Saturday, May 14, 2011

AstroGnostic: Moon-Machines and Mindbombs

The first installment of this series dealt with the plasticity of memory, centered on the fact that my most vivid memories from my childhood were either nightmares or hallucinations, many of which had strands of commonality with abduction experiences.

The second part looked at weird strands of commonality within many classic abduction reports (which is to say, pre-Communion, pre-Intruders), many of which were not your typical nighttime visitation experience but were often daytime sightings followed by an encounter leading to some kind of beam emission which itself led to a bizarre experience which might include alien sex, a spin around the solar system and so on. Experiences almost tailor-made to make the witness seem foolish or fantasy-prone. But the kind of experiences (and sightings) seen in the post-war UFO literature are nothing new at all. As many have pointed out they're remarkably similar to folk stories of encounter with elves and fairies.

As I would point out, they have an even stronger similarity to ancient encounters with the gods, many of which are far more lucid and frighteningly familiar than the superstitious reports of Medieval peasants (during a epoch in which most of Europe entered a state of severe mental, scientific and intellectual retardation).

The Sumerians obviously watched too many UFO movies

This led me to speculate that perhaps we are not alone- never mind in the impossibly huge universe, but on this planet itself. We've never been alone- we've had an elusive yet not totally invisible companion race, whom the Sumerians called the Igigi and were later called the Grigori- a servant class of Watchers, left behind while the gods went back to wherever they came from (though in every telling, from Mesoamerica to Mesopotamia, this absence is only temporary, no matter how ancient this all seems to modern, attention-deficit addled cultures).

This race would be known today as the Greys, who some believe are in fact biological androids, which makes sense in many different ways.

It also led me to speculate that the abduction experiences themselves could be the result of some kind of remote control- namely the result of the weird beam that some of these witnesses reported being shot with just prior to waking up in the ship and going on the joyride. The mild radiation sickness many of these witnesses were diagnosed with could well be evidence of some kind of apparatus used to install created memories in the experiencer.


The third installment looked at Stanley Kubrick's landmark 2001: A Space Odyssey, the first of the great Hollywood tributes to the ancient engineers. I argued that none of the symbolic interpretations of the film are as dangerous as what's being presented onscreen. Master manipulator that he was, Kubrick might well have planted all kinds of symbols and distractions while the truly subversive message of the film hid in plain sight. To reiterate:

• The film tells us that mankind's incredibly rapid evolution was not the result of blind forces of nature but of technological intervention by an "alien" race (the term alien is meaningless in this context, but we'll use it as shorthand).

• It then sticks a fork in the eye of doctrinaire Darwinists by pointing out the obvious- that the evolution from simple toolmaking to high technology was not even the blink of an eye in geological time.

• After that eyeblink, we meet Heywood Floyd, a government shill sent up to the Moon to engineer a cover-up.

• The cover-up involves the discovery of an ancient alien artifact. Kubrick gives us no indication that this cover-up would be temporary -- Floyd and his cronies want this thing to stay buried, as it were. But as he and his team visit it, it sends a signal to an unknown party somewhere in the orbit of Jupiter.

• A mission is sent to locate the signal's recipient, but the onboard AI quite reasonably interprets Floyd's obsessive secrecy as a directive to silence the human crew and take over the mission.

• After disabling the AI, an astronaut takes a shuttle craft out to discover another alien artifact, which then shoots a signal at the astronaut's brain which triggers a joyride not totally unlike some of the experiences reported by abductees.

• Just like many of those experiences, the astronaut's joyride brings him to a weird, oddly-lit white-room, which becomes the venue of his apotheosis. From ape to man to god.

Enter Jack Kirby.

As we explored in a previous post, Kirby did a story for Race to the Moon in the late 50s (just prior to joining Stan Lee at Marvel) that sat in a drawer for several years, only to be published once 2001 was already in production. That story also featured the discovery an alien megalith on the Moon that also induced a hallucinatory rocket ride across the cosmos in the astronauts zapped by the thing.

Kirby would take on 2001 itself in 1976 when Marvel got the license from MGM. Though it might seem tailor-made for Kirby, he saw it as a hardship post. After an oversized adaptation of the film itself, Kirby was assigned an ongoing anthology series. He riffed on the film at first, moving up the historical ladder to neanderthals and cavemen and so on. He seemed to enjoy the psychedelic freakout aspect of it all but seemed to be troubled by something.

After an all-Starchild issue which ended in the future extinction of the human race, he back-pedaled to contemporary times in which the Monolith would endow the next phase of mankind's evolution-- namely, androids-- with sentience.

Funny thing though, these androids in their natural states looked more like Greys than anything else (the Grey not becoming ubiquitous until the late 80s, ten years after this material was drawn).

Another funny thing- Kirby also introduced a classic Grey in his contemporaneous Black Panther series. This Grey also had the ability to induce hallucinatory "experiences" in people as well. But the Grey was in fact a hyper-evolved human who is brought back into our timeline via King Solomon's Frog, a bit of ancient astronautical technology discovered by a secret society called The Collectors (huge chunks of this story were lifted for the most recent Indiana Jones film).

Kirby's android spun off into his own series, Machine Man. As with most of the second half of his third Marvel stint, it wasn't his best work. But that weird brain of his kept spinning. Kirby revisited another favorite theme in the book- telepathic contact with distant alien races (most remarkably explored in his sex-o-delic early 70s fumetti "Children of the Flaming Wheel").

In Machine Man, a mental patient is contacted by a distant starship, trapped in the gravity of an alien sun. But ever the paranoid, Kirby tells us that the alien is an evil android (named TenFor, a revealing reference to then-waning CB craze), reminiscent of John Lilly's Solid State Intelligence. Again, not the pearl of Kirby's career, but fascinating in that telepathic contact is then followed by the creation of an interdimensional stargate that allows TenFor to enter Earth.

But before all of that Kirby seemed to be obsessing subconsciously on the messages relayed in Kubrick's film, which combined with his regular diet of fringe literature and his own hyper fevered imagination. Kirby seemed fixated on the idea of alien threats lurking on nearby "dead" worlds. In the first issue of the regular series, two astronauts discover the ruins of an ancient city on an asteroid (and later discover a Lovecraftian cephalopod horror, significantly)...

...and his reincarnated CroMagnon witch discovers more Grey types on Ganymede (the Jupiter moon), shortly before her Stargate trip.



And let's not forget that at the same time Kirby was doing his 2001 adaptation, he was drawing Captain America entering a Stargate after being caught up in a secret shooting war (between unidentified forces) on the Moon....



...leaving the Moon and ending up in a movie studio, beating Jay Weidner to the punch by a couple decades.

And of course that whole experience was engineered by
a vaguely Grey-type extraterrestrial named Mister Buda, who abducts Cap and send him on yet another joyride through space and time (Captain America's Bicentennial Battles, 1976).

But none of this was anything new to Kirby. Back in the early 60s, he and Stan Lee sent the Fantastic Four to the Moon where they discovered the ruins of an earlier civilization and meet a Grey-type alien called, wait for it...

...the Watcher. Note the Starchild-like flying globes, filled with protohominids.

To commemorate Apollo 11, Lee and Kirby had yet another watcher android try to sabotage the mission, since mankind was forbidden by his masters to leave Earth's atmosphere.

But who were this alien's masters? The ancient astronauts known as the Kree. Unlike the Anunaki, the Kree only chose one group of prehumans for advancement, the race of the Himalayan superbeings known as the Inhumans, themselves inspired by all of the old "secret chiefs" myths handed down to comics from Theosophy via the the pulps. Predictably, the Inhumans have moved from the Himalayas to the Moon.

Now it's possible that Kubrick was reading Kirby comics when preparing material for 2001 and Kirby certainly saw the film. And this little matrix of connection isn't immune to cultural contamination by any means, in fact it's filled with it. But we need to remember that this is Jack Kirby here...

...who drew this, 17 years before the Viking mission...

...and this, 17 years before 9/11...

...and this, three decades before the Iraq War. There's plenty more where this comes from, just click on the Jack Kirby tag.

Now there's always those who'll say Kirby was an "insider" creating "predictive programming" but they don't know jack about Jack. We're talking about a guy who was politely referred to as a "guy hermetically sealed within his own imagination" to impolitely labeled "an idiot savant, obsessed with orgasm."

A guy who wasn't allowed to drive a car for fear of disaster, and a guy whose daily life was managed by his ever-vigilant wife. Kirbyvision might dominate Hollywood and Silicon Valley today, but in his life he was a working stiff who spent a long time in the wilderness of fan opprobrium after splitting with Stan Lee in 1970.

Kirby wasn't stupid, by any means. He was a genius in many ways, just not so much in others. He saw things differently, though. He said that Kubrick's monolith was "a ficitional element in a very real process." His obsession with UFOs and aliens embarrasses his conservative conservatorship, but it's a goldmine around these parts.

Kirby too suffered from deadly fevers as a child (at one point in his childhood only a gaggle of faith-healing rabbis kept him from death's door) and experienced the horrors of combat firsthand in Europe when his commanders decided his drawing talent would be best put to use sneaking behind enemy lines and sketching out his surveillance. That only earned a boat-trip back home with doctors unsure if his frostbitten legs needed to be amputated.

And unlike his conservatorship, I'm not convinced that he didn't undergo some kind of augmented therapy for PTSD in the mid-60s just prior to his psychedelic awakening.

Which brings me back to John Lilly. Like Philip K Dick, Lilly's pharmaceutical adventures convinced him that Earth was under the stewardship of electronic guardians, using as yet undiscovered means to communicate with their more attuned charges -- which is to say, those literally tuned into this continuous broadcast, for whatever reason-- using the chronological manipulation of events and symbols.

Synchronicity, in other words.

SECRET SUN READING LIST