Saturday, January 09, 2010

Stairway to Sirius: Dream of Californicating


When I wrote about my struggle with conscious and unconscious symbolism the other day, it was based on the season finale of the Showtime series Californication. The series itself is a little farkakte, a little Star Trek-ie, in that the 40-somethings running around present-day LA doing the old 70s hedonism bit doesn't really ring true.

Neither does the fact that the fine young beauties of Southern California (some in their teens) find an unemployed alcoholic who's pushing 50 so sexually irresistible. But it's all very broad, and doesn't expect much in the way of suspended disbelief in the way an Entourage might. 

And it has a great cast- David Duchovny in the lead as Hank, Evan Handler as his hapless sidekick Charlie, the spunky Pamela Adlon as Charlie's trainwreck of a wife and the luminous, magnetic Celtic faerie queen Natascha McElhone playing Duchovny's lady love Karen, a pairing just oozing with Synchromystic resonance. 

Which will lead us right back to the main thesis of part one. Just you wait. But this is one of those instances where some very strange and fascinating symbolic hijinks ensure, pointing in some very familiar directions without a whiff of intent. Or conscious intent, I should say.

The pilot episode opens with a dream- set in Hollywood Forever cemetery. Our POV is from behind the gate, of this final resting place of some of Hollywood's biggest stars. We'll see a lot of water in this episode, from the sprinkers, swimming pools and other sources. 

This being LA we see a lot of palm trees, giving us the requisite Phoenix connection. It's important to not that this variety of palm, which has become such an LA icon, is not actually indigenous to California. They were imported.

As you'd expect, Hollywood Forever has a lot of Egyptian revival architecture, and Hank pulls up in front of this tomb, featuring the old UFO winged sundisk icon. Note the artificial lagoon as well.

Later we follow Hank into the Vista Theatre, which is another Egyptian revival masterpiece. This bit of comedy takes place beneath another flying disk. This is purely extraneous to the story- just typical art director eye candy. Hank is taunting a guy in front of him who's talking on a cell phone while Hank is trying to watch the film based on his novel.

But lo and behold we see more extraneous symbolism- the antagonist is wearing a caduceus on his back. So we go from flying disks to DNA- more appropriate to Duchovny's previous gig in The X-Files than a bawdy sex comedy. 

The cell phone and the Caduceus both resonate Mercury, but in a way I can't really make sense of. If there's some hidden message being conveyed here, I'm not decoding it. But it gives me an opportunity to drop another Francis Crick quote on you: "DNA was brought here in a aliens."

Back to Californication- Hank is seduced a freaky chick in a bookstore who likes to punch her sex partners in the face while orgasming. She then turns out to be Mia, the 16 year-old daughter of Karen's fiancee. The whole tableau has a Nephthys whiff to it, which Duchovny is certainly no stranger to. After Hank discovers Mia's age and identity, he's sent into a reverie of regret which is accompanied by a cover version of- wait for it- Elton John's 'Rocket Man.' 

I couldn't help but think of Temple's theories of the Nommo, hibernating up in the deep reaches of Saturnian space while these lyrics wafted up:

I miss the earth so much 
I miss my wife 
It's lonely out in space 
On such a timeless flight

Then I thought of some of the other love stories with incongruous symbolism tying back to the alien bioengineers gods of olden myth, many of which have to do with separation (the old 'boy loses girl' trope).

Let's fast forward to the recent season finale ('Mia Culpa'). We're back in another dream scenario - Hank drunkenly floats in a pool while his recent conquests swim around him like mermaids.

Or should I say Sirens (read: 'Sirians')? Water symbolism again, resonating Sirius and Oannes and all of the rest of the memes I've been advising people to keep an eye out for.

The villainous Mia reappears as well. She stole the book Hank wrote about their tryst, published it under her own name and score a big hit with it. But her agent/boyfriend Paul discovers the fraud, and wants to arrange some James Frey/J.T. Leroy reveal on Oprah, which would destroy Hank's relationship with Karen- and probably his life and career. So Mia (short for Maria) would be the cause of the Great Separation in the show's plotline.

Now I admit that you look at all of this wacky stuff enough there's a danger that your eyes will start playing tricks on you, but look at Mia's pendant and tell me... that a square-and-compass she's wearing? If so, where does that fit into the narrative? The whole idea of it being identified with the show's villain who "stole the book" is certainly fascinating.

Anyhow- there's a confrontation and we end up back in the water, where Hank whales on Paul. Very cathartic- and satisfying- scene. But Paul's having none of it and calls the cops. The Great Separation is just around the corner...

...and here we see Karen crowned with the old five-pointed star as Hank breaks the bad news -- a star composed of five interlocking tetrahedrons, no less.

Sure enough, we go out into the streets of Venice (read: Venus- more Hathor resonance) outside Hank's apartment. Check out the grafitti- "Dog Town", Venice's unofficial nickname. Interesting juxtaposition after that star we just saw, no? reminds me of that film Lords of Dogtown.

Who was the star of that film again?

Even better, there are two dogs there, reminding us that the 'dog star' Sirius is actually a binary star. The song playing behind all of this drama? 'Rocket Man' again, this time the Elton John version. Fascinating.

Now, here's where it gets really weird. As the cruiser takes Hank to jail the camera pans up into the sky. And who do we see out there in the Heavens above Dogtown?

The Sirens.

The episode ends back in the dream, with Hank submersed in that deep blue water. Rockets, stars, dogs, mermaids- quite a heady brew. Do I think any of this is intentionally (meaning consciously) tied into this Sirius narrative? 

 No, not at all. I could certainly be wrong, but the level of writing on this show- and the audience that it's going for - gives me no reason to believe the producers are doing anything but creating a sex comedy and tossing in some of the weird symbolism you might find in the shops on Melrose for purely decorative purposes. But that is not to say that powerful unconscious currents may not be at work. 

 That being said, I can't escape the whole juxtaposition of two of the most Synchromystically-resonant actors in history appearing together in this show. We have Fox Mulder, of whom nothing more need be said. 

And then we have Natascha McElhone, who played the Scully-nun in NBC's Revelations miniseries, but more importantly appeared with George Clooney in James Cameron's Steven Soderbergh's Solaris remake as Rheya ("Earth Mother") another of the great separation dramas we've looked at here. More on that film later. 

But let's look at George Clooney, aka Danny Ocean. Getting back to our secret war-thesis in part one, has anyone noticed how often Clooney plays someone working in intelligence? And even the Oceans 11 films seem more like spy films than heist films. This scene here is typical- Clooney plays a doublecrossed CIA agent confronting Christopher Plummer, whose character is a transparent Donald Rumsfeld stand-in. 

What film is this? Syriana. Or should I say Siriusiana? 

UPDATE: I just realized the vibe that struck about the Sirius stuff during the election- it was like these people were in on some joke that we were not. Like they knew what was going on and were yukking it up with the dog being a major issue, and all of the business about Obama being the man for "serious times." 

 I guess the question remains- what's the punchline?