Thursday, April 30, 2009
What incredible timing- I had read about this, but had no idea how explicit it was until seeing this new Transformers trailer. You X-Files fans out there are probably gob-smacked as well. The artefacts, the symbols, the psychic powers.
Sam Witwicky: "I just had a full-blown mental meltdown in the middle of my class."
Diana: "He called me. I found him in a university stairwell. He could barely speak. He said I was the only one who'd believe him-- about an artifact."
Again- Shia LaBoeuf (birthday 6/11) appeared in the X-Files episode produced just prior to "The Sixth Extinction."
Like Chris Carter, Jack Kirby intuitively linked visionary experience to alien contact. In his astro-Gnostic opus in Devil Dinosaur, contact with interventionist aliens is preceded by a hallucinatory vision of a great beast swallowing the Moon, and of a great reptile whose body is made of pure energy and giant eyes flying in the sky.
There's also this eerie foreshadowing of the Stargate sequence in 2001:A Space Odyssey, drawn in 1958, but not published until after production had begun on the film. Contact with an alien artifact on the Moon transforms human astronauts into pure energy and takes them for the trip of their lives. Note the mushroom aliens in the bottom left panel.
When Kirby drew the comic adaptation of 2001, he subtitled this story, "The Ultimate Trip."
Way back in the dark ages of 2007, I looked at my first Kirby Komik, the immortal Kamandi #30. Quite a place to start, with this symbolically-charged Stargate image. I'm sure there were other stories at the time imagining inter-dimensional portals, but no one did it quite like Jack.
I suppose this is a good time to mention that Art Spiegelman called Kirby "an idiot savant obsessed with orgasm."
And, of course, that Kamandi story was entitled "UFO: The Wildest Trip Ever."
How appropriate then that The X-Files used the Kirby Kreation named "The Silver Surfer" to identify the young Gibson Praise as the missing link between humans and our ancient alien progenitors- the "young Karnak" who held the "secrets to the pyramids" and was "the key to everything in the X-Files" until Mulder had his own alien transformation into the psychedelic Osiris.
And it was all centered in the brain, the skull, the crown chakra. The veneration of John, Baphomet, Leto Atreides, and the "one who was lost," all pointing us to the (alien?) biocomputer residing in us all.
Are these are just random scraps from pop culture, or are they breadcrumbs forming a subconscious trail to a greater revelation?
Tuesday, April 28, 2009
In the first installment of this series- which I had not intended to be a series- we looked at the book and film Altered States, and its references to the work of John C Lilly. The premise of Altered States dealt with a Harvard professor who believed that genetic memory was stored in our DNA, a theory that's gaining wider acceptance these days.
I was reminded of this when re-reading parts of Picknett and Prince's The Stargate Conspiracy, particularly the afterword where the authors speculate on the connection of the ancient gods to shamanic experience, particularly that involving entheogens. Stargate is not up to par with their other work - the "conspiracy" is entirely circumstantial and speculative, and their critique of AAT and alt-history is numbingly parochial (and a bit petty) - but it tied into my own research on the historical connections of the ancient mystery cults to psychedelic compounds.*
I'm certainly not the first to note that ancient encounters with gods or spirit beings have a lot in common with modern alien encounters. There are two opposing camps in dealing with encounter experiences- one has it that these were literal encounters with nuts-and-bolts aliens and another that this was a type of visionary experience possibly connecting to some kind of non-physical entities. There is, however, a third option.
Perhaps AAT and psychedelic research are not mutually exclusive at all. Perhaps in fact they are intimately co-dependent. Look at the Stargate sequence in 2001, look at Jack Kirby's AAT (and prophetic) visions. Maybe the way to actually access the gods is through a totally new concept of our consciousness. Maybe they are in there waiting for us, as so many esoteric systems have taught.
It is my feeling that we need to go beyond entheogens even, since we obviously have not reached the core of this mystery. Possibly some hybrid technology, including electronics working in conjunction with psychoactive compounds. Like in Altered States.
All of this connects back to my eternal obsession on The X-Files' "Biogenesis/Sixth Extinction" storyline (continued in "Provenance/Providence"), which we'll be seeing retconned into the Transformers universe next month. That storyline in turn has powerful symbolic connections to the Egyptian mystery traditions, which I've written about in great detail.
Although AAT first crept into The X-Files in "The End," it wouldn't really become explicit until the end of the sixth season. But it wasn't until just the other day that it hit me like a ton of bricks- The "Biogenesis" AAT storyline was immediately proceeded by "Field Trip," a brilliant episode written by Hancock co-author Vince Gilligan in which Mulder and Scully are trapped within a giant fungal organism that uses a hallucinogenic compound like LSD to induce visions in its victims while it consumes them.
The genius of the episode is that the organism repeatedly allows the agents to believe they've escaped, with the fantasy becoming more and more convincing with each repetition. But Mulder and Scully are always able see through the illusion, until you're left at the end wondering if in fact they did escape in the end:
Mulder: Look at me. I'm here.
Scully: How did you get here?
Mulder: Aliens brought me back here.
Scully: From North Carolina direct to your apartment door? Mulder, you don't remember getting here, do you? Neither do I.
Mulder: It doesn't change what happened.
Scully: Mulder, why did you knock? This is your apartment. And you don't seem the least bit surprised to find me here. And what about the Schiffs? I mean, if they're alive, as you say, then... then where are they? Where'd they go? Mulder, five minutes ago... this room was filled with people attending your wake.
Mulder: Well, what can I say, Scully? I'm here. I'm real.
Scully: Mulder, this is not reality. This is a hallucination. It has to be. And either I am having it, or you are having it or we are having it together.
Mulder: Brought on by what?
Scully: Something that we found in that field, Mulder, because that's where it began. Wild mushroom. Wild mushrooms, Mulder. They were growing there. I stepped on one, and it gave off spores. Several varieties of... of mushrooms are known for their hallucinogenic properties. If... if we inhaled it...
Mulder: Whatever happened to the most logical explanation?
Scully: This is it, Mulder. What if we're still there? If we're still in that cave in North Carolina — that we're not here in this apartment right now?
Mulder: Whoa, Scully.
Scully: No, Mulder, bear with me. I think this is making sense. I think that Angela and Wallace Schiff were digested by that substance that I found all over that field. That they were dissolved and then expelled up out of the ground. What if that substance and this hallucinogen are — are from one and the same organism?
Mulder: A giant mushroom?
So have they finally escaped the mushroom when the wheels come off of their reality conception in the following AAT storyline? Or were their brains blown open enough that it attracted the aliens' attention? Did they notice Mulder and Scully noticing them, in other words?
in Biogenesis/Sixth Extinction
Chris Carter once took part in a Navajo peyote ritual
The genius of it all is that the third chapter "Amor Fati" likewise plays with your head, presenting three separate realities: Mulder's Last Temptation of Christ fantasy in which he and Diana are married and raise a family, apparent consensus reality in which Scully is confronted with the astral projection of a Navajo shaman, and a third dream-reality in which Mulder encounters his future son William on a beach, building a life-size replica of the God-ship out of sand.º
So here we go- as in 2001, as in Indiana Jones, as in Jack Kirby's work - psychic and/or psychedelic visions precede or accompany humanity's encounter with their alien foster parents/genetic engineers.
Pop culture piffle, you say? Perhaps, but just two more pieces of the puzzle of the intimate connection of the frontiers of human consciousness to our very mysterious origins. A puzzle that I believe we need to be a lot more urgent in solving, considering how the wheels seem to be coming off our current paradigms at an alarming rate.
* Or more modern variants- Stargate takes a jaundiced look at Andrija Puharich, who introduced Middle America to the thrills of magic mushrooms on One Step Beyond in the early 60s.
º Of course, you'll never get a straight answer from Chris Carter or Frank Spotnitz that that's what we're seeing, but take my word for it- in Provenance and Providence we see William psychically controlling another God-ship.
Monday, April 27, 2009
A government exercise involving low-flying planes has created a panic in New York City. Two fighter jets escorted a low-flying Boeing 747 over lower Manhattan on Monday as part of a federal government photo opportunity.Huh. Note the accompanying beauty shot of the Stairway to Sirius:
The plane is a backup for Air Force One and the Department of Transport "coordinated the flight with FAA and we made the notifications to the city so they were aware that the flight would take place between 10 and 10:30 this morning."
Friday, April 24, 2009
Anyway, sci-fi is an overly broad term that incorporates space opera, hard sci-fi, sci-fi fantasy, speculative fiction (which I'd classify The X-Files as) and certainly superhero fiction, which in many ways is the apotheosis of the sci-fi aesthetic. In the late 80s, cyberpunk sci-fi (particularly the work of William Gibson) shook my worldview to its foundations and the aftershocks of that continue to this day.
Sci-fi is poorly understood, and a lot of that is the fault of the vocal, visual minority of fans who treat the medium as escapist fetish literature, and not as a medium for the exploration of concepts lying at the core of human existence. I think we're all indebted to Battlestar Galactica for changing the conversation about sci-fi in the mainstream press, back to the consensus that had developed around the genre in the 60s and 70s. Even though it's loaded with subtext and deeper meaning, the theme-park appeal of the Star Wars films set that process back. In some ways we're just recovering from the effect it and its imitators had on an entire generation.
And then there is Nigel Kneale, a sci-fi writer who is generally recognized as one of the most important British screenwriters, and perhaps one of the most important television writers ever. Kneale approached the genre the way all its best writers have, as a way to explore the frontiers of the human condition. I'd been familiar with his work since I was a kid, but it wasn't until I was able to see his original teleplays online that I really got it.
We may well be in a fragile pocket of time, and this understanding of sci-fi as real, functional mythology could probably get pretty stupid once the eternally-ravenous media beasties swoop in and start spewing their know-it-all arrogance all over the topic. But before that happens, it's important to investigate information like this excellent documentary on Kneale. I know that regular readers of this blog will eat it up, recognizing many of the same issues that get knocked around in the Synchrosphere being broadcast into the living rooms of hardscrabble, post-war Britain.
One of those issues is Intervention Theory or AAT or whatever you want to call it. Kneale joins Chris Carter, Jack Kirby, George Lucas and Stanley Kubrick in their unapologetic exploration of this forbidden topic, which really is one of the last taboos of our allegedly-enlightened times. What makes this disreputable theory so attractive to these brilliant, accomplished men? Maybe when you spend so much time exploring the human condition you become acutely aware of the improbability of it all, as well as the basic, immutable reality of human maladaptivity to its supposed native environment....
Loren Coleman is also a major Kneale fan- read his eulogy for the writer here.
Thursday, April 23, 2009
Before Chariots of the Gods, before The 12th Planet, before Gods of Eden, before The X-Files, before Stargate, before Battlestar Galactica, before Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, before Transformers 2 there was Quatermass and the Pit.
Although popularized in the US with the Hammer version (see video above, retitled Five Million Years to Earth), Quatermass originally aired on the BBC in the late 50s as a serial. Though the Hammer version is certainly worthy, the BBC version (which can be seen in its entirety here) is nothing short of a sci-fi revelation. Brilliantly written and produced, the series would become a monster smash in the UK and a profound influence on a generation of sci-fi fans and writers. From the Independent:
Kneale's greatest achievement as a melder of science fiction and horror was undoubtedly Quatermass and the Pit, which kept people out of the pubs while it was running. He cheerfully threw aliens from Mars, pagan rituals, the "Horned God" and race memory into the mix and scored a huge popular success.If you looking for evidence of culture's reverse-evolution with the rise of television, Quatermass is your motherlode. Kneale's script puts nearly everything on TV today to shame. In 1958, mind you, he was warning of the militarization of space, racial tensions, government cover-ups of alien contact and pseudo-skeptical denialism. Pretty strong stuff, almost unimaginable in today's highly-charged ideological climate -- outside of sci-fi programs like Battlestar Galactica, that is.
And if you're a regular reader of this blog, the fourth episode of BBC series especially will send chills down your spine. In excruciating detail, Kneale paints a scenario where aliens from a dying planet (Mars, in this case) come to earth and manipulate the genetic structure of proto-hominids in order to act as receptacles for alien consciousness.
Kneale's attention to detail is impeccable- the aliens keep themselves isolated in a sealed compartment on their ship to avoid contamination from Earth microbes. Their primary concern is the expansion of the proto-human neural capacity, as they were attempting to download their own consciousness into these new hybrid creatures.
Did I mention this was written in 1958?
As in The X-Files, communion with the residual alien consciousness manifests itself in psychic phenomena- telepathy and telekinesis, to be exact. Kneale also presents a scenario in which the racial memory of these beings and our ancestral contact with them is encoded in our DNA. Ghosts, demons and the occult are all the byproducts of periodic subconscious eruptions, particularly when humans are exposed to the radiation from the buried spacecraft in Hobb's Lane, Knightsbridge.
I'm going to leave it all there because I think everyone who visits this blog should watch both the BBC and Hammer versions of Quatermass. It is almost certainly the first exposure of AAT to a wide audience - I'm very curious to see if Von Daniken or Sitchin have ever acknowledged it as an influence. Certainly its influence is all over The X-Files, and Stephen King's Tommyknockers is essentially a New English pirating of the concept
We'll be looking at Tommyknockers- and most certainly, the other Quatermass stories- in greater detail in the future.
UPDATE: Emperor (host of The Cabinet of Wonders blog) adds this crucial data download:
It is easy to underestimate the influence of Nigel Kneale these days but back when Quatermass and the Pit were being shown the whole of the country just stopped to watch it (a third of the viewing audience saw it when it was originally broadcast - impressive numbers for any TV show but considering it was sci-fi...). I think the first one I caught was the film of Quatermass and the Pit when I was a kid and I remember being thoroughly unsettled by the whole thing.
They recently released a Quatermass boxset (of the first three, the fourth TV serial is collected separately) along with others for Beasts and Kinvig (also worth checking out, as is Stone Tape if people can find it) and a book was released at the same time: "Into the Unknown: The Fantastic Life of Nigel Kneale" and it touches on some of the themes mentioned like this from page 69:
"The central concept of Kneale's serial, that aliens had influenced the development of life on Earth, became a familiar one over time, but in 1959 it was relatively fresh. Some have detected a kinship with Kneale's approach and the writing of H.P. Lovecraft, but Kneale denies any influence, on very simple grounds. "I've never read any Lovecraft!" he insisits. The writing of Erich von Daniken later popularised the notion of extra-terrestrials guiding Mankind, which also greatly inform the 1968 film 2001 Space Odyssey. (Many, Kneale among them, have also remarked on the recurrence of an unearthed alien object in a pit playing a pivotal role in Kubrick's film.) The influence of the serial, as we'll see, was both long-lasting and wide-ranging"
One that is unacknowledged is the end sequence of Indiana Jones which strongly parallels that in the first Quatermas. Dan O'Bannon is happy to admit the influences though, most obvious in Alien, where they find the crashed alien ship. However, the list of where his ideas cropped up and the people his work influenced is impressive.
I'll leave the last words to Grant Morrison (page 99):
"Writer Grant Morrison feels that counter-cultural ideas are peppered throughout Kneale's work, however, unwittingly. "There's a lot of altered states, hive minds and alien intelligences controlling the population in his work," Morrison suggests"
and from page 182:
"Morrison gladly attests to the influence Kneale has had on his own work. "All that stuff was definitely a really big input for me," he says. "The idea that every story had a brilliant concept and started out from something really original was a big inspiration. Every one of them builds off this really simple, brilliant idea: we are descended from Martians, we are food for aliens, every one of them's just a great little concept. It's a mythical quality for me. The stories are so tiny, but I feel they're myths for the age of science. That's what he created. people have been riffing off him for a long time. There's something eternal about Quatermass""
Oh and he had an idea for a final Quatermass story: "Quatermass in the Third Reich", a prequel which say him hanging out in Germany with Nazi rocket scientists and stumbling across their larger plans involving the occult.
Kneale was invited to write an episode of the X-Files but turned it down, a real pity!!
As a child he read a lot of HG Wells and MR James but the third and fourth Quatermass adventures do make me wonder if he somehow came into contact with Charles Fort's work - from The Book of the Damned (1919):
"Would we, if we could, educate and sophisticate pigs, geese, cattle?
Would it be wise to establish diplomatic relation with the hen that now functions, satisfied with mere sense of achievement by way of compensation?
I think we're property.
I should say we belong to something:
That once upon a time, this earth was No-man's Land, that other worlds explored and colonized here, and fought among themselves for possession, but that now it's owned by something:
That something owns this earth -- all others warned off. "
Monday, April 20, 2009
Abstract: Tony Gilroy's 2007 masterpiece Michael Clayton is an ancient myth masquerading as a legal thriller. Consciously drawing upon the symbolism of fantasy literature and pre-Christian religion, Gilroy revives a narrative tradition of ethics and morality wed to Synchronicity and visionary experience.
While preparing this article, I realized that in my somewhat-amorphous Top 20 list of favorite movies from the past 15 years, 4 of them star George Clooney.
Of those 4, only one (Out of Sight) was a true mainstream hit. The other three films are Soderbergh and Cameron's Solaris, Syriana and Tony Gilroy's Michael Clayton.* I've written about the deep mythological parallels in Solaris, which you'd expect in a mystical sci-fi film (particularly one involving James Cameron).
But there is as much - if not more - mythic symbolism in Michael Clayton, which you wouldn't expect in a legal thriller of this type. Unless said thriller was written and directed by one of the primary screenwriters in yet another of my top 20 films, The Devil's Advocate.
Gilroy has said that Clayton grew out of his work on Advocate, which saw a scenery-chewing Al Pacino as Satan using a Manhattan law firm as a staging ground for the Apocalypse. The conceit of that film was that the Devil was not a puppeteer, but merely an enabler for humankind's own (limitless) capacity for evil. The Devil's Advocate was pure fantasy; Michael Clayton is much more frightening because the evil it depicts is that much more real.
NOTE: We're in for spoilers galore, so if you haven't seen the film and want to be surprised, stop reading now, go rent it and then come back. I'll be still be here when you get back.
First a word about the actors- in a Secret Sun context, it's hard to imagine a more significant lead cast: You have the aforementioned Clooney in the title role. You have Tom Wilkinson (of Eternal Sunshine fame) as the doomed attorney Arthur Edens (more on that name later). You have the late, great Sydney Pollack playing a close variation of his Eyes Wide Shut role as Clayton/Clooney's boss.
And finally you have Tilda Swinton (aka the "One-Woman Synchromystic Factory") as the villian of the piece, corporate attorney Karen Crowder (I'm sorry, I realize using "corporate attorney" and "villain" in same sentence is redundant). Both Clooney and Wilkinson were nominated for Ausurs® for their amazing work in the film and Swinton won Best Supporting Actress.
The plot is that Arthur Edens- a top litigator with a history of mental illness- goes off the deep end when he realizes that U-North, the agro-chemical company his firm is representing, deliberately suppressed evidence during a lawsuit over a carcinogenic weed killer. When Arthur threatens to expose a damning memo, U-North's lead attorney has him murdered by a pair of corporate spies. Clayton is the firm's fixer who discovers what Edens was on to and soon becomes a target himself.
So many of the signifiers we've seen repeated over and over in other films are well-represented in this film. First of all, the story is told in flashback, which is to say reverse time. At the beginning of the film we meet Michael Clayton at a gambling den in Koreatown. His car is parked on 33rd St, staring straight up at the Empire State Building.
From there, Clayton drives to Westchester, to deal with a client involved in a hit-and-run. Driving home as the Sun rises, Clayton stops when he sees three horses on a hilltop. Later we find out the significance of this sighting.
Exhausted and distraught, Clayton climbs the hill to connect with the animals. But as he does so, his car explodes. Hmmm- flaming chariot, horses, sunrise...sound familiar?
Here's a hint.
Clayton then throws his wallet and watch and phone into the flaming car. The watch is especially fascinating, given that the Roman sun god, Helios Mithras (aka Sol Invictus, or the "Unconquerable Sun") was known as "the god of Infinite Time."
Doubly fascinating, since following the explosion (and its attendant sun god symbolism), we go back in time, and the first thing we see is this image: the flaming solar disk logo of the film's fantasy franchise, Realm + Conquest, which is sort of a combination of Lord of the Rings, Chronicles of Narnia and World of Warcraft.
Realm + Conquest is the obsession of Clayton's son Henry, and becomes the linchpin of the entire film. What Gilroy is doing here is telling us that we are now in a mythic realm, so we need to look out for signifiers.
Like this: Clayton is summoned to Milwaukee to deal with a crisis- Arthur freaked out during a deposition with a plaintiff (named "Anna Kysersun"- I kid you not) and stripped naked and ran through the parking lot. Now we are introduced to Karen Crowder in narrative time as she leaves a corporate minivan during a Wisconsin snowstorm. Ring any bells?
Here, does this image help?
We hear Arthur's confession to Clayton during the film's opening credits. What he describes sounds less like a psychotic break, and more like a Philip K. Dick-type visionary experience. After a lifetime of conscience-less litigation, Arthur realizes he himself has become an accomplice to mass murder:
I realize we're standing in the middle of the street, the light's changed, there's this wall of traffic, serious traffic speeding towards us, and I freeze, I can't move, and I'm suddenly consumed with the overwhelming sensation that I'm covered with some sort of film. It's in my hair, my face... it's like a glaze... like a coating, and... at first I thought, oh my god, I know what this is, this is some sort of amniotic - embryonic - fluid. I'm drenched in afterbirth, I've-I've breached the chrysalis, I've been reborn.Clayton then meets Karen Crowder and it's hate at first site (this film is kind of a classic Clooney romance picture in reverse). She's one of those denatured, defeminized, dehumanized drones those of you who've worked at certain corporations will be well familiar with. Clayton has Arthur released and is charged with cleaning up his mess. Crowder's minions do background on Clayton, where we hear this voiceover:
But then the traffic, the stampede, the cars, the trucks, the horns, the screaming and I'm thinking no-no-no-no, reset, this is not rebirth, this is some kind of giddy illusion of renewal that happens in the final moment before death. And then I realize no-no-no, this is completely wrong because I look back at the building and I had the most stunning moment of clarity. I realized Michael, that I had emerged not from the doors of Kenner, Bach, and Ledeen, not through the portals of our vast and powerful law firm, but from the asshole of an organism whose sole function is to excrete the... the-the-the poison, the ammo, the defoliant necessary for other, larger, more powerful organisms to destroy the miracle of humanity.
You were probably wondering when our magic number was going to show up. Note also the staff of wheat in the flag behind Clayton, which bears a strange resemblance to the golden laurels of Apollo.
After his release from prison, Arthur speaks with Henry, who has called to speak with his absent father. Henry has become a Realm + Conquest evangelist, and Arthur is immediately captivated by the story's premise of heroes being summoned to a great mission by shared, visionary dreams.
Gilroy is giving us the true power of mythology, by placing a myth within his own emotion-laden myth.
Arthur uses the book as direct inspiration for his own quest- to avenge the deaths of the Midwestern farmers killed by U-North's weed killer. He later titles his case against U-North "Summons to Conquest."
Arthur then escapes Clayton's supervision and returns to his New York loft, where U-North's spies are tapping his phone. Clayton then confronts Arthur, who is clutching a large bag of French bread to his chest. We must then wonder- is Arthur actually Ausur? After all, some scholars have traced the Arthurian legends to Egyptian sources.
And I can't help but wonder when I picture this image of Osiris, with wheat growing from his sarcophagus.
The performances in this film are absolutely riveting. As a loose cannon, Wilkinson alternates from child-like mental case to aggressive, razor-sharp litigator without warning throughout the film. Suspicious that the firm wants him committed, Arthur utters this cryptic line, which ties us back to Clayton's sunrise epiphany. His confrontation ends with a withering glare which you could just imagine reducing witnesses to rubble in a courtroom.
From there we see Arthur back in vacant mode, wandering around Times Square (of course) freed of a lifetime of deceit. Note that he is crowned with the oceans of the earth in this shot, again tying back to the Osiris archetype.
But his mood instantly changes when he sees U-North's greenwash bullshit appear on an electronic billboard. Note the juxtaposition of the U-North logo and the Wicked poster- the Wicked Witch of the West identified with Jadis the White Witch in the form of Karen, Tilda Swinton's character.
In the mix-and-match language of fantasy literature, Karen could also be Morgan le Fay, perhaps with Arthur and Clayton as the Pendragons.
Note also the explictly Solar Europa Cafe logo- this links us directly to bull symbolism, which we'll see in a moment...
Karen orders Arthur to be killed when he announces his intention to expose their complicity. I couldn't help but see Arthur/Ausur as the Apis bull, the sacrificial god of Taurus seen in the Mithraic Tauroctony. Those surgical caps the killers (named Mr. Verne and Mr. Iker) are wearing remind me of this...
... Mithras' Phrygian cap, which we see in the Tauroctony. The fact that Arthur is poisoned parallels the scorpion and snake in the icon.
Oh, I know- that's stretching it a bit...
...or is it? As we are told, "the man was a bull." This Tauroctony parallel certainly puts the flaming chariot in a whole new context...
...which is foreshadowed when Clayton looks at Arthur's copy of Realm+Conquest (note mark-ups). Gilroy is not only showing us the power of myth, he's showing us classic synchronicity. The symbolism of this myth drove Arthur's own quest and then saved Clayton's life- and signifies his symbolic apotheosis.
Clayton "dies" and is resurrected- Using his police connections (through his brother) Clayton has the story get out that he was killed when Verne and Iker bomb his car. Clutching a rolled-up copy of Arthur's "Summons to Conquest," Clayton confronts Jadis/Morgan after U-North has agreed to a cash settlement with the victims' families.
This confrontation is one of the greatest scenes in the history of cinema. And there we see that magic name- Anna Kysersun ("Inanna Caesar-Sun") - interesting in that Inanna was the direct equivalent of Hathor, consort of sun god Horus. Is Gilroy pointing to this love goddess/sun god relationship when Anna and Clayton meet in a hot-sheet motel-at an airport, no less? (Inanna was identifed with the sky, as was Hathor)
Michael then explicitly takes on the mantle of Arthur's godhood as the NYPD swoop in and arrest Karen and her boss Don Jeffries (brilliantly played by Ken Howard of White Shadow fame).
Clayton then descends an escalator, like Osiris descending to the Underworld to judge the dead, and walks out to the street...
...and hails down a cab (or in Kotzean parlance, a "Checker Chariot"). Note that 7x25=175.
In my opinion what Gilroy has done here is create a modern myth to encapsulate the elemental forces that converge within the daily corruptions of modern corporate practice.
Following the financial meltdown, this mythology seems less subversive (some idiot reviewers accused Gilroy of "anti-captialism") than prescient. It's one of the oldest stories in the book- Arthur is a king who is unjustly killed and Clayton is his son who avenges his death. "Arthur" and "Edens" both point to lost idylls- the Camelot and Round Table of the Arthurian romances and the Garden of Eden in Genesis.
Clayton is an elemental man (who, like the Adamah, is "made" of clay) who dies and is reborn as an avenging sun god, which is signified by the horses and flaming chariot at sunrise - and Arthur's explictly solar totem "Summons to Conquest." Just like in Narnia, the Sun God melts the Ice Queen. This is mythology in its purest form, made relevant for a modern audience. If Michael Clayton was powerful in 2007, today it's foundational.
WHY THE SUN WENT DOWN IN THE WEST
This attitude towards corruption ties back to Mithraism, which imposed a stringent morality upon its followers. Contrary to academic misinformation, this variety of sun worship didn't die because it was elitist- the Emperor Aurelian had established an exoteric solar religion apart from the Mystery cults during his reign. It died because it insisted on a severe morality in business as well as personal matters. And with bone-crushers like Aurelian (nicknamed manu ad ferrum, meaning "Hand on Sword) in its ranks, it had the ability to enforce that morality.
Aurelian was assassinated for opposing corruption, which became a way of life as Rome became increasingly beholden to foreign merchants (we see this paralleled with the NYC-based law firm and the provincial U-North). Likewise, Diocletian opposed profiteering and deceitful business practices.
The last sun-worshipping emperor of Rome, Julian the Apostate, followed Aurelian and Diocletian's rigorous example and publicly chastised his cousins in the Constantine family for their mind-numbing hypocrisy and criminality. He too may have been assassinated for fighting corruption, which slowly strangled the Empire when the Christian emperors regained power.†
Is Gilroy consciously referring back to Mithraism and its stern ethics? Probably not, but he is obviously using mythic elements drawn from that same tradition. Again, perhaps we are looking at a kind of cultural DNA, where you can't separate the mythos from the message. Meaning that through cultural osmosis, we absorb the myths and their meanings, which are reconstructed through the power of the Collective Unconscious.
Clearly and unambiguously we see myth as a motivator, both for Arthur and Clayton. We see Clayton "die" and be reborn at sunrise (which we looked at in the context of a different Clayton recently). We see Tilda Swinton do a real world do-over of her Narnia role. We have symbolism galore, both overt and otherwise, if not always a clear handle on its meaning.
For reasons I can't explain, I believe that Myth needs to exist in the non-physical realm for it to truly realize its power. Meaning that it loses its power when it is literalized. I think that the Gnostics understood this, I think the philosophers understood this.
Another problem is when people diminish the power of Myth by trying to actualize it. Michael Clayton is powerful exactly because I don't know all of the mundanities of the character's lives or their temporal connections (which too much fannish sci-fi tries to reintroduce, as in the various Stargates or The Dead Zone series). These characters exist outside of temporal restriction, which we see symbolically referenced when Clayton destroys his watch in his flaming chariot.
I think a new understanding of Myth is an integral component in our conscious evolution, and I very much suspect that storytellers like Tony Gilroy agree.
*Clooney also starred in a couple movies in my top 50- Three Kings (about the betrayal of the Kurdish resistance after the Gulf War) and The Perfect Storm (which was set in my old summer stomping grounds, Gloucester aka Innsmouth and co-starred my former neighbor Mark Wahlberg and my teenage lust object, Diane Lane).
† Despite what some apologists would like you to believe, the "Eastern Empire" was a glorified city-state with a geographic buffer that shrank relentlessly before finally surrendering to Islam.
Saturday, April 18, 2009
If you haven't been following the action on The Solar Satellite, you've been missing a lot. This blog has been (relatively) quiet while I clear my plate, but its sister has been buzzing with a wide range of stories charting the emergence of our new sci-fi/synchro reality consensus. It's been incredibly liberating; take a break, find a story, link it up and get back to work. I have felt increasingly bogged down by my growing inventory of Secret Sun posts-in-progress, so this has been a very refreshing change of pace.
Aside from the obvious time constraints, I've been looking at it as a way of letting go of this need to package the narratives and letting the stories tell themselves, at least those stories that fit into my personal reality-perception construction. Which is just a pretentious way of saying I'm simply dealing with stories that cover the same themes we look at here. There is so much going on all at once that I'm never lacking for material. As long as the material is out there, the blog will continue at its present pace.
That being said, I'm working today on one of those monster Secret Sun posts. Look for it Monday at 0:00 EST.
Wednesday, April 15, 2009
Here's a sci-fi scenario for you: In 2015, the country is split into at two separate entities. The northern and coastal states are incorporated into a new federation with Canada, which is run on technocratic principles and gives rise to cloning farms, genetic engineering, cybernetics and mandatory, lifelong education.
Meanwhile the southern and western states are opened wide for multi-national corporations- relentless drilling, strip-mining, clear-cutting and factory farming have reduced millions of square miles into a moonscape. Unions, minimum wage and OSHA are completely dismantled in this new confederation, as are public education, health care, libraries and other New Deal legacies.
Something out of Firefly or Star Trek?
Maybe not- the shills are revving up the rubes as I write. Huffpost:
AUSTIN, Texas -- Texas Gov. Rick Perry fired up an anti-tax "tea party" Wednesday with his stance against the federal government and for states' rights as some in his U.S. flag-waving audience shouted, "Secede!"
An animated Perry told the crowd at Austin City Hall -- one of three tea parties he was attending across the state -- that officials in Washington have abandoned the country's founding principles of limited government. He said the federal government is strangling Americans with taxation, spending and debt.
UPDATE: Perry is a Bilderberger, which makes total sense in my little sci-fi scenario. Cheers to Zane for the tip.
UPDATE II: Sci-fi is just sci-fact that hasn't happened yet, dept.: Looks like the shills are onboard- Limbaugh (CFR) and DeLay (CNP) are pushing the meme now. Does anyone still wonder why I don't take politics seriously anymore?
Tuesday, April 14, 2009
Friday, April 10, 2009
I've written several posts of the increasing use of solar/sun worship imagery in Christian churches, but I must say that this ad was particularly shocking. A storm rages while actors speak about how terrified they all are of same-sex marriage, but the clouds part when a National Organization for Marriage spokesmodel/shill chimes in, and we see a glorious money shot of old Helios Sol Invictus when the NOM logo flashes. This group is the creation of former journalist Maggie Gallagher, who got caught up in a bribery scandal a few years back.
Speaking of scandals, I'm sure you've read about the Boss being named as the other man in a divorce proceeding:
Businessman Arthur J. Kelly named the Jersey rock 'n' roller as the reason for the breakup of his 17-year marriage to Ann C. Kelly, according to a complaint filed in Superior Court in Monmouth County last month."YOU'RE NOT 17"
This is not the first time Springsteen, who has been married to E-Street Band member Patti Scialfa for 17 years, has been the subject of alleged infidelity.
Of course, it was the sightings of strange flying globes over an Obama rally that Springsteen played at in Phila(e)delphia that got me looking into the emerging Sirius symbolism in the media. Those UFOs may or may not be alien, but the magical 65 MPH "balloons" that the two "pranksters" let loose in NJ certainly were not out of this world. We probably won't find out what was really going on that first night (which of their lies are we supposed to believe?) but happily they got off with the lightest-possible slap on the wrist for endangering aircraft at local airports:
BUT THEY ARE...
On April 1, they published an article and series of videos on the website eSkeptic explaining how and why they created the hoax.
But one day after the expose, Morris County Prosecutor Robert A. Bianchi held a press conference condemning the hoax, saying the floating balloons posed a potential fire hazard and could have interfered with air traffic at nearby Morristown Airport.
In court Tuesday, Carlucci accepted a plea deal from Rudy and Russo's attorneys to cite the pair for an ordinance violation. He ordered the pair to serve their community service for the Hanover Recreation Commission, working specifically with youth.
"If you were a pair of 17-year-olds, I would tell you to grow up," Carlucci said to the men. "You're not 17."
Rep. Spencer Bachus (R-Ala.) puts the number of socialists in the House at 17.Everything that's going on in politics almost leads me to believe that there's a plan afoot to split the country in two in the next few years, which is why we're seeing increasingly radical rhetoric coming from all of the footmen of the GOP. But you know me- I'm crazy. As soon as I saw the red state/blue state map after the 2004 elections, I said to myself "that's how they're going to split the country," something I've been expecting for the past two decades. Then the clear-cutting and strip-mining and coal-burning and drilling and dumping can commence without interference from coastal do-gooders.
"Some of the men and women I work with in Congress are socialists," Bachus told local government leaders on Thursday, according to the Birmingham News.
Bachus gave the specific number of House socialists when pressed later by a reporter.
Either way, whenever I hear shills in the media talking NWO or UFO, I'm going to ignore them and try to find out what is really going on.
Keep an eye out because I will be responding to comments from the past few days over the weekend. This has been an extremely tough day and week for me, but I don't want your thoughtful and always-helpful comments to go without reply.
Wednesday, April 08, 2009
Things are still relentless around here, so I haven't been able to work on any of the 50 or so posts I have in the queue. In the meantime here is a very interesting talk by David Hatcher Childress on megalithic structures in South America. Awesome stuff- one of my goals in life is to visit all of the sites Childress discusses here.
I've watched a million Von Daniken and Hancock documentaries but hadn't picked up on Puma Punku in Bolivia until the recent History Channel AAT thing. This is a mind-bending site that defies conventional explanation. I'll be looking at this site in depth here in the future.
Along with everything else.
In the meantime, don't forget there are tons of interesting headlines on The Solar Satellite.
Tuesday, April 07, 2009
Dan Aykroyd seems to be pursuing a second career as a UFO researcher. Or at least a UFO expounder, as Unplugged on UFOs documentary stems from a series of interviews taken by David Sereda, whose own ruminations we looked at a week or so back. Interesting in light of the Sumerian and secret society mythology he wrote into Ghostbusters or the UFO/MIC connections in My Stepmother is an Alien, which Jake talked about here.
Fascinating guy- these little chats are well worth watching whatever your stance of UFO and ETs may be. Aykroyd seems devoid of idealism and Hollywood piety, always a good thing.
Secret Sunny tidbits- Aykroyd costarred in movies with both Mulder (2001's Evolution) and Scully (in House of Mirth). Also appearing in Evolution was Julianne Moore, of The Forgotten fame.
Aykroyd also put in one of his best performances ever as a manic-depressive hitman in Grosse Pointe Blank (which starred John Cusack) in which he recited Revelation 13.
UPDATE: How weird is this? Soapie informs us that Dan Aykroyd was on Martha Stewart today, fixing up some
Monday, April 06, 2009
The shuttle program has introduced a number of different shapes for the logos/patches, though most seem to have stuck to some variation on the circle or oval or rectangle. This whole triangle thing is quite eye-catching, particularly given NASA's semiotic connections to Egyptian mythology, well documented by Hoagland and Bara, as well as on this blog.
All but one or two of the Apollo patches were circles, including the most famous of them all, Apollo 11. The iconic design has been reworked for a new project...
...that being the Altair lunar landing module. What caught my eye (no pun intended) here was the old "eye-in-triangle" motif, familiar from Masonic iconography. Here the Earth plays the part of the Eye. As far as I know this is a new variation, in that the Eye is usually meant to symbolize the Sun and/or the Moon.
The Orion spacecraft was unveiled on March 30, giving us a tidy reference to 33 and 17 (add the numerals 3302009). And yet there are 13 stars on the patch! This design is much like the Constellation, adding in the all-important stars of Orion's Belt, well familiar to fans of Robert Bauval. Funny how Hoagland used to speculate on NASA's original logo incorporating Orion and here it is now, out in the open. Just like everything else these days.
Dan Brown fans might be amused by the use of Da Vinci's Vitruvian Man icon in the EVA Systems patch (EVA is a life-support equipment program for astronauts). Again the triangle and another encoded 13 (possibly a Templar reference, given the Masonic influence in NASA). Note: The Vitruvian Man is also on the Italian Euro dollar coin, which is a whole other topic.
So NASA is using triangles instead of circles now. Big deal, right? However, the thing that got me thinking on all of this was when I was watching Close Encounters of the Third Kind and noticed the folks in the alien/human exchange program were wearing triangular mission patches, which also had that old eye-in-triangle riff on them. And CE3K got me thinking back on the possible origins of the eye-in-the-sky motif.
With all the high weirdness- and the high tech hardware- in the air these days, you can't help but wonder if this new triangular design motif might not have some deeper meaning, other than the usual Masonic connotations. We're getting hit with so much from so many directions that this might not seem all that significant, but given NASA's symbolic fixations, it could be an important clue nonetheless.
It certainly fits in with the tenor of these very strange times we find ourselves in.
Sunday, April 05, 2009
These guys claimed they did all of this themselves- four separate times- with balloons, helium tanks and road flares. Sounds like they spent a bit of money on this little experiment, don't you think? Those flares run about 10 dollars apiece, helium tank rental is what, 50 bucks or so? Those kinds of balloons are probably a couple bucks a pop.
Call me stubborn, but I didn't believe those lights were aliens then and I don't believe that those two "skeptics" were just a couple of lone pranksters now. As I wrote:
I'm not sure if these UFOs are balloons or ETs (my hunch is they're neither, and may be some new mil-tech) but I certainly love the semiotics of it all (Phoenix! Buto! Orion!) And that's all that really matters on The Secret Sun.So what stinks about these "revelations?" Just this- no one is addressing the basic issue how balloons could travel in a 20 mile arc in less than 18 minutes. Except for one commenter on a skeptic blog:
posted 01/07/2009 11:01:47 AMUFO as in unidentified, not necessarily "alien." The reaction of the "skeptics" is helping to cement my longtime suspicion- that they are merely loudmouthed stalking horses and shills for the Cryptocracy, which is extremely well-represented in Central/North NJ.
Hi everyone. Before I tell my story, I just want to let everyone know I do not believe that extraterrestrial beings have ever visited this planet. With that said, I witnessed these lights on Monday night, and they were not flares. My friend and I were driving in Morris Plains, and these 5 bright red lights flew (at a fast rate of speed) over our car, then climbed into the sky. After hovering for a bit, they made quick descents, (hundreds of feet) then climbed quickly again. They were unison for the most part, but were not following any kind of wind pattern. I refuse to say it was extraterrestrial, but it was NOT flares. It will remain a UFO in my book.
Saturday, April 04, 2009
Synchronicity is a funny old thing. I've been knee deep in research this past week for my next book, reading about Cybele and her mind-bogglingly crazy cult. On Friday I had to drag my tired, old, aching carcass into Masonic Manhattan for a documentary interview. The location for the shoot was up in the air, but finally I was called up to the Empire Hotel near Columbus Circle.
The last time I was up in that neck of the woods was last Beltane, which I wrote about here. But coming back from the interview I was stunned by this bizarre alignment- as you come down Broadway, the Trump International globe lines up with the Cybele shrine (also known as the Maine Monument). And in that same northwest orientation we see in the Stairway to Sirius- and the Atlantis Palm.
And as Thuthie wrote recently, this type of globe (modeled on an armillary sphere) is eerily similar to the Stargate in the movie version of Carl Sagan's novel Contact. And just to add even more Synchromystic incestuousness to it all, Loren Coleman had recently asked me about these globes (there is one theory that Baphomet was actually an armillary sphere).
Since I only saw the Cybele shrine from a distance last time, I moseyed over for a closer look. Quite a beautiful piece of neoclassical art. All sorts of gods- Poseidon, Osiris-Dionysus, etc.- are depicted, but right there on the masthead is none other than our old chum Harpocrates, who we recently looked at in relation to U2. Note that U2 are now indelibly inscribed into the Manhattan landscape.
Note how he is situated near the eagle's head, foreshadowing Horus-Apollo (look at another view here). Is that the message of the statue itself? Or could this juxtaposition be identifying Harpocrates with Ganymede, who ascended to heaven on the wings of Zeus and became the celestial water-bearer? (Note: if you haven't already, check out the Ganymede symbolism in The 40 Year-Old Virgin here).
This would makes sense in light of the water/nautical symbolism of the shrine. Is the Magna Mater -the Star of the Sea- steering the godship towards the Aquarian Age, as symbolized by the fountains that lie directly in her path?
at right and fountains and point-in-circle obelisk are at center.
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