Twin Peaks and the Metaphysics of Evil



Well, after 27 years of waiting and a good 18 months of hype it's finally here. Showtime aired the two-hour Twin Peaks reboot premiere and posted the first four episodes (the premiere was broken in two) online. I binged the first three as soon as they went up and the last episode the following morning.

My first impression? Ye gods, it's weird.

I mean, even on the David Lynch sliding scale, it's weird. How weird? Well, it makes the weird bits of Mulholland Dr and Inland Empire play like Days of Our Lives. Some door in Lynch's unconscious seems to have gone well off its hinges. 

It's also maddeningly inconsistent, veering from long, flabby scenes where nothing seems to happen to random bursts of truly disturbing horror and violence. There are a number of high profile cameos that range from the numinous (the more-radiant-than-ever Madeline Zima) to the far less-so (Michael Sera comes across as the pretentious kid in your ninth grade drama club) and an extremely confusing subplot with a Dale Cooper-alike in Las Vegas, not to mention the actual Dale Cooper and his demonic doppelganger.

But you know me, this shit's right up alley. I was at turns bored, riveted, horrified and embarrassed but I'm counting the hours to the next episode (which will go live on June 4th).

But the rest of the country? Maybe not so much.

Since we live in a culture that measures the quality of art in dollars and demos the big story on Twin Peaks was the tepid ratings it got. From Vulture:
The owls are not what they seem, and neither was viewer interest in a Twin Peaks revival — at least if Nielsen ratings are your metric for success. Per the ratings giant, Sunday’s quarter-century-in-the-making Twin Peaks: The Return attracted just 506,000 same-day viewers to Showtime via the network’s main linear channel.
But same-day is an archaic metric, isnt it? I'm sure the overwhelming majority of the audience will be consuming Twin Peaks online. We cut the cord a while back and haven't missed it. No one was actually watching the cable feed anyways. Vulture again:
First, it’s worth remembering the 506,000 viewer number reported by Nielsen Tuesday represents only a fraction of the audience that will ultimately consume Peaks across various Showtime linear and digital platforms. When measured over the course of weeks, rather than a single night, it’s quite common for premium cable series to end up with three, four, or even five times as many unique viewers as the same-day Nielsen ratings suggest. The actual audience for Sunday’s Twin Peaks resurrection will likely end up in the 2–3 million viewer range — no doubt less than what Showtime execs hoped for when they green-lit the project, but not quite as minuscule as these early numbers suggest.
But do note that the Twin Peaks premiere was watched by a mind-staggering 34 million Americans. But the blush came off that rose fairly quickly, especially during the second season when the series was relegated to the death slot. Even so, it has to be said that David Lynch has never been box office. Instead his audience is "more selective," as Ian Faith might have it. From Forbes.
Although David Lynch has always been something of a critical darling and a cult hero, the quality of his work hasn't necessarily translated into box office dollars. Yes, Mulholland Drive got rave reviews and was even voted best film of its decade by the Los Angeles Film Critics Association (full disclosure: I'm a member and did not vote for it, feeling that as a rejiggered TV pilot it wasn't as deep as people were giving it credit for). But in terms of box office, it only generated $20 million international. His follow-up,Inland Empire, was way down from even that, at merely $4 million international, less than $1 million of which was domestic.
Just how selective it can be is evidenced by this frankly arrogant passage in the Variety review, written by Sonia Saraiya:
The bankable popularity of “Twin Peaks” also makes for an inexplicably stupid scene at the Bang Bang where the indie-electronic band Chromatics performs to a room of middle-aged townies taking tequila shots. Nothing says rural, small-town, faded glory like an impossibly cool synthpop band.  
What time period is Saraiya living in? First of all The Chromatics are an 80s revival band so it goes without saying that they would appeal to the "middle-aged townies" who grew up on synthpop. Second, Twin Peaks is set in the Pacific Northwest, which last time I checked was pretty hep to pop culture. Third, Lynch has been using synthpop in his projects since Blue Velvet. 

The Forbes review seems to get it:
 (The)Chromatics, as well as whatever industrial band it is that plays underneath footage of a car journey at night, fit effortlessly into the Lynchian soundscape.
But overall I think the more savvy viewers will adjust themselves to the jumbled narrative Lynch is putting on the table. As agog as I felt during long stretches of my binge I came out of it with a strong sense of theme. 

Lynch sets up a number of different arcs in different settings. The story ranges from Twin Peaks to Manhattan to South Dakota to Las Vegas. Plus, what looks like outer space but may be some other dimension entirely. And oh yeah, the Black Lodge.

In Twin Peaks a phone call from the Log Lady to Deputy Sheriff Hawk reopens the Laura Palmer case. It's here where we get the strongest hit of that old time Peaks religion and a serving of familiar faces (maybe a little too generous a serving in some instances). We also get some rather stunning photography that would fit proudly on anyone's demo reel. Plus, an owl.



The story in Manhattan centers on a young man whose job it is to sit in a secure room and stare at a glass box on behalf of some shadowy billionaire. He's being courted by a gorgeous young woman (Zima, turning on her native charm like a flamethrower) who is inexplicably curious about his job.

Unlike some other reviewers I won't spoil this arc. But I will say you could cut out those sequences and have yourself a very fine Stevens-Stefano Outer Limits tribute on Lynch's part. I'm thinking "The Galaxy Being", "OBIT" and "Don't Open 'Til Doomsday" were spinning in very heavy rotation somewhere in Lynch's head, unconsciously or otherwise.

The South Dakota storyline updates us on the Dale Cooper doppelganger introduced in the final moments of the original series. There's another murder mystery on the menu and a very Twin Peaks undercurrent of small town sexual intrigue when a high school principal is accused of murdering his mistress. 

The Cooperganger comes across like Frank Booth on Xanax but no less lethal. To show us just how lethal he's featured in a murder scene that is frankly pretty hard to watch.

We encounter the original Cooper, still trapped in the Black Lodge. Which seems only to have gotten more insane in the intervening 27 years. Michael Anderson has been replaced by the One-Armed Man so you don't really miss a beat (Anderson disqualified himself after hurling some pretty wild insinuations against Lynch on his Facebook).



And plus there's a talking brain-tree thing which refers to itself as "the evolution of the arm" (Michael Anderson's character referred to himself as the Arm). Which is probably the least bizarre thing in the Cooper arc.

I mean, strap yourself in because the Cooper-Black Lodge arc goes absolutely bugshit, even more so than anything Lynch has ever filmed. If you thought the lodge stuff was crackers, you literally have seen nothing yet.

Although all these arcs might seem unrelated-- and most probably completely bewildering to anyone not acclimated to Lynch's surrealist vision-- I am sensing a very strong thruline here.

I may be projecting all over it but it feels to me that Lynch is presenting a new metaphysics for evil. 

There's been a debate as old as humanity about the origin of evil, whether it's an innate reality or an invader from without. With the Bob arc from the first series and now with the juxtaposition of the Black Lodge and the Glass Box Lynch appears to arguing that evil is in fact a foreign presence, a metaphysical force that intrudes into our reality to look for hosts. 

As if to concretize this we see that the evil Cooper is not of our Earth and once the real Cooper escapes from his imprisonment (a spoiler, but come on) he is weakened and himself imprisoned.

I would argue then that Twin Peaks is a narrative about the flowering of evil. 

It presents evil as an outside force that invades and sets up shop into our environment then goes about finding suitable hosts to express itself through. It destroys lives, ruins families and communities for no apparent reason then moves on. 

This theme was explored in the thorny and divisive Fire Walk With Me, with Laura Palmer's descent prefigured by her dream of the Black Lodge and with her father's possession by the evil spirit Bob (what a great name for a demon).

Of course, Lynch may well move onto other themes before the series is finished so this is a provisional analysis. But Lynch seems to be fairly consistent in his fixations if you get past the whimsy. 

A lot of people accused Mulholland Dr and Inland Empire of incoherence but they both make perfect sense when you figure out their secrets. They're also essentially the same film told from two different perspectives.

Anyhow, I'm very interested in hearing your thoughts on the series so far and any speculations you might have where all this is headed. I just hope the media doesn't just see it all as a numbers game.

Chris Cornell: The Muses Choose Broken Vessels


Jesus Christ Pose

The Alternative Rock explosion of the early 90s was fueled by a wave of great singers. After a lost decade of metallic shriekers and New Wave gurglers-- which some call the 80s-- there was suddenly an embarrassment of strong voices revitalizing rock music, especially hard rock music. 

Most of these had cut their teeth on punk and hardcore and subsequently learned to trim back the fat and excess that torpedoed their 70s forebears. They also learned to step around the wretched excesses that ran the 80s metal explosion into the ground; cookie-cutter sameness, image over substance, half-written songs, cliche piled on cliche.

Alternative rock would itself get watered down and xeroxed into oblivion, especially as careerists figured out a way to counterfeit the formula (I'm looking at you, Candlebox and Seven Mary Three) and record companies signed up every pseudo-grunge band they could find (and strong-armed other acts to hop on the bandwagon). 

By the end of the 90s it all devolved into an obnoxious fratboy rock (I'm looking at you, Limp Bizkit and Creed) that reached its inevitable apotheosis at the disastrous Woodstock '99 (held on a decommissioned military base). 

But before that all went down some of the most vital and exciting rock music of all time was produced.

Alternative Rock, or more accurately GenX Rock, has taken its place in the classic rock canon. Tracks by Nirvana, Soundgarden, Stone Temple Pilots and the Red Hot Chili Peppers are snuggled in tightly between all the Led Zeppelin, Aerosmith and Pink Floyd cuts overplayed on FM radio. But five of the most remarkable vocalists of that era- Kurt Cobain, Layne Staley, Jeff Buckley, Scott Weiland and now Chris Cornell--- are lost to us.

And the 9-ton Tyrannosaurus lurking in the back of the concert hall is that modern plague, clinical depression. It's a subject I'm all too familiar with. It's the witches' curse on Generation X.

Chris Cornell was an enigmatic figure among the Grunge pantheon. If Kurt Cobain was the snotty punk, Eddie Vedder the self-serious poet, Layne Staley the tortured howler and Scott Weiland the Joker in the pack, Cornell was an entirely unique presence, as was Soundgarden. Tall, lean but ripped, possessing an odd, androgynous beauty and an enviable black mane, he came across as aloof, Olympian. His piercing, multi-octave voice felt like a weapon,  more like an incarnation of Apollo the Destroyer than Ozzy Osbourne.

Similarly, Soundgarden was perhaps the most effective translator of the power of early Black Sabbath yet, but were brainy, difficult, challenging. 

They were unmistakably Heavy Metal-- in the original, Blue Cheer definition of the term --but didn't shriek the usual ditties about dick size and date rape. It was pretty clear they had no time for that kind of nonsense (See "Big Dumb Sex"). It was clear they took as much inspiration from King Crimson and Black Flag as from Zeppelin and Sabbath. 

Their first major single was an epic environmentalist jeremiad that goofed on Metal's "kill-your-mother-music" reputation by screaming "you're going to kill your mother" in the refrain. The mother here being Mother Earth, of course.

Predictably, Chris Cornell's corpse was literally not cold yet before the modern ambulance chasers of the Internet were declaring it was obviously an Illuminati sacrifice. One hilarious YouTard video went on about how there was no other explanation for Cornell's death, that he'd have no reason to kill himself. 

Obviously someone who never actually listened to a single stitch of Soundgarden.

Like Ian Curtis-- who hung himself 37 years almost to the day before-- many of Cornell's lyrics read like suicide notes. After all, this is a man who kicked off one of his biggest hits with the couplet "Nothing seems to kill me/ No matter how hard I try." Two of his other big hits "Black Hole Sun" and "Fell on Black Days" are practically master classes in the art of expressing the utter hopelessness ("'Neath the black the sky looks dead") that can overtake you when a depressive episode strikes. 

The same goes for Soundgarden's breakout hit, "Outshined," practically a hymn about searching for a crack of sunlight while waiting a dire episode out. "The Day I Tried to Live" is even more astonishing, a documentary retelling of those mornings when depression- aggression turned inwards- becomes aggression turned on the world outside.

Cornell was very candid about his struggles with depression. In an interview with Rolling Stone he discussed the inspiration for "Fell on Black Days":
This reissue includes several versions of "Fell on Black Days," which is pretty dark. What inspired it? 

Well, I had this idea, and I had it for a long time. I'd noticed already in my life where there would be periods where I would feel suddenly, "Things aren't going so well, and I don't feel that great about my life." Not based on any particular thing. I'd sort of noticed that people have this tendency to look up one day and realize that things have changed. There wasn't a catastrophe. There wasn't a relationship split up. Nobody got in a car wreck. Nobody's parents died or anything. The outlook had changed, while everything appears circumstantially the same. That was the song I wanted to write about. 
No matter how happy you are, you can wake up one day without any specific thing occurring to bring you into a darker place, and you'll just be in a darker place anyway. To me, that was always a terrifying thought, because that's something that – as far as I know – we don't necessarily have control over. So that was the song I wanted to write. 
It wasn't just for the gloom-metal gimmick of Soundgarden that Cornell laid bare his struggles. They crept into tracks he recorded with Audioslave- the supergroup made up of Cornell and the musicians of Rage Against the Machine, including their biggest hit "Like a Stone."

Cornell was also candid about his history with clinical depression, which he traced back to a somewhat hardscrabble upbringing. 
Cornell abstained from drug use for a time following an adverse reaction to the hallucinogenic PCP, but the frightening, dissociative experience, coupled with the trauma of his parent’s divorce, plunged him into a severe depression. “I went from being a daily drug user at 13 to having bad drug experiences and quitting drugs by the time I was 14 and then not having any friends until the time I was 16. There was about two years where I was more or less agoraphobic and didn’t deal with anybody, didn’t talk to anybody, didn’t have any friends at all.”
And clearly showing that he also struggled with suicidal ideation, Cornell foreshadowed his own end in an interview with Guitar.com, saying, “You’ll think somebody has run-of-the-mill depression, and then the next thing you know, they’re hanging from a rope." 

Writer Kate Paulk wrote about the black dog of depression recently and offered up an apt metaphor lifted from pop culture:
Let’s start by clearing up one thing. Sadness, grieving in response to a loss… that is not depression. It’s sadness. Grief. It passes with time, and even at its worst there are moments of joy and hope. Depression is not like that. Everything is poisoned. 
J. K. Rowling is describing depression when she describes the Dementors and their impact. Get too near a Dementor and every good feeling, every happy memory will be sucked out of you. 
This is precisely what depression does. There is an absence of hope, an inability to believe that there can ever be anything positive in your life again. That isn’t sadness or grief, and it isn’t necessarily expressed by tears.
Cornell was also a substance abuser and dove headlong into an opioid addiction after Soundgarden split in 1997. It may well have come from a chronic pain issue, closely related to chronic depression: 
People with depression show abnormalities in the body’s release of its own, endogenous, opioid chemicals. Depression tends to exacerbate pain—it makes chronic pain last longer and hurts the recovery process after surgery. 
“Depressed people are in a state of alarm,” said Mark Sullivan, a professor of psychiatry at the University of Washington. “They’re fearful, or frozen in place. There’s a heightened sense of threat.” That increased threat sensitivity might also be what heightens sensations of pain. 
Opioids certainly aren't very effective painkillers in the long term but they are very effective anesthetics when you're struggling with chronic depression. 
Opioids treat pain, but depression and pain are often comorbid, and some antidepressants relieve neuropathic pain even in the absence of depression. Depression involves dysfunction in monoamine systems, the hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis, and hippocampal neurogenesis, but could it also be rooted in a deficit of endorphins, or even an endopharmacological withdrawal state? 
Before the modern antidepressant era, depression was often treated with opiates—with a sometimes heavy price of addiction.  
The real hell of opioids is that they rewire your brain, causing the natural processes that regulate depression and euphoria to atrophy. Depression can skyrocket when you stop taking them, since your brain basically forgot how to produce sufficient amounts of the neurotransmitters that manage your moods.
u-agonists relieve depression-like behavior acutely, but tolerance develops, and depression is worse on withdrawal from long-term administration. Delta-agonists appear to improve mood, while kappa-agonists worsen it. There is evidence that opioid dysfunction accounts for lack of pleasure in depression, while problems with dopamine impair motivation. Opioid systems, then, participate in many mood-related functions. They are examples of evolutionary repurposing of neurotransmitters that originally evolved for one purpose to meet a variety of other needs.


Cornell's family is understandably shocked by his death. His widow blames an elevated dose of the tranquilizer Ativan for the somewhat disturbing performance he put on in Detroit and his resulting suicide. 
Cornell died on the evening May 17th, 2017, shortly after performing a concert with Soundgarden in Detroit, MI. His death was met with shock by many; his representative described it as "sudden and unexpected," adding that the singer's family will be "working closely with the medical examiner to determine the cause." 
Hours after his death was reported, the Wayne County Medical Examiner's office ruled Chris' death a suicide by hanging. According to Us Weekly, a family friend had found Cornell on the bathroom floor of his MGM Grand hotel room. ABC News also reported that two Detroit papers claimed that Cornell was found with "a band around his neck," though Detroit Police spokesman Michael Woody could not confirm that information. 
Cornell's wife, Vicky, released a statement on his death on Friday, May 19th, 2017, in which she cast doubts that his suicide was intentional. In fact, on the day of his death, Vicky claimed they had "discussed plans for a vacation over Memorial Day and other things we wanted to do." "When we spoke after the show, I noticed he was slurring his words; he was different. When he told me he may have taken an extra Ativan or two, I contacted security and asked that they check on him," she said. 
"What happened is inexplicable and I am hopeful that further medical reports will provide additional details," she continued. "I know that he loved our children and he would not hurt them by intentionally taking his own life."
I think the fact that Cornell ad-libbed verses from "In My Time of Dying" over a rendition of "Slaves and Bulldozers" during the closing encore in Detroit  gives a fairly compelling signal that he had resolved himself to a course of action that night. Despite an incredibly shaky performance he seemed in good spirits to some, all too common with depressives resolved to suicide. But others noticed he seemed irritable and unfocused, forgetting the lyrics. He complimented the Detroit audience and then said, "I feel sorry for the next city."

An extra Ativan or two is unlikely to induce suicide. But long-term use of it (it's recommended that lorezepam-- a member of the highly-problematic benzodiazepene family-- be used only a short term basis) might. And it's very possible he took an extra dose of the drug to gird his loins for a decision he had already made:
Suicidality: Benzodiazepines may sometimes unmask suicidal ideation in depressed patients, possibly through disinhibition or fear reduction. The concern is that benzodiazepines may inadvertently become facilitators of suicidal behavior. Therefore, lorazepam should not be prescribed in high doses or as the sole treatment in depression, but only with an appropriate antidepressant.
Depression and suicidal ideation go hand in glove. And there are all kinds of psychiatric drugs that tell you upfront that suicidal ideation is a major side effect. How that doesn't keep them off the market is a mystery to me. 

The other problem is that people who obsess on suicide usually don't talk about it with people close to them since they realize that confessing to it will very likely act to derail what they have been planning. And again, professionals will tell you that very often when a depressive has resolved themselves to suicide they can often seem very cheerful and upbeat, since they believe that their suffering will soon end. 

So the question becomes if a rich, celebrated and handsome rock star can't find a reason to stay alive, what hope is there for the rest of us? Well, it's a lot more complicated than that. Aside from his struggles with clinical depression, Cornell was also beset by tragedy, losing people closest to him to early death. 

The first of these was his roommate Andrew Wood, the flamboyant singer for legendary Seattle band Mother Love Bone who died of a heroin overdose in 1990. Cornell was so shaken by Wood's death that he formed a defacto supergroup with members of MLB and recorded the now-legendary Temple of the Dog album as a tribute, which produced the grunge anthem "Hunger Strike" (featuring a duet between Cornell and future Pearl Jam star Eddie Vedder).

Temple of the Dog in fact led to the formation of Pearl Jam, facilitated by the introduction of Vedder to the Seattle scenesters by drummer Jack Irons, a member of the original Red Hot Chili Peppers who also played with Pearl Jam and Joe Strummer, among an army of others. Strangely enough, Irons has his own struggles with depression. As did Joe Strummer, for that matter. 

The Muses choose broken vessels. It's a Secret Sun truism. 

Cornell was so shaken by Wood's death that it would haunt Soundgarden songs as well.
The song you workshopped the most was "Like Suicide." In the liner notes, you say it kind of became a metaphor for how you were feeling at the time about late Mother Love Bone frontman Andy Wood. 
Yeah, the lyrics were actually this simple moment that happened to me. I don't know that I ever directly related it to Andy, though there are a lot of songs that people probably don't know where there were references to him or how I was feeling about what happened with him. I just think that that was something that happened to me that was a traumatic thing and that I had a difficult time resolving it. I still never really have. I still live with it, and that's one of the moments where maybe in some ways it could have shown up, but I'm not really sure specifically where.
Another body blow was the 1994 death of Kurt Cobain, another friend who died in time to cast a pall of existential darkness over Soundgarden's epochal Superunknown album, released a month before Cobain's death. So even as Soundgarden were enjoying their moment, death and tragedy revisited Cornell. (Cobain had his own issues, exacerbated by years of opioid abuse, but there are those of us who don't buy the suicide angle in this particular case).

It had to hurt, especially since Cobain had told Cornell that Soundgarden has inspired him to form Nirvana in the first place. 

Superunknown was an instant classic, easily one of the top 10 Hard Rock albums ever recorded, hammering you with one killer track after another. Along with Stone Temple Pilots' Purple album, Pearl Jam's Vitalogy and several others it established 1994 as the watershed for Alernative Rock, despite Cobain's death and Nirvana's dissolution. 

Soundgarden's 1996 follow-up Down on the Upside, failed to capitalize on its predecessor's momentum, and seem to showcase a band uncertain of direction and sense of purpose. No one was really surprised when Soundgarden broke up the following year. Oddly enough the breakup seemed to go down almost exactly three years after Kurt Cobain's death. 



But Tragedy wasn't finished with Cornell yet. Shortly after Soundgarden broke up Cornell would lose another soulmate.
He lost two friends within the space of a few years. Cobain died in 1994 and, three years later, singer-songwriter Jeff Buckley, practically a brother to Cornell, drowned while swimming in a tributary of the Mississippi in Tennessee.

"Kurt was fairly quiet and introverted most of the time. Jeff was the opposite. He was very much full of life and had a lot to say. He was somebody in love with experiencing everything. Within a very short time, he had all these famous old rock stars coming to his shows. Which put a a lot of pressure on him. People talked about his concerts the way they used to talk about Hendrix: they'd sit there, wide-eyed, telling you stories about him. He definitely had an aura. It's impossible to say what it is exactly a guy like that has, that is so attractive to other people. But he had more of it than anyone I had ever met."
Of course, this brings all this squarely into the Secret Sun wheelhouse. Cornell would be haunted by Buckley's death, writing the aching "Wave Goodbye" (in which he seems to channel Buckley's ghost) for his first solo album and acting as a de facto executor-slash-curator for Buckley's posthumous releases.



This tells us a lot, since the 20th anniversary of Jeff Buckley's death is coming up fast and furious. Cornell showed he was clearly still haunted by Buckley's passing when he brought the late singer's old landline phone onstage with him during his 2011 acoustic solo tour.
KALAMAZOO — I've had several people ask about the red phone that was on stage during Chris Cornell's 130-minute set at the Kalamazoo State Theatre last week. Cornell never addressed it during the show and it never rang, so I didn't think much of it. After another reader asked Monday, I looked into it. 
According to a representative with the New York-based Press Here Publicity, which handled promotion for Cornell's solo tour, the phone belonged to singer/songwriter Jeff Buckley.
As Secret Sun readers will remember, the last song Jeff Buckley sang before his death was "Whole Lotta Love", a blues standard that Led Zeppelin turned into what one critic called "a themonuclear rape."

And it would be "In My Time of Dying," another old blues standard that Led Zeppelin turned into a jackhammering stomper that acted as Cornell's own self-elegy. This, along with the timing of Ian Curtis's own death by hanging in 1980 seems a bit too synchronized for Cornell's death to be some kind of mad whim because he took too much Ativan.  As painful as it might be to admit, it seems as if this was probably a very long time coming. After all, this is the man who wrote "Pretty Noose."

So it seems apparent that it wasn't the Illuminati but in fact the demon possession of depression that took Chris Cornell away from his family. With many of his closest friends gone and the glory days of the 90s more and more a fading memory in a world itself gripped by chronic depression, I can't say I'm surprised by the suicide ruling.  

The life of the rock star in 2017 is a galaxy away from the golden age of the rock star in 1977. It's become a grueling job in the age of streaming and piracy, since you need to make all your money on the road now. Spending your life traveling from one brutalist concrete box to another when you're fifty-two is surely a lot less appealing than when you're twenty-two.

If there's any good to come of this tragedy it's to understand that depression isn't some kind of scarlet letter, it's an inevitable result of what one scientist called "the greatest blind experiment in history," the bombardment of our brains and bodies with every manner of stimulus and stress imaginable, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year and then some.

Having spend my teenage years in the white-hot cauldron of hardcore punk I can tell you that that kind of hyperstimulation had -- how do I put this? --less than a salutary effect on a lot of people I knew. Seeing that same formula translated into the mainstream culture goes a long way in explaining why depression has become the great mass epidemic of our time. Now it's claimed another trophy and we're all the poorer for it.

But as the Greeks and Romans once said, vita brevis ars longa

French philosophers once said that the invention of motion pictures had conquered death, that people would now live on forever once they were recorded. I guess the same goes for recorded music as well. So I think it's safe to say that after three decades of music, Chris Cornell has earned his place among the immortals. Let's hope someone learns something from his story.

Covenant and the Cargo Cult, Part 2: Hollywood Babylon




Several years ago I blogged on the Oscars and the enigma of the Hollywood and Highland complex they're held in, specifically the very odd presence of the Babylon Gate, recreated from DW Griffith's epic flop, Intolerance. As I wrote back in 2008:
The rear entrance to the theatre is a massive recreation of the Babylon Gate from D.W. Griffiths’s Intolerance (Griffith was yet another Hollywood Freemason)... Near the top rim of the gate is a border design made of 17 keyhole-shaped objects. It seems only appropriate that behind the Babylon Gate stands the Renaissance Hotel, located on the 1700 block of Highland Ave. 
All well and good, right? Now ask yourself- what in Heaven's name is this doing in the courtyard of the venue where the World's most prominent awards ceremony is held every year? What connection is this alleged to have to the Oscars? I mean, the symbolism is obvious but what's the cover story?
Well, apparently the cover story is that the legendary writer Ray Bradbury- the poet laureate of science fiction-- insisted that the Gate be installed at the plaza. Why exactly and exactly how he had such pull with the H&H developers is a real brain-teaser. Bradbury is quoted thusly:
"I told them that somewhere in the city, they had to build the set from the 1916 film Intolerance by D. W. Griffith. The set, with its massive, wonderful pillars and beautiful white elephants on top, now stands at the corner of Hollywood and Highland avenues. People from all over the world come to visit, all because I told them to build it. I hope at some time in the future, they will call it the Bradbury Pavilion." 
Well, that's all well and good but the fact remains that the planners probably wouldn't have gone to the trouble and expense of recreating the Gate simply to humor a writer, no matter how respected he may be. And there's the blindingly obvious symbolism to be unpacked here.

Because what we're talking about here is the literalizing of "Hollywood Babylon," which you have to admit is kind of a ballsy, in-your-face kind of move. Note you don't see any other pseudo-cyclopean artifacts from any other ancient culture there. Of course, what it also does is make a very specific and definitive statement as to what Tinseltown holds most sacred. 

I mean, Babylon. Think about it for a moment. 

Did I mention that they hold the Oscars here, the 800-pound gorilla of all award ceremonies?

As you may already know, Babylon is a Greek rendering of the Akkadian bav-ilim, which means "Gate of the Gods." So the H&H gate is in fact a symbolic representation of a portal to the world of the gods, or a stargate if you prefer.

What's more, Babylon was founded by the great usurper Sargon of Akkad, who we discussed last year not only for his conquest of Sumer-- and all that implies-- but for the possible fingerprints he might have left on several Bible stories as well as the Prometheus mythologies.
Now, pay close attention to what happened next- the devil, as always, is in the details: A Lugal- a giant- bound in chains to appease a sky god: why does that sound so familiar?  
Oh yeah, because that's Prometheus' story as well.
 Lugal-zagesi marched his army from Kish to meet Sargon in battle and was defeated. Sargon then put Zagesi in chains, tied a rope around his neck, and took him to the city of Nippur, sacred to the god Enlil upon whom Lugalzagesi had relied, and forced him to march in humiliation through the Enlil's gate. 
Again with the gates.

So the Babylon Gate doesn't just connect back to Sumer and the foundation of Western civilization and the monotheistic religions (Abraham was actually Sumerian), it also ties into-- you guessed it-- Ancient Astronaut Theory, specifically through the influential work of Zecharia Sitchin. 

For whatever problems Sitchin's work may have, no one did more to identify Sumer with ancient astronauts in the public imagination. 



Did I mention that many of the biggest SF movie/TV franchises coming out of Hollywood have Ancient Astronaut Theory as the basis of their mythology? I did? Good. 

I would argue that the Gate also ties into the Lucifer archetype through the Zagesi-Prometheus link, not to mention through the fascinating constellation of mysterious yet crucially important Sumero-Akkadian fire gods, variously known as Gibil (Gilgamesh is a rendering of Gi-bil-aga-mis, which literally means "Gibil is commander"), Girra (which literally means "Light-Bringer"), Nusku (the guardian of dreams and lord of the night) and others. 

This Babylonian Lucifer was described in language anyone raised Christian would recognize (such as "first-born son of God," for starters) two-thousand years before Jesus walked the Earth. 

This Babylonian Lucifer was also a binary god. He Incarnated the elemental power of fire, so over the years there were both benevolent and malevolent fire gods. The badass fire god was Nergal, god of the underworld (also known as Lugalgirra, Erra, etc). Like Osiris (immortalized in the Oscar statuette itself) Nergal was believed to represent the Sun in the underworld.

This of course re-emerged in the form of the much-later innovation of Satan and Lucifer representing the dark and light natures of the Princes of Hell. How exactly that little arrangement arose in the Middle Ages, when the original Akkadian/Babylonian texts were believed to have been long lost, is another puzzler altogether.

The Babylonian Lucifer not only surfed his way along the waves of cultural displacement,  the Assyrians saw him as a bulwark against black magic and witchcraft, as recorded so famously in the astonishing Maqlu grimoire (which Necromonicon fans should really take the time to read).

So I should probably insert the fact that Gordon referred to Alien: Covenant as a "Space Lucifer" movie, for reasons I get even though I haven't seen the movie yet. Well, I should say that haven't seen the last third of the movie that hasn't been previewed or clipped on YouTube.

PERSISTENCE

I have to admit it blows my mind  how the Sumerian religion-- which existed for millennia before the Sumerians were displaced from the roll of history-- was adopted with only superficial innovations by their conquerors. And their conquerors. And their conqueror's conqueror's conquerors. 

You're looking at a tradition that arose out of Neolithic times-- at the least-- and persisted up until the time of the Muslim conquests (albeit in a relatively-reduced form as "Chaldean Magic"). And of course it had a major influence on the Biblical tradition as well as on Zoroastrianism (which seems to be very heavily informed by Girra/Nusku temple practices brought back to Iran after the Achaemenid conquest of Babylon).

And in a way the Sumerian religion endures to this day. Not only in the influence it had on the Abrahamic religions but also in its Space Age makeover as the backbone of AAT and alien conspiracy theory, which themselves are slowing evolving into (neo-Gnostic) religions of their own. 

Don't believe me? Go to YouTube and run a search on Anunaki. I just did and it coughed up a whopping 399,00o results.

But the Anunaki aren't the only Sumerian gods in town these days. There are also the Igigi, who some have compared to the Greys of UFO lore fame. And more recently, there seems to be a rediscovery of the Seven Sages, aka the Apkallu.

It is noted, “The Apkallu were seven demigods created by Enki, one of the chief Sumerian gods…Enki referred to as ‘Ea,’ which is the name he was later given in Babylonian and Akkadian mythology.” As a styled sidenote, see Seven gods of chaos. Also, you may recall the reference to Enkin in Is the Bible an Anunnaki control mechanism? 
(A)s per the Sumerian mythology “These beings were sent by Enki to teach human beings the arts of civilization: agriculture, writing, building, and so on.” Which correlates to the Book of Enoch noting that various Angels called “Watchers” taught humanity various skills.
Indeed they do. The Apkallu are practically a godsend to any Ancient Astronaut theorist worth his aluminum. Note that Apkallu are usually depicted with wings, being the origin of  the association of angels and wings. Well, the ones that aren't depicted as fish like our old friend Adapa, better known as Oannes.

What's more, the Apkallu are yet another example of what Gordon White calls the "civilizing trickster gods." Maybe one of the first, actually.

Gee, kind of like what's-his-name. You know, Prometheus:

(T)he origin of Watchers derives from the Mesopotamian mythology of the antediluvian sages (apkallus). More precisely, it is proposed that the mythology of Watchers and their sons the giants derived from inverted versions of various Mesopotamian myths and beliefs about apkallus. On some layers of Mesopotamian mythology and ritual practices, the sages were already regarded as dangerous and potentially malicious creatures, upon which the Jewish authors could build their parody.  
Among other associations, the apkallus had strong ties to Mesopotamian demonology, and they were occasionally counted as evil beings, capable of witchcraft. This shows that the wickedness of antediluvian teachers of humankind in Jewish sources was not wholly an inversion of the Mesopotamian traditions by Jewish scholars, but was partly taken from already existing trends in Mesopotamian demonology.

So it's probably here that I should mention that the figures on the Hollywood Babylon Gate are actually Apkallu. Yeah, how about that, huh?

Then I should mention that this very oddly-specific bit of product placement ties back to a very ancient practice indeed:
Figurines of apkallus were buried in boxes as foundationdeposits in Mesopotamian buildings in order to avert evil fromthe house. The term massar, ‘watchers’, is used of these setsof gurines in Akkadian incantations according to ritual texts.This appellation matches the Aramaic term yryn, ‘the wakefulones’, for both good angels and the Watchers.
So the more you look at it, the more significant that gate looks. And the less likely it was put there on Ray Bradbury's suggestion. Unless he too was part of the cult.

Which cult am I referring to here? Well, indulge me for a moment.

Take all the major franchises, minor franchises, movies, cartoons and TV shows (not to mention video games) that center around Ancient Astronaut Theory, then factor the Hollywood & Highland Babylon Gate into the equation. 


Thanks to Reader Brooke

You'll probably see why I strongly suspect there may be a secret cargo cult at the very heart of the entertainment industry. I'm not alone in this. A lot of Christian conspiracy theorists believe AAT is the "Great Deception" the Bible warns of.

I should also remind everyone that AAT made a big, bad splash into the entertainment racket mere weeks after Kenneth Arnold and Roswell, in the form of "Son of the Sun," written by occultist Millen Cooke.

So what you're probably asking yourself is what difference does all this make in the Age of Trump and 'the Resistance' and all the rest of it? Well, Trump will probably be gone soon (my guess at least*) and so too will the endless shitstorm he's kicked up in his wake.  

And all of this Anunaki stuff will still be there, waiting patiently. It's had thousands of years to practice. It's seen quite a few Trumps and 'Resistances' come and go. It all seems to be following a very specific arc and moving towards a very specific destination.




TO BE CONTINUED


* As I wrote in the FB group, "The Praetorians engineered Trump's election precisely because they planned to remove him. They would have done the same with Hillary but figured Trump was a softer target." History teaches us that's the way Praetorians roll.