Monday, April 19, 2010

Atlantis Rising, Part 2: Mapping the Metastory

Before we start looking at a movie made a quarter-century ago, it's important to establish exactly why the film is still relevant...

It comes down to this; Cocoon is centered on two memes that have become increasing prominent on this blog - and in the culture at large - ancient astronauts and the Sirens. Linking the two is the Atlantis meme, which burst back into the Memestream shortly after the 2008 Election, with the jaw-dropping Atlantis Rising display in Dubai.

The story of Atlantis comes to us through Plato, who heard it during his initiation into an Egyptian mystery cult. Atlantis was said to be a technologically advanced city-state, based on an island continent somewhere past the Pillars of Hercules, the gates of the Mediterranean Sea. Having angered the gods with their arrogance, the Atlanteans were wiped out when the continent was destroyed during some calamity.

Some scholars today claim that Atlantis was a mythologized account of the destruction of a large island in the Aegean Sea, most likely during the eruption of the Thera volcano (with accompanying earthquakes and tsunamis), which some historians point to as the source of the Egyptian plagues in the Book of Exodus (strangely enough, Rush Limbaugh now claims that the Iceland eruption is Jehovah's punishment for Obamacare. Plus ├ža change).


Now, while poking around the web looking for syncs to the Atlantis narrative, I stumbled upon this remarkable string of headlines on The Daily Grail:

  • ‘Ocean census’ scientists taken aback by diversity.
  • Colony of microbes 'as big as Greece' found in ocean.
  • Saviours of fish'n'chips: British scientists find a way to breed sea fish in fresh water.
  • How an Icelandic volcano helped spark the French Revolution.
  • Get ready for decades of Icelandic fireworks.
  • Aerosols: From Ash in the Wind to Smoke from the Stack .
  • Iceland volcano: Photos show apocalyptic scene as wall of black fog covers Icelandic countryside in darkness.
  • Another photo gallery: Volcanic activity in the land of fire and ice.
  • The science behind the many seismic headlines: The public perception could easily be that we are undergoing a peak in global seismic activity, but the science suggests otherwise.
So, in addition to the alien themes in Cocoon, we also see other themes pertaining to Atlantis on the front pages of the international media. But within the cinematic memestream, Cocoon is ripe with meaningful connections, especially those of an esoteric variety:

• We looked at Ron Howard's resume in the first installment of this series, focusing on his early career. More recently Howard has been adapting the Dan Brown blockbusters to the screen, which has inspired the Pope to appoint an Opus Dei cultist as Bishop of Los Angeles. The Telegraph writes "the appointment was described as the Pope's revenge on Hollywood for filming The Da Vinci Code."

• Ron Howard escaped the clutches of the child-star curse in George Lucas' American Graffiti (the primary influence for the Happy Days juggernaut), which also starred Harrison Ford, Cindy "Shirley" Williams, Candy Clark and McKenzie Philips, among others. Clark went on to co-star with David Bowie in the AstroGnostic classic The Man Who Fell to Earth, and Philips starred in a particularly subversive ep of The Outer Limits that we looked at recently. And of course Lucas and Ford brought AAT roaring back into the Memestream with the most recent Indiana Jones film.

After Happy Days, Henry "Fonzie" Winkler went to a successful career as a producer (he also appeared a football coach (read: Zeus) in the Aquarian allegory The Waterboy). One of Winkler's biggest hits was Sightings, a UFO/paranormal newsmagazine. Another was MacGyver, which starred Richard Dean Anderson of Stargate SG-1 fame.

Happy Days spawned a number of spinoffs, one of which was the alien contact-themed Mork and Mindy. The Mork character made his debut in this cringe-inducing episode* of Happy Days, in which Ron Howard's character Richie has a close encounter with a manic, grating alien played by Robin Williams (this was Williams' star-making turn, believe it or not).

As we saw before, Cocoon was preceded by Splash, which is rife with Synchromystic easter eggs. Several of them punch you in the face in the movie poster.

Daryl Hannah's mermaid character shows up naked (albeit with strategically placed hair) at the feet of the Statue of Liberty.

We also get a few interesting shots of the Twin Towers, but none of the Stairway to Sirius, which hadn't been built yet.

The Twin Towers also feature in early versions of the home-video art. There's not necessarily anything to be inferred from that- the Twin Towers replaced the Empire State Building as the iconic NYC landmark for a while. But given all of the sub rosa semiotic connections, the placement does take on a bit more resonance than if we were looking at an ordinary romcom.

Speaking of Masonic Manhattan, Hannah's character in Splash is named "Madison," a name which recently figured in the Watchers-themed Event Horizon art installation around Madison Square (Madison means "Son of Maud," so technically it's a masculine name. Given the connection here, I wonder if there's a deeper, more esoteric meaning to the name).

And Splash ends up with this shot of Atlantis, alive and kicking beneath the waves.

Howard's daughter Bryce Dallas Howard played a mermaid/Siren several years later in M. Night Shyamalan's Lady in the Water, a film Bruce Rux would certainly interpret as an alien contact allegory (and I wouldn't necessarily agree). Shyamalan is obviously no stranger to more explicit alien contact narratives.

Bryce has also appeared in installments of the symbolically-supercharged Terminator and Twilight franchises, spreading out little semiotic tendrils across the Synchrosphere. Note that like Daryl, both Bryce and Dallas are masculine names, an important detail given that the aliens in Cocoon seem themselves to be androgynous.


*Warning: Anyone who's ever been forced into proximity with that guy at the RenFaire or the comic con
who thinks he's hilarious (you know, the "Knights who say Ni" guy) will get the cold sweats watching "My Favorite Orkan."


  1. Synchronicity: I just wrote couple of days ago a blog entry about Cocoon movies :)

  2. Have you checked out the new Gorillaz album, Plastic Beach? I picked it up and it has some interesting references in it. On the song Superfast Jellyfish we get the following "All hail king Neptune and his water breathers
    No snail thing to quick for his water feeders" The jellyfish is seen in the Video Sylo on the Billboard. Interesting that there have been swarms of Jellies in the news of late. Dig around perhaps you can make heads or fins of it.
    Stylo Vid:
    Gorillaz Background:

  3. You know, you mention George Lucas and Harrison Ford in the overt recent Crystal Skull installment of Indiana Henry Jones' adventures -- directed of course by Steven Spielberg whose films have influenced and been deeply influenced by various strains of modern extraterrestrial mythology --but I've found one of Ford's early post-Graffiti roles very interesting. That of Colonel "Lucas" in APOCALYPSE NOW. Though there are no overt references to anything extraterrestrial in the film, Ford's character is part of a very mysterious conspiratorial sequence at the beginning of the movie setting Benjamin Willard (Sheen) on the trail for Kurtz. The rest of the film is as much a transcendent odyssey as 2001 and Kurtz himself as enigmatic as the Monolith from that film. Though considered very anti-war, the film, like many other presents conflict as a sort of evolutionary struggle by which one transcends imposed limitations and discovers the deeper self. In the movie, Ford's oddity along with the strange, almost robot like behavior of the intelligence officer and the general in the same scene (Gen Corman, played by GD Spradlin) feed into the same sort of mold as Men In Black entities.

  4. Mort Drucker's first appearance on the SECRET SUN!

  5. Mike - love that you love Mort Drucker - The first thing I think of when I see his name is my very first MAD Magazine; the one that had Mort's brilliantly drawn POOPSIDE DOWN ADVENTURE . .. just for a little bit of Poseidony syncness with the Atlantis groove . . .how weird is that?

    Chris - American Graffiti always gets me pondering that movie's most enigmatic mystery -the blonde in the T-Bird. A siren in her own right, she lures Richard Dreyfuss into a fevered quest to meet her - a goal that remains unattainable at the movies end. Amazingly, Dreyfuss, who would go on to star in CE3K as Roy Neary on another "fevered quest" to meet The Other, first sees this vision in her THUNDERBIRD (that's loaded right there) at precisely the moment that the Wolfman asks for someone to use their scope to call in the
    little itty spacemen

    Dreyfuss then declares that he has seen a Goddess!!

    and Christopher - you might be interested to note in the above link that as the "Goddess" turns off onto G Street the store window behind the departing Thunderbird reveals a sign with the single name KIRBY!

  6. synchronicity: before coming here I stumbled upon this link:
    Interesting stuff (Chtulhu waking up?)

  7. interesting sparks here. the atlantis theme has been getting stronger and stronger in my work as well... the Bryce Dallas Howard - Lady in the Water synk resonates quite soundly. sync-sink... make me think of the sunken sub from Terminator:Salvation... and i love how she spen that whole movie pregnant and no one mentioned it or addressed it. lookin forward to more.

  8. Did you catch that giant fireball seen across the midwest last night?

  9. Saul- Coolness.

    Anony- Sounds like Lovecraft's worst nightmare. Or mine- I hate those things.

    Anony1218- Interesting take- Apocalypse Now is one of my favorite movies- very mythical and fill with resonators.

    Mike C!_ Mort is God. I met him a long time back and had a nice talk with him. Insane genius skills. By far my favorite MAD guy and there are a lot of them.

    David- Interesting parallels there- never thought about that film that way either. But Coppola and Lucas were very tight in the early days- not surprised they share mythic themes like that.

    Peach: Or the Abyss aliens...

    Toure: You got a link for your research or is it your private work?

    Anony- Yep.

  10. Awesome post! I always read this blog but I never have anything interesting to say or add to the convo.

    Today I do and I think you will enjoy this little tidbit about Twilight, Kellan Lutz, one of the guys that plays a vampire in the lead's character family, will star in a new movie about Gods called "Immortals". Who will he play? Poseidon.

    Also, Stephenie Meyer's other book The Host, talks about Alien invasions. The movie is just being planned and it will most likely become another franchise. This book was MUCH better written than Twilight. Furthermore, the script is being written by the writer of Gattaca and The Truman Show.

  11. Are you going to tackle Ron Howard's Arrested Development next? It was interesting watching that show unfold in tandem with the Iraq war, especially with Gob being something of a caricature of GWB. And of course, the sexually-ambiguous Tobias is a "blue man" in training.

  12. I thought of another Twilight connection. Jackson Rathbone, another vampire in the family of Edward will appear in the movie The Last Airbender directed by M Night Shyamalan. He plays Sokka and I think his element is water.

    Many water references here! Oh. And Robert Pattinson's next movie is called Water for Elephants.

    Also connected to Danny Ocean, Oscar nominee Anna Kendrick, Up in the Air, is a cast member of Twilight.

  13. Dunno why but I heart huckabees always comes to mind when readin your blog when u refer to movies. Hey I been tryin to find u on twitter on my blackberry but no dice

  14. one possible thing connecting with the etymology of the name "Madison" i correct in recalling that Maud is a derivative of Magdalene? Perhaps i had better provide this link, courtesy of the venerable Margaret Starbird...(starbird...Horus?? who knows!)

    That OTHER mermaid movie from the 80s.