Sunday, August 21, 2011

Nightmares in Camelot: The Inside Story

Jeffrey Pritchett of The Church of Mabus was kind enough to invite me on his podcast to discuss The Outer Limits and alien contact/invasion themes in pop culture. We dig deep on the history of The Outer Limits and its creator, the eternally enigmatic Leslie Stevens, who evolved from military brat to mysterious intel player to TV producer to radical libertarian to the man who may be the real creator of the original Battlestar Galactica.

In between we cover everything else, including Knights Templar themes in blockbuster films, the shamanic appeal of Jim Carrey, Nazis and the Hollow Earth, our social media evolution to Borg-hood, 9/11 in Spielberg's War of the Worlds and The Dark Knight, the Djinn, Alchemy and the Elusive Companions, Heroin and the 27 Club and much, much, much more...

Click here to download. You won't be sorry....


  1. It was a great interview and covered a lot of ground. I'll be watching some Intruders episodes and downloading a season of Outer Limits.

    The early part of the discussion ties in with some of Robbie Graham's ideas and I find those aspects thought-provoking. Back at Uni, I studied aspects of the Hollywood collaboration with McCarthyism so it's no stretch of the imagination to accept that political agendas could dictate the themes.

  2. Super sweet, can't wait to check it out. Keep up the stellar work, Chris.

  3. I just read an obscure book published in 1971 by Roy Ald, The Man Who Took Trips. Ald intended to chronicle an English professor's odyssey with ETs during some of his LSD trips, but detoured after doing that with information the guy brought back from a member of the failed civilization who supposedly abducted him during the "trips."

    Basically, the gist was that every failed civilization failed during the rush into higher and higher technology and the complete loss of imagination due to the technology.

    You were essentially saying the same thing. I think you are ahead of the curve and that too many may not be. Rather frightening.

  4. LINK:

    All the OUTER LIMITS episodes, listed with YOUTUBE links.

  5. Just listening to the interview now - good stuff so far. On the subject of elusive companions I think George Ellery Hale's elf/demon is an interesting example. Mental illness or something paranormal? Who knows...

    Skip to page 104 for details:

  6. Falling Skies makes me think of Dr Quinn: Medicine Woman with spidery ETs. What I find odd with these types of stories is its assumed the aliens will come in & blow stuff up then survivors will fight back like in modern Guerilla wars. It gets ridiculous when you realise super-advanced aliens who want to wipe out the human race could do so in a few weeks with genetically-engineered viruses or a couple of days with a phalanx of neutron bombs. Modern military forces have vast amounts of weapons stashed in secret facilities along with troops trained to survive in the harshest conditions on the planet yet in alien invasion pics they always get wiped out but the dudes with a few guns & a pick-up truck survive to lead the resistance??

    Maybe this kind of story is so prevalent as Iraq/Afghanistan symbology, or perhaps the suits in Hollywood are just out of ideas?

    Fingers crossed for Promethius next year...

  7. ^ There is usually that 'wipe us out' or 'breed us out' story line that goes with pop culture's idea of alien invasion. Spielberg has used both in his films (ex. War of the Worlds and Taken).

    ~ Susan

  8. Jeffrey should really get a better microphone. I can barely tell what he's saying in this.

  9. writing about
    "Nightmares in Camelot"
    and pop 'cult'ure.
    What do you think the signs are in this latest news story ?

    Oscar-winning actor Kate Winslet and members of Richard Branson’s family escaped unharmed when a lightning storm hit the Virgin tycoon’s Caribbean island home, which was destroyed in a blaze.
    Winslet carried Branson’s 90-year-old mother Eve out of The Great House on Necker Island as the flames took hold in the early hours of the morning.
    Winslet said “it’s like being in a film set where you’re waiting for the words ‘cut’ but they just don’t come”, the entrepreneur added.
    Branson bought the island in the early 1980s. It is part of the British Virgin Islands.
    Each bedroom in the house has its own balcony, king-size bed and en-suite bathroom.
    “Set on the top of Devil’s Hill, this beautiful house is the heart of the island,” Necker’s website says.
    “The jewel in the crown is the master suite, which has its own jacuzzi and private terrace with panoramic views over the ocean and neighbouring islands.”
    The island can be hired privately for $US54,500 ($Aust.52,730) a night.
    Richard said,”"The main house is completely destroyed and the fire is not yet completely out. My office was based in the house and I have lost thousands of photographs, which is very sad.”

    I’m sure there is a Titanic message in there somewhere ?

  10. I finished listening to the whole interview and it was quite good!

    I was absolutely amazed that Jeffrey Pritchett managed not to swear (or hardly swore) throughout. Usually Church of Mabus podcasts are crude, lewd swearfests hurled against people like the Paratopia hosts [Ritzmann & Vaeni] or Emma Woods.

    Never saw this mature side of Prichett and Weddle.

    ~ Susan Brown

  11. I have a message for your friend Transalchemy, it seems that he close his comments channel: because he pose himself as a member of elite, of Illuminati, without being actually one of Us, We, The Council, declared him persona non grata and we sentence him to life! His days as a blogger and virtual writer are numbered, his services are not necessary any more. Have a good existence in the Prison Earth, you will not get out of here alive anyway. Into the glory of the Luminem, Amen.
    We are the New Government, The Immovables and we are everywhere, Fear Us, we do not tolerate this chaos any longer!
    Then we will take care of your buddies from AboveTopSecret and others are next in line.
    Mister Knowles you are the only one we let to speak freely and we choose you as a messenger to pass on this Sentence. This is not a Declaration of War, the aspect itself would imply that exists 2 opposite factions approximately with equal forces and equal chances of success, allow me to remind you: you have no chance of winning, your only choice is to comply and obey to Our Higher Hierarchy.
    We already rule this planet so you can keep up the Good Fight and try to stop us not to take over the planet that we already own (for a long time now I can augment) alongside all the life crawling on its surface including you, the humans.
    In the name of Lucifer, our father, his will is done as has been written! You are living now in Era Luciferiana and you, the people, have nothing to say in this matter. Democracy is dead, your right to choose is over.
    Signed: A Member of the Watchers' Council.

  12. Carrying on Chris'thread of movies and cultural impressions of aliens in the genre of the invasion scenario, the typical "War of the Worlds" stories are kind of watered down Hollywood versions of misinterpreted literature. It's like someone flips through a novel, like the H.G. Wells book, and only picks up the high points and condenses it and dumbs it down enough to be able to take it to a bunch of bean counters and persuade them to produce it in terms that they will understand. By the time they start shooting the thing, it has already been rewritten a dozen times by a staff of writers and kicked in and out of production meetings and basically just run through the process of whatever is involved in getting all of the logistics of minutia (i.e. the crystallization and enslavement of The Creative Idea) out of the way that, when a final result is given the 'green light', the story doesn't even make sense anymore.

    I agree with what the commenter "Anonymous" says above about the way in which aliens, in terms of coming at us with their technology, would simply and quite systematically destroy mankind if they wanted to. But, since it's humans writing these stories (assuming they are human!), they approach the "War of the Worlds" tale with a completely human viewpoint about fighting an entirely human idea of warfare with typical human motivations that result in an expected human outcome; They lose, we win. Humanity is saved in the last reel. And if the humans can't do it by themselves, then the Earth Spirit, the biosphere, Gaia, nature, however it spins---breaks ranks and we all resist the invasion like a cell throws off an infection from the outside 'cause it is ultimately 'us' against 'them' or 'other'.

    The Outer Limits, as a television show, really did help change that whole 50's monster alien thing and bring it into a more localized and focused arena contained within our collective psyche. It kind of planted these questions in our minds like, 'If there are aliens out there, what *is* their real agenda?' And, 'What would it be like to try and communicate with these entities on an intimate level and what would that look like?' Then, with shows like 'The Invaders', it takes that creepy, Cold War paranoia, body-snatcher idea out a bit and poses the idea of 'What if the alien's *looked* just like us? How would we know? And would knowing be enough in the end? Who would believe us?'

    These were very disturbing shows. Disturbing in a way that was, and still is, (cheesy, low production points aside)geared towards causing a ripple in our mental pond. Disturbing enough to imprint and plant certain ideas in anyone that watches them. Questions, as Chris Knowles so tirelessly points out in his books and on this blog, that only now have become more defined in our collective thought stream.

  13. Hey Chris,

    Another cultural cornucopia with your recent podcast on the Church of Mabus, and I was fascinated with your musings on various interconnected subjects. It got me thinking about sci-fi in general.

    It seems to me that one of sci-fi’s key roles, culturally, is to tell strange or oblique truths about our times in the here and now. As you’ve mentioned before, all sci-fi, especially good sci-fi, is an extrapolation of the Now. It’s something I agree with.

    Sometimes I feel as though shows like TOL and TXF often transmit powerful truths without really meaning to. I mean to say, if the writers and visionaries behind such works are high-calibre artists who are bringing their A-Game to the table, obviously all manner of subversive, underground delights can be expressed.

    But also I feel like such a coven of artists might not fully realize the depths and sentience their work takes on by virtue of them all being in one place and focused on the same thing. It’s almost as if the art itself uses the opportunity of such a gathering to express its own lateral kind of life, and certain profound truths tell themselves, as it were.

    Obviously TXF is incredibly dear to my heart, and it rewards me with all manner of synchromystic fruits for my devotion, but sometimes it feels like it’s not just the sheer intelligence of the writers and creative staff behind the show that are communicating with me, but the show itself.

    Case in point, shortly after my 26th birthday I had an X tattooed onto my left wrist. For me The X Files had become such a huge part of my interior spiritual life in ways that are far too complicated to describe, that it felt not at all geeky or trite to get the tattoo. Obviously it means far more to me than my love of a TV show, but TXF was a big part of it.

    So, as I was having it done it felt so incredibly right, like I’d always had it there. The next day or so, I’m lying on my bed, staring at the new tattoo on my wrist, and I get the sudden urge to get up and look out of my living room window. It was almost like a voice in my head, but not quite. But it felt very weird, urgent and yet playful, and it came out of nowhere. When I get sudden, intense intuitions like this I know I damn well better take heed of them.

    So I look out of my living room window and there is a huge X made of two overlapping contrails in the sky. But these didn’t look at all like ordinary contrails; they were very wide and densely packed, and almost perfectly straight. But here’s the kicker, for me at least - this giant X in the sky was perfectly framed in my living room window, corner to corner, as though someone had painted it onto the glass. I was so stunned by my intuition and its result that I sat staring at the X in the sky for nearly half an hour. Nearly an hour after that it was still there, and it had barely dissipated. It took the better part of 4 hours to finally leave the sky. Now, I have no idea how long aeroplane contrails are supposed to take to dissipate, but the whole thing struck me as so curious and resonant that I wondered for a few moments if I was hallucinating this image. I wasn’t – I checked.

  14. (continued)

    Anyway, aside from that divergent personal anecdote, I feel like if sci-fi does tell strange and oblique truths concerning the Now, this might partially explain why big movie studios seem hesitant to genuinely explore the possibilities of this genre, aside from the constant trope of awful alien invasion movies. Who the hell wants to convey hidden or oblique truths about our current times, especially if the art in question is too intelligent to reward studios with vast sums of cash in the shortest amount of time possible?

    In line with your recent FB comment about the SyFy channel, it seems like genuine sci-fi is slowly being erased from cultural consciousness. Even when it still does crop up occasionally, the aliens are getting leaner and nastier, the female characters are getting ostensibly ‘hotter’, and a god-awful gloss is starting to creep over everything – like the pre-cum of some abomination. Is it just me or are genre movies in general starting to resemble porn ever more closely?

    You’ve got characters who are supposedly counter-intuitive subversive, something that Hollwood loves to do – empower a stereotype whilst making it appear that it’s being subverted. I don’t want to see anymore twenty-five year old supermodels with astrophysics doctorates, or any more black guys with exclusively white friends who still manage to spend the entire film alluding to what it means to be ‘black’. Or ‘bad girls’ who have no idea what bad really is and spend the entire movie talking and glancing suggestively at people.

    Is this what culture is now? Creative Conformity as the new Subversion? I honestly believe that because fewer and fewer people actually read anymore, as a result they just can’t think too good anymore. They mindlessly consume cultural garbage, and yet when something good comes along many of them can still feel it, even if they turn away from it.

    Anyway, I’m rambling incoherently again. But this shit really does get to me. It really does feel sometimes like this is all a sinister plot to completely remove the useful metaphor-making ability from human consciousness. A plot that is eagerly helped along by a large swathe of the increasingly illiterate human race, who just want to escape but no longer have any real comprehension of what they’re escaping into. That’s an incredibly vulnerable position to be in, and I think someone like you can comprehend the import of this situation. And because Art is our most intimate understanding of the collective human soul, that way lies darkness.

    Ok, I’ve purged. But on a more upbeat note, man, X Files is awesome!


  15. Underground Amazon rivers, a diamond planet-what does it all mean?

  16. Great conversation guys. On the subject of general propaganda its been established without doubt that the US military will happily help out with production of movies if they conform to their view of the world. This is one reason why even kid's films (think Transformers 2 or Eagle Eye) manage to throw in vast amounts of the latest tech - you get to instil ideas of patriotism/fighting for your country etc. in the minds of young people. For example, it is well known that Top Gun was a massive coup for Air Force recruiters. So its not a great stretch to imagine they also have a hand in shows that push certain out there themes.

    I think the military and related forces may also give approval to movies that can change people's perceptions of an organisation. Look at how after Silence of the Lambs the FBI became the good guys (Twin Peaks, X-Files and so on) who had lots of female & minority agents even though at the time there was still mistrust in the population about the FBI's behaviour in the 60s/70s. Plus we know J Edgar didn't like women & minorities much so to modernise they had to generate some good PR and encourage people to join who still distrusted them. Similarly shows in the early 2000s tended to feature lots of agents working for anti-terrorism organisations even if there wasn't actually any terrorism involved (think the 4400 or how new V changed the lead from a biologist into a kick-ass FBI agent type). Kind of a symbolic way of saying to people 'hey you might think Homeland Security is an Orwellian nightmare, but these guys are cool and protecting you from any threat no matter how insane'...

    For anyone interested in renting a few fighter jets for their latest epic, look here:

    Uncle Sam does get script approval though.

  17. Interesting discussion on your part but the hosts seem to be generic fanboys, merely judging "cool" or "not cool" as opposed to seeing deeper themes and archetypes. I really think what you were saying went way over their heads...
    And Skyline? My god what a piece of crap. Recent pilloried on the great Paul Scheer's great How Did This Get Made podcast (