Hallmarks of Our Modern Myths, Part III


Another aspect of these films is the glorification of magic and the occult sciences. This idea extends to the speculative forms of empirical science we see regularly in these myths. Indeed, Arthur C. Clarke once famously wrote that science in a sufficiently advanced form is indistinguishable from magic. 

Supernatural magic is the basis of most of modern myths. Star Trek and 2001: A Space Odyssey are ostensibly science fiction, but Star Trek regularly dealt with paranormal concepts like psychic phenomena (and warp drive as it's portrayed is arguably magical), and the Monoliths have no basis in science. 

Neither do the powers of Solaris, which are similar in nature to those of the Monoliths. There is the barest shred of scientific rationalism ascribed to the happenings in Cocoon, The Matrix and Eternal Sunshine, but for all intents and purposes what is being depicted is magic.

Magic and the paranormal are taken for granted in the Dune and Star Wars stories, in the forms of ‘the Force’ and the ‘Weirding Ways’. These same powers are given to John Murdock in Dark City. Magicians are seen as the guardians of all that is good in The Lion King and the Harry Potter movies. 

The occult-minded Templars and Freemasons are depicted as the unsung heroes of  American democracy in National Treasure and the various Dan Brown block blockbusters. And every  wacked-out paranormal, occult, magical, supernatural and religious idea that ever existed has found its way into The X-Files at one point or another.


Implicit  in many of these stories is a colonialist agenda, particularly in the space operas.  As mentioned before, the mission of the USS Enterprise is essentially colonial. The goal is to absorb foreign planets into the socialist military dictatorship of the Federation, an obvious analog of Globalism. 

This is also the mission of the various space agencies in 2001, Mission to Mars, Red Planet and Solaris

However, colonization is often differentiated from conquest here. Most of these films do not present invasion and submission as virtuous or desirable. Military action is usually and perhaps disingenuously depicted as defensive when undertaken by the protagonists of these stories. 

In Star Trek, the peaceful means of the Federation are deliberately contrasted by alien races like the Borg and the Dominion. But at the same time the weltanschuang of the stories is one of liberty and virtue being under constant threat, a mindset neoconservatives  have appropriated from the movies to justify their doctrine of endless, ‘preemptive’ war.

Star Trek and Independence Day also explicitly champion the idea of a neoliberal variety of Globalism. Star Trek presents the planet Earth as ruled by a single entity, and the creation of such is an unspoken subtext in Independence Day as well. Star Wars and Dune both present a universal ruling body, similar in many ways to the Federation in Star Trek.

Alien colonization, malign or otherwise, is also the main source of dramatic conflict in 2001, Cocoon, The X-Files, Independence Day, Dagon and Solaris. In the latter two films, the audience is made to identify with this alien colonization as a participant through the viewer’s natural identification with Paul Marsh and Chris Kelvin. 

Of course, this makes perfect sense in the context of the Modern Myths when one decodes what Dagon and Solaris actually represent.


  1. What is your objection to a single planetary government?

    1. See the movie _Alphaville_ for an excellent cautionary tale against single planetary government. This "utopia" planet engages in self-censure in both the execution of dissidents and the elimination of dissent language itself as a means of self-preservation. One cannot object when one lacks both dissenting concepts and the language in which to express them. Eventually, no one objects because no one can object. The citizen is reduced to a servant of the mechanical State, an extension of policy.

    2. Leoris- I think you stumbled upon the wrong blog. Seriously.

      Otherwise, read Moses' reply.

  2. Replies
    1. But if there are multiple occupied planets, then a single planetary government is hardly absolute!

      Why do you not complain about single village/town/city/state/federal governments also? (unless I missed that post).

    2. You most certainly did. Explore the archives.

  3. Three Rings for the Elven-kings under the sky,
    Seven for the Dwarf-lords in their halls of stone,
    Nine for Mortal Men doomed to die,
    ONE for the Dark Lord on his dark throne
    In the Land of Mordor where the Shadows lie.
    ONE Ring to rule them all, ONE Ring to find them,
    ONE Ring to bring them all and in the darkness bind them In the Land of Mordor where the Shadows lie.

    1. Scary, I'm getting out and about more.