Monday, March 29, 2010

TVOD: Caprica, or The End is Foretold (UPDATED)





I've been wracking my brains trying to figure out why Caprica resonates with me in a way that Battlestar Galactica still has not. It's not that I don't think BSG was well-written, well-acted and well-produced - I certainly do. I always admired the show, but it always had the faint taste of medicine for me.

That could be because of the mix of militarism and space opera that BSG offered up, and leavened with then-topical, paranoid leftist politics. Every time I happened to tune in people were either arguing in Spartan-looking barracks (or some other depressing military installation) or arguing in some boardroom. One episode dealt with a presidential election, which struck me as a bit superfluous during a life-or-death struggle with a race of killer robots. Being naturally averse to both politics and militarism there simply isn't the toehold for me in the BSG universe that the critics seemed to find.

But it could also be that I- like a lot of other viewers - see space opera as a playground for archetypes. Or gods, if you prefer. The two great streams of space opera- Star's Trek and Wars, bear little resemblance to modern-day reality and their characters are pure archetype. Which is exactly why they resonated so powerfully outside the core of Fandom. Ronald B. Moore chafed famously against the restrictions Gene Roddenberry put on the Trek Universe. Roddenberry insisted that the heroes of TNG be above the petty foibles of humanity, which is to say that Roddenberry wanted his characters to be gods.

Moore began to loosen these restrictions on Deep Space Nine and certainly exploded them on BSG. This excited the critics and the hardcore fans, but not necessarily the mainstream audience. Neither show was anything near what you'd call a commercial hit. Even in the context of the SciFi/SyFy network, BSG was a noble underperformer in the ratings. Which goes to show that Roddenberry understood what would get millions of Americans to tune into sci-fi, even if Star Trek got its ass kicked in the 60s by any number of shows no one remembers anymore.

Compared to the aforementioned shows, Caprica isn't really science fiction. I'm tempted to file it as magical realism, seasoned with the alt-reality trappings of old school genre fiction. Hill Street Blues took place nowhere, which followed in the tradition of Ed McBain's Isola, which itself followed in the tradition of Batman's Gotham City or Superman's Metropolis. Most of Caprica's technology is not exactly futuristic (certainly not on paper), a lot of it is archaic. But the point is that it takes place in a relatively familiar world.

But even so the ratings seem to indicate that Caprica is even more esoteric than BSG. The Iraq War and its aftershocks and the political ascension of religious fundamentalism gave BSG a very timely kick for some viewers. BSG was embraced by the political left as a metaphor for current events, though I think its was more appropriate to Bush's first term than his second.

Caprica is very timely, but these times are very confused, aren't they? Its world is as chaotic and unsettled as our own. The STO has a lot of touches of fundamentalist secret societies like Opus Dei and the Family, but their goal seems to be more Gnostic than Dominionist. Sister Clarice is DS9s Kai Winn redux, in that both characters are powerful Sarah Palin resonators. But Clarice wants to escape into the digital matrix, not rule the external world. That the Cylons eventually do is an accident of history.

Caprica is a prisoner of history, in that its end is foretold. That may be what's keeping it from finding an audience. Or maybe it's simply too esoteric for a populace that thinks American Idol and Jersey Shore are the summit of human achievement.

It's taking a shockingly long hiatus, and won't return until the fall. Hopefully RBM has enough juice to squeeze another season out of it. But seeing great shows like Sarah Connor Chronicles and The Dresden Files die- both of which I'd rank well above Caprica in potential mainstream appeal - doesn't fill my heart with sunshine and optimism.

These days optimism is a rare luxury. I've enjoyed my visits to Caprica so far, this recent episode especially. There's a few easter eggs for the Synchromystics along the way, so keep your eyes peeled.


Non-US readers click here.

UPDATE: Well, shortly after the Caprica season finale a real-life "Soliders of the One" was busted in Michigan:

Hutaree, the Christian militia in southeast Michigan reportedly raided by the FBI Sunday, was preparing to battle the Antichrist because "Jesus wanted us to be ready to defend ourselves using the sword and stay alive using equipment," according to its Web site.

"Six Michigan residents, along with two residents of Ohio and a resident of Indiana, were indicted by a federal grand jury in Detroit on charges of seditious conspiracy, attempted use of weapons of mass destruction, teaching the use of explosive materials, and possessing a firearm during a crime of violence," according to the government's press release, which you can read in full below.

The indictment describes an alleged plot that seems inspired by weapons more associated with urban warfare in Iraq than with rural Michigan.

The Hutaree members allegedly "planned to kill an unidentified member of local law enforcement and then attack the law enforcement officers who gather in Michigan for the funeral."

The indictment continues: "According to the plan, the Hutaree would attack law enforcement vehicles during the funeral procession with Improvised Explosive Devices with Explosively Formed Projectiles, which, according to the indictment, constitute weapons of mass destruction."



I don't know what to make of this story but strangely enough, the Hutaree seem to have a yen for 80s goth rockers Sisters Of Mercy, and use their music as the soundtrack for their promotional YouTube videos. It would seem that druggy, androgynous, underground rockers from England wouldn't pass muster with Christian holy warriors, but who ever said anything makes sense anymore?

It's tempting to write these guys off as some kind of cointelpro setup, but it all strikes me as being a bit too bizarre for that. And don't take this the wrong way, but none of those characters look like undercover ATF agents to me.

We'll see how widespread these kinds of groups become in the days ahead. I'm willing to bet that the ones that do won't be primarily religious, either. But as we saw in the 90s, these militia types tend to fold up their tents pretty quickly once the Feds start flexing their muscles. But if the economy keeps getting worse, all bets are off.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Must See TV: Cyberpunk Documentary



We saw clips of this for a recent William Gibson post, now here's the whole thing. Functions both as charmingly dated (g)nostalgia for disillusioned GenX'ers like myself and as history lesson for those who missed the movement the first time around. As I keep saying, Cyberpunk is suddenly relevant again for several reasons, not the least of which is that we find ourselves living in a Cyberpunk novel, and not a very good one at that.

So give this documentary a watch before or after (your choice) Caprica (the last episode before it takes a cripplingly-long hiatus). Or if you like, you can download it here and watch it on your portable digital entertainment device.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

AstroGnostic: The Power to Procreate with the Gods



Having cut my teeth on 70s comics, I can say that nothing that shows up in pop culture these days surprises me. Any weird esoteric or occult topic you can think of was yours for a quarter (or so) at your local spinner rack. There was a great innocence to it all as well - innocence being the lack of self-consciousness that took over the comics medium once it was banished from the newsstands. In the 70s all of this weird stuff was fresh and new and was approached with "hey, cool" kind of mindset, not the "look at me, aren't I outrageous?" mindset the British scribes brought to the table.

If the Brits were navel-gazers and the Yanks were naifs, the French were simply nuts. The wizards of Metal Hurlant and Pilote (the biggest French-language sci-fi comic magazines of the time) brought a stunning level of craft that dazzled American comics fans, but also proffered a Gallic contempt for narrative clarity that bewildered them. By the fourth or fifth bong hit, however, narrative clarity was irrelevant and the eye candy took over.

Although English-language translations were available at better comics stores, most American readers got their Franco-fix in Heavy Metal, then published by National Lampoon.

In 2004, Enes "Enki" Bilal took the old Metal Hurlant aesthetic to the silver screen in a way that 1980's Heavy Metal (with its dreary soundtrack of warmed-over cock-rock) or the dire Heavy Metal 2000 failed spectacularly to do. At first viewing, Immortel Ad Vitam might seem like a compilation of video game cinematics (there is also an Immortel video game) but repeated viewings ease the clunkiness and reveal the occult-o-delic numinosity within.



The story itself (based on Bilal's early 80s graphic novel triptych collected as The Carnival of Immortals) seems to resonate more today than it did in 2004, and certainly more than 1980. A giant pyramid hovers over a futuristic Manhattan (Paris in the comics), carrying Horus, Anubis and Bast. Horus has broken some godly law or another and needs to immaculately conceive a child before being put in stasis for his infractions. The whole aerial pyramid routine should be setting off bells and whistles to regular Secret Sun readers.

Just like today, Manhattan itself is a corporate Potemkin village, only here it's controlled by a biotech firm called Eugenix. Central Park is a bizarre kind of Stargate in which EBEs shift back and forth between this planet/dimension and their own. A strange mutant named Jill (played by Linda Hardy) appears in one of Eugenix concentration camps and is rescued by a scientist (Charlotte Rampling), who has more than just a professional interest in the blue-haired freak.

Horus then rescues a Baudelaire-quoting rebel leader named Nikopol (Thomas Kretschmann) from his suspended animation prison and initiates him in an abandoned subway (shades of Captain Marvel).

In a spin on the old walk-in trope, Nikopol then is possessed by Horus and sent after Jill in order to sow the god's immortal seeds with Earth's latest version of humanity (version 3.1, maybe?).

Again, this is not a world-beater by any stretch of the imagination. But it has a rich pedigree (at least for those of us who saw Heavy Metal itself as an alien communiqué) and is ripe to bursting with Synchronistic and semio-symbolic resonators. Highly recommended for regular readers and those in orbit or near-orbit of the Synchroverse. Best of all, there's not a Sammy Hagar or Foghat floor-sweeping in sight; the excellent soundtrack is supplied by Goran Vejvoda and Sigur Ros.

Speaking of the Synchroverse, I know Alejandro Jodorowsky's film work is admired around these/those parts (Stygian Port's done a lot of work of The Holy Mountain), but Jodorowsky's also done a lot of comics work, particularly with Jean "Moebius" Giraud. If you're looking for a sci-fi epic on par with Dune or Lord of the Rings, I'd recommend their landmark series, The Incal. For those of us who love Moebius' art but his storytelling not so much, The Incal is a revelation. Equally revelatory is the pair's religious psychodrama Madwoman of the Sacred Heart, which I think Ronald B. Moore and other Caprica honchos might have given a glance or two...

Sync Log Update 3/25: The morning after this post went up, Les Humanoïdes Associés - publishers of Moebius, Jodorowsky, Bilal, et al - announces its return to US publishing.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Alien Dreaming and the Widening Gyre, pt. IX: The Othernet



Well, a lot of you have seen the BBC Superpowers promo by now. It's fascinating not only on the face of it - meaning the alien subtext - but also in that it implies a separation of the human race between those who use the Internet and those who don't. There's a powerful yet unspoken posthuman subtext, but also a kind of techno-utopianism that I thought went out with the Quadra.

But the spot also caught my eye since it seems to have been inspired by The Outer Limits, particularly the second series, which aired on Showtime in the 90s.

Especially this episode- "The Beholder" in which a blind professor's sight is restored using- of course- a drug using technology developed in space. The professor's sight is restored, but he also is now able to perceive aliens- a beautiful, red-headed alien stranded on Earth, to be precise.

That's a common theme on the The Outer Limits; alien contact that comes about through a transformation of the individual. Contact that is dismissed by everyone else as a hallucination. Well, everyone besides shadowy government spooks, that is.


In Hollywood Vs. The Aliens, researcher Bruce Rux argues that various Intelligence elements on opposite sides of the alien/UFO issue have used Hollywood to disseminate their pro- or anti-alien propaganda. Rux also claims that information from classified reports on alien contact have been leaked to film and TV producers for storylines, and cites the original incarnation of The Outer Limits as an example.

The series was the work of one of those great American eccentrics this country is no longer able to produce. From Salon.com:
(Outer Limits') pedigree was filled with the sort of disregard for convention its content implied. Independent producer and Wellesian whiz kid Leslie Stevens, who created the show as a forum for his oddball notions about science and technology, was variously a Broadway playwright, screenwriter, film director and New Age mystic. Stevens' dilettantish stamina resulted in so many projects before, during and after "The Outer Limits" -- including a film spoken entirely in Esperanto and a handbook for something called "electronic-social transformation" -- that he gave the term "line producer" a new meaning.
If anyone was connected, Stevens was (which doesn't necessarily he had access to classified UFO information, mind you). He was of that old Brahmin stock that was usurped from power after World War II:
Born in Washington, D.C., Stevens was the son of the late Vice Admiral Leslie C. Stevens, inventor of the arresting gear used to halt carrier-based planes.

Next, high school graduation, three years of summer stock and enlistment in the U.S. Army Air Corps (he reached the rank of captain at the age of 20), serving as virtually a one-man production unit in putting on shows to maintain morale.

In 1946, Stevens enrolled at the Yale School of Drama and the next year began a three-year stint with the American Theatre Wing in New York.
The thing about The Outer Limits in its first incarnation (under Stevens and partner Joseph Stefano) is that it's not the standard disclosure/invasion narrative you might expect from the Cold War era, it's about very intimate contact with Other, a contact that takes on a numinous tangibility to anyone experienced in Psychonautics (and takes on interesting undertones if you read between the lines of Stevens' bio).

There's also a very deep and powerful hallucinatory strain in the original Outer Limits, as well as many of the episodes in the second series. And as in "The Galaxy Being" that intimacy comes out of fringe technology, like a modern day version of Dee and Kelley and their angelic visitations.

Then again, history always has it that angelic contact is usually a quiet, intimate affair. The rest of us usually only see the footprints.



But both The Outer Limits and The Twilight Zone have a predecessor, One Step Beyond, which set its foot squarely into the world of high weirdness with its "Sacred Mushroom" episode, which featured none other than Andrija Puharich himself. Apaprently the network forbade the episode from being rerun, but the series star John Newland (who underwent what was probably the first televised mushroom trip in history) told John Kenneth Muir it was a hit in the ratings.

Puharich is one of those idealistic fringe science characters who wound up in some very strange and dangerous company, nestling in some of the weirdest corners of the Intelligence community, eventually falling in Uri Geller and Lab-9. Puharich also seems to be one of the many inspirations for Fringe's Walter Bishop character- or maybe the William Bell character, even.

But if you've actually read Puharich's writings, it seems he crossed over into very strange territory. His Geller hagiography is filled his conversations with a VALIS-type orbital AI which filled his mind with the kind of florid religious language common with a lot of the early contactee cults. His view of aliens was not only highly reminiscent of Philip K. Dick, but also of Terence McKenna and John Lilly.

All of those men were extremely enthusiastic fans of hallucinogens and other mind altering substances. And as we've seen here, hallucinogens and alien contact may very well have a very deep pedigree - stretching all the way back to the Mithraic liturgy with its flying disks and tractor beams and all of the rest of it. It's also an integral part of many indigenous American traditions as well.

Note also that Dick, McKenna and Lilly lived and worked not too far from that locus point of human evolution where SRI was exploring remote viewing and other extreme possibilities, IONS was creating a curriculum around transpersonal psychology and other proto-New Age disciplines, and the early hippies were dabbling in an extremely powerful new hallucinogen called LSD-25.

And right in this neighborhood Xerox's PARC was laying the groundwork for personal computing, and various corporate and collegiate concerns were laying the ground for the ARPAnet, the Department of Defense project we now call the Internet.


TO BE CONTINUED

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Alien Dreaming Addenda: BBC Superpower promo



Thanks to Kool School for this fascinating link. I wonder if the director of this spot watches a lot of Outer Limits too- this imagery is straight out of a number of episodes, "Beholder" in particular.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Sync Log: Avatar



No one accused James Cameron of excessive originality with the screenplay to Avatar. But excessive originality is Hollywood-speak for "box office poison." Americans in particular are suspicious of new ideas when it comes to their entertainments, which Cameron seemed to acknowledge when he stated that he felt an original plot for the film would have "confused" the audience. Ideologues continue to assault the film (including Ray Kurzweil, depressingly) but I still like my interpretation of the the Na'vi as a post-technolgical culture, who've developed the ultimate in wetware networking with their planetary mainframe, Eywa.

This particular episode of The New Outer Limits should catch the eye of Avatar fans, since the basic elements of the blockbuster are firmly in place: a military/corporate expedition to a primitive planet in order to extract much-needed resources for a dying Earth, a conflict between a gung-ho military man and a bleeding heart female scientist, and giant, seemingly-primitive aliens. I'm sure it all comes from an old Robert A. Heinlein or Ray Bradbury short story whose title escapes me. But it's the ending of this episode here that fascinates me, and hopefully will do so for you.

Bonus: Vancouver junkies like myself will get a good fix of the primeval forests of British Columbia, well familiar to X-Files and Stargate fans.

And as luck would have it, I woke up chewing over ideas for this post, the episode's compelling connections to Avatar, as well as the implications of alien contact and the rest.

Then I opened my email and this little missive was at the top of the queue...

How about that?

But my question is this- why the hell are they soliciting for an Avatar DVD when the film is still in the Top 5?

NOTE: An interest in sci-fi films! Priceless. It should say "As someone who watches nothing but sci-fi films..."

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

It's St. Osiris Day Again!


Well, it's that time again- the Liberalia. Some of you may know it as St. Patrick's Day, but it was originally sacred to Dionysus (or Liber Pater as he came to be known after the clampdown on the Bacchanalia), as those who've read The Secret History of St. Patrick's Day know. And this brings us back to Osiris, the father (or Pater) of the Egyptian Mystery Trinity. Here's a sneak preview for those who haven't read the article:
In Egyptian mythology, Osiris was killed on the 17th day of Athyr, the third month of the ancient calendar.

3/17 is also the date of a Masonically-created holiday, St. Patrick’s Day. The story has it that the holiday was established by high level Freemason, George Washington, allegedly to reward Irish soldiers in the Continental Army. But “St. Paddy’s” has traditionally been a very minor Saint’s day in Ireland. Considering that the day has become America’s defacto Bacchanal (which takes us back to Osiris) it’s worth noting some of the parallels of this day with Solar mythology.
• Osiris was believed to be the source of barley, which was used for brewing beer in Egypt.

• It’s customary to wear green on St. Patrick’s Day and Osiris was known as the “Green Man”


• The root word of Patrick is pater, the Latin word meaning father. Osiris is the father in the Egyptian Trinity.
I've been so busy I haven't been able to get the fixings for boiled dinner- I suppose we can postpone the festivities until the weekend when I can make some fresh soda bread (the stuff at the store is always stale) and get a better deal on the corned beef.

NEW PODCAST

But in the meantime you guys can check out my chat with Derek Gilbert on his
View From The Bunker podcast. Unfortunately, we had some technical difficulties (meaning I think my son messed up my Skype headset while playing Call of Duty) but if you can futz around with your tone controls I think you might get a lot out of it.

Here's the spiel:
CONTRARY TO popular belief, St. Patrick’s Day isn’t an Irish celebration. It’s not even an American celebration, really.

Christopher Knowles, author of the fascinating blog The Secret Sun and the Eagle Award-winning Our Gods Wear Spandex: The Secret History of Comic Book Heroes, traces the history of St. Paddy’s Day back through Rome to ancient Egypt, and points out a lot of odd, highly improbable “coincidences” along the way.

Click here to download.

SACRIFICE AND EMPIRE

We talk about how Caesar was killed on the eve of the Liberalia, and how this assassination seemed to have a ritual undercurrent. After all, it was the death of Caesar that presaged the rise of Empire, something that continues to resonate to this day. I mentioned to Derek how Cleopatra had a relief carved at the famous Temple of Dendera of herself as Isis and she and Caesar's son as Horus. Could Caesar's death have been part of some secret master plan?

SUNRISE, AGAIN


Sunrise Beltane Ceremony On Glastobury Tor

Speaking of secret master plans, Derek and I discussed the strange May Day celebration the Dominionist crowd is holding at the Lincoln Memorial. Derek and Sharon then discussed the event in great detail on PID Radio here:

Christian and Jewish leaders are inviting Americans to join them at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., to pray and repent for how the nation has turned from God.

"May Day: a Cry to God for Our Nation in Distress" will take place May 1 from sunrise to 2 p.m. at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C.

This ties in to the reinvention of the Liberalia as St. Patrick's Day, in that a subtle form of paganization is being reintroduced (intentionally or otherwise) under the aegis of politics. With St. Paddy's it was ostensibly the Revolutionary War, even though the Irish soldiers in question were actually Ulster Scots, who were extremely hostile to the worship of saints.

Crying to God, but picturing Lincoln aka Zeus aka "God the Father"

We looked at the strange parallels with Equinox fertility rites and the "See You At the Pole" movement, now we have apparent Christians congregating at what is well-known as a replica of the Temple of Zeus at sunrise on one of the holiest days of the ancient pagan calendar (as you can see in the video from Glastonbury). Zeus aka Zeu Pater (literally "God the Father") takes his name from that same pater element we see in Jupiter, Liber Pater and St. Patrick. Read this:

After all, it is widely accepted that the Lincoln memorial was designed very purposefully to be reminiscent to at least one other such statue in history.

The Lincoln memorial is, in many ways, a direct copy of the Statue of Zeus which stood in the Temple of Zeus in Olympia, Greece, from 432 B.C. to sometime in the fifth century, A.D.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Spi-Fi: Caprica, Call of Duty and the Descent into Virtuality



Non-US readers click here.

Caprica's Daniel Greystone is an alternate reality version of Jaron Lanier and vice versa. For those of you who don't remember, Lanier- like Greystone- became a techno-celebrity in the early 90s selling an idea without an application. "Virtual Reality" was nowhere near the application stage- not really- in those heady days of 80 MB hard drives and 2400 bps modems. There were a few attempts- lame arcade stalls and neck-breaking helmet/headset devices that no one in their right mind wanted to wear. In fact, I'm going to go out on a limb here and predict that we'll probably bypass the headgear stage entirely and phase into some kind of neural interface with all of this technology.

But Lanier was not like Greystone in that Lanier was/is a hippie idealist who is horrified by the current state of the Internet and the rest. Just as the Diggers were by the zit-faced sheep who bused themselves to Haight-Asbury in the wake of the Summer of Love, and turned an elite Bohemian enclave into a hellish pit of exploitation- commercial, sexual, pharmaceutical, you name it. You see, too many of those star children that went to find themselves (wearing flowers in their hair) wound up raped, ripped off and strung out before The White Album was even released.

Same thing happened in the wake of the Summer of Digital Love, and the flotsam of the past two decades has soured Lanier (and others) on the techno-idealism they helped sell in the first place. Lanier has written a book (You Are Not a Gadget) shouting down techno-Babylon:

Lanier’s critique of the free-culture movement is trenchant, and it’s especially biting when he calls out the extreme Internet Pollyannaism of many Silicon Valley luminaries and ivory-tower cyber-law scholars. Lanier castigates the quixotic techno-utopianism (which he labels “cybernetic totalism”) of extreme digital-age futurists such as Ray Kurzweil and Kevin Kelly, who enthuse that a beneficent “hive mind,” technological “singularity,” or “noosphere“ is approaching. Theirs is a vision of the Net as an organism powered by the wisdom of crowds, coming together in a single, collective consciousness.

Lanier argues that such thinking is largely bunk, but he fears it could have dangerous ramifications for humanity anyway. He wants to refocus the inquiry about the Internet’s impact on society and culture around the question of whether it has bettered the lot of individual human beings, not collectives or crowds. The early cyberspace dream, he laments, was guided by “a sweet faith in human nature,” but this “has been superseded by a different faith in the centrality of imaginary entities epitomized by the idea that the Internet as a whole is coming alive and turning into a superhuman creature.”

Referring to these thinkers as “digital Maoists,” Lanier argues that their movement “starts to look like a religion rather quickly.”
Well, that's exactly what Caprica is about, isn't it?

Caprica is Rome with fedoras and Ford Fairlanes, as well. It's perfect casting that Polly Walker is the pivotal character in the evolution of the Cylons- because we're seeing a replay of Imperial Rome here. The confusion and chaos of Empire gave rise to the simple certainties of monotheism, which was a revelation in the babel of syncretism and religious deviation that cosmopolitanism gave birth to. Of course, it would take cold, hard steel- the "grey stone"- to finally settle the differences between all of the monotheisms (Jewish, Christian, Solar, etc.) vying for power and position in Rome (along with some typically Italian concession-making). By the time it was over it was all a world away from the ecstatic visions of Paul the Apostle, one of history's epochal visionaries.

Pity the poor visionary. They usually suffer and scrape to bring liberating, transcendent new visions to the world, but the world doesn't want liberation or transcendence. It wants money, sex and the satisfaction that only taking someone else's happiness away from them can offer the primordial reptilian mind within us. Unfortunately, religion is all too often the facilitator of this process. Social movements like religions always become what they set out to replace, because the world always ends up making the rules.

And the rules have it that virtual reality offers unlimited license- which we see in the very first scenes of the Caprica pilot. The Internet has done the same, which people like Lanier are beginning to rail against. And so it is that killing grounds like World of Warcraft and Call of Duty are the chosen environment for young males today. There's an eternity of information out there to immerse yourself in instead, but ringing those limbic, almost autonomic bells is what we're seeing in our emerging Virtuality. Hearing the rage that Call of Duty inspires coming from across the hall here sounds more like the Coliseum- or the Rubicon- than the Academy, certainly.

And we see it in Caprica- New Cap City is a free-for-all of testosteronic aggression and die-you -die finality. It's hypnotically gorgeous and arbitrarily lethal- just like the planet Earth in its natural state. Which is why civilization requires unnatural behavior- the suppression of urges and impulses, to be exact. Video game technology has heretofore offered an acceptable outlet for those urges, which is exactly why crime rates have fallen as resolutions and bitrates have increased.

But what happens as that digital-free-for-all and consensus reality continue to merge? I'm not sure Caprica- which ends up as Battlestar Galactica, after all- can necessarily tell us. The level of surveillance on Caprica seems miniscule to our own, for instance. I still think William Gibson has more to tell us than Ronald Moore, but there are any number of surprises lurking around corners that none of us are privy to as yet. Not even the visionaries.

But maybe the visionary's problem is that he's always trying to offer us shortcuts and surefire bets, in a world that will tolerate no such thing. Maybe only constant struggle is the answer.

Maybe that's the object of this holographic virtual reality game we're all stuck in.

Non-US readers, try TVDuck.com, as always.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Virtual Hilarity



I never watched VR.5 when it was on, seeing how I saw the whole VR thing as hopelessly passe by the time it came on (meaning I knew we were several generations of computing power away from seeing anything decent). It's incredibly hilarious now- talking about running full-immersion VR programs on dialup connections and with 40 megs of RAM, and showing off some of the worst computer animation you'll ever see in your life. On the plus side it's filmed in the Holy City, has Knowle Rohrer (aka the man called Jayne ) and Lori Singer cleans up well.

Watch the pilot episode here.

Seeing my son on Call of Duty morning, noon and night yelling and screaming into his headset (actually my headset) like a Blackwater merc got me thinking how close we are getting to living virtual lives. Two years ago I would have thought Caprica was serving up old Cyberpunk hash, now I see it as a harbinger. So if you haven't seen Friday's episode yet, please track it down so you'll be up to speed on my next Capricanity sermon.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Damn, I wish I were Telekinetic



Telekinesis, remote viewing, psychic assassins, Perseus playing "Charon," Ezri Dax, filming locations on loan from Millennium and a killer Tulpa - this thing couldn't be more supercharged with synchromystic resonance if it tried. Both on and offscreen it connects to so many deep and weird streams of significance it could only have been filmed in Vancouver. Watch it over the weekend.

For years I was an Outer Limits snob, but have been digging up some fascinating little gems in the second series. This well-written episode struck a nerve because some of my favorite dreams have been those where I was telekinetic. Some of the most vivid ones as well- I can put myself back in them easier than I can remember what I did an hour ago. It was always so crushing to wake up from them and realize I could turn my stereo on with my remote but not with my mind. Terrible disappointment.

Does TK truly exist? Well, I'd bet anyone who exhibited those powers would best keep them to themselves, for pretty much the reasons you see here. If you weren't forced into wet work, you'd be strapped to a gurney for the rest of your life while bits of your brains were carved away. Same reason any alien race would stay the hell off of this madhouse if they came buzzing around, particularly if they had greater-than-human powers. The way it works down here is that if we can't weaponize something, we have to destroy it.

Check out the Satellite too- I'll be putting up Outer Limits eps there too.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

The HyperGnostic Apotheosis of Cyberpunk (part 1 of ∞)


Vancouver- where else?

Since we're rapidly descending into the dystopian future that William Gibson prophesied in his sci-fi novels- particularly the Bridge Trilogy- I thought it would be an opportune time to look back on those heady days when geeks got cool and cool went geek.

This video is priceless- featuring a baby-faced Gibson and some state-0f-the-art Mac II graphics. Younger readers might look at all of this like it's Kinetoscope footage of the Luisitania, but all of this leaves me with a poignant, melancholy feeling- remembering the idealism and feeling of possibility in the late 80s/early 90s when a whole host of ideas from the underground were coalescing and feeding off the then-liberating potentials of digital technology. Futzing around with the IIsi, reading Mondo 2000, listening to Front 242, calling into to bullshit with the guys on Off the Hook - good times.



But as is so often the case, Cyberpunk was spoiled by success. Hollywood came in and made a bunch of terrible-to-middling Cyberpunk films and every failed metal band on the planet went out and got samplers and sequencers and flooded the market with endless rewrites of Pretty Hate Machine. Always sniffing for a fad to appropriate, U2 hopped the bandwagon with Zooropa. But if you ask me for a specific date when Cyberpunk became seriously uncool, I'd pick June 29, 1993. What happened then? Billy Idol released a "comeback" album entitled- you guessed it- Cyberpunk.

The first Matrix movie- a medley of riffs stolen from Gibson's Sprawl novels- seemed to revivify the aesthetic, but I think the real preconditions needed to reboot Cyberpunk is to see the dystopia prophesied in the seminal texts of the literary wing of the movement come to pass in the real world. Which we certainly are seeing now- massive unemployment, hyper-Orwellian surveillance, broad-spectrum corporate feudalism, constant media intrusion, ever-present natural disasters, suburban blight, corporatization of space, epic hacker wars, and the ubiquity of impossibly sophisticated - and immersive - technology played with like toys by a new generation. It absolutely terrifies me how many issues we are struggling with now were blithely prophesied by Gibson.



But there's an x-factor in Gibson's work- the ghosts in the machines. Consciousness phasing in and out of the biologic and technologic realms and transforming them both. In this the Dystopia becomes the crucible- or more accurately, the testing ground- for the realization of the potential of consciousness. I'd offer up Count Zero (with its digital Loa) as the most compelling example of this. Gibson's work is Gnostic Spi-Fi to its very core, something nearly all of his imitators failed to grasp. But in many ways Gibson was following directly in the footsteps of Philip K Dick, who may one day be seen as America's most pivotal Gnostic visionary.

In that light, it's fascinating to me how quickly this real world of ours is beginning to resemble the worst Gnostic nightmares of Earth-as-prison, the "black iron prison" as Dick put it. To the Gnostic salvation meant escape, a meme at the core of Gibson's work as well. So what does it mean that so much of Gibson has been embedded into Caprica?

I'm not sure yet- let me think on it and get back to you.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Oscars/Ausurs Addenda: Demeter Moore



I tweeted this during the Oscar broadcast, but just thought I'd mention here that Demetria Moore was given the task of ushering the honored dead into the afterlife, just as did her namesake in the Eleusinian Mysteries. Remember also that Demeter was also worshipped as Chthonia, goddess of the underworld. Read this:
Since Demeter and Persephone are one and the same goddess, part above, part below, so women also existed in this state. Women bring people into the world, just as seeds planted in Gaia spring forth new life, and women are also responsible for the dead, since the dead are reunited with mother earth. Women mourned and prepared the dead for burial. This was their god-given duty as manifestations of Gaia. But it went even beyond this. The Mysteries were the gateway to the afterlife, and this gateway was Demeter/Persephone.



And strangely enough, here we see Demetria presenting the 2009 Golden Globe to Christopher Nolan for the departed Heath Ledger's portrayal of the Joker.


I thought it was interesting she referred to her daughter Rumer as "Rue," seeing the dictionary tells us rue means "to feel sorrow over" and Demeter was known as "Our Lady of Sorrows." Note that Demeter's sorrow was over the loss of her daughter.

Even more interesting in light of the alien/deity symbolism we've looked at (particularly with Demeter) is the fact that Demi Moore was born in Roswell, NM.

You gotta love all of these nutty coincidences.

Monday, March 08, 2010

Stairway to Sirius: The Oscars, the Sunrise and the Spiral Staircase

NOTE: Any newbies unfamiliar with all of this symbolism are recommended to head over to the Solar Seminar and read the Stairway to Sirius, Revisited. We'll still be here when you get back. For deep background on Oscar symbolism, start here or scroll down to Sunday's megalink post.

3/9: Scroll down for updates...



The festivities opened with this interesting shot, giving us the blue and gold motif of the set and showing us stagelights vaguely reminiscent of an Udjat...



Then two motifs well familiar to Secret Sun readers- the sunrise and the winding staircase. A double staircase in fact, bringing us back to the exploration of the spiral staircase and the DNA double helix. And look, here comes the ubiquitous Doogie (Doggie?) Howser...



The two blazing stage lights motif appears again, familiar to us from Pink's performance at the Grammy's.

Then Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin descended from the heavens in what looks like the most extravagant gay wedding cake ornament ever...



...and performed their entire standup routines in front of the rising sun. That bubble motif is interesting, too. We'll get back to it in a bit.



There was also this interesting design, that reminded me of a bunch of interlocking eyes, but I'm not married to that interpretation.



The two lights again, and a beauty shot of the deep blue curtains, which could either suggest the ocean or the night sky. That's James Van Der Kirk introducing District 9.

And just as we saw with Pink...



...we also have the goddesses descending the Golden Stairway, in this case the spritely Carey Mulligan and zesty Zoe Saldana (note pink dress), giving us the requisite sugar and spice.



There was also this arch design, which was strongly reminiscent of the goddess Nut (or Nuit)...


...who represents the arch of the heavens, as you can see here.



Here's a full shot of the stage, giving you the winding staircase in glorious blue and gold.

That shot makes me wonder if those lower stairs are meant to be a waterfall...

...as we see here, again with the goddesses from the Golden Stairway.




Now let's say a quick word about the best pictures, because they fit into this symbolic narrative as well. The best documentary feature, The Cove, about activists fighting the slaughter of dolphins.

The producer? Fisher Stevens.



The The Hurt Locker, a story about the invasion of Babylon (literally "The Gate of the Gods"), now known as "Iraq." Reader Agonus reminds us that the Iraqi National Museum opened shortly after last year's Oscars/Ausurs/Anshars/Ahura Mazdas. This is the first film directed by a woman to win Best Director, in this case the winner is Ka-Hathor-Ein Bigelow.

UPDATE: Don't forget William Henry's work on the Babylon Stargate. Between CERN, all of the Stairway/Sirius symbolism and now this victory (for a film that only grossed $21 million) there seems to be an interesting narrative developing out there in this, the year we (are supposed to) make contact.





UPDATE: Since I've been on such a major William Gibson kick lately I found it interesting that Kathryn Bigelow also directed Strange Days, which was Lightstorm's cyberpunk move. I always thought Ralph Fiennes was badly miscast in this film, but by this point I'd given up on Cyberpunk translating to film. The best Cyberpunk adaptation IMO? 'Killswitch', the episode of The X-Files written by Gibson himself.

Sunday, March 07, 2010

From Ausur to Oscar... (UPDATE 2145EST)


UPDATE: Check the Twitter feed for my Oscar tweets! Blue, gold, spiral staircase- very Secret Sunny Oscars!

UPDATE: Well, it looks like I won't be liveblogging the Oscars this year. I could live blog the dead channel and the Cablevision apologias, but that probably isn't a symbol-rich environment. I'll keep my eyes peeled for the You Tube vids later on...

Well, it's that time of the year again. Yes, 3/7/10 is here, a clever little cryptogram for 3/17, the date of the death of Osiris. No surprise then that tonight we have the Ausurs Oscars, aka the Academy Awards. I'm hoping I get to see it, since ABC and Cablevision are feuding and my local affiliate is currently blacked out. Given the ad dollars at stake, I'm hopeful this will all be resolved by showtime. If so, I'll try to liveblog it, like I did last year.

For newer readers, I suggest you check out my first big semiotic blowout on the Oscars, which is probably the most-read post in the Secret Sun's history. It centers around the symbolism of the Kodak Theatre, and the somewhat incongruous presence of the Babylon Gate (read: "Gate of the Gods," read: "Stargate") in the courtyard of the Hollywood and Highland complex in which the Kodak sits.

The article also delves into the Masonic history of Hollywood, which is fairly remarkable, especially given the fact that it's not widely acknowledged:
What we must remember is that Hollywood's Golden Age was a distinctly Freemasonic enterprise. Some of the biggest names in show business were Masons including; John Wayne, W.C. Fields, Oliver Hardy, Bud Abbott, Gene Autry, Irving Berlin, Nat King Cole, Cecil B. Demille, Duke Ellington, Douglas Fairbanks, Clark Gable, Walt Disney, Audie Murphy, and Danny Thomas. Most importantly, three of the most powerful Hollywood moguls -Louis B. Mayer (of MGM) Jack Warner (Warner Bros) and Darryl Zanuck (20th Century Fox) - were all Masons. The primacy of Freemasonry (remember, just a small part of the overall Masonic network) is reflected in the fact that the Academy Awards used to be held in the Shrine Auditorium, which is owned and operated by the Scottish Rite.
Lat year's Academy Awards were a feast for symbol junkies as well. Especially considering that Slumdog Millionaire was the big winner in the midst of all the Sirius/Dog Star symbolism flying around the Memestream at the time. Read all about all of that here.

There were also some fascinating semiotic emanations after the fact, having to do with the winners and their past and future projects. All kinds of powerful connections to the foundational memes of this blog arose, which we looked at here.

Speaking of Babylon, some of you might remember that the Iraqi National Museum opened the day after the Oscars, and given the timezone differences, it may have actually opened either during the Awards or immediately afterwards. That conjunction and the ancient occult concept of the "reversal of time" were explored in the Benjamin Button posts, here and here.

You can find all of my Oscar-themed posts at this link.

Saturday, March 06, 2010

Sync Log: Wormholes (UPDATE)



So the missus and I sit down to worship Caprica and I notice this random episode of The New Outer Limits that aired in January sitting on the DVR queue. I totally forgot recording it and had no idea what it was about. But there was nothing else on, so we thought what the hell and gave it a spin. A fortuitous decision.

First of all, the entire cast of the show had all appeared in various X-Files, with the exception of the luminous Bonnie Bedelia (nee Culkin, aunt of Macauley and Kieran). I have the feeling the same goes for the entire series, given that it was filmed in the official Mecca of The Secret Sun, Vancouver.

And lo and behold, it turns out the episode is about an astronaut trapped on alien planet after falling through a wormhole. Which grabbed my attention since the most recent post on the Solar Satellite is wormhole-themed and also mentions Vancouver*. You'll note the powerful Aquarian symbolism in the episode as well.

The New Outer Limits
wasn't a worldbeater, but reminds me of all the sci-fi short stories I devoured as a kid. Which is why I programmed the DVR to record all future eps on SyFy; I'm going to pretend that they're secret, dream-reality (or alternate universe) X-Files episodes. I could watch them all on Hulu, but that diminishes the randomness factor that leads to these kinds of interesting syncs.

One more sync for the road- the astronaut's name is Christopher and his partner's name is Susan, which is my sister's name.

UPDATE: The meaning of the name "Susan?" Lily.

So another interesting sync with yesterday's posts.

Non-US readers, click here.


*Speaking of the Holy City, the Vancouver-filmed Caprica introduced two new characters Friday- one played by James Marsters (who some of you may know as Spike, but who also appeared with Art Bell on a mytharc ep of Millennium) and the other by John Pyper-Ferguson, who played the Hermes character in the X-Files' Eleusinian Christmas episodes.

Friday, March 05, 2010

AstroGnostic Addenda: John C. Lilly and Extreme Psychonautics


John Cunningham Lilly was the inspiration for the book and film Altered States, which we've looked at in great depth in the Alien Dreaming and the Widening Gyre series. Here he talks with Jeffrey Mishlove, who also interviewed Michael Talbot on the holographic universe theory. Mishlove has to work a bit harder with this interview, since Lilly was somewhat older and obviously firmly planted in another realm not quite our own (which Mishlove can't resist mentioning).


But Lilly was exploring so many of the strange memes playing themselves out today- and in the Star Trek eps we examined on Thursday- that it's worth your time to watch this and do a little reading on the man. I see a lot of Lilly in Fringe's Walter Bishop, that much is for sure. Particularly interesting are his thoughts on Synchronicity as an integral aspect of the Divine Plan, as is his definition of Gnosticism. Also fascinating is Lilly's fixation on dolphins, which are obviously important symbols in the Aquarian transitional phase we are in..


Don't forget to read Adam Gorightly's fascinating piece on Lilly, posted at Terry Melanson's Conspiracy Archive.

SYNC LOG POSTSCRIPT: Tonight the missus and I watched a Star Trek that I'm not sure was itself not a hallucination. It seems to combine the holographic reality and the orbital machine intelligence memes from yesterday into one episode, revolves around the dream reality of an artificial intelligence (which has to be decoded symbolically), suggests that understanding holographic reality is the key to consciousness, tosses in some random Masonic symbology and also begins with an enactment of a "Neoplatonic magical rite" which I'm pretty sure the episode itself was designed to be. It also had an artificially-induced earthquake, which is certainly a hot topic of conversation these days.

And if all that weren't enough, it featured a near exact replay of a scene I watched in an episode of Deep Space Nine I selected completely at random this afternoon. Both episodes (different years, different shows) are linked through some very interesting numerology that's been popping up repeatedly in my personal studies this past month.

I'm so stunned by all of this I actually feel a bit blank. Which is usually a good sign my subconscious is working furiously to connect the dots and putting my conscious mind on standby. Lilly would understand.

Hopefully I'll be able to post on this soon, if for nothing else than to work out the math on all of this startling synchro-strangeness.

Thursday, March 04, 2010

AstroGnostic: Machine Intelligence and the Holographic Universe



In between the BSG, Caprica, and Fringe the missus and I have been geeking out on the Star Trek: The Next Generation reruns on SyFy (I've actually been sneaking/geeking in some SG:A too).

Yes, we both hate adulthood. And consensus reality.

But the TNG reruns have been acting as a strange kind of oracle as well, often synching up with my various explorations in Synchronicity and whatnot. This episode (which aired Tuesday night), "Homeward," is a perfect example. It deals with hologram reality, something I've been puzzling over the past couple weeks, but not in the usual recreational holodeck way.

It's also one of countless ST eps that have not only an underlying AAT theme, but also are embedded with abductee/contactee themes as well.

The two often seem to go together, and have since "Who Mourns for Adonais", all the way back in 1967.

In "Homeward," Worf's adopted brother Nikolai is studying a primitive, pre-technological planet whose atmosphere is about to disintegrate. He sends a distress signal and the Enterprise respond. The plan is to rescue him and let the rest of the people die in order to maintain the Prime Directive (pre-warp cultures can't know that alien races exist, so just let them die when they're in trouble). But as usual the Prime Directive is more like the Prime Suggestive, seeing that it's flouted all the time.

But since Worf's stepbrother is a civilian and civilians are usually troublemakers in the Trek-o-Verse (or just plain trouble), he defies Starfleet's order to let the Boraalans die slowly and horribly while the gang all watch from orbit and feel sorry for them. But how does Nikolai ensure that the Boraalans won't be shocked by their first UFO encounter?

He beams them to a holographic simulation of their world aboard the Holodeck.

Both he and Worf then have themselves surgically altered to resemble the Boraalans (totally new forehead wrinkles!) and then tell them that the gods are sending them messages when the Holodeck keeps malfunctioning and revealing its gridlines.

But one of the primitives (the village chronicler, appropriately enough) escapes onto the ship and is so freaked out by these aliens and their giant flying saucer that he commits ritual suicide. Even more appropriately he's played by Brian Markinson, who plays Inspector Duram on Caprica (and also appeared on The X-Files in one of its many hallucination episodes).

And just to make the circle complete, Nikolai has looked upon one of the daughters of Boraala, saw that she was fair and created offspring with her (much to the chagrin of Lt. Worf). So in 45 short minutes, we have the following:
1. Alien intervention
2. Shape-shifting
3. Mass abduction
4. Alien-human hybrids
5. A holographic reality
6. Contact shock leading to ritual suicide
Granted, this is a sci-fi show and not Law & Order, but there's something very strange about how we are seeing themes taken from UFO literature and then flipped around. Meaning, all of this is told from the POV of the saucermen, who are us but not-us. Makes you wonder sometimes, doesn't it?



This makes me wonder as well: awhile back, I was puzzling over the machine-intelligence concept that visionaries like Philip K Dick (VALIS) and John Lilly (ECCO) wrote about (as did Andrija Puharich, who like Dick and Lilly was well-experienced with psychedelics), which make up the core of a number of posts in the queue that don't seem to want to be written yet. And then the missus and I watched this episode, which deals with Data (a machine intelligence, obviously) and his radio communications with an alien girl from yet another pre-warp planet in danger of imminent destruction. She too is abducted aboard the Enterprise, but her memory of the event is erased.


So, holographic reality* and orbital machine intelligence- two concepts taken from the deepest reaches of Esoterica, breezily inserted into two random Star Trek episodes that both portray a pre-spacefaring world on the verge of destruction. Both deal with abduction and memory-erasing as well, all in a way that calls no attention to itself. It's all simply another day on the Enterprise. La, la, la.


Maybe that's why all of the deep, deep, deep weirdness embedded into this series escapes a lot of people's attention...


*Note also that they recycled the holographic relocation bit for Star Trek: Insurrection as well, so something there obviously resonated.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Synchronicity and the Holographic Universe (UPDATED)



The late Michael Talbot. A synchronicity in and of itself. More to come- watch this space.

UPDATE: This is timely:
OXFORD - With the shades tightly drawn in the darkened Miami University classroom and a $200 pair of funny-looking 3-D glasses covering your eyes, you can see the future of American higher education.

You can go inside a jet engine or a molecule, simulate a firefight in Baghdad or study a 10-year stock chart, all in three dimensions.

It's part of the Armstrong Interactive Media Studies program at Miami, which spans academic departments all over campus and includes about 300 spots. Most of the classes are filled within seconds after online registration opens.

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