Friday, March 2, 2012

The Big Bang, Fred Hoyle and Homicidal Maniacs

I have more interests than I can count on my fingers and toes. Read my Blog profile and you will find a sampling of the distractions which take up my time.

Today I encountered a Blog Writer who is a master of the genre. I spell his name out in Bold Face, Italic type - arterial blood coloured letters... ADAM CURTIS He calls his Blog "The Medium and the Message". Its HERE.

"A MILE OR TWO OFF YARMOUTH" is the most recent article he has posted. Enjoy it here.

In the article, an essay really, Curtis pulls together diverse strands of 20th Century culture into a rope with which to hang his ideas on the gallery wall. It's quite an exhibit. He delves into British contributions to astronomy, including how the term "BIG BANG" was popularized by the Brit media. Would you believe that an obscure British movie about a group of people telling each other ghost stories, had a hand in it? Later he deals with the discoveries contributed by the (then) emerging field of Radio Astronomy.
Curtis delves into the life and public campaigns of Fred Hoyle, scientist and popularizer of science, who preceded Carl Sagan on the television screen by two decades. Hoyle believed that pure mathematics is the only true expression of God and that those scientists who clung to the "Big Bang" theory did so because of the influence of the Book of Genesis. The Big Bang was Genesis on a cosmic scale.

The Blog article discusses a great deal more, and has links to very unique video archives, including impossible to find British television. How about a film which "begins with an economist called Bill Phillips who built a giant computing machine run by water to demonstrate how to make an economy expand, yet not run out of control." Why? Because the article reminds us that the public are suckers for pseudo-science and alternating explanations for phenomena which baffle the common folk. When "Nuclear Winter" doesn't work anymore, try "Global Warming".

All popular culture exists to be cannibalized by even more popular culture. DEAD OF NIGHT (Ealing Studio 1945) was a prescient film with dramatic elements which may have inspired Rod Serling's thinking as he prepared TWILIGHT ZONE for production. It certainly impressed a group of astronomers who had been arguing the merits of the Big Bang theory even as Europe tore its guts out, from 1939-1945. The audience experiences a circular composition with no satisfactory explanation of behaviour - the scariest story involves a murderous stage performer who is possessed by the 'mind' of the puppet on his lap. Fred Hoyle, who walked with Britain's most brilliant thinkers, believed that man's brain is insufficient to ever understand and explain how and why the universe exists. Perhaps that is why I find his biography so interesting.

Curtis has much to say about movies and television and our instinctive need to sentimentalize everything. We crave simplistic explanations for everything, and black and white certainties are preferable to the rich potential of experimentation. (For example our Big Box schools and monolithic public education systems don't work, but we refuse to consider alternative models.) Curtis himself has made a study of modern experiments in which mathematical models are applied to real world scenarios. As we know the Holy Grail which all governments and corporations are seeking is a constant rate of expansion with reliable stability. I was primed for the Curtis message this afternoon after having a brief argument about the real estate market in Vancouver. I don't consider myself a "dissenting voice" but clearly there is something dark and very unpredictable going on here and it has nothing to with the "law" of supply and demand. I'm not waiting for the property market to collapse or even hoping for it to collapse, but I have a sense of a market driven by psychological factors which cannot be trusted, and of a price structure which will not endure.

Jump to Curtis' The Medium and the Message and read back through his archived articles. Use the links to videos which he provides. You will be glad you did.

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