Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Alien Dreaming: Transformers Gonna Transform

If you've been in a cave the past few weeks, you've probably missed the thousands of images of Megan Fox relentlessly posing at various premieres of the new Transformers movie. This film is obviously a very big deal for the wizards of Hollywood, even bigger than the new Star Trek movie.

  Why? It's based on a toy/cartoon line that is of importance solely to young males who encountered it at a very early age. What's the mass appeal here?

I'm way too old to have been bit by the Transformers bug, but I'm not too surprised to see it delving deep into the murky waters of our Collective Alien Dream. I remember seeing the toys it was based on in the early 80s at the old Million Year Picnic in Cambridge and the cartoon hit the airwaves right around the same time I began to get serious about my own inner explorations. So I do feel a connection to the franchise in a strange way. 

And I've always been amused by the name, since it was also the title of the classic Lou Reed album that contained the trans-chasers anthem, "Walk On the Wild Side." That album was produced by David Bowie, that eternal resonator of androgynous alien occult identity. 

In that light, I'm sure the meme of transformation this film is broadcasting into our collective consciousness will have deeper implications than the mere mechanical shape-shifting we see in the movie already.

But again, the film is lifting themes lock, stock and barrel from The X-Files as well. The whole idea of an alien artifact infecting our brains with a new language would not be lost on Bowie and Reed's hero, William S. Burroughs, but here I'm thinking more along the lines of Terence McKenna's theories on hallucinogenic fungi as an intentional conduit for alien communication and the "Stoned Ape" concept of human transformation that McKenna preached. 

Put it all together and it's clear that McKenna had put his own spin on AAT. It's interesting that Shia LaBoeuf (fresh off his Indiana Jones AAT opus) begins his own alien dreaming when he goes to college (Princeton, in this case) since that's the time that many young people have their first encounter with hallucinogens. 

Likewise, we also see Mulder searching for the alien gnosis that "Doctor Sandoz" possessed at American University (it's at college that some young people also begin to manifest symptoms of schizophrenia, too).

Unlike Transformers II, the new fratboy-centric revision of Star Trek is essentially hostile to subtext, perhaps in reaction to the cumbersome esotericism the franchise had taken on. 

Deep Space Nine, for instance, is essentially the story of the Emissary of the Prophets transforming from man to god. The series is so laden with deeply subversive text (never mind subtext) I don't even know where to begin, but the mytharc also delved into the same themes of alien dreaming and alien identity that we'll be seeing the hermetically-seductive form of the newly-minted bisexual Megan Fox being utilized to put over into the adolescent group mind at the end of the month. 

 In "Rapture," Sisko encounters an Bajoran artifact that erases the last vestiges of skepticism left in his psyche. He gets a double dose of the alien gnosis, and as in Transformers and X-Files it not only leads to the revelation of alien identity but to the brink of brain damage as well. 

The revelation Sisko receives comes in the form of a lost city (that hoary favorite of occult fiction) that shows that the Prophets helped shape Bajoran civilization, just as the Godship in "Biogenesis" did for our own. AAT is everywhere in the Star Trek Universe, with our Federation friends sometimes playing the part of the Anunaki. 

 The funny thing is that when Sisko gets zapped it's clear that he's on an artificially-induced trip, and we see him alternating between a blissed-out state and a tumultous, psychic one. 

The impetus for this episode probably came from 2001: A Space Odyssey, which seems to have inspired McKenna's alien dreaming theories as well, with the Mushroom in place of the Monolith. But I'm fairly certain at this point in time that something else inspired Kubrick's vision, other than the somewhat dull Arthur C. Clarke story it's allegedly based on. 

Maybe not the same thing that inspired Jack Kirby's: we're talking something more in the Cary Grant sphere.

So watch these opening credits for A Man Called Hawk featuring the Emissary himself. Really fascinating symbolism here, about as subtle as a kick in the balls. Soak it in. And strangely enough, the Emissary teaches now at a New Jersey university (the Mason Gross School at Rutgers), though not the one we see in Transformers. But even so, a fascinating conjunction there. 

I'll end this with a repeated confession- those symbols that Sam sees in Transformers trailer? I see ones very much like them - a lot - when I close my eyes. First they appear in linear fields and then they morph into circular patterns that rotate too quickly for me to write them down. It's been going on for a few years now. 

Why am I mentioning them again? Well, I'm listening to a Terence McKenna lecture presently in which he describes DMT elves whose speech is expressed visually. I've never tried DMT, but I think I'm pretty familiar with those elves.