Sunday, January 31, 2010

Nazca or New Mexico?

Two of these photos are from the Nazca lines in Peru and two are from the new Spaceport America in New Mexico ("The Land of Enchantment").

That's all.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

What the Hell is Going on Up There? (UPDATES)

This came out of nowhere:
CAPE CANAVERAL — President Barack Obama will ask Congress to extend International Space Station operations through at least 2020 but abandon NASA's current plans to return U.S. astronauts to the moon, administration and NASA officials said Wednesday.

NASA since 2004 has invested $9 billion in developing the Constellation program's Ares I and Ares V rockets and the Apollo-style Orion crew capsule for missions to the moon, Mars and, in the event no commercial means becomes available, the International Space Station.
This is particularly surprising not only because of the worldwide space rush (with both private companies and sovereign governments pumping out new hardware at an astonishing rate) but also because we were told the LCROSS bombing mission (which was meant to detect water ice beneath the permafrost) was the first step in building bases on the Moon. And if you remember, the exopolitical community cried foul in the weeks leading up to the launch:
The NASA moon bombing, a component of the LCROSS mission, may also trigger conflict with known extraterrestrial civilizations on the moon as reported on the moon in witnessed statements by U.S. astronauts Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong, and in witnessed statements to NSA (National Security Agency) photos and documents regarding an extraterrestrial base on the dark side of the moon.
I obviously can't corroborate any of that, but one thing is for certain- to everyone watching, the LCROSS mission was a total dud. It very much looked as if the rocket was disabled and disarmed well before it struck the surface. As Richard Hoagland wrote:
No One ... anywhere on Earth -- from the most psyched amateur to the professionals at the largest terrestrial observatories, even to the Hubble Space Telescope itself in close Earth orbit -- none of these folks or instruments saw ANYTHING actually hit the surface of the south pole of the Moon!
Nevertheless, weeks after the disastrous display NASA pulled out their secret decoder rings and declared yes! the LCROSS mission was a smash success!

And exactly two months later we saw a much more impressive missile display over the skies of Norway, on the eve of Obama's big Nobel speech. Everyone seemed to accept the Russian missile story or chalk it up to HAARP (which is Conspiranese for "magic").

And this past week, more missile madness- two days before Obama suddenly reverses course and cancels a long-running, well-funded and highly-anticipated Moon program, another strange missile appears in the northern skies, this time over Canada.

No one has claimed credit for it. What's more, the Canadian government says it's not even a missile. How about that?

And in the midst of all of this, the unthinkable- after years of attacking, ridiculing and blacklisting anyone who spoke about aliens above a whisper, a blue ribbon panel of scientists get together at the Royal Society in England and discuss the very real possibility of alien contact.

One scientist even strikes this explicit cautionary note:
Governments should prepare for the worst if aliens visit Earth because beings from outer space are likely to be just like humans, a leading scientist is claiming.
Which reminded me of this story which we looked at earlier in which the famous remote viewer Ingo Swann warned not only of alien lunar bases, but also of hostile aliens:
(Swann's) book describes his experiences with an ultra secret government agency where he is asked to remote view the dark side of the Earth's Moon. They observed mining and manufacturing operations are along with human looking extraterrestrials. An E.T. base on the dark side of the moon had extensive buildings, roads, and human forms digging.
Swann also says that things aren't so copacetic between the national security state and the aliens:
Swann makes it very clear that our government is very much intimidated by these ETs. They are not friendly. He concludes that extraterrestrials are living on earth in humanoid bodies. He also talks about the fact that DENIAL of the ETs is a patent fact. The question is WHY?
"Why?" Hostile aliens in human form walking the earth? If that were true, do you not think that might make a few folks kind of uneasy?

Then there are these apocryphal quotes, from Apollo 11 astronaut Neil Armstrong, whose behavior over the years has seemed peculiar to some observers.
Professor: What REALLY happened out there with Apollo 11?
Armstrong: It was incredible, of course we had always known there was a possibility, the fact is, we were warned off! (by the aliens) There was never any question then of a space station or a moon city.

Professor: How do you mean "warned off"?

Armstrong: I can't go into details, except to say that their ships were far superior
to ours both in size and technology - Boy, were they big!...and menacing! No, there is no question of a space station.
Maybe in this light, Obama canceling the Constellation program is a bit less surprising. Remember that the Apollo 11 boys were quite adamant that NASA forget the Moon and turn its sites on Mars while meeting with Obama on the 40th anniversary of the Moon landing (or whatever) at the White House.

In any event, the cancellation of Constellation is not going to discourage folks who believe the Apollo missions were faked or those who believe that we've been warned off the Moon by outside forces.

Speaking of NASA, there are reports of gigantic UFOs appearing in close orbit around the Sun:
NASA’s Stereo spacecraft monitoring the Sun began registering huge spherical UFO’s in the vicinity of the Sun around January 18, 2010. According to one observer, the UFOs “appear to be moving as they are in different positions on many [of the NASA Stereo] photos, and are huge possibly at least the size of Earth.

Physicist Nassim Haramein says ET UFOs access our solar system through the Sun’s star gate. (like in Star Trek IV!- CK)
So what the hell is going on up there? Is this all working according to those apocryphal warnings about a space war attributed to Werner Von Braun? Maybe, but it's very hard to square the cancellation of the Constellation program with all of that. At the very least, Constellation would offer excellent cover for a military program. At most, it would provide a highly desirable strategic platform.

How about "Project Blue Beam", or more accurately some real-life secret program for faking an alien invasion that is something other than a Fundamentalist fever dream? Could be, but it's all unfolding in such a random, scattershot manner, it's hard to divine any obvious agenda.

But there is one thing I think we will see and that's a whole hell of a lot of water-muddying in the days to come. So always watch the hands and not the lips.

UPDATE: I don't know what to make of what is going on with NASA. This interview with NASA's new chief claiming that any future space flight will be strictly international is extremely strange, especially given that this impacts Florida economically, which is an important swing state for Obama.

What I am hearing is that we might be seeing an end to NASA's manned space flight programs for the time being. What I am seeing is a man who's certainly charming enough, but seems extremely nervous, is talking very quickly and isn't making a tremendous amount of sense when it comes to explaining this policy. This is all very, very strange.

UPDATE: What's even stranger is that Obama's NASA overhaul was announced on the 42nd anniversary of the death of Gus Grissom. For those not familiar with the bizarre Obama-Grissom sychronicities, click here and scroll down.

I'd say that this announcement is a pretty significant addition to this ongoing Grissom obsession, wouldn't you? Having followed these strange, almost ritualistic connections with the President, I'm downright shocked.

UPDATE II: Just so you can see how much has changed since LCROSS, watch this video from 60 Minutes where NASA was talking openly about cities on the Moon.

POSTSCRIPT: If I were going to write a sci-fi screenplay about all of this I would have LCROSS be a last ditch effort to destroy an alien base with some kind of superweapon which was then foiled by the aliens in front of the entire world. In turn they would then show off all sorts of exotic weaponry to terrify the world's leaders into acquiescence. The authorities' hand is forced and so a meeting of prominent scientists was convened to begin to condition people to the existence of aliens, which was then followed by some kind of disclosure and/or contact event.

What do you think- that sound like a hit to you?

Thursday, January 28, 2010

USO in Newfoundland? Plus: Stairway to Sirius Archived

I've compiled all of the chapters of the recent 'Stairway to Sirius, Revisited' series on The Solar Seminar, so they can be read as a single piece. It's all very long and winding, but the synchery is all the more remarkable for being so. Click here to climb the Stairway once again...

I will be compiling other megaposts from popular series on the Seminar in the future as a permanent resource for advanced syncho/psychonauts.

POSTSCRIPT: OK. What the HELL is that? It shot out of a sleepy harbor in Newfoundland and looks like nothing I've ever seen before. The obvious answer is some kind of exotic new missile, but you can't help but think of the timing. And how wrong it looks. Read this, courtesy of UFO Mystic. More here, including the customary denials from the military.

UPDATE: Canadian gov't issues blanket denial of missile launch. Link courtesy of StrangeEye.

Here's a brief history of Unidentified Submersible Objects. More from India Daily. The full scoop from Timothy Good.

UPDATE: Don't forget this strange object. Obligatory tortured explanation here.

UPDATE: Much less compelling are Google Earth pictures printed in The Sun. However, one was taken in L'Aquila, Italy, smack dab on Highway SS17.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The Royal Society and the Rising Alien Expectation

"Royal Society meet to discuss if extra-terrestrials are here on Earth"

This headline comes not from a UFO magazine or even the Weekly World News. It comes from the Times of London, probably the most prestigious newspaper in the English-speaking world.
The premise might sound like the film Men in Black, but this week it will consume the great minds of science at a meeting of Britain’s most venerable institution, the Royal Society.

Paul Davies, a physicist at Arizona State University, will suggest tomorrow that the search for extra-terrestrial life should be focused right under our noses. His audience will include representatives from Nasa, the European Space Agency and the UN Office for Outer Space Affairs, while Lord Rees, President of the Royal Society and Astronomer Royal, will also lead one of the sessions.

Addressing the meeting to mark the 50th anniversary of the Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence (SETI) programme — a quest that has fallen far short of its objectives — Professor Davies will argue that demonstrating that life has appeared more than once on Earth would be the best evidence yet that it must exist elsewhere in the Universe.
Has SETI really failed, or is it simply a gatekeeper front for a real contact program that doesn't use a ridiculously obsolete technology like radio waves? Why don't they just look for alien smoke signals?

Maybe the fact that SETI is so intimate with CSICOP pretty much tells us all we need to know, seeing that the latter organization spends an inordinate amount of its time protecting established belief systems from competition.

We have a pretty good inkling from our own networks that not only is radio obsolete, but that the more complex a communications grid becomes, the more difficult it becomes to detect:
Davies' call for alien-hunting scientists to look to their own backyards came as a pioneer in the search for extraterrestrial life in outer space told the conference the job appears to be more difficult than previously thought.

Frank Drake, who conducted the first organized search for alien radio signals in 1960, said that the Earth — which used to pump out a loud tangle of radio waves, television signals and other radiation — has been steadily getting quieter as its communications technology improves.

"Very soon we will become very undetectable," he said. If similar changes are taking place in other technologically advanced societies, then the search for them "will be much more difficult than we imagined."
So, what we do we think of the SETI program now? Becoming undetectable certainly has an evolutionary advantage for an advanced culture. The Telegraph ran the same info under this fascinating headline: Earth becoming invisible to aliens. Which, of course, assumes that aliens exist, a possibility many orthodox (read: 'government') scientists have been dismissing for most of my lifetime.

Or maybe it was the usual angry-nerd myopia- anything that can't be put under the microscope does not exist and we will hound you to your grave for saying otherwise. But now we see the reason for all of those expensive telescopes, since no sane person wants to spend all of their time looking a hunks of rock on the other side of the galaxy:
Our chance of finding alien life is greater than ever, says Britain's top astronomer

The chance of discovering alien life is greater than ever thanks to improving technology, Britain's leading astronomer said today.

Lord Rees, the president of the Royal Society and Astronomer Royal, believes new space telescopes will help us focus our search because they are capable of detecting earth-like planets around distant stars.
Then there's this:
The first Earth-like planet outside the solar system will have been discovered by the end of the year, one of the world's leading astronomers said yesterday.

Professor Michel Mayor, the scientist in charge of the team who detected the first extrasolar planet in 1995, claimed that the chance of finding a planet that is habitable for humans is now imminent.
Quite a confident claim. All of the excitement inspired this fevered editorial:
Are aliens out there? Heavens, I hope so!

Stars such as Gliese 581 could be home to aliens that are still at the caveman stage, or alternatively aliens which have become extinct a million years ago. Aliens who do not, in other words, have the wherewithal to use radio transmitters.

After all, if aliens had stumbled upon the Earth 100,000 years ago they would have found nothing but hairy men and women with spears.
Right. See "Intervention Theory." Then there's this:
Some people claim that our planet was so hostile in its early years that life must have arrived, fully formed, from elsewhere, carried here as 'cosmic spores' by comets or meteors.
Others disagree, like Francis Crick, who discovered DNA, the Tree of Life.
“Is it possible,” I asked Crick, when I reached him at the Salk Institute in San Diego, California, “that our DNA came from another planet?”

“I published that theory twenty-five years ago,” said Crick. “I called it Directed Panspermia.”

“Do you think it arrived in a meteor or comet?” I asked.

“No,” said Crick. “Anything living would have died in such an accidental journey through space.

“Are you saying that DNA was sent here in a vehicle?” I asked.

“It’s the only possibility,” said Crick.
Let's also go back a few weeks to what Richard Dawkins, the renowned evolutionary scientist said:
It could be that at some earlier time somewhere in the universe a civillization evolved by probably some kind of Darwinian means to a very very high level of technology and designed a form of life that they seeded onto perhaps this planet. Now that is a possibility and an intriguing possibility and I suppose it’s possible that you might find evidence for that if you look at the details of biochemistry or molecular biology you might find a signature of some sort of designer.
Ooh, very naughty of you, Richard! Back to the Royal Society confab, we also have Davies essentially repeating the same cosmology we saw in Mission To Mars:
One suggestion, by the physicist and cosmologist Paul Davies, is that life might have arrived here from the planet Mars, which was once rather more benign than Earth, being smaller and receiving fewer 'hits' from space debris.
In which case, we are all Martians and should be looking for fossils of our ancient ancestors on the Red Planet.

Davies, whose new book, The Eerie Silence, comprehensively tackles the question of ET, thinks that perhaps a radio search is not the way to go. Maybe, instead, we should look for direct evidence that aliens have visited our neck of the galactic woods in the past.
OK, stop right there- Davies is now saying what Richard Hoagland has been saying for 40 years, and has been ruthlessly excoriated for, I might add. Why the change of heart? Why are these people discussing all of this?

And what could all of this fevered speculation possibly be based on?:
Aliens visiting Earth will be just like humans, scientist claims

Governments should prepare for the worst if aliens visit Earth because beings from outer space are likely to be just like humans, a leading scientist is claiming.

And while aliens could come in peace they are quite as likely to be searching for somewhere to live, and to help themselves to water, minerals and fuel, Conway Morris will tell a conference at the Royal Society in London tomorrow.

"Extra-terrestrials … won't be splodges of glue … they could be disturbingly like us, and that might not be a good thing – we don't have a great record."
That's fascinating, and Jack Kirby would certainly concur- but what is he basing this on? He sounds awfully confident what aliens look like and what they act like. Which brings me to my next point...

During the OJ trial, legal observers excoriated Marsha Clark for the glove fitting debacle. The point they made is that a good prosecutor would only have a defendant try on a pair of gloves only if they were absolutely sure they would fit beforehand. So if these people are talking about xeno-Earths and alien psychology and all of the rest of it, is this based on any kind of foreknowledge? Or is this all a big show for the media?

In order to answer that question you need to look at what people are doing and not what they're saying. Dubai's seen-from-space firework displays were so startling to me not because they were banging on about putting them on for orbiting spacecraft, but because they weren't. But the fact remains they spend vast sums of cash entertaining the stars with productions that were just a mess of smoke and noise for anyone on the ground- or even up in some of those Flash Gordon skyscrapers.

In that light, this story certainly caught my eye - NASA is creating a wireless Internet that will span the lengths of the solar system:
NASA's overhaul aims to boost space communication by as much as 50 times faster than today's data transfer rates, so that a Mars mission squeaking by on a few megabits per second might someday get as much as 600 megabits per second, if not more.

By doing a wholesale upgrade of a unified space communication network, Younes can offer mission managers capabilities that they would otherwise have never dreamed of. He has already targeted 2018 as the latest date for integrating the three existing space networks.

But one of the biggest communication revolutions will come from laser-driven optical communication, as opposed to current space communications based on radio frequencies.
That's fascinating, but why? Nothing we have out there now will be able to use it. I guarantee you they're not doing all of this for giggles and grins. There's a huge fleet of spacecraft- both public and private- ready for missions we can only guess at. Not only that, but private companies are now developing space stations and space habitats. Why? For who? Read this:
Bigelow is now eying 2015 as the year when the larger human-rated habitats will be in Earth orbit, ready for boarding. All that is predicated, however, on launch availability — be it on an Atlas 5 or the yet-to-fly Falcon 9 rocket under development by private booster builder Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX). It will take seven rocket flights, he said, to hurl the elements for the first Bigelow Aerospace complex into space.

The mission of Bigelow Aerospace "is to build the be occupied by geniuses that can do really interesting things in those buildings...and these buildings just happen to be in space," Bigelow explained. "We want to facilitate what the dreams of people are, whether they are national dreams or corporate ambitions."
"These buildings just happen to be in space."


So taken separately the Royal Society shindig, the new Space Rush, the seizure of the ancient texts from the Iraq/Babylon museums, and the massive sci-fi blitz at the multiplexes may not mean much. Or the fact that the Vatican- which, after all, just recently got around to admitting Galileo's theories were sound- is all of a sudden so fascinated with ET.

Taken together? That's a whole different story.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

TVOD: The Dance of Kali

Maybe we need a more specific term for this growing subgenre of sci-fi that explicitly reinterprets ancient religious concepts in the service of technobabble-driven storytelling. Seeing how this take on 'Kali' is yet another example of sci-fi's return to its Theosophical roots (which itself has sci-fi roots), how about 'Theosophiction'?

I'm not exactly sure what to make of Sanctuary and I'm not exactly sure it does either. Sometimes it comes across as Torchwood's Canadian cousin/knockoff, and sometimes it exudes a bit of a Warehouse 13 whiff. It's certainly the lesser of the former and the greater of the latter. But it also has a fascinating connection to the Stargate constellation in the person of producer/star Amanda Tapping, though I much prefer its tone to the SG-1 and Atlantis (which no matter how hard I've tried are simply too goofy for my palette). Stargate: Universe is more promising, but I'd really prefer they drop the BSG handheld camera routine.

This two-part episode was probably my favorite of the series so far, with gods and demons interacting with humans on a backlot Bombay. The Bollywoodian dance of Kali (towards the end of part 2) is impossibly ridiculous but is performed with such conviction by male lead Robin Dunne that you buy every single minute of it.

What can you say about a series in which Bigfoot is a regular cast member and Kali is a guest star? Where Sherlock Holmes and Jack the Ripper drop in thanks to the aid of some ill-explained godtech? Where a team of MTV Real World wannabes track down monsters whose provenance is never truly established?

I'm not sure, but this season finale made for some pretty entertaining television.

Non-US readers try this.

UPDATE: And then there's this.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Avatar, or Superman in Reverse

Avatar just pounded its philosophical opposite The Dark Knight into the box office dust, so James Cameron now has the top two grossing movies of all time under his belt.

As with any hugely successful film, the writs against Avatar have started flying from various authors claiming infringement. Strangely enough, the Frank Herbert estate seems to be holding fire, though we've seen that Herbert's 'Pandora' books might seem to have as strong as case as any for creative borrowing. As we've discussed, the film also borrows liberally from Edgar Rice Burroughs' John Carter of Mars stories, themselves influenced by Hindu concepts - by way of Theosophy.

This is an important point, since the incorporation of occult ideas into pop culture (specifically the weird mix of Hindu and Western mysticism popularized by Theosophy) was most certainly a conscious process in Burroughs' time, but has become so ingrained the DNA of our culture that many- if not most- of the people playing with these memes today have no idea where they spring from.

In fact, far too many geeks openly sneer at esotericism and the occult, completely oblivious to the fact that sci-fi and superheroes are a direct outgrowth of it. Indeed, it's in pop culture- that is to say, the mythic realm- where all of those weird esoteric ideas would ultimately triumph.

There was a fascinating yet disastrous attempt to develop 'spiritual sciences' (now labeled as 'pseudosciences') after the collapse of the Theosophical/Spiritualist movements, as well as the rise of the proto-New Age movement, but all of the spiritual striving of those old Victorians would take a major detour- first into 'junk culture' (crappy pulps, crappy comics, crappy movie serials) and then into the mainstream as computer technology won the day for 'geek culture' (itself a pseudo-religious outgrowth of the old 'junk culture' paradigm) by allowing the uninitiated to truly step into all of these alternate realities that heretofore only existed in the geek imagination.

An ongoing economic upheaval roughly similar to the Industrial Revolution is creating a compelling psychological demand for these realities, this time in the form of high-tech entertainment and not religion, as it did in the Victorian Era. Despite the various cults and sects constantly popping up, it's increasingly unlikely that a mass movement like Spiritualism or Theosophy could fill the void left by the erosion of traditional religion in the West.

It's all the more than ironic then that the two big Christmas season genre blockbusters- Avatar and Sherlock Holmes- are both the direct result of the influence of esotericism on pop culture that I traced in Our Gods Wear Spandex. Arthur Conan Doyle was a lifelong adherent of Spiritualism and Edgar Rice Burroughs took concepts lock, stock and barrel from Theosophy.

From Spandex*:

Carthoris and Thuvia of Mars, illustrated by Frank Frazetta
Burroughs’ Mars stories are alternately known as the 'John Carter, Warlord of Mars' series or among hardcore fans, the 'Barsoom' series. What is most remarkable about the Mars stories is that Carter reached the Red Planet not by rocket, but by using the occult art of astral projection. Writing from Carter ‘s point of view, Burroughs describes how this occurred:
"My attention was quickly riveted by a large red star close to the distant horizon... As I gazed at it on that far-gone night it seemed to call across the unthinkable void... I closed my eyes, stretched out my arms toward the god of my vocation and felt myself drawn with the suddenness of thought through the trackless immensity of space.”
Writer Fritz Leiber later weighed in on the esoteric roots of Burroughs' space-faring hero in an article entitled "John Carter -- Sword of Theosophy," which ran in the fanzine Amra in 1959. Leiber noted that a pamphlet on Theosophy's alternative history "sounded to me very much like good old Barsoom with its green men, white priests, levitating battleships, egg-laying princesses, and all the rest. In short, I got the impression that Edgar Rice Burroughs had found in Theosophy a rich source of background materials for his Mars books..."
Leiber also noted the other themes in the Mars stories that were initially popularized in Theosophist literature, including "instantaneous interplanetary travel by thought power...airships held aloft by tanks of these rays... creation of phantom and living matter by thought power... and finally the oppression and persecution of wise freethinkers by an evil priesthood."
Sword-and sorcery legend L. Sprague De Camp added that "(a)ltogether life in the Theosophical Atlantis resembles nothing so much as life on Mars as pictured in the Martian novels of Edgar Rice Burroughs."

More importantly, Burroughs claimed that all of the Martian races descended from the 'Tree of Life', a term borrowed from the Kabbalah.
Not only can John Carter astral project himself into space, he is also immortal. And because of the lighter gravity of Mars, he is a superman there. He becomes a Martian warlord when he marries the Martian princess Dejah Thoris. It's hardly surprising in this context that the John Carter stories were such an influence on occultist/rocket scientist Jack Parsons.
But not only do we see traces of the Barsoom stories in Avatar, but also from other Burroughs' stories:
Following the success of Tarzan and John Carter, Burroughs introduced the Pellucidar novels, starting with with At the Earth's Core in 1922. In this tale, a group of scientists discover another world inside the Earth's crust. This world, Pellucidar, is inhabited by dinosaurs and - believe it or not - psychic pterodactyls.
Now, do you remember those Pandoran pterodactyls, with whom the natives psychically link up to via their bioorganic USB hubs?

Later Burroughs would introduce the 'Carson of Venus' books, starting with The Pirates of Venus, first serialized in Argosy in 1932. This series detailed the adventures of astronaut Carson Napier, who crash lands on Venus. Like Carter, Carson has occult powers, in this case telepathy.

All of the these psychic supermen seem to reflect Burroughs straining towards a new race, one that was not only physically powerful and morally upright, but possessed extrasensory, occult powers that would act to truly separate them from the benighted masses of humanity.
Burroughs is one of the founding fathers of the modern superhero (and superhero merchandising), and his work directly inspired comics creators like Lee & Kirby and Siegel & Shuster. Cameron's Jake Sully is not only a future-tech reincarnation (or 'avatar') of Burroughs' heroes like John Carter and Tarzan, he's as much of an evolution away from Siegel and Shuster's Superman as Superman was from characters like Tarzan. In many ways, Sully is Superman in reverse:
• Superman was the powerful alien who came to Earth from his dying planet and takes on the identity of a meek and mild mannered reporter (a geek in other words).

• But Jake Sully is the disabled Earthman who travels to a planet filled with powerful aliens and takes on the identity of a fierce alien warrior.

• His Lois Lane is a fierce alien warrior princess and his Jimmy Olsen is an excitable Earth-geek in Pandoran drag. His Jor-El mentor figure is Sigourney Weaver, who herself is playing the reverse of her Ripley character from the Aliens films.

Avatar's Lex Luthor (Colonel Quaritch) is similar in motivation to Grant Morrison's take - world domination is his right and privilege and Sully/Superman is an alien interloper (or worse, a race traitor) standing in his way. Like Luthor and Superman they start off as allies.

• As a bonus, maybe you can toss in Selfridge (pronounced "self-rich") as Sully's Perry White (or better yet, his J. Jonah Jameson).
But there's a more important twist- reversal- that is making Avatar such a huge hit. Superman is a god, and his power comes by birthright. He did nothing to earn it, and he can't give any his of his power to you. In the real world, Superman would be the most hated man on the planet, and no one would rest comfortably until he was destroyed or sent back into space.

But Jake Sully could be you.

In fact, for almost three hours, he was you. And that's exactly why so many people are lining up to see this film.

Maybe one day, you could trade your crappy human body for an alien upgrade via the sorcery of genetic engineering. Maybe you could be redesigned to fit seamlessly into your environment without need of air conditioners, automobiles and antibiotics. Maybe your great-grandchildren will one day live on a planet that isn't constantly trying to kill them with typhoons, tornadoes and typhus.

Cameron has become the most successful filmmaker in history by pressing people's buttons. He knows who we hate- the rich, the powerful, the bullies, the back-stabbers, the ass-kissers- and he makes them suffer horribly. And he also usually makes sure that the character you most identify with is given the extraordinary power to do so. Whether it's a pet killer robot or a cybernetic shell or a giant alien body, his films empower the viewer to take revenge on symbols of our daily oppression.

So it isn't just the stunning virtual reality-level cinematography, or the lush, verdant world so meticulously displayed onscreen that's pulling in the crowds. It's the intimation- almost certainly intentional on Cameron's part- that one day we will have the technology to make you a god, or at least an avatar of one.

Maybe watching a future memory is enough for now. But kids especially are becoming increasingly acclimated not only to superpower memes but also to virtual environments, whether through 3D film or games like World of Warcraft. And sooner rather than later, someone is going to take Cameron's ball and run with it, and create a Pandora-like environment for a game or VR installation in which the viewer controls the avatar.

Which itself could be a dress rehearsal for something even more compelling. Or dangerous, even.

UPDATE: I almost forgot about 'Augmented Reality'.

* These passages are from an earlier draft of the book.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Talking Jung on Occult of Personality

Greg Kaminsky and I had a very intense and freewheeling Skype-a-thon on the work and teachings of Carl Jung a few months back and he's posted it in the new members section on his Occult of Personality website. This was a great opportunity for me personally, since it allowed me to spell out exactly how Jung's work has influenced and informed my own work, both in my writing and this blog as well.

Greg has done very important work on the OoP site, providing a measured and lucid forum for the discussion of esotericism and this new members section will provide researchers access not only to vast archives, but also to the kind of indepth discussions such as the one we had on Jung. If you're seriously involved in the study of topics such as Alchemy, ritual magick and the history of Western occultism, I think this new service will be a major boon to your work. Click here for more info.

Postscript: I was struck by a funny thought the other day. Switzerland has this stodgy, ultraconservative reputation, but three of the biggest influences on the cultural matrix that informs The Secret Sun- Jung, von Däniken and Albert Hofmann- are/were all Swiss. As is Billy Meier*, strangely enough...

UPDATE: 77Meridian makes note of a strange Swiss space-time anomaly in The Daily Mail...

* Decidely not an influence, merely another weirdness superstar from the Alps.

Friday, January 22, 2010

The Siren: Aliens, Abuse and Otherness (UPDATE 1/23)

Like several other films before it, Peter Jackson's new film The Lovely Bones features one of the central mysteries of the Secret Sun-o-verse, Elizabeth Fraser's heart-ripping cover of Tim Buckley's 'Song to the Siren' (recorded for the This Mortal Coil supergroup project). Jackson is obviously a Cocteau Twins fan- he hired Fraser to sing on the Lord on the Rings soundtracks.

He obviously hears the anguish in the song, seeing the film is a story about a murdered teenaged girl looking back on her life (shades of 'Poptones' by the recently-reformed Public Image Ltd.). Part of that pain comes from Fraser's own history as an abuse survivor, but part of it came from her essential otherness (which lent itself to Cocteau Twins EP title), which I don't know if Jackson is aware of.

I'd dare say Chris Carter understands (or intuits) both, since he namechecked This Mortal Coil in a pivotal episode of the X-Files mytharc (which dealt both with abuse and alien possession in the form of 'walk-ins') . He also had Mark Snow compose a 'Siren' soundalike for 'Scully's Theme,' which Carter had rewritten so the vocals were Fraseresque glossolalia.

My first post on Elizabeth Fraser was entitled "Irrefutable Proof of Extraterrestrial Life," but I figured back then people wouldn't appreciate the facetious tone of that, so I changed it to Not Quite Human. That's what people would think when they first heard her singing back in the day. Those aftershocks remain- the Guardian recently described her as "The voice from another world."

But that led me to dig further into her story (which a lot of her fans didn't necessarily appreciate), particularly the relationship she had with Tim Buckley's son Jeff. The funny thing is that I sensed there was much, much more to that relationship than anyone had known. It wasn't until much later that Fraser acknowledged the extent of their very secretive union.

By the time I was done with it all, the whole story seemed like mythology of the most archetypal- and tragic- variety. The synchronicities at play were stunning, as were the ever-present water and mermaid symbolism (not the least of which is the fact that Buckley drowned under the shadow of the Memphis pyramid). Which itself ties into all of the Sirius mysteries we've been puzzling over, lending the 'Siren' a resonance I wasn't consciously processing when I was first covering the story.

Indie director Gregg Araki is also obsessed with Liz, and has used Cocteau Twins songs in several of his films. Aliens (imaginary) and abuse (real) both figure in his 2004 film Mysterious Skin, which features Liz's sublime howling on the classic 'Crushed'. Araki even hired Liz's former Twin Robin Guthrie and sometime collabrator Harold Budd to score the film.

But the price of otherness is an inability to adapt to a world that is increasingly cold, cruel and soul-less. Fraser's done precious little since the Twins split in 1997. What little she has done hasn't had that life-changing alien energy of her classic 80s work, not the least of which was 'Song to the Siren'. I think Buckley's death damaged her more than we could ever know.

Given the otherworldly resonance surrounding Fraser, it's worth noting that 'Song to the Siren' was first heard on Tim Buckley's 1970 album, Starsailor. There's a lot more to this story- somewhere along the line something slipped in from outside in some way I can't explain or even describe. But that might be happening more than we might suspect.

UPDATE: Another publicity shot from the film.

UPDATE II: "Like the fish."

The Lovely Bones trailer (and soundtrack, apparently) uses another Cocteau Twins song, 'Alice'. Note the 1973 timeline- that was also the year of a major UFO wave in the US, and many of the visuals here are oddly reminiscent of abduction lore. Speaking of which, Samantha Mulder was abducted two weeks before this girl's murder in the X-Files mytharc. The 'Salmon' surname is fascinating in light of the Siren/mermaid lore, obviously.

And why was an old Seventeen magazine cover pasted in over a copy of Vogue for the publicity still? Very odd.

Mysteries within mysteries...

UPDATE III: Just heard this Siren song on Technicolor Web of Sound. While I was pondering the Ape of Thoth, interestingly enough. From the movie Head.

SYNC LOG UPDATE: Justin Timberlake performs Leonard Cohen's 'Hallelujah' for Haiti last night, which was one of Jeff Buckley's signature songs. Cheers to Faoladh.

SYNC LOG UPDATE II (2240 EST): Just got up from documenting some synchery, walked into living room just as Lovely Bones TV trailer came on.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Astronaut Theology: The Star-Sailor

The ancient historian Plutarch tells us "That when Osiris reigned over the Egyptians he made them reform their destitute and bestial mode of living, showing them the art of cultivation, and giving them laws, and teaching them how to worship the gods." OK, that's a fairly standard story across the ancient world, particularly in these high civiliations.

We also know from the old myths that upon his second death, Osiris "was translated to the nether regions where he reigned as 'Lord of the Underworld and Ruler of the Dead.' Here he presided at the bar of judgment and assigned to the souls of the departed their proper reward for virtue or punishment for sin."

Again, not unusual in the context of ancient mythology.

But I do have one problem with all of this. If Osiris is consigned to the Underworld...

...why do we always see him sailing around the stars in his flying boat?

I realize that this was an ancient civilization with a whole host of cults with different cosmologies. And I do realize that this was all very symbolic and mystical (where AMA- 'anything means anything') but there seems to be a basic contradiction here that I can't wrap my head around.

This isn't just a question of some outlier cult with their own mythos, this cuts to the core of what (we think) we know about this enigmatic belief system. Particularly this idea that the Pharaohs became Osiris and death and went to join with him in outer space. There's a distinct whiff of cargo cultism about all of that- a secret that was lost and attempted to be retraced.

This also ties directly in the theology of the Great Pyramid, inarguably the most compelling architectural work in human history. We know now about the alignments of the shafts from the so-called King and Queen's chambers.

Orion and Sirius are the best known, but there are also the Ursa constellations, one of which is embedded into the state flag of Alaska. How fascinating that we saw not only Sirius symbolism during the last Clownshow Presidential election, but also Ursa Major personified by former Gov. Sarah Palin. What are the odds?

You gotta love these coincidences...crazy stuff.
But not only do we see these depictions of Osiris shooting around the stars, we often see him showing the other gods the way to something or other. Now I know there is this elaborate cosmology surrounding all of this, but ask yourself- what if all of that was added on later?

And then there are images like this, with Osiris and Horus in their flying disk, and Isis leading them to the stars. Again, maybe there's some elaborate mystical code for all of this, but the way I see it, the image itself is much more compelling and powerful if taken at face value. But that's just me, that's just something I enjoy.

But there's also the fact that Osiris was adopted by other cultures and often depicted as a man piloting a flying disk. Again, is there some mystical interpretation to be drawn here? Maybe. But which interpretation do you think would be more impressive to an ancient race- the mystical or the literal? What do you think would inspire a greater sense of awe and amazement in the ancients- the distant, nearly invisible movements of the heavenly bodies, or bunch of guys scooting around above their heads in a flying disk?

I'm pretty sure I know what would impress me.

Things can get a bit anomalous in this light- here's Osiris in a ressurection chamber being, uh, resurrected. Note the coiled snake at his feet. For some reason, I can't help but think of that snake in the Denderah lightbulb/not-lightbulb.

I also can't help but think that maybe no one wants to consider the possibility that this extraordinary civilization could have worked out the science for a simple electric light fixture on its own. Why? Because that might lead people to begin to question what other secrets we haven't been told. Maybe if you pull on that one thread the whole tapestry will come apart.

Being a lifetime geek, I can't help but look at that Osiris image and think back to the thousands of comics and sci-fi book covers with the exact same motif- a resurrection chamber, powered by some exotic form of energy, bringing the dead back to life.

Stargate fans will remember just such a device in the original theatrical film. How interesting then that the Air Force was so interested in "helping out" on the Stargate TV series.

Then there are images like these, which show some strange kind of energy transfer from the body of Osiris into the enigmatic, undefined Djed pillar. We saw the pillar (or a version of it- the term Djed is nebulous in the extreme) supporting the weight of the Denderah lightbulb/not-lightbulb, and here we see this transfer of solar and stellar energy into what looks more like some kind of a protective suit than some nebulous mystical abstraction.

Again, another icon well-familiar to hardcore geeks such as myself. Here's an image from Jack Kirby's prophetic OMAC: One Man Army Corps, showing a similar kind of energy transfer into his new form.

Humor me, just for a second: what if the original revelation behind all of these star-sailor images was lost? What if this ingenious culture compensated for that loss by embroidering this complex and fascinating mythology around it?

This is not a moot point by any stretch of the imagination. Why? Well, consider the hundreds of billions being funneled into the various space programs- both public and otherwise - during this excruciating worldwide recession. We've come to take it all for granted, but 'space stories' are no longer just a back-page footnote- they're front page news, every day now. There's more going on up there than at any time I can remember.

Then think back on all of the stories we've looked at here that link ancient Egypt and space colonization- the new OSIRIS-REX rocket is only the most recent (and egregious) of this constant association. Don't fool yourself- the people in charge of these programs are not flakes. They're as serious as a heart attack.

So why does any of this matter? It matters because it obviously matters to people making decisions that affect all of our lives.

Monday, January 18, 2010

"It's Not What it Looks Like"

One of the countless mysteries of ancient Egyptians is how they were able to create elaborate works of art in underground tombs and temples without any substantial evidence of the use of torches or lamps during their creation. Some orthodox Egyptologists suggested that a complex system of mirrors were used to reflect light from the surface and through the labyrinthian tunnels, but attempts to duplicate that effect have failed.

Then there is this famous (or infamous) frieze from a deep, small and hard to access chamber in Denderah, showing what looks (at least to those not at risk of being blacklisted by the Egyptian Antiquities Ministry) like a giant light fixture, complete with bulb, filament, socket, and even a cord attached to a generator, with the enigmatic Djed pillar acting as a stand for the oversized bulb.

But wait- it's not what it looks like.

Egyptologists have argued with this interpretation, pointing out that the filament is a snake and the socket is a lotus flower and the cord has nothing to do with electricity.

Well, that settles that, right?

I mean, Egyptian art was entirely devoid of symbolism, right? When it comes to strict, utilitarian design principles, the Egyptians give the Bauhaus movement a run for their money. They would never, ever incorporate design motifs taken from the natural world into their tools or furnishings.


And they never used correspondences from nature to describe scientific concepts.

Look at this bed, for instance. Look at those clean, sleek, geometric lines- the lack of texture and extraneous ornamentation. Who could possibly believe that these people would depict an active electric filament as a coiling snake?

And the lotus flower- it's as obvious as the nose on your face. After all, no one....

...has ever used floral motifs...
...when designing a light fixture.

Especially a lotus.
This is a symbol of the sun, of creation and rebirth. Because at night the flower closes and sinks underwater, at dawn it rises and opens again.

The generator? Now that's just a box on which Horus sits, supporting that shape that's not a bulb.

You know- Horus, the god of...umm...light.
He was a god of light. His eyes represented the sun and the moon. He was also the brother of Osiris and Seth. Sometimes he was the son, or the husband of Hathor.
And that cable attached to the not-generator? That's the Solar barge traveling across the sky.

Who could possibly interpret that as an electric cable, through which energy travels to an electric light fixture?

Sun, light- crazy talk. No connection whatsoever. Who believes this stuff? Especially when you find it all in a deep underground chamber?

Never mind the fact that the lotus, Horus and the barge trail were all symbols of light.

No possible connection to a light-bulb at all.

OK, enough of that.

You know, I had this idea for a cartoon in the old 60s Playboy style. A guy comes home from work and finds his wife in their bed with a girl, two guys, a sheep, and a Yeti in bondage gear. They're all on a tarpulin coated in canola oil and littered with sex toys, and there's hardcore clownporn playing on the giant screen TV. The punchline?

"It's not what it looks like."

The joke is only slightly less stupid than some of the attacks you see leveled against independent researchers questioning the officially-held version of ancient history. After all, there is compelling physical evidence of outlying technology in the ancient world (as well as anecdotal evidence such as the Ark of the Covenant).

Reasonable people can disagree on these issues, but the firestorm of scorn and ridicule that arises whenever questions are raised indicates a distinct lack of confidence in the so-called 'orthodox' explanations. It leads me to wonder how fragile the old Victorian-era 'certainties' have become.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Stairway to Sirius: Avatar, Pandora and the El-Osiris Effect

Note name change on post- I struggled last night to come up with a title and one came to me after a good night's sleep...

Well, the synchronicities keep on coming....and pointing in the same direction. That being that elusive water-world somewhere out there whose fingerprints keep popping up in the Memestream.

It was a nice day and the missus and I decided to enjoy the sunshine and run some errands. Before we left she mentioned that friends of ours wanted to borrow some DVDs from our library. They're sci-fi fans too and I recommended the mini-series version of Dune as we left the house. We made a stop at the used book store and as we pulled up in the lot we were talking about synchronicity.

The store has a great bargain section where you can get books three for a buck. But you have to be check in often since the turnover is so high and you never know what will show up.

But speaking of Dune, there was a Frank Herbert book in bargain bin- The Lazarus Effect, from Herbert's 'Pandora' series.

Yeah, we're going there.

Here's a quick overview of the setting for these novels, taken from the Wiki entry for The Jesus Incident:

The surface of the planet Pandora is 80% seas in which lives a type of kelp which appears to be sentient. The land is populated by a number of predators who are efficient killers requiring people on the planet surface to adapt to a highly stressful lifestyle living within a fortress. The main fortress is known as Colony, a small city that is predominately underground.

The planet Pandora itself with its non-human inhabitants is another main character of the book, echoing a strong version of the Gaia Hypothesis. As the book progresses, the reader discovers that the kelp, the hylighters, and other creatures of the planet appear to be linked into a large entity with a shared consciousness, Avata (!).

Linked to a shared consciousness called Avata. Well, ain't that a kick in the pants.

Here's a quick synopsis of The Lazarus Effect, replete with AstroGnostic significance:

In The Jesus Incident Herbert and Ransom introduced Ship, an artificial intelligence that believed it was God, abandoning its unworthy human cargo on the all-sea world of Pandora. Now centuries have passed. The descendants of humanity, split into Mermen and Islanders, must reunite... because Pandora's original owner is returning to life!

Here's a more indepth description:

On the ocean world of Pandora, mutant humanity diversified into two groupings, the Islanders and the Mermen. The Islanders tolerate any mutation, any deformity, as long as it is not dangerous to the community. The Mermen strive for their vision of pure humanity, revolted by mutations, seeking perfection.

The Islanders have adapted to the ocean life-style, going with the currents on their great living islands. Their lives are often harsh, difficult and short, there are too many deformed, maladapted people and too little space, too little food.

The Mermen have rebuilt a high-tech environment beneath the sea. They struggle to restore the old Pandora, as it existed when humans first arrived. To achieve this, they must recreate the land, make islands in this wide ocean. However, both societies have adapted to a world without surface land and they may no longer be willing or able to readapt. The Mermen strive also and restore consciousness to the world-spanning Kelp, but in the early days on Pandora it was this self-aware Kelp that threatened humanity and it was humanity that destroyed it.

We looked at Avatar in the context of water planets in the last installment in the ongoing Stairway to Sirius series:
Solaris is ostensibly a Soderbergh film, but fits more comfortably in the James Cameron canon, who took a very active hand in the film as producer. Solaris initially looks more like a blue sun in the film than a water planet, begging Sirius comparisons. What's more there's a good chance Solaris had a major influence somewhere along the line on Cameron's Avatar, given its themes of alien identity and a sentient biosphere.
Which inspired reader Astronut to point out that :
Plenty of watery significance to Avatar methinks. Didn't you notice how the flora and fauna of Pandora seemed quite marine life inspired. Then there's the blue skinned naavi bringing mermaid imagery to mind more than anything else. And what with the Pandora atmosphere being unbreathable by humans, Cameron's fantasy world just seems like the ocean with all the water drained out!
So we have Pandora and 'Avata', no less, along with mermen, a water planet, artificial intelligence and alien creation/intervention all in the series that I hadn't even heard of until this afternoon.

Strangely enough SoapFan namedropped Herbert in the Avatar post comments.

And as I've said many times in the past, whenever a controversy pops up in the media over a film, it's usually designed to distract us from the deeper issues at play. The ridiculous potshots that ideologues of every persuasion are taking at Avatar only obscure far more interesting repercussions from the film- this direct link we now have through Herbert's Pandora books to the mysteries relating to Sirius, the Sirens, Oannes, and on and on. Just as I said on William Henry's program- keep your eye out for this very powerful constellation of memes.

But it gets better...

The first book in the Pandora series was Destination: Void. What do we see on the book cover? A domed habitat, just like the ones we've been talking about the past few days.

What are the odds?

The second book? The Jesus Incident. Here we find a book cover with the rocket/obelisk motif.

We're batting a thousand here.

After The Lazarus Effect comes The Ascension Factor, with the Mermaid/Siren that kicked loose all of this madness to begin with...

... when she/they appeared on the season finale of Californication.

Here's an alternate cover for Void. This ties into a post we'll be looking at in the very near future. If you're thinking "Osiris", your intuitive/perceptive powers are very well-honed.

If you go back and read the posts from the past two weeks, you'll see strange hints pop up in the news. Like this recent story speculating on strange aquatic creatures the Japanese call the 'Ningen', who may or may not be swimming in Antarctic waters.

Or recent calls for dolphins to be treated as non-human persons. Not to mention that incongruously watery COP15 logo in the city of the Mermaid.