Tuesday, March 04, 2008

All Answers Lie Within the Pyramid!

Radiohead's 2001 classic "The Pyramid Song"-
the future Atlantis in a year of Revelation.

Somehow it just seems to go ...

OK, so my two biggest influences from the pop art world are Jack Kirby and Chris Carter. Not so much stylistic influences that I want to emulate, but artists who completely changed the filters on my life-lens. And both of whom deeply explored Astronaut Theology (aka Ancient Astronaut Theory) to the point that it's a fair bet that they believed in it. So what does that say about me?

Well, I'm going to come right out and say it- I don't think that ancient astronauts necessarily have anything to do with Big "G" God- the Universal Mind/Force/Ground of Being - but I do believe that human evolution was intruded upon and tampered with by forces from off this planet, probably not that long ago either. Whether that means extraterrestrial or extra-dimensional or something else entirely, I don't know. All I know - besides the anomalies in the historical record - is that we really don't seem to adapt to our environment in any way that other species do, nor do we have a terribly overwhelming love for the Earth. In fact, no matter the self-righteous rhetoric of some people, we act as if environmentalism as some sort of betrayal to humanity. And we all instinctually think that our cosmic daddy is "up there" somewhere and we also seem to be in a hurry to get up there and find him.

So the question is raised, do I believe this because of outside influences or because of a gut feeling? The latter, actually. I've been exposed to a lot of ideas in my time, and somehow Astronaut Theology just clicks into place. I admit it's not a terribly warm and fuzzy idea, and doesn't really offer anyone much comfort. Well, aside from the fact that I think it's true and I've always had this powerful vision of something landing on a beach at sunrise, coming to change the fate of this planet. Maybe it was Chariots of the Gods hitting me when I was very young, or maybe it was because of Jack Kirby's bugf**k take on it, The Eternals.

I finally got my hands on the out-of-print Eternals Omnibus and was riven with mixed feelings. The story definitely takes on added power in collected form, since it seemed that Kirby was hitting on a lot of bases throughout the series. But that doesn't mean the series ever fulfilled the promise of its incandescent first three issues. Kirby was an idea guy and a great plotter, but wasn't overly concerned with continuity. Too many of his 70s series drifted from one concept to another with no common thread, except nuttiness and cool visuals.

I realize the economics of reprinting this work, but I do really wish that this stuff was recolored. Kirby's art was becoming increasingly abstract at this point and Mike Royer's workmanlike inking never served Kirby's pencils as well as more skilled and thoughtful draftsmen like Joe Sinnott or Frank Giacoia did. Some nice recoloring would have tempered some of the harshness and unprettiness of this material. Beauty is not a extravagance in art, it's a necessity.

Marvel continuity prevented Kirby from calling it Atlantis,
but here the doomed city dies again at the literal hand of God.

I also wonder what would have been if Kirby wasn't tied to down to such onerous production commitments in his contracts. Kirby was required to produce 60 pages of art and story a month at DC, and 45 a month at Marvel. This is an insane requirement, especially considering that Jack was pushing 60 by this time. There are well-regarded cartoonists today who can't manage to produce 45 pages in a year, never mind in a month. Most pencillers today are lucky if they can manage 20 pages a month.

That being said, I feel like The Eternals seems much more relevant today than it had during the mid-70s. Seeing these stories back to back gives the feeling of chapters in an epic, rather than random episodes like it had in the 70s. In that way it reminds me of the X-Files' mytharc- you need to watch the stories in sequence to understand and appreciate them. And there's a grab-bag of pop occultism here- pyramid power, UFOs, ancient astronauts, Bermuda Triangle, Atlantis, the Apocalypse, the Collective Unconscious, you name it. Kirby was on a mission- to depict the way the things are the way he saw them. And the way he saw them was weird.

Another Kirby title bites the dust, but goes out with a bang.

Though it lacked the mystique of its predecessor, I always thought in some ways The Eternals was more coherent and immediate than The New Gods. Apokolips and New Genesis were off in another dimension- the drama in The Eternals was playing itself out here. The New Gods and its sister titles make you feel like an observer- the early issues of The Eternals make you feel like a participant. It's just a shame Kirby wasn't able to harmonize his explosive visions with the strong editorial guidance Stan Lee provided.

Can I recommend this to the neophyte? Not really. It probably hasn't aged well in the grand scheme of things, the art isn't very pretty and it's expensive. Any comic-reading conspiracy buffs or synchromystics may find plenty of grist for the mill, however.

So do I believe in Astronaut Theology because I'm obsessed with Jack Kirby and Chris Carter, or am I obsessed with them because their art depicts a scenario that I've intuited for as long as I can remember? Of course, I think it's the latter. And of all the episodes of The X-Files it's those handful of later-season stories dealing with Astronaut Theology that I feel the most powerful attachment to. This is a horrible cliche, but when I saw that inner vision of mine played out in the last scene of 'Biogenesis,' it literally changed my life.

Which is a whole other discussion.


  1. Aloha Christopher-

    Heard you on the Grey Lodge broadcast the other day. It was interesting, and although I may not agree with all your conclusions, I do think you are asking the right questions!

    So, here is mine. What is that picture near the end of the blog? With the seashore sand sculpture thing? Quite an impressive undertaking, whatever it is.

    Thanks for being part of the awakening! Looking forward to reading more of your postulations.


  2. Hi Lela,

    That's from the X-Files episodes The Sixth Extinction and Amor Fati.

    Thanks for checking in!

  3. I love what you say here, probably because you sum up how I feel about AAT, God and mankind. I haven't had the same influences as you, I think it's probably from weighing up the odds based on what is apparently known and obvious facts that stare us in the face, as well as gut feeling. I find it hard to believe that we are from this planet sometimes and then other times I can see how we are apart of this planet but just haven't really looked after it too well over the centuries. Maybe there is a good reason for that.