News Briefs 02-05-2017

Born sexy yesterday...

Quote of the Day:

If we care about having a meaningful world in which to lead meaningful lives then we should all try harder to reinvest our environments with the meaning that belligerent materialism has sucked out of them.

Alan Moore

The Lost City of Z

We all love the topic of lost civilisations here at the Grail, so here's a new movie getting rave reviews from critics that should be right up our alley: The Lost City of Z, which tells the now-legendary tale of Percy Fawcett, who disappeared in 1925 while searching the jungles of Brazil for a 'lost city':

Based on author David Grann’s nonfiction bestseller, THE LOST CITY OF Z tells the incredible true story of British explorer Percy Fawcett (Charlie Hunnam), who journeys into the Amazon at the dawn of the 20th century and discovers evidence of a previously unknown, advanced civilization that may have once inhabited the region. Despite being ridiculed by the scientific establishment who regard indigenous populations as “savages,” the determined Fawcett – supported by his devoted wife (Sienna Miller), son (Tom Holland) and aide de camp (Robert Pattinson) – returns time and again to his beloved jungle in an attempt to prove his case, culminating in his mysterious disappearance in 1925. An epically-scaled tale of courage and obsession, told in Gray’s classic filmmaking style, THE LOST CITY OF Z is a stirring tribute to the exploratory spirit and those individuals driven to achieve greatness at any cost.

iIf you don't get to catch it in cinemas, the movie will be available for purchase sometime in July.

News Briefs 01-05-2017

Me, IRL, when someone wants to talk to me...

Quote of the Day:

Subjectivity is the only thing that we know is objectively real.

Alan Moore

News Briefs 29-04-2017

“When I walk along with two others, from at least one I will be able to learn.“

Quote of the Day:

“What you do not want done to yourself, do not do to others.”

Confucius

Alan Moore on Science, Imagination, Language and Spirits of Place

Alan Moore

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Daily Grail Publishing recently released a new anthology, Spirits of Place, featuring a stellar line-up of writers including Alan Moore, Gazelle Amber Valentine, Warren Ellis, Maria J Pérez Cuervo and Iain Sinclair (among many others). We grabbed the opportunity to ask Alan some questions about the fascinating topics discussed in the book, as well as various other subjects ranging from populism to the eternal nature of time. Hey, it's an Alan Moore interview, what did you expect?!

You can find out more about Spirits of Place - including links to order your own copy in paperback, eBook, or limited edition signed hardcover formats - at spiritsofplace.com.

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The Daily Grail: Hi Alan, thanks very much for taking time to have a quick chat with us. To begin, I thought it might be worthwhile delving into the topic of the new anthology Spirits of Place, which you are a contributor to. The idea that locations have a 'soul', or in-dwelling 'spirit', is an ancient one, but in modern times it's largely been forgotten. Do you think this is something we, in the 21st century, need to reconnect with?

Alan Moore: We live in a world that is mostly predicated on a rational and scientific worldview, which effectively means that any phenomenon beyond the physically measureable is automatically deemed non-existent, including souls, gods, ghosts and human consciousness. While I would agree that we need to recover the psychological connection that once existed between ourselves and our environment – because to do otherwise is to render us all pointless automata in a material world which, by its own admission, has no direction or purpose – I would say that the problem could be more sharply defined if we put aside contentious terms like ‘soul’ or ‘spirit’, and instead opted for the less vague but just as scientifically problematic term ‘meaning’. If by coming to know more about the historical or mythological aspects of the places in which we live we make those places more meaningful, to us at least, then I suggest that this will lead to experiencing ourselves as more meaningful in our new, illuminated context.

The big difference between ‘meaning’ and ‘a spirit’ is that where meaning is concerned, we have to do all the necessary hard work in order to invest that place or that person or that object with meaning, whereas spirits just sort of turn up, don’t they? I believe that our world is gloriously haunted with meaning; that it’s we ourselves that are doing the haunting; and that we should be doing more of it, or doing it more strenuously.

In an era where supposedly hard material reality seems to shift more like vapour with every passing day, I think it becomes more evident that timeless and unchanging mythology is the actual solid bedrock on which our flimsy and temporary human realities are briefly erected. Whether you call it soul or spirit or meaning, it is the Real, as opposed to this spasming neo-conservative monetarist/materialist dream that we’re all required to share, and if we care about having a meaningful world in which to lead meaningful lives then we should all try harder to reinvest our environments with the meaning that belligerent materialism has sucked out of them.

Spirits of Place Cover

TDG: On the other hand, in recent times, there’s been a resurgence in so-called ‘populist’ political movements, which seems a sanitised way of saying ‘nationalist’, or sometimes even ‘xenophobic’. In your hometown Northampton you’ve seen changes in demographics to the Boroughs, along with destructive urban development and political pushes to relocate people. When considering the idea of 'Spirits of Place', how do we balance the embracing of the history and spirit of a location with change, progress and moving forward? How do we retain local identity without falling for racism and bigotry?

AM: Firstly, I think we need to uncouple concepts like progress and moving forward from the concept of change, since if we continually use them together people are liable to think they have something to do with each other. They don’t. I don’t think a great many people objected when the pervasive urban darkness was dispelled by gas-lamps, or when illumination was further improved by a move to electric lighting. That’s because these things genuinely represented progress of a kind that everybody could understand and agree with. The move from companionable terraced streets to ugly and alienating high-rise blocks on the other hand, a move made for entirely commercial reasons to maximise the value of a plot of land by building high, is simply change: I fail to see what it has to do with ... Read More »

News Briefs 27-04-2017

Ooh, baby baby it's a wild world.

Thank you, Greg.

"The duty of man who investigates the writings of scientists, if learning the truth is his goal, is to make himself an enemy of all that he reads and … attack it from every side. He should also suspect himself as he performs his critical examination of it, so that he may avoid falling into either prejudice or leniency."
- Ibn al-Haytham

News Briefs 26-04-2017

Reality is nausea-inducing...

Thanks @t3dy and @ProjectArchivis.

Quote of the Day:

The Earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena. Think of the endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of this pixel on the scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner, how frequent their misunderstandings, how eager they are to kill one another, how fervent their hatreds. Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that, in glory and triumph, they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot.

Carl Sagan

Cassini Takes a Photo of Earth While Looking Through Saturn's Rings

Earth as Seen From Between Saturn's Rings

Just to break things down in case you've lost your sense of wonder: a robot orbiting around Saturn just took a photo of all 7.5 billion of us sitting on a pinhead, and framed it with Saturn's rings.

Or, let's allow Carl Sagan to present a more eloquent explanation (originally written in 1994 regarding the original 'pale blue dot' image taken by Voyager 1):

Look again at that dot. That's here. That's home. That's us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every "superstar," every "supreme leader," every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there-on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.

The Earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena. Think of the endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of this pixel on the scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner, how frequent their misunderstandings, how eager they are to kill one another, how fervent their hatreds. Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that, in glory and triumph, they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot.

Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the Universe, are challenged by this point of pale light. Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity, in all this vastness, there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves.

The Earth is the only world known so far to harbor life. There is nowhere else, at least in the near future, to which our species could migrate. Visit, yes. Settle, not yet. Like it or not, for the moment the Earth is where we make our stand.

It has been said that astronomy is a humbling and character-building experience. There is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another, and to preserve and cherish the pale blue dot, the only home we've ever known.

Carl Sagan, Pale Blue Dot

Cassini is about to dive into Saturn's rings on its way to its 'grand finale' - a death plunge into Saturn itself.

More information on the photo is available at the Cassini website.

News Briefs 25-04-2017

TFW when the clothes store doesn't stock your size...

Thanks Grandma Grail.

Quote of the Day:

You're only given a little spark of madness. You mustn't lose it.

Robin Williams

News Briefs 24-04-2017

Life goals: to be as happy as baby goats in pyjamas...

Quote of the Day:

The boundaries which divide Life from Death are at best shadowy and vague. Who shall say where the one ends, and the other begins?

Edgar Allan Poe