A month ago I wrote about how I was getting unwelcome 2008 vibes this summer, what with the trifecta of the Batman movie, the Olympics and the Election.
I spent a good deal of that summer of 2008 not only dealing with some truly weird high weirdness, but was trying to wean myself off a fearporn addiction, having become dependent on the adrenaline fix and trashcan gnosis of conspiracy media, which helped pass the time while I was alone in my office working.
I tried to put the blog on semi-hiatus in late August and posted only sporadically until early October when things started getting weird with the Election. Then I was sucked right back in.
2008 was a much different year than 2012-- there was a "Synchromystic" scene, very much like the early Hardcore scene in Boston. A small, fairly tight-knit group of bloggers who corresponded and collaborated. Rik Clay was becoming a part of the scene before he dropped out suddenly and fell out of communication with us. Rik and I had been talking about doing some posts together since we were both fascinated by the Olympics, though I didn't realize at the time that Rik's work was unfortunately influenced by a third party whose agenda was definitely not what it seemed.
I still haven't seen the Dark Knight movie-- the last one just doesn't sit right with me. Even now. Of course that film corresponded with the death of Killing Joke bassist Paul Raven, which formed the basis of a lot of posts since the Joker character was clearly modeled on KJ singer Jaz Coleman's appearance and the Alan Moore Batman graphic novel, The Killing Joke, was cited as an influence by the late Heath Ledger, whose death whipped up a publicity cyclone that made the film a blockbuster (the first in the series was only a modest hit in relation to cost and expectation).
Ledger's death is open to interpretation but the synchronicity with Paul Raven (whose own death via prolonged substance abuse was neither unexplainable nor unexpected) is testament to the power of how these archetypes can unleash forces and events in the real world that we never anticipate. The more loaded and potent the archetypes and symbols are the more deadly the results can often be.
This is a phenomenon I take for granted but with the rise of the Internet, a lot of people- particularly those who have been indoctrinated in fundamentalist religions- immediately chalk it all up to witchcraft and immediately get the pitchforks out. Stupidity and cowardice make a toxic mix, especially with so many little sleazebuckets eager to exploit that formula for a buck.
This Dark Knight saw the horrific massacre in Aurora, an event shrouded in mystery and enigma. The shooter attended a college campus funded by the Anschutz family, one of the founding families of modern Christian Fundamentalism (and who were also deeply involved in the Kony farce), and the case was given to a judge and DA who both have intimate ties to the Republican Party.
Aurora was also the kickoff of a series of shootings that were centered in historically Democratic congressional districts. The shooting in College Station, TX* was committed by a fringe right winger, who just happened to gun down a passing Democratic activist who was 100 yards away. That's some stray bullet. A magic stray bullet.
The most recent of which involved a weightlifting Nietzsche-obsessing skinhead named Floyd Lee Corkins from Virginia (Lee is traditionally a tribute to Confederate General Robert E. Lee), who attended the "Grace Brethren Christian School" for primary and secondary school and walked into the Colorado-based Family Research Council's DC office, waving a Chik-Fil-A bag and shot a black security guard.
And yet no one questions any of this, preferring to find comfort in harmless conspiracy theories about imaginary gungrabs and Manchurian Candidates. Some theorists have cited Operation Gladio, conveniently omitting this was a conspiracy of the far right against "Socialism."
You see, no one really fears those "jack-booted thugs." Fulminating against the "government" is costless, since it's such a nebulous target. Obama's done nothing about guns, and liberals don't really care about guns now that urban crime rates have been drastically lowered. It's just an issue to act morally superior to other (rural, conservative) whites about.
Complain about corporations and you risk being seen as a troublemaker at work and no one will hire you. Cause too much trouble for a company like Xe or Goldman Sachs and run the risk of having a dirty tricks squad sent after you (if you're lucky). But happily, many of your friends and contemporaries understand who "Federal Reserve" and "government" are codewords for, so attacking them won't get you into much trouble.
The Global Elite will love it since they hate government more than you ever could. It's the last obstacle in their way.
I'll be addressing the Election soon, since I fear we're going to see the deliberate aggravation of racial tensions in the weeks leading up to it. But by far the most personally irritating event in light of all this was the Olympics, which I recently blogged on.
Thinking back on 2008 I remembered not hearing back from Rik, I remembered getting emails from other people asking me if I'd heard from him and when it turned he had killed himself a lot of people got really paranoid. I never got the logic of the "Illuminati" (another codeword) having some obscure blogger killed for what he had revealed about the Olympics, given that a bunch of other people were posting the same exact information.
What's more, Rik's work here was taken from another source, who is alive, well, and extremely well-nourished. And none of it- not a single scrap of it- turned out to be based in truth. So if Rik was made to be afraid for his life - a state perhaps worsened by certain podcasters- about what he had "revealed," it was all for absolutely nothing.
The people who filled his head with terror won't suffer one bit- they'll continue to exploit the weak and gullible, scaring them with mirages rather than inspiring them to improve their lives through hard work, community effort and activism.
It has to stop. We have enough problems in the real world.
Listen, I get it- it's more fun to worry about these James Bond intrigues with mysterious global occult conspiracies with inscrutable motives than the almost insurmountable problems we face in our daily lives. But the time and energy wasted on imaginary problems could be spent dealing with real problems.
The other problem is that the radical right wing agenda that undergirds conspiracy culture is an impediment to solving those problems because the people who actually control huge chunks of conspiracy culture want the problems to continue forever and their dupes are terrified of ever having to take responsibility for the conduct of their lives.
So now we have sniveling shills recycling old counter-intelligence disinfo about countercultures at the same time they're trying to sell you their born-again Nazi shuck 'n' jive. And some uneducated dupes are dazzled by the empty buzzwords and pseudo-intellectualism of it all, not realizing these snakes in the grass always go out of their way to poison everyone's well but their own.
It's all a superhighway to Nowheresville. To being a bitter old crank, dying alone and unmourned. What a waste.
Tell you what, I have some ideas to submit for your approval instead;
• Work hard at a trade or craft and feel the empowerment and self-esteem that achievement provides. You may have talents that you may not know you ever had and they could support you for the rest of your life.
• Don't look for gods or gurus, look for ideas and inspiration. You'll never agree with everything someone has to say.
• Work toward self-sufficiency. Don't trust anyone to run your life for you.
• Commit yourself to a loving relationship and consider what a joy and blessing children are, whether biological or adoptive. Caring for someone besides yourself is a way to find power within yourself you never knew existed.
• Look to build bridges and find common cause with people outside your immediate circles. You have allies out there you never knew existed.
• Look at psychoactive compounds as tools of power and self-discovery, not escape and indulgence.
I have a feeling that if people spent half the time solving their problems as they did trying to find someone to blame them on, they'd find they didn't have so many problems. Maybe someday they'll give it a try.
* The McCain worker who faked a racial attack in 2008 was also from College Station.
It's been an interesting past few weeks.
Although my life has been the usual obstacle course of pain and discomfort, I've been feeling a strange kind of power rising, a power of a distinct spiritual nature. I can't quite put my finger on it, but it feels very much like the kind of thing I became aware of in the mid to late 80s. Whether it proves to be fleeting I can't say yet, but I'm doing my best to keep the antennae up despite all the usual challenges and obligations. It's actually been rather potent at times- what exactly it is I can't say yet.
We'll get back to that (sort of), but let's get this unpleasantness out of the way first.
Ironically, I've also spent a lot of this past month researching the New Atheist ascendancy, which I detailed here and here. The more I looked at it the more dismal and bankrupt it seemed to be, and how it seemed less like some brave march to a (sterile) new future, but the lancing of a boil.
The more the public sees of these people the less they will like them and maybe one day the New Atheists will realize people don't care for them because they spend most of their time attacking and insulting other people's beliefs (Dawkins on how to talk to religious people: "Mock them, ridicule them in public.").
The more you see a Richard Dawkins or a PZ Myers the more loathsome they become; shrill, bitter harpies who seem haunted by personal demons they will never come to terms with. Dawkins in particular is a Freudian basketcase, but how much time I want to spend wading through those fetid bilgewaters is an open question right now. The little research I've done on his warped psyche is making me physically ill.
The next theatre of battle in the atheist war on theistic religion took place in Australia, and Dawkins debated the Archbishop of Sydney there. I wonder if Dawkins quoted the 19th Century Australian Atheist leader Joseph Symes, who had revealed what the ultimate goal of the atheist movement was:
‘The strong, the cunning, the swift … must survive, while the weak, the slow, the dull and those with no artificial advantage must of necessity go to the wall — yes, the brutal truth bids me say, they must be stamped out.’Ah, the Atheists and the skeletons in their closets. And the skeletons in the mass graves and under the rice paddies and...
I have no doubt that if Dawkins were given the reigns of power he'd be a secular Torquemada --if not an outright Hitler-- and re-education camps would become deathcamps in short order. For the good of the genepool, you understand. Because that's what all religious dictators do.
But as we've seen, the Atheist ascendancy has a major problem in keeping those selfish genes propagating. For all of Dawkins' bluster of humans being nothing but carriers for DNA, he has sired only one child in his seven decades (!). You would think he'd want to repopulate the Earth with little Dicks and Dawks, but unless he's been making donations at the sperm bank it looks as if the Dawkins line might die out.
As much as I loathe these people, I hate loathing them since it's not only a waste of my energy but it puts me in company I don't necessarily care for (see Santorum, Rick and Buchanan, Pat).
This is dumbed-down binary America circa 2012, where semi-literate assistant producers on news programs dictate the national discourse through default. You're either an atheist or a snakehandling Fundamentalist. Why?
Because the idiots who book the guest slots on Fox News or MSNBC don't understand anything else. Their bosses want arguments because arguments mean ratings and nuance is for those sissies over at PBS.
The center of gravity in this new America is brutal, and if you don't have nerves of steel you will be eaten alive. Which brings me to my next bizarre detour. I'm in a weird mood tonight.
The New Atheist movement is essentially the project of the cultural Left; it's their religious project. Don't fall for the old trope that religion has to be theistic. A religion is simply a system of belief that is used to bind a community together. Communism and Nazism were religions- in fact they were consciously designed to be as much.
You had your icons, your saints, your holy texts, your angels, your demons, it's just that the supernatural was taken out of the equation. And so it is with the New Atheist movement. Spend enough time reading atheist message boards and you'll see the same figureheads (Dawkins, Sagan) and holy texts (God Delusion, Demon Haunted World) mentioned again and again
The cultural Left tried for years to co-opt the old mainline Protestant denominations, in fact they did more than try. They were actually rather successful in seizing power in the various hierarchies of the Episcopal, Lutheran and Presbyterian denominations. The only problem was that as they instituted more and more explicit leftist reforms in the canon bylaws, the parishoners abandoned the churches in droves.
So we had a classic Pyhrric victory-- the cultural Left seized power but found themselves ruling over an empty kingdom. And so what we saw was the radical polarization of American religion, with Fundamentalists, Evangelicals and Pentecostals on one side and secularists, agnostics and atheists (committed atheists are a tiny minority, no matter what they say otherwise) on the other.
In between are a handful of freaks and weirdos like us.
Now here we are in the Maelstrom, with these violent forces tearing the social fabric apart at these opposing poles. If you are to survive and keep your identity- and sanity- in this clash of the titans, what is the best course of action? Well, let me get back to the detours.
In the early 90s I was working in New York, the Empire State Building to be precise. I was also going through a big Christian Mystic/Gnostic phase and reading all kinds of what my wife called my "Jesus books."
I have to admit that I really didn't feel that potent spiritual power at this time that I felt in the 80s when I was more eclectic in my leanings, but I think submitting myself to that kind of discipline was an important step in my development. It was also the last days of my innocence, since I'd get online and have the misfortune of seeing just how incredibly ugly American Fundamentalism had become. That particular misfortune would end my church-going days forever.
My friends and I would have our lunch (we were partial to a kebab stand on the corner of 30th Street) on the shady grounds of The Church of the Transfiguration, a lovely little Anglo-Catholic Church off of Fifth Avenue and from time to time I'd pop in for Mass.
The ritual was as old-school as it gets; smells, bells, the priest facing the altar and the whole bit. I probably started reading books like Fingerprints of the Gods at this point and I was probably getting ASCII flashes like "THE BLOOD OF THE LAMB WILL SLAUGHTER THE BACKSLIDERS!" in my head from my online experiences, but there was something touching about a ritual that was nearly identical to that practiced a thousand years before in Europe.
Of course at the same time a different kind of ritual was filling my head since Killing Joke released their Pandemonium album, with the ever-mercurial Jaz in his New Age mode, trading in all the Nietzsche and Crowley and Lovecraft for who the hell knows what gurus he was meeting in Sedona and Findhorn.
But this being Killing Joke, the joke was that the New Age remodel of the band was a lot heavier and more metallic than ever before. The album was also their biggest seller in their career, peaking at #16 in the UK Charts. They'd follow Pandemonium with Democracy, less successful commercially, but richer and longer-lasting in my view. Jaz also refused to tour for the record because he was so disgusted by Britpop, which was all the rage in 1996.
Britpop is long gone, but Killing Joke is still around, still eating Britpop fops alive. And I'm pretty sure they just released their best-ever album, called MMXII (2012). It's in the David Icke Killing Joke mold of their 2003 self-titled comeback (which features Dave Grohl on drums), but is a lot richer and lusher. More Episcopal, let's say.
Sticking to your guns can pay off. The reviews have been stellar, and it's been their highest-charting album in the UK since Pandemonium. They probably won't tour here since America only likes recycled Killing Joke (Ministry, NIN, Marilyn Manson, Faith No More, etc etc etc), but it doesn't matter. I needed this album to trap this rising spirit I'm sensing in a more tangible form and they provided one for me.
Killing Joke haven't tried to reinvent their wheel- it works just fine. They have a simple but versatile formula that they've followed for 30 years. The innovation in my view comes between the notes, as it were.
Their 2006 album Hosannas from the Basements of Hell (a reference to the dingy Prague studio in which it was recorded)is a perfect example of this-- I used to take that album out on my hikes and it seemed to open up doorways that I could sense but couldn't see. Either way, I'd come home radically invigorated and inspired- inspired in a literal sense, mind you.
ON THE OTHER HAND
The decline in church membership overall is a big story these days, though the media is missing the fact that a lot of Evangelicals who left their churches (many out of disgust with the fact that their ministers are essentially GOP shills in clerical drag) are forming home churches and private prayer groups.
The same can't be said for the mainline churches. I was not raised as an Episcopalian (it seemed like a somewhat alien thing to me as a kid, trapped in a netherworld between Catholicism and Protestantism) but I'm fascinated by its travails since its collapse has been the most dramatic.
Its clergy have embraced every innovation you can imagine; gay priests are practically the conservatives in the Episcopal Church. You've had Wiccan priests, Muslim priests, atheist priests, a druid archbishop- it's been a free-for-all.
Not that there's anything wrong with Wiccans, Muslims or atheists who aren't Dawkinites, but all of this "diversity" has ravaged the denomination (decimation is too mild), and it now stands on the brink of total collapse.
For all its talk of "inclusion", Epicopalians are almost exclusively white and old (sounds like CSICOP) and its membership is at its lowest level since the 1930s (especially stunning, since every church exaggerates its membership numbers).
Parishes are closing all across the country and directors are dipping into their endowments to keep the lights on. A lot of the blame for this is placed on the 2003 ordination of gay priest Gene Robinson as bishop (who since retired), but I think what it really going on is A., the continuing polarization of the religious environment in this country, and B., the mind-numbing boredom and dreariness of your average Episcopal Mass.
I don't know who's running the seminaries and my sample rate is admittedly small, but it seems that only the dullest speakers are allowed to be ordained in the Church.
There has been a breakaway movement-- a high-church schism that has split primarily over the gay issue but also over doctrinal and liturgical issues that seem meaningless to people outside the church, but of vital importance to people within it.
The result is the "Anglican Church in North America" which seems to be growing at the same rate the Episcopal Church is imploding. This is a smells-and-bells liturgy church, and is "right wing" only in relation to the ultra-ultra-left Episcopals (the Baptists probably think it's San Francisco with incense).
Of little interest or use to me personally, outside of the simple fact that they're growing when the Mother Church is dying. I study these things, which is why I'm poor.
Though the issue has gotten all the press, I do have to say if anyone believes that there aren't gay clergy in these new conservative churches - or any religious body you can name- then I have a Bridge to Nowhere I think you might be interested in investing in (I've always believed that the gay controversy is really about keeping it on the downlow with conservatives- an avalanche of news reports thereto have not dissuaded me).
The media may not want to hear it but I don't think the gay issue by itself would not have caused the schism in these churches-- the real issue was 50 years of arbitrary and often quite ridiculous changes to doctrine, liturgy and the rest. It was the constant reinvention of a wheel that most of the people thought worked just fine the way it was.
As with the zero-growth atheist birthrates, you can hurl all the invective you like. But if at the end of the day you can't pay to keep the lights on, all of the radical theological innovations in the world won't matter much outside the seminary dorm-room.
THE WAY OF THE WEIRD
I could have stayed in the Church and tried to inflict my weird ideas on it but I have too much respect for the institution to do so. I'd rather make my own way then try to force others to accept my bizarre and idiosyncratic notions. I don't understand why the Episcopal radicals didn't do the same when they had the money and power at their disposal to do. As it is they dragged the entire organization down with them.
I left the Church physically because I left it spiritually- it no longer spoke to me. I'm not sure how much it ever did-- I loved church as a kid but I loved the families and the fellowship and the beautiful old building and the places to explore and the history of it all. But one of my most profound spiritual experiences in church was having this visionary experience where I was a Norse god, trudging through a blizzard (I was listening to "No Quarter" a lot at the time). The second was on a particularly beautiful Christmas Eve when Nina Hagen's "UFO" kept going through my head and the votive candles hypnotized me to the point of tears.
Don't look now, but the Episcopal Church is calling; they want me to be their Bishop.
UPDATE: It turns out the New Atheist junta is being bankrolled by a shadowy millionaire (as these things always are), who sold his family business to Glaxo. Given that the Reason Rally and now the Rock Beyond Belief Rally were both rained-out flops, I'd suggest Daddy Glaxobucks take some of those millions and offer up some donations to the sun god of his choosing.
UPDATE: It took me a while, but I finally realized that this big push is all part of the Obama re-election strategy, hence all of the big rallies (even if they turn out to be flops). They can't get liberals fired up over his record, so one of the last cards to play is whipping up anti-religious sentiment (all protestations aside, every atheist site I've seen is essentially a hate site, no different than their fundamentalist opposites) and hope that is channeled against the Republicans. It was Daddy Glaxobucks that put the pieces into place for me.
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."Did someone say owl?
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]."
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?
As jaded as I can sometimes feel, the Internet still offers up the thrill of discovery. I hadn't heard of M83 before and feel quite cheated because of it. This is genius synthpop shoegaze of the highest order and the video picks up on the enigmatic title, "We Own the Sky," in a powerfully affecting way.
One thing that strikes me in this video is that if the director intended the objects to be alien craft, they conveyed that much more effectively than if they'd simply put in flying saucers. What the kids encounter here seems truly alien- strange, scary, unknowable.
For some strange reason, this also reminds me a lot of Childhood's End.
I wrote about this Passion Pit video back in February, before it was mysteriously pulled from circulation and replaced with a mind-numbingly lame new spot. I can't help but wonder why- was this one too subversive? Did it rub someone upstairs the wrong way? But here it is now, so watch it before it vanishes again. Again, the solar stargate concept is fascinating in light of the SOHO anomalies we looked at in the original post. And is that Moby?
Then there's this- a homemade spot set to Killing Joke's epic rant, 'The Lightbringer'. You might find it all a bit silly at first, but it becomes very strangely insinuating on repeat viewings. The videographer understood the AAT thrust of the lyrics and illustrates them in an entertaining way. Here's a sample:
make perfect incision into the hardest rock?
Who could lift one block of stone that weights for jumbo jets?
Yes your intuition will tell you best
Who is the symbol of the serpent snake?
Who gave us knowledge of medicine?
Who knew precisely the earth diameter?
Who modified our bestial character?
I guess video-making contests are the latest cost-cutting measure, but they also can result in more interesting spots than professional directors might manage. This Moby spot picks up nicely on the singer/composer's cosmic/alien fixations.
Moby became a fixation on The X-Files set, with his haunting 'My Weakness' used in Closure, which revisited the walk-in concept all the way back from Red Museum in Season Two. I've been thinking about walk-ins more than usual lately, since I see the concept more as "wake-ins" - in that traumatic experience awakens aspects of our neurology otherwise dormant.
Take your time to watch these videos. I believe you might awaken something yourself.
UPDATE: A reader turns us on to this hipsters-in-space bonanza.
UPDATE: German diva Nena re-records her 80s Cold War classic 99 Luftballoons and offers up a semiotically-charged video to go with it. The heaviers remake puts the original in the shade, if you ask me.
Mastodon- Crack the Skye (2009): Sometimes I'm tempted to give up on metal entirely, since so few bands can hit the broad side of a tune anymore. I wasn't sold on Mastodon's debut, but this became a complete addiction. Like QOTSA, Mastodon captured the spirit of 70s metal/hard rock without succumbing to its well-worn cliches. Absolute genius, and one of the best albums ever recorded by anyone at any time.
Killing Joke - Hosannas from the Basements of Hell (2006) The 2003 comeback was pretty epic as well, but the David Icke-on-meth lyrics and nu metal riff-o-mania rank it behind this grimy, greasy bombardment of occult noise. The mix is questionable and the songs are all at least a minute too long, but every time I took this album out on my walking tour of my Necropolitan neighborhood (there are six cemeteries in walking distance of my house and more bizarre symbolism hiding in plain sight than you would ever want to see) those filthy, arcane guitars would speak to me.
They told me terrible, unspeakable things.
Mission of Burma - The Obliterati (2006) This was the decade of the post-punk comeback. This Boston legends came back before, but only at half strength. The Obliterati opened up a portal back into my youth, when Boston was still a city of the mind and not merely of the wallet. A veritable time machine of an album. Pounding, postmodern punk-prog. Album includes Rock's only love song to a Sumerian goddess.
Ladytron- Witching Hour (2005) Here's an album that me and my girls all enjoyed together. An eerie synthesis of 80s electropop and 90s shoegaze, dressed up with minimalist yet extremely enigmatic lyrics dripping with witchy significance. Still haven't gotten into their 2008 followup.
Near the Parenthesis- Of Soft Construction (2007): While Boards of Canada dithered, San Fransciscan Tim Arndt stepped up to the plate and unleashed this amniotic addiction. Lush to the point of pain, hypnotic, dream-inducing, addictive, immersive, delirious. Works just as well inaudibly soft or teeth-rattlingly loud. Incomprehensibly obscure. His 2008 offering has some killer tracks but is not as consistent.
Wire - Send (2003): Brit punk/post-punk legends disappeared up their own asses in the 90s but then stormed out of nowhere with their angriest, most aggressive album ever (as well as some equally great EPs). Same pop hooks, but a renewed commitment and a sandblasting punk-metal sound. Their 2008 followup Object 47 is just as good, if less attention-grabbing.
Queens of the Stone Age - Songs for the Deaf (2002) A stoner classic pulled out of an other-dimensional 1974 and polished with post-grunge elan. Dave Grohl drives it all along with his pounding kick-drum, which he brought along when he hogged the kit as an honorary Killing Joker the following year. I knew every song by heart the first time I played this album.
Me'Shell NdegéOcello - Comfort Woman (2003): A late discovery of an artist whose charms I'd been previously resistant to. Sort of a post-trip hop outing, with heavy doses of dub, psych and postpunk. Lush, rich, silky, spacey stuff with the requisite tunes to keep it from becoming an amorphous blur. Delicious.
Cliff Martinez- Solaris (2002): Indescribable. An album I'd been waiting for all of my life. Hypnotic in its intensity, transcendent in intent. I couldn't begin to imagine Soderbergh's film without it. Absolutely essential. Probably the one album on this list I couldn't live without.
Sigur Ros - ( ) (2002): One of those albums that makes an act's other albums inessential- at least for me. Not that I didn't like their earlier work, but this album defines Sigur Ros in my mind. Every note is painfully beautiful. In a better world, this would be a must-have for mindful music mavens.
Albums #11-20 - David Bowie Heathen, Andrew WK I Get Wet, Stone Temple Pilots Shangri La-De-Da, Geordie Walker 2007 Demos, Sia Color the Small One, Interpol Turn on the Bright Lights, The Darkness Permission to Land, Kate Bush Aerial, The Go Team Thunder Lightning Strike!, Santogold Santogold.
Singles: The Killers 'Mr. Brightside', TV on the Radio 'Wolf Like Me', MGMT 'Kids', Feist 'Mushaboom', Taxi Taxi 'Family Doctor', VHS or Beta 'Can't Believe a Single Word, Sia 'Numb', Stars 'The Night Starts Here', Beyonce 'Single Ladies', Interpol 'PDA'.
'The Ark in Space' is a great storyline, one of my favorites from the Baker years (it's also ripe with subtext). This really brings me back - I used to watch this show on PBS on a tiny black & white TV, since we were so goddamned poor when I was a kid.
While we're on solar topics, here's a Killing Joke rarity that is still unreleased even though it's easily one of the strongest songs in their 90s catalog. An outtake from the Democracy album which has only seen the light of day in an unrecognizable remix form. Come to think of it, a mashup of this and the Doctor Who theme might be pretty tasty...
Seen from Space Update: Courtesy of Yahoo(ccultimus)
WASHINGTON (AFP) – The US Air Force on Tuesday confirmed for the first time that it is flying a stealth unmanned aircraft known as the "Beast of Kandahar," a drone spotted in photos and shrouded in secrecy.
The RQ-170 Sentinel is being developed by Lockheed Martin and is designed "to provide reconnaissance and surveillance support to forward deployed combat forces," the air force said in a brief statement.
Q is the 17th letter of the alphabet.
The new Vanity Fair* has an article on CERN, which trumpets the site's inherent practical uselessness in the subheadline. Something to the effect of CERN being an 8 billion dollar Sharper Image-type toy for happy-go-lucky quantum physicists. Unfortunately the article isn't online, but I do plan on giving it a read at the library sometime this week. I'll get back if there are any pertinent tidbits therein.
As I said before, I don't think CERN is some kind of lab experiment ("let's smash some atoms, la la la"). One wonders what kind of havoc could be wreaked if they ever somehow hooked up the LHC with HAARP (check out reader Dark Star's post on HAARP here) or other such exotic tech/weaponry. The mind reels.
Given the Shiva statue on the grounds, one wonders if someone is tired of waiting for the gods to return and has decided to chase them down in whatever alternate reality they may have dropped in from. Or not- I'm not ashamed to admit the only thing I'm sure of about the LHC is that it's a much more serious proposal that anyone is telling the press. They're not even bothering to give the thing a credible cover-story.
Let's hope the lyrics to this killer Killing Joke b-side 'Universe B' aren't prophetic:
What is there left that we see
Unholy pylons stretch across black deserts
Mankind's reward for his greed
Oh- before I forget, Meryl Streep is this month's Vanity Fair cover star- her first appearance on The Secret Sun had to do with her narration of a documentary on Hurricane Katrina, where I wrote this:
Coincidentally, Hoagland has also done work parsing the semiotic (and other) mysteries of that disaster. Amazingly, Katrina is yet another variation on Ka-Athyr-Ein and again, Hathor was known as the "destroyer of mankind" in her form as Sekhmet.
UPDATE: Reader DarkStar888's guerilla semiotics led me to this little revelation- HAARP and CERN- the harp and corn- the heavens and the earth. Our little scientistic friends have breathtaking ambitions, no?
Believe it or not, Goth wasn't originally about sensitive art students posing drearily with their clove cigarettes- it was pretty fierce back in the day. Originally a subgenre of Punk, Goth was for fans who thought the Pistols and the Clash were too conservative. The godmother of it all is Susan Ballion, aka Siouxsie Sioux, the long-limbed, omnisexual ice queen who formed the Banshees with then-boyfriend Steve Severin. Siouxsie had a very clear vision in her mind, combining the Velvet Underground's more extreme musical adventures and Grace Slick's twisted sensuality with Hammer horror movies and a heaping helping of witchery. The guitar sound of John's McKay and McGeoch was explicitly influenced by the shrieking string sections in horror flicks like Psycho.
This is a Goth two-for: Cure guitarist Robert Smith during one of his stints as a Banshee. This song, "Painted Bird," is off A Kiss in the Dreamhouse, which also features "Slowdive," one of Rock's greatest paeans to oral sex.
Then there was the mighty Bauhaus, one of the greatest singles bands of all time. Essentially a Bowie tribute band at heart, as evidenced by this awesome clip. Bauhaus added the requisite dose of Hammer horror and post-punk yowling and then broke up way too soon. They have since reformed a couple times to remind young pretenders how it's done.
Then there's this band, who longtime Secret Sun readers are well-acquainted with. Killing Joke brought a serious interest in occultism to Goth, as well as heavy doses of metal guitar, dub bass and tribal drums. Probably one of the most influential bands of their time. As with Bauhaus, their early concerts were not for the faint of heart.
Goth waxed and waned throughout the 80s. The second wave came with the Batcave scene, which peaked in 1983. Note that alien themes started to blend in with the usual vampire imagery.
As with this band, Alien Sex Fiend. As with Goth in general, the Fiends were heavily influenced by Alice Cooper and similarly made up for their lack of chops with their extreme exuberance. In many ways, the Fiends were the definitive Batcave band. For some completely inexplicable reason, some journalist tagged the new Goth scene "positive Punk," which sort of stuck even though it made no sense to anyone.
And speaking of aliens, the Cocteau Twins caucused with the Batcavers before their camomile-and-patchouli makeover in the late 80s. Liz is almost unrecognizable here in her Goth gear and Siouxsie-esque warble. But it just goes to show that the Banshees seemed to strike a particularly strong chord in Scotland (see Altered Images, Shirley Manson, etc.) Bonus factoid: The Twins were opening for Killing Joke at this gig.
Goth made a big impact in Europe as well, eventually having a major influence on the Black Metal scene of the 90s. This is Germany's X-Mal Deutschland, who were signed to 4AD, along with the Cocteaux and Bauhaus. Listening to their early records you'd have no idea their lead singer was so ridiculously hot.
Australia's Dead Can Dance were signed to 4AD as well, and brought a heavy dose of Medieval mysticism to their Banshees/Cocteaux knockoffs. They dropped the postpunk in pretty short order, but ultimately morphed into another tedious world music outfit before their initial brekup. Singer Lisa Gerrard co-wrote the soundtrack to Gladiator, among other films.
Cock-rock journeymen The Cult began their career as Southern Death Cult, eventually dropping the "Southern" and the "Death" along with every band member save Ian Astbury. For me the entire enterprise peaked with Love, which I still count as one of the greatest albums of the 80s.
With bands like the Cult, All About Eve and the Mission, Goth went mainstream in the UK and Europe. One of the bands keeping the old faith was Red Lorry Yellow Lorry, who were heavily influenced by proto-Goth post-punks Joy Division. A good thing too, since JD survivors New Order were warbling monotone disco songs at the time.
Then there were the Sisters of Mercy, who started out as a parody band, got serious, went through several reformations, then ended up as an unintentional parody, working with Sigue Sigue poseur Tony James and Meatloaf maestro Jim Steinman in 1990. Here's their greatest song, one of the crucial cuts from Goth's Golden Age.
As with Punk, Goth took hold in the ostensibly hostile soil of LA, and pretty early on at that. Punk bands like TSOL, 45 Grave and Christian Death all traded in leather and guyliner, but for my money this Kommunity FK track was the definitive LA Goth anthem. FK singer Patrick Mata had an amazing voice, and they get extra authenticity brownie points for naming their debut LP after Crowley's memoirs of his fiddling with Enochian magic.
What do get when you cross Siouxsie Sioux with Eddie Van Halen? Why, you get Jane's Addiction, whose best numbers were all built around Eric Avery's Banshee-esque basslines. Jane's paid their debt to their forebears when they brought the Banshees along on the first Lollapalooza.
Brooklyn's mighty Type O Negative took one part Black Sabbath, one part Sisters of Mercy and one part old-school 4AD and have put out a lot of killer music with that recipe. This video is interesting because it shows how Goth left the Punk/Art sphere and moved into the RenFaire/Fantasy/D&D realm and never looked back. Not necessarily Type O themselves, but certainly the movement.
Since the mid-90s Goth has itself splintered into a number of different permutations, and even launched a retail chain. In the interim we saw Marilyn Manson and the expected hysteria and rumor panic in the wake of Columbine. And as mentioned before we now have all of this vampire stuff out there, a lot of which is inspired by The Hunger, which featured not only Bauhaus in the opening credits, but proto-Goth godfather David Bowie. But it's the underpinnings of that archetype that fascinate me, as well as its antithesis- the zombie archetype. Both have their roots in deep sociopolitical mass psychology, as I'll rant and rave about sometime.
Again, this is the same semiotic pairing of aliens and Ancient Egyptian iconography which we saw last week in the context of The Secrets of Isis, though it's a bit more subtle here. Apparently, the film was moved to March to avoid competing with James Cameron's Avatar, which looks to be jam-packed with all sorts of predictive-programming themes: militarism, environmentalism, space colonization, gene-splicing, walk-ins and on and on. Avatar will definitely get the Synchrosphere hopping- if it ever actually comes out.
"I'm Jazz, man - this is my bar," said the slightly drunk Englishman as we entered a tiny dive in semi-suburban Prague. So we got talking. Or, arguing fiercely more like, because for all that this Jazz fellow was pretty funny, he was also an obstreperous bastard, and we just couldn't take his claims seriously. "We're descended from aliens, who built the pyramids" was a key theme. "I moved to Iceland to escape the apocalypse." All this, put forth aggressively, followed by "I co-wrote the New Zealand national anthem, with Mauris." "Bollocks" we said. Bit of googling the next day and it turned out he wasn't lying. But also our man 'Jazz' had failed to tell us his most outstanding claim to fame, that he was in fact Jaz Coleman, frontman of the occasionally mind-blowing post-punk outfit Killing Joke. [RJ Thomson]
I think it’s going to be the beginning of The Joker." - Heath Ledger
Even if it ended with a resounding thud in the form of Frank Miller's adaptation of The Spirit, 2008 was quite a banner year for comic book movies; Iron Man ($330M), The Incredible Hulk ($134M) and The Dark Knight ($530M) all cleaned up at the box office, and superhero/related flicks Wanted ($134M), Bolt ($103M) and Hancock ($227M) were major hits as well.
Dark Knight was the obvious breakout here, but despite its massive success we didn't really see a third wave of Batmania, as we did in 1966 and 1989. A lot of that has to do with the film being extremely kid-unfriendly. And it's a film I'm still deeply ambivalent about.
Maybe it's the fact that Bruce Wayne morphs into Patrick Bateman everytime I try to visualize the Christopher Nolan Batman films. Maybe it's the secret society/Assassin themes of the preceding film, which we looked at in "Dark Knight Templar." And, of course, there was the Heath Ledger OD, which ripped through the Synchroverse like a H-bomb.
Apparently, Ledger was directly involved in developing the Joker's look for the film. The original designs for the character (which you can see here) were nothing like what we saw on the screen. And given the fact that Ledger was handed Alan Moore's Batman: The Killing Joke as a starting point, we're just a Google search or two from Killing Joke singer Jaz Coleman, who is the Heath Ledger Joker's most compelling precedent. Particularly in the "Hosannas from the Basements of Hell" video, with the smeared clown makeup and long, greasy hair (that a lot of Batman fans didn't care much for).
It's important to note here that both Alan Moore and Coleman are deeply involved in occult magic, particularly that of the Crowleyean variety. I'm not sure what Moore's involvement with occultism was back when he wrote Killing Joke, but there are interesting alchemical themes in his retelling of the Joker's backstory, which we looked at here.
And Ledger's death had eerie parallels with the death of KJ bassist Paul Raven, who had split from the band under a bit of a cloud, then died of a heart attack three months before Ledger OD'd. In "Further Down the Abyss," we looked at a spiderweb of synchronistic connections between Killing Joke and Raven and Ledger, all of which seemed to add to the strange spell that attached itself to The Dark Knight. Even if no one was consciously aware of it.
Note Jaz's makeup and Raven's t-shirt (@2:39)
A month after Ledger's death, Killing Joke announced that their original lineup was reforming for a tour and a new record. And two days before Ledger's death, Killing Joke guitarist Geordie Walker released an album's worth of demos on his MySpace, which seemed to cast a dense, mysterious, nearly Plutonian musical spell over the coming year (incidentally, Killing Joke bassist Youth teamed up this year with Beatle Paul McCartney for an album called Electric Arguments).
But in the end, perhaps what bothers me the most about The Dark Knight has nothing to do with the occult. Nolan's Batman is not my Batman, though I realize it's the Batman that comic fans seem to respond best to (Kunstler's take on the film was particularly insightful here). Batman has always been one of my favorite characters, even back in the 70s and early 80s when he was extremely uncool. But I gravitate towards a more human vision of Batman, such as Denny O'Neil's 70s dark night detective, or Gerry Conway's Hill Street Blues-like crime-serial Batman in the early 80s.
For my money, the animated versions produced by Bruce Timm, Paul Dini and Glen Murakami are still the best mass-media versions of the character. I may blow all my cred here, but Batman Beyond is my favorite of the various animated Bat-incarnations, since Timm added so much Kirby and William Gibson to the mix.
Batman became a big deal again with Frank Miller's Dark Knight Returns, and part of me still misses the days when I seemed to have the character all to myself. On the other hand, the lonely fanboy in me is thrilled by the massive success of the Nolan Batman films, and the inherent vindication that success provides. But still, I much prefer the anti-authoritarian politics of Iron Man and Incredible Hulk - or Batman Beyond for that matter- to the troubling Orwellian subtext of The Dark Knight.
A reader sent me a whole slew of Heath Ledger synchs in the wake of his death, but at that point I was burnt out on all of that juju. I put out a call to bloggers to pick up the cudgel and those who heeded the call came through with flying colors. Killing Joke or Alan Moore's occultism has always been a bit of cabaret, but Ledger's death seemed to summon up energies I didn't want to play with. I will keep my eye on the story though and keep you posted if any further compelling details emerge. For now, here are some clips of the 2008 Killing Joke reunion tour.
Killing Joke play Love Like Blood in memory of Paul Raven, as well as some other choice cuts including a new one, "Fresh Fever."
Finally, here's a 2005 show from Amsterdam with Raven on bass and Tom Brady's evil twin on drums. This is the last tour of the Hosannas lineup, and the difference in tone between this Killing Joke and the reformed original lineup is immense. I'm kind of relieved, in a way. Hosannas was very controversial in KJ fan circles, even though it was filled with powerful invocative energies. But they might have kicked loose something that may have been best undisturbed. I think the bleedover to these Batman synchs is a testament to that.