Friday, May 28, 2010

Alien Dreaming: Them Ol' Post-Apocalyptic Blues Again

Post-apocalyptic and dystopian sci-fi was all the rage when I was a kid. A lot of it was inspired by the Cold War, but it was also a natural reaction to the malaise of the early stages of American de-industrialization. After an idyllic post-war honeymoon, American workers were waking up to a cold water splash of aggressive foreign competition, particularly from East Asia. In some ways the sudden and violent reboot of an apocalypse was more comforting than the slow and protracted slide into downward mobility that the 70s were promising.

Kind of like what we're dealing with now, right? There's no shortage of apocalyptic pant-pissing out there, but without a well-armed boogeyman like the Russkies it's not nearly as compelling. The alternatives -particularly the specter of a slow-motion Jihad - merely bring us back to where we began; inevitable decay.

Although this episode of The New Outer Limits serves up apocalypse, it aired in the halcyon days of 1998 when semi-serious people were proclaiming the end of all of our problems and the beginning of the Jetson Age (roughly). "Dow 30K" never showed, but neither did Y2K, so the Utopia/Dystopia grudge match seemed to be a draw.

Which is a long-winded way of saying the story here is more 1968 than 1998, but even so this is some of the most compelling sci-fi I've ever seen on TV. It has a nice twist ending and stars our old friend James "Cyclops" Marsden, whom we just discussed in the post on The Box. There's also an obvious undercurrent of fertility symbolism (and some brief nudity, so consider yourself advised).

I have to say that when it comes to alien encounter narratives,
Outer Limits is probably my all-time favorite source. There's a powerfully numinous quality to the alien eps, an intimate logic that aligns quite nicely with the concept of Alien Dreaming. It's the idea of the Other, waiting out there for those whose consciousness is sufficiently deprogrammed (by whatever means) and whose perceptions are opened to more profound models of reality (see the McKenna quote in the sidebar). It's an understanding that revelation is a continuous process.

Some of you know exactly what I'm talking about, because you've been there. And when you read the more compelling narratives of extraordinary experience, you realize that the most profound cases seem to involve the fewest people. Not always, but usually. And whether those outside believe - or even understand - these revelations is irrelevant to those involved.

Real experience changes the experiencer, and part of that change is an existential disinterest in the opinions of the inexperienced.

Non-US readers: If the video won't play try here, here, here and here.

PS: I hope to be catching up with comments and posts over the weekend. I've been working like a dog (star) lately, and my attention is spoken for and then some. But I do want to return to some of the threads I've started the past few weeks, it's just a question of finding the time to riddle out some of the issues that I'm wrestling with. The next installment of the John the Baptist series will be a killer, but I have to make sure it's waterproof. I've got a lot of other surprises in the queue, it's just a question of finding the time. Stay tuned.


  1. Going back to the previous Baptist post: as Picknett & Prince mention, Simon Magus, the arch-heresiarch of Gnosticism, was credited in the Clementine literature as being the true successor of John the Baptist. So the Church's subsequent suppression of Gnosticism seems to reflect a very profound schism between the two groups early on.

    Yet among the Gnostics themselves, there is barely a mention of the Baptist—aside from a very esoterically significant statement that the "head of prophecy was cut off with John" in the Apocryphon of James. It is not until we get to the visions Zosimos of Panopolis that John attains a transcendent status. Here, as Jung noted, John (Ion) stands for the Self as both Sacrificer and Sacrifice, undergoing an alchemical process of dismemberment and reintegration.

    And you are absolutely right that symbols take on a life of their own, where history and the collective unconscious intertwine. And what of Prester John?

  2. Thought you'd enjoy this.

    In a 2001 paper, linguist Michal Brody points out some surprising similarities between the Popol Vuh and ... yes ... the Michael Jordan/Bugs Bunny team-up, Space Jam.


  3. Ele- post that on a JTB post- I'm going to be rounding up all of the Baptist comments for a megapost and I don't want to miss it.

  4. Thought you might be interested in an online petition for an international effort to prove the extraterrestrial origins of Sumerian queen Nin Puabi whose bones are currently being held in London’s Natural History Museum.

  5. Hey Chris,

    Recently saw The Imaginarium of Dr Parnassus and was blown away by the masonic symbolism. Reading your blog helped me identify things I would have previously missed. You'd dig the film, I think.

    Vigilant Citizen wrote a cool blog about it. The whole thing is mind boggling.


  6. "Real experience changes the experiencer . . . "

    Thanks Chris. That's going into my quote file.

  7. I must echo Joe's sentiment.

    The paragraphs around these lines:
    "And whether those outside believe - or even understand - these revelations is irrelevant to those involved."
    are some of the most honest and truthful (which don't always go hand in hand) I have read in quite some time.

  8. Anony- Saved- thanks for the link.

    Astronut- Yeah, I've seen that on Twitter. I'll keep an eye on it.

    DDJ- I watched some of it but have to say I was more interested in Lily Cole's alien-hybrid hotness (she can act, who knew?) than in the symbolism. She comes across much better on film than in pictures. Interesting stuff, though- cheers.

    Joe- My pleasure.

    Alan- Thanks- always glad to help.

  9. This is the type of post that keeps me coming back. The black sun of european alchemy doesn't want to go away, and your descriptions of individual experience, which for me is the psychedelic use of mushrooms or peyote are incredibly misrepresented in modern society.
    When I experience the real sacrament of communion, things seem to fall into place.
    Frequently, lots of heavy religious symbolism comes into play, and recently I've been thinking that the whole Catholic church child sex phenomena, has been in part to garner power, weather those sick men know what their doing or not. I believe, though my direct experience with demonic forces, is that they are real and do exist in our every day world.
    This is an incredible site, thanks so much

  10. I just love the McKenna quote.It reminds me of this one :
    ''Let The Dead Bury Their Dead ''.
    Couldn't be bolder than this.Still a scandalous idea.

  11. "Solar Scientists Agree That the Sun's Recent Behavior Is Odd, but the Explanation Remains Elusive"

    Also note that the picture of the sun is blue.

    A lot of Nazca shots of blue or green suns as of late.

  12. Off topic and I don't know if you will read this...Nancy, are you Nancy Botwin located in Rhode Island or is it just the same name I know in RI. Too funny if true, and a nice coincident.