Friday, October 31, 2008
Siouxsie's become the Goth Madonna these days. She's still looks great but her music is strictly for the cabaret set. But once upon a time she was killer, and had one of the most accomplished bands on the scene. This snarling performance features the late, lamented John McGeoch on guitar. From the absolutely essential Juju.
Bauhaus broke up too soon- another year or two and they would've been huge. They were Bowie at a time when Bowie himself was not, and Peter Murphy and Daniel Ash had that Jagger/Richard chemistry down pat. When they wanted to scare you they put old Sabbath to shame. This is one of my favorite videos ever.
Ahh, old school Tool. One of the scariest videos ever made.
And here's Killing Joke to remind us that the real horror show is four days after Halloween. Note: this video came out in 1996, yet eerily prophesies the Bush/Gore fiasco in Florida in 2000. Remarkable batting average for the Jokers...
And here's your Lullaby...
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
The pit at Tycho sits right beneath Orion's Belt, which is sacred to the space god Osiris. It is here that the astronauts find the Monolith, the ancient alien artifact responsible for mankind's intellectual and technological evolution. As was Osiris himself, according to the mythology.
I'd say the odds of this being a "coincidence" are about ten-billion-squillion to one-one-thousandth of half a percent, especially given the fact that Orion is already name-checked in the film.
Also not coincidentally, the next manned mission to the Moon is the Orion 17.
More on 2001 here and here. A short post on Kirby's 2001 is here.
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
Apparently, two 70s titles about ancient astronaut theory were not enough for Jack Kirby. Aside from 2001:A Space Odyssey and The Eternals, Kirby managed to work some alien-based Biblical revisionism into a title that would seem to be completely inhospitable to it. In this case, Devil Dinosaur - Kirby's wildly anachronistic yarn of giant reptiles and proto-humans created for a possible Saturday morning cartoon - became the focus of Kirby's Sitchinesque obsessions.
If you're looking for an entertaining rundown of the entire Devil Dinosaur series, check out Gorilla Daze's review of it here. If not, the short version is: proto-human boy named Moonboy romps around Pangaea with pet dinosaur (named Devil because of his scarred red skin).
Angels and Demons and Gods and Men
It's amazing how many of Kirby's legion of admirers seem oblivious to Kirby's obsession with AAT, since it's at the very core of Kirby's work from at least the early 70s to the end of his career. When astronaut theology is worked into a throwaway book like Devil Dinosaur - most assuredly Kirby's least-regarded 70s title - it's a pretty sure indicator that intervention theory had become one of Kirby's foremost preoccupations at that time. Kirby even worked related themes like aliens, interdimensional travel and genetic engineering into Captain America, much to the consternation of relevancy-obsessed 70's comics fans.
In this context, we can see The Eternals as Kirby's solution to the dilemmas raised by Thor and The New Gods. Kirby seemed to answer the questions posed by his obsession with the gods with astronaut theology- this wasn't magic and these weren't deities. It was alien technology and these figures became mythologized by primitive human cultures.
Indeed, when Kirby returned to the themes of The New Gods in the 80s with Captain Victory (which was meant as an unofficial continuation of the Fourth World saga) and The Hunger Dogs, the obsession with technology as divinity had overwhelmed the concept's original narrative.
Shamanic Visions and Ancient Astronauts
Kirby's lapse into astronaut theology in Devil Dinosaur began with "Object From the Sky," which - true to Kirby form- presaged an alien/UFO story with a psychedelic/shamanic vision (see below), in this case a prophetic nightmare of Moonboy's (note similarity to "Moonchild").
Terrence McKenna would've been proud...
This visionary nightmare is followed by the landing of an alien spacecraft, manned by robotic colonists. They notice Moonboy has speech capability and take him to the lab for vivisection. Meanwhile, two other proto-humans- "Stone Hand," and a tribal elder/ medicine man named "White Hairs"- escape and enlist Devil in their resistance against the aliens. Robotic astronauts are also a central tenet of Kirby's Astro-Gnosticism. Kirby would steer his 2001 adaptation in Machine Man, based on his belief that space travel- at least at the onset- would be performed by machines. At this point we can also certainly assume that some kind of transhumanist cybernetic human is also being considered for space travel.
The second chapter of the tale was titled - wait for it- "Journey to the Center of the Ants." In this installment, Stone Hand, White Hairs and Devil disrupt a nest of giant ants. The ants are then sicced on the robot colonists, who are in the process of destroying all the native fauna. Throughout the story the protohumans call on invisible gods to aid them in their battle, but it's the action Devil that prove decisive.
Adam, Eve, The Devil and the Fall
The cover tantalizingly christens the next installment "The Fall," but Kirby's own title is "Eev." Here, Stone Hand and White Hairs encounter the proto-woman who lends her name to the story's title. While the ants make mincemeat of the robots, Stone Hand manhandles Eev, whom he selects as his mate to create a new tribe. Kirby cuts off that story there and takes us back to the UFO, which is now in ruins. Moonboy escapes and encounters the "Demon Tree," a remnant of the robot's prime computer. Having been separated from the rest of the ship, the computer is now writing its own commands. The story ends with Stone Hand and his companions confronting the Demon Tree, which now claims to be "all-knowing...all-powerful."
Storming the Gates of Eden
In the last act of the story, Stone-Hand, White Hairs and Eev are ensconced in a protective dome by the Demon Tree computer, who is trying to repel Devil at Stone Hand's request. Devil then trundles off to find Moonboy and the proto-humans find their new abode to be both prison and paradise. After White Hairs dies from radiation poisoning, Stone Hand begins to question the beneficience of their alien protector and rebels.
The computer is then again damaged and Stone Hand enlists Devil and Moonboy (who just happen to be wondering by) to destroy the dome and free them from the would-be deity. As Moonboy and Devil and Stone Hand and Eev go their separate ways, Kirby writes: "The tale of the Demon Tree will be told, of course...many times, many ages...and each time it is told there will be slight differences and changes so that the original version will be lost...and remain true only to those who took part in it."
Be Wise as Serpents...
This story has ancient parallels in the teachings of esoteric Gnostic cults. Some sects interpreted the Serpent in the Garden of Eden as Christ, come to liberate Adam and Eve from the Demiurge, or the fallen creator god of this abortion of a world. Of course, Christians often interpet the Serpent as the Devil, though there's nothing about Satan in the text itself.
What the text says is that the Serpent was condemned to crawl on his belly by Jehovah, indicating that prior to the Temptation he had arms and legs, just as the giant reptile Devil Dinosaur does.
So here we have Kirby reenacting the Garden of Eden story according to the Gnostic interpretation, with the Demiurge being the fragment of an alien computer. Just as did the Demiurge, the Demon Tree claims to be omnipotent and all knowing and imprisons his subjects. Note that even the name "Demon Tree" isn't all that far removed from "Demiurge." Was this intentional on Kirby's part?
Kirby was a voracious reader and spent most of his life in the creative pleroma, but this seems extremely esoteric, even for him. This story hit the stands a full year before Elaine Pagels published The Gnostic Gospels, though it's certainly possible Kirby may have encountered these obscure doctrines elsewhere- or through other means entirely. However, Kirby is not only trying to concretize this strange theology, he's also bypassing the supernatural and ascribing the mystical interpretation of this story to ignorance and corruption.
I've been coming to believe that there could well be an ancient astronaut basis to Gnosticism, since the mystical explanations of this belief system simply present us with a different variety of faith. It seems to me that "Knowledge" must be of something tangible, something that can measured in some way and evaluated. If you look at Gnosticism in the context of Astronaut Theology, Gnostic creation myths start to make a lot more sense- they are metaphorical descriptions of an extraterrestrial prehistory.
Sunday, October 26, 2008
OK, so this is 1965- we have "Terror in New York" in one episode (in which two skyscrapers collapse, the ESB and the "Fulmer Finance" building), "City of Fire" and then pyramids and aliens in another. The pyramid here is similar to the Tomb of Osiris- we even see statures of Osiris prominently displayed. However, this pyramid belongs to a race of aliens who take our heroes hostage and take them to their underground city.
When the aliens emerge inside the pyramid, we see Oz encoded on their helmets.
I'm not sure if anyone has looked at these episodes yet, but if you have please link in the comments.
The more of these 9/11 syncs that I see, the more impossible it becomes for me to believe that they are all intentional. I'd say that most are not. There is something ingrained in our Collective Unconscious, which I am starting to think is either the result or a byproduct of a neurochemical software program encoded into our DNA a very, very long time ago. All of this is who we are.
Saturday, October 25, 2008
I appear to be rubbing off on the missus. Here's the latest dispatch from Wibbley World, entitled "Glax."
Here's the pitch:
Ever wonder about the origins of Totem Poles - who started them and such? Contrary to popular belief, it wasn’t the Native Americans - it was the Martians, and here’s your proof! Glax is really proud of her creation, but can you blame her? Especially when you consider what a trend it started?
Friday, October 24, 2008
Fringe is TV's latest attempt to redo The X-Files. This time Hollywood enlisted the ultimate inside ballplayer, JJ Abrams, to get the job done. Which was probably what will ensure this show's doom.
Fringe is competent TV- and too competent at that. It is almost suffocatingly overproduced. Like nearly every network TV show I've seen for the past several years, it's over-lit, over-shot, over-casted, over-edited and underwritten. I don't believe a single one of the characters. Oh, they're all fairly competent actors, but everyone looks exactly like everyone else on every other network drama. The X-Files was so revolutionary precisely because the producers went out of their way to cast ordinary looking people. The point was to believe what you were seeing was really happening. The X-Files also had the wisdom to shoot in Vancouver, which was a decidely unpretty town in the early 90s and had a rich, velvety blanket of mist all year round.
The point here is that The X-Files sought to be real, while the kind of TV Abrams and his cohorts specialize in seeks to be sexy. There's a big difference. Network TV dramas are shot to seamlessy blend in with the commercials, and I was often confused while watching the show online when the commercials kicked in, since they were lit and shot exactly like the show itself was.
The show is fairly interesting, though, and important in that it goes after the biotech industry in the same way that The X-Files did. The only problem is that I don't feel any passion or conviction in it. It all feels like commitee. Someone said, "You know, there were all these really great X-Files standalones- F Emasculata, Wetwired, Pine Bluff Variant- about field experiments being done on civilians. I think we could build a show around that." And everyone smiled and nodded and thanked God they'd made it this far in Hollywood where they were sitting around with JJ Abrams doing his X-Files, and hoped they'd never go back to doing cereal commercials.
Chris Carter fought tooth and nail to do his shows his way, for better or worse. Most producers today would geld themselves before they pissed off an exec. So all the guys who play ball get a shot to do their Chris Carter shows- Invasion, Threshold (the most egregious of the bunch), Dark Skies, The Eleventh Hour, Fringe- and most of them will die. None of them will ever make any dent in the Collective Unconscious because Carter and Co. broke all the old rules and wrote new ones and then the power players come in and play by them.
Thursday, October 23, 2008
We've seen how the iconography of the Obama and McCain campaigns incorporates different aspects of the Sirius glyph. We have the "star-making" joke equating herself with a dog (Pit Bull Terrier, in this case) that Sarah Palin recited at the Republican Convention, which reminds us that Sirius is the Dog Star and also that Sirius was equated with Isis:
The connection between Sirius and a dog may reflect the stars association with the destructive power of the goddess, universally symbolised by various predators of feline or canine origin (lions, tigers, panthers, wolves and hunting dogs in particular). In Greek culture this became the she-dog of Orion, the sublimated form perhaps. - wikiNote that the GOP Convention was held very late this year, in the month of Virgo (though still within the Dog Days), furthering the goddess link.
Given this identification with Isis (which I have absolutely no doubt Palin is totally in the dark about), the incorporation of Sirius iconography in the two campaigns makes much more sense. As does this rising sun and wheel image that Palin finished her speech in front of.
Palin here is presented as Isis, giving birth to the Sun. No accident then that she was the mother of an infant child (though there remains controversy over that issue) and the mother of a pregnant 17 year-old. We also had the contrived lipstick on a pig controversy which, if nothing else, reminded the entire world that Palin identified herself with a dog during the Dog Days of Sirius.
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
McCain, on the other hand, is using a black and white five-pointed star, as well as Masonic blue and gold. I'm wondering if that star is meant to represent Sirius, given that it's alternating design could be interpreted as dualist, and Sirius is a binary star system. Sirius is also the alleged home of the ancient astronauts Robert Temple writes about in The Sirius Mystery.
This is the glyph for Sothis, which was the Egyptian personification of the star Sirius. It's interesting to note that McCain uses not only the five-pointed star (which I believe was first used by the Egyptian) but also that pyramidion as well. It's interesting to note that there are two in his campaign logo, reminding us again of Sirius, but also of the twin columns of Solomon's Temple, representing dual phalli.
For his part, Obama's rising sun is essentially the same shape as the dome in the hieroglyph. Obama's three stripes correspond with the three elements in the glyph, which I am going to assume represent Osiris (pyramidion), Isis (star) and Horus (the rising sun, or the fetus within the womb/dome). I first saw this glyph when Flynn did a bit on symbolism in The X-Files.
It brought to mind the logo for Sirius Radio, which also features the five-pointed star, in this case a white star in place of a black dog's eye.
Sirius recently merged with its main competitor, XM, whose logo is unmistakably solar. And since Masonic symbolism is so often such a dominant aspect of this iconography, it's worth noting that "XM" can be interpreted as a cryptogram for 10/13 (X is 10 in Roman numerals and M is the 13th letter of the alphabet. This logo also incorporates a coded "33" in the waveforms.
Obama's logo also is similar to the Masonic point-in-circle solar icon used by Target (look at the white circles in Obama's logo).
WalMart also one used the five-pointed star, but their new logo is rife with Masonic solar motifs- the blue and gold, the six-rayed Sun which encodes both 33 and the square-and-compass an/or Seal of Solomon, both of which symbolize the conjunction of the male and female principles.
Masonry, the Knights Templar, Egypt, Sirius, sacred sexuality, ancient astronauts, money, power - all birds of a feather. The more you look, the more you see them all orbiting around one another, hoping nobody notices they travel together.
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
Sunday, October 19, 2008
Bruce Springsteen was stumping for Obama on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway in the heart of Philadelphia when a fan caught what looks like a triangular (and -please forgive me - perhaps partially cloaked) UFO hovering overhead in broad daylight.
Some pertinent facts:
• The song played is "Does This Bus Stop at 82nd St.?" off the Greetings from Asbury Park, NJ album. I know these lyrics by heart, since my friend Rich and I spent the summer of 1979 committing the first four Springsteen albums to memory.
• Attention Tom Horn or Zack Sitchin fans: The lyrics make mention of "wizard imps" (wasn't that how Keel described the MIBbies?) and "interstellar mongrel nymphs." Is "nymphs" Greek for Nephilim, those space traveling wayfarers who came to Earth and created a hybrid (or mongrel) human-alien race?
• One couplet goes "And Mary Lou, she found out how to cope/She rides to heaven on a gyroscope," reminding us of the gyroscopic UFO in the Book of Ezekiel. "Mary Lou" is a she/he name, providing us with the requisite androgynous aspect that seems to follow us around when dealing with UFOs.
• Riding the Nephilim train (or bus, in this case), the song after "Bus" on Greetings was "Lost in the Flood," a song bursting with apocalyptic portent, featuring these eerily-prophetic lines:
The ragamuffin gunner is returnin' home like a hungry runaway
He walks through town all alone--"He must be from the fort," he hears the high school girls say
His countryside's burnin' with wolfman fairies dressed in drag for homicide
The hit-and-run plead sanctuary, 'neath a holy stone they hide
They're breakin' beams and crosses with a spastic's reelin' perfection
Nuns run bald through Vatican halls, pregnant, pleadin' immaculate conception
And everybody's wrecked on Main Street from drinking unholy blood
Sticker smiles sweet as Gunner breathes deep, his ankles caked in mud
And I said, "Hey, gunner man, that's qucksand, that's quicksand, that ain't mud
Have you thrown your senses to the war, or did you lose them in the flood?"
• This is purely anecdotal, but I remember Rich and I trading lines from "Lost in the Flood" at the drive-ins one summer night in 1979. The double feature was The Fury and Alien. I think the former inspired my long-standing subconscious obsession with telekinesis.
• Remember that the Nephlim were said to have either left Earth or been destroyed during the Great Flood, depending on whichever crackpot you listen to (here's a link to a review of Sitchin from the old USENET days).
• The Boss was doing his thing right near the Franklin Institute, which housed the King Tut exhibit last year. We've heard this week that the Egyptian Antiquities Authority has proclaimed that Tut was the son of Solar heretic Akhnaten, who was either himself a Nephilim or was in fact Moses, depending on which crackpot you believe. Remember that Tut restored the Throne of Horus after Akhnaten's tumultous monotheistic experiment. Remember too that Horus' father is an extraterrestrial, and inseminated Isis through artificial means.
• Speaking of human-alien hybrids, I was struck by how much this banner of Obama...
...reminded me of this image of another sci-fi savior figure- William Mulder:
In the "Always Hurt the Ones They Love" department, here are some well-fed Palin/McCain fans being both sheepishly awkward and obnoxiously bigoted at a rally in
The irony is that Obama is (or claims to be) the bleeding heart who wants to help these kind of people and McCain will toss them some red meat at these rallies and then let them twist in the wind once the election is over. Political identity has become completely symbolic and completely divorced from economic status or condition.
In many ways, this is by far the strangest and most disturbing election I've ever seen. This was supposed to be a cakewalk for Hillary, and McCain's stand on immigration was supposed to wipe him out in the primaries. I've no idea why a "moderate" like McCain is running around whipping up this kind of tribalist hatred (and- God help us- berating the media, whom he once rightfully called his "base") and I have absolutely no idea why so many people find Obama so enchanting.
I've long seen elections as mass-scale Kabuki theatre, but this is the first time I've felt that the players are merely going through the motions. And the people at these rallies seem to almost be in some kind of trance- no one seems to understand why they're getting so excited.
I can't help but think there is so much going on here beneath the surface and behind the scenes- something very big. Projection? Perhaps. But there's a lot of data I've been sifting through that is pointing me in very strange directions. I'm paying attention again and I'm getting the messages, so thank you.
For my own piece of mind, I'll be sitting home on November 4th or voting third- or fourth or fifth - party. ( Is there a Geek party yet? I mean, besides the Libertarians) I'll get a lot of crap from my liberal and conservative friends, but I learned my lesson about investing myself in the Clown Show- your ideals and your hopes and dreams will be shattered. Clinton's election set liberal hearts alight but ended up being a wet-dream-come-true for the corporatist and neocon wings of the Republican Party.
Similarly, Theocons saw Bush's re-election as their passport to Dominion, only to see it all come crashing down by the midterm elections. Case in point-I remember a local Evangelical bookstore had a big victory party for Bush in 2004.
They've since gone out of business.
What did someone once say - "There are no accidents in politics?"
Friday, October 17, 2008
Telling bad jokes, that is. Interesting to note that McCain can't help but be bitter and Obama is his usual detached, deadpan self.
One thing that strikes me when reading up on the bios on these guys is how the powers-that-be usually choose charming mediocrities for the Oval Office.
EDIT: Holy Smokes, I was in such a rush to post this video and then avoid it, I forgot to mention it was the whole "I'm from Krypton" bit that caught my ear in the first place. Such a loaded comment, no?
Sunday, October 12, 2008
First of all, let me apologize for the extremely infrequent updates here. I've been working seven days a week, anywhere from 12 to 17 hours a day. Whatever downtime I've had has been spent with my family. This has been a very challenging year, given the workload and the absolutely dreadful weather we had here over the summer. Those of you who have inflammatory diseases know that heat and humidity are your mortal enemies. Those have eased up a bit but now we're well into ragweed season (and the continuing humidity has kept the mold levels high). I know we're all supposed to be New Age and nature worshippy, but the natural environment (such as it is) is by far the worst of the aggravating factors I have to contend with while dealing with my pain issues. More on all that in a bit.
KILLER KLOWNS FROM OUTER SPACE
I've also not spent a lot of time with my ear to the ground when it comes to Synchromysticism. There's more darkness out there than I can deal with. I deeply resent the evil mojo we are bombarded with every election cycle, conjured by the black magicians sweating over their digital cauldrons. I've also realized that by investing yourself in the Clown Show, you are unwittingly inviting energies into your consciousness that are- well, let's just say darker than usual.
I caught a bit of the debates- little YouTube bits here and there on different blogs. I have to say that the rapidly-imploding McCain seems to be replaying Dole's dyspeptic '96 campaign, only with a Dominionist nutcase MILF by his side, rather than a "Free Market" nutcase (your call which faction are doing more damage to this world). And I tuned Obama out the second he tapped Joe "The Insider's Insider" Biden as his running mate.
I have to say I find Obama to be troublingly vacant; whatever was driving the hysteria in the primaries wasn't his charisma, because he doesn't have any. Obviously, other forces are in play here. But recent events have certainly been conspiring to land him in the Oval Office, haven't they?
REVANCHE OF THE GEEKS
Stress, overwork, health issues and the surreal financial meltdown we are witnessing have all conspired to turn me away from the outer world (or turn away more so than usual) and towards my ever-beckoning inner world. We've had some nice weather the past few days, but unfortunately Pain is a lot more compelling than pleasant weather and I've been unable to enjoy it. To deal with the overpoweringly compulsive powers of Pain, I've sought refuge in the equally compelling collective conscious/unconscious of Geekdom.
Geekdom has been refined over the past 80 years by an army of outcasts and social misfits. Its primary job is to ease the pain of life that sensitive souls who can't fit into the crushing boredom and social slavery that winners in the genetic lottery have "enjoyed." Contrary to popular misconception, Geekdom is not the sole province of the classic nerd stereotype (socially inept, physically unattractive, etc etc). I grew up with a whole host of angry latchkey kids who clutched Geek culture close to their bosoms (Comics, Punk Rock, sci-fi flicks) because it offered a refuge from a chaotic or painful situation at home.
My initiation into the world of Geekdom came at a very early age, primarily but not exclusively because of my constant health problems. I missed weeks- sometimes months - of school when I was a kid. Being stuck in bed with a (VHF-only, black-and-white) TV offered little solace and video games didn't really exist, but comic books were cheap and plentiful. And I was lucky enough to be reading comics at a time when a bunch of nutjobs who had blown their brains out on acid and occultism were putting their inner journeys on paper and shoving them in front of impressionable young misfits, all in color for a dime. Well, a quarter actually.
Thanks to the mind-blowing technology we take for granted, I'm able to watch videos while I work (I have very highly developed peripheral vision). I've been completely immersed in the DC Tooniverse, especially Batman Beyond, Justice League and The Legion of Super-Heroes. It never fails to amaze me how well-written these shows are (and the last two seasons of JL and the first season of LOSH are beautifully animated), or how many esoteric concepts they sneak past the network (which we'll look at at in a future post). I've essentially stopped watching network TV altogether, and the primary reason is how poorly written so many of the shows are. Someone writing copcrap like CSI or some dopey, depressing sitcom is doing so merely for a paycheck, the guys doing these cartoons are driven by passion.
Geekdom is also inherently Gnostic. Geeks usually see mainstream culture as boring, corrupting and stupefying, and are absolutely convinced they alone have received the true cultural revelation. They'll proudly point how subversive a show like Battlestar Galactica is, especially in comparison with a bloodthirsty neocon wankfest like 24 (I'd do the same with The X-Files).
Geek mainstays like The Simpsons, South Park and Family Guy- all firmly ensconced in the mainstream - are not only countercultural but openly contemptuous of mainstream values and attitudes, whether liberal or conservative. Now the hotshots of Hollywood must go to Geek pilgrimage hot-spots like ComicCon and bow and scrape before Geeks, many of whom are (at best) ignored in their day-to-day lives.
The question remains if Geekdom can survive its slow-motion takeover of pop culture. The inherent interiority of Geek fantasy requires an often-painful isolation, just as the ancient Gnostic revelations required a hermetic lifestyle.
Like the Gnostics, there are roiling divisions and controversies within Geekdom. I've always been amazed that people who often live their lives alone will spend all their time fighting once they find people online who share their interests. A lot of this springs from the solitary and extremely intimate nature of Geekdom. After thousands of hours in deep contemplation, you damn well know who your favorite Jack Kirby inker is, or who your favorite Green Lantern is or what your favorite incarnation of Star Trek is, and woe betide the Geek who dare question this revelation.
INTO THE VOID
Geek Gnostics playing at being agnostics- it's almost poetic.
Now that the plutocrats who created and financed the Evangelical movement are watching their ill-gotten fortunes evaporate, it's an open question whether a movement which has been so intimately tied to (and such a vociferous cheerleader for) consumer culture, suburban excess and easy credit can survive the downturn. Geek culture is increasingly filling the vacuum, even if most Geeks are almost militantly secularist (and as I've found out a sizable faction hate God talk of any variety, even with a small g). But I can't get Alex Ross' words about superhero fiction out of my head :
"As an adolescent you need order in your world, and superheroes have that, a sense of ethics that would never change- they would never be less than perfect, fighting for their ideals. They deal succinctly with moral issues, in a way that religion doesn't. Or rather, religion does, but in a much more complicated and often confusing manner."
As I said before it was an inability to acclimate myself to my environment that sent me rushing into the arms of Geek culture. Growing up I was at war with the forces of nature, or rather the forces of nature were at war with me- and still are. Thinking about allergies has always led me back to Ancient Astronaut Theory (or Intervention Theory, if you like), since it's yet another maladaptive feature of the human biological condition. It led me to wonder if animals suffer from allergies and then I noticed that my Boston Terrier suffers terribly from them. And then it occurred to me that he's the end result of an aggressive campaign of interventionist breeding, and is the descendant of several other artificially-bred varieties of the canine animal. Then I noticed this blurb, in The New Scientist:
My interest in Interventionist Theory is hinged on human maladaptivity, behavioral and biological. We act as if we are utterly alien to this planetary environment- in fact, we act every bit like colonists have always done in foreign lands. In turn, the environment on this planet f-ing hates us and is trying to destroy us, outside of a few tropical paradises here and there.
A study that compared lab rodents with their wild counterparts could shed light on whether overly hygienic environments cause allergies and autoimmune disease.
Blood tests found more of a particular kind of immune protein in the wild animals, which may mean they are better at coping with potential allergens, researchers say.
It is estimated that some 40 to 50 million people suffer from allergies in the US alone. The fact that Western populations appear to have the highest rate of allergies prompted some scientists to come up with the “hygiene hypothesis”, which argues that exposure to more natural environments such as farms early in life helps train the body to respond appropriately to harmless microbes and pollen.
And whether its self-appointed guardians want to accept it or not, Geek culture is swimming in the Gnostic realization that we are aliens here, we are "mutants," and we are hellbent on finding our biological parents. Alienation is the over-riding meta-theme in all Geek culture, as are motifs like escape, oppression and secret truths. For people like me, who are more keenly attuned to this planet's hostility than others, these themes have a special revelance.
It's interesting to note that the Justice League and the Legion of Super-Heroes are both headquartered in satellites and that Batman and Superman both retreat to remote, essentially alien sanctums. Heroes like Doctor Fate and Doctor Strange fight their battles in the Gnostic Pleroma, as do the Fantastic Four when they journey to the Negative Zone or do the X-Men when they travel to the Savage Land. This is yet another constant theme in superhero stories (witness the Bottle City of Kandor).
We are aliens here and we carry our homeland inside ourselves. This is the revelation of the ancient Gnostics and the modern ones as well. Only the modern ones seem to be winning the public relations battle this time around.
Friday, October 03, 2008
I haven't been watching but I've heard some grumblings about the new season of Heroes. To be honest, I kind of got lost last season. For me the show has always had a lot of great potential but not a lot of satisfying follow-through. The more characters they added the less interesting it became to me, because even in the relatively sparse first season I had a hard time keeping all of the storylines straight.
And I do have to admit I still blame Heroes for the cancellation of The 4400, which was a vastly superior show. The producers of 4400 seemed to be trying to cop some of Heroes' more comic-booky moves, a strategy that flattened the show for a quite few episodes in the middle of the fourth and last season. I always called The 4400 "X-Men meets X-Files," which is appropriate considering the first two X-Men movies and the classic X-Files were filmed in Canada, as was The 4400 (Vancouver was the prime shooting venue here).
All three labored to make the fantastic tangible, a prime component in selling this kind of drama. When doing a more obvious fantasy you can get away with characters shooting lasers from their eyes or plasma beams from their palms, but a character-driven drama that is trying to create a true sense of jeopardy- a sense that these characters can lose it all- really needs to keep those 80's kinds of comic book moves to a minimum. Singer certainly did so with the first two X-Men films, which is why they are far and away my favorite-ever versions of those characters.
One thing that The 4400 took from the X-Men mythos was a palpable sense of persecution and paranoia. You get a sense that these powers make these characters more threatened, more vulnerable. There are traces of that in Heroes, but The 4400 put across the fear the characters felt in a vastly more intimate and cathartic fashion. The producers of The 4400 also refrained from casting overly-pretty actors, which added to the sense of realism, but probably cost the show ratings from some of America's more superficial couch potatoes.
The 4400 was much bolder politically speaking as well, tackling head-on the nascent surveillance state we are all stumbling towards. In Season Two, the head of a government agency tasked to deal with the 4400 problem devised his own final solution- a genetically-altered virus meant to kill anyone with these powers off. As with The X-Files, you could see all sorts of themes plucked from conspiracy sites sprinkled liberally throughout the four seasons of The 44oo. There were religious themes inspired by Evangelical dispensationalism allegorized, as well as those of Scientology. Quite the heady brew for what was essentially a superhero show.
Like all fans of dead and buried genre shows, I hold out hope that the story will be continued in some way. Perhaps creators/showrunners Scott Peters and René Echevarria could follow Joss Whedon's lead and do Season Five in comic book format. The story- and the issues raised by it- deserves better than to be thrown on the heap of discarded quality television that couldn't reach enough viewers amongst a steadily dumbed-down populace.
Thursday, October 02, 2008
I'm probably a bit older than a lot of you out there. And I'm very grateful for that. I also had a lifeline to the culture of the 50s and 60s through my aunts and uncles, and spent much too much time alone when I was a kid. And having a touch of puer aeternus I've been able to experience five decades of youth culture, even if it was often second hand.
Of course, the touchstone of my life has always been Marvel Comics, in particular that of the Silver Age. I spend a lot of time reading my uncles' comics, but they were mostly DC fans. I loved the occult-oriented DC titles like House of Mystery, The Witching Hour and The Phantom Stranger, but I always felt like I was being suffocated when I read Silver Age DC superhero comics. There were only a few Marvel titles in that old crate in my grandmother's back room, but they were the equivalent of scripture to me.
Since my uncles seemed to dig the weird stuff, there were a couple of issues of Doctor Strange amongst all of the deadly-dull Flash and Aquaman comics. They were enough to get me hooked on the character for life. And believe it or not, I watched the Doctor Strange TV movie on the night it aired and loved every minute of it.
One thing younger people may not appreciate is that outside of Batman reruns, the Hulk soap opera and the dreadful Super Friends cartoons, getting a superhero fix outside of comics was tough going. A major part of the problem is that the technology simply did not exist to pull off a decent live action superhero yarn, and 70s animation was so cheap and inept even the dreary Hulk and Spider-Man prime time shows were more convincing. Since I'm basically still living mentally in the 70s, I'm continually stunned at how completely comic books have taken over Hollywood. Thanks, of course, to CGI.
But since I still keenly remember those dry spells, I'm usually able to get at least one good viewing out of any superhero or comic-related movie (except Batman and Robin, gods help us). Now, I may blow any cred I may have, but I even enjoyed the Shadow movie with Alec Baldwin and the Phantom movie with Billy Zane and the Rocketeer movie with Billy Campbell. I did avoid Tank Girl though. Well, not really, I did watch a little of it on cable one night. Much to my eternal regret.
Doctor Strange was a major influence on the psychedelic movement, and is still trippier and move visionary than most of what followed in its wake. And yet, it was created by a couple of stone-sober, middle-aged nerds (Stan Lee and Steve Ditko) who'd been doing nothing but battling deadlines since their teenage years. And it was also Jack Kirby's visionary work with Stan Lee that also provided a powerful impetus for the younger artists of the hippie movement, particularly those in the underground movement.
By the same token, the only member of Pink Floyd that got into acid was Syd Barrett and look what happened to him. We've also lost the woefully underappreciated Rick Wright out of Floyd, so here's a dose of prime time Psych paying tribute to the good doctor.
Here's David Gilmour paying tribute with Wright's classic "Remember a Day." Watch both videos and ponder the unforgiving hand of that old devil Time.
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