That UN ET Ambassador Story...(UPDATE 9/28)

Speaking of The Outer Limits, we just heard an announcement that a special UN office is to be set to greet extraterrestrials should they make (public) contact:
Mazlan Othman, a Malaysian astrophysicist, is set to be tasked with co-ordinating humanity’s response if and when extraterrestrials make contact.

She will set out the details of her proposed new role at a Royal Society conference in Buckinghamshire next week.

The 58-year-old is expected to tell delegates that the proposal has been prompted by the recent discovery of hundreds of planets orbiting other starts, which is thought to make the discovery of extraterrestrial life more probable than ever before.
Is this more fodder for the zany "Weird News" columns? Could be. But given the closest star is four years away traveling at the speed of light, any kind of contact that would necessitate a special ambassadorship isn't necessarily the kind of event that gives me the warm and fuzzies.

The first ep that comes to mind here is "Second Soul," in which a special UN office was set up to deliver corpses to a race of aliens who needed them to reincarnated themselves (a fascinating twist on the walk-in concept). But as we discussed before, the idea of contact in The Outer Limits is usually a quiet and intimate event- and usually deals with shift in perception or consciousness. The implication being that aliens are always there- we just aren't evolved enough to sense them.

And then again, there are episodes like "Promised Land".

The larger issue here is that the pronouncements on aliens from the Vatican and the Royal Society don't seem to be a one-off. What this means for all of us I don't quite know, but it makes me just a teensy bit nervous. Maybe we are on the verge of a large-scale disclosure event. The only problem with that is that I can't game any scenario where that does you or I any good.

There are those who are paranoid that it could all be some false-flag Project Bluebeam scenario, but my feeling is that they aren't nearly paranoid enough. Hawking could be right- there could one day be some large-scale exodus of aliens fleeing a dying sun and have spent centuries traveling the cosmos looking for a new home. Which means evicting the previous tenants...

Unlikely? Sure. Off the table? No, of course not. If Hawking brought it up it's probably been bandied about in a back room somewhere.

Then again, we can all hope for a First Contact type of event, where a friendly, enlightened race of aliens drops by to help us get our act together and join the galactic brotherhood. Well, a First Contact event without the nuclear holocaust.

Either way, I'd say the best thing to do is to keep your antennae up and your ears low to the ground. It's always the sensitives (as well as the paranoids, to be blunt) who pick up on big changes first and I'm more prone to trust their instincts than the media or the UN. Keep in touch with dreams, flashes and syncs and trust nothing that can't be verified.

Then again, maybe it's all some kind of elaborate joke. M. Othman? That's gotta be a fake name.

UPDATE: Or is it? Check out io9's profile.

UPDATE: Looks like someone was telling tales out of school. The Guardian asks UN plan for 'alien ambassador' a case of science fiction?

Finally an email from Othman herself would have prompted our Martian to trudge back to his spaceship. "It sounds really cool but I have to deny it," she said of the story.
She "has to deny it." Very interesting choice of words.

She will be attending a conference next week, but she'll be talking about how the world deals with "near-Earth objects".

Which a giant mothership or two qualifies as. Is this all a bunch of hype or a leak of a story that wasn't meant to go public? Either way, it's more of the same media monkey shines dealing with this topic...

UPDATE: The press conference.

SYNC LOG UPDATE 9/28: In the comments I mentioned that "I just had a strange thought- what if the UN story was a plant to divert attention away from the National Press Club conference? That would be par for the course..."

Or maybe not- a friend chimed in on FB, pointing out that the Guardian debunking didn't go over so well at the time. It's been updated with this disclaimer:

This article is the subject of a legal complaint made by Jonathan Leake, science editor of The Sunday Times.

Leake? That's too good a name to be true. Especially for, you know, a story that might itself be a leak...

Note: I continue to have problems with the comments form. If your comment doesn't show up, email me.

Please Stand By...

I'm having technical difficulties- with my neurophysiology. I'm also preparing for my appearance on Red Ice Radio and working up a new blog posting on The Secret War Against the New Age. I hope to have the next installment up later today, but in the meantime you can spend a lazy Sunday afternoon watching this installment of The Outer Limits (whose original title I cribbed for this posting) that will be stunningly familiar to anyone who's seen District 9. Like, actionably similar. Like, "I can't believe they didn't sue" similar (maybe MGM's shaky finances are preventing a closer look into the similarities).

Of course, this isn't the first Outer Limits ep we've seen that was ransacked for a blockbuster movie. There's also 'Relativity Theory', which shares more than a few plot points with Avatar. As I've said before, The New Outer Limits didn't have the batting average of an X-Files, but when it kicked in, it kicked ass.

Speaking of actionable, here's an old school TOL that James Cameron admittedly "borrowed" for The Terminator. This ep was written by Harlan Ellison, who also wrote 'Demon with a Glass Hand', which Cameron also cribbed from. Ellison cried foul and got a credit and a royalty check for his trouble. Maybe Carleton Eastlake (author of 'Relativity') should phone his attorney...

You can find TNOL all over the web if you don't have a Veoh player.

TVOD: The Event

Non-US viewers: poke around here to find something that will play in your country.

A lot of people have asked if I watched this, and I finally did. My opinions are a bit mixed- it didn't really catch fire for me until the end, though it was fun seeing some scattered Ten Thirteen alumni, and Blair Underwood plays a more convincing president than the one we have currently. Jason Ritter acquits himself pretty well and Laura Innes just oozes interesting backstory.

But it was all a bit too network slick for me - meaning that network shows these days all look like longform commercials to me these days. To paraphrase Mike Clelland, you can just smell the lattes simmering around the conference room as the suits pound the creatives to death with notes ("the girl should be hotter!" or "we need more gunfights!"). The result of all of this are characters- and situations- that we've seen a million times before. But the tension ratchets up pretty well as it goes along, and the ending is pretty killer.

So The Event has my attention for the time being, but given the endless bloodbath the networks are dealing with in the ratings I won't be too surprised if it's gone by Thanksgiving.

TVOD: Fringe and the SciFi Singularity (UPDATE)

I'm not exactly sure why, but my passion for and preoccupation with sci-fi has become practically religious over the past few months. A lot of you might be scratching your heads and asking, "how is this news?", but it's gotten to the point that if a book or a film or a TV show doesn't have some sci-fi or fantasy element, I have no interest in it at all.

I totally blanked out on the most recent season of Rescue Me (a show I used to like quite a bit) because I sat down to watch the season opener, and even with Tommy's hallucinations it seemed so irrelevant to me. Halfway through the show I said to myself, "this should be in space." Out loud.

I think the prevalence of reality shows and documentary film has a lot to do with it. People are so willing to put their real-life dramas on screen these days, that it makes all of the make-believe drama seem pretty trite. It almost starts to feel as if these dramas and comedies are just mockumentaries, but a particularly lame variety of the genre.

Gibson's recent novels tell the same stories as his Cyberpunk classics,
he just uses different brand names

Moreover, it seems like a comforting clinging to the past, when the future is very much in doubt. As I've said before, I'm stunned by how much 2010 reality reminds me of William Gibson's 80s novels. So many of the problems we are dealing with now are simply a fulfillment of prophecies I read in sci-fi novels. Even Walter Russell Mead, one of those luminaries of the real government, noted how sci-fi is more relevant than ever (even if a lot of the authors he cites are not):

"Taken as a whole, the field of science fiction today is where most of the most interesting thought about human society can be found. At a time when many academics have become almost willfully obscure, political science is increasingly dominated by arcane and uninspiring theories and in which a fog of political correctness makes some forms of (badly needed) debate and exploration off limits, science fiction has stepped forward to fill the gap. In the work of writers like David Brin and Neal Stephenson there is more interesting reflection on America's place in the world than you will find, I fear, in a whole year's worth of reading in foreign policy magazines.

This paragraph seems a little too hopeful- young people don't seem to be reading much of anything:

The biggest single task facing the United States today is the unleashing of our social imagination. We are locked into twentieth century institutions and twentieth century habits of mind. Science fiction is the literary genre (OK, true, sometimes a subliterary genre) where the social imagination is being cultivated and developed. Young people should read this genre to help open their minds to the extraordinary possibilities that lie before us; we geezers should read it for the same reason. The job of our times is to build a radically new world; speculative fiction helps point the way."

Unfortunately, speculative fiction isn't pointing the way; unparalleled greed, power-lust and religious fundamentalism are building a radically new world for us already. But maybe when all of the death-crazed alpha males bring the whole damn world crashing down upon our heads (which will be sooner rather than later) then sci-fi will offer us a road map back to civilization.

Finishing what Roddenberry began- the last real Trek

Like all great sci-fi, Fringe is sending out warnings about the dangers of science run amok, or dare I say it, science without spirit. The best - and most resonant - sci-fi is deeply spiritual, but as a matter of fact, not tied to some loathsome sect or creed. It answers a lot of the questions religion can only ask, and can immerse people in that new reality (Avatar, for instance) For a lot of people, it might be the only spiritual entertainment they consume.

It all goes deeper than that, but I can't quite explain why right now. In the meantime, check in with your reviews of the season opener later on tonight.

UPDATE: So, Fringe.

Well, it's fascinating that they spent the season premiere erasing Olivia's personality and replacing it with the new, kickass alt-Olivia. She'd become kind of a fifth wheel in the second season, not only because the writers realized what a goldmine they had in John Noble, but also because her personality really wasn't very interesting to begin with. So now we have alt-Olivia in both worlds, which is more than fine with me.

There was also a very subtle critique of the first season, with its team-building corporate mentality and paramilitary ambiance. In other words, we flashed back to the old Fringe Division but they were all dressed like Death Star officers. The series really didn't show signs of life until they did away with all of that tired cop-boosting that you can see on any show and really caught fire when they basically took the X-Files formula and ran with it.

The alt-Universe vibe is very well rendered, in fact I hope they do a lot more over there. It reminded a lot of Caprica in many ways, and reminded how nervous I am about that show's future. I'm not sure how it's all going to play out since it looks like Earth I's Olivia is going to be doing the standalone investigations, but I have faith in the writers.

CODA: A lot of people have been asking me if I saw The Event, but I haven't yet. There's something about that reminds me a little too much of Flash Forward- in other words, taking that suffocating network drama vibe and applying it to a mild sci-fi concept. I'm interested in hearing your thoughts on it, and will probably give it a look over the weekend.

Secret Sun Picture Parade: The Joke's on Us (MASSIVE UPDATES)

UPDATE: This story ran last week, but just caught my attention. This didn't run on UFO Mystic or Filer's Files, it ran on Reuters, one of the world's largest and most respected news organizations. Interesting in and of itself, but I couldn't help but notice that an IBM ad discussing their work with "future threats" in Dubai was running when I visited the page. Quite a sync.
Speaking of syncs, this story broke on the 17th. I really don't know what to make of it, but I must say the gathering drumbeat of UFO/alien stories in the press makes me a bit nervous.

Sure enough, Fox ran this image of Will Smith cradling a baby Chthulu, subtly reinforcing the Obama/alien meme, given the two men's association and Smith's quasi-presidential attire here.

Then there's this image of Megan Fox playing a flying object of a different kind, leaving faint traces of the lady-in-red and Nephilim memes in viewer's subconscious. Note the ET logo, speaking of syncs. Identifying ETs with angels was something we saw in Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, also starring Megan Fox.

And here we go with the privatization of space, with United Launch Alliance's Atlas V launching a spy satellite. Gee, I was just thinking there aren't enough spy satellites in space these days. The thing that makes me laugh about this new class of rockets is how much they look like vibrators, which would pass muster with at least one newly-minted political celebrity...

Well, autumn is upon us and that means we're in for two of America's favorite holy days. Both of them synthesize the ridiculous and the terrifying and are all about putting on masks and shaking people down. Yes, Halloween and Election Day always fall within a week of each other for good reason- we get the tricks and they get the treats.

The narrative is the GOP wave rolling into town to take control of Congress back from the Democrats, which at least one wag has realized has been Barackobamun's plan all along. I've advised my liberal friends to vote Republican for three reasons- the actual policies won't change, you won't have to defend them anymore and GOP sex scandals are always immensely entertaining.

I really hope Christine O'Donnell is elected- she's a walking trainwreck whose inevitable sex scandal is guaranteed to be pure hilarity. This "witchcraft" thing is just a sneak preview. I also have a strange feeling that it could well be a lesbian sex scandal- a first for a GOP Senator.

Which brings me to the Gagger, who Huffpost crowned as the first lady of gay rights. I'm sure all of the activists who've spent their lives in the streets appreciated her coronation. I'm not sure what's more risible- the Gagger or her sycophants in the media.

Here's a semiotic mindf**k for all of the Palinites- Bristol Palin scores a 666 on Dancing with the Stars.

Trick or treat- it's Jaz Coleman, the anti-GaGa! Killing Joke have a stormer of a new album out called Absolute Dissent and Jaz has been making the rounds on the interview circuit, talking apocalypse and conspiracy. Jaz makes David Icke sound like Tony Blair and he's also more than a little nuts, but as long as he and the Jokers keep making killer album after killer album, the press seems to put up with it all. This is from the metal mag Terrorizer. I can't tell what Jaz was referring to with this cryptic Heath Ledger quote since it wasn't included in the interview.

The new Killing Joke album is the first in 28 years to feature the full original lineup (which includes a druid, a Kabbalist, a martial artist and a Jaz Coleman). After an acrimonious split the band first mended fences to compile this greatest hits (sic) compilation, which featured this notorious photograph of Pope Pius being saluted by a SS phalanx.

This not only ties into the marathon debate on the Occult Nazi issue, it was also made timely when the Pope visited the UK and claimed that the Nazis were atheists, despite all evidence to the contrary. I'm sure this staged photo produced a lot of gooseflesh in some quarters. We usually don't get to see a photo like that without a bonfire and a giant stone owl.

Did someone say druid? The Pope prays with Archdruid Williams during his UK visit.

Helpfully showing us that sex scandals are an ecumenical phenomenon is Eddie Long of the New Birth Baptist megachurch. The surname tosses the late night comedians a softball pitch; he's lucky his first name isn't Willy.

UPDATE: You knew this was, uh, coming (I'm sorry, but this whole story's a minefield):
Long frequently denounces homosexual behavior. A 2007 article in the Southern Poverty Law Center's magazine called him "one of the most virulently homophobic black leaders in the religiously based anti-gay movement."

Robinson's suit alleges that "Defendant Long would use Holy Scripture to discuss and justify the intimate relationship between himself and Plaintiff Robinson."

The suits allege that various staff members working for Long, his church and the Longfellows Academy -- which the suit describes as an offshoot ministry of New Birth -- "knew of Defendant Long's sexually inappropriate conduct and did nothing to warn or protect [the plaintiffs]."
Did someone say owl?

I've been working on a post called "The Trouble with Transhumanism" which will look at how TH will increase inequality of opportunity. It could also damage a whole host of human endeavors such as sports and the arts, if - and mind you, this is a very big if - the technology ever makes it out of the lecture halls and into the applications stage. (And I mean for real, not just a few token gimmicks here and there.)

Being an old Cyberpunk and massive sci-fi maniac, you'd think I'd be all over it, but Transhumanism is almost always seen as being deeply problematic in sci-fi (see Cybermen, Borg, Terminators, etc), and certainly in William Gibson's work. Good scifi writers are aware of the prohibitive costs of the technology and its inevitable weaponization.

And we do have a kind of Transhumanism already on the market, in the form of steroids and other hormone treatments as well as all kinds of cosmetic surgery. And this is usually what is done with it (though this looks more like trannie-humanism to me).

The problem is that without doing a lot more work on the human, the Transhuman is going to be built on a very, very faulty foundation. It will be like tricking up a rotted-out old Model T. No amount of gimmicks will save you when the chassis collapses.

Unfortunately the Jihad being waged on Transhumanism from Evangelical quarters is only going to encourage the movement and accelerate whatever is coming down the pike. More on that later.

Finally, what the hell is this supposed to mean?

The Secret War Against the New Age: The Eternal Dialectic

This series is not about the New Age movement.

It's about how certain belief systems are privileged and how others are not and what that means for the future. It's about how the establishment dealt with a challenge to its monopoly on the creation and dissemination of belief systems. We still have other tactics and strategies from the secret war to look at (the 'Skeptic' movement, as well as a deeper look at the infiltration and commercialization of the New Age) and there are other instances of movements that didn't jibe with the overall capital 'P' Plan.

All of this fits into the mandate of The Secret Sun, which after all is about Culture, not religion or politics. And an increasingly important part of the Culture these days is conspiracy culture, which is predominantly a right wing and Fundamentalist culture (there is a considerable counterculture voice- or what I call the "Lone Gunmen" conspiracy theorists like Icke, Tsarion, Maxwell, etc - but all over the world, conspiracy theory is the province of religious extremists). The assumptions of this culture is that its beliefs are unassailable truth, and any deviation or dissent from that truth is evil. Not simply wrong, certainly not just a question of competing interests, but a cosmic evil.

This is a self-perpetuating impulse, in that billions of people don't share their views - can't share their views. Science, history, logic, reason, non-believers - and most especially - believers of competing sects present a constant, existential challenge to the apocalyptic worldview. So the culture will never be wanting for enemies. This is classic cult psychology, but it exists on a mass scale all over the world. It kinda makes you wonder if all of those cults that popped up like mushrooms in the 60s and 70s weren't simply field tests for a more comprehensive agenda.

But it also helps drive social trends in a larger context.

The Establishment has a dialectic that they reinforce constantly through the media, academia, and the political sphere.
It's 'Red vs Blue', atheists vs fundamentalists, liberal vs conservative. The massive infrastructure of think tanks and foundations dictates the talking points and spends billions of dollars making sure that they are the respectable opinions to hold, and that everything outside the dialect is to be ridiculed and shunned, if not actively suppressed.

This is why we see a mirror image of the religious fundamentalists with the non-religious fundamentalists. Organized atheism was little more than a boogieman for Republican voters until fairly recently, until a charismatic and highly visible new class of media personalities- who were mostly already famous for other accomplishments- took up the cudgel and a huge and growing movement grew up practically overnight behind them.

They adopted some of the tactics - and members - of the prefab Skeptic movement (which was created to derail the New Age movement, which we'll get to soon) but don't waste time with small fry like palm readers or orgone therapists. They're going after the big boys - the Pope, the preachers, the imams. There aren't enough bitter, supercilious nerds to make the Skeptic movement anything more than a sideshow, but there are tens of millions of people tired of the concept of the religion itself, not just its excesses.

As tempting as it is to speculate on some grand Hegelian synthesis to come out of all of this, I think the real goal of this Dialectic is endless conflict.

A lot of people talk about peace like it's some universal aspiration, but what if there are a lot of people who prefer conflict? What if perpetuating endless division isn't some obstacle for our rulers to overcome, but the game plan itself? What if the competing fundamentalisms are really just an excuse for endless conflict? All of the arguing and flag-waving might make for great television, but it makes for terrible policy and for an increasingly angry, stressed-out and dumbed-down populace.

Maybe the original New Age movement was the Synthesis in this dialectic, which could offer reasonable people on both sides of the apparent divide a big enough tent to find common ground within. A lot of luminaries in the 60s and 70s talked a lot about just that- a new movement amorphous enough to bridge the divides and heal the culture and usher in the "New Age", an age of peace, freedom, enlightenment, technological progress and puppies and kittens and so on and so forth.

That may well be why it had to be taken down.

UPDATE: As if on cue:
Peter Kreeft, right wing convert to Catholicism and professor of philosophy at Boston College, argues in his 1996 book Ecumenical Jihad: Ecumenism and the Culture War, that religious culture warriors must recognize a substantial shift in alliances, between former enemies like Muslims, and former friends like Humanists. While the idea of Muslim-Christian alliance sems particularly far-fetched at the end of this summer, Kreeft’s larger point has resonated with a number of religious leaders. Echoing Pope John Paul II’s prediction that third millennium could be marked by a unified Christianity, Kreeft predicted: “The age of religious wars is ending; the age of religious war is beginning: A war of all religions against none.”
UPDATE: More timely linkage- I Believe You’re Wrong: The Trouble with Tolerance
However, in recent years, Americans have been losing their habit of engaging in respectful contestation. We’ve lost track of the difference between hateful attacks and disciplined, sincere criticism.


The Secret War Against the New Age: False Flags

In which we tie together some seemingly disparate threads...
A while back a horde of Christian (and some Muslim) conspiracy theorists declared war on pop stars they perceived to be 'occult illuminists'. Since then we've seen thousands of blog postings and video lectures proving to us how Jay-Z and Lady GaGa in particular are trying to brainwash us all into accepting Lord Baphomet von Maitreya as our infernal lord and savior, and submit to new world order microchipping and so on and so forth.
One might imagine - given all of the time and effort that these internet crusaders put into their jeremiads - that the goal was to expose this devilry and bring down Jay and GaGa and their vast financial empires as punishment for their parts in this dastardly conspiracy.
So how's that working out for them? First Jay-Z:
Jay-Z reigns supreme on Forbes magazine's latest edition of its "Hip-Hop Cash Kings" list, which ranks the estimated earnings of hip-hop's biggest stars over the past year. The rapper dwarfed his competition with $63 million earned over the last 12 months, according to the list released today (Aug. 17).
Huh. Not so good. How about Lady GaGa?
Gaga can thank Virgin Mobile, Polaroid, Monster and Viva Glam for helping her earn $62 million between June 2009 and June 2010. The fact that her music is insanely popular doesn't hurt either. She earned $31 million from a 106-date tour and her video for Telephone (featuring Beyoncé) has been viewed 90 million times. Gaga's Internet presence is so strong that she ranks first on our list for Web hits and social networking.
It's hard to quantify what kind of effect all of the righteous huffing and puffing has had on JZ or LGG's mammoth incomes, but I'll bet the farm any negative effect has been so minimal as to be statistically invisible. I would bet it's had the exact opposite effect- all of the blog and video attacks have invested stars like Jay-Z and Lady GaGa with a 'forbidden' mystique that money can't buy. It's the oldest trick in the book, as we recently discussed.
And this blowback effect is nothing new either- the Christian war on heavy metal in the 80s had much the same effect as we're seeing here. The PMRC censorship hearings in the Senate made instant stars of obscure acts like WASP and The Mentors, and the same blowback effect would make Marilyn Manson a household name in the 90s when he used scolds like Bill Bennett and Joe Lieberman as his unwitting PR men.
All of the controversy couldn't have worked better for Jay-Z if he tried. Literally- he dangled the bait and a whole lot of suckers took it, not realizing they were playing his game. The whole con is like some elaborate false flag operation. (false flag occultism?) I called it back in December, referring to Jay-Z's 'On to the Next One' video
He's not worried about being "exposed"- he's depending on it. That's part of the game. Every con needs a shill, and dupes always make for the best shills.
Luckily for Jay, the groundwork for the scam has been laid by generations of hucksters and hysterics selling politically-motivated gossip as fact. Take the "Occult Nazi" meme; it kicked off in the old pulps, but has been reinforced through repetition to the point that's accepted as fact. It's shocking how many people will swear that the Nazi Party was one giant occult lodge run amok, though even a cursory review of the facts shows exactly the opposite:
The full focus of the state was not aimed at religious groups until 9 June 1941 when Reinhard Heydrich, the head of the security police, banned lodge organizations and esoteric groups in the wake of the flight to Scotland by Rudolf Hess, who had been attracted and influenced by the organic farming theories of Rudolf Steiner and Anthroposophy. However, the suppression of esoteric organisations began very soon after the Nazis acquired governmental power. Dr. Anna Bramwell points out that "occultist racialists were banned as early as 1934."
Things got worse for esotericists after Rudolph Hess's disastrous attempt at solo diplomacy:
Martin Bormann decided that the best way of presenting the story to the German people would be to announce that Hess was actually insane, and shortly afterwards it was announced that he had been crazed by 'hypnotists, astrologers and so on'. In Britain, The Times actually reported that Hess had been Hitler's private astrologer!

This gave the Gestapo the excuse to clamp down on astrology in general, and those who had formerly enjoyed the protection of a sympathetic Himmler...(t)his delighted a number of members of the Nazi High Command, few of whom admired Himmler, and many of whom regarded him as deranged...along with faith healers, clairvoyants, graphologists, Christian Scientists and spiritualists, astrologers were definitely out of favour.
There's no shortage of data documenting the Nazis' cozy relationship with the Church, yet for some strange reason it's all been suppressed in favor of this "occult Nazi" false flag (or the "secular Nazi" meme you see in the media). Hitler was quite clear in his speeches where his own beliefs lay, and they had nothing to do with the occult.

The other bizarre aspect about all of this is that all of the esotericists/occultists/New Agers I could name off the top of my head - David Icke, Michael Tsarion, Jordan Maxwell, Tracy Twyman, Conscious Media Network, Iona Miller, Project Camelot, Steven Greer, Whitley Strieber, and Jaz Coleman (who we'll get to in part 2) - are all militantly anti-globalist, anti-corporatist, anti-collectivist, anti-authoritarian- you name it. In fact esotericism is itself oriented to the individual and not the collective. So why the persistence of this meme?

The whole "Occult/New Age new world order" meme emerged primarily from Fundamentalist researchers Texe Marrs and Constance Cumbey, who pored through the impenetrable writings of Alice Bailey, David Spengler and Benjamin Creme in order to paint a very scattered movement with the same brush (even if most New Agers hadn't even heard of those writers). It was the war against the New Age that made Bailey et al infamous. We'll get to Bailey later, but let's take a quick look at the other two.

In Hidden Dangers of the Rainbow, Cumbey claimed that David Spengler - who also claimed that Lucifer was the spirit of the New Age- had threatened his enemies with "extermination":
The Movement has threatened violence and even extermination of Jews, Christians, and Moslems failing to cooperate with "Maitreya" and the New World Religion. The threat is contained in several places in the Alice Bailey writings and reiterated in the David Spangler writings, which state that those of us who refuse to accept the "Christ" will be sent to another dimension other than physical incarnation, out of physical embodiment, to another level of vibration where we will be happier!
There is so much absurdity here. First of all, as she does throughout all her writings, Cumbey makes a universal claim about the New Age movement based on her interpretation of the words of a single author. Second, Spangler obviously has no power to execute his transdimensional ethnic cleansing or anything remotely like it, so it's all just one man's delusion.

Or is it something else? Here's an interesting sketch of Spangler's childhood:
Spangler was born in Columbus, Ohio, in 1945. At the age of six, he moved to Morocco in North Africa where his father was assigned as a counterintelligence agent for U.S. Army Intelligence. He lived there for six years, returning to the United States when he was twelve in 1957. He attended Deerfield Academy in Massachusetts
I did a little poking around and found some notable Deerfield Alumni.

Lyman Kirkpatrick (1916–1995), inspector general and executive director of the Central Intelligence Agency
John Chafee (1922–1999), U.S. Senator from and Governor of Rhode Island; Secretary of the Navy under President Richard Nixon
David S. Dodge (1922 – January 20, 2009) was the Vice-President for Administration (1979–83), Acting President (1981–82) and President (1996–97) of the American University in Beirut.
William Stoltzfus, Jr. (born 1924), U.S. Ambassador to Kuwait, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, and Oman
John Weinberg (1925–2006), chairman of Goldman Sachs
Rodman Rockefeller (1932–2000), philanthropist
Richard Mellon Scaife (born 1932), media mogul and philanthropist, "The Republican George Soros"
David H. Koch (born 1940), billionaire, Libertarian Vice-Presidential candidate in 1984
King Abdullah II al-Hussein of Jordan (born 1962)
Now this doesn't mean anything in and of itself, but it's fascinating the writer who's given loads of ammunition to anti-New Age propagandists was the son of an counterintelligence agent and went to school with some major heavy-hitters in right wing politics, as well as in Middle East politics.

The other person of the Unholy Trinity of Fundamentalist propaganda is Benjamin Creme, who recently made the news for his seemingly-endless "Lord Maitreya" hoax. Before dreaming up Maitreya, Creme was involved with the Contactee craze of the late 1950s:
In mid-1957 he worked with a group which claimed contact with the Space Brothers, and discovered his ability to transmit energies from the Space People. In 1958 Creme entered into close contact and began to work for the Space Brothers. Creme also worked briefly with contactee George Adamski, vouching for the authenticity of Adamski's contacts from his own experiences.
Filip Coppens writes of Adamski and the Contactees:
More significantly, it is now known that Adamski was the same: he was not only encouraged in his work, but actively supported and assisted, by the CIA. This became known – though not widely reported when scientists attempting to investigate Adamski's claims...were warned off by CIA Director Allen Dulles in person. And research has shown that during tours of Europe and Australia to promote his “message”, Adamski travelled on a passport furnished by the CIA...long before this information became public, Leon Davidson had already stated that Adamski was controlled by the CIA.
Despite some overheated speculations by "Gov't UFO" theorists, Adamski and his ilk did much to make the topic of UFOs a national laughingstock, with his ridiculous stories about blonde Venusians and the rest of it (the miniseries Taken presented a similar contactee, who was being used by intelligence agents to discredit UFO researchers).

Sensing a pattern here?


"Which Means it's a Trap."

There's a very dangerous meme out there that has it that governments can't keep secrets. It's absolute nonsense, and the same goes for corporations, crime networks, secret societies and on and on. So how do we account for all of the conspiracy media we see out there? Well, maybe I need to reach into my pop culture metaphor kitbag to offer up one theory (and only one, mind you).

One of my favorite comic series from my youth was Frank Miller's run on Daredevil. His work then was much different than Sin City or 300- it was much more coherent and human in the old days. There were also flashes of insight that belied his tender age.

In issue 179, we see Daredevil in conflict with the Kingpin, the super crime lord who is installing a puppet in the mayor's office. Reporter Ben Urich is on the story, and meets up with a source who tips him off about the candidate's secret lovenest. Daredevil appears suddenly, offering that every small time operator in town is telling the same story. Realizing that the Kingpin isn't that sloppy, ol' hornhead correctly figures it's a trap.

This is counter-intelligence 101. You find out someone's on your trail so you toss him a few red herrings, or spring a mousetrap and lead him to it with bits of cheese.

I can't help but think of those red herrings given all of the pop star/illuminati "exposés" out there. Does anyone really think this is all some kind of secret "they" are trying to keep from you? If it were, then why don't the record companies put the kibosh on all of the little video montages that use copyrighted material?

After all, media companies can act with consummate speed when they want to shut down unauthorized use of their material, especially when it threatens their business interests. And it's not like anyone in the mainstream media takes any of it seriously. So what's the deal?

Answer? Because outrage was the intended effect in the first place. Controversy is the best way to get attention in today's media blitz. You might notice a lot of this symbolism started appearing around the same time MTV stopped running music videos so they had to do something to get attention for their videos. Which, after all, are commercials for the songs.

Marilyn Manson showed in the 90s how you can channel moral outrage into broad spectrum exposure, and that's something at a premium now, with the audience so atomized. So reaching into Manson's kitbag is a no-brainer, as we saw with the Gagger. Now, we've covered all of this before, but it bears repeating. Repetition is the mother of skill.

More importantly, all of the fake controversy also does a great job in diverting people's attention from real problems, which are pretty depressing these days. It's like a kind of memetic homeopathy. It's also is a great recruiting tool for authoritarian religions, as is most conspiracy material out there, strangely enough.

Authoritarian religion is all the rage these days, even in Communist China (my inner -and outer- geek can't help but think of the Alliance from Firefly). The Chinese gov't is not only bankrolling churches and printing up millions of Bibles, it's state-run press is very clear about why they find Evangelicalism so alluring. Read this:

Why does the Protestant work ethic work? First, if people work under the eyes of an all-seeing God, there's no reason to stop working when bosses aren't watching.

Wow. Maybe that's why we see headlines like this: "U.S. and Chinese Church Leaders Unite in Vision at Biblical Worldview Conference." CNP member Chuck Colson ran that particular shindig.

Now, a lot of these conspiracy maestros belong to independent churches and we know how the Chinese deal with unapproved churches- is the same thing coming here? God forbid, but you can never be too sure, given all of the attacks that our own home churches are taking from Evangelical poobahs.

Don't worry, I'm sure all of the YouTube brigades are on the case. After all, typing in "Lady GaGa, Illuminati" will result in 4,810 hits. There must be as least as many on the unfolding China story. Let's give it a go...


Épater La Bourgeoisie: A Brief Prehistory of Lady GaGa (UPDATE)

Eek! She's covering her eye! Please save me!

It only took two or three years but I finally found an interesting Lady GaGa story. It might sound like a plot lifted from The Outer Limits or Friday the 13th, The Series, but it appears that GaGa (aka Lady GorGon) is channeling the spirit of her dead collaborator, one Lina Morgana:
Lady Gaga, who was then known as Stefani Germanotta, and Lina Morgana had been brought together by music producer Rob Fusari in 2007 in the hopes that the formers lyrics and the latter’s voice could be combined into a hit and powerful combination...

Lady Gaga’s ex-collaborator, Lina, then 19 years old, committed suicide just a year after the duo began recording songs together and creating some good music. Just a month later, Stefani transformed into Lady Gaga, almost duplicating Lina’s eccentric and outlandish style...

“Lady GaGa is holding Lina’s soul and I want her soul to be free,” said Lina’s mother, adding, “I’m doing this because I want to keep her spirit alive.”
The story really struck me, since it showed in the end that there's absolutely nothing original about her. But there is also a tradition of shock/outrage tactics that seems to be symptomatic of a tired and jaded cultural condition. You know, like the one we're in now.

There's a cottage industry of Lady GaGa conspiracy theorists out there, but the fact of the matter is that GaGa and Rihanna the rest of the pop provocateurs are simply the latest (and least interesting) incarnations of performers and artists trying to transmutate shock/outrage into dollars.

We've got a lot of recent examples to draw on; Madonna pulled out the outrage stops in the late 80s when her pop princess pose wore thin, starting with her SEX photobook. Marilyn Manson became a household name in the 90s with his satanic schtick, taking his cues from Ozzy in the 80s and Alice Cooper in the 70s and using the cable news channels as his personal promotional vehicles. But this all goes back a long way, and what we're seeing these days is a glossy color xerox of a collage of old memes. For our purposes, let's start with...


All of these figures owe a debt to the Decadent movement of the late 19th Century, who made "épater la bourgeoisie" their battle cry:
The Decadent movement in literature was a short-lived but influential style during the latter half of the 19th century. It is most associated with French literature, and Charles Baudelaire was perhaps the foremost figure of the Decadent movement. Decadent writers used elaborate, stylized language to discuss taboo and often unsavory topics, such as death, depression, and deviant sexualities.

French literary critics in the 19th century used the term to dismiss writers who they felt were unimportant and merely wallowing in shocking subject matter...

After the carnage of World War One, a new generation of artists took up the the shock mantle, though preferring absurd humor to sex and violence. This was the Dada movement, and it had a huge influence on the Pop Art movement of the 60s as well as the Punk movement of the 70s :
Many of the artists in the Dada period felt that European art was corrupted, and sought to purify it by mocking it. Thus, many Dada pieces are extremely playful and teasing, such as Marcel Duchamp's famous portrait of the Mona Lisa with a mustache. Almost all Dada artwork inspires a reaction, which was the intended goal. The movement was very short lived, being essentially over by 1923, but Dada left a lasting legacy to modern art, advertising, and society. Without Dadaism, it is unlikely that Surrealism and other modern art movements would have occurred.

Of course we can't forget the Wickedest Man in the World, also a great adept at using tabloid notoriety to his advantage. A lot of people tend to forget that Crowley plied his trade as a poet and a writer, which fits him right into this timeline here. Such was his mastery of the art of outrage that he continues to terrify huge swathes of the population, although no one can point to anything he actually did to earn his fearsome rep.

When Anton LaVey became a media sensation in the 60s with his Church of Satan he inspired a weird niche in the porn market- occult or satanic porn. A host of stroke-mags with witches and human altars hit the stands, tying into the apocalyptic vibe stirred up by LaVey, Rosemary's Baby and Charles Manson. After all, if you're breaking one taboo, why not break two or three more while you're at it? Largely forgotten today, the genre nevertheless did feed into the underground memestreams that burst into the mainstream with Marilyn Manson et al.

Cher hit the scene in the mid-60s as your prototypical hippie chick, but came into her own when she and husband Sonny Bono landed a primetime TV gig in the early 70s. Cher struck up a partnership with designer Bob Mackie, who supplied the diva with a parade of increasingly-outrageous outfits, which Cher gleefully showcased on the show as well as in her concert appearances. In doing so, Cher provided a model for all of the exhibitionist, attention-craving divas to come, most especially Lady Gaga.


Newton hit the photography scene like a freight train, bringing a surreal and decadent energy to the torpid, post-hippie early 70s. His influence on fashion photography is still being felt (Megan Fox recently appeared in a knockoff of this shoot), not surprisingly since we're living through a strange kind of rerun of the 70s. Newton came up with a lot of riffs that are still in use today, though Newton was an aberration in that he was an obvious admirer of female anatomy.

Newton's influence was such that he inspired a big Hollywood production, The Eyes of Laura Mars, starring Faye Dunaway. A lot of observers at the time saw Newton's work (and that of his imitators) as a sure sign of terminal societal decline, though his work seems downright quaint in comparison to the imagery being pumped out of the high fashion world today. (Check out Pseudo-Occult Media for a superabundance of examples, though be aware I don't necessarily endorse Ben's interpretations.)


The Gristle arose out of a sexually-explicit performance art troupe called COUM Transmissions and essentially created the Industrial music genre, echoes of which you still hear all over the place, particularly on a lot of Lady Gaga tracks. TG also brought a fascist aesthetic into the scene, as well as a lot of the shock/horror lyrics that would filter down into Death Metal and its various subgenres. They didn't last long, but had an enormous influence well past their original incarnation.

If ever there was a band whose ideas I'd never think would reach the mainstream, it was TG. And yet, here we are.


As lead singer of Missing Persons, Dale Bozzio brought a trashy Times Square vibe to the New Wave. She got her start as a pinup girl (appearing in Playboy during the 70s) and then fell in with Frank Zappa. She and a bunch of other Zappa hands formed Missing Persons and had a string of hits fueled by videos showcasing Bozzio's stripper's body and homemade sci-fi aesthetic. In some ways she was offering a cleaned up take on Wendy O Williams, but was strictly femme to the Plasmatics' singer's butch. It's amazing how much Gaga resembles Bozzio in her prime.

A warning to Gaga - Bozzio ultimately became the crazy cat lady from hell, landing herself in jail for animal abuse and neglect.


Extremely NSFW

Athey arose out of the performance art circuit, incorporating a torture/S&M angle into his art and igniting a firestorm of controversy during the battles over federal money for arts programs. Athey's torture-porn aesthetic is referenced in Gaga's 'Bad Romance' video, but his work is also rife with the same elaborate religious imagery we see in Gaga's 'Alejandro' video. Like Crowley and many, many others like him, Athey had a strict Protestant upbringing. One of his major productions was based on Georges Bataille's poem The Solar Anus.

Using shock tactics - along with sex, violence, and occultism- is a time-honored strategy, particularly for the semi-talented. But pumping up all of the occult hysteria not only lends these performances a significance they don't deserve, it also clouds the issues at hand, such as the commodifying of dehumanization, and the legitimizing of narcissism and empty signifying through warmed-over cultural studies analysis.

The end result of it all is a kind of ennui- a deep and gelatinous exhaustion that eats away at the vitality of the culture.

We really are reliving the 70s in so many ways, but at the same time I worry that we're also reliving the early 30s. Lady GaGa would have been a smash hit in Weimar-era Berlin; she certainly has a lot of predecessors there, too.

And we all know how that turned out.

UPDATE: Camille Paglia- "Although she presents herself as the clarion voice of all the freaks and misfits of life, there is little evidence that she ever was one. Her upbringing was comfortable and eventually affluent, and she attended the same upscale Manhattan private school as Paris and Nicky Hilton. There is a monumental disconnect between Gaga’s melodramatic self-portrayal as a lonely, rebellious, marginalised artist and the powerful corporate apparatus that bankrolled her makeover and has steamrollered her songs into heavy rotation on radio stations everywhere."

UPDATE: Reader Raj pointed out the superabundance of what he called "pseudo-analysis" of the occult symbolism of GaGa and her ilk, which inspired me to write a few paragraphs I should have included in the original post:
Yeah, the pseudo-analysis is really a much a part of the viral marketing strategy as Perez Hilton. Which is probably the ultimate reason for it- notice that we started seeing all of this stuff around the same time that MTV stopped playing videos.

Occult symbolism is everywhere, which means it's no longer occult. This was a hard post for me to write because I had to rewatch some of her (GaGa's) videos and some of the similar ones, and I just really find that imagery repellant. In fact this was a longer piece but I cut it down, since it really began to bum me out.

It's demoralizing on the face of it, and maybe all of the dopey symbolism is part of the spell- if you think there's some deeper meaning to parse, you'll keep rewatching it but it's the surface imagery that does the real damage to the psyche. And maybe that's the genius of it- everyone pretending to "expose" it is actually reinforcing the effect, making them complicit in the damage it does, particularly to young psyches.
By this I mean that these videos themselves are so dark and dehumanizing, that any symbolism that may be embedded is redundant. It's not as if there are some particularly insidious subliminals embedded into a sunny, wholesome scene- it's all essentially Marilyn Manson redux. The only good thing about it is that it seems to be cycling out again.

UPDATE: Paglia's piece stirring up the usual controversy among the punditocracy. Here's the pro piece of a point/counterpoint, titled "Pro Paglia: Lady Gaga is a Smug Diva who Exploits her Monsters and Gays."

Money Pags quote: “This grisly mix of sex and death is sick, symptomatic of Gaga’s alienation from her own body.”

UPDATE: Leave it to The Guardian to defend GaGa, and to struggle to find some redeeming political message in her narcissistic and nihilistic provocations:
Part of Gaga's brilliance is the way she plays with the darker currents in popular culture, which are hardly hidden away. She's as much Marilyn Manson as Madonna. Yet Paglia gets a fit of the vapours about the "disturbing trend towards mutilation and death" in Gaga's work, somehow missing the feminist statement in the final scene of the Bad Romance video, which shows that Gaga the kidnapped sex worker in a Russian bathhouse has barbecued her punter with her flamethrower bra. Paglia also takes literally Gaga's recent line – that she doesn't have sex very often because she fears losing creativity through her vagina – which surely was just a witty way of saying that men can be a distraction when you're totally focused on your work.
UPDATE: I guess things are so grim in the independent film industry that directors are reduced to making porn and slathering it up with the usual cultural studies mumbo jumbo. Sad.

Final Events: Interview with Nick Redfern

NOTE: More on the Collins Elite here

Author and journalist Nick Redfern has a new book out called Final Events that's guaranteed to shake people up. It deals with a powerful secret society within the Intelligence community created with the intention of establishing a Christian Reconstructionist surveillance state. For what purpose?

Well... in order to protect America from demonic UFO pilots.

We're seeing a lot of this kind of thinking floating around out there. It may in fact become the dominant view of UFOs, given that Hollywood is preparing a huge slate of UFO invasion films. Is someone trying to tell us something or is this a reaction to the Recession and fears about illegal immigration? Or is there a plan to fake some kind of devastating alien invasion in order to unite the world around a common enemy?

I interviewed Nick to get the scoop...

Nick and the late Mac Tonnies

Tell us about your book. What's the basic premise?
Basically speaking, Final Events is a study of a think-tank group comprised of personnel from within the U.S. Government, military and intelligence community that has existed in stealth for a surprisingly long time. The group believes that while the UFO issue is a very real one, they do not believe it has anything to do with literal extraterrestrials.
Rather, the group - which calls itself the Collins Elite - concludes that the "aliens" are, in reality, literal demonic entities that are trying to seduce us with a false lure of supposed alien technology, and to - quite literally - steal and farm our souls. The group claim to have discovered evidence that these demonic entities - that seem to utilize a weird combination of advanced technology and archaic rite and ritual - derive a form of "energy sustenance" from the human soul or life force.

In other words, they don't want to land on the White House lawn and help us, nor do they want to destroy us. Rather, they want to maintain the herd, and upon our physical deaths, extract the human life-force as sustenance. The Collins Elite believes this has been going on since the dawning of civilization and that the ET motif is the latest in a long line of deceptive images they have used, and that in the past have included gods, angels, Jinns, fairies, goblins, etc etc.
Since we're talking "demons" here is it safe to assume these are Christians?
Yes, they are all Christians, or became Christians after they came to accept the theory. As for their positions, we're largely talking about people in the Intelligence community - and a lot from the DIA in particular - and also Air Force Intelligence. There are a few of the older, original members left, but today, they have allegedly placed their research on-hold, due to a belief that a final battle between good and evil is drawing near, and that the UFO presence will be finally be revealed for what they believe it to be.
The most ominous thing is that there appear to be some people attached to the group who believe that to save the US from what they perceive as a Satanic threat, the US should be placed under a near-martial law situation with the nation ruled by an iron-fist that adheres to Old Testament style teachings and beliefs. I expand greatly on all this in the book.
How did they think they could fight these demons?
Their belief is that deep belief in, and acceptance of, the Christian God can literally keep the demons at bay. This is why some of the group have contemplated what should be unthinkable: forcefully changing the entire U.S. mindset to that of an Old Testament nature, as part of what I personally conclude is a misguided plan on their part to try and save our souls.
Did these people have any contact with people like John Todd or did they figure this out on their own?
They appear to have come to their conclusions in a number of ways, such as personal/group research; consulting old religious texts; drawing parallels between UFO encounters and other paranormal encounters; and clandestinely interviewing UFO witnesses very occasionally.
Can you give us a couple examples of how they acted on these beliefs?
They instigated a large-scale study of Jack Parsons and Aleister Crowley in the late 1940s and early 1950s, believing them as being partly responsible for the ushering in of the UFO mystery in 1947 - Parsons via his "door-opening" issues and Crowley, after he contacted the alien-like LAM. The CE also established a large-scale investigation of the alien abduction phenomenon in the early 1980s that reportedly was of great interest to the Reagan Administration.
Can you name anyone involved in the group or anyone who's been involved with them?
Yes, all the people I interviewed are named in the book and speaking on the record. However, they are not big-names or known names. Rather, they are people who spent their careers working behind the shadows in the world of Intelligence and espionage.
What put you on to this particular story?
I was put onto this story by a Nebraska-based priest named Ray Boeche, who has an interest in UFOs and who worked with MUFON. Ray told me in an extensive interview undertaken nearly 4 years ago that in 1991 he had been clandestinely approached by people in the Department of Defense who were aware of this alleged demonic deception of a UFO nature and were very concerned by its implications, and of the fact that the Government was dabbling into these areas, and perhaps even anticipating some sort of Faustian pact with them. That set me on the trail that ultimately led to the research and writing of the book.

How do we square conspiracy theories that the gov't is promoting belief in "UFO space brothers" with this group?
Bear in mind that this is simply one think-tank group in the Government that has this belief. It's entirely possible - in fact, probable - that they are other groups that have come to different conclusions about the nature of the UFO phenomenon.

In other words, the CE does not secretly speak for the U.S. Government on the UFO issue. But it does appear to speak for certain players in the Government that may wish to do away with the Constitution and turn the U.S. into a closed-doors society, surveillance-driven, and to create a populace indoctrinated by Old Testament teachings.
Did they have any conflicts with other factions in the government?
Yes, the way it was worded to me is that there is something like a silent conflict going on in today's intelligence world - with some pushing for this Old Testament indoctrination of - and control of - the populace, with other factions wishing to bring us back from the brink and restore things to genuine freedom.
Is it safe to assume that the popularity of the "UFO/Demon" meme that we see out there is thanks to the CE?
Some of it may be, yes, via subtle pushes of data here and there. However, I think that it may be the case that many people who adhere to this view do so because they have come to their own conclusions, but without third-party influence.

Disturbing stuff.

If I were a more cynical kind of guy, I might almost think that this was all just another psyops group assigned to create pretexts for overthrowing the Republic. But it certainly fits into the overall secret war against the New Age meme as well.

In my experience these kinds of people aren't really afraid that the UFOs are filled with demons - they're afraid that there might be something out there that might challenge their religious programming- and their authority. It could be science, it could be other religions or it could be UFOs. Anything that picks at the festering scab of doubt that every fundamentalist works so hard to hide will always be painted in demonic colors.

Ironically, the only times in the Old Testament that we see flying vehicles they're always associated with Jehovah and his angels. But we're not supposed to talk about that anymore.

Either way, I think Final Events is a book all of us need to read. You can order it here.