AstroGnostic: Dark City, or Crucified by Time


Although only one of the films would break through to the mass consciousness, starting in 1998 the high priests of Hollywood would weave a triptych of films that on an mundane level seemed unrelated, but on an esoteric level tell the same story. Alex Proyas' Dark City, the Wachowski Brothers' The Matrix and Christopher Nolan's Memento look at dying/resurrecting savior mythology from three different perspectives: Sun God, Gnostic Messiah, and Antichrist.

The first was Dark City, written and directed by Alex Proyas (I, Robot, Knowing), born September 23, 1963 in - of all places- Egypt. Proyas was somewhat of a prodigy and would direct his first film in 1980 at the age of --wait for it-- seventeen. In 1994, Proyas would score his first hit with the cult smash, The Crow, yet another of the ritual dramas derived from the comic book dream factory.

The Crow
was somewhat of a watershed for pop culture. The then-underground streams of Goth culture and occult-themed comics would ride The Crow’s coattails and become major influences on youth culture in general. The film also boasted a hit soundtrack with tracks by altrock acts like the Cure, Helmet, Nine Inch Nails and Rage Against the Machine. Like The Dark Knight, the film swept like a tidal wave when it's young star was killed before the film's release (note also that the Crow character also used Jaz Coleman's Jester makeup).

Proyas leveraged the success of The Crow to make Dark City. Proyas tapped the young British actor Rufus Sewall to star as John Murdoch (read: "Oannes Marduk"), the man who would bring the sun to Dark City. Murdoch is a man who wakes up in a bathtub with no memories. He lives in a 1940’s era city trapped in permanent midnight. A voice-over by by the expository Doctor Scherber (played by Keifer Sutherland) sets the stage: a race of aliens called the Strangers had mastered time and the physical world, but were dying because they did not possess souls. They needed the vital essence of spirit, so had created this simulacrum of a world to imprison and study the human soul so they could become one with it.

Like the earlier Talosians from Star Trek (above) and the later Agents in The Matrix, the non-individuated Strangers were the direct descendants of the Archons of Gnostic mythology, prison wardens of an illusory world. The Strangers look like a cross between Nosferatu and the Borg, and dress like the ‘Men in Black’ from 60’s UFO lore.

Murdoch is simultaneously born and baptized as the Solar Redeemer. He is awake while the whole city is asleep (at the Strangers’ command). His rebirth in water recalls Oannes’, and his first act is rescue a goldfish, whose bowl Murdoch inadvertently knocks over. Fish and ocean imagery will later play a prominent part in Dark City (both Oannes and Marduk are strongly connected to water). In the apartment where Murdoch stands lies a dead woman with spirals cut into her breasts.

More symbolism- the spiral is connected to the moon, water, the vulva and shells, according to Chevalier and Gheerbrant's authoritative Dictionary of Symbols. The Strangers are murdering the very source of what they're searching for.


Murdoch doesn’t know it yet, but he is being framed for her murder. Murdoch then receives a strange telephone call, warning him that the police are coming for him. This exact event would be repeated in The Matrix the following year.

As Murdoch escapes the apartment to the city streets below, he is pursued by the Strangers, but discovers he has the power to alter reality, which he uses to make his escape. A classic fugitive dream-story follows with Murdoch pursued by the Strangers, Doctor Schreber and a mild-mannered yet relentless homicide detective named Bumstead (played by William Hurt, of Altered States fame, significantly). Bumstead is also concerned with his former partner Walenski, a man who has woken up to the same reality Murdoch has, but is powerless to do anything about it and is subsequently going mad.

Murdoch is rescued from the police by a gorgeous prostitute, and discovers that he has a beautiful wife (played by the young, buxom Jennifer Connelly), who works as a torch singer in a smoky nightclub (remember that Hathor/Aphrodite is the goddess of sex and music). The eternal power of the Feminine is also signified in Murdoch’s Grail Quest for the mythical Shell Beach, a childhood refuge which Murdoch visits repeatedly in his mind.

The importance of the erotic power that fuels this quest are portrayed when he defeats a powerful band of Strangers on a catwalk below a Shell Beach billboard. The billboard features a motorized animated bikini bombshell, beckoning Murdoch to join her and revel in the mysteries of fertility. The shell is associated with the birth of Aphrodite, the Greek analog of Hathor who rose from the sea on a shell. The shell was a symbol of the female genitals to the Greeks, and the Greek word Kteis means both ‘seashell’ and ‘vagina.’

The immersion into the power of the Sacred Feminine gives Murdoch his power, which is in direct contrast to the Strangers, who are entirely male. The Strangers are always working: creating false memories (rewriting history, in other words), changing the shape and form of the city, moving people from one life to another (note that all of these methods are being used on us all of the time in the real world). The Strangers assemble regularly in their lair to perform the ‘Tuning,’ the telepathic ritual that maintains their control over this world. Pretty heady stuff hiding behind the veil of sci-fi.

The sight of the assembled Strangers resembles a gothic version of the Roman Senate or a Vatican conclave (note also that their street clothes look remarkably Hasidic as well). But they symbolize pure thought devoid of experience, which is inherently denatured and unbalanced. The all-male Strangers have the power to create a world, but cannot save themselves, because they lack the feminine - and natural- virtues as balance.

The Strangers are parasitic. They are constantly changing the world to keep people confounded and enslaved. By depriving people of the certainties of home, family and environment, they are defeating their own purpose. The denizens of Dark City have no souls either, because it is only though the certainties of history and sense of place that the soul can thrive. The Strangers have an aversion to light and water (the essence of life and therefore of the soul) and can only survive by inhabiting discarded corpses. In actuality, they are small, Lovecraftian squid-like space-things.

The true nature of the Strangers is revealed to Murdoch in the subway, a common symbol for the revelation the Mysteries in these ritual dramas (we saw a repeat of this motif in Proyas' Knowing). Again, underground chambers were common meeting places for Mystery cults in antiquity, a tradition that the Christians would appropriate when they held meetings in Roman catacombs.


In this particular resurrection story, Murdoch is trying to get to Shell Beach, and is confronted by the deranged Walenski (shades of ‘Wachowski’, strangely enough) who reveals the illusory nature of Dark City and the power of the strangers. In this story he is like the biblical John the Baptist who initiates the Solar messiah and when his function is served, he throws himself in front of an onrushing subway train. Murdoch goes to visit his Uncle Karl at Neptune’s Kingdom. Neptune is the Roman name for Poseidon, the father of Orion ( the latter is identified with Osiris in Egyptian astrology).

Murdoch is then arrested by Bumstead using Emma as the bait. But in one of those archetypal prison phone booth scenes, Emma’s fecund womb inspires Murdoch to smash the glass separating them, signaling once and for all the source of this Sun God’s power. Bumstead interrogates Murdoch who challenges the detective to tell him how to get to Shell Beach. Murdoch and Bumstead then travel with Scherber by boat to the Beach’s location and find only a poster advertisement for it. Together Murdoch and Bumstead smash at the brick wall the poster adorns and discover that the city is in fact a spacecraft. The Strangers arrive and abduct Murdoch, and bring him to their inner sanctum.

The Black Sun, yet again

The Strangers have decided that Murdoch is the one who will help them individuate, and to save themselves they must become one with him. Wielding symbolism as subtle as a baseball bat to the kidneys, Murdoch is crucified. On his cross, Murdoch awaits "insertion," here in the form of a syringe wielded by Scherber that is meant to extract his essence for consumption by the Strangers. But Scherber has betrayed the Strangers and imbues Murdoch with an alchemical elixir designed to help him realize his full divinity.

Murdoch steps down from his cross, and he is risen as the Sun god. With the powers of his mind, he begins destroying the Strangers and their sanctum, and then the city itself. Soon he is joined in battle by "Mr. Book," the leader of the Strangers. His name is appropriate, for this is also a battle of the Spirit versus the Letter. Mr. Book is defeated, and Murdoch’s first act is to create a vast ocean encircling the city. He then restores all the bricks and stones of the city, like some cosmic master stonemason.


Murdoch then reaches the summit of his apotheosis and creates a sun and an ocean. His next act is to create Shell Beach, with the obligatory obelisk (in the form of a lighthouse).


Then he walks down the pier he has seen so many times in vision. At the end of the pier awaits Emma. In this incarnation her name is Anna (read: "Inanna," goddess of the sky and Sumerian counterpart to Hathor and Aphrodite) and she doesn't remember him. And together they walk to Shell Beach.

Cosmic insemination

All this blindingly obvious Solar and fertility symbolism begs the question: what (or where) is Dark City? What does it represent? Who are the Strangers? Why do they loathe water and sunshine, the basic necessities of life itself? Who is Murdoch? Does he represent an idea or a person (or group of persons)? Is this pure Gnostic parable like the later Matrix or something else entirely? The Matrix doesn’t go near these elemental themes, it concerns itself solely with more abstract ideas.


Dark City
is rife with the celebration of fertility and the feminine principle. This is like ritual drama at its most distilled- there are heroes and villains here. There is an apocalyptic struggle played out against the backdrop of specifically Solar fertility symbols. Shell Beach is the object of a grail quest- one in the purest esoteric sense. The fact that that the Strangers are killing prostitutes parallels their aversion to water and light. The whore was often identified with the Great Mother in antiquity, and by killing a whore they are symbolically destroying the womb of creation.



Another precursor to Dark City et al:
"A Feasibility Study" on The Outer Limits

Stripped of its meaning as an elemental parable, Dark City makes very little sense. It’s never explained who Murdoch is and why he has these powers. It’s never explained what these powers even are. It’s never explained how he came to be. The only way he makes any sense at all is as an AstroGnostic Sun god. That is the key that unlocks all the mysteries of Dark City. The connections to Proyas' Knowing are tantalizing in relation to Dark City, in that our own planet becomes the prison, the Sun the executioner and the Strangers become the saviors. Is Dark City in fact our own planet, and are we the prisoners of unknowable Archons of indeterminate origin?

More to come.

37 comments:

  1. Interesting connection between Dark City, Matrix and Memento. I would've thought Dark City and The Matrix would have more in common with Fight Club (1999), but the nature of Memento certainly matches Dark City more.

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  2. PK Dick, in his own version of gnosticism, also proposed the idea that time is actually deceptive changes. His idea is hard to express, though.

    Imagine your sitting in a chair that forces you to look straight ahead. in front of you, there is an endless strip of film passing by that makes it appear you are traveling through an endless landscape. You believe that it is endless at least, but in fact, it is a loop that passes behind you where a team of painters paint changes onto the film so that when it comes back around, you see what appears to be a new image.

    The reason these archons or demiurges would want to do this is the mystery. Dark City comes up with the idea that they need to create human souls to survive. PK Dick thought alternatively that Belial (his name for the demiurge) wanted to blind people to God's immanence or that the supercomputer ZEBRA was attempting to create a perfect copy of God and using reality to do it (thus stories like The Adjustment Bureau where reality is adjusted in increments to achieve a obscure ideal state).

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  3. It's time to watch Dark City again. Good stuff here as usual Chris.

    It'd be great to see your analysis of "They Live" sometime. Beyond the obvious plot line of course.

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  4. One interesting piece of news, Proyas next film is reportedly Paradise Lost which may be filmed in his native Australia around the same time Baz Luhrman will be shooting his adaptation of The Great Gatsby.

    http://screenrant.com/paradise-lost-movie-alex-proyas-kofi-78595/

    "The film’s script has been worked on by a handful of writers; Byron Willinger, Philip de Blasi and Stuart Hazeldine all worked on the primary drafts, which were then polished and revised by the likes of Lawrence Kasdan and most recently, Ryan Condal.

    Interestingly enough, out of the bunch only Kasdan has an extensive screenwriting resume, having worked on such classics as Empire Strikes Back, Raiders of the Lost Ark and Body Heat,."

    You've already covered the syncs in Empire and Raiders, but maybe Body Heat deserves a look considering it stars William Hurt (Altered States, Dark City, The Village)

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  5. Mind blowing! Thanks, Chris. I've got to watch Dark City again.

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  6. Hey Chris,

    Dude, I am so glad you posted this essay. It’s rife with insight and was a total pleasure to read.

    Dark City is one of my all-time favourite films. It’s a deeply personal film for me and occupies a weird place in my own personal mythology. I’d forgotten how much so until your recent Star Wars posts. I completely concur that Dark City is an Astro-Gnostic parable.

    It’s funny that you’ve spoken about the origins of the phrase ‘The Secret Sun’, because as I’ve mentioned before I was obsessed with the phrase ‘the second sun’ when I was kid.

    Commenting about that on this blog made me remember a weird dream-image that had been floating around in my subconscious at the time; of an enlarged sun in the night sky, at least twice its usual size – I remember seeing its wisps of coronal discharge and its flares.

    It was magnificent – and I recalled that I’d written a short story based on that dream-image for school years later, when I was about eleven or twelve. I called it ‘The Midnight Sun’. I realise now that its parallels to Dark City were striking. I had totally forgotten about this thing until your ‘Son of the Suns’ Star Wars post.

    I can only remember vague details about this story, but the Midnight Sun had appeared in the night sky and time seemed to stop, clocks didn’t work – there were dreams involved and men in long dark coats roaming the city for some unknowable purpose.

    I’m only mentioning this because I remember that the men in dark coats were sinister gatekeepers of some sort. I can’t remember if I’d figured them as aliens or demons or what, but they were supposed to be deeply spooky – very much like the Stranger/Archons of Dark City.

    Now, I’ve got a theory about John Murdoch that is basically just another way of figuring him as the solar king – that is, Murdoch is the Ego of Man. Or rather he is an expression of infinite creation that broke away from the Source and became an individuated consciousness.

    A kind of ‘Fall of Man’ interpretation, whereby a holistic spiritual perception is fractured through some trauma or distortion (a la The Strangers/Archons) and a persona or mask of ego is born as a coping mechanism.

    We could figure Murdoch as an aspect of the divine feminine/dark goddess herself, an aspect that was ultimately born from her as an individuated ego, or sun god – a birth triggered by the overreaching distortions of The Strangers.

    Isn’t there some resonance here to Set, and Osiris being scattered across the deep black Nile? The Feminine puts the pieces back together – but the ritual-drama of the movie is about his transition from a newly made man into a solar king.

    I really don’t see
    Murdoch’s ‘tuning’ powers returning to full strength as the height of his apotheosis. He’s still seeking to rejoin with the divine feminine represented by Emma/Anna. Like through a glass darkly, ‘Anna’ backwards is ‘Anna’; a fitting name for a goddess. Anyway, just thought I’d share these speculations with you. Awesome work, per the course.

    Peace

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  7. Thanks for posting this! Interesting to read this since an idea I had for an epic t.v. show/movie trilogy was influenced by this film (along with The Matrix), including the themes you talked about (false reality and Archons). Just to make it more convenient, the names of the villains in my epic were called the Aurekhai. This was way before I heard any Gnostic terms. Also, my series had references to Mesopotamia, including Gilgamesh being resurrected in the end to battle the Aurekhai.
    -Trevor

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  8. P.S

    I think Dark City has some oblique connections to the Foundation Stone of abrahamic faiths, at the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem (Jerusalem's Lot?).

    Further still I think there are resonances with Jacob's Ladder, which is also mythologically connected to the Foundation Stone (and is also a dark little film about indeterminate reality). Funny how Jacob's dream and his ladder bring to mind the sirius stairway, huh?

    Here's a quote from wikipedia about the Foundation Stone:

    "In the days when Selichot are recited, in the days leading up to Rosh Hashana until Yom Kippur, the supplications include the following references:

    טענתנו גפי קרת נתונים, ישבתנו שן סלע איתנים

    You carried us and placed us on the [Holy] City’s height, You settled us on the Patriarch’s rocky peak.

    רבוצה עליו אבן שתית חטובים...שמה בתוך לפני מזיב מאשנבים

    Upon it lying the stone from which the foundation was hewn…Who gives ear from which the waters flow (i.e. the foundation stone "from which flow all the waters of the world").

    Weird, huh?

    It's the place where the Holiest of Holies was kept; the Ark of the Covenant (or the (D)ARK city?). It's where Muhammad ascended into heaven (Murdoch-Muhammad?).

    From the Qur'an: Glory be to him when he decrees a thing he only says be, and it is." (Quran:19:33–35)

    Apparently this is an inscription in The Dome of the Rock, but it fits John Murdoch quite well.

    Peace

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  9. Chris, see if you can track this one down:

    http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0098373/

    It was Proyas' first feature film, and is damn near impossible to find. I don't even know if it was ever released outside of Australia, and even here it has only been on VHS.

    Well worth checking out. I won't go into why, exactly... I'm sure the synopsis at imdb is enough to intrigue you.

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  10. Amusingly, I had just shown Dark City to a friend the evening before you posted this!

    I've also been looking at the parallels between certain films in that strange burst of otherworldly creativity in 1998/99... but I prefer to see them from a different angle, and I think there's more of them than you suggest.

    My approach derives from a perspective of being a modern magician using pop-culture archetypes as the basis of an ad-hoc 'training manual' for those with the potential to learn magic but no school to learn it from - the people I call The Tribe of the Strange.

    Using the angle of the movie-obsessed alien abductee and Bruce Wayne look-alike Mason Lang from Grant Morrison's The Invisibles, I see these films as tools to leverage one central concept - Your Reality Is Not Real... and what to do with that knowledge.

    For my list of candidate films, I didn't include Memento (and I'm looking forward to your angle on that!) - other than Dark City and The Matrix, they are:
    Pleasantville
    The Truman Show
    Being John Malkovich
    The Thirteenth Floor
    eXistenZ

    My work on these films (ongoing) and the Tribe of the Strange can be found at weaponizer.co.uk

    Ian 'Cat' Vincent


    (PS - did you know The Matrix reused a lot of the sets purpose-built in Sydney for Dark City, especially the rooftops?)

    (PPS - how do you feel about the variations in the Director's Cut of Dark City? Aside from losing the spoiler-riddled voice-over, giving Richard O'Brien's Mr. Hand more depth and revealing that the blonde prostitute Murdoch visits has a daughter who witnesses the murder... the main change is to remove the redubbing of Jennifer Connolly's singing voice, restoring her own sweet but weak tones - which I find more apt to the mythos, as she presumably had been shifted into the role of torch singer more-or-less at random.)

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  11. This is out it goes IMHO:
    The Moon is some sort of machine, or somehow some kind of cosmic machine spaceship attached to the moon. Somehow it has manipulated our DNA and encoded in it something that becomes deeply connected to our mind, it can be called an implant, ego, foreign element, or predator mind, it's the voice we hear and always obey, the voice we think that comes from our will:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gg8JYYyWSPg
    It's like a biological radio receiver that commands us. The purpose of this machine stationed on the moon is to study and in the end merge with the human soul (transhumanism).
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pcdSgS6EkDA
    In order to achieve this purpose it manipulates everything in our culture to achieve this end: politics, religions (not spirituality), science, populations, individuals etc. That's why we're witnessing an amazing increase in technological evolution, and the tendency for it to invade the human body in the name of saving lifes etc. And all of this is unconscious the the human individual and groups, there’s no Illuminati, there is only The Machine:
    http://www.bigshinything.com/wp-content/uploads/2006/09/tia_logo_large.jpg
    Some humans have lost touch with their humanity (soul, heart) in such a degree that they obey totally to this mechanism (politicians?).
    Our 3D reality may even be a simulation, illusion. The Machine using the Alien mind inside us, projects this 3D world around us, it manipulates it, it might be responsible for all the paranormal activity, synchronicity, it really is the Matrix or Dark City. The Alien mind by manipulating our consciousness also manipulates what is perceived, like Quantum physics shows us the act of observation and intent afects the behavior of particles, atoms etc. Everything in human experience traps the human mind in the dualist mind state which is what stops people from awakening, connecting to the Heart/Soul and experiencing gnosis: language, culture, ilusion of separation, fear, the money system etc. What we really want deep in our hearts is to be able to Love and to be Loved and understood. Animals comunicate with one another using emotional language devoid of concepts, reassuring their Love for one another. We humans have to use a dualist language and mind state, concepts, ideas, abstractions, to comunicate with one another to Love and to feel Loved, but this does not work because the human mind becomes trapped in concepts and dogmas, books, in THOUGHT! The only thing I know is real, and even that may just be a concept and ilusion, is this precise moment. My past may not have existed. My past is being created right now by the Machine, and the future is being crafted with amazing inteligence and precision, like a chess player plans it’s next move. We’ve never been born and we will never die. It’s all in our minds.

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  12. Here is a youtube playlist for Dark City:

    http://www.youtube.com/view_play_list?p=5605BD971577A1F7

    After reading through your comments to see if someone else posted a link to the video I couldn't help but notice Bruno Tarrana. Got to look into what he is saying for sure. Hope his links are good - but I think this is exactly what I am seeing too.

    Is it illegal to express a desire to blow up the moon? I guess we'll have to find out.

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  13. "Spirits of the Air, Gremlins of the Clouds" is available as a torrent from Cinemageddon.
    Here's a short clip-
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QuPCpdtLJaM&feature=player_embedded
    My friend just got the Blu-Ray of "Dark City" and I shall watch it this weekend along with Gaspar Noe's "Enter the Void". I'm curious for your take on that one, Chris.
    Bill Meehan

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  14. I love that image on the cover of "Dark City" where man is being crucified on a clock-face that has Roman numerals on it.-)

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  15. The robot villain of Hardware's one weakness is also water. Hardware! Baal, annunaki, and rockstar cameos.

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  16. O'Plague
    Re: "see if you can track this one down"

    Here's the first 5 mins on YouTube.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QuPCpdtLJaM

    I've never heard of this movie before,and I live in Australia.
    One I would like to take a look at,Cheers.

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  17. P.P.S.

    Another quote from Wikipedia on the Foundation Stone that might elucidate my earlier speculations:

    "According to the sages of the Talmud it was from this rock that the world was created, itself being the first part of the Earth to come into existence. In the words of the Zohar:“The world was not created until God took a stone called Even haShetiya and threw it into the depths where it was fixed from above till below, and from it the world expanded. It is the centre point of the world and on this spot stood the Holy of Holies.

    "According to the Talmud, it was close to here, on the site of the altar, that God gathered the earth that was formed into Adam. It was on this rock that Adam—and later Cain, Abel, and Noah—offered sacrifices to God. Jewish sources identify this rock as the place mentioned in the Bible where Abraham fulfilled God's test to see if he would be willing to sacrifice his son Isaac. The mountain is identified as Moriah in Genesis 22. It is also identified as the rock upon which Jacob dreamt about angels ascending and descending on a ladder and consequently consecrating and offering a sacrifice upon."

    I'd be interested in your take on these speculations, Chris. I think they add resonance and weight to your thesis - which was frickin awesome by the way.

    Peace

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  18. For some reason noir goes very well in Gnosticism. I've felt that for a while now. And in thinking about it, I wonder if its because both have quite cynical views. Funnily enough, the stories I write take place in a noir-archonic filled landscape with the protagonist a battered savior.

    Was Neptune's significance just to emphasis more water symbolism in the film?

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  19. hi chris,maybe not the place to post this,but as i was reading a copy of jack kirbys sandman online ,i misread one of the phrases as 'awake jedi,' thought it funny at the time,did not think much of it...then thought about sending it to you...so ive spent the last hour retracing my steps...
    http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_Rf9S3GkkeyI/TLF80J_FdyI/AAAAAAAAgaU/l2EvOy36vwY/s1600/jack+kirby+and+joe+simon.+the+sandman.+page.+003.jpg

    i was reading on the http://grantbridgestreet.blogspot.com/2010/10/jack-kirby-sandman.html

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  20. Ok sorry for 2 off-topic things but I thought you'd be interested in these: Some 33 madness:
    http://www.cnn.com/2011/SHOWBIZ/celebrity.news.gossip/02/23/deadliest.catch.death/index.html?hpt=T2
    http://io9.com/#!5767356/battlestar-galactica-rollercoaster-every-33-seconds-you-fall-down-a-sheer-drop/gallery/1
    Second point: I don't know if you're interested in fictional crossovers but I think 2 books worth checking out are Win Scott Eckert's Crossovers Vol. 1&2. Who would've known that crossovers can have such interesting symbolism. In this case I'm thinking LOEG or The Thing/Doc Savage crossover story involving time-travel along with the black sun in the title. Not to mention the first event mentioned in the book involves genetic manipulation by extraterrestrials.
    -Trevor

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  21. Hey again, Chris

    Just wanted to add a few further thoughts in connection with Dark City, aside fom my Foundation Stone ramblings.

    It seems to me that Gnostically-themed parables are essentially love stories. Protagonists seeking to free themselves from illusion by reuniting with a greater truth often symbolised by a romantic love interest.

    In Dark City it is the admittedly buxom Emma/Anna, in Memento it is Leonard Shelby's wife (Hmmm, Shel-B? Shell Beach?), and in The Matrix it's Trinity's kiss that resurrects Neo (Thomas Anderson - The Twin Son of Man).

    Isn't it strange the themes of light and darkness portrayed either directly or obliquely in the previous three movies?

    Also, with regards to your earlier Eternal Sunshine posts I find further rensonances - isn't Clementine's "Meet me at Montauk" a strange echo of Murdoch's quest to find Shell Beach? People are not certain if Montauk is even real in a mytho-conspiracy sense, very much like Shell Beach.

    Finally, I think that Shell Beach can also be figured as Sheol Beach. Here's another Wiki quote about Sheol:

    "Sheol (pronounced "Sheh-ol"), in Hebrew שְׁאוֹל (She'ol), is the "grave", or "pit" or "abyss".

    In Judaism She'ol is the earliest conception of the afterlife in the Jewish Scriptures. It is a place of darkness to which all dead go regardless of the moral choices made in life and where they are "removed from the light of God" (see the Book of Job). She'ol is a concept that predates the Christian and Muslim ideas of judgement after death and also predates, and is different from, Heaven and Hell. It is unclear whether Sheol was to be considered a real place or a way of describing the unknown status of a person's conscious being.

    The word "hades" (= underworld) was substituted for "sheol" when the Hebrew scriptures were translated into Greek (see Septuagint) in ancient Alexandria around 200 BCE (see Hellenistic Judaism)."

    Ok, so how do we interpret this? Hell Beach, or something more upbeat? Who the shell even knows?! But if I were an AstoGnostic Solar messiah, and I couldn't exactly escape Hell, I'd at least want to hang out at it's nicer parts - you know what I'm saying?

    But I can't help but feel that there is some dark laughter coming from somewhere with regards to all this. Probably from the Shadow aspect of our very own psyches.

    Peace

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  22. Hey Chris, nice angle on the Dark City. This film is one that has a great plenitude of meaning in it. I wrote a big blog post on it last year, Dark City: The Reality Projector, Individuation and the Aion. I spent a good amount of time on it and still did not cover all of the topics, which you did fill in some gaps in your post here - which proves my point about its many meanings. I have been "off the ball" blog-wise recently due to a number of reasons. One being that I am currently working on a larger piece that entails multiple movies, books and concepts which I intend to entwine into a film based portrayal of my studies as I am much better at imagery than words. Hope you enjoy my post and as always I love your work.

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  23. "His rebirth in water recalls Oannes’, and his first act is rescue a goldfish, whose bowl Murdoch inadvertently knocks over. Fish and ocean imagery will later play a prominent part in Dark City (both Oannes and Marduk are strongly connected to water)."

    And of course, the Ichthys was the very first symbol used by ancient Christians to identify themselves.

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  24. http://www.cnn.com/2011/WORLD/africa/02/24/libya.protests/index.html?hpt=T1

    http://www.cnn.com/2011/US/02/24/gulf.dolphins/index.html?hpt=C1

    http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2011/02/24/spirituality-at-the-oscars-what-the-nominations-mean/?hpt=C2

    Interesting times indeed.
    -Trevor

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  25. The main character in Hellraiser looks a lot like the Talosians and the strangers, minus the acupuncture needles. I haven't watched the more recent films so I'm not sure what the plot is.
    This is a fantastic read.

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  26. Thank you all very much for your comments- this is a particularly outstanding batch. I've been having a lot of chronic fatigue problems which is why I haven't been joining in. It's been very hard for me to concentrate. The good news is that my new doctor discovered I have a sleep disorder that can be treated and might be a factor in my chronic pain issues. I'm going in for a second sleep study next week and my doctor believes that my symptoms could start to improve very quickly. Anyhow, I'm working on part 2 which features The Matrix, so keep your eyes peeled.

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  27. More weight for your thesis, Chris.

    From Surname Database, about the name Murdoch:

    "This interesting name is Gaelic in origin, and is the Anglicized form of two Gaelic personal named that, over time, have coalesced into one, usually written as "Muire(adh)ach". The two original names were "Muiredach", a derivative of "muir", sea, which meant "belonging to the sea", a mariner and "Murchad", meaning "sea-warrior"."

    If the 'Sea' is the Sea of Consciousness (or light), then Murdoch's resonances with Marduk, God of Light, and Oannes - God of Knowledge - these details make your overall thesis that much more impressive.

    http://www.surnamedb.com/Surname/Murdoch

    Peace

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  28. Hey again, Chris

    Just wanted to add a few more speculations (can you tell that Dark City is close to my heart?!), if you’ll permit me.

    In one of my earlier comments I mentioned the connection between Shell Beach, and the protagonist’s name in Memento – Leonard Shelby. This got me to thinking that Shelby exists phonetically in the words Shell Beach anyway, i.e. Shell B-Each. Shelby Each?

    Hmmm. So I do what I do and check it out.

    Shelby – the name means ‘a place where the willows grow; sheltered’, or ‘a willow grove’, or ‘Willow; from the ledge estate’, or ‘a sheltered town’.

    Hmmm, redux.

    So I did a bit of searching and cross-checking on the mythological significance of Willows.

    Apparently, the Gaelic words for willow are ‘shellach’, or ‘suil’.
    In the Rede of Wicca the tree is a psychopomp that helps guide the dead to The Summerland (Shell Beach again).

    The Willows deep roots made it very associative with fertility across cultures. Apparently in Greece willow branches were placed in the beds of infertile women, in the hope of enticing pregnancy, or in the beds of Native American newlyweds for similar purposes.

    Others say the weeping willow weeps due to man’s inhumanity to man, and that it will right itself again once a new age of peace and kindness arrives. Hope so.

    From treesforlife.org.uk:

    “Hecate the powerful Greek goddess of the moon and of willow, also taught sorcery and witchcraft, and was 'a mighty and formidable divinity of the Underworld'. Helice was also associated with water, and her priestesses used willow in their water magic and witchcraft. The willow muse, called Heliconian after Helice, was sacred to poets, and the Greek poet Orpheus carried willow branches on his adventures in the Underworld. He was also given a lyre by Apollo, and it is interesting to note that the sound boxes of harps used to be carved from solid willow wood.”

    There’s tonnes more quotes like this all over the net at various sites.

    So, Leonard and his dead wife are both ‘Shelby’s’; literally and figuratively – they are both sheltered Willow groves with spooky significance.

    And Shell B-Each is perhaps indicative of Murdoch and Emma/Anna – two halves of the same mystery-play.

    Hope you find this engaging, Chris, and not a empty distraction.

    Peace

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  29. P.S.

    DARK CITY ROCKS!

    Words, words, words...

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  30. Again, I mention this in my blog post on Dark City, but a few points which may not be read by anyone outside the Secret Sun.

    Dark City is based upon the real life book: Memoirs of My Nervous Illness, by none other than Daniel P. Schreber. This story details the accounts of a man who began seeing hundreds of tiny people invading his mind.

    Carl Jung was greatly interested in Daniel Schreber's case as it is mentioned in his Red Book. Jung's individuation process and alchemy are very evident in Dark City.

    John is seen flanked by the dual opposing sign of the fishes; age of Pisces. Literally by the pool, there are fish shaped towel hooks.

    The use of zodiacs is astounding. The pool itself is below a large zodiac with a sun at the center. The Strangers and Schreber also have zodiacs above their labyrinths; a symbol of the path of life and consciousness.

    Dark City and The Matrix were both produced by Andrew Mason, the same producer.

    Both Neo and John Murdoch incarnate through an embryonic water birth and in fact stumble around like newborns with an amnesia-like state.

    Both The Matrix and Dark City deal with above ground and underground scenarios which relate to states of consciousness and subconsciousness/unconsciousness.

    Both incorporate spiral staircases.

    Both incorporate checkered floors.

    Both use water or rain to represent renewal, deep unconscious and the transition into Aquarius.

    I go into great detail in my post on all of these and much more. I mention it here to add to the conversation, but please read the post if you wish to absorb the entirety of my observations. The link is above in my previous comment, or click through on my avatar to find it.

    I hope no one thinks I am trying to detract from this post for mentioning my work on a different site. With such a small community, I am merely hoping to engage with like minded people on a rather esoteric subject. Thanks all.

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  31. In regard to DARK CITY and THE MATRIX you really should read Frank Herbert's first published work, the 1952 short story "Looking For Something." I won't give it away with too much description, but essentially it is much the same story as either of these films but told nearly fifty years earlier.

    I'm surprised it wasn't adapted into a Twilight Zone or Outer Limits episode in the sixties like so many other great SF short stories (like "It's A Good Life.")

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  32. Dark City and The Matrix resonated with me more than 13th Floor or Truman Show (the Platonic tetralogy as I consider them) because they touched upon something that Carlos Castañeda mentioned (albeit briefly) in his books: the idea that humanity was the victim of some sort of parasitic infestation from non-organic entities, who fed from our negative feelings and psychic energy.

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  33. My dad did some dousing for water for people and he always used a freshly cut y-shaped willow branch. He said it was the best for dousing. I have ability myself. You hold the branch palms up with the y spread between your two hands in front of you and that willow branch will twist right out of your hands if the water source is good enough.

    I hope you are feeling better Chris.

    Thanks to all for the great reads. Delorus

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  34. I can alone bethink ambiguous data about this story, but the Midnight Sun had appeared in the night sky and time seemed to stop, clocks didn't plan – there were dreams complex and men in continued aphotic coats adrift the city-limits for some cabalistic purpose.

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  35. 'The good news is that my new doctor discovered I have a sleep disorder that can be treated and might be a factor in my chronic pain issues.'

    I don't trust doctors much (or their drugs) but they can be amazingly useful sometimes. Have you had any joy?

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  36. Theseeker3020@gmail.com, I would like to learn more about this subject, as I have been learning to interpret. Whenever you have time Christopher Loring Knowles

    -Mr. Day

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