From the Daily Grail:
The end of the year brings tragic news, with the passing of a very good friend of TDG, researcher and author Philip Coppens. Philip has been closely aligned with this site since almost the very beginning (so much so that I still struggle to type Philip rather than Filip, which he originally went by) – I’ve posted links to his regular, fascinating online articles over the years, and he contributed a number of features as well to our Darklore print anthology series (Volumes 1 to 5). He was less than a month younger than me, we had very similar interests, and both of us had a similar work ethic to our research, so I certainly felt that he was a kindred spirit. I was lucky enough to meet up with Philip at a Nexus conference here in Australia a few years back, and we had a good, long, personal chat about the whole scene and our experiences over the years. Philip had what I felt was an almost eidetic memory when it came to his research, he could converse at length about any number of Fortean subjects, remembering all the history, people involved, and esoteric connections off the top of his head (something that I struggle with). While he authored a number of books, and was a regular presenter at conferences and recently on TV with Ancient Aliens, for me he will always be remembered as a Fortean researcher with very few peers – you could always count on him to find something fascinating that hadn’t been uncovered before. We didn’t see eye to eye on a number of conclusions (e.g. the Bosnian pyramid), but we both respected each others’ work greatly. I recommend that you browse his website to get a feel for the breadth of knowledge the man had on a wide range of topics.
In the last few months Philip had been suffering from a mystery illness, which was finally recently diagnosed as a rare and very aggressive form of cancer, angiosarcoma. I understand a number of emergency surgeries were necessary in the past few days, and in the end it was all too much, with Philip passing away on December 30th, aged just 41. His wife Kathleen McGowan posted the following message:
My eternal beloved, my grail knight, my poet prince has made his transition. He is in the arms of the angels. In his last words he asked that I thank you all for loving him so much. We were both so greatly blessed. Good night, sweet prince. My love for you knows no boundaries and no time.
Philip’s passing also comes on the back of another fantastic researcher, with the death of astronomer and long-time psychical investigator Professor Archie E. Roy, author of the recent book The Eager Dead (and I tried to make it even worse by having an emergency situation myself with anaphylaxis due to a wasp sting).
Farewell to two fellow explorers of the strange, may all the mysteries be revealed to you now. You will be remembered.
I did not personally know Mr. Coppens, but I was a fan of his site ( http://www.philipcoppens.com/ ) and I thoroughly enjoyed his commentary on the Ancient Aliens TV show.
It seems that true students of the esoteric and Fortean subjects pass from this realm of the physical all too soon. Maybe they inadverdently stumble across the answers to the Synchromystical they seek?
From Aeon Magazine:
The Pont de Normandie bridge over the Seine estuary. Photo by Jean Gaumy/Magnum
Make a model of the world in your mind. Populate it, starting with the people you know. Build it up and furnish it. Draw in the lines that connect it all together, and the ones that divide it. Then roll it into the future. As you go forward, things disappear. Within a century or so, you and all the people around you have gone. As things go that are certain to go, they leave empty spaces. So do the uncertainties: the things that may not be things in the future, or may take different forms — vehicles, homes, ways of communicating, nations — that from here can be no more than a shimmer on the horizon. As one thing after another disappears, the scene fades to white. If you want a vision, you’ll have to project it yourself.
Occasionally, people take steps to counter the emptying by making things that will endure into the distant future. At a Hindu monastery in Hawaii, the Iraivan Temple is being built to last 1,000 years, using special concrete construction techniques. Carmelite monks plan to build a gothic monastery in the Rocky Mountains of Wyoming that will stand equally long. Norway’s National Library is expected to preserve documents for a 1,000-year span. The Long Now Foundation dwarfs these ambitions by an order of magnitude with its project to build a clock, inside a Nevada mountain, that will work for 10,000 years. And underground waste disposal plans for the Olkiluoto nuclear power plant in Finland have been reviewed for the next 250,000 years; the spent fuel will be held in copper canisters promised to last for millions of years.
An empty horizon matters. How can you care about something you can’t imagine?
A project can also reach out to the distant future even if it doesn’t have a figure placed on its lifespan. How many blueprints for great works, such as Gaudí’s Sagrada Família cathedral in Barcelona, or Haussmann’s Paris boulevards, or even Bazalgette’s London sewers, were drawn with the distant future in the corner of the architect’s or the engineer’s eye? The value of longevity is widely taken for granted: the 1,000-year targets for the Iraivan Temple, the new Mount Carmel monastery and the National Library of Norway are declared with little explanation as to why that particular round number has been chosen.
Instead, they play to intuition. A 1,000-year span has an intuitive symmetry for nations such as Norway that have a millennium of history behind them: it alludes to the depth of the nation’s heritage while suggesting that the country has at least as much history yet to come. For spiritual institutions, 1,000 years is short enough to be credible — England, for example, is dotted with Norman churches approaching their millennium — and long enough to refer to a timescale that extends beyond normal human capacities, thus pointing to the divine and the eternal.
People don’t generally reach out to the distant future for the future’s sake. Often what they chiefly want to reach is a contemporary audience. Going to extreme lengths to prevent vestigial nuclear hazards the other side of the next ice age is a demonstration of capacity, commitment to safety, and attention to detail. If this is what we’re doing for the distant future, it says to an uneasy public, you can be absolutely sure that we’ve got every possible near-term risk covered, too.
At the ultimate extreme, the Voyager space probes are carrying samplers of human culture, on golden disks, out of the solar system and on into infinite space. The notional beneficiaries are life forms that are not known to exist, from planets not yet detected, at distances the probes will not reach for millions of years. But the real beneficiaries were the people who reflected on our species and its place in the universe as they assembled the records and their content. The golden disks were mirrors of the culture that made them.
Any project with a distant time-horizon can be explained away as an exercise that invokes the future in the pursuit of immediate goals. But even if such a project is all about us, that doesn’t mean it’s not about the future too. The Long Now Foundation is an attempt to cultivate a consciousness that expands the horizons of the present. (Its name emerged from Brian Eno’s observation that in New York what people meant by ‘now’ was markedly shorter than what people meant by it in Europe.) By expanding ‘now’ to multi-millennial proportions, it makes us part of the future, and the future part of us.
The Great Cathedrals of the Middle Ages ( and of course, The Great Pyramids millenia earlier ) fit into this category also. Whole families were employed for generations constructing these great pieces of archecture and art.
It has been proposed that future interstellar missions to Alpha Centauri, Gliese and Tau Ceti could be considered long-term multi-generation projects also ( barring invention of a warp drive ). Such projects could only happen if Earth like worlds are confirmed by advanced telescopes inspecting these stars in order to justify the expense of these missions.
Either way, future projects of this magnitude aren’t strangers to Mankind. Maybe the horizon isn’t quite so empty?