Sunday, October 12, 2008

Inner Space Capsule

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 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. 


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? 


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. 


Stargate Opening in Prehistoric Egypt, 

Geeks are naturally skeptical. Which makes sense, since the revelation they bow to is an interior one (though at the same time is eminently tangible). This skepticism is also driven by a justifiable fear and hatred of their rival fantasy buffs, the Evangelical crowd. Geek culture has long been a whipping boy for hysterical preacher types and the Internet is allowing Geeks to fight back. 

There was actually a Skeptic track at Dragon*Con this year (I actually saw the Amazing Randi there, who's not very amazing in person. In fact, he looks more like the Amazing Lawn Gnome) which may portend an increased level of activism in the future. 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:

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.

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.

Jack Kirby. Of course.

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.