Friday, January 22, 2016

What Year is This? It's SecretSun16

What an interesting year this has been already.

Last year during the New Horizon mission to Pluto (and points beyond), I speculated that the real purpose of this mission was not Pluto at all but was in fact about searching the murky reaches of space beyond the former planet, specifically looking for Planet X. 

The existence of a large body with an eccentric solar orbit has long been the basis for debate, speculation and controversy. Of course, raising the issue has been a surefire way to open yourself to ridicule or worse, despite the very solid science that had been done since at least the early 1980s.

I was mindful in the wording of my suspicions about the mission, but it appears to have gotten this blog a lot of the kind of attention that I wasn't used to. I realized when I was contacted for an interview by a mainstream news outlet that I struck a nerve somewhere (I opted to pass the buck to Richard Hoagland, who's been dealing with the media since I was in diapers and handled the situation perfectly).

But now it's been revealed that NASA's been sitting on a major revelation about Planet X for some time:
Hints that ‘Planet Nine’ may exist on edge of our solar system 
Two astronomers say they have found evidence that a planet around 10 times the mass of Earth is lurking in the outer reaches of the solar system, on an orbit that comes no closer than 200 times the distance between the sun and Earth. Dubbed Planet Nine, it hasn’t been seen directly. Instead, Konstantin Batygin and Mike Brown of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena have inferred its existence from the strange orbits of other, smaller bodies. 
Brown and others have continued to explore the Kuiper belt and have discovered many small bodies. One called 2012 VP113, which was discovered in 2014, raised the possibility of a large, distant planet, after astronomers realised its orbit was strangely aligned with a group of other objects.  
As I've said repeatedly, if astronomers aren't sure what's out there in our own solar system, we may want to take their speculations about solar systems trillions of miles away with a grain of salt or two.

Longtime readers are well familiar with the work done here on comics great Jack Kirby and his astonishing prophecies and his obsession with aliens and ancient astronauts.

Now it seems that Kirby's star is rising after years of relative obscurity. There was a major exhibition of his work and now there's a stage play based on his life.
The art world has traditionally looked down on commercial artists and illustrators. The case of Kirby was especially problematic because he worked in a genre most critics consider juvenile, and worked at it with a deeply unfashionable lack of pretention. Sure, his work sells for tens of thousands of dollars per page, but mostly to fans, not serious people. 
Nevertheless, Kirby’s stock has been rising in academia as scholars recognize the contributions he has made to popular culture, and he has been the subject of several serious aesthetic critiques, group shows and retrospective exhibits. 
Last fall, Charles Hatfield, a Kirby scholar and professor at California State University Northridge, mounted a gallery show called The Comic Book Apocalypse: The Graphic Work of Jack Kirby, that made a strong claim for his groundbreaking aesthetics in the context of 20th century American Art. The show was thoughtfully reviewed in the current issue of Art in America. 
There is also a Kirby Museum project mounted by curators including Rand Hoppe, Tom Kraft and Mike Cecchini, which is seeking a physical home on New York’s Lower East Side (Kirby’s birthplace) for its collection of hundreds of Kirby original works.
Even more fascinating is that Dr. John Brandenberg has done some hard science detailing the thesis that Mars was destroyed during a nuclear war, just a Kirby depicted in "The Face on Mars" in 1959.

This Sunday sees the return of The X-Files, another topic well-familiar to longtime readers. You might have seen some of the negative reviews in the mainstream media about the relaunch, which surely has nothing at all to do with this :
Fox's X-Files revival has controversial new theories 
Now we don’t want to reveal too much about the episode, or how the conspiracy relates to the show’s existing labyrinthine mythology. What we will report – and stop reading if you don’t want to know anything about the first hour – is that O’Malley eventually sways Mulder and Scully to adopt a new conspiracy that lays a framework for the six-episode revival. 
The theory involves global warming, war in the Middle East, NSA spying, chem-trails (here called “aerial contaminants”), police militarization, supposed FEMA prison camps, and the eventual military “takeover of America” by a UN-like group of “multinational elites.” The conspiracy theory plays a bit like Oliver Stone during his JFK fever pitch — only if his source material was Infowars instead of UFO lore.
The fact that many of the reviews make disparaging reviews about tinfoil hats and the rest of it (did any of these idiots ever watch the original series?) is surely coincidental.

UPDATE: In case the was any doubt was what is really going with the bad reviews, The New York Times puts it all to rest. Note they cite one of the lamest, most forgotten standalones as the show "at its best." This is exactly what I was concerned about in March.
The show was at its best when its heroes investigated something very creepy — a ship on the Norwegian Sea whose crew mysteriously ages, for instance — and came up with more questions than answers. The real pleasure of “The X-Files” wasn’t having your worst fears about the government confirmed; it was realizing that our world might still contain phenomena that are unexplained, and perhaps unexplainable. 
We get flashes of this old spirit in the second and third episodes of the reboot. I hope the rest of the six-episode series continues in this vein, because watching TV heroes embrace conspiracy theories isn’t much fun when presidential candidates foster gun-confiscation paranoia and a 9/11 truther is campaigning for Donald Trump in Iowa.
Just to round out the buffet, we now find that Elizabeth Fraser, the Siren herself, is returning after 20 years of almost complete silence with a highly significant project-- semiotically-speaking, that is.
Since disbanding her influential dream pop band, Cocteau Twins, Elizabeth Fraser has remained fairly quiet in the music world. Though she’s worked with artists including Massive Attack and released a pair of singles, her last full-length statement remains Cocteau Twins’ 1996 final album Milk and Kisses. Now Fraser has teamed with her husband Damon Reece for her most extensive project since then, as Loaded reports. 
The pair have composed an operatic score for the upcoming series Nightmare Worlds of H.G. Wells — a four-part mini-series set to debut on Sky Arts January 28. The consists of four adaptations of stories by H.G. Wells and includes performances by Michael Gambon, Ray Winstone and Rupert Graves. Watch the trailer below to hear some of Fraser and Reece’s score.

Of course, the year began with the loss of David Bowie, a foundational influence for The Secret Sun.* 

But I ended 2015 exploring personal evidence of the persistence of life after death
(a fact of which I have no doubts of anyway), so I was prepared for that eventuality. Bowie not only left us a lifetime of work to explore, his spirit is now free to roam to points unknown.

I plan to return to Blackstar in the future once I've had more time to digest it, but I can't help but notice strange, almost etheric connections, not the least of which is the literally secret sun of the 'Blackstar' video, as well as the (literal) ancient astronaut and the Bacchic mystery cult and all the rest of it. 

I don't think I'm done with the Starman and I don't think he's done with me.

Oh, and then Killing Joke drop their new single and video. They were supposed to be touring the US this month but, you know. Killing Joke.

*I should also state again that our UFO sighting this past year came after hours of listening to Bowie and was followed by an almost impossible VALIS sync.

I should also add that just as I wrote the above sentence I received a confirmation email from Amazon that my CD version of Blackstar shipped...