Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Interview with Grant Morrison

The estimable A. David Lewis sat the Glaswegian Magus down for a chat that you can listen to here. A helpful transcript is here for those of you who don't speak Burr.

Monday, September 29, 2008

The Way Out is In

Wow. Quite a wild ride the past few weeks, no? My first response to all of the manufactured crises we're seeing was to look back to the Gnostics. There was a time when a lot of serious people saw Gnosticism as a way out of the pre-packaged Fundamentalist/Atheist Punch and Judy show that's constantly shoved down our throats in the media. But in order to wedge between these extremes, you need a philosophy that's conducive to the accumulation of earthly power, which Gnosticism is clearly not. There's a lot of nonsense tossed around about Gnosticism, both by its admirers and its opponents. None of it really has anything to do with the teachings themselves. There could never be any true Gnostic political or economic conspiracy, because the Gnostics saw both politics and economics as fallen, corrupt and irrelevant.

I'd been listening to some lectures by the esteemed Biblical scholar Bart Ehrman, and it was his contention that Gnosticism as we know it was essentially the outgrowth of the immense disillusionment that Jewish apocalypticists felt following the fall of Jerusalem and the ensuing diaspora. Jewish apocalypticists like Jesus and Paul and their followers thought the End of All Things was coming in their time, not in ours. They are quoted as such. All of the various forms of early Christianity were meant to prepare their followers for an imminent apocalypse, not one sometime in the distant future.

We are witnessing now the dissipation of a modern apocalypticism. Bush was able to rile up millions of believers who thought for sure that all of these wars in the Middle Eastern deserts would result in in Jesus coming back in his glory on the clouds. All that came back was their dead and maimed and traumatized children and a whole mess of trouble. And now the final charade of the Clown Show is falling apart- the illusion that wealth can be created by what is essentially a modern brand of sorcery. It's amazing to see how quickly all of the long-running cons are coming apart at the seams. All we in America can hope is that we are looking at a much more modest future, one where our grotesque sense of entitlement is burned away like so much chaff by the alchemical process of economic reality.

I don't think we can find much of practical use in the Nag Hammadi library, but we can find some guidance from the basis tenets of Gnosticism. The most important of these is to not look to the outside world for revelation, look inside. Apocalypse was nothing novel to the Gnostics, it was an ongoing process. They didn't understand neurophysiology or psychology, so they resorted to the florid language of religious metaphor potential converts would be familiar with. Today we have a lot of tools at our disposal to divine the truths the Gnostics were searching for. We have the writings of modern day prophets like Philip K Dick and Carl Jung, and any number of lesser though still vital luminaries. It's funny, they all seem to essentially be saying the same thing- you have the real treasure trove locked inside your head. There's a whole universe of possibility that awaits those who look inside rather than to the trappings of the outer world.

Apocalypticists believe that this physical world can redeemed and transformed- that the key to enlightenment comes from a new political system (and don't let them tell you otherwise) where supernatural forces rule over humankind. The Gnostics came to believe that that was a dangerous pipe dream, and it was the understanding of symbolic mysteries that offers the way out. Modern Gnostics use techniques like meditation, dream interpretation, and the study of symbol systems to deepen one's inner experience (and many other techniques besides). All of these were part of Jung's teachings and practices, as was the reinterpretation of myth and culture. Which is what I'll be concentrating on here.

Hopefully we'll be in for not too hard a landing, but I have to say I don't see a return to the go-go days any time soon. Too much of our financial system is built on trickery and fraud. And though the eternal dream of something-for-nothing will always separate fools from their money, all of this is too big and noisy for things to go back to the way they were. Or perhaps this is all some long-standing master plan to institute a new, socialistic system on America (maybe the plan was to give the hucksters enough rope so they could all hang themselves and the "Free Market" along with them). I don't know and, really, I don't much care. I don't see a place for me in the world of materialism, dialectical or otherwise. I gotta pay bills and put food on the table just like anyone else, but I'll follow Carl Jung, not Karl Marx. Or Karl Rove.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Just in Time...

Killing Joke have a knack for showing up just when the world is going to hell...

Sunday, September 21, 2008

"Americans Leaving Churches in Droves"

Here's an interesting article
on the collapse of the corporatist church in America. It's written by a right wing Protestant, and offers outsiders an interesting glimpse at the various flavors of "Evangelical" religion in America. Having grown up in a conservative church (in the traditional sense of the word, our church was partnered with the local Nazarene college), I remember when the pre-packaged Evangelical movement began to seep into other congregations. Even the Catholic Church was not immune- I attended Charismatic meetings at Sacred Heart at the behest of my then-girlfriend. Many traditional churches were unable to compete and collapsed under the well-financed "Evangelical" onslaught (which was a wholly-owned subsidiary of a small cadre of plutocrats).

Go read the article. It's fascinating to see the various reactions of people who wake up in horror and realize how much of their lives they've invested in the entertainment wing of the Republican Party.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Try To Remember

Supplemental to Steve and Jake's latest video...

But because of all these things which happened to me,
my parents perceived my oppression,
and were grieved for me.
And they wrote a letter to me,
and every noble signed his name on it

"From your father, the king of kings,
and your mother, the governor of the East,
and from your brother, our second in command,
to you, our son, who is in Egypt, peace.
Awake and arise from your sleep,
and hear the words of our letter.
Remember that you are a son of kings,
consider the slavery you are serving.
Remember the pearl,
on account of which you were sent to Egypt.
Think of your glorious garment,
remember your splendid toga,
which you will put on and wear
when your name is called out from the book of the combatants,
And with your brother, our viceroy,
With him, you will be in our kingdom."

I remembered that I was a son of kings,
and my free soul longed for its natural state.
I remembered the pearl,
on account of which I was sent to Egypt.
Then I began charming it,
the formidable and hissing serpent.
I caused it to slumber and to fall asleep,
for my father's name I named over it,
and the name of our second in command,
and of my mother, the queen of the East.
Then I snatched away the pearl,
and I turned to go back to my father's house.
And their filthy and unclean clothing,
I stripped off and left it in their country.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

From Dragon*Con to Dragon Cult

Well, the vacation I had planned all year for turned out to be quite the disaster when I caught a good dose of a summer flu that's been going around. It knocked me flat on my ass for a good week and put the Dragon*Con trip in doubt. The one silver lining was that this virus reportedly had a semi-hallucinatory effect on its victims, and I was able to return to the semi-lucid/half-dreaming state I walked around in for the first 20 or so years of my life. The most fertile time seemed to be the threshold time before sleeping or while simply resting. I had almost forgotten how wild my internal life had once been. Another blessing in disguise, I suppose.

Still pale, puffy and extremely sweaty, I dragged my fat ass to Dragon*Con. We made it there just in time for my 5:30 X-Files panel. Fans vented their frustration at the film's washout at the box office, and I spent a good deal of time assuring that the film will indeed turn a nice profit and will likely be a hit on DVD. I also shared my controversial "Skinner is Gay" theory, which was well received by the Philes.

Of course, Vicky and I really only went to Dragon* Con to play with Joe and Cyndi's Sphynx cats. Smeagol was a bit sickly (and stinky) but charming as ever. Here, Poopsy auditions for the next Hellboy graphic novel. You may think these cats look ugly as sin, but spend 5 minutes with one and you'll want one for yourself.

Indulging in a bit of high-concept Situationalist provocation, I dressed up as the Ben Cooper Thor, a joke no one under 40 would possibly get. I was mostly ignored but two fans did accost me, drunkenly shouting it was the best Thor costume ever (which it would've been, had I been wearing a solo Thor t-shirt)

Dragon*Con was frickin' mobbed, a much bigger crowd than last year. Getting through the dealer's rooms was impossible on Saturday. Perhaps because of the throngs, a lot of the better costumes didn't come out until late at night. And the real elaborate costumes seemed to be AWOL this year (it's hard to enjoy a con when you spend 4 days in a row posing for pictures).

The Dawn Lookalike contest was a big smash. My only regret was I was still too sick to drink at the after-party, which was again held in the penthouse of the terrifyingly designed Marriott. Joe hired Batman as a bouncer, a good choice since this guy was the size of a tractor trailer.

Dragon*Con is basically the Greenwich Village Halloween parade stretched out over four days. Vicky's favorite scenes were people in elaborate costumes sitting around chatting, or having breakfast, or waiting in line at Starbucks.

A lot of kids this year, including Sweeney Toddler here, well-coached by his Tim Burton obsessed mother, of course.

The Trek festivities were at the Sheraton, which just joined the circuit this year. I don't know if people couldn't find it or if the fans have moved on, but the Trek events seemed pretty dead. Like "Klingon Karaoke" here. They had all-night showings of British Cult TV right downstairs from our hotel room, which was kind of surreal. We saw the pilot episode of Doctor Who, which we both agreed was excellent and wondered if some DW DVD's were in our future.

The Hyatt was the most packed with party-hearty types, but Vicky and I didn't dig the vibe there. The Mariott was a lot less crowded and you could get better shots of the costumes, like the Batman Family here.

Or of these seven-foot tall twin sisters. I didn't have the balls to ask them where they came from or what they did for a living.

A bit less scary was this celebrant, who put the "man" in "Catwoman."

Vicky got to meet her hero Adam West and found out it's usually best not to meet your heroes. He looks great for his age, but was kind of a dick.

I'm pretty sure this was a husband and wife, but you can never tell at Dragon*Con. We probably could've assembled a pretty decent recreation of the Sgt. Pepper's album cover had we the energy.

This decadent trio was dressed up in their Eyes Wide Shut finery, which set the tone for the coming week in Minneapolis. Hurricane Gustav was bearing down on the Gulf, summoning memories of Katrina (or Ka-Hathor-Ein-A) three years earlier. Which is only appropriate since Gustav was the middle name of Carl Jung, who gave us the understanding of signs and wonders expressed through symbol.

The pregnancy of Sarah Palin's 17 year-old daughter (alleged father is "Levi John's Stone") accompanied Gustav's landfall, setting the stage for Palin's star-making appearance on Wednesday night (pictured above). Obama's appearance at a makeshift Parthenon in the Mile High City suddenly seemed like old news.

As tempting as it is to shoot those particular fish in a barrell from now until Doomsday, I left Dragon*Con resolved to get my act together. As much as I love this blog, it's very difficult for me to put the kind of time into it that I have been over the past year and nearly impossible for me to blog and work on my own projects. Being officially middle-aged now, I can't keep putting off my own creative work. The blog may have been keeping my writing chops up, but the fact is that all it readies me for is journalism and the sad fact is that journalism pays for sh*t.

I'll keep the blog up and will update it from time to time, but the grim reality is that I can't put the kind of work into doing this blog and do my own creative work, given that I am extremely busy with my paying work and all the rest. I hadn't really intended for the Secret Sun to become what it is. My original goal was to promote Our Gods Wear Spandex and then develop ideas for my movie book. Speaking of which, I still intend to get that book going, but I've decided to do it Larry Gonick style. The visual nature of the subject matter will lend itself quite nicely to that format and the novelty of it will hopefully garner some attention a straight prose book would not.

Anyhow, thanks to everyone again for contributing to the discussion here and drop by once in a while for updates. I'll be lurking in the Synchroverse and will let you know what I'm up to. The graphic novel project I'm working on is chock full of ideas and concepts we've been looking at and I hope to have something happening with it early in the new year. In the meantime, my main man Sonny Burnit just started a blog you may wanna check out: The Son is Burning...

Catch y'all later, CK