details. Unraveling the sexual paradox is actually rather delicate, requiring knowledge of both time travel and the mechanics of DNA.)"

–Parallel Worlds: A Journey Through Creation, Higher Dimensions, and the Future of the Cosmos by Michio Kaku

Day Job: Franz Kafka

Added on by Vivian Wong.

"In 1908, Kafka landed a position at the Workers’ Accident Insurance Institute in Prague, where he was fortunate to be on the coveted “single shift” system, which meant office hours from 8:00 or 9:00 in the morning until 2:00 or 3:00 in the afternoon. Although this was a distinct improvement over his previous job at a different insurance firm, which required long hours and frequent overtime, Kafka still felt stymied; he was living with his family in a cramped apartment, where he could muster the concentration to write only late at night, when everyone else was asleep. As Kafka wrote to Felice Bauer in 1912, “time is short, my strength is limited, the office is a horror, the apartment is noisy, and if a pleasant, straightforward life is not possible then one must try to wriggle through by subtle maneuvers.'"

–Daily Rituals: How Artists Work. Mason Currey. 

"Hong Konger"

Added on by Vivian Wong.

"Polls have steadily shown that larger and larger percentages of Hong Kong citizens identify as “Hong Konger” rather than “Chinese” even as the government seeks greater conformity.

To many in Hong Kong, then, “Chinese” may primarily mean a cultural, ethnic, or racial marker of identity rather than of political nationality. There are “Chinese” of various types who make up the majority population in Taiwan and Singapore, a significant percentage in Malaysia and Thailand, and large numbers around the world.

So when the demonstrators chant “Hong Kong People!” they are asserting that to be a citizen of Hong Kong is emphatically not the same as being Chinese. For the authorities in Beijing, this may send shivers down their spines. Because there is nothing they hate and fear more than the center not holding, torn apart by rough beasts. They are unable to see that it is China’s own political shortcomings that encourage this fundamental debate and resulting protest."

–Are ‘Hong Kong people’ still Chinese? Depends on how you define ‘Chinese’

The professionalization of art

Added on by Vivian Wong.

"... And this is something I feel to be increasingly difficult to develop and maintain both in art and other areas of life, when there are so many pressures in the market-driven economy to divide labor, to professionalize. As artists, curators, and writers, we are increasingly forced to market ourselves by developing a consistent product, a concise presentation, a statement that can be communicated in thirty seconds or less—and oftentimes this alone passes for professionalism. For emerging artists and curators there is an ever-increasing number of well-intentioned programs that essentially indoctrinate them into becoming content providers for an art system whose values and welfare are wholly defined by its own logic of supply and demand.

Being a professional should not be the only acceptable way for us to maintain our households, particularly when most interesting artists are perfectly capable of functioning in at least two or three fields that are, unlike art, respected by society in terms of compensation and general usefulness. I feel that we have cornered ourselves by denying the full range of possibilities for developing our economies ... Unless hard-pressed by circumstances, we still think that the proper thing to do is to wait for a sponsor or a patron to solve our household problems and to legitimize our work. In fact, we don’t need their legitimacy. We are perfectly capable of being our own sponsors, which in most cases we already are when we do other kinds of work to support our art-work. This is something that should not be disavowed, but acknowledged openly. We must find the terms for articulating what kind of economy artists really want. This can be quite complicated, since not addressing this question implicitly reinforces the simplistic myth of the artist as an isolated and alienated genius. Without a captivating alternative, artists will always defer to this myth out of habit, in spite of how complex and interesting their real household economy may be."

–"Art without Market, Art without Education: Political Economy of Art" by Anton Vidokle, editor of e-flux

I agree and disagree. 

Shonda Rhimes

Added on by Vivian Wong.

My favorite bullet points from the Hollywood Reporter interview: #7, #9, and #16

7. No tortured artist here. “I have all these friends who just love therapy, and I always say the reason that I’m absolutely not in therapy is because then I wouldn’t have anything to write,” she says, noting that she was a “much more antsy, dark person” when she started in this industry than she is now. Those who work with her say she is far happier with both her work and her results than many in the field. “You waste a lot of time being miserable," Rhimes adds, "and I’m not really interested.”

9. Rhimes was thrilled by the decision to house all of her shows on Thursday night as well as the network’s multi-cultural push, but she could have done without network chief Paul Lee standing on the Lincoln Center stage in May and referring to her as “the Charles Dickens of the 21st century, if Charles Dickens was black and a woman.” Fortunately, the pair has a strong enough relationship where she could tell him that the latter part of that comment which signifies that somehow her race and gender are relevant — “bugged” her, and then move on

16. Even in the early days at Grey's Anatomy, Rhimes says she had little trouble being decisive or dispensing her opinions. The bigger challenge, as she remembers it, was having to work with a staff of some 300, a culture shock for someone who had previously written screenplays alone in her pajamas. “Somebody would say to me, ‘What color shoes should Meredith be wearing?’ And I knew that answer. I could tell you why the interns should be doing this activity. That stuff was in my head because I had really spent time to measure who those characters were,” she says. “What was not easy was the having to interact with all of those people. I am, by nature, an introvert, and I was much more of an introvert when this whole process started. So I found it all fairly painful."

–25 Things You Learn Writing About 'Scandal' Creator Shonda Rhimes

The disappearance of Bohemia

Added on by Vivian Wong.

"It interesting to note that this emphasis on professionalization emerged simultaneously with the disappearance of bohemia, which is usually described as a shared creative space that allowed for fluid communication between poets, artists, dancers, writers, musicians, and so forth. The notion of bohemia as something to aspire to went out the window a few decades ago; it vanished at the same time as the visual art sphere was becoming more segregated from other fields of art. “Bohemian” has become a primarily derogatory term that seems to imply a kind of uncommitted, naive dilettantism, but within the history of art it has a greater significance.

According to T.J. Clark, bohemia refers to a movement by a group of artists, writers, and poets who apparently renounced the normative bourgeois society, a move that, unlike the gestures of the avant-garde, was not a calculated temporary tactic intended only so that one could return to the salon of art in a more advantageous position, but a more permanent departure. The bohemian artist would absolutely reject the notion of professionalism in the arts—this was something for lawyers, accountants, and bankers, not artists."

–"Art without Market, Art without Education: Political Economy of Art" by Anton Vidokle, editor of e-flux

The 1st global export: Time – British "Greenwich Mean Time" GMT

Added on by Vivian Wong.

"Britain “ruled the waves” in the days of empire and through the oceans had power over vast parts of the world. How? Through clocks. In 1714, a petition was offered to parliament, proposing a prize for the solution of the longitude problem. “The discovery of longitude is of such consequence to Great Britain for the improvement of Trade . . . the lasting honor of the British nation is at stake.” Through mastering, with chronometers, the mystery of longitude, thus rendering seas navigable, the British paved the pathless oceans and paved them in the pursuit of power, prestige and profit. The chronometer became a tool of political power, a weapon of empire and the handcuffs of slavery.

The most accurate clocks were kept at the Greenwich Royal Observatory, the center of this maritime nation and the center of empire. Reeking with the language of imperialism and smug with the knowledge that time is power, the chief clock at Greenwich in 1852 was called the “master” clock; it sent out signals to “slave” clocks in Greenwich which sent further signals to other “slave” clocks at London Bridge. Today, at Greenwich, there is a plaque (in a dismally unprominent position on a run-down housing estate) which quietly commemorates the slave trade in African people which “was to enrich England for centuries and correspondingly destabilise and impoverish Africa” ...  

... Suitably for a nation of shopkeepers, who had long linked commerce and clocks, the first global export was time itself, GMT ... As this became the universal time measurement, it signaled the destruction of other ways of counting times and marked the hegemony of the one, Western— specifically British— way, dictated by British imperial power, as seventy-five percent of merchant ships already followed GMT."

–"A Sideways Look at Time" by Jay Griffiths

Inner Space 6: Colonialism and Time

Added on by Vivian Wong.

"To choose your calendar is to choose your politics ... "

"To teach someone a different clock and calendar is one of the most subtle but most profound aspects of imperialist power— colonialism of the mind. When ancient China had colonized some new region, the phrase they used to describe this act was at once sinister and telling— the people of the new territory had “received the calendar.” For Chinese emperors, the Mandate of Heaven involved a “stewardship” of time; the ruler, identified as a paramount sign of the times, was responsible for time. When a new dynasty came to power it altered the calendar of the previous dynasty and the start of a new reign was dated as the first day of the following new year, thus the new emperor ritually regenerated time itself. In our age, “President” George W. Bush’s regime launched the “Project for the New American Century” and revealed a similarly stealthy and nasty will to power. Insisting that a new time (be it date, year or century) belongs to you is an act of invisible colonialism: the Bush coterie deliberately linked its empire-building foreign policy with the power of time. In Turkemenistan, meanwhile, President Saparmurat Niyazov, who names himself Turkmenbashi, is nothing if not an arrogant despot, and as other power-wielders do, he has welded time to his rule. January is now called “Turkmenbashi,” after himself, and April is called Gurbansoltan, after his mother."

–"A Sideways Look at Time" by Jay Griffiths.

Where are all the tourists from the future?

Added on by Vivian Wong.

"In 1992, Stephen Hawking tried to resolve this question about time travel once and for all. Instinctively, he was against time travel; if journeys through time were as common as Sunday picnics, then we should see tourists from the future gawking at us and taking pictures.

But physicists often quote from T. H. White’s epic novel The Once and Future King, where a society of ants declares, “Everything not forbidden is compulsory.” In other words, if there isn’t a basic principle of physics forbidding time travel, then time travel is necessarily a physical possibility. (The reason for this is the uncertainty principle. Unless something is forbidden, quantum effects and fluctuations will eventually make it possible if we wait long enough. Thus, unless there is a law forbidding it, it will eventually occur.) In response, Stephen Hawking proposed a “chronology protection hypothesis” that would prevent time travel and hence “make history safe for historians.” According to this hypothesis, time travel is not possible because it violates specific physical principles ... 

Today, Hawking no longer says that time travel is absolutely impossible, only that it is highly unlikely and impractical. The odds are overwhelmingly against time travel. But one cannot rule it out entirely. If one can somehow harness large quantities of positive and negative energy and solve the stability problem, time travel may indeed be possible. (And perhaps the reason we are not flooded by tourists from the future is that the earliest time they can go back to is when the time machine was created, and perhaps time machines haven’t been created yet.)"

–"Parallel Worlds: A Journey Through Creation, Higher Dimensions, and the Future of the Cosmos" by Michio Kaku

The Anthropological "Other"

Added on by Vivian Wong.

The Conquest of America stands as Europe's model for the constitution of the Other. 

Colonization became a mission, and the savage became absence and negation. 

(The "noble savage") In defense of a particular vision of order, the savage became evidence for a particular type of utopia. 

Just as utopia itself can be offered as a promise or as a dangerous illusion, the savage can be noble, wise, barbarian, victim, or aggressor, depending on the debate and the aims of the interlocutors. 

(Postmodern "savages") The primitive has become terrorist, refugee, freedom fighter, opium and coca grower, or parasite. He can even play anthropologist at times. Televised documentaries show his "real" conditions of existence: underground newspapers expose his dreams of modernity. Thanks to modernity, the savage has changed, the West has changed, and the West knows that both have changed empirically. 

–select passages from "Anthropology and the Savage Slot: The Poetics and Politics of Otherness", Michel-Rolph Trouillot.

Abolish "Columbus Day" and decolonize. 

The beginnings of the universe confirmed

Added on by Vivian Wong.

"Surprisingly strong gravitational waves rippled through the fiery aftermath of the Big Bang ... a finding that confirms the cosmos grew to a stunningly vast size in its very first moments.

The long-sought observations, taken from Antarctica, strongly support the cosmological theory of "inflation," which explains how the early universe smoothly expanded to unimaginable vastness in the first fractional second of its existence ... 

The finding means that in little more than a century, humanity has figured out not only the age of the universe—it was born about 13.82 billion years ago in the Big Bang—but also how its birth unfolded ... 

To make the gravitational wave discovery, the team studied the cosmic microwave background, leftover heat from the origin of the universe

Imprinted across the entire sky, this relic heat reveals in minute temperature differences where matter condensed about 400,000 years after the Big Bang. Those patterns also serve as a frozen snapshot of the conditions inside the moment of creation that spawned it ... 

Pryke said the finding was so surprising that the discovery team spent three years checking the result. Statistics suggest that they have a 99.9997 percent certainty of being correct.

That means that in its very first moments, the entire universe reached a size far, far larger than what is observable or will ever be observable to humanity (the "observable" universe is about 92 billion light-years across).

–Big Bang's "Smoking Gun" Confirms Early Universe's Exponential Growth. March 17, 2014.

The "inflation" theory of early universe has been confirmed. Obviously this was old news, but I forgot to post a couple months ago. 

The debilitating fear of failure

Added on by Vivian Wong.

"... Cao has argued that this stigma is one reason why China—despite its increasingly high-tech society—has had few homegrown scientific breakthroughs. The country’s lack of scientific Nobel Prizes has been a continual source of irritation for the government. A number of Chinese-born scientists have won the award, but all were based outside China at the time.

Cao pinpoints the Chinese education system as the major source of the failure-to-fail problem. “The way Chinese students are educated, they are not encouraged to take a critical attitude toward mentors,” he says. Institutions like the gao kao, the nationwide, high-pressure, nine-hour exam that is the sole determinant of admission to nearly all Chinese universities, doesn’t exactly foster a relaxed attitude toward academic setbacks and experimentation.

Any discussion of a problem like this risks veering quickly into lazy stereotypes about Confucian values and filial piety, with the worst perpetrators sometimes being Chinese authorities themselves. For instance, as the nationalist, Communist Party-controlled Global Times editorialized in 2012, 'The social atmosphere in China has too much respect for authority. Chinese people prefer to obey orders. They care a lot about face and fear failure.'"

–Learning to Move Fast and Break Things: Is fear of failure holding back innovation in China?

Inner Space 4: Ritualistic Relationships

Added on by Vivian Wong.

Offscreen Magazine

... What’s also interesting is that a high percentage, like 90% or higher, of serial killers are white males, which is a pretty alarming statistic. But there are the stereotypes that are completely anal and ordered, and others that are completely disordered. And that Hilditch would fall under the anal and ordered type.

Atom Egoyan

... So, like with Dahmer, the moment these women want to leave Hilditch turns. He can’t stand the fact that they will go away. At that point he needs to keep them. And I think his video archive is as disturbing as Dahmer’s bones. And he’s been taught to believe that with his skewed relationship with his television mother, that tapes keep his relationships current. With his mother never giving him attention as a kid, and suddenly through this ritual of the tape, he is able to maintain an intimacy in a relationship. He’s able to construct an electronic gaze where there wasn’t any attention directed to him as a kid. He’s able to make that happen ... I’m very interested in those points where the technology, as I said, can serve as a metaphor but also as a way of having these characters think they are dealing with issues of experience.

–Egoyan's Journey: An Interview with Atom Egoyan by Donato Totaro and Simon Galiero, 1999

Audre Lorde

Added on by Vivian Wong.

"Black women have been taught to view each other as always suspect, heartless competitors for the scarce male, the all important price that could legitimize our existence. This dehumanizing denial of self is no less lethal than the dehumanization of racism to which it is so closely allied."

– Audre Lorde

Women are not defined by their bodies, and women are not defined in relation to men. 


Added on by Vivian Wong.

Offscreen Magazine

Well, there's been this huge influx and interest in serial killer films in the past five to ten years. 

Atom Egoyan

Well, I think in cinema the serial killer has become a profession, it's like showing a doctor or lawyer character. Serial killers have become another one of the ways in which a character might conduct their lives. It is odd to say that but that's the only way we can deal with our public fascination with them ... And the serial killer, in a similar way, has found an occupation, killing people, which serves to represent latent issues in a very convenient way. I think we are all obsessed with the notions of fate, and of course in a conventional serial killer film, there is seriality involved in the actual structure of the film. There's a sense of the inevitable, who will be the next victim? And there is usually an investigation to try to stop what would seem to be the inevitable. It's an interesting occupation to represent.

–Egoyan's Journey: An Interview with Atom Egoyan by Donato Totaro and Simon Galiero, 1999

Fluid Identities

Added on by Vivian Wong.

"I had an entire biography for Errol. For example, he taught himself to sound like other people by watching movies on his VCR. That’s why one minute he can sound like Andy Griffith inviting you to the fishing hole, and the next second he sound like James Mason, and then the next, he can sound like something otherworldly. So yeah: if we’re talking about the stories we tell ourselves, if identity is a story, this killer we get to know a little at the end, his identity seems completely fluid, depending on what story needs to be told, or, in the case of the North By Northwest scene, whatever story is in front of him."

True Detective creator Nic Pizzolatto Interview.

I'm embarrassed to say I haven't seen "True Detectives" yet, and I'm about to start. I already know some of the spoilers, but I am excited to see what kinds of stories we choose to tell "ourselves". 

I have accumulated a major back log of shows and movies over the past year, so much to watch and so little time ... 

Orpheus and Eurydice

Added on by Vivian Wong.


I keep thinking I hear someone behind us. But we can't look back. That's one of the rules today. He wasn't supposed to but he did. Stop at the water fountain for a minute. I want to show you another photograph. Take out the next one. Number 2. Hold it up. 


... and to bind these docile lovers fast I freeze the world in a perfect mirror


This is a photo I took last time I was here. Look at it closely. Let yourself really go into the scene ... the ice on the lake, the barren trees

soundscape fades to silence

Now look at the view in front of us. Really look. Smell the air. 

soundscape of ducks flying off water

–Janet Cardiff, "Her Long Black Hair", 2004. An audio walk set in Central Park. 

Right now I am interested in investigating acts of "looking back", whether literal, temporal, spatial, metaphorical, etc. In her audio walk "Her Long Black Hair", Cardiff makes a connection between Orpheus' final gaze at Eurydice with the impossibilities of photography. 

Inner Space 3: Exclusion

Added on by Vivian Wong.

"There were a couple of other interesting deviations that you made from Beckett's stage-directions. One was your decision to have Krapp walk away from the desk to pull down the window blinds before he sits down to listen to his tapes. The movement obviously anticipates the moment in the tape when Krapp describes the blinds going down in his mother's death chamber – a gesture which marks the moment of her death as well as Krapp's own self-exclusion from the scene as he waits outside her window. In this film the gesture creates a more interior space – it blocks out the rhythm of the rain, making for a claustrophobic intimacy. But it also evokes a strange sense of exclusion – puts Krapp into a kind of burial chamber to which we strictly should have no access…

Rebecca Comay, "Krapp and Other Matters" 2001. 

In conversation with Atom Egoyan about his film adaptation of Beckett's play "Krapp's Last Tape".